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[OP-ED]: Only True Solidarity Can Give Meaning to Hispanic Heritage Month

The fact is that even before the almost unbelievable catastrophes left in their wake by hurricanes Irma and Maria, and the terrible earthquake in Mexico,…

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It could become one of those great –and welcome-- historical ironies if in this Hispanic Heritage Month, during this terrible year, the concept of “being Latino in the U.S.” would finally mean something beyond usual platitudes like “this is our year,” “we have come a long way,” you know what I’m talking about.

It would happen if we –no matter which country we hail from or if we are born in the U.S.— come together in forceful and effective solidarity with the people of Cuba, Puerto Rico, Mexico, our people, furiously battered by some of the worst natural disasters in memory. In the midst of so much destruction and loss of human lives, that solidarity would be something really worth celebrating not only this year, but every Sept. 15-Oct.15, the days officially designated as Hispanic Heritage Month in the U.S.

The fact is that even before the almost unbelievable catastrophes left in their wake by hurricanes Irma and Maria, and the terrible earthquake in Mexico, President Trump had already made this year’s Hispanic Heritage Month –a tradition that goes back to 1968-- the worst ever.

“Being a Latino in the United States in the times of Trump is a real challenge,” said José Bayona, press person for a New York City municipal agency, expressing the feeling of our entire community.

It certainly is. After all this is a president who does not like us or respect our contribution to this country, and who has no qualms about insulting us and lying about who we are. We all remember that he launched his presidential campaign by labeling Mexican immigrants as rapists and drug dealers, and making a ridiculous promise to his racist supporters to erect a border wall to keep them out. 

But even worse, he surrounded himself with bigots such as his attorney general Jeff Sessions, who despite being publicly humiliated by Trump has continued to carry out the mission of terrorizing immigrant families by harassing and persecuting them and deporting, not criminals, as he and his boss claim, but hundreds of thousands of decent, hardworking men and women.

This is a president who had the gall to pardon the despicable Maricopa County sheriff Joe Arpaio, a champion of racists and white supremacists, who made a career out of abusing and humiliating Latinos.

Even worse, Trump and his minions have taken aim at Affirmative Action and even at Dreamers by terminating DACA, and has threatened to take military action against Venezuela and close the U.S. embassy in Cuba with the strange Star Wars-type pretext of some mysterious “sonic aggression” against U.S. diplomats in Havana.

No, definitely, there is nothing to celebrate this Hispanic Heritage Month, unless we grow as a community united in the pain of seeing the suffering in Cuba, Puerto Rico and Mexico, and in our determination to help and support them in this terrible moment of need.

Only true solidarity can give meaning to being Latino in the U.S. during this sad Hispanic Heritage Month.

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