This year has been filled with changes and challenges, serving as a reminder of the crucial role played by border residents and LUPE members in shaping our collective future. It has given us victories, moments of joy, fear, anger, sadness, and times of celebration. As we look back on our year and recap how we organized for our families and communities, we hope these moments inspire you to join the movement and become a LUPE member as we enter 2024.
1. Working Together For a Brighter Tomorrow
Driven by our collective values of self-worth and determination, LUPE members worked together to make 2023 one of our most successful years in public infrastructure investment. From expanding our organizing victories in Cameron County to installing public streetlights in Colonia Flaco Chiquito—a colonia that had been organizing for public lighting infrastructure since 2005.
With the guidance of our community organizers, members were able to secure new paved roads, public street lighting, drainage systems, and, in turn, better living conditions for themselves, their neighbors, and the community they reside in.
Con LUPE, ¡Sí Se Puede! Join the movement and become a member today!
2. El Movimiento Continua
After more than 45 years of serving the social justice movement, Juanita Valdez-Cox officially retired as the Executive Director of LUPE, passing along the torch to Tania A. Chavez Camacho. Tania first entered through the doors of LUPE in 2012 as a Dreamer, organizing to make DACA possible. Since then, her presence has been integral to the growth and impact LUPE has had over the last decade, and it is through her leadership that we were able to accomplish so much this year.
For the full story on Tania, please watch the video below.
3. LUPE Members Come Together To Advocate Against Anti Immigrant Bills
In 2023, community members came together in a series of impactful moments, pushing back against anti-immigrant bills emerging from Austin. Unfortunately, these bills were often supported by state representatives and senators from the Rio Grande Valley.
LUPE members engaged in various activities, from hosting phone banks, visiting local offices, and traveling to the state capital, to meeting with representatives, participating in sit-ins, testifying in committee hearings, and marching collectively. Throughout a regular legislative session and multiple special sessions, LUPE members worked tirelessly to advocate for the rights and well-being of the community.
Through our collective actions, we were able to stop HB7 and HB20 from moving through the regular legislative session. In 2023, it served as a reminder of the power we have through collective action. Together, we can make a difference.
4. Al Colegio Si Se Puede
2023 provided us with the opportunity to welcome a new class of high school students to our ‘Al Colegio Si Se Puede' Cohort. This program covered essential topics such as financial aid applications, college essays, scholarships, advocacy, career goals, requirements, and guidance as they prepared to transition into college.
Carla Ocadiz, Education Equity Specialist at LUPE, expressed, ‘As a DACA recipient and first-generation student, I wish there were a program like Al Colegio Si Se Puede when I was in high school. I had to figure things out on my own. That is why the program is close to my heart. As the instructor of the program, I've learned that these students are ready to thrive in college; they just need the proper resources and help to do so.'
Check our website for updates in 2024 to stay up-to-date as we expand our ‘Al Colegio Si Se Puede' program.
5. Que El Pueblo Florezca y Crezca
The Junta General is one of LUPE’s longest-running community events, providing a space for members from across the Rio Grande Valley to come together, learn from each other, and raise awareness about the campaigns we are working on.
In 2023, this tradition of a monthly Junta General extended to our newly relocated office in San Benito. The growth of our membership in Cameron County has been accompanied by increased victories and reminders of the commitment and setbacks our campaigns move through to succeed. Looking ahead to 2024, we see an opportunity for even more growth as we prepare to launch a monthly general meeting in our Alton office.
6. Cultivando Nuestras Semillas
In celebration of our 20th-year anniversary, we have set up a Traveling Exhibition titled ‘El Movimiento Continúa: Cultivando Nuestras Semillas.' This exhibition was curated by La Unión del Pueblo Entero (LUPE) and the Center for Mexican American Studies at UTRGV. It highlights eight prominent themes that explore the history, culture, and present-day influence of the farmworker movement in South Texas.
This year, we hosted our exhibit at the Alamo Museum, Weslaco Museum, and the Kelsey Bass Museum. Follow our social media closely to catch our final stops in 2024.
7. Marchando Para Justicia Y Libertad
In 2003, LUPE marked the first Cesar Chavez March hosted at our San Juan Headquarters to honor Cesar Chavez Day. Fast forward to 2023, and we not only celebrated 20 years of the Cesar Chavez march but also commemorated 20 years of LUPE!
This year's theme for the Cesar Chavez march was ‘Justicia y Libertad,' reflecting our demand for a life of liberty and justice. As the Texas regular legislative session began, our members and supporters united as a collective force for justice and liberty.
8. San Juan Office Expansion
In a testament to our commitment to serving the community and fostering positive change, LUPE expanded its Historic San Juan office in 2023. This expansion marks a significant milestone in our organization's history, allowing us to deepen our impact and reach even more residents in the Rio Grande Valley. We extend our heartfelt gratitude to our dedicated members, partners, and supporters who have made this expansion possible.
Together, we look forward to continuing our mission of empowering the community, advocating for justice, and building a stronger, more united future for all.
9. Form LUPE Member to LUPE Voter
In what has become a yearly tradition, newly sworn-in citizens and LUPE members voted together for the first time. This year was special as we co-hosted our first LUPE and LUPE Votes caravan, rallying members, new voters, and Valley residents. One of these new citizens was Gabriella Guerrero, who shared that she “votes so that things are equal and there aren't unjust laws against people who come from other countries.”
For the full story watch the video below.
10. LUPE Awarded UNIDOS US Affiliate Advocacy Award
The UNIDOS US Affiliate Advocacy Award recognized LUPE's advocacy against harmful extremist bills. Through our trips to Washington D.C. and Austin, TX, protesting for a better tomorrow, we took actions to safeguard the livelihood of the working class, families, mothers, fathers, sons, and daughters living their lives along the border. LUPE remains committed to its mission of advocacy against dehumanizing bills sponsored and created by local and state representatives in Texas.