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Oaxacan Organization Gets New Leadership

Impulso, News Report, Mireya Olivera Posted: Feb 08, 2009

Oaxacan immigrant organizations are taking steps to maintain and pass on to newer generations their indigenous culture and identity, according to various leaders who spoke during the swearing-in ceremonies for several new officers of the Organization for Assistance to the Macuiltianguenses (OPAM in its Spanish initials).

The group represents immigrants who have come to Los Angeles the community of San Pablo Macuiltianguis in the Mexican state of Oaxaca. An estimated 50 percent of the Macuiltianguense peoplemore than 500,000now live their homeland. Many have emigrated to Oaxaca City, Mexico Cityand most of them to the United States.

The groups new leaders will serve two-year terms under the tutelage of President Sergio Mayoral, Secretary Fidel Garcia, and Treasurer Ruben Manzano.

Various Oaxacan organizations participated in the oath-taking coordinated by Gaspar Rivera-Salgado, including: the Oaxacan Regional Organization (ORO in Spanish), represented by Raul Cortes; the Union of Oaxacan Mountain Communities (OCSO in Spanish); the Solaga USA Youth Band, led by Jeremias Baa; and the Indigenous Front of Bi-National Organizations (FIOB in Spanish).

Rivera-Salgado spoke about the challenges faced by Oaxacan organizations, saying, No one wants to speak our language anymore.

During the assembly, OPAM contacted the mayor of San Pablo Macuiltianguis, Benjamin Bautista, who congratulated the incoming and outgoing leadership along with fellow countrymen, and wished them all a happy and prosperous 2009. The mayor said he expects the new OPAM leadership to work in solidarity and collaboration for the Oaxacan people.

Raul Cortes, an ORO representative, congratulated the organization for its work with sister organizations in the community, including important festivities such as the Guelaguetza (an annual celebration dating back to pre-Columbine times celebrating regional cultures and traditions), in which the communitys traditional dancecalled The Mountain Bull, or El Torrito Serrano"is performed.

New OPAM president Sergio Mayoral said that he did not have a specific work plan in place yet, but added that his group would definitely move forward in supporting organizations such as ORO and the Oaxacan Federation during the Guelaguetza fiesta. He said the annual fiesta is a priority because it disseminates their culture through the dances of its community.

Mayoral said that a prime challenge he faces as a new leader of the organization can be found in the economic crisis, which has led not only to job losses among immigrants in Los Angeles, but also decreases in the cash remittances they send to families in Oaxacaa much-needed source of cash in many impoverished towns and villages. Mayoral said that OPAM does not have a significant budget, and that funding is scarce only enough to sustain the groups basic needs. He added, however, that the group would continue to provide economic support through donations in cases where a Oaxacan immigrant dies in Los Angeles.

Related Articles:

Oaxacans Indignant Over Case of Man who 'Sold' Daughter

Oaxacans Worry About Candidates' Interest in Immigration Reform

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