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Vilma Espin Guillois Presente!
Most people know the names and faces Cuban revolutionaries Ernesto “Che”Guevara and Fidel Castro but I would bet if you ask these same people about the women who were instrumental in the Cuban Revolution they would respond with a blank stare. The leadership women provide to revolutionary movements is often invisiblized so I wanted to bring it to the surface. This portrait of Vilma Espin is the first, in what I hope are many, portraits of revolutionary women.
“Vilma Espin was brought up in Santiago in eastern Cuba as a privileged girl. Her father was an executive at the Bacardi rum company, which was based in Santiago at the time. An exceptional student, she earned a degree in chemical engineering and went on to MIT for graduate study. Along the way, however, she got caught up in the movement against Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista. On a trip back to Cuba in 1956, she linked up with Fidel and Raul Castro in Mexico, where they were preparing for their revolution. She joined their cause, fought alongside them in the Cuban mountains, and helped lead an underground movement in her hometown of Santiago.
Never a woman to defer to her male counterparts, Vilma Espin became known within the movement for her uncompromising positions. As a fluent English speaker, she also served on occasion as an intermediary between the revolution’s leaders and U.S. officials who were monitoring the movement. After the revolution, she married Raul and went on to become one of the top officials of the Cuban Communist Party, as well as the president of the Federation of Cuban Women.”
“Under Vilma Espín’s leadership, the Federation of Cuban Women encouraged and organized millions of women to break their chains and demand full equality in everything from employment to reproductive rights. Today, as just one measure of their success, 65 percent of Cuba’s college graduates are women.”
Purchase a print by clicking here
Photography, like painting and printmaking, has always attracted my attention. But like most art forms my relationship to the form had always been as a spectator. Watching movies like Oliver Stone’s “El Salvador” which tells the story of the Salvadorian brutal civil war through the eyes of a photojournalist made me conscious of the important role photo documentation could play in the world. There were also photographers like Tina Modotti (a friend and contemporary of Frida Kahlo) whose photo “Bandolier, Corn, Sickle” cleverly mixed the utilitarian tools of Mexican campesinos with communist party emblems appeared before my eyes as the cover of Rage Against the Machine’s “People of the Sun” album. Modotti’s photos made the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end.
This January, after many years of fantasizing about what it might be like to get behind the lens, I jumped into it and bought myself a Canon Rebel T2i(that’s for the camera nerds who always ask and want to know what you are shooting with). I am still learning all the basics: what aperture is, the differences between lenses, lighting and so on. Though I am still a novice it’s been a wonderful, thrilling and addicting experience. There is a little voice in my head repeating “Get the shot, get the shot” and I find myself climbing onto parked trucks during migrant justice marches or laying stomach to the ground to get just the right perspective of the children in San Francisco at the rally in solidarity with North African countries struggling to autonomy and true democracy. It’s intoxicating.
In the few months that I have been shooting I have had my first photos published. I documented as much as I could of a rally of folks opposed to racial profiling and the markers of oncoming gentrification that come with gang injunctions. The ACLU of Northern California published two of my photos in their annual report.
The rallies, actions and events of grassroots organizations and community efforts are what call me most. In fact I used the photos from the same rally in Oakland to create a campaign poster for the Stop the Injunctions Coalition. This has allowed me to marry the thrill of photography with my ongoing experiments with design and illustration. This intersection is what I would like to develop with more intention and purpose as I continue to go after the shot.
See more photos here:http://www.flickr.com/photos/dignidadrebelde/
Download the poster by clicking HERE
Today marks the 50th day that a spiritual encampment (an on going prayer and presence on the land) that has held strong in at Glen Cove, in Vallejo California. The occupation of the ancient burial site at Glen Cove by Native Americans and supporters who remain at the site in order to guard it against desecration by bulldozers.
I created this graphic as a humble attempt to create a visual that captured the stories being told by organizers and elders. I wanted to depict ancestors presence on this sacred shellmound and did so by depicting Miwok and Ohlone men and women reflected in the clouds and in on the land. Many other California peoples have been present on this sacred land I want to acknowledge that as well. Ideally this could be a much larger piece that could reflect how important this site is to many, many, many peoples.
Glen Cove is a sacred gathering place and burial ground that has been utilized by numerous Native American tribes since at least 1,500 BC. Today, Glen Cove continues to be spiritually important to local Native communities. It is located just south of Vallejo, California along the Carquinez Strait, a natural channel that connects the Sacramento River Delta to the San Francisco Bay. Glen Cove is known as Sogorea Te in Karkin Ohlone language.
Since 1988, the Greater Vallejo Recreation District (GVRD) and the City of Vallejo have been pursuing the development of the Glen Cove site into a “fully featured” public park. GVRD’s current Master Plan calls for the installation of a parking lot, restroom facility, picnic tables, and construction of additional trails, including a paved trail. It also calls for re-grading of large areas of the site, which involves digging that will further disturb burials and sacred objects. This planned grading includes “capping” known shellmound/burial areas with 12 inches of soil.
The local Native American community has been outspoken for over ten years about the Glen Cove Sacred Site, and the message has been overwhelmingly: do not further disturb and manipulate this sacred burial ground of our ancestors. It is not a park. Spiritual leaders from Ohlone, Miwok, Pomo and other local tribes consider the proposed park development plans to be an offensive desecration of this holy area that has already seen many years of abuse in the hands of settlers. Furthermore, we consider the manipulation of our ancestors’ burial site without our informed consent to be a violation of our human and religious rights.
The Master Plan also calls for an aggressive extermination of non-native plant species. Procedures detailed in the Plan describe cutting down trees and applying herbicide to their exposed trunks and remaining root systems. The Plan also calls for years of ongoing herbicide application. Elders in the local Native community say that All Life is Sacred. We oppose extermination of the trees and plants that have taken root on this Sacred Burial Ground, regardless of whether they are endemic species or relative newcomers.
(courtesy of http://protectglencove.org)
Organizers are asking the following:
"Please come out to visit the spiritual encampment at Glen Cove, for a few hours or a few days. A constant presence on the land keeps us strong, and protects the site. Remember, no drugs, no alcohol, no weapons. Driving directions are here."
There are also statements of support that can be signed and a need to spread awaredness of the struggle "Help spread the word. Talk to friends about Glen Cove, and the ongoing desecration of Native American burial grounds and sacred sites. Link to this website, repost our articles and photos."
Post up the downloadable poster and keep talking and acting to protect sacred sites.
Finally, you can directly help resource this emergency mobilization by donating here
"They are asking supporters to be on heightened alert over the next two weeks and prepared to respond to a call for emergency on-land support."
Watch a fantastic short informational film about the encampment at Glen Cove by Rebecca Ruiz Lichter http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5mZnssi406c
My good friend, Daniel Carrillo, was visiting the Bay Area in March when we started to discuss a campaign that the organization he works with Enlace would be launching this May. I was commissioned to create a poster for the national campaign that would help move people.
Enlace, in partnership with community groups and unions across the US, is calling on all public and private institutions to divest their holdings in Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and GEO Group, America’s largest private prison corporations which have profited from billions in taxpayer money.
The major investors in the private prison industry include Pershing Square Capital Management, Wellington Management Company, Wells Fargo Bank, General Electric and others
At the time of this writing hedge fund manager, Bill Ackman, announced the divestment of Pershing Square Capital Management’s holdings in Corrections Corporation (CCA) of America, the nation’s largest private prison company. Mr. Ackman and CCA filed a joint statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission on May 16, 2011 confirming that Pershing Square no longer holds stock in CCA. Pershing Square Capital Management divested over 7 million shares in CCA.
Read more about the campaign and how to get involved here: http://prisondivestment.wordpress.com/)
(From National Prison Industry Divestment Campaign website)
Anti-immigrant legislation is sweeping the country. Harsh Arizona-style laws are being introduced in more than 20 states.The private prison industry, including Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and the Geo Group (Geo), is the force behind lobbying efforts that increase penalties and incarcerations by the federal government and by states such as Arizona and Georgia. Their current business plans push for harsher immigrant incarceration policies.
What can we do?
First, we must convince shareholders in these two private prison corporations to dump their stock. The major investors in the private prison industry include Pershing Square Capital Management, Wells Fargo Bank, General Electric, and Scopia Management.
Second, many of us are customers of Wells Fargo or General Electric. As customers, we should demand that these two companies stop investing in CCA and GEO.
Third, a great deal of taxpayer money is invested in major shareholders of CCA and GEO stock, such as Wellington Management, BlackRock, Fidelity Management, Lazard Asset Management, Capital Research Global Investors, Vanguard, and Wells Fargo. We can insist that our city councils, county boards of supervisors, school districts, and state governments demand that these finance corporations divest their CCA and GEO holdings or move our tax dollars to investment companies that do not own stock in CCA or GEO.
Fourth, we can tell our pension and retirement funds that we want them to divest completely from CCA and GEO.
Fifth, we can demand that our local, state and federal government stop contracting with CCA, GEO, or other private prison companies and not build more prisons.
Sixth, contact Enlace to learn how you can participate in the campaign.
Enlace is working in partnership with organizations across the US on the Prison Industry Divestment Campaign that is targeting major shareholders of the private prisons corporations The GEO Group, Inc. and Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) because of their roles in lobbying for anti-immigrant legislation like SB1070.
Contact us at 213-284-3802 or email@example.com
Visit http://enlaceintl.org/ for more information
Julieta’s voice first made it into my ears when she was a vocalist for Tijuana No!, a Mexican political punk-ska-rock band. Later, in 1998, my sister enlisted the help of relatives in Mexico to get a copy of her first CD Aqui which hadn't yet been distributed in the U.S. I loved her rock sound and would steal away with the CD, listening to her songs on repeat during my four mile walks to and from community college. There are less known jems like the song Sabiendose (which in 2009 was re-recoded as a duet with Mercedes Sosa):
Soy de los descalzos y estoy cansado de este
color que pesa más que yo, mi corazón desprendido
de mi cuerpo ya sigue latiendo igual.
Soy de los descalzos, no tengo perdón por
haber encontrado a cara pálida, mis brazos
cortados por la misma mano se abrazan hoy
I continued to love her sound as it transformed from rock to pop because I could always listen to her previous albums and still enjoy the new music. The best memory I have of seeing Julieta play live was, in 2002, at an opening of the exhibit Lines of Sight: Views of the U.S./ Mexican Border at UC Riverside. Her twin sister Yvonne, who is a photographer, had work in the exhibit along with other phenomenal artists like Ricardo Duffy and Ruben Ortiz Torres.The event combined two loves of my life: art and music. On a couple of songs her cousin played flute while she changed between acoustic guitar and accordion while her sister and mother sang along softly with her songs. It was fantastic.
The first time I saw Julieta play the accordion I was electrified. I had seen norteño-bands like Los Tigres Del Norte play before but this was the first time I witnessed a woman master the squeezebox and make it look like the coolest instrument in the world.
This piece joins the series of portraits of women musicians whose music moves me. The other prints feature Martha Gonzalez of Quetzal and Lila Downs.
You can order this print by clicking here
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