Chicanos offer medical services to countrymen in Los Angeles; strengthen ties

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Chicano activists and artists seek to strengthen a hospital system in the city of The Angels for countrymen, recruiting young doctors and nurses who graduated from the universities of Guanajuato, in order to strengthen ties between the United States and Mexico.

Former Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and philanthropist Cástulo de la Rocha lead an artistic and health movement to support the thousands of people who live in southern California, offering free services that conventional hospitals do not provide to undocumented immigrants.

When I arrived here from the Sierra de Chihuahua, in 1958, where there were no schools, nor hope that we would be treated well in the United States. We have been fighters for our rights and today things have improved. Same in health. We give confidence, a warm touch,” highlighted Cástulo de la Rocha, who is also the owner of the AltaMed Foundation.

Cástulo de la Rocha explained that illegal Mexicans in the United States get sick from chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease or simply stress.

Without those clinics located in Los Angeles and Orange County, I don't know what would happen. We are training doctors and we already have a nursing school, but they are not enough, because here the doctors are not bilingual, that is why we are turning to young Mexicans.”

Cástulo de la Rocha highlighted that thanks to the activism and struggle of social leaders such as Martin Luther King, or César Chávez, in the 50s and 60s, today Mexicans particularly have more rights, because it was not even possible to speak Spanish, much less medical care in a hospital.

Now, the new generation also works for their rights. And we continue fighting now.”

The Chihuahuan living in Los Angeles asserted that, although much is said about US policy, there are many improvements.

For example, my friend here," he illustrated, addressing Antonio Villaraigosa, sitting next to him, "who would have thought he was going to be the mayor of Los Angeles? Because we Mexicans knew that at some point a Mexican was going to take that position, and he has been one of the best representatives.”

Laughing and proud, the philanthropist also said that Villaraigosa is an example that Mexicans can go very far, but it requires struggle and preparation. Villaraigosa governed Los Angeles between 2005 and 2013.

In 1958 when we arrived in East Los Angeles, I never would have thought that I would be in this position today. Surrounded by artists, the press, in Guanajuato and in a position to help,” the Chihuahuan humanist mused from one of the exhibition rooms of the Casa del Conde Rul Museum, in the Plaza de la Paz, in the heart of Guanajuato.

Cástulo stressed that not only pictorial art is welcome, but that there is interest in all art, to the point that his organization has financed films.

The main thing is that we support local, Chicano, Mexican artists,” he said.

Within the framework of the Cervantino International Festival and taking advantage of the fact that the United States is the guest country, a group of five Chicano artists presented the exhibition In Your Faceand its protagonists agreed that part of the secret to the success of the clinics established in Los Angeles is the implementation of art, “because art heals.”

For Villaraigosa, today is the great opportunity for Mexicans to be fully recognized in the United States, so the fight continues, but it must also be from spaces of intellectuality, not only at the hands of intellectuality, he asserted.

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