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The Forgotten Americans

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Focus: Las Colonias
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November 15, 1999

Hector Galan finishes his interviews with a group of colonia residents and volunteers. We completed the final interviews in July in El Paso, Texas, Rio Grande City, Texas and Hatch, New Mexico.

Then we collected all the visuals needed. Once that was done, we culled all the footage to bring to the forefront the most compelling stories.  Perhaps, the singular story to come out of the colonias is the power of community organization.

A resident-turned-activist of Las Lomas -- a colonia near Rio Grande City, Texas -- Blanca Juarez realized that the only way to better the lives of colonia residents was to take fate in her own hands. At first, Blanca organized the residents of Las Lomas into a strong voting bloc. She then created a self-help program called Colonias Unidas, where residents are supervised by engineers and other experts to build better roads, homes, sewer and water connections.

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