Oaxacan Festival Moves to Eastside in Bid for Wider Audience

Sam Quinones, Los Angeles Times, August 12, 2012

Long isolated and discriminated against in their native Mexico, L.A.’s Oaxacan Indian community is trying to reach out to America.

The group is moving its annual festival, known as the Guelaguetza, from Pico-Union near downtown to Lincoln Park on the Eastside. It’s a small change—a matter of just a few miles—but one that the festival’s Oaxacan organizers say shows their eagerness to break out of their insular world.

“It’s not an area [Oaxacan] people know. In East L.A., it’s Hispanic, but not Oaxacan,” said Arturo Aguilar, a baker who has participated in the festival for the last 10 years. But “we need to open ourselves to everyone—Oaxacans and non-Oaxacans.”

In Mexico, northerners have long disdained the shorter and darker-skinned Indians from southern states. That attitude has migrated to the United States along with the people.

Many Oaxacans, mostly Zapotec Indians, arrive not knowing Spanish, a language they often speak with an accent.

“Historically, there’s always been this difference between north and south,” said Mauro Hernandez, president of the Oaxacan Regional Organization, which organizes the Guelaguetza. “We’re short, darker and the northerners are whiter and taller. You feel discriminated against, that they think that because we’re darker, we don’t think.”


Moving the Guelaguetza to the Eastside, organizers say, is a way of expanding the appeal of the festival, which will take place Sunday.

“It’s a new strategy,” Hernandez said. “We want a different public [to attend]. We have the Oaxacans. But we don’t have people who live on the Eastside, or those who live in South Pasadena or San Marino.”


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  • “Hispanic, but not Oxacan”

    Telling.  Everyone knows that Hispanic means Indian or Indian admixture, even people who pretend not to for the purposes of political correctness.

  • IKantunderstand

    And this is America’s problem? Seriously? Really? I don’t give a flying you know what. But, man, I’m really excited by even additional cultural enrichment coming our way. Oh yeah, the dark southerners have been persecuted by the whiter (and taller) northeners. I’m sensing a trend! Dark southerners  resent whiter northerners. Whoa,  have I discovered something new? What a trendista I am. Check out this “new” meme: darker people from Mexico(insert country name) resent whiter people. Oh yeah, trending… 

  • IstvanIN

    We have been conquered by the same people 16th century Spain conquered.  How pathetic.

  • The__Bobster

    Even if you’re the color of a Tootsie Roll.

  • Dear God. Where does it end?

  • MarcusTrajanus

     And what do you call a person of European descent born in Latin America?

  • Jay11

    Wait!  I thought they were hispanics, or latinos or whatever!

    This article differentiates the ‘hispanics’ and says that there are mexicans who are, gasp, indios!

    What!  They discriminate – against each other?  Must be the fault of white Americans somehow.  We’ll get back to you after consulting with the la Raza and SPLC people.

    For latino activists (mestizos and white liberals) they lump them all together when it suits them, but there are actually indigenous movements who emphatically say they are indios and not hispanics.

    Here’s the funny thing.  In this country, our indians are largely invisible and whites don’t really mix with them.  The cultures are just too darned different.  But when we import millions of indios from south of the border, suddenly we’re supposed to be kumbaya with them and bring them in to our neighborhoods (speninding money to do it).

    We’re in a pickle and we don’t see the disaster coming in the next 20 years.

  • itdoesnotmatter

    Critical mass has arrived, in my view.
    If our country/DHS does not take corrective action, we are screwed as a nation.
    As it is now, multicultural chaos reigns in my overrun, bankrupt state of California.  
    We need to borrow a page from the Aussie handbook.
    The Australian government has finally awakened to the will of the people and taken proper action.
    Indonesian/Asian illegal alien smugglers are now met by alert immigration agents who promptly escort smuggled illegals [mostly Muslims] onto another boat that transports them to a remote holding island [akin to our Guantanamo] from which they are deported.
    So, what can we do?  Obama is tone deaf to the will of “we the people.”
    Breaching the constitution,  O. has seemingly declared himself a ruler who may pass law after law unilaterally without the consent of the other governing bodies; the essential system of checks and balances currently abandoned.  No one is checking/balancing this man.
    It is frightening.