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Ramon Jaurigue, aka "Tata Rambo", was a WWII veteran and an activist for the Pascua Yaqui's rights in Arizona. 
Ramon Jaurigue, aka "Tata Rambo", was a WWII veteran and an activist for the Pascua Yaqui's rights in Arizona. 

Tata Rambo, the unknown Yaqui hero from Arizona who could teach Trump a thing or two about people’s rights

The journalist Henry Barajas honors the memory of his great-grandfather and activist Ramon Jaurigue and all Native Americans in a graphic novel released on…

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Ten thousand Native American people live in Mexican states across the border, where the U.S. Trump’s migratory politics has divided families and left them in legal and physical limbo, in a nobody’s land. But it was a time when activists from tribes fought against repression and won.

Native from the Pascua Yaqui tribe and a WWII veteran, Ramon Jaurigue was one of many forgotten heroes. In 1970, he founded “La Voz de M.A.Y.O (Mexican, American, Yaqui, and Others), an organization that fought for the Yaqui community federal recognition, and for Latinxs and Native American to have same rights than white citizens in Tucson, Arizona.

After discovering some M.A.Y.O newsletters, Henry Barajas, Tata Rambo’s great-grandson, tells his fascinating history in a graphic novel,  “La Voz de M.A.Y.O: Tata Rambo”, together with J.Gonzo artist’s illustration. 

 

The land is a central element from the Native Americans tribes’ identity; however, nowadays there are thousands of people far from their families because of a wall. Would you say that Ramon Jaurigue is a symbol for these people?

Sadly, Ramon Jaurigue and the organization he co-founded Mexican, American, Yaqui, Others (M.A.Y.O.) were never recognized for their work. Thankfully, Jaurigue and M.A.Y.O. self-published their community newsletter La Voz De M.A.Y.O. unknowingly documenting their efforts to inform everyone of what was happening around them. This was my chance to amend the history and finally showcase these hidden figures.

If it weren’t for their civil disobedience, the tribe would’ve been displaced. I think it’s because of MAYO the elders were able to preserve their rituals, language, and history.

What would he say about the Wall and the way people are being divided and treated as “non-resident aliens”?

During the infamous town hall protests against the interstate 10 freeway on January 20th, 1970 they made buttons that read “NO WALLS.” Tucson is an hour from the Mexican border, so he was against barriers from our brothers and sisters long before it was a national issue. I took him to his last protest in solidarity with Rosa Robles Loreto to avoid deportation and being separated from her family. He was a Chicano activist to the very end.

"La Voz de M.A.Y.O" informaba a la comunidad Yaqui y los Mexicanos sobre lo que estaba pasando a su alrededor.

As a journalist and a Yaqui descendant, how do you think minorities are depicted in media?

I worked for the Arizona Daily Star and we would get photos of deceased migrants sunburnt, bloated stranded in the desert from Border Patrol’s Public Information Officer. But we only see migrants face down in ditches or caged. You will never see them cooking and farming our food, or taking care of our kids. The narrative of Latinx people is that we’re lazy but we’re taking everyone’s jobs. We don’t vote but lawmakers use gerrymandering to suppress brown people’s voice. Native Americans are only in the news when it’s too late and our natural resources being bought or sold. "La Voz De M.A.Y.O." is a rare piece of text that shows us fighting suppression and winning.

Is the history still written by the powerful nowadays? How can a Latino rewrite history to be more inclusive?

The powerful have written history and will continue to whitewash people of color. I feel that the comic book medium is the best way to tell these stories. It’s one of the most economical ways to do it. Film and television need million-dollar budgets to get the mass appeal. It’s hard for Latinx people to secure that kind of financial backing.

Your great-grandfather was a WWII veteran. The Native American and Latino people’s role in WWII is not very well-known or, at least, it is not mirrored in popular culture. What’s your opinion?

I would encourage everyone to watch John Leguizamo’s Latin History for Morons on Netflix. His thoughts on feeling invisible and the frustration you get when you find out that brown people have been in every major war in the US, but those troops aren’t recognized for sacrifice. There’s a movie about WWII Navajo “wind talkers” starring Nicholas Cage.

We need to do a better job of recognizing Native Americans and Latinx people’s valiant efforts for this country.

"Necesitamos hacer un mejor trabajo para reconocer los valientes esfuerzos de los Nativos Americanos y Latinos en este país", Henry Barajas.

It is hard to think about a new Pearl Harbour movie starred by a Latino character instead of Ben Affleck and so on. Do you imagine Tata Rambo as a Hollywood movie?

"La Voz De M.A.Y.O." started out as prose. I put my dreams a comic book creator aside to spend two years writing for the Arizona Daily Star and Tucson Weekly—but it wasn’t until John Lewis’ March was published, I realized I needed to take this to comics. Jaurigue’s story does lend well to a film or television adaptation, but "La Voz De M.A.Y.O." Tata Rambo was written for the comic book medium.

In which ways can Tata Rambo help to understand Latino history in Arizona or even in the U.S.?

That this is just one story in what could be more Latinx voices and figures whitewashed. Art Spiegelman's Maus made me realize that comic books deserve to be in the classroom. The work that M.A.Y.O. and Jaurigue accomplished only 50 years old. I would like to excavate more skeletons in the imperviable closet of history.

It must be very inspiring to be a hero’s great-grandson. How did it influence you?

I think I got my drive and political attitude from him. I’ve been a writer my whole life not know he was prolific with his typewriter in the 1970s. I’m fortunate to have someone in my family that I can look up to and share with the world.

"Los poderosos han escrito la historia y continuarán blanqueando a las personas de color", Herny Barajas.

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