Para Los Imigrantes
Maneja Beto played a benefit concert for Casa Marianela last night. And they danced. They laughed.
Casa Marianella is an emergency shelter serving immigrants and refugees in Austin.
Casa Marianella has room to sleep 21 men and seven women and children each night. Under regular circumstances, a resident is given one month to stay at the house. The residents primarily come from Latin America, the majority from Mexico.
The show was very appropriate. I've heard the lyrics my friends sing, but hadn't really paid attention to all of them until last night. I wish more of the lyrics were posted on this page, because this isn't a true representation of what I am talking about. Some of the music talks about the immigrant struggle. It talks about the young immigrant men who didn't stop dancing all night. Casa Marianela invited it's residents to the show last night. It was interesting to see. Young immigrant men, young white hippies, and a good number of Chicana/os. I imagine most of the men at the show were not from Mexico, but from South and Central American countries. And they danced. They laughed.
The band opened up with a cumbia tribute to Rigo Tovar. They packed the dance floor and waited during songs. The band played. And they danced. They laughed.
I sat at a table looking at the dance floor, but thinking about many things. I wondered where these men/kids were from, how they got here, and what family they had to leave back home. I thought about how five hours earlier I was at work interviewing a young man from Guatemala trying to get his papers in order. He told me it took him three months to get to the United States. He walked, took the train, the bus, and walked some more. He was robbed three times. He had to leave some people behind. He swam across the river and now lives in North Carolina. He told me he can't go back to Guatemala, because there's nothing for him there. No jobs. No money. No food. "De que vive la gente?" I was curious to understand how people survived. "Me da verguenza decirte, pero roban." I couldn't believe that people stole for a living, but he insisted. His grandparents have been robbed three times in the last two months. He talked about the president, corruption, and leaving his country.
I watched the men dancing and thought of my cousin Edgar. He's still living somewhere near here. I don't know where. He's doesn't have papers. I haven't looked for him. What would we talk about? I could be him. Es primo. First cousin. He's not the only one. I have many cousins here de mojaditos (the addition of --itos, for oso). Am I so far removed. Yes, but not really. They danced. And they laughed. Then the band played my favorite, a rendition of Carabina 30/30 and I danced. I laughed.