August 1981 - August 1996:

Union del Barrio Commemorates 15 Years of Struggle for the National Liberation of the Mexican People

On August 31, 1996 Union Del Barrio commemorated its fifteenth year of existence en lucha for the national liberation of the Mexicano people. This commemoration was historical due to the fact that Unión Del Barrio, an organization whose principles of national liberation for the Mexicano people has never been compromised, has survived for so long.

The celebration took place at the Centro Cultural de la Raza in San Diego and was attended by over one hundred gente, including many past and present members of Unión del Barrio, as well as numerous supporters of Chicano Mexicano liberation. Banners from Unión del Barrio and its projects, including a 15th commemoration banner and a banner of compañera Patricia Marín done by artista Victor Ochoa, covered the inside of the Centro, as well as banners by artista Mario Torero of Zapata and Fidel Castro.

The commemoration was opened up by movimiento musician Solo Hernández whose music of Chicano Mexicano self-determination inspired all of the crowd to sing and clap their hands. The event was MC'd by Unión del Barrio members Consuelo Manríquez and Harry Barra.

After the música de Solo a presentation was given on the history of Union del Barrio. The history was read in three parts: the first part was given by Juan Parrino, one of the founding members of the Unión. The second part was given by Pablo Aceves, a member of Unión del Barrio's Central Committee, and part three was given by Erika Zamora from the Mesa Directiva of the San Diego chapter of Unión del Barrio. When the presentation of the 15 years of Unión history was finished, a slide show of the Unión's many years of events and dedicated struggle was shown to the audience, accompanied by music from Santana, Malo y otras.

Many gente y organizaciones came to the Centro Cultural de la Raza to give their respects to Unión del Barrio for its many years of commitment to la Raza. Among those who gave presentations were David Rico from the Brown Berets de Aztlán, Hector Muro from Mexicanos Unidos en Defensa del Pueblo (San Bernardino, CA), Antonio Marín from el Congreso Chicano de la Comunidad (El Paso, TX), Mario Torero from the Chicano Park Artists Task Force, Chairman Omali Yeshitela from the African Peoples Socialist Party (St. Petersburg, FL), and Penny Hess from the African Peoples Solidarity Committee (Oakland, CA).

A Tribute To Patricia Marín

A special part of the event was a tribute to Patricia Marín, a member of Unión del Barrio who passed away in December of 1995. Many members of Patricia Marín's familia came to San Diego from Orange County, to see the tribute to this righteous compañera.

The tribute to Patricia consisted of three parts. The first was a presentation given by Uniónistas Elba Alvarez and Judith de los Santos, outlining what Patricia Marín meant to Unión del Barrio, the movimiento and to her people. The second was a slide show tribute with background music that showed the many wonderful sides of Patricia. The final part of the tribute was an emotional poetry reading by Rosalba Bustillos, daughter of Ernesto Bustillos, Chairman of Unión del Barrio.

The tribute was emotional to all of those present at the commemoration. Patricia meant a lot to the Unión and to many others. She may be gone, but the legacy that she left will continue until la Raza is free. ¡Que viva Patricia Marín! Una mujer verdaderamente revolucionaria.

Standing Ovation For Chairman Ernesto Bustillos

The apex of Unión del Barrio's 15th Anniversary Commemoration came when Chairman Ernesto Bustillos took the podium. Chairman Ernesto was introduced by long time carnal Juan Parrino. Compañero Juan gave a humorous introduction full of anecdotes about their past growing up in the barrios of Sherman and Lomas during the Chicano Power Period. After the introduction the crowd gave Chairman Ernesto a standing ovation as he walked to the podium.

Chairman Ernesto started by thanking all of those present, especially those who came from out of town and those past and present members of Unión del Barrio who attended. He went on to talk about the history of the group and how the laws of social development affect the organization and the movimiento and how the Unión has adapted.

Chairman Ernesto finished his stirring presentation by saying, "Compañeros y Compañeras, Unión has a rich and honorable history in the struggle for Raza self-determination: A history which future generations will read about, learn from, and be proud of. If we continue to be honest, committed, willing to sacrifice, guided by a correct political line, nothing can stop our struggle for the liberation of la Raza, our lands, and the reunification of Aztlán and Mexico!!" With that ending came a roaring standing ovation by every single person present, followed by many ¡Que Vivas! (For the full text of this presentation see next page)

After the Chairman's speech Los Alacranes took the stage and performed a handful of songs. During the set by Los Alacranes, Arturo "Bones" Rodríguez from the Crusade for Justice (Denver, CO) gave a statement of solidarity thanking the Unión for the many years of service that they have given to their people.

Ever since its founding in the summer of 1981 Unión Del Barrio has been an organization whose roots are in the community and who continues to struggle for the national liberation of the Mexicano people. La Unión has gone from a local community organization to a national advanced political organization with chapters throughout Aztlán, without ever losing touch with nuestra comunidad. Principled, organized and dedicated struggle has been the hallmark of Unión del Barrio.

Unión del Barrio has not taken one single penny from corporations or from the U.S. government. Every dollar comes from the blood and sweat of its dedicated and disciplined membership. La Unión has continued to struggle para nuestra dignidad through projects such as Somos Raza, La Verdad Publications, Chicano Mexicano Prison Project, Comité de Mujeres Patricia Marín, Brigadas de Seguridad, and the radio show Oldies del Barrio in San Diego.

15 years is a long time for a movimiento organization to survive. Yet, Unión del Barrio has not just survived, it has thrived. It has been the dedicated membership and a correct political line that has made the Unión survive for so long. Here's to the next 15 years. La Unión Hace La Fuerza.

c/s 1997 La Verdad Publications