A Corrido For The Colorado River
LAS VEGAS A campaign to protect the Colorado River is using music to get its message out to Latinos and policymakers. At four coordinated events across the Southwest on Thursday, advocates debuted a new Mexican-style ballad that explains the importance of protecting the river.
In Las Vegas, a live mariachi band in traditional charro-style suits performed the new folk song -- known as a corrido -- to a small crowd at the East Las Vegas Community Center.
"What would my friend Cesar Chavez say, since he was born on the banks of our river" the lyrics say in Spanish, referring to the labor leader born in Yuma, Arizona. "Yes we can … save our river."
Similar events were held in Phoenix, Albuquerque and Denver.
The song and its performance were the latest efforts of a campaign called 'Nuestro Rio.'
"Protecting the Colorado River is the single most important issue in the entire Southwest," said Andres Ramirez, Nuestro Rio's Nevada director. "Without water there is no Southwest United States. And without the Colorado River, there is no water."
Drought and population demands in the Southwest have taxed the river, and water levels have fallen alarmingly low in recent years.
"Our effort is to make sure people know that this issue is of importance to Hispanic community as well, and that we want to be involved in those discussions," Ramirez said.
Nuestro Rio is calling for solutions such as increased water banking, education efforts around household water conservation, and more efficient uses of water for agriculture.
Environmental issues haven't historically been seen as top priorities for Latino voters.
University of Nevada Las Vegas political scientist Ken Fernandez says an array of advocacy campaigns and interest groups are seeking ways to form alliances with Latinos, because of that demographic's growing voter participation.
"I think people are very aware that Latinos are this political resource that can be tapped in," Fernandez said.
The campaign is funded by the Walton Family Foundation, which is run by the family of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton. The foundation supports environmental and education projects.