Saturday, Jan. 27, 2018: a unique day in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas. One participant interviewed at the “Stop the Wall” rally to save the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge proclaimed: “this outpouring of our hearts and minds will live on.”
The event, a well-planned rally to save Santa Ana, the “Jewel of the Valley,” was impressive. The refuge is an important, heretofore protected National Wildlife Refuge. “Heretofore” because it is now threatened by Trump’s $25 Billion Wall.
The rally/concert, held in an environmentally-friendly farmer’s field near the refuge, was well attended. Many regular park visitors came to tour the refuge (south of Alamo, along Military Highway). Some stayed with the crowds to try to save it. Present was a mix of ages and ethnic groups. The rally was conceived and planned by the Borderlands Sierra Club; sponsors included Frontera Audubon, Resist the Wall, Coalición de Derechos Humanos, Texas Civil Rights Project and many more. Additional support came from LUPE (La Unión del Pueblo Entero), Eloy Pulido, Pérez Ranch Nursery, Defenders of Wildlife, and Congressman Filemon Vela.
This creative coalition urges others who support their aim to prevent the infamous “Wall” from cutting through this wildlife reserve to visit and volunteer: http://bit.l/SantaAnaSolidarityActions. Attendees were entertained by singers Erika Muñoz, Esther Martínez, Joe and Rosa Pérez, Ray Pérez and poets Edward Vidaurre and Celina Gómez. Choices–food, vegan and non-vegan, soft drinks–were plentiful. Tents, chairs and tables for other groups (e.g., Veterans for Peace; the Native American Nation of Carrizo/Comecrudo; Brown Berets) were supplied.
With primaries approaching it was only natural there were supporters of candidates for public office. Representatives for “Sema” Hernandez were present, as were numerous supporters of “Beto” (O’Rourke) for U.S. Senator from Texas. Guest speakers included Allyson Duarte, DACA recipient, Dreamer Tania Chávez and U.S. Representative Filemon Vela, Congressional District 34. His strong statement supporting DACA can be found in a recent edition of this newspaper.
But the event was much less political than cultural. The friendly, open ambiente was palpable. The exquisite Santa Ana refuge lay just to the south, between Saturday’s gathering and the Rio Grande River, providing more than a symbol—indeed, a tangible presence of flora and fauna (and vanishing species) valiantly trying (with the help of human beings, lovers of wildlife) to survive.