Assimilation, Latin Style! (Otherwise Known As Colonisation)

Via Amren

The colonisers are dividing up LA.

La Times

Dassler Jimenez stood on a busy stretch of Western Avenue in East Hollywood, ready to plant a flag and call it “Little Venezuela.”

Never mind that none of his countrymen live or own businesses in the neighborhood — or the fact that Jimenez has no money to finance the effort and little clue how to make it happen.

“If the Armenians and the Koreans did it,” Jimenez said, “why can’t we?”

Jimenez and other Latino leaders have teamed up to promote a common goal: carving out islands for their communities in Los Angeles’ jumbled landscape — Peru Village, Little Venezuela, Paseo Colombia, Guatemalan Mayan Village, Oaxacan Corridor.


The Latino Economic Empowerment Round Table gathers monthly to strategize about boundaries, city requirements and ways to win favor with neighborhood councils, consulates and elected officials.


Guiding the group is a contingent from El Salvador, which boasts nearly half a million people in Los Angeles — the second-largest Latino population after Mexicans.

Oscar Dominguez, a businessman and community leader, fought for nearly five years at the city and state levels before winning approval to call a 12-block stretch of Vermont Avenue just north of USC the El Salvador Corridor.

Today, banners in El Salvador’s blue and white flag colors hang from light posts. They feature the national bird and flower. Salvadoran businesses line the street, and a nearby elementary school bears the name of a Salvadoran hero.

Before they were able to lay claim to the area last year, Dominguez said, Koreatown proponents had submitted their own plans for it.

“We had to speak up and say, ‘This is already taken,'” he said. “We’re not just laborers. We have businesses, we have restaurants, we have a vision for this place.'”


In 2009, LaBonge played referee in a debate between those representing Little Bangladesh and Koreatown.

The Bangladesh contingent wanted to claim a 56-square-block area already staked out by Koreatown — although not officially. Koreatown supporters argued that a Bangladesh designation would harm the area’s businesses. In the end, Little Bangladesh was scaled back to four blocks.


Los Angeles is considering a designation for Peru Village, the first application submitted by a member of the Latino roundtable. If approved, a piece of Hollywood — a high-traffic stretch of Vine Street from De Longpre Avenue south to Melrose Avenue — would officially become Peru Village.

About 40,000 people with ties to Peru live in Los Angeles County. And while although they may not be in the proposed area, this was the place where the community lived and gathered in the 1960s and ’70s, when Peruanos first immigrated, Lizarraga said.

To the southeast, in Westlake, Guatemalans too have a history that goes back decades. But their plan to launch the Guatemalan Mayan Village has more to do with saving their neighborhood from the future.

Community leader Yahir Gaitan Ortiz said he hopes culturally cordoning off the area will drive away the gentrification threatening to displace Guatemalans.

He wants West 6th Street, from South Alvarado Street to South Lucas Avenue, to become a mini Guatemala. Businesses will be painted in vibrant colonial colors and a statue of Tecun Uman, the great Mayan ruler, will guard the entrances of the corridor.


Among the most organized members of the roundtable are those who represent Colombia.

They began searching for a place for Paseo Colombia a year ago, after the consul general in L.A. asked them to create a home base for Colombians in the city.

“But there is no place we can say, ‘This is Colombia,’ ” said community leader Augusto Rojas. “So we had to create an area out of nothing.”

They chose a spot just west of downtown’s financial district after doing a study to find an area that met their wish list: potential for economic growth, off the beaten path, centrally located and needing investment.

The idea is to set aside two blocks and build a Spanish Colonial-style corridor, lined with Colombian restaurants and shops. At the center, they hope to put the Colombian Consulate.

Colombian doctors, accountants, engineers and other professionals are prepared to invest about $4 million to buy land in the zone, Rojas said.

“We don’t want people to think we’re coming here to invade or take over” the area populated mostly by Central American and Mexican immigrants, he explained.

“We’re coming here to help and build a bigger identity — not just for Colombians — for all Latinos.”



2 thoughts on “Assimilation, Latin Style! (Otherwise Known As Colonisation)

  1. Like vultures fighting over the choicest hunks of rotting flesh. It’s easy to blame the vultures, but we are the ones leaving ourselves to rot.

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