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Students Attend Washington Rally

By Kelly M. Yamanouchi

In a time of increasing political attacks on the Latino community, about 70 students spent the long weekend making Latino and Latina voices heard in Washington D.C. as part of "Latino March 1996."

Harvard students who attended the Latino and Immigrants Civil and Human Rights March came from organizations including RAZA, Latino Students' Association, La O, Aleanzo, Latinas Unidas and the Latina caucus.

Most participants said they felt the experience was unifying, but far more valuable for its symbolism than for its actual concrete accomplishments.

For Feliciano D. Vera '97, a member of Harvard-Radcliffe RAZA, the march was important but lacked political power and would have been more appropriate a year ago.

"We're getting humbled by a variety of issues," including anti-immigration and anti-affirmative action sentiments, Vera said. "Unfortunately, [the march] doesn't transform into action which is needed. We weren't able to register as voters; we weren't able to get information on how to register as citizens."

"RAZA attended...to reawaken a more political and proactive role rather than reactionary," said Gonzalo Martinez '98. "It was great to turn around and see literally thousands of people waving banners and flags and carrying signs."

However, Martinez also expressed disappointment with some aspects of the march.

"As for practicality, I'm not sure how much it would do," he said.

Fellow RAZA member Edgar Saldivar '99 said the lack of attention the march received, especially among national political figures, will cause the Latino community to look for other ways to create change.

"It probably did catch some people's attention," Edgar Saldivar '99 said. "It concerns me because this is supposed to be the largest Latino civil rights demonstration in history and it was not given proper attention by politicians. It makes me wonder what it is that we need to do."

Meredith Brown, a director of La Coordinadora, the national organizers of the march, was more positive, portraying the march as a jumping-off point for further action and a chance to make the Latino presence known.

"There have been global and economic shifts that have nothing to do with the immigrant population," said Brown. "Everyone came from all four corners of the United States to the White House's backyard. We're supporting the nation's economy with our sweat and labor."

"We have plans for a huge mobilization on October 12, 2000," Brown added. "Mobilization is very important. We're flexing our political muscle."

The march was intentionally held two days before Columbus Day, which is known to the Latino community as "El Dia de la Raza," the birth of the mestizo race.

Student attendees had known about the march since last year and started organizing their participation last month.

"At first it was called a Latino march, but later it was termed as a march for immigrant rights," Estela Diaz '97 said. "Dominicans from New York, Puerto Ricans from D.C., Mexicans from California...got together for one issue, which was immigration.

Meredith Brown, a director of La Coordinadora, the national organizers of the march, was more positive, portraying the march as a jumping-off point for further action and a chance to make the Latino presence known.

"There have been global and economic shifts that have nothing to do with the immigrant population," said Brown. "Everyone came from all four corners of the United States to the White House's backyard. We're supporting the nation's economy with our sweat and labor."

"We have plans for a huge mobilization on October 12, 2000," Brown added. "Mobilization is very important. We're flexing our political muscle."

The march was intentionally held two days before Columbus Day, which is known to the Latino community as "El Dia de la Raza," the birth of the mestizo race.

Student attendees had known about the march since last year and started organizing their participation last month.

"At first it was called a Latino march, but later it was termed as a march for immigrant rights," Estela Diaz '97 said. "Dominicans from New York, Puerto Ricans from D.C., Mexicans from California...got together for one issue, which was immigration.

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