Archive | June, 2009


28 Jun

Fair Trial for AlexI met Alex Sanchez for the first time when doing a radio interview for Mujeres Abriendo Caminos on the work of gang interventionist and the transformation it was creating in the lives of two teenage womyn who were who were caught up in a local gang. The young women respected Alex and saw him as a mentor because he was brave enough to change his life and help young people like them find hope in creating a different future. These women were very smart and greatly related and recognized Alex’s work from ex-gang member to peace-maker.

I continued knowing Alex and Homies Unidos for the selfless and tireless work they commit to on a daily basis in Los Angeles. Alex also participated in the hunger strike for immigrant and human rights that took place in Placita Olvera in 2008.  Homies Unidos works with families to help young people remove themselves from a life of violence. H.U. has offered free legal services to under-resourced residents of L.A. They have participated in free food programs in the Mac Arthur Park area. They have helped people clean their bodies and mind by offering affordable tattoo removal services. During another interview, I learned of the commitment that Alex and Homies Unidos offered to Luis Enrique Guzman to fight his case for freedom in the courts.

The positive transformation that Alex Sanchez has been a part of in inspiring is infinite. And it is the reason why hundreds of his supports, locally and internationally, are standing by him during this challenging time. Today a meeting was held where his lawyer, Homies Unidos board members, and family members spoke so that we may be a part of his campaign for a fair trial, WE ARE ALEX ! (website active after July 1, 2009). The truth is that Alex should not even have to go through this. Those of us who have worked with him throughout this city recognize his sincerity of servitude in peace-making. If you would like to support the campaign, you can attend his bail hearing on Tuesday, June 30th @ 1PM. Also, please write a character letter of support, there is also a collection of bail assets that are being received by: Kerry Bensinger’s Law Firm.  Bensinger, Ritt, Tai & Thvedt, 65 N. Raymond Ave, Suite 320, Pasadena, CA 91103 – fax 626-685-2562.

I will continue to update my blog as much as possible, currently I am in pain from a pinched nerve on my right shoulder, it hurts to type all this out on multiple levels. Below is my personal letter of support, also here is a link to CISPES Letter of Solidarity. Remember to keep the faith, we are all strong and courageous as we walk with truth and justice on our sides. WE ARE ALEX!

June 28, 2009

Honorable Alicia G. Rosenberg
United States Courthouse
312 N. Spring Street, Courtroom D
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Re: Mr. Alex Sanchez Cr. 09-00466

Dear Judge Rosenberg:

My name is Ana Castillo and I am a community organizer working with youth advocates in the prevention of substance abuse and violence in the city of Inglewood. I write to you in full support of Mr. Alex Sanchez, a person who is deeply valued in the community because of his tireless and selfless commitment to youth, families, and the social well being of the city of Los Angeles as a whole.  In my career and efforts to create a better future for our youth, I have had the honor of using Homies Unidos and Mr. Sanchez since 2005 as a resource and source of wisdom and inspiration in the arduous work of peace-keeping, creation of safe alternatives for young people, and collective empowerment of communities.

Mr. Sanchez has served as an example of what violence prevention and intervention can do in the lives of under-privileged youth in our city. He has over-come and survived the violence in this city and has committed himself for over 10 years to building peace and uplifting the lives of young men and women. His presence in the community has been so strong, that I have seen first hand the way young people look up to him. Young people relate to his past, but most importantly, they want to relate to who he has become, and that is a person of servitude, turning lives around for youth who desperately need a way out of the circles of violence and poverty.

In Mr. Sanchez’s commitment to the work of social justice, equity, and creation of opportunities for youth, he has been asked to speak in college lecture halls, community town halls, and media outlets. He is sought after as a person of example because his stories serve purpose time and time again for those of us who want to change at a personal level and beyond ourselves. Mr. Sanchez is no threat to our community; he empowers, gives tools, and resources to individuals so they can build their future.

I speak highly of Mr. Sanchez because of the work he is committed to in this city and across borders. Please allow for his release. I do believe that the court can see that he is a person of trust and respect because he also has the community’s trust and respect. Thank you for your time and commitment to justice.

Ana Castillo

What is happening in IRAN ?

16 Jun

womyn iran

A lot is happening in Iran. Indeed it is beautiful and inspiring to see the power of the people rise in unison not just in Iran, but also in places like El Salvador and Peru. To be witness through media and computer screens to a nation’s awake in political resistance is inspiring. It is true that there can hardly exist such mass resistance to the status quo without mass repression and state-sponsored violence

I want my readers to also be aware of the happenings, so I have added links thru-out this blog in the name of solidarity. The best independent news source from Iran comes from the Tehran Bureau covering Iran’s questionable “re-elelection” of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the supposed “defeat” of Mir-Hossein Mousavi that occurred on June 12th. By Sunday, mad twittering, skype conversations, youtube uploaders, and bloggers began to fill the web with news from personal accounts on the violent situation that the Iran population in support of Mousavi  are facing from their government. 

Yesterday, over a million people gathered at Azadi Square, aka Freedom Square,iran million even with cell phone networks and texting cut off by authorities. to limit organizing. But pay phones and the world wide web has prevailed! The threat of police induced violence and murders has created much tension and suffering throughout these past few days. Yet, the face of defiance is much more brilliant, bringing this uprising as one of the largest in Iran since the 1979 Iranian Revolution.The best collection of photographs i have found thus far are here

If you twitter, you can search the following hashtags and keywords for direct tweets from Iran:  AhmadinejadMousavi, and Tehran also go here, to tweet is to be at risk of being persecuted.

If you are on Flickr search under:  Iran Elections and Iran Riots 2009 

On Youtube you can find videos and type in Iran Riots, Iran Protests, Iran Elections 2009. 

If you need more links, check out this blogger and my most sincere recommendation goes to this site: Revolutionary Road

Galeano on a party bus!

15 Jun

I arrived at 3PM to stand in line to see Eduardo Galeano speak till 7:30PM. The first 7 women that arrived brought books to read, notebooks to write in, & cameras to document with. Everyone i met was a geek at heart and we were all proud to be fans of Galeano. We discussed L.A. apartheid, Gealeano’s femininity vs masculinity in writing, and a world-wide peace march. Mayra, the woman wearing green is an international organizer from Bolivia but lives in New Zealand. She is part of the World March for Peace and Nonviolence, and they are organizing a trans-continental march from October 2 thru January 2, 2010.  Please support a world peace march, follow the links. 

Galeano fans esperando y conociendose

While we stood in line, we self-organized a waiting list that went up to 50 something. We originally offered to volunteer to set-up tables, but all we got was a smirk. Turns out that they over-booked the event anyways. There were seats for 235 people but allowed 400 RSVP’s to be made. It did not matter that we stood in line so early, we were never going to get in. The organizers were punks about it too, at one point they wanted to throw the cops on us and denied the validity of our list. Even though as Galeano fans, we were peaceful and beyond it all. 


After all the madness of trying to get in and finding alternative routes to sneaking, my friend and i decided we had done everything we could. So instead, we went to go dance, on the streets! The Downtown Art Walk was happening and this is what we found …

Dancing on the Streets

Dancing on Spring St. / Gallery Row

We walked across the street and found some beautiful art curted by The New Latin Theater Company on Spring St. The artists were refreshing. 

Owl made with metal strings by

Dancing Women carved and painted onto Wood

Then we skipped around to other galleries and spaces and found more music,more artists, more fun, and a party bus. By the end of the night, we wondered if Galeano would have rather hung out with us and enjoyed the art walk instead. 

Reggae Band on Main St. and 5th, L.A.

Artist doing live art, he was featured in this months Citizen L.A.

The Party Bus, with Graffiti art by Sherm


A Flexible Potato Salad

14 Jun

Umm… I will let this video speak for itself bc after the 1 minute mark I kept getting impressed over and over, second after second.  At the 3:50 mark, all I could say was “WOW!”

Climbing windows for Eduardo Galeano

11 Jun

There are many reasons to admire Eduardo Galeano. For me it came with an understanding of Latin American economics. You can not get a full perspective of Latin American politics or history, without understanding the place of Latin America in global economics from mercantilism to industrialization, capitalism, globalization, and neo-colonization. 

When I discovered Galeano I noticed the poetry in his words. When I opened “Venas Abiertas de Latino America” (Open Veins of Latin America), I was sucked into the way he told the story of Latin America because it was beautiful, sincere, passionate, and empathetic. This was something no academic book was able to give me while a Latin American and Latino Studies major at UCSC. Recently, Chavez introduced Obama to Galeano by giving him this book

Galeano, as a writer and journalist has my respect and admiration. He had to flee both his native-country of Uruguay and then Argentina because of military coups and dictators who did not want his voice in the public. This is very much the story of one of my professors at UCSC, Guillermo Delgado, who had to leave Bolivia bc he was a journalist  for the people. Delgado has recently served as an advisor to Evo Morales, and can you believe that UCSC wants to cut his position. The UCSC Students of Color Colletive added the retention of Delgado to their list of demands from the university. for which they held a hunger strike. Add them on facebook, here

Anyways, I derived from my original story…today, Galeano is speaking at the downtown L.A. Library and I’m arriving several hours before the doors open…i failed to RSVP. Hopefully I get in, even if I have to climb windows. Check out the following clips, this is Galeano remembering womyn thru-out history from Joan of Arc to Violeta Parra



A Scribbled Mind, A Wild Web of Thoughts

9 Jun
ana's tangeted mind

ana's tangeted mind

Lately, the theme of soul searching and query has been on “how to focus”. My answer is something like this: It takes dedication & discipline towards your passion and goals…

Simple enough. But I can not commit to one single purpose. I have already attempted to be more selective in what i involve myself and commit to, but I am still finding myself busy, sometimes overwhelmed, and sometimes stressed. At the end of the day, I am still unsatisfied with my progress… in media production.

I am living in Los Angeles, a city with hundreds of happenings a day. And do I want to miss any of them? No, quiero andar de metiche. I enjoy people and being out, and this city fulfills that for me. But talk about distractions, I sit here wishing there were 20 of me to attend to all the things i want to see and do and know.

So, how can I focus? Cut myself off from the internet so that I may never know what is happening and in this way cut off temptation? Re-adjust my environment to obtain some sort of discipline and scheduled routine for media production work? Oh, i just remember how much post-production frustrates me bc I don’t have anyone to teach me this software mess! There I am at 1AM trying to figure out what could be simply done with a click of a button, except i don’t know which button. So I give up on production, i give up on focusing…

My mind feels scribbled on. I can’t focus. I need to move past this realization and do something about it…my mind feels heavy and messy (its why i write anyways) I need some words of wisdom… do you have any to spare?!?!?