Latino heritage sites, including a park, river, and bodega, must be preserved, the group urges



Latino conservationists have listed a Dominican-owned bodega in Providence, Rhode Island, a park in east Los Angeles that has served as a meeting point for historic Chicano student strikes, and five other locations as Latino heritage sites in urgent need of preservation.

Latino Heritage Scholars, part of an initiative by the nonprofit Hispanic Access Foundation, says the seven selected sites embody the contributions of Latinos to the nation’s identity and narrative.

Many of the websites it chooses are at risk due to deterioration or gentrification, the group said in a report released on Wednesday.

“Though Latinos have demonstrated for generations that they are of vital importance to the United States, sites reminiscent of Latino heritage are disproportionately excluded when it comes to officially designated heritage and protected areas,” said Manuel Galaviz, co-author of the report and anthropologist at the University of Texas at Austin said in a statement.

Galaviz, who worked to give California’s Chicano Park National Historic Landmark status, said the sites can be state protected through the Antiquities Act.

The group hopes their list will help show the importance of the websites in telling “a more complete story of the contributions various communities have made to this nation,” said anthropologist Norma Hartell, co-author of the report.

She worked on adding Chopes Town Cafe and Bar in La Mesa, New Mexico to the National Registry of Historic Places.

The following sites are named as in need of conservation:

  • Castner Range, El Paso, Texas – The land of the ancestors of Comanche and Apache, the 7,081-acre landscape on the east side of the Franklin Mountains became a testing ground for artillery shells and was used by the Army for weapons training in several wars. Latin American conservationists say it continues to be considered sacred by native and indigenous communities and includes historical and cultural artifacts, as well as geological and ecological resources.
  • Chepa’s Park, Santa Ana, California – Located in the Logan Barrio in Santa Ana – California’s oldest Mexican-American neighborhood – is named for Josephina “Chepa” Andrade, who led opposition to highways being built through the neighborhood that is now facing gentrification.
  • Duranguito, El Paso, Texas – The neighborhood on the south side of downtown El Paso is the oldest in the city and played a role in the 1910 Mexican Revolution. It’s at the center of a struggle for its future as developers seek to destroy it for an arena.
  • Fefa’s Market, Providence, Rhode Island – The facility is the first Dominican-owned bodega on Broad Street in Providence; It was opened by Josefina Rosario, known as Doña Fefa, in the mid-1960s. She helped the growing number of Dominican Republic families who moved to Rhode Island and made it one of the largest Dominican communities in the United States.
  • Friendship Park, California-Mexico Border – The binational park is located partly in Southern California and partly in Tijuana, Mexico. Former First Lady Patricia Nixon inaugurated the park and said, “May there never be a fence between these two great nations so that people can reach out their hand in friendship.”
  • Gila River, New Mexico and Arizona – The Gila River system extends 600 miles from New Mexico to Arizona and includes the Gila Wilderness area in New Mexico. The river system was a resource for the Mogollon civilization, as well as the Chiricahua group of Apaches and later Spanish colonists, for more than 1,000 years. It provides habitat for a wide variety of wildlife.

Los Angeles Danger Park.LA Dept. of Recreation and Parks
  • Hazard Park, East Los Angeles, California – The park was a gathering place for Chicano high school students who organized the East Los Angeles Blowouts, the massive school strikes of 1968 that protested against educational inequalities and conditions. It also served as a hangout for families and a baseball field for Mexican-American teams who couldn’t play on other fields. It’s one of the few green public spaces in east Los Angeles.

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