Inspire Community
  • October 4 - October 6, 2019
  • I
  • 8:00 PM - 9:30 PM,
  • 8:00 PM - 9:30 PM,
  • 7:00 PM - 8:30 PM

VARIEDADES: Little Central America, 1984

October 4 - October 6, 2019 | 7:00 PM - 8:30 PM

Fri, October 4 at 8pm
Sat, October 5 at 8pm
Sun, October 6 at 7pm

Free - Reservation Suggested

Conceived and Produced by Rubén Martínez
Directed by Elia Arce
Written and Performed by Elia Arce, Robert Farid Karimi, Raquel Gutiérrez, Leticia Hernández-Linares, Rubén Martínez
Deejay Mix by Oscar Santos
1984 was a version of 1968. Instead of Nixon, there was Reagan. Instead of Hendrix, there was Prince. And instead of Vietnam, there was U.S. intervention in Central America.

The civil wars in Guatemala and El Salvador displaced up to one million people. The majority wound up in the United States, with the largest share settling in Los Angeles. The arrival of the refugees resulted in an immediate transformation of urban space in the Pico-Union District, west of Downtown, turning it into “Little Central America." 

The Central American presence spawned a trans-national solidarity movement. Refugees scarred by war reached out to mostly white and Jewish liberals and progressives. Together, they established a multi-ethnic political coalition to end U.S. aid to the brutal military regimes that perpetrated the violence which caused the exodus. Activists also established safe spaces for refugees beyond the reach of the Reagan administration’s zealous immigration authorities. This became known as the Sanctuary Movement, rooted in a network of faith-based communities across the United States. Church basements became living spaces; congregation families opened the doors of their homes to those seeking shelter.

One of these sanctuaries existed at the Echo Park United Methodist Church under the leadership of then-pastor Rev. David Farley. Families were given shelter and solidarity groups hosted many cultural events featuring Central American artists joined by their allies. 

VARIEDADES: Little Central America, 1984 re-inhabits the church sanctuary with poetry, music, dance, and imagery to represent a singular moment in Latin American and American history. After the persecuted found shelter, they began, often with the support of those who received them, to heal the wounds of war. And they persevered to change the conditions and policies that caused the violence in the first place.

VARIEDADES: Little Central America, 1984 memorializes recent history to give hope as a new wave of refugees arrives from Central America.

Little Central America: a sanctuary then, and now.
“We present this Central American and American story to make visible a forgotten chapter in our history and to shed light on the deep context of violence and trauma that today’s refugee crisis stems from –violence that we approach with the healing salve of art.”

VARIEDADES, the performance series conceived and curated by Rubén Martínez, explores Los Angeles history most often by presenting under-told stories from the point of view of its visionaries and outsiders. Two of its episodes have been filmed by KCET for television broadcast: The Ballad of Ricardo Flores Magón and VARIEDADES on Olvera Street (part of the station’s award-winning Artbound series).

Program subject to change. Make sure to RSVP so we can alert you of any changes.

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