Saturday, August 2, 2014



First Shena's husband Jose was nearly beaten to death in 2011 by Customs and Border Protection Agents in AZ. Then Shena herself was unjustly arrested and abused by CBP agents last May in Nogales, AZ. Now Shena, a founder of the Border Patrol Victims Network, returns to AZ to face federal charges with two BPVN volunteers. Instead let's put the government on trial and demand accountability for CBP and Border Patrol agents! Please support Shena at these times!

TUES. AUG. 5, 7 PM--Shena will speak at the Tucson Samaritans meeting at Southside Presbyterian Church (317 W. 23rd St) Tucson, AZ

WED. AUG. 6, 12 PM--Shena and supporters will speak at a press conference/rally following her court appearance outside the DeConcini U.S. Courthouse downtown Tucson (405 W. Congress)

For more information contact: Border Patrol Victims Network (520) 226-7523;

Sunday, May 11, 2014

TUCSON IN THE STREETS--(Part 2); Videotaping the Struggle for Bus Riders, Peace in Colombia, Day Laborers, and the Working Class on May Day

VIDEO #1--The Bus Riders Union fight against fare increases and reduced schedules---and they are winning! Fare increases have been prevented for a year. One of my favorite protests always with food served and a crowd that's definitely not the "usual suspects." Brian Flagg of Casa Maria soup kitchen, a Tucson fixture for decades, and the Catholic Worker folks have done awesome work in this campaign.

                                                   JUSTICE FOR THE BUS RIDERS!

VIDEO #2-- 50 YEARS OF WAR IN COLOMBIA IS ENOUGH! The Alliance For Global Justice organized this protest in May when the Colombian Air Force and Special Forces came to train at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson.


VIDEO #3-- Southside Presbyterian Church hosts the Southside Workers Center where day laborers can be hired. This great action involved visiting an apartment complex where a group of 10 day laborers were owed nearly four thousand dollars.
The Southside pastor, Alison Harrington, led the delegation. Last word was that the workers were going to be paid the back wages. Hurrah for Direct Action!

VIDEO #4--LET'S MARCH ON MAY DAY!  Talk about snatching victory from defeat. For a while it looked doubtful the march would even occur this year, until a small committee of folks came together including Occupy Tucson and others pulled it off. A large contingent of immigrants and Latinos as always

                                                                    MAY DAY MARCH

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

60th Anniversary of the classic film "Salt of the Earth"; 20th Anniversary of the Salt of the Earth Labor College in Tucson, AZ

A revolutionary film that remains unique in American cinema.

The drama film Salt of the Earth (1954) is a classic movie about....the mining industry of the South West and the struggles against racism and for gender-equality connected with it. The script was written by Michael Wilson, and the film was directed by Herbert J. Biberman and produced by Paul Jarrico. All three were blacklisted by the Hollywood establishment due to their involvement in communist politics. The female lead, Rosaura Revueltas, a Mexican actress, was deported during shooting, and some of her scenes had to be secretly filmed in Mexico.

  from the Salt of the Earth Labor College website

Rosaura Revuelas and Juan Chacon
Salt of the Earth, based on a 1951 zinc miner's strike that took place in Silver City, N.M., was made in 1953 at the height of the McCarthy era. The film was denounced as subversive and subsequently blacklisted because it was sponsored by the International Union of Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers (which had been expelled from the CIO in 1950 for alleged Communist-dominated leadership) and was made by film-makers who figured as 'unfriendly' witnesses before the House Un-American Activities Commission. Ironically, because it also deals with the struggle of women, specifically the miners' wives, for recognition, dignity and equality, the film is a focus of renewed interest 22 years later.

Salt of the Earth impressively counterpoints the strike itself and the relationship between a striking Mexican-American miner and his wife.
[Juan] Chacon helps organise the strike which demands that Mexican-Americans be given the same safety standards that the mining company provides for Anglo workers, but at home he refuses to end discrimination and change the status quo. Miss [Rosaura] Revueltas, pregnant with her third child, is traditionally passive and at first reluctant either to take part in the strike or to assert her rights for equality at home. But she changes and when the men are forced to end their picketing by a Taft-Hartley Act injunction the women take their place in the picket line and she joins them. The women, indeed, come out looking stronger than the men, some marching with babes in their arms, resisting tear gas and making jail so unendurable for the sheriff (deliciously played by Will Geer) that they are released.
The abandoned Empire Zinc mine in Hanover, N.M.
Salt of the Earth is also a love story about the young couple divided by conflicting attitudes, traditions and roles, but under crisis finding the common cause. It is the wife who speaks for survival. "You want to go down fighting," she tells her husband. "I don't want to go down fighting. I want to win." Michael Wilson's script is a masterful blend of passion, poignancy and restraint. The cast is comprised of five professional actors; the rest are the actual miners and their wives. All perform exceedingly well. Miss Revueltas is stunning. Her portrayal is unforgettable. The late Herbert J. Biberman directed with conviction and excellence. Salt of the Earth, 25 years after the ugly controversies of its birth, remains a taut and moving achievement and a milestone of American political expression.
- Linda Gross, Los Angeles Times, 7/2/76

Historic Plaque in Hanover, N.M.

A Group of Copper Miners Near Hanover, N.M.
(photo compliments Juana Sierra)

A brief clip from the movie showing Rosaura Revueltas.


 Article about Juana Sierra, resident of Hanover, N.M. who walked the picket line with the Empire Zinc strikers.

An Interview with Juana Sierra filmed in 2010

NEW YORK TIMES  Review of "Salt of the Earth" from 1954


Salt of the Earth (1954)

THE SCREEN IN REVIEW; ' Salt of the Earth' Opens at the Grande -- Filming Marked by Violence

Published: March 15, 1954

Against the hard and gritty background of a mine workers' strike in a New Mexican town—a background bristling with resentment against the working and living conditions imposed by the operators of the mine—a rugged and starkly poignant story of a Mexican-American miner and his wife is told in "Salt of the Earth," a union-sponsored film drama, which opened last night at the Grande Theatre on East Eighty-sixth Street.
It is the story of a husband's firm objection to women—and, especially, his wife—mixing in the grim affairs of the strikers, and of the strong determination of the wife to participate, along with other women, in the carrying on of the strike.
This is the film that occasioned controversy and violence when it was being made near Silver City, N. M., just one year ago. The facts were then widely noted that members of the independent company making it, including the director, Herbert J. Biberman, and the producer, Paul Jarrico, had been identified before the House Committee on UnAmerican Activities as past or present Communists and that the organization sponsoring the picture, the International Union of Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers, had been expelled from the Congress of Industrial Organizations for left-wing leanings.
Threats of Vigilante Action
Rosaura Revueltas, the Mexican actress who plays one of the leading roles, was seized as an illegal alien while the production was underway, and fisticuffs and threats of vigilante action occurred in Silver City while the company was there.
Recent sub rosa difficulties of the film's producers in getting a theatre in which to show it here have further evidenced the pressures against it and the obstructions placed in its way.
In the light of this agitated history, it is somewhat surprising to find that "Salt of the Earth" is, in substance, simply a strong pro-labor film with a particularly sympathetic interest in the Mexican-Americans with whom it deals. True, it frankly implies that the mine operators have taken advantage of the Mexican-born or descended laborers, have forced a "speed up" in their mining techniques and given them less respectable homes than provided the so-called "Anglo" laborers. It slaps at brutal police tactics in dealing with strikers and it gets in some rough, sarcastic digs at the attitude of "the bosses" and the working of the Taft-Hartley Law.
But the real dramatic crux of the picture is the stern and bitter conflict within the membership of the union. It is the issue of whether the women shall have equality of expression and of strike participation with the men. And it is along this line of contention that Michael Wilson's tautly muscled script develops considerable personal drama, raw emotion and power.
Conflict of Personalities
For this conflict of human personalities, torn by egos and traditions, is shown in terms of sharp clashes at union meetings, melees on dusty picket lines, tussles with "scabs" and deputy sheriffs and face-to-face encouners between the husband and wife in their meager home. It is a conflict that broadly embraces the love of struggling parents for their young, the dignity of some of these poor people and their longings to see their children's lot improved.
Under Mr. Biberman's direction, an unusual company made up largely of actual miners and their families, plays the drama exceedingly well. Miss Revueltas, one of the few professional players, is lean and dynamic in the key role of the wife who compels her miner husband to accept the fact of equality, and Juan Chacon, a non-professional, plays the husband forcefully. Will Geer as a shrewd, hard-bitten sheriff, Clinton Jencks as a union organizer and a youngster named Frank Talevera as the son of the principals are excellent, too.
The hard-focus, realistic quality of the picture's photography and style completes its characterization as a calculated social document. It is a clearly intended special interest film.

20 Years Of Classes Promoting Social Justice At the Salt of The Earth Labor College 
                           Tucson, AZ

Salt of the Earth Labor College is a school for working people like yourself. It's a place to come together and learn about the political, economic social and cultural forces shaping our lives.
(from the school's website)

A Class at SELC in Feb. 2012 on The Occupy Movement

A plaque to honor the wonderful couple who made the school possible.

Interview With Jon Miles, One of the Founders of the Salt of the Earth Labor College (SELC), who discusses the founding of SELC and how Felix Padilla and Arvilla Jackson, Communist Party members, decided to donate their house for the school.

A crowd enjoys the annual screening of "Salt of the Earth" at SELC. Juan Chacon's wife, Virginia, was honored at one of these events before she passed away. 

A poster on the wall at SELC honoring Lorenzo Torrez who took part in the Empire Zinc struggle and appeared
in the movie.  He later moved to Arizona where he was the leader of the Communist Party and active with SELC.  Torrez wrote a booklet about Juan Chacon, who was the leader of his union local for three decades.

Interview with Steve Valencia, board president of SELC and chair of Tucson Jobs With Justice. He tells how his parents, who were labor leaders, appeared in "Salt of the Earth", how the life and work of Lorenzo and Anita Torrez inspired SELC, and positive changes in the labor movement.

                  Interview with Joe Bernick, Director of SELC
who discusses the evolution and work of SELC, and the role of the Communist Party in supporting the miners union, along with the attacks and blacklisting that occurred during the making of the film and after its release. 

Anita Torrez, wife of Lorenzo Torrez, leads the discussion along with Steve Valencia at SELC after the annual screening of "Salt of the Earth", Jan. 2012. Anita eloquently brings to life what it was like taking part in the struggle and making of the movie.

Link To Salt of the Earth Labor College's website and schedule of classes

Haven't seen "SALT OF THE EARTH" yet?. Well here it is. Enjoy:


I first saw Salt of the Earth in 1972 at a benefit for a new women's centre on the west side of Los Angeles. Like others in the audience, I was deeply moved. Salt of the Earth seemed to articulate the aspirations of women of my generation. "I want to rise. And push everything up with me as I go." Here was a film that presented housework, child care, sanitation as important political issues; that used humour to deflate macho attitudes; that recognised the necessity of rejecting the "old way" but acknowledged the difficulty of creating something new; that had chosen a woman as protagonist and entrusted to her the role of narrator. Here was that rarity, a female hero who not only struggles and suffers but grows and wins. And she gains not simply in self-knowledge, not simply through wresting a piece of hard-won turf from an unchanged society; rather, her victory represents the shared triumph of the community - the specific victory of a successful strike, the less tangible victory of greater equality between Anglos and Mexican-Americans, women and men...

The outspoken feminism of Salt of the Earth is rare in films of any era, particularly rare in the fifties when the feminine mystique exerted so powerful a hold. Its portrayal of women's daily lives and its vision of growing power through growing sisterhood have made the film deeply welcome in the culture of the contemporary women's movement. Its story though, must be one of struggle on many fronts... The struggle of workers, of Mexican-Americans, of women for dignity and equality are the substance of Salt of the Earth. The film's significance today is its insistence on their relatedness, its vision of what director Herbert Biberman called "the indivisibility of equality" - and its acknowledgement of how hard it is to make that vision work...

Young audiences today, seeing Salt of the Earth for the first time, often express surprise that so "old" a film should portray with such passionate comprehension the sometimes conflicting claims of feminist, ethnic and class consciousness - issues still very much with us, conflicting claims still unresolved. That surprise underlines the real damage of the repressive eras of our history. For the story of Salt of the Earth - the strike, the film, the people - is an integral part of progressive belief and action in our politics and in our culture, a heritage that did not completely disappear in the "haunted decade" of the fifties but went, often unwillingly, underground.

- Deborah Silverton Rosenfelt, from the published screenplay of Salt of the Earth, New York, 1978

Thursday, January 30, 2014

SNAPSHOTS FROM SONORA, MEXICO (part 3) SALT OF THE EARTH: Arizpe; A Man of the Earth; A Prison Painter; A Basket Weaver, A Saddle Maker


Arizpe is located south of Cananea. A very beautiful little town with a magnificent church.

Arizpe was the former home of the Opata indigenous people. Arizpe means "land of the fire ants."
An interesting sign I found in an alley, "Don't
take a leak here."

A short video with more scenes of the town including church interior. (includes the song "Busca El Amor" by Salvador Cardenal of Guardabarranco)

Here's a follow-up on an earlier post about Manuel Sácuhi of Cucurpe, Sonora. After some health issues, he has moved in with a son for the time being. Here and in video below he shows some of his leatherwork.

Adriana Mendez and her husband, from Oaxaca, were selling baskets and other items they had made on the streets of Magdalena, Sonora. The following conversation took place, "Can I get in touch with you later by phone?" (in order to acquire more baskets), "No we don't have a phone."; "Is it possible to write you", "No"; "How does one locate you in your village?" "That's not possible."

In the video below she shows her baskets/

In the state prison located in Magdalena de Kino, Sonora an inmate named "Elio" has painted a remarkable mural featuring five historical figures all who spent time in prison, with words of wisdom coming from their prison experience: Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Miguel de Cervantes, Thomas More, and Socrates.
"Prison is a tremendous education in patience and perseverance."  Nelson Mandela

                                        A Short Video Showing The Mural, with   
                                   Guardabarranco's "Mi Luna"

  Here's a video of Don Julian Moreno, a saddle maker in 
  Magdalena de Kino, Sonora.

LINKS To Previous Mexico Posts (click on)
Previous post about Manuel Sacuhi and others in Sonora
Finding Treasure in Mexico's Sierra Madre (Aconchi hot springs and Rio Sonora Valley)
A Grandmother Stronger Than The U.S. Mexico Border Wall
The Struggle For La Nueva Central (Historic Restaurant)
After Fighting Nuclear Waste, A Mexican's Family's Fight For Survival
Snapshots From Mexico--Part 2   Visit To A Forbidden City
Snapshots From Mexico--Part 1    Drinking Songs and Bad Timing