And while the thermometer begins to go down, the political climate is heading in the opposite direction.
Inspired by Muslim countries and the Spanish “indignados” movement, Occupy Wall Street became the American version.
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People from New York, Chicago, and other big cities joined the worldwide protests that have decried the lack of opportunities and corporate greed.
Protesters statewide, who have lost faith in the lack of job opportunities, began to spread to several cities in California — San José, Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Sacramento, San Diego. And it tried to make it to Imperial Valley.
Following the international protesters path, a few Valleyites last week began clamoring through the social networks for a protest.
Organizers had requested local residents unite behind the movement, given the transformation of Imperial County into the nation’s “capitalist laboratory,” due to the amount of national department stores that had opened in the Valley. According to the protesters, these stores are hiring part-time employees, who earn minimum wage and have neither benefits nor union representation. Protesters say that, besides impacting small stores, owned by local families, these large businesses are taking back employees’ income by selling them their products and taking that money back to where the retail stores are headquartered.
And even though the local “occupiers” have 21 followers on Facebook, only three showed up to the protest. Some, particularly tea party followers, might consider this “demonstration” a more-than-ridiculous one.
However, do we really think these three protesters are the only ones tired with the way things are? I really doubt it.
A few more potential protesters preferred to stay inside a nearby coffee shop drinking lattés instead of joining the group of three. They said they did not join the protesters because the movement was not organized properly. Union members promised to attend the protest too, but at the end they went back on their own word.
By leaving the three “occupiers” alone, they not only deflated the local movement, but also devastated what would’ve been a popular manifestation against being the poorest county in California, one of the most polluted, the most obese, with the highest unemployment rate in the nation, and with many other negative qualifications.
Should these three protesters be ashamed for their movement? Absolutely not.
We must recognize it is way easier to be part of a group of dozens or hundreds protesting, but it really takes guts to join such a small group.
In fact, we as a society, with more than 25,000 unemployed workers, should be embarrassed of our no-show, to keep things the bad shape they are now.
Moreover, hundreds, maybe thousands of local college and university students, impacted by the decrease in financial aid and classes, as well as by the augmentation of fees, should’ve taken part in this protest. The measures taken to balance budgets statewide are putting their futures in jeopardy, but it seems like it’s OK for them.
Apathy, the same motivator of the low turnout during elections, is the reason for the lack of support for the local “Occupy” movement.
The good part of it all is that maybe, given the millions of residents who live in the big cities where the protests have taken part and the amount of “occupiers” participating in the movement, the same participation ratio can be said of the Imperial Valley.
Arturo Bojórquez is the editor of the Spanish weekly newspaper Adelante and can be reached at 760 335-4646 or at email@example.com.