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During one of my Tijuana visits I read an article in Frontera newspaper that prompted me to tear the page out and stuff it in my purse. The story was easy to overlook next to the latest rounds of drug-related decapitations, dumped bodies and vats of acid. But like many things in Tijuana, if you dig deep enough you will find uplifting tales of hope and perseverance.
It’s a story about a 33-year-old Mixtec Indian called Moises Rodriguez. According to the story by Laura Duran, Moises came to Baja California when he was 13 and didn’t know a word of Spanish. Now he’s the president of an association called Nu Savi de Baja California (Unfortunately, they don’t seem to have a web site yet). The association represents members of the Mixtec community who typically come from the states of Oaxaca, Guerrero and Puebla. Their goal is to help other members of the community who face persecution for their “outsider” status and faulty Spanish while also promoting the cultural traditions of Mixtecs here.
Moises has also formed a cooperative called Nieves Guerrero that makes popsicles and provides work for 40 people who are involved in making the sweets and selling them in street carts. It appears from the story that a section of Tijuana called Valle Verde has a significant number of Mixtecs like Moises.
Stories like this provide human insight to the complicated tapestry of Tijuana, which is home to immigrants from all over Mexico. Several years ago, I had the chance to write about a grandmother who sold candy at a street corner and who came with her family from Mexico City to seek a better life in Tijuana. They weren’t Mixtec migrants, but these kinds of experiences are universal and cut across language and cultural barriers.
p.s. Trolling through the Internet, I found a Mixtec Language and Culture Club Meetup Group that estimates there may be about 30,000 Mixtecs in San Diego and Tijuana. They are having a fundraiser at San Diego’s WorldBeat Center this Saturday at 7 p.m to raise money for a sewage system in a Oaxacan town of Mixtecs. For more information go here.
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