March on U.S. Capitol will support civil rights for Latinos

Nancy Ngo

Members of the University community will travel this weekend to Washington, D.C., to march on the Capitol. They will be joined by several thousand protesters from around the country to show their support for Latino civil rights.
The Oct. 12 march and rally, called Coordinadora ’96, is inspired in part by the success of last year’s Million Man March, said Gilberto Vazquez, an adviser at the La Raza Student Cultural Center.
Organizers aren’t certain how many University students and staff members will attend the march.
Members of the University community are affiliated through Coordinadora ’96 Minnesota, the state chapter of the national Coordinadora organization, which is organizing the march.
Vazquez said La Raza will co-sponsor eight students from the center who will travel to the Capitol by bus with other Coordinadora participants.
“The trip is a good learning opportunity for students to teach others about events and issues,” he said.
Laura Espondaburu, a junior majoring in Chicano Studies, said joining with others and learning about national issues will help raise awareness about immigrant issues.
“We are trying to get as broad a delegation as possible with the limited resources,” Espondaburu said.
Espondaburu said the Latino immigrant community is often attacked by legislators and used as a scapegoat. She said anti-immigration political sentiments can lead to discrimination against Latinos in general.
Coordinadora ’96’s platform includes support of affirmative action, demands for bilingual education, expansion of public health services, and citizen review of police and labor-law reforms.
Another University student attending the march, General College sophomore Jessica Meza, said she wants to encourage others to attend the event.
She said the march is not just for Latinos. The fundamental purpose of the event is to support human rights, Meza said.
Lee Pera, a non-Latino, also plans to attend the march. Pera, a University sophomore majoring in Spanish and a member of the Progressive Student Organization, hopes to hold a forum after the march to inform students about the issues discussed in Washington.
Meza brought three Twin Cities organizations that are part of Coordinadora ’96 Minnesota to Coffman Memorial Union late Thursday afternoon. The Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador, the Chicano Latinos United In Service and Young Socialists informed others about the civil rights march and encouraged attendance at the event.
Jose Aravena, a member of the St. Paul chapter of the Young Socialists, said the attendance of college and university students is important because they tend to be the most energetic and responsive to issues.
“I don’t see day-to-day things being done to fight the legislative measures being proposed in Washington, D.C.,” Pera said.
About 50 people from Minnesota are expected to attend the march in Washington.
The march will take place on the traditional date of Columbus Day, also recognized in some Latin American countries as El Dia De La Raza, a commemoration of the colonization of the Americas by Europeans and the subsequent mixing of peoples in the Americas.