Friday, November 16, 2007

EL PASO: “What Side of the Fence Are You On? Lomas Del Poleo - El Segundo Barrio Under Siege” -- NOV 19


Lomas del Poleo-Segundo Barrio Under Siege

"If the powerful are organized at a binational level, then those of us at the bottom also need to join together."
—Cristina Coronado, Juárez activist

FACING THE PROSPECT of losing their homes that many have lived in for decades, residents of Lomas del Poleo in Juárez and the Segundo Barrio in El Paso have joined community activists from both sides of the border to denounce the binational redevelopment schemes that are threatening their communities. They have organized a forum to be held at UT El Paso entitled “What Side of the Fence Are You On? Lomas Del Poleo - El Segundo Barrio Under Siege.” The purpose of this forum, scheduled for November 19, 2007, is to “expose the connections between the powerful land developers on both sides of the river who have put our communities under siege.”

Since 2003, binational developers such as William Sanders of the Paso del Norte Group in El Paso and Eloy Vallina of Chihuahuan City (both of them are the driving forces of Verde Realty Group) and the Grupo Zaragoza, one of the most powerful families in Juarez, have charted binational redevelopment plans aimed at transforming the El Paso-Ciudad Juarez-Sunland Park-Santa Teresa region. At Lomas del Poleo—a colonia that is now surrounded by barbed wire fences and paramilitary guards hired by the Zaragoza Fuentes group—the human rights of the residents have been continually violated in order to pressure the people to accept relocation. In El Segundo Barrio, the threat of the future use of eminent domain and forcible relocation has already frightened many to leave their neighborhood.

“It’s the same plan on both sides of the border” says Cristina Coronado, a member of La Otra Campaña in Ciudad Juárez. “It’s the same land speculators who sit on each others boards and who are carrying out large-scale displacement, land grabs and violation of human rights. If the powerful are organized at a binational level, then those of us at the bottom also need to join together. We need to form binational coalitions against el despojo—against the theft of our homes and our barrios—that is being carried out in the name of regional development.”

The speakers of the forum will include Fr. Bill Morton, a Catholic missionary who was deported from Mexico in 2006 because of his advocacy work on behalf of the Lomas del Poleo colonos; Lupe Ochoa, a Segundo Barrio resident and Sacred Heart Church parishioner who has organized against the planned demolition of the heart of the barrio to construct a “big-box retail store;” Leon de la Rosa, filmmaker and director of the documentary “Poleo Speaking;” Petra Mendoza, a resident of Lomas del Poleo; and Fr. Oscar Enriquez, director of the Paso Del Norte Human Rights Center in Juárez.

The panel discussion, will be moderated by authors Willivaldo Delgadillo and David Dorado Romo.

The forum will be sponsored by the UTEP History Department, ALDEA, Amnesty International, Paso del Norte Civil Rights Committee, LUS, CAUSA, Paso Del Sur, Comité Universitario de Izquierda, Circulo Zihuatekpahtzin and the Committee for the Second Forum at Lomas del Poleo.

November 19, 2007
Natural Gas Conference Center
(Inside UTEP Commons, Wiggins Rd.)

Schedule of Events:

5:30-6 pm Music by Radio La Chusma & La Rana
Photography, art & written word exhibit

6:00-6:30 Documentary Clips

“Poleo Speaking: Video Testimonies of a Community Within Barbed Wire”

“Voices of Dissent Against the Segundo Barrio Demolition Plan”

6:30-7:30 Panel Discussion

7:30-8:00 Question & answer session

8:00-8:15 An invitation to the “Rompamos el Cerco” forum at Lomas del Poleo by Juárez human rights organizations.

For more information:

Contributed by:
Naomi Caballero

La Nueva Raza News