Hispano/Latino Groups pass resolution thanking Obama for Recent National Monuments and Support Protection of Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks

New Mexico League of United Latin American Citizens

Hispano Round Table of New Mexico / Mesa Redonda Hispana de Nuevo México

For Immediate Release
May 23, 2013
Contact: Ralph Arellanes: 505-688-2973
Chris Cervini: 505-980-6110

Groups Call for More Monuments Recognizing Latino Cultural Heritage;
Cite Organ Mountains Desert Peaks as a Ripe Opportunity

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Members of the New Mexico League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) and the Hispano Round Table of New Mexico (HRT) this week both passed identical resolutions celebrating the creation of two new national monuments acknowledging Hispano/Latino contributions to our nation’s history.

LULAC and HRT’s resolutions also call on the Obama administration to do more to ensure that protected public lands recognize the cultural heritage of American Latinos and point to the Organ Mountains Desert-Peaks region in southern New Mexico as an opportunity to do so.

In the fall of 2012, President Barack Obama used his authority under the Antiquities Act of 1906 to create the César E. Chávez National Monument in Keene, California. He followed that action by creating Rio Grande del Norte National Monument near Taos, New Mexico, in March 2013.

Leaders from Hispanic advocacy groups say both of these new National Monuments are important to understanding the role that Hispanics and Latinos have played in shaping American society.

“We couldn’t be happier that there is now a César E. Chávez National Monument and a Rio Grande del Norte National Monument,” said Ralph Arellanes, NM State Director of LULAC. “These sites highlight the great accomplishments and rich cultural traditions of American Latinos. We thank President Obama for giving both sites a National Monument designation so the legacy they hold for American Latinos will be protected for all time.”

César E. Chávez was a labor and civil rights leader whose efforts in the farm worker movement helped build a foundation for workers rights in the United States, not only for American Latinos but for all working Americans. Located in Keene, California, this monument protects Chávez’s home and gravesite as well as the headquarters of United Farm Workers of America, better known as Nuestra Señora Reina de la Paz.

The Rio Grande del Norte National Monument protects 242,555 acres near Taos. The region has been deeply tied to Hispanic culture for several centuries, and the Monument will recognize and protect traditional uses of the land, including hunting, grazing, and the gathering of firewood and piñon.

Members of LULAC and the HRT said these recent national monument designations open the door for future national monuments in areas that are traditionally connected to Hispanic culture.

“We are thrilled about both of these National Monuments, but there is still work to do,” said Jim Arellanes, legislative committee chairman of the Hispano Round Table of New Mexico. “The impact that Hispanics have had on helping America become the nation that it is today is remarkable. It is our hope that President Obama and Interior Secretary Sally Jewel will continue to make it a priority to protect sites that have been heavily influenced by Hispanic culture and tradition.”

The resolution passed by the two groups mentions the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks region surrounding Las Cruces as a site that is vital to preserving the heritage of Hispanic Americans. Diverse supporters including elected officials, business owners, veterans, sportsmen have called for its protection by the President as a national monument.

“The Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks region is an iconic and historic area. It was a resting place for those traveling along the Camino Real and includes the northern border of the Gadsden Purchase, among other historical significance,” said Ralph Arellanes of LULAC. “We feel strongly that it deserves to join other recent National Monuments and be federally protected from harm. We are grateful for the work of Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich to protect this region and look forward to working with them to hopefully bring these efforts to fruition.”