Latin American legacy celebrated this month

by Travis Reed

A monthlong program sponsored by La Raza Student Cultural Center commemorates Latin American countries’ independence from Spain.
Titled “Our Permanent Struggle for Dignity, Independence and Sovereignty,” the September program featured panel discussions, films and several lectures, including a panel discussion Wednesday.
“Usually, big programs that the University sponsored were for Cinco de Mayo, but September is even more important because it marks the beginning of independence from Spain,” said Gilberto V zquez, a La Raza student adviser.
“We decided to organize a program that dealt not only with issues of independence, but also with things that are going on right now,” he added.
The panel discussion examined contemporary affairs in Puerto Rico.
Conversation focused on debates about the possibilities of Puerto Rican statehood and President Clinton’s recent clemency offer to Puerto Rican political prisoners.
“I read it and hear about it on TV; Puerto Ricans are being talked about right now,” said Emmanuel Ortiz, a local student activist. “Even in the U.S. mainstream, these people are recognized. They are part of the dialogue that is taking place.”
Highlights from the series of events include a keynote address presented by Adrian Alvarez, a distinguished Latino, and a slide show presentation from David Parker, co-director of occupational health programs for the Minnesota Department of Health.
Parker’s presentation included photographs from children around the globe that document the human rights violations of child labor.
Perhaps the most successful event of September’s commemoration is a three-part presentation of “La Batalla de Chile,” an epic chronicle of Chile’s socialist revolution, V zquez said.
“We’ve been very pleased with the interest that has been shown in the film. We’re averaging nearly 150 people in attendance at each showing,” V zquez said. “It is very rare to show the entire three-part presentation in this area. The entire documentary has not been shown here within the last 20 years.”
The final installment of “La Batalla de Chile” will be shown Friday in the Coffman Union Theater. Admission is free and open to the public.

Travis Reed covers student government and welcomes comments at [email protected] He also welcomes comments at (612) 627-4070 x3235.