Women are making history for the colonias

by Martha Sanchez

Group of LUPE members and members of other organizations stand confidently with protest signs and fists raised

When, after over 3 years of organizing by colonia residents, Hidalgo County voted last year to outfit all new colonias with streetlights and higher protections against flooding, women were on the front lines of the victory.

When Hidalgo County voted to implement Spanish translation services at county commissioners court meetings, women were front and center in the fight.

Women are the lifeblood of LUPE. From convening colonia house meetings to speaking at commissioners court and coordinating LUPE’s annual Cesar Chavez March, women of LUPE keep the organization moving toward victories large and small.

In recognition of Women’s History Month, we wanted to uplift just a few of the many women of La Unión making history for the colonias of the Rio Grande Valley.

Yadira Gonzalez giving an interview to TV news media outsideWhen LUPE began putting Yadira Gonzalez and her colonia in contact with the decision-makers with the power to make changes in her neighborhood, she realized that she wanted to have her “granito de arena” (grain of sand) in the decisions that affect her community.Her development as a leader started when she began participating in her colonia house meetings with her neighbors. She helped coordinate her neighborhood’s push for streetlights, getting signatures, and eventually speaking to the commissioners. Shy at first, she eventually got the courage to step up for her community, even at one point confronting commissioners about the conditions in her neighborhood.
Olivia stands in front of colorful mural looking confidently off into the distanceAbout 12 years ago, Olivia Zarate began organizing in her colonia in efforts to better the quality of life for her family and her neighbors. Olivia began gaining leadership skills by hosting house meetings, inviting her neighbors to join in her vision for a better colonia, and speaking to county commissioners about investing in her community.The hard work of Olivia and her neighbors paid off with the installation of public lighting in her colonia. She and her neighbors also work closely with county officials to arrange colonia clean ups that helped clear neighborhoods of trash. Olivia and her colonia are now an example to others of what can be accomplished if you work hard, organize, and don’t give up.
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Martha Camacho holding up GOTV commitment card and signaling with a thumbs upMartha Camacho first joined LUPE when we held a meeting at the park in her colonia La Paloma and has been highly active in campaigns in her colonia. This past christmas her comité in colonia La Paloma organized and fundraiser for a Christmas Posada for the children in the colonia. The children received gifts, food, and even a visit from Santa!Martha also participated in the Get Out The Vote campaign with us this past election. She helped community members learn how to vote, and even got her daughter Ana to canvass and vote for the first time!

Martha has been working with the organizing team all over Cameron & Hidalgo county. She helps at rallies, community meetings, and was part of a visit with the chief of police in Port Isabel Texas were she asked him to adopt local policies that protect families and prioritizes local law enforcement issues instead of separating families.

Help us continue our work supporting women as they win victories for the colonias. Make a donation to LUPE today.

Sincerely,

Martha Sanchez

As Community Organizing Coordinator, Martha Sanchez leads LUPE’s colonia organizing effort that has won a streetlights program for Hidalgo County, drainage improvements for individual colonias, and other victories for colonia residents of Hidalgo County.

 

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