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Sunday, March 23, 2014

Running With Our Hummingbird Named Consuelo

There’s nobody that I know that doesn’t like a hummingbird. That is especially true in Tucson. For many of us, the hummingbird signifies Consuelo Aguilar. For some, she is but a memory. For others, not even that. And yet, in Tucson, we run for her. We run with her. And on April 5th, we will run and walk for and with her again.

She represents all of what was right with Tucson several years ago. All that was good. And yet, something went wrong…  She was our soaring eagle… who prematurely transformed into our hummingbird… at least she remains with us… always, especially when we run.

Since she passed on Feb. 17, 2009, a lot of water has passed under the bridge. Actually, don’t know if this water metaphor works in Arizona. There’s no water here.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014


SPECIAL INVITE TO OBAMA & HOLDER RE OPERATION STREAMLINE: Please sign and share this far and wide... 24 human rights activists put their lives and liberty on the line to end this for-profit scheme called Operation Streamline. 

To: President Barack Obama
To: First Lady Michelle Obama
To: Honorable Attorney General Eric Holder
We are writing to you regarding an urgent situation taking place in Tucson, Arizona. Every weekday, Monday through Friday at 1:30 PM Operation Streamline takes place at the Federal Court House. Every day, 70 or so Mexican and Central American men and women are processed, charged, convicted, sentenced and sent to a private for-profit prison, before finally being deported.
We invite you and members of your administration to step inside this operation.
In the courtroom, you will witness a most dehumanizing court procedure: Dozens of brown men and women, inexplicably chained from the ankles, waist and wrists, all waiting to be criminally charged at incredible speeds. You will come to know that prior to this judicial procedure, each person gets but a few minutes of consultation with an attorney, on the same day they see the judge. There is no time for adequate counsel, no deliberation, and no contemplation of justice. The daily proceeding takes about 90 minutes
Operation Streamline is purportedly designed to give non-violent undocumented immigrants criminal jail sentences before they are deported, as a deterrent to keep them from trying to reenter the country in the future. However, we see this as a for-profit operation that criminalizes non-violent migrants, who are only trying to survive and improve the lives of their families.
Last October,  24 people have risked their freedom, taking part in actions of peaceful civil disobedience, in attempts to both shut down this abhorrent program and bring attention to the injustices that take place every day in that court room. Their willingness to risk their freedom comes from understanding the urgency of the situation, and the injustices that are imposed on migrants.
Mr. President, this is why we invite you, your family,  and members of administration, including Attorney General Eric Holder. We are convinced that if you witness Operation Streamline, you would be offended by the program, and would know that the right decision is to immediately shut it down. 
Thank you for your time,

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Smiling Brown: Gente de Bronce – People the Color of the Earth

Re the Smiling Brown: Gente de Bronce – People the Color of the Earth Project:  A draft of a preliminary article appears in

It has been reworked and updated and submitted as an academic article for the spring of 2014. It is slated to become a book, play and videologues. This week, I’ve received about ten more contributions, adding to the 75 or so previously received. This is an ongoing project, so feel free to contribute at any time. Looking for vignettes re color consciousness, primarily first memories of when people became conscious of their skin color. People of all colors can submit contributions… the color brown is emphasized because in this country, that is the color that is generally left out of the discussion re race/color. Looking for vignettes/testimonies/memories of any length, but recommended; 300-1200 words. You can also record into your smartphone and send the file or you can also videotape yourself. While the topic of racial profiling is perfect for this project, looking primarily for childhood memories … and how people came to realize that there was never anything ever wrong with our skin color, though contemporary stories also welcome. Inbox or (for more info), send to: There will soon be an interactive website. Currently, there's an FB Page by same name.

* I should add that the stories that have been sent in, as expected, are extremely powerful because the stories I have been looking for are more internal, than external, which includes the self, family, neighbors, schoolmates – all from our formative years. This means there is a historical silence associated with this topic. The objective of this project is to change the dynamics within our communities that for some 500 years has favored light-skin preference.  The objective is to teach children that all shades of the human spectrum are good – none better than the other. Again, no deadline, but please send in when you can. Dr Cintli

Wednesday, January 8, 2014


MAIZ ORIGINS & MIGRATIONS: I got interviewed for a program below by the History Channel. It will be airing Saturday January 18th at 9PM EST/8PM CST on the H2 network. They did not give me a script about the rest of the program. They asked me about Aztlan... but O told them that was not my primary research, rather, maiz. Think they were more interested in Aztlan, but I did get to speak about the origins of maiz and its spread throughout the continent. See what happens. 

More info below.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Year’s Resolutions from the State of Arizona

A new sunrise

                                      New Year’s Resolutions from the State of Arizona:

#1 Force President Obama and Attorney General Holder to come to Arizona to visit Operation Streamline…. so that we can permanently shut it down, with or without the assistance or actions of the above: End this criminalization, dehumanization and for-profit scam!

#2 Force President Obama and Attorney General Holder to come to the border itself, including both, the killing fields and the militarized border walls. He needs to witness the effect of his own policies. Bring the Walls down!

#3 Continue to build irreversible movement for the administration cease its massive deportation policies: NiUnoMas!

#4 Shutdown Migra offices and private immigration detention centers often and everywhere around the country: If the President doesn’t halt the deportations, we will!

#5 Dismantle border patrol checkpoints and end immigration enforcement inside the mainline United States. It is time to quit treating the entire nation as a border zone and it is time to halt the practice of using the migra as hunter battalions throughout the country. Our backs are not the border!

#6 End all 287 (g) agreements, SECURE Communities, and any and all other agreements between the police and the migra. Abajo con la poli-migra!

#7 Have UN/OAS examine the killing and brutalizing of migrants with impunity along the U.S/Mexico border… and file crimes against humanity for all those responsible when and where appropriate.  All life is sacred.

#8 Decriminalize immigration. Any forthcoming immigration agreement should be international in scope and should respect all human rights treaties and conventions. Ningun ser humano es illegal.

#9 Have all scholarship foundations around the country follow the lead of the Hispanic Scholarship Fund, which now accepts DREAM-DACA students: Exclusion is another word for Discrimination.

#10 Continue to build movement for the new Pope and the Catholic Church to revoke and renounce the Doctrine of Discovery; to cease its claim on this continent, its peoples and our souls. All this is but a prelude for not simply reparations, but the beginning of the process by which peoples everywhere are treated not simply as full human beings, but are afforded rights as full human beings: We cannot be illegal on our own continent.

#11 Get some more sleep this year and create more. We should not be spending all our time fighting and responding. Instead, we need to create the world we want to live in. Creer-Crear y Hacer

I would have made this a Christmas wish list, but I don’t believe in wishing. Instead, these are my New Year’s resolutions.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Petition Works: 37-Year Hispanic Scholarship Fund Dream Policy Overturned

Friday, 06 December 2013 11:04 By Roberto Cintli Rodriguez, Truthout | Opinion 

Thanks to all who signed the petition, inspired by the DREAM 9 and Scholarship A-Z.

Petition Works: 37-Year Hispanic Scholarship Fund Dream Policy Overturned

Something remarkable happened last month during the nation's immigration debate; while the president and Congress continued their prolonged stalemate, the board of directors of the national Hispanic Scholarship Fund (HSF) voted to reverse its 37-year-old policy of excluding DREAM students from its scholarship programs.

This reversal is actually huge news, and it is action that did not require permission from Congress or the executive branch.

The HSF is a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization, that, since its founding in 1975, has disbursed more than $400 million to more than 1.5 million recipients. Up to this point, not one cent has ever been granted to a DREAM student.

The reason this reversal is huge news is that DREAM students have been held hostage unnecessarily by extreme right-wing forces who believe DREAMers do not belong in college and, worse, do not belong in this country altogether. These right wingers, who are actually a minority in this country, also are seemingly unaware that many of these students were brought here as infants or small children and are thus not guilty of anything.

For rest of column:

Rodriguez can be reached at:

Friday, November 29, 2013



Tlakatl: What it Means to be Human
All-Day Student/Community Symposium

Whatever I write here is but a glimpse of what happened on Tues Nov 19 at the “Tlakatl: What it Means to be Human” symposium at the University of Arizona. Many photographs were taken and much was videotaped… and this here too is but a brief synopsis that will give you a feel for this event, but it does not approximate conveying the historic nature of the gathering. (Videotape of much of the symposium will be released as soon as all the permissions are gathered.)

The symposium took place one month after a historic uprising in Arizona from Oct 8-14 (South Tucson, Tucson, Phoenix, Nogales and Eloy). It began with a spontaneous protest by hundreds against the cooperation between the police and the migra in South Tucson where the police (as they usually do) contacted the migra during a routine traffic stop of two people in a vehicle, driving with a faulty license plate light. A DREAMER, via different means, contacted the community. Within a half hour, hundreds of people were out on the streets, challenging both the police and migra. While two additional people were arrested and taken away and some were hurt and others were pepper sprayed, the story was not the violence, but the community’s unprecedented challenge to the poli-migra.

Three days later, a coalition of human rights organizations managed to shut down OPERATION STREAMLINE, an apartheid-style form of “justice” that takes place everyday in a half dozen cities along the border, including Tucson. The spectacular action included shutting down access to the federal building, along with locking down two migra buses along the freeway. 24 were arrested on this day. A few days later, a long-publicized promised shutdown of the migra in Phoenix succeeded before even the day came. After the Tucson uprising, the Phoenix migra shut itself down for 4 days, between Oct 11-14. Meanwhile, DREAMERS also forced the shutdown of the private CCA detention facility in Eloy on Oct 14, while human rights activists celebrated in front of the self-shutdown offices of Phoenix ICE.

Much more drama was played out during these and other actions (including another chasedown of the poli-migra on the freeway by human rights activists), that resulted in the Tucson City Hall Council, in effect, directing the chief of police not to have his officers engage in racial profiling or to automatically call the migra, etc. While a victory, it is not an outright ban.

This was the context of the symposium, coming on top of year-long struggles involving the anti-Ethnic Studies HB 2281 and the anti-immigrant SB 1070 legislation. These struggles have seen many people arrested (including myself).

For many reasons, the idea of the symposium was not about what it means to be Chicano/Chicano or Mexican or Raza or Indigenous, but rather, what it means to be human. Everyone gets to partake in this question…. Especially those who have been subjected to dehumanization.

The additional context here is the topic of dismantling the Doctrine of Discovery. We wanted to examine when, where and who created the very concepts of who is human, vs. who is not human, who has souls and who does not, and the modern context of who is legal vs. who is not? This is a decades-long process by Indigenous rights organizations throughout the continent and at international gatherings, including at the United Nations.

While these hearings and gatherings have focused on the entire world or continent, this gathering examined how this dehumanization plays out in Arizona, especially against peoples from Mexico and Central America. In Tucson and Phoenix, these are communities who understand dehumanization and the Doctrine of Discovery on a daily level.

To begin this symposium, we had to begin it in an appropriate way. Many of us in Tucson run, and we run a lot. We don’t run for exercise, competition or for protest. We run to spiritually cleanse our communities and ourselves. So before the symposium, Calpolli Teoxicalli, several of my students (from two classes: (MAS 350) The history of Red-Brown Journalism and communications and (MAS 496) The Legacies of the Doctrine of Discovery) and other community members ran from the Calpolli to the University of Arizona. The short 3-mile run was dedicated to the same theme of symposium. Beyond its physical component, running at 6:30 in the morning signaled the importance of the symposium to our community. When we run, we express ourselves. Our bodies, our feet speak for us. It is our voice. When we run, we leave footprints, and that’s how we chose to start our long day.

Once the symposium began at the KIVA room, a ceremonia and platica were held by the Calpolli on the very meaning of What it Means to be Human.

Many of those in the audience, aside from undergraduate and graduate UA students were high school students from Tucson and Pueblo high schools, many of whom had never seen or took part in such an opening or platica. It was a great way to open up the symposium.

Then, in a most dramatic fashion, UA student Cynthia Diaz from Phoenix and her mom, Maria Rodriguez, who is currently living in Sonora, welcomed the participants via Skype. Maria was deported some three years ago, leaving Cynthia as the head of her household. Students, during and after this welcoming expressed that such an exchange helped both to concretize and humanize the topic of deportations and family separations. Many of the students in attendance are in similar situations, living with deportation hearings as part of their family reality (Incidentally, one student’s spouse was deported last month).

The morning back-to-back sessions included panels by UA-MAS 350 students on immigration/human rights and voice. While the presentations were part of research papers that students are writing, many of the presentations were personal… personal stories of challenges they face in Arizona… more importantly; most of the stories are those of resilience as many of the students live the consequences of what is often in the news. Each session had a professor respondent.

The next session included poetry on what it means to be human by students from Tucson and Pueblo High Schools – with instructors Maria Federico Brummer, Jessica Mejia and Tiffany Mendibles-Escobar.

During these sessions, we also had concurrent elementary school presentations in the Ventana Room at the UA Student Union. Facilitated by Nyona Smith, with several other students, these sessions included creative expressions on the same topic. After the high schools presented, Ochoa Elem. students joined everyone at the KIVA room where they proceeded to sing 3 songs (from memory) in Nahuatl. They did this with the drum. Many felt that this was the highlight of the symposium, if not at least the morning sessions.

Steven Martin, director, of the UA-Native American Student Affairs office welcomed and introduced the noon keynote speaker, Chief Jake Edwards of the Onondaga Nation. The chief’s platica was regarding the wampum belts – a place that stores some 1,000 years of history. Wampum belts are akin to the Quipu and the Nepohuatzinzin – or even the ancient pre-Colombian codices. They are books in different forms. The presentation was so powerful, suffice to say he has granted us permission to post his words (will be posted shortly). Something special happened during his presentation. He went more than twice than his allotted time, and yet, not one complaint and everyone wanted to hear more. But as he said, just telling the story on one of the belts takes more than a week. Incredibly, the very tight schedule was not thrown off… even while others were added to the plenary presentations.

Human rights activist, Dulce Juarez, who works with the ACLU on immigration related issues – and a former DREAMER herself – made the most poignant observation: to understand what it means to be human, we must first be aware of the dehumanization that our communities live.

Dr. Vivian Lopez – followed Juarez’s presentation on the topic of the Spirit of Being. This powerful presentation included the idea that a person’s spirit includes all those around us (and not just human beings), and thus, when a person’s spirit is damaged, it damages all those around that person’s spirit (A student, Crystal Echerivel, actually expounded on the very topic in a most concise manner in one of the morning sessions). What it means to be human, within that context, rehumanization, in effect, is a process that involves healing that spirit of being, the healing of communities – as opposed to simply individuals.

Following Dr. Lopez’s presentation, Tupak Enrique Acosta and Evie Aguirre of Tonatierra in Phoenix delivered words regarding the issue of Dismantling the Doctrine of Discovery. While both had been in South America right before the symposium, they connected the topic of their platica, with the theme of the symposium. Many people in Arizona, and the nation for that matter, have followed the work of Tonatierra in the realm of Indigenous Rights – while including Chicanos/Chicanas in these discussions for several decades. No justice here on their words as we hope we are given permission to post their platicas. Minimally, it should be recognized that because of Tonatierra, the topic of dismantling the doctrine of discovery, has become not simply the inspiration for UN presentations and international conferences, but so too this symposium.

While initially the maestros from UA’s SEED or SEMILLAS program were scheduled to present concurrently, they instead were brought into the plenary sessions where they shared with all the participants their beautiful knowledge from Indigenous pueblos, primarily from Southern Mexico. Maestros from Semillas for the past several years have been instrumental in bringing direct knowledge from Mexico and Central America to Arizona students, while learning about Arizona’s reality (Many run with us).

Prior to the afternoon student sessions, UNIDOS co-founder Denise Rebeil spoke of UNIDOS’s current work (their organizing manual). UNIDOS is the student group that staged a dramatic takeover on April 26, 2011 of the TUSD school board room when they chained themselves to the board members’ chairs. It was through their organizing efforts, along with a legal challenge, that the community constantly challenged the constitutionality of HB 2281, both at the local and state levels.

The afternoon MAS 496 student presentations focused on Identity and Human Rights. Concurrently, students from Grijalva, Hughes and McCorkle elementary schools also presented on the topic of what it means to be human via art, music and other creative expressions.

"Tlakatl: What it means to be human - Painting by Tanya Alvarez

During the afternoon sessions, El Coraje, a student newspaper (the original was from the 1960s-1970s), created by MAS 350 students, was presented to participants.

Evening keynote presentations were combined with a community forum. Presentations included the voices of some of the most powerful Tucson human rights activists -- Raul Al-qaraz, Corazon de Tucson, UA Grad Student, Devora Gonzalez and Isabel Garcia, Derechos Humanos. Moderated by Mari Galup, these presentations were all-Tucson – embodied by those that were central in the Oct 8-14 uprisings.

The evening program, which included the keynotes, facilitated by UA-MEChA co-chairs Diana Diaz and Vic Junior, was very powerful. Joined by a speaker from Scholarships-AZ, the forum included a Q and A on where we go from here (There definitely will be a follow-up next year).

Before the closing session, Teatro (4 skits) by MAS 496 students was presented precisely on the topic of What it means to be human and the doctrine of discovery. Truly, one would have thought they were a pre-existing teatro as they both grasped the topics, but presented them dramatically before the audience. One skit was regarding Operation Streamline while another was regarding light-skin preference in the Americas.

Spoken Word on the topic of what it means to be human was delivered by Spoken Future. The last presentation was actually a collective poem by all those in the audience on What it means to be human.

Video and photos of the symposium will be posted shortly. And definitely, this will become an annual event, which will include curriculum on said topic. BTW... copies of El Coraje are available...

For more info:

Roberto Rodriguez PhD
Dr Cintli