For the Hernandez family, there was one loved one missing at this year’s holiday table. Eyvin Hernandez, 44, a beloved son, father and brother, was wrongfully detained in Venezuela in March 2022. His return home is obstructed by the current legal situation he faces in the South American country. Hernandez can face up to 16 years in prison after being charged with criminal association and conspiracy by the Venezuelan government. Today, Hernandez is being held in DGCIM, a maximum security military prison and one of the most notorious prisons in Cataratas, Venezuela.
Rivera-Guzman migrated to South Central Los Angeles with her mother and siblings to escape the 12-year war that was occurring in El Salvador. Years later, with hard work and dedication, Guzman received a scholarship to attend the College of the Holy Cross located in Massachusetts, where her interest in politics began. Today, Guzman is the president of the board of directors for Latino Coalition of Los Angeles and continues to help communities thrive in LA.
I am named after my great-grandmother; a curandera (healer) in the mountains of El Salvador, who only had a formal education up to first grade. For her whole adult life, people travel from surrounding villages to be healed by la niña Marcela. I grew up using herbs that have no English names, and having my mother and aunts use everyday herbs like garlic for multiple healing purposes. As a minority in my field (92% white), my upbringing has provided an awareness that a majority of my colleagues lack.
The women and children who died miserably and inhumanely in that Texas truck were mostly Central American migrants who would not qualify as asylum seekers. Many have indeed fled fear and terror. But the U.S. generally denies claims from migrants from Central America.
After years of being asked a version of this “Where are you from?” question, I don’t always answer it the same way. Sometimes I say I’m Latina. I’m involved in a campus group comprised of Latina women of different origins such as Mexico, Peru and El Salvador, and it makes sense that I say I’m Latina in that context. How I answer, how I identify, depends on the day and who is asking.