By Daniel Montaño Staff Reporter | Photo by: Juan Gonzalez
CNM’s chapter of el Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano/a de Aztlan is looking to enroll new members who want to make a positive change for higher education and the Chicano community, said Juan Gonzalez, Psychology and Chicana/o Studies major.
M.E.Ch.A is a student organization that promotes higher education, unity and empowerment of Chicana/os, the CNM Chapter of which can be reached via their Facebook page, which can be found by searching “M.E.Ch.A de CNM” on Facebook, or by email at mechacnm@ gmail.com, Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez is one of the founding members of the CNM chapter of M.E.Ch.A, and said that before he moves to UNM in the fall 2013 semester, he is looking for any students, Chicana/o or otherwise, who are willing to work to promote culture and higher education to help build the M.E.Ch.A organization.
“In 2013, M.E.Ch.A is not just Chicanos, it’s anybody who sees all these struggles, who knows what’s going on, and wants to help their communities,” Gonzalez said.
M.E.Ch.A provides students a place where they can get support from fellow students, people who are going through the same things they are, he said.
M.E.Ch.A has gained a reputation since it was first created in the 1960’s as being a protest organization, but Gonzalez said that in the new age of M.E.Ch.A, it has grown into a community-centered activist group.
“A lot of people remember M.E.Ch.A. as ‘the protestors’ and all that, so a lot of people kind of look at us a little bit weird. But we can pass our resources along. We know a lot of people. We’re building a community for people coming into the state or people who have any struggles,” he said.
When M.E.Ch.A was first established, it lobbied for Chicana/o studies, bilingual education and other similar programs, but now M.E.Ch.A looks to support any person or group looking to promote peace, cooperation and equality, Gonzalez said.
M.E.Ch.A revolves around the idea that through community and collective action, people can make a positive impact together by helping and giving support to one another, Gonzalez said.
“We have some really good people here in Albuquerque, so we work together as a community to help people out,” he said.
M.E.Ch.A was created in the late 1960’s and came out of the Chicano civil rights movement, said Ramiro Rodriguez, one of UNM’s representatives to the Centro Aztlan region of M.E.Ch.A.
The Chicano movement had many aspects—Farm workers rights, voting and political rights, land grants—and M.E.Ch.A came from the union of several separate student organizations that were working on rights for education within the Chicano movement, said Rodriguez.
“The objectives of M.E.Ch.A. became promoting higher education, our cultura and our story. We believe that playing a part in our story and in higher education is the avenue for changing our society. Our themes are usually education, activism, and el cultura,” Rodriguez said.
M.E.Ch.A is a national organization that is separated into 10 different regions composed of local chapters, based in universities and colleges, and local clubs based in high schools, Rodriguez said.
The first M.E.Ch.A in Albuquerque was in a middle school, but now has chapters at UNM, CNM, New Mexico Highlands University, Eastern New Mexico University and clubs in high schools statewide, Rodriguez said.
“Every year we have a national conference. I’ve attended this year’s and the year before. This year was in San Diego and the year before was in Phoenix. Some other things we do are like the national conference, we have regional meetings, statewide meetings, retreats, there’s the national Cuento where you get to talk to all the other Mechistas,” he said.
For more information on M.E.Ch.A, visit nationalmecha.org.