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Translator of “Poetry Comes Out of My Mouth” by Mario Santiago Papasquiaro

Welcome to “Literary Dialogs with Nina Serrano,” the Estuary Press video series. In each episode I dialog with a favorite author and/or translator reading from their own writings. In this first segment I talk with Arturo Mantecón, a brilliant California poet and Spanish to English translator.

Poetry Comes Out of My Mouth on Literary Dialogs with Nina Serrano - YouTube

Mantecón’s new book of translations, Poetry Comes Out of My Mouth: Selected Poems of Mario Santiago Papasquiaro, truly captures the Santiago’s meaning and flavor. Mantecón, ever on the look-out for poets to translate from Spanish to English, has discovered Mexico City poet, Mario Santiago (his pen name) to bring to the English speaking world. The translations sing off the page and the original Spanish is right there for you to check and enjoy.

Arturo Mantecón and Nina Serrano on Literary Dialogs “Poetry Comes Out of My Mouth”

Mario Santiago Papasquiaro (1953-1998) joined forces with Chilean detective writer Roberto Bolaños, before fame and fortune hit Bolaños, when they were both young literary rebels in the 1970’s. Bolaños fans may recognize Mario Santiago as the model for the character “Ulises Lima” in “The Savage Detective.” They harassed established poets at poetry readings shouting and interrupting them with their infrarealismo (infrarealism) doctrines.

Santiago wrote down his verse on odd scraps of paper and didn’t rewrite or edit, believing instead that first thoughts are the best. His admiration for Beat poets and rebel rock and roll groups of the 1970’s and `80’s are reflected in his poems. His poetry explodes words. Santiago’s exuberance and extreme opinions and passions resonate with Mantecon’s translation which match the poet’s energy and uninhibited expression.

Mario Santiago would disappear frequently, taking off on treks in many directions including to Israel and Europe following his heart in search of love. But wherever he traveled his Mexican-ness came with him and found its way into his poems.

Arturo Mantecón provides the English reader fascinating end notes that highlight the cultural life and slang of the bohemian elements of Mexico City in Mario Santiago’s time.

Poetry Comes Out of My Mouth, Selected Poems of Mario Santiago Papasquiaro cover image. Art by Maceo Montoya

Poetry Comes Out of My Mouth by Mario Santiago Papasquiaros as translated by Arturo Mantecón is a terrific book made even better by the expressive visual art of Chicano artist, Maceo Montoya which adorns the cover and includes nine painting illustrations inside the book. The book is published by Diágolos, (dialogosbooks.com).

Mantecón readings bring his translations vividly to life as you will see in this video.

The post Arturo Mantecón on Literary Dialogs with Nina Serrano appeared first on .

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Nina Serrano Interviews Rafael Jesús González Poet Laureate of Berkeley, California creates a symbol for the Grand Vision to Unite Us All: A whole earth (entire, healthy, integral) capable of supporting all life.

Universal Earth Peace and Justice button - YouTube

Nina Serrano interviewing Rafael Jesús González about the Universal Earth Justice Peace flag and button

I had the pleasure of interviewing Rafael Jesús González in my home studio for a La Raza Chronicles/KPFA-fm radio broadcast about the popular Universal Earth Justice Peace flag and button he designed. I’ve seen both the button and flag at many demonstrations and rallies calling for unity and justice. Watch the video to learn how a poet creates visual symbols and enjoy two octogenarians recounting our history. Below is his story.

Stories Behind Symbols
by Rafael Jesús González

In 1982 I took a leave of absence from my teaching at Laney College to work with the Livermore Action Group to organize the International Day of Nuclear Disarmament. One of the issues we had to work out was setting the date for the international actions that were to take place. As you might imagine, it was not easy to find agreement, but Starhawk (of her many books, I recommend her futuristic novel The Fifth Sacred Thing which is in the process of being made into movie) whom I met at the time, and I were adamant that the day had to be a universal world-wide holy day free of national, political, religious, partisan overtones. It had to be a holy day set by the Earth itself and that meant either one of the equinoxes or one of the solstices. After long discussions (with the consensus process you may imagine how long it took) the date was set for the Summer Solstice (June 21) 1983.

A logo for the day of action was needed, one whose meaning embraced all the issues involved, and whose meaning was immediately clear and went beyond language, nationality, political bias, etc. My design was the one accepted by the organizers: the image of the Earth, superimposed upon the Sun and spanned by the wings of Peace. It was this logo (with many variations of design) that went around the world for the 1st International Day of Nuclear Disarmament.

The day was a huge success as far as the number of actions and people involved went (At Livermore National Nuclear Laboratory blockade alone one-thousand of us, I among them, were arrested for civil disobedience. At Santa Rita prison a huge circus tent had to be set up for the arrested men; the women were crowded into a wing of the prison.)

Well, that was the first and last International Day of Nuclear Disarmament. We came out of jail and from organizing demonstrations exhausted, the Livermore Action Group dwindled away, no one else took the gigantic task of organizing a second day, and the logo of the action was forgotten.

Then the summer of 2011, at the inception of the Occupy Movement, some veterans of the Livermore Action Group got together to organize demonstrations throughout the financial district of San Francisco that solstice and the logo was resurrected.

For these actions, I superimposed the logo upon the international rainbow flag for peace that was flown throughout Europe and Latin America (as well as in the U.S.) just before and during the last war on Iraq.

A group of young activists (whom I have been mentoring since about 2010) wanted to have the flags made. The expense, however, is beyond what we could afford and we settled for having the button, healer’s badge we call it.

To order the button, contact Just Buttons via email (info@justbuttons.org) or phone (800-564-2924). Ask for the Universal Earth Justice Peace button by name, or use order number 100009567. You can order 1″ or 2.25″ sizes.

The post Universal Earth Justice Peace Flag and Button appeared first on .

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She Ran from Alaska to Argentina Nina Serrano interview from La Raza Chronicles/KPFA

Vanessa Quesada – Run for Peace and Dignity – is an Indigenous Chicana who participates in the San Antonio Peace and Dignity Journey, the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center, and the Society For Native Nations. She has recently returned from the amazing Peace and Dignity Journey, a seven month prayer run that happens once every four years from Alaska all the way down to Argentina. The ceremonial run began in 1992, to fulfill the prophecy of the eagle and the condor, which reconnects peoples from north and south.

Vanessa Quesada interviewed by Nina Serrano - YouTube

They carry sacred staffs from different first nations communities, praying for a different theme every four years.

Vanessa Quesada – Run for Peace And Dignity interview

Here are some edited text excerpts from my La Raza Chronicles/KPFA radio interview:

Nina Serrano: Vanessa Quesada, you passed through different borders and different countries. How did these official states respond to this journey? Have you received support from them?

Vanessa Quesada: One of the things about the prayer run is that we’re reuniting all of the nations. In that way, we’re bringing territories together that often span different nation-states. There have been some challenges in the past, including in 2016 when we ran through Nicaragua. Right there on that border between Honduras and Nicaragua, we were stopped because their election which was happening one week after the election in the United States. They were not accepting and not open to any groups of any sorts that also had people who were coming from the United States. Anywhere else, for that matter. We weren’t the only group that got turned away.

This is the first time that we’ve ever had this problem. In the 24 years that we’ve been running and that we’ve been carrying this prayer, we’ve never come across this problem. This is something really new. That’s alarming. It’s something that, in 1992, the elders already had this vision for us to carry this prayer as a prayer run and not to get involved in any kind of politics or pushing any agendas.

At this point in time, everything is starting to collapse together. Those questions are arising again of becoming a non-profit organization. How are we going to maneuver and clarify with language that these nation-states or these borders can understand? They’re really, at the end of the day, political constructs, right?

Nina Serrano: Yes.

L to R, Nina Serrano, Poet Laurette Rafael Jesús González, and Vanessa Quesada

As you go from country to country, territory, territory, region to region, how is woman leadership viewed and accepted or challenged?

Vanessa Quesada: It was challenged from Alaska down. To be honest they were the greatest challenges and definitely in Central America. There are certain places in Mexico and in Central America where women would not run by themselves. Women were cat-called, lured into the jungle, followed, given a hard time and things like that. Luckily, along the way, some of those things happened just in the time when a runner was being picked up with a van, or one of the runners just had this intuition to go check on that runner. All of these things came up.

There’s definitely a heaviness all the way down around the femicides still. A lot of people think Chiapas or Central America and Honduras are one of the most violent places in the world right now. Also, every single community, all the way from Alaska down, and all through Canada people told us stories of their missing and murdered indigenous women and men as well. This is really something that’s severely underreported that a lot of us don’t even have an idea of how many people are actually being disappeared, being murdered.

It’s really up to us to reinstate this communication amongst us that is away from the political constructs of the media, the corporations and of what they want us to know. We really need to reconnect in a way that’s genuine to our roots, our indigenous languages, and being able to also find other ways.

We talked about borders, about breaking down these borders. That’s not the world that we want to live in. As the youth, we want to be able to use the waters between our cultures. For example, there’s a really great group in between Mexico and Guatemala that are really using the strength of the water and their culture to bring together all the different Mayan pueblos, to really destroy the borders, come down with the borders and not recognize those borders. To remind ourselves that as indigenous people, we’ve been able to cross into different territories and take care of our territory the only way that we know how without being stopped, without having a passport, without any of these documentations that are now required. We have that task of being more creative, of being able to connect and listen, not only to the land and the elements but being able to remember how to do these offerings to the land because that’s where all those messages,  and that’s where our wisdom is kept; our songs and everything.

A lot of people say that our language and our culture are disappearing. It’s not true. We met this elder, Cree elder, he only spoke Cree in Manitoba that said, “The land, she keeps all of our teachings, all of our wisdom. At any point, if we wanted to remember something, all we have to do is leave our offerings and give of our heart, whether that’s in a song, whether it’s a prayer, whether it’s tobacco. Whatever the medicine that you’ve been taught is, that’s what you offer. Only then can you receive.

Nina Serrano: What about the healing aspect of the work you do. What is the role of healing? While you’re telling us that, could you also share how you yourself learned some of this?

Vanessa Quesada: Healing is not necessarily the purpose of the run. I would say it’s more of a byproduct of what happens. As we are praying and being so much more in contact with all of the elements, with the air, with the land, with the water, with the rain. Often, we’ll sleep wherever people sleep in that community, whether it’s a teepee or out on the ground on a tarp, in homes that still have the earth, what we call now “earth floors”, just on the land. Being able to experience that every single day and being in a deep spiritual space with people and being able to open up in this way really makes us more sensitive to those message from the land and from the staffs that come through the people in different communities.

Within that, we become more sensitive to the strength of our sacred places where our ancestors and our families would go to pray. They’re really strong places that have power, that have strength, that have healing capacities, that we recognize now as healing because of different minerals through the springs or the sheer makeup of the land and of the soil, the content and the minerals, all these different things that now science is proving why our ancestors did what they did, when they somehow already knew.

My healing has been able to come back to my community with a completely new set of eyes and being able to communicate with my heart with the land. I want to connect with the elders to learn the medicines of the land, to learn about the traditional foods, to learn about why is it important to carry these traditions, to carry these medicine ways. That also implies for us a responsibility to carry so much healing that can happen within our own bodies, but also for the land just by going together and doing a ritual and praying and signing.

I’ve seen in my community where our birthplace of the waters was going dry in 2012. We were running for the water and one of the women had offered a few of the drops of the water from there before it had dried up. We started. We felt that call and we started to give more offerings. In that process, seven years later, it’s flowing again. All these things that we don’t realize are possible, but there are still medicine people that know how to call upon that spirit of the water to come back. What we need to do is to make sure there’s a balance because all these things that are happening now, the fracking, especially in Texas. We have fracking, we have detention centers and they’re layered. We have women and children that are being incarcerated just for trying to cross a border and they’re being fed this water that’s coming from the fracking wells and that’s coming from the surface water. It’s completely toxic. It’s flammable in Southwest Texas. It’s something that is just growing horrifically. We’re starting to see earthquakes from it. We’re starting to see all these things happen in response to these chemicals that are being shot into the land to pull out the gas. It’s horrible and it’s something that not a lot of people are aware of.

Same thing when we’re running in Canada. You’re running down the highway and there’s this curtain of trees. Then, you start to see these signs and then you look beyond, just behind the small thin tree line, it’s a fracking site. In BC, I remember running and seeing that.

The corporations are trying to keep it tucked away or in places that people don’t realize you can’t see it, but in West Texas, right now where my grandparents live, my cousin passed away from a brain tumor three years ago and he worked on one of those seismic sites. He got a brain tumor. I started talking to some of the women that were working there taking care of him in the home health and in the hospice centers. They said, “You know what? If we had double the amount of hospice centers, it would be full of brain and lung cancer patients from all the chemicals that are blowing up.”

This is the world that we’re inheriting. This is the world that we’re leaving for our children and for our grandchildren. It’s up to the younger generations to work with the older generations, the more seasoned and wise generations to hear the stories, to learn the stories to really know where we are and what’s going on around us. It’s really important to know what’s happening and how sacred our land is, how sacred the air is and why we need to become protectors. We need to move in peace, but also to demand dignity for the things that we do because we are not accepting a world that’s uninhabitable. We need to take care of ourselves and we need to care of all of that which gives us life.

With that, it’s a strong time right now for us to really be training and to be more creative, to find more creative solutions that are natural and bring us back into balance, but also to have that strong voice to demand it and to be able to play by those political construct rules and to know the laws. We need to be educated. We need to know how to stand up for ourselves and how to show where the holes are for science and all of these other things so that we can also prove that our indigenous sciences are just as strong and even more timeless.

Nina Serrano: Wow. This is overwhelming. I’m so glad you’re here to tell us these things. They’re profound, they’re moving and they’re inspiring. Thank you so much. It’s been a pleasure.

Vanessa Quesada: Thank you.

Nina Serrano: Un placer.

Vanessa Quesada: Igualmente. Muchisimas gracias.

Nina Serrano: Vanessa Quesada from the San Antonio Peace and Dignity Journey, the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center and the Society for Native Nations. Thank you. Gracias.

The post Vanessa Quesada – Run for Peace and Dignity appeared first on .

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Por Nina Serrano, codirector de la película

Nina Serrano, March 8, 2018, San Francisco, CA.

Como uno de los tres directores de la película “Qué Hacer/What is to be Done”, filmada en 1970 en Chile y comercializada en 1973, volví a ver la película en 2018, solo dos años antes de los 50 años posteriores. He cambiado, el planeta ha cambiado, Chile ha cambiado, pero la política exterior imperialista de Estados Unidos no. También sin cambios es el dilema de los estadounidenses como la protagonista de la película, Suzanne McCloud, un voluntario desilusionado de Peace Corps en busca de un cambio.

La película comienza con el personaje chileno Simon Vallejo, observando que la unidad de la izquierda latinoamericana debe permanecer intacta. Abrazó el llamado de Simón Bolívar a la unidad continental, aplicándolo a la necesidad de fortalecer el partido de coalición Unidad Popular de Allende.

Sandra Archer como Susan McCloud, protagonista de Que Hacer / What Is to Be Done (1973)

La protagonista femenina Suzanne Mc Cloud recurre a las respuestas al revolucionario intelectual chileno Simón, más viejo y más experimentado, estrechamente aliado con Cuba y Fidel. Él no puede cumplir con ellos. Él dice: “Las respuestas de hoy no serán las mismas que las de mañana. Tienes que encontrarlas a diario en tu propia realidad”.

La creación y redacción de la película en sí misma fue improvisada, reinventándose a sí misma cada día en el cambiante contexto de la cotidiana y volátil escena preelectoral chilena de 1970. Nuestra decisión estética rectora fue crear una película “brechtiana” que mezcló tomas dramáticas ficticias con imágenes documentales que filmamos en vivo tal como sucedió. Los actores improvisaron el diálogo mientras vivían y se sumergían en la situación.

Saul Landau, co-director, y Country Joe McDonald

Adaptamos la idea del poeta y artista teatral alemán Bertolt Brecht de que al público no se le debe permitir revolcarse en la emoción. Más bien, deben ser sacudidos o distanciados del ámbito emocional para entrar en lo racional y comenzar a pensar en los problemas de la vida real que planteó la situación ficticia. Esta técnica a menudo se traduce del alemán como “alienación”.

En la película, tratamos de desarrollar este efecto “alienante” mediante la inserción de la imagen y la música Country Joe McDonald, cuyas inquietantes letras comentan la acción en sus momentos climáticos como un coro griego. Otro dispositivo de distanciamiento o alienación es el de interponer entrevistas con el líder izquierdista del MIR, Sergio Zorrilla. Él critica los elementos ficticios de la película con sus observaciones teóricas. También intervinimos tomas ocasionales del equipo de filmación en acción. Echamos un vistazo al joven cineasta chileno Jorge Mueller, que se desempeñó como asistente de cámara. Tres años más tarde, después del golpe de 1973, la Junta Militar de Pinochet lo arrojó vivo de un helicóptero. Muchos de los participantes en la película fueron asesinados, torturados, encarcelados o exiliados, causando un dolor permanente en la vida de todos los que trabajamos en la película.

Actor Richard Stahl, al centro, en escena del documental.

Pablo de la Barra, actor chileno, como Hugo Alarcon

El metraje de la película documental también juega un papel alienante o distante porque se complica por la aparición de los actores dentro de la acción documental real en vivo. La violencia en la película es tanto real como actuada. Durante la filmación, como en tantas filmaciones, ocurren accidentes y lesiones físicas. Cuando el actor Pablo de la Barra, que interpreta al joven militante, salta al río Mapuche después de un secuestro abortado, en realidad sufrió heridas. Tres años más tarde, después de recibir la noticia del golpe, volví a pensar en él cuando supe que el río se había vuelto rojo de los asesinatos militares. Los actores y la tripulación creían en esta película antiimperialista y se arriesgaron, actuando de manera real en la creciente atmósfera electoral de la vida y la muerte.

La película sigue pareciendo relevante 48 años después, incluso con todo lo que ahora conozco y he experimentado. Por supuesto, Sandra Archer, el papel principal, ha fallecido, mis codirectores Saul Landau y Raul Ruiz también han fallecido. Pero las acciones de “cambio de régimen” de los Estados Unidos y América Latina siguen siendo las actuales en Honduras, Venezuela y Cuba. Esta administración actual es abiertamente codiciosa, racista, misógina, xenofóbica. Ni siquiera pretenden ser amables o agradables e incluso planean crear un muro más grande en la frontera con México.

Si estuviéramos en la situación de Suzanne McCloud, donde sentimos que queremos ser parte de lo que ella llamaba “la revolución”, pero lo que hoy llamamos “la resistencia”, ¿qué hacemos? Esa sigue siendo la pregunta. “Qué hacer?” ¿Qué se debe hacer?”

La semilla de la idea de la película fue plantada por primera vez por Fidel Castro en Cuba, en 1969, un año antes del rodaje. Castro había invitado a Saul, a nuestros hijos Greg, Valerie y yo a ver la televisión del primer alunizaje de los Estados Unidos. Cuando nos íbamos, comentó: “La próxima película que deberías hacer es una película sobre Chile porque van a tener elecciones, lo que va a cambiar la historia. Podrían votar en el socialismo, evitando la revolución, las muertes y las guerras civiles”.

Para Saul y para mí, eso era todo lo que necesitábamos. Saul había hecho una película documental sobre Fidel el año anterior en 1968. Trabajé en ella, pero no me lo acreditaron porque KQED-TV insistió en que las esposas no deberían obtener ningún crédito, ya que era nuestro deber ayudar a nuestros maridos. Entonces, cuando las esposas tradujeron, o se quedaron despiertas toda la noche escribiendo, o todas las cosas que las esposas de los cineastas solían hacer en esos días, no recibimos ningún pago o crédito. Esta vez, Saul y yo decidimos trabajar juntos como iguales en un proyecto cinematográfico.

Nos quedamos entusiasmados de la reunión con Fidel Castro. Entonces, comenzamos a investigar seriamente la situación chilena. Ya teníamos muchas conexiones con intelectuales de izquierda latinoamericanos. Solo teníamos el título provisional “El fantasma del Che”. Así fue como empezó todo.

Jim Beckett, co-productor y actor, como Personal de la Embajada de EE.UU..

Una cosa llevó a la otra. Unimos fuerzas con James Beckett como productor y formamos Lobo Films. Trabajé con Sandra Archer en la producción de SF Mime Toupe de Moliere’s Tartuffe y estaba tomando clases de improvisación en El Comité (The Committee). Entonces, encontrar actores de San Francisco fue relativamente fácil. Ya había trabajado con Country Joe Mc Donald en una obra contra la guerra de Vietnam. Saul Landau y Jim Beckett comenzaron la tarea monumental de recaudar dinero. Viajaron a Chile, con un amigo chileno, Darío Pulgar. Reclutaron al personal técnico y administrativo y al cineasta chileno Raúl Ruiz para dirigir a los actores chilenos. Para la temporada electoral de 1970, habíamos reunido un equipo chileno y estadounidense de actores y equipo de producción de unas 40 personas, hicimos contacto con diversas organizaciones de izquierda chilenas y alquilamos una gran casa comunal en Santiago como base. Acordamos dirigir a los actores estadounidenses, Raúl Ruiz dirigiría a los actores chilenos y Saul dirigiría el rodaje del documental.

Tomó 3 años recaudar los fondos y completar la edición en San Francisco. Cuando terminó la película y teníamos un distribuidor de películas, ocurrió el sangriento golpe del 11 de septiembre de 1973. El teatro de la ciudad de Nueva York donde se estrenó la película estaba bajo amenazas de bomba de la derecha. Sin embargo, recibimos una crítica decente del New York Times y ganamos premios internacionales de cine en Manheim, Alemania y Venecia, Italia. Saul, Raul y yo compartimos el premio a la Mejor Dirección del festival de cine de Venecia.

Saul Landau y yo estábamos para entonces separados. Ambos nos unimos al movimiento de solidaridad internacional con el pueblo de Chile. Cuando el colega chileno de Saul, Orlando Letelier, fue asesinado por agentes de la Junta chilena en Washington DC, ayudó a organizar una investigación internacional intensiva para llevar a los asesinos ante la justicia y escribió el libro premiado, “Asesinato en Embassy Row”.

Trabajé como miembro del personal del Centro Chile Libre de San Francisco, escribí y produje una obra sobre la resistencia clandestina chilena llamada “Weavings” y produje la “Cantata de Santa María de Iquique” de Quilapayun para la televisión local. También produje algunas piezas de asuntos públicos con Fernando Alegría sobre el golpe chileno.

¡Después de una lucha heroica de 17 años, el pueblo chileno recuperó su democracia! Que sirvan de inspiración para nosotros para defender a los nuestros frente a la agresión fascista. Están con nosotros en California hoy y en el legado de la resistencia de Joaquin Murieta al racismo anti-latino. Todos estamos conectados.

Vea la película aquí:

Que Hacer - YouTube

The post Reflexiones sobre la película – ¡Qué hacer! appeared first on .

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By Nina Serrano, Co-Director of Que Hacer/What Is to Be Done (1973) Celebrating International Women’s Day 2018

Reflections on Que Hacer by Nina Serrano - YouTube

Reflections On Que Hacer

As one of the three directors of the film “Que Hacer/What Is To Be Done” shot in 1970 in Chile and commercially released in 1973, I watched the film again in 2018, only two years short of 50 years later. I have changed. The planet has changed. Chile has changed. But US imperialist foreign policy has not. Also unchanged is the dilemna of Americans like the film’s protagonist Suzanne McCloud, a disillusioned Peace Corps volunteer seeking change.

The film opens with the Chilean character Simon Vallejo observing that Latin American left unity must stay intact. He embraced Simon Bolivar’s call for continental unity, applying it to the need for strengthening Allende’s Unidad Popular coalition party.

Sandra Archer as Susan McCloud, protagonist of Que Hacer / What Is to Be Done (1973)

The female lead character Suzanne Mc Cloud turns for answers to the older, more seasoned Chilean intellectual revolutionary Simon, closely allied with Cuba and Fidel. He can not provide them. He says “Today’s answers will not be the same as tomorrow’s. You have to find them daily in your own reality.”

The making and scripting of the film itself was improvisational, reinventing itself each day in the changing context of the daily, volatile 1970 Chilean pre-election scene. Our guiding aesthetic decision was to create a “Brechtian” film that mixed fictional dramatic footage with documentary footage that we shot live as it happened. The actors improvised the dialogue while living and immersed in the situation.

Saul Landau, co-director, and Country Joe McDonald

We adapted German theatre artist and poet Bertolt Brecht’s idea that the audience should not be allowed to wallow in emotion. But rather, they should be jolted or distanced out of the emotional realm into the rational to begin thinking about the real life issues that the fictional situation raised. This technique often translates from the German as “alienation.”

In the film, we tried to develop this “alienating” effect through inserting the image and music Country Joe McDonald, whose haunting lyrics comment on the action at its climatic moments like a Greek chorus. Another distancing or alienating device is interposing interviews with leftist MIR leader Sergio Zorrilla. He critiques the fictional elements of the film with his theoretical remarks. We also interjected occasional shots of the film crew in action. We catch a glimpse of young Chilean filmmaker Jorge Mueller who served as camera assistant. Three years later after the 1973 coup he was thrown alive out of a helicopter by the Pinochet Military Junta. Many of the film participants were murdered, tortured, jailed, or exiled, causing a permanent pain in the lives of all of us who worked on the film.

Actor Richard Stahl, center, in documentary scene.

Pablo de la Barra, Chilean actor, as Hugo Alarcon

The documentary film footage also plays an alienating or distancing role because it is complicated by the appearance of the actors inside the live real documentary action. The violence in the film is both actual and acted. During the filming like in so many film shoots, accidents and physical injuries occur. When the actor Pablo de la Barra, playing the young militant, leaps into the Mapuche River after an aborted kidnapping, he was actually hurt. Three years later, after receiving the news of coup, I thought of him again when I learned that the river had turned bloody red from the military murders. The actors and crew believed in this anti-imperialist film and took risks, acting for real in the heightened election atmosphere of life and death.

The film still feels relevant 48 years later even with everything I now know and have experienced. Of course, Sandra Archer, the lead role, has passed, my co-directors Saul Landau and Raul Ruiz have passed. But the “regime change” actions of the United States and Latin America remains such as currently in Honduras, Venezuela and Cuba. This present administration is overtly greedy, racist, misogonist, zenophonic. They don’t even pretend to be kind or nice and even plans to create a bigger wall on the Mexican border. .

If we’re in Suzanne McCloud’s situation, where we feel like we want to be part of what she was calling “the revolution,” but what we today call “the resistance,” what do we do? That’s still the question. “Que hacer?” What is to be done?”

The seed of the idea for the film was first planted by Fidel Castro in Cuba, in 1969, a year before the filming. Castro had invited Saul, our children Greg, Valerie, and me for the TV viewing of the first US moon landing. As we were leaving, he commented “The next film you ought to make is a film about Chile because they’re going to have an election, which is going to change history. They might vote in socialism, bypassing revolution, deaths, and civil wars.”

For Saul and me, that was all we needed. Saul had made a documentary film about Fidel the year before in 1968. I worked on it but was not credited because KQED-TV insisted that wives should not get any credit, since it was our duty to just help our husbands. So when wives translated, or stayed up all night typing, or all the things that filmmakers’ wives often did in those days, we received no pay or credit. This time around, Saul and I decided to work together as equals in a film project.

We left excited from the meeting with Fidel Castro. Then, we began seriously researching the Chilean situation. We already had a lot of connections with Latin American left intellectuals. We had only the working title “The Ghost of Che.” That’s how it started.

Jim Beckett, co-producer and actor, as US Embassy staff.

One thing led to another. We joined forces with James Beckett as the producer and formed Lobo Films. I had worked with Sandra Archer in the SF Mime Toupe production of Moliere’s Tartuffe and was taking improv classes at The Committee. So finding San Francisco actors was relatively easy. I’d already worked with Country Joe Mc Donald on an anti-Vietnam war play. Saul Landau and Jim Beckett began the monumental task of raising money. They traveled to Chile, with a Chilean friend, Dario Pulgar. They recruited technical and administrative staff and Chilean filmmaker Raul Ruiz to direct the Chilean actors. By the election season of 1970, we had amassed a Chilean and US team of actors and production crew of about 40 people, made contact with the diverse Chilean left organizations, and rented a large communal house in Santiago to be our base. We agreed that I would direct the American actors, Raul Ruiz would direct the Chilean actors and Saul would direct the documentary filming.

Salvador Allende and Poet Pablo Neruda

It took 3 years to raise the funds and complete the editing in San Francisco. By the time the film was finished, and we had a film distibutor, the bloody Sept 11, 1973 coup happened. The New York City theatre where the movie was premiering was menaced by right wing-bomb threats. Nonetheless, we received a decent review from The New York Times and won international film awards in Manheim, Germany and Venice, Italy. Saul, Raul and I shared Best Direction award from the Venice film festival.

Saul Landau and I were by then separated. We both joined the international solidarity movement with the people of Chile. When Saul’s Chilean colleague Orlando Letelier was murdered by the Chilean Junta agents in Washington DC, he helped mount a successful intensive international investigation to bring the assassins to justice and wrote the prize winning book, “Murder on Embassy Row.”

I worked as the staff person for the San Francisco Free Chile Center, wrote and produced a play about the Chilean underground resistance called “Weavings” and produced Quilapayun’s “Cantata de Santa Maria de Iquique” for local TV. I also produced some public affairs pieces with Fernando Alegria about the Chilean coup.

After a 17-year heroic struggle, the Chilean people regained their democracy! May they serve as an inspiration to us to uphold ours in the face of fascist aggression. They are with us in California today and in the legacy of Joaquin Murieta’s resistance to anti-Latino racism. We are all connected.

View the film here:

Que Hacer - YouTube

The post Reflections on Que Hacer, 48 Years Later appeared first on .

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2018 International Women’s Day

Chile Lindo is presenting an International Woman’s Day Tribute to Nina Serrano with a film screening of “What Is To Be Done?/Que Hacer?” There will be a question and answer session with Nina Serrano, empanadas and wine at COVO,  981 Mission Street, San Francisco March 8, 2018, 6-9pm. 

1970, Santiago, Chile. Director Nina Serrano, Cameraperson Gustavo Morris during the filming of “¿Que Hacer? /What is to be Done?”

Poet l Filmmaker l Activist
Presenting: “What Is to Be Done?” (“¿Qué Hacer?”)
appearing also with Greg Landau and Valerie Landau

“What Is to Be Done?” (“¿Qué Hacer?”) is a film produced in Chile in 1970, co-directed by Nina Serrano, Saul Landau, and Raúl Ruiz. Original music and lyrics by Country Joe McDonald. The film won awards at the Cannes, Venice, and Mannheim, Germany film festivals.

Nina Serrano is a San Francisco Bay Area poet, filmmaker, activist, and radio producer for KPFA’s “La Raza Chronicles” and “Open Book: the Poet to Poet Series”. At age 82, Nina Serrano published her first novel, “Nicaragua Way.”

In 1970, Nina Serrano invited Country Joe to join the film crew of “What Is to Be Done?” and thus he composed the lyrics and music score for the film, on location, in Chile.

Greg and Valerie Landau, Nina’s son and daughter, were teenagers at the time the film was made, and also joined the production crew in Chile.

Greg Landau, PhD, is an award-winning music/video producer, educator and music historian. He received nine Grammy nominations for his CD productions. He has produced numerous film and video sound tracks. He teaches Latin American and Latino/a Studies at City College of San Francisco.

Valerie Landau is an author and designer that serves as Director of Assessment at Samuel Merritt University where she designed a software application that facilitates analysis and assessment of how effectively an organization is meeting their goals and objectives at course, program, and institutional levels. She graduated from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, Department of Human Development and Psychology, with an emphasis in technology in education.

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/an-international-womens-day-tribute-to-nina-serrano-tickets-42927430099

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Interviewed by Nina Serrano, La Raza Chronicles.

Rafael Jesús González recites his poem "Maps Lie / Mienten los Mapas" - YouTube

Here we are two octogenarians in love with poetry, featuring Maps Lie / Mienten los Mapas, a poem by Rafael Jesús González. Rafael’s words in Spanish and English were never more timely. Rafael Jesús González recently named the first poet laureate of Berkeley California has been a frequent guest on La Raza Chronicles radio over the years. His work is bilingual, topical, and universal. While his poems often address the latest problems we face and embrace anger at the injustices, they are always uplifting with deeply rooted spiritual values. Rafael writes in two languages, English and Spanish. His poems come to him in either language. perhaps reflecting his early formative years living on the US/Mexcian border of El Paso, Texas with its easy flow of language and culture, back and forth.

Maps Lie / Mienten los Mapas, a poem by Rafael Jesús González

We were recording Maps Lie / Mienten los Mapas, a poem by Rafael Jesús González for our regular KPFA-fm radio program “La Raza Chronicles”. My husband Paul Richards, who was engineering in our home studio wanted to add video to the session. So without makeup, set design, and whatever else, we just did it. Adding the camera,  lavalier mics, and turning on some reading lamps.  It was so much fun. We want to do this more often and offer the edited pieces as scheduled video posts. So, there will be more multimedia versions of Latino cultural and public affairs in the USA to come. Hope you enjoy this as much as we did! We’d love to hear from you at ninaserrano.com.

About Nina Serrano: Nina is a well-known, international prize-winning inspirational author and poet. With a focus on Latino history and culture, she is also a playwright, filmmaker, KPFA talk show host, a former Alameda County Arts Commissioner, and a co-founder of the San Francisco Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts. Oakland Magazine’s “best local poet” in 2010, she is a former director of the San Francisco Poetry in the Schools program and the Bay Area’s Storytellers in the Schools program. A Latina activist for social justice, women’s rights, and the arts, Nina Serrano at 82 remains vitally engaged in inspiring change and exploring her abundant creativity. For more information go to ninaserrano.comor contact her publisher at estuarypress.com. For more detailed information about Nina see About Nina on her website.

About Estuary Press: Estuary Press is the publisher of Nicaragua Way. It is also the home of the Harvey Richards Media Archive, a repository of photography and video documentaries of various social change and political movements during the 1960s and 1970s. Contact Paul Richards (510) 967 5577, paulrichards@estuarypress.com or visit estuarypress.com for more details.

MEDIA – For photos & interviews: Paul Richards (510) 967 5577; paulrichards@estuarypress.com

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A Song for Ben Linder

U.S. Volunteer killed by the Contras
while working to electrify El CUA

by Nina Serrano

A Song for Ben Linder, from Heart’s Journey

From Heart’s Journey, Selected Poems 1970-1999

Ben Ben
You turned on the light
The town shining so bright
for the very first time
Oh Ben Linder
You watched all alone
so far from your home
to get the job done

Ben Ben
Changing wind and water to light
Making endless day of darkest night
People soared with the sight
Oh spirit of light
You lived to be free
so that others could be
Juggled with creativity
Bringing forth electricity
From darkness to light
Changing wrongs to right
We carry on your fight
til the dawn of pure light
on earth as it is in heaven

Ben Ben
Spirit of light
Making endless day of darkest night

About Nina Serrano: Nina is a well-known, international prize-winning inspirational author and poet. With a focus on Latino history and culture, she is also a playwright, filmmaker, KPFA talk show host, a former Alameda County Arts Commissioner, and a co-founder of the San Francisco Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts. Oakland Magazine’s “best local poet” in 2010, she is a former director of the San Francisco Poetry in the Schools program and the Bay Area’s Storytellers in the Schools program. A Latina activist for social justice, women’s rights, and the arts, Nina Serrano at 82 remains vitally engaged in inspiring change and exploring her abundant creativity. For more information go to ninaserrano.comor contact her publisher at estuarypress.com. For more detailed information about Nina see About Nina on her website.

About Estuary Press: Estuary Press is the publisher of Nicaragua Way. It is also the home of the Harvey Richards Media Archive, a repository of photography and video documentaries of various social change and political movements during the 1960s and 1970s. Contact Paul Richards (510) 967 5577, paulrichards@estuarypress.com or visit estuarypress.com for more details.

MEDIA – For photos & interviews: Paul Richards (510) 967 5577; paulrichards@estuarypress.com

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Embracing Community Arts

1977, San Francisco. Community Theatre Arts Workshop Flyer by Jane Norling. Latin American Influences in San Francisco Theatre

Believe it or not, in the 1970s public media like KQED-TV was federally mandated to give public access to community groups. Seeing artist Jane Norling’s flyer for my bilingual acting workshops  from the 1970’s evoked my memories of Latin American influences in San Francisco theatre local art scene. It was a time of great opportunity for community and minority artists to find training and performing around the Bay Area. KQED, our local public television station, broadcast the performances that our workshops created.

Jane Norling worked for the Neighborhood Arts Program, part of the San Francisco City Arts Commission. The city hired talented artists like Jane Norling and Joe Ramos among others, to help community arts groups reach larger audiences. In those days before the internet, flyers and posters were our major outreach tool. Xerox copying had just become widely available and we could print as many as 100 or 5000 flyers depending on our budgets.

My Latino focus came with me in my role as Artistic Director and Chief Administrator of Community Theater Arts Workshop, a non-profit always scrambling for small grants. The workshop announced in this flyer taught theater techniques popular in the people’s theater movement in Latin America. I had learned them working with two Latin American theatre artists: Cuban Huberto LLamas and Argentine Humberto Martinez, whose works deeply influenced and inspired me. I was eager to use them to mobilize people for change and help awaken to the world around them.

1973, San Francisco, California. Nina Serrano on the phone.

I first learned some of these techniques in Cuba in 1974-75 working with Huberto Llamas in rural theater. We trained peasants and dairy workers to use theater to solve their concrete daily problems by creating and acting in theaters productions for the local community. Working with Llamas among the cows, cowboys, and milkmaids was not so different theatrically from my earlier experience in San Francisco before and after the Summer of Love (1967-1968). I was developing and directing an agitprop truck theatre that roamed the streets performing musical skits for peace during the Viet Nam War from the back of a pickup truck. We had to gather an audience on the sidewalk, get our message out fast, using a sound generator for the music and signs for the dialog and then, take off pronto before the police showed up.

In Cuba, where we did not have to run from the police, I joined Llamas in leading group discussions that included a community social worker to pin point the issues. We used improvisation, movement exercises, and theater games to explore the problems and to build the actor’s craft. Slowly a storyline with themes would emerge and we would create a play. The larger community would support our work building beautiful outdoor stages bedecked with palm fronds and greenery. I was always amazed at their great enthusiasm and skills. The beautiful Caribbean sky was the backdrop.

Nina Serrano and Humberto Martinez, 1979. Screen shot from KQED performance of La Cantata de Santa Maria de Iquique.

When I returned to San Francisco, I met Argentine political refugee and theater artist Humberto Martinez. He came from Argentina during the years of the dirty war (1976-83) because of his association with the outlawed leftist Monteneros group. He was forced to flee to San Francisco after he had produced the Chilean miner’s strike story “La Cantata de Santa Maria de Iquique” in Argentina performed by a group of workers. We met through my association with a trio of impoverished Argentine refugees. They were avant-garde theater performers who I fed and housed briefly. They introduced me to Humberto while he was recreating La Cantata again here in the Bay Area. This time he was working with a group of local Chicano and Chilean immigrant cannery workers in a church in San Jose.  Unlike Llamas who created his scripts from the community to help solve their problems, Martinez worked from the recording of Quilapayún’s “La Cantata de Santa Maria de Iquique” to create the physical movements for the cannery workers performing La Cantata. In my work with Llamas and Martinez, the theatre proved to an effective way to mobilize people for change and help awaken them to  the world around them.

Jane Norling’s flyer announced a series of long ago classes that I remember with great satisfaction. In the days before the digital revolution, Latin American theater influences traveled with me in stacks of flyers I carried to post at cafes, laundromats, and other places where the flood of Latin American immigrants gathered as I went through my days. Those cluttered billboards kept me in tune with the local arts scene and helped recruit students and actors to appear on our KQED Open Studio productions by Community Theater Arts. They helped create today’s rich multicultural arts community here in the San Francisco Bay Area that is a lively part of the resistance movement and makes San Francisco a sanctuary city.

Jane Norling’s Balmy Alley Mural depicting the 1980s Nicaraguan Literacy Campaign.

For more information about Jane Norling’s work check out  janenorling.com

About Nina Serrano: Nina is a well-known, international prize-winning inspirational author and poet. With a focus on Latino history and culture, she is also a playwright, filmmaker, KPFA talk show host, a former Alameda County Arts Commissioner, and a co-founder of the San Francisco Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts. Oakland Magazine’s “best local poet” in 2010, she is a former director of the San Francisco Poetry in the Schools program and the Bay Area’s Storytellers in the Schools program. A Latina activist for social justice, women’s rights, and the arts, Nina Serrano at 82 remains vitally engaged in inspiring change and exploring her abundant creativity. For more information go to ninaserrano.comor contact her publisher at estuarypress.com. For more detailed information about Nina see About Nina on her website.

About Estuary Press: Estuary Press is the publisher of Nicaragua Way. It is also the home of the Harvey Richards Media Archive, a repository of photography and video documentaries of various social change and political movements during the 1960s and 1970s. Contact Paul Richards (510) 967 5577, paulrichards@estuarypress.com or visit estuarypress.com for more details.

MEDIA – For photos & interviews: Paul Richards (510) 967 5577; paulrichards@estuarypress.com

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Women in Resistance, Part 2, The Dreamers

The Dreamers Welcome Poster By Faviana Rodriguez

My youthful college experiences in Wisconsin were inspired by the civil rights movement and my friendship with Jim and Anne McWilliams. Then in 1961, I moved to San Francisco where I lept into the post beatnik whirl of the Bay Area’s international multi-lingual immigrant communities among the parents of today’s Dreamers.

Our place, they said, was in the home

My friend Anne and I would never have imagined that a half a century later young immigrants like her brought to the US as babies and children would openly and militantly fight for their right to education in a movement called the “Dreamers.” As women in those years, our fight went on quietly as we struggled to raise our children and pursue our own education. It was hard to get called on in class, or have our voices heard at a meeting, or to endure the whispers that went on behind our backs for breaking the norms. Social conventions, university officials, and even professors didn’t approve of mothers going back to school in those years. Our place, they said, was in the home. We met with a wall of disapproval. It wasn’t until decades later that adult women were welcomed into classrooms as returning students. What a contrast to today’s young women loudly taking their case before Congress demanding their civil and human rights.

As a young bohemian, I felt very alone in the mid western Madison mainstream culture, with its cheerleaders, and mostly white student body peppered with a sprinkling of foreign students. I was so lonely until I met Anne. We joined forces and formed a parent childcare coop with other mothers so we could attend classes.

In 1961, when I settled in the barrio in the Mission District of San Francisco, I reconnected with my Latino roots that I had left behind in New York City where I lived until age 19. Madison, Wisconsin was a culture shock for me after the multi-cultural environment of NYC, Spanish Harlem, Greenwich Village, and my pursuit of professional theater training.

The fight for justice and civil rights burst into the open in San Francisco

The fight for justice and civil rights burst into the open in San Francisco, when, in 1968, a broad coalition of San Francisco State students organized in the Third World Liberation Front and struck for expanding enrollment to include minority students and the creation of Ethnic Studies programs. I jumped from the anti-Vietnam war truck theater I had been directing back into the struggle for civil rights and justice in defense of Los Siete de la Raza, a group of seven Central American youths falsely accused of murdering a San Francisco policeman. I covered the Los Siete trials as a reporter for the San Francisco alternative press, the San Francisco Good Times. I joined the San Francisco poetry scene through readings at Basta Ya, the coffee house run by the Los Siete Defense Committee, as a venue to raise funds and consciousness. There, through my fellow poets, I joined the Latino publishing collective Editorial Pocho Che. Once again, I found myself immersed in a romantic political milieu. This time, the romance went beyond personal romantic love to poetic immersion in the international struggle against the Vietnam war and anti imperialist struggles in Latin America. This is the setting of my novel, Nicaragua Way, inside an international community fighting for justice at home and for liberation in Nicaragua.

These communities of resistance have intergrated themselves into the life of our cities and set the stage for today’s Dreamers. The inspiration I felt as a participant in the resistance movement for Nicaragua in the 1970s gave rise to my novel where I portrayed that world for today’s readers to share and deepen their historical understanding.

Women’s voices were becoming louder

During this period, women’s voices were becoming louder. Around the corner from my San Francisco home, a women’s consciousness raising group met weekly in my dear friend Judith Knoop’s house. A single mother of three, Judith was a leader and spokesperson for welfare mothers demanding their rights. As a result of these meetings, Judith returned to school in the San Francisco State University nursing program, graduating with honors. The women’s liberation movement was making space for women’s voices in everything. As a registered nurse, Judith focused on women’s health care and set up the first San Francisco women’s health center in a store front in the Mission barrio providing services for immigrant women. Later her program was integrated into the San Francisco General Hospital’s women’s health and birthing programs. From efforts like these, women’s health issues were forced into our national consciousness. Judith passed away a few years ago and was honored for her work in a memorial meeting of over 200 people. More women and mothers today are enrolled in schools, including growing numbers of immigrants. These gains for women’s health and education have now come under attack from the Trump administration.

The “Dreamers” are valiantly fighting for their right to an education. Women are among the leadership of this movement. They are called Dreamers after a law that has yet to be passed called “Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act.” These young students today are threatened with mass deportations and the break up of their families as well as being excluded from our schools and jobs. The Dreamers demand their education and their right to stay in our country as part of their human rights. It is a new phase of the struggle that began in the movement to end segregation. It expands the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for equality and justice for all.

Keep the dream alive

By Faviana Rodriguez

Today, my friendship with Jim, and Anne is still strong. We are now all over 80, living in the San Francisco Bay Area, and still are laughing over Jim’s jokes. We try to keep the dream alive by re-enforcing the resistance against the policies and ideology of this current hate-filled administration. Anne works on administrating and singing with a freedom song chorus that performs at protest events. Jim works as an advocate for mental health patients and often recites Dr King’s words and narrates civil rights history. As a poet, author, film maker and radio producer, I continue working to keep the dream alive.

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