Fidel Sanchez - Community Organizer and Troubadour

Fidel was born and raised in San Salvador, El Salvador on Nov. 3 1962. Something was happening in Cuba (revolutionary winds were blowing) and his parents decided to call him Fidel Ernesto! The son of Maria Angela Ruiz originally from El Paisnal y of Luis Sanchez, originally of Chalatenango, El Salvador.

Fidel discovered the church and it brotherhood at the age of 8. He participated in different educational programs and music workshops at the church of San Antonio of Soyapango. He became a server at the church and joined the choir of the 11 o’clock mass. Later, he became a catechist and joined the youth pastors. As a young leader of his neighborhood he became part of the neighborhood directive in which he began to raise funds for the construction of a bridge between two very poor communities as well as worked to install a plumbing system of potable water and “black water” of his town.

As the years passed, the church decided to form a relationship with the surrounding communities and elected 12 coordinators Fidel being one of them! They were instructed to establish relationships with the people of the neighborhoods, establish the evangelistic mission of the church and development a fortified ecclesial base communities. Fidel graduated from ENCO (The National School of Comerce) in 1983 with his AA degree. Then he began working as a book salesman and later in a famous furniture repair stor doing auxiliary patchwork. He joins the union of the company and began organizing other workers to join. The bosses discover the union and disband it leaving only two active members left, Fidel being one of them. These two workers continue organizing, withstanding the pressure from their supervisors for one more year before quitting but demand a guarantee in compensation and trade union immunity (this was a triumphant moment as they were able to quit the company and not fail the unionizing efforts). Fidel continued on with his humble career as a musician y as a troubadour leaving behind within the heart of mothers, neighbors and of course admirers (whom he used to serenade) at church presentations and his school in which he left behind the sweet melody of his voice.

Later, Fidel immigrated to the United States, escaping the persecution from the government for his work as a catechist and unionist. That same year a strong earthquake strikes El Salvador destroying his house, among many others in his neighborhood which compelled him to leave his parents, his girlfriend, his dog and his friends. He crossed the border with 7 members of his family and arrived to Los Angeles in 1986 where he was met by his brother; they lived in the Pico Union neighborhood. 

Fidel started working in construction and as a carpet layer yet continued his faith-based community organizing work at Precious Blood Church. He joined the life of the church joining the choir and participating with different groups. As time passed the church offered him a position as a community organizer in which he becomes involved with the social, economic and cultural life of Central American immigrants in Los Angeles. The church sends him to take leadership and development workshops. LA Metro also invests in Fidel development as a community organizer.

In 1999, SANA (Salvadoran American National Assosciation) approach Fidel and Precious Blood Church in hopes to collaborate in order to celebrate the first religious celebration with a civic and cultural–The Descendant of the Divine Savior of the world and Day of the Salvadoran in the city of Los Angeles. Following the success of the magnificent event which Fidel functioned as a coordinator in which he secured music, food and the flyer, SANA (via Isabel Cardenas, “Chavelita”) ask him to join the organization as the Director of Cultural Affairs. He volunteered in that position until 2012. After working for the church, Fidel leaves to work for an organization that organizes tenants to mobilize for their rights as renters.

In 2002, Fidel was invited to play the music for religious services at a small ministry in Pico Union, the Methodist ministry Pico Union Shalom located on Vermont and Pico. Later, he is hired to be the community organizer of the ministry, where he worked for 3 years. Throughout that time he developed one of the most beautiful community gardens, creating a community around it. Fidel then is contracted to work for the Methodist Church in Long Beach building the congregation of the church and engaging the community.

Oh! I almost forgot to mention that he married Carmen Elizabeth originally from El Paisnal and thanks to his genes creates two beautiful daughters, Jasmine Elizabeth and Xochilt Guadalupe as well as a very charming and hardworking son, Cristian Josue.

Each of them an exceptional young adults, graduated from university and who will never forget the history of their parents and homeland. Fidel continues to dedicate himself to music, singing to life and our history. A devout Romerista, he celebrates Romero and Rutilio annually with events done in their memory and to honor their legacies. Fidel is a free agent who dedicated himself to gardening, carpentry, painting (is excellent at it) and is a member of three movements/orgs 1) MPRF (Multiethnic Peace and Reconstruction Fund 2) ICUJP (Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace 3) is the alumni of Jim Lawson’s Non-violence workshops in which he studies the legacies of Ghandi and Martin Luther King Jr.

 

Click here to read the reflection in Spanish

 

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