This manifesto was delivered by José Luis Valenzuela as part of the opening session of the Latina/o Theatre Commons National Convening held at the Los Angeles Theatre Center’s Encuentro 2014 on Thursday, November 6, 2014.

Encuentro, encounter, a touch, a smile, a confrontation, a look, an embrace…

And in the words of our ancestors:

Recuerda que no se vive facilmente en esta tierra.
Pero no olvides, que primeramente tu provienes de alguien, 
que tu descien desde alguien,
que tu naciste por Ia gracia de alguien;
que tu aIa vez eres Ia espina y eI retoño de nuestros antepasados,
de aquellos que vinieron antes que nosotros,
y de aquellas y aquellos que se han ido a vivir al mas allá.

Remember, that one does not live easily upon this earth. 
But, do not forget that above all,
you have come from someone;
that you are descended from someone;
that you were born by the grace of someone;
that you are both the spine and the offspring of our ancestors;
of those who came before us and of those who have gone on to live in the great beyond.

 Welcome to Encuentro 2014.

We are here to inspire and to be inspired
We are here to meet and to know each other
To pollinate our artistic dreams and the dreams of the communities we come from
We are here to create and to be creative
We are here to see, without judgment,
But with enjoyment
We are here to help each other
To support each other
We are here to be generous with our knowledge

We are here to see, to touch, to provoke, to confront
We are the makers and the creators of an art form that speaks to us, that allows us to give, to engage,
To dialogue about our human experience
About our political ideals, about our dreams and our human needs.
We are here to create beauty and to be amazed by the beauty created by others
We are here to listen…
To the beat of the drum,
To the strumming of the guitar,
To the melodic notes of the piano
To the wail of the singer,
The verse of the poet,
The sound and cadence of the word,
To see the movement of the body.

We are here to cherish our accomplishments and to consider our missteps.

We are here to converge and to communicate our thoughts and ideas for the future.

We are here full of optimism, full of rage, full of pain, full of love, and joy.

We are here to look forward,
To move forward,
We are here to encounter ourselves, our audiences, and each other.

And we are claiming our history, our place and our presence.
We come from many places, like our ancestors;
We are here to continue the legacy of those that have come before us and to thank them with our work and to honor them with respect;
To recognize that we are not alone but that we come from somewhere.
That our history and our language should be held high and honored;
We hold high and honor the many colors of our skin, of our hair, of our eyes.
We come from somewhere and we are shaping our own destinies;
We are innovators, we are survivors;
We can adapt to the needs of the times;
We are thinkers and philosophers;
We engage intellectually and emotionally;
We laugh and cry;
We make you think and we make you angry;
We make you dance with our rhythms and our language.
We may confront you and our loudness may annoy you but that is who we are.

We embrace and honor all the elements that shape who we are.

We embrace our allies, those who recognize the importance of this gathering.
We elevate them, we celebrate them.

We are claiming our place here and now in the American theater, in the Latin American theater, in the global theater.

We live in the present and have great hope for the future, while honoring the past.

Bienvenidos al Encuentro 2014 
Welcome to Encuentro 2014!