National Women’s March Finds Local Expression in El Centro

Participants in the Women’s March Saturday in El Centro wear pink beanies to demonstrate their stance. Photo by Katherine Ramos.

EL CENTRO — A turnout of nearly 100 Imperial Valley women and men came together Saturday evening to advocate for human rights during the Imperial Valley Women’s March on Washington, a larger national movement which sought to protest incoming President Donald Trump.

Women gathered in the parking lot of Cardenas Market, donning pink, cat-eared beanies that have become the symbol of the 2017 March on Washington, to protest against the newly sworn-in President of the United States, as well as to fuel a movement to change the politics of local government in the Imperial Valley itself.

The Imperial Valley Women’s March was organized by Margaret Sauza, executive Director of the Sure Helpline Crisis Center, Eva Munguia of the LGBT Coalition of the Desert, and Maribel Padilla of the Brown Bag Coalition.

Sauza said she was inspired by the actions of Representative Luis Gutierrez of Illinois who said he would not attend the inauguration and would instead attend the Women’s March on Washington with his wife.

According to Sauza, the march was a last minute event put together with Munguia and Padilla for the Imperial Valley, something that she felt needed to be done here in the Valley. Word spread quickly, and many people came out to the Cardenas parking lot to voice their opinions and thoughts.

“We want to make sure we send a strong message to Washington that we do not want our rights taken away,” said Margaret Sauza, “Women’s rights are human rights.”

“It’s not that, ‘Oh, we’re against Trump,’” said Munguia. “We want our government, local, state, and federal, to know that we are not going to go back to the past. We want to move forward.”

People from all over the Valley stood in front of the crowd of close to 100 people and spoke for human rights and what they thought about the incoming administration.

Groups showing support included the Sure Helpline Crisis Center, the LGBT Coalition of the Desert, Black Lives Matter, and others including the office of Congressman Juan Vargas. Even Cardenas Market was honored for having supported the event by opening the parking lot for the march.

Most of those present had strong words for President Trump and for the local government in general, stressing that the people of the Imperial Valley need to become more involved in the local government.

Mary Ortega definitely had a warning for the president.

“I am watching you. I am looking and I am not going to be lulled by what you say,” said Ortega. “I’m going to look at your actions before I listen to what you say.”

“The struggles of women, Latinas, LGBT, and minorities are all tied together in our struggle that moves us forward,” said Mark Ramirez, Imperial County Office of Education board Vice-president, to the crowd. “We make waves because united that is how we make change.”

Juanita Salas, an Imperial Valley Board Trustee, stated that people need to simply organize.

“Don’t get mad, don’t get angry, you get organized,” said Salas. “In whatever way shape or form.”

The Women’s March on Washington had estimates of the attendance across the nation of above 1 million.