From Mobilize the Immigrant Vote!
Born in El Salvador, Gloria Zometa Clavel was active in community organizing and participated in the Civil War in El Salvador in the 1980s. At the time, she worked at a university and experienced her politicization through the organizing of students. She was forced to leave her country as a political refugee during that time.
“It was very difficult to leave my roots and come to the United States,” shares Ms. Zometa Clavel. “As an immigrant you arrive and are faced with a totally different reality. It was a complete change at a cultural, language and communal level. In the United States, there is much more emphasis on the individual. In El Salvador, the focus is on collective practices and sharing.”
Librería del PUEBLO was founded by several leaders in San Bernardino and the Inland Valley who began their organizing in the local diocese of the Catholic Church. One of their early activities was selling Bibles and books, which was how their name was born. In the beginning, they worked to provide English classes, immigration and naturalization services, and other resources for communities in rural and urban areas throughout the Inland Valley. The mission of Librería del PUEBLO is to organize low-income communities so that they can take critical leadership roles for historic change. Immigration reform, health care, state budget reform, and housing rights are top issues for the leaders and members of Librería del PUEBLO.
“In El Salvador, I did not confront the same challenges to women’s leadership as I see in the United States, so I’ve had to work through those conditions here,” shares Ms. Zometa Clavel. “I think one of the most important things to consider for women’s leadership development is patience and to realize that leadership development is a process. We have to build on the life experiences that women have.”
“We must look at every component of organizing as an opportunity for education and community building,” says Ms. Zometa Clavel. “Somos una familia. Somos una escuela. We’re a family. We’re a school.”
Civic Engagement and Policy Change
“One of the most important factors to remember for women, children and policy change is the focus on the whole family in all its aspects,” states Ms. Zometa Clavel. Librería del PUEBLO is currently working with Mobilize the Immigrant Vote and allied organizations to build the capacity and infrastructure of individuals and institutions in San Bernardino to have more influence over the decisions impacting their lives. The local Mobilize the Immigrant Vote table is collaborating with Wellstone Action to train local leaders and develop a voter engagement field plan for fall 2011 and 2012.
In 2010, Libreria Del Pueblo played an important role in the 2010 Census Outreach, efforts to protect the state budget, and advance immigration reform. In 2011, Librería del PUEBLO continues their leadership role for a fair state budget with California Partnership (CAP) and to advance immigrant civic engagement in the Inland Valley with Mobilize the Immigrant Vote. Ms. Zometa Clavel states, “our focus for our civic and voter engagement work is to build a stronger power base in the City of San Bernardino. Towards that end, we need to build up the organized power and alliances in the entire county.”
For more information about Ms. Zometa Clavel and Librería del PUEBLO, contact: Gloria Zometa Clavel or Father Patricio Guillen, www.ldpcalpulli.org . Librería del PUEBLO is a partner with the Mobilize the Immigrant Vote Inland Valley/San Bernardino immigrant civic engagement table.