Cyclists rally at mural of immigrants to push for reform



A huge artistic mural covers virtually the entire wall of a building at the corner Northwest Fifth Avenue and 24th Street in Miami’s trendy Wynwood district.

The multicolored mural by Dominican urban artist Ruben Ubiera evokes those gigantic frescoes by 20th century Mexican muralist Diego Rivera that told stories of Mexico’s convulsed past and the world’s great social movements.

Ubiera’s mural, which tells the stories of seven immigrants, served as the perfect landmark Saturday for an unusual demonstration to demand that Congress approve legislation to legalize more than 11 million undocumented immigrants.

About 60 people on bicycles, organized by Emerge Miami, rode from the Vizcaya Metrorail station to the site of the mural to express solidarity with undocumented immigrants seeking immigration reform. the event was organized by EmerrgeMiami.

Among the cycling demonstrators was Jose Machado, one of the seven immigrants whose faces are depicted in Ubiera’s mural. Machado, who was brought here from Nicaragua by his parents when he was six years old, ended up in foster care after his mother was deported when he was 14.

“It’s amazing,” Machado told el Nuevo Herald Saturday as he stood beneath his blue-hued face on the mural. “It’s part of history and it’s a new part of activism.”

The mural is interactive. In one corner it has a giant QR code that can be scanned with smart phones. Scanning leads to information about the immigrants, like Machado, who are featured in the mural.

Next to Machado on the mural is Felipe Matos from Brazil. When the history of the immigration reform movement is written, Matos likely will be hailed as one of the pioneers of the legalization movement.

Matos and three other immigrants — Juan Rodriguez of Colombia, Gaby Pacheco of Ecuador and Carlos Roa of Venezuela — walked 1,500 miles from Miami to Washington in 2010 in a push for immigration reform and the Dream Act.

The epic walk helped propel the Dreamer movement to national attention, pushing for legalization for young immigrants brought to the United States as children.

The movement also helped set the stage for President Barack Obama’s decision last year to shield the young undocumented immigrants temporarily from deportation.

Sponsored by the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida and the Florida Immigrant Coalition, the artwork also features 11-year-old Viviana Rivas, whose father wound up in an immigration detention center. Another likeness is that of Cassandra Robert of Haiti

Others are identified in an ACLU website – www.ACLUFL.org/IamHere — either by their first names or pseudonyms: Rosa, a permanent resident who pleaded guilty to a “minor crime” and was placed in deportation proceedings; Maria, a pregnant Honduran facing deportation and Jesus, from Mexico, who was also placed in deportation proceedings.

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