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ISSUE 119 VOL 20 PUBLISHED 5/12/2006

Viva la Raza talks immigration

By Tim Rehborg
Contributing Writer

Friday, May 12, 2006

St. Olaf celebrated Viva La Raza between April 24 and May 5. Viva La Raza is often used to refer broadly to and celebrate the people of Mexico and the various peoples of Latin America, as well as their descendants living in the United States.

The Viva La Raza movement rose out of the Chicano revolution, the rise of second generation Latino Americans. It has also been used by various social movements, encouraging solidarity with the Mexican American Civil Rights movement, labor rights and human rights for immigrants.

In light of recent legislation and protests of immigration policy, this year’s Viva La Raza celebration was especially timely. During the celebration of Viva La Raza, ¡Presente!, St. Olaf’s Latino cultural group, hosted Viva La Raza events to raise awareness about Latino issues.

One national event corresponding with Viva La Raza is Día sin Latinos, a day without Latinos. Set on May 1, Día sin Latinos is a day for Latinos and immigrants to protest unequal treatment and racism in the workplace. On this day, students, laborers and employees abstain from work and class in an effort to show the effects of Latinos and immigrants in society.

About 35 St. Olaf students silently gathered in Buntrock Plaza, wearing white and carrying signs reading “Día sin Latinos,” expressing solidarity with the movement. Local Northfield students carried out a protest downtown; establishments like Las Delicias closed their doors and Northfield residents held an evening candlelight vigil. Many students also wore white cloth wristbands, showing their support.

The Condor and Eagle prophecy, a spiritual part of Viva La Raza, is the belief in "a spiritual union between Mexicans in the US and Mexico," according to Anna Steel '07, Diversity Celebrations Committee (DCC) representative to ¡Presente!. "The spirit of this movement has developed, to unite not just people of Latino heritage, but all people of these continents," she said.

Many students attended the immigration panel discussion, with people "sitting on the floor," according to ¡Presente! president Sophia McComb '07. "Generally, all our activities were characterized by excellent preparation, attendance and presentation," said Steel.

¡Presente! also hosted several social events, centering around Latino culture. A chili eating contest in Stav Hall began the week, and several students attended Cinco de Mayo celebrations in the Twin Cities.

Viva La Raza ended with a Reggaeton dance party in the Lion’s Pause last Friday. Over 250 students grooved to the amalgamation of reggae, hip-hop and Latin beats.

According to the organizers of Viva La Raza, most students enjoyed the celebrations. Not only was participation high for social events, but many students attended discussions of political and social issues. This interest "raises campus awareness and facilitates opportunities for constructive dialogue, concerning issues of pertinence to the Latino community," Steel said.

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