domingo, diciembre 01, 2013

Inaugural Americas Latino Festival A Success Despite Low Attendance


Photos and article by Joe Contreras, Latin Life Denver
Americas Latino Festival Nov, 2013 (146)
“Americas Latino Festival” The first environmental Latino themed festival to be held anywhere in United States was held November 16 -18 in Denver and Boulder/Longmont. The event brought together world class environmental and political activists, award winning film makers, Pulitzer prize authors , Grammy Award winning performers and others from throughout the United States, Mexico, Canada and Europe. It was three  days of presentations, discussions, exhibits and performances which served as a call to action to unite diverse communities for a sustainable future.
Unfortunately only a handful of people in Denver attended the festival with several of the events attracting less than 10 people. An opening night, catered reception, at the McNichols Civic Center  Building in Downtown Denver had 15 people in attendance. The turnout in Boulder/Longmont was better but not what organizers had hoped for.
Americas Latino Festival Nov, 2013 (61)
Among the presenters were María Echaveste, former presidential advisor to Bill Clinton and current policy and program development director at the Chief Justice Earl Warren Institute on Law and Social Policy, UC Berkeley; Héctor Sánchez, executive director of the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement; Ben Monterroso, national executive director of Mi Familia Vota, and Marcos Vilar, national field director of Mi Familia Vota. Writer Junot Díaz, winner of the Pulitzer Prize in fiction and witness to the Caribbean diaspora in the US. WriterLaura Esquivel, author of “Like Water for Chocolate.” JournalistRay Suarez, a 14-year PBS veteran and current anchor of Al Jazeera’s “Inside Story. ”Spanish artist Lorenzo Durán Silva, whose intricate leave cuttings depicting nature subjects has astonished art critics around the world. Guillermo Gómez Peña, Chicano poet, actor and political activist. Dafnis Prieto, percussionist, composer and current MacArthur Fellow, Author/comedian Rick NajeraHomero Aridjis Mexico’s most relevant poet, author of more than 50 books, and leader of the Group of 100, perhaps Latin America’s most influential environmental organization. Many more significant players in the cultural, political and environmental arena were present throughout the three days.
The festival highlighted the long time readiness of Latinos to lead in the efforts of environmental concerns. The landmark National Survey on Latinos and the Environment conducted last year by the Sierra Club and NCLR revealed that 92 percent of Latinos believe climate change is either taking place (77%) or will happen in the near future .
According the report many Latinos suffer a daily, toxic bombardment with devastating consequences. Forty-three percent live or work dangerously close to a toxic site, such as a coal-burning plant, a refinery, an incinerator or an agricultural field. Almost half said at least one member of their family suffers from asthma and more than 40 percent said at least one family member has cancer. This happens among the community with the nation’s lowest healthcare insurance enrollment.
Irene Villar
Organizer Irene Vilar told the Longmont Times Call News that she wants the Americas Latino Festival to unite diverse communities around the goal of environmental awareness and a sustainable future. She added that Latinos often are not credited with environmental concerns, but that’s a misperception. Many Latino communities are naturally conservationist, and Latinos are a growing segment of America, she said.
“The conservationist movement is very white, and the country is very brown,” Vilar said. The festival “is about inclusion.”

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