Occupy Sandy's Spirit of Solidarity Resonates with Latino Values

Latin America historian Greg Grandin similarly explains in his 2011 updated edition of The Last Colonial Massacre: Latin America in the Cold War, how religious and family networks, while having enforced in some cases "oppressive hierarchies" in Latin America, nurtured collective identities that elevated the "common good over individual interests." Rural life also made farmers more interdependent, relying on each other to harvest crops. And this proximity to nature compelled them to be more environmentally conscious, therefore developing and maintaining a stronger connection with the lands they cultivated and the animals they bred.

In this sense, being environmentally conscious not only awakens Latin American immigrants to reconnect with their rural pasts, but it can also make them empathize with the needs of others in large cities like New York. The activist Patricia Gonzalez, 24, who also helped organize Occupy's Sunset Park Sandy relief effort, explained that defending environmental rights in Puerto Rico enabled her to assert her Puerto Rican identity, and develop a stronger sense of placement regarding who she is and how she wants to live. Later in New York, those same concerns for the environment taught her that climate change is not only specific to the Caribbean island, but a much more encompassing global problem.

While St. Jacobi Church has attracted as many as 1,500 volunteers in one day, and prepared as many as 15,000 meals in one day this past weekend, Ibañez explained that the ongoing mission of Occupy's hurricane relief effort is to make people aware that climate change is not an isolated event. He urges those who were unaffected by Sandy in New York, and others around the world, to remember that thousands are currently displaced by the storm. "This isn't someone else's problem," he said evoking the communal spirit that he first experienced in Bolivia and then with Occupy in New York. "It's a problem that affects all of us."

Occupy's Sandy relief hubs currently need more food, materials for cleaning a nd rebuilding, and volunteers. Specific demands for materials and help are posted on their community website here.

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