Writer: Henry Barajas, Art: J. Gonzo, Lettering: Bernardo Brice, Editor: Claire Napier.
Journalist and author Henry Barajas introduces the world to his maternal great grandfather, Ramon Jaurigue. Left orphaned after the sudden deaths of his parents, Jaurigue joined the Marines and went on to become a WWII veteran. Upon returning home to Tucson, Arizona after the war, he became an active member for his community and co-founded the Mexican, American, Yaqui, and Others (M.A.Y.O.) organization. Barajas’s Tata Rambo sets out to cement Jaurigue’s and M.A.Y.O.’s laborious community efforts in history even if the Yaqui tribe have willfully or unintentionally left them out of their own. It sets up Jaurigue as an influential man who does all that he can to make the Tucson community thrive to improve the lives of its indigenous and latinx residents. However, he is a man not without his faults as is briefly revealed in the comic. Barajas takes care to credit the individuals who formed M.A.Y.O., bringing them out of the shadows of memory that quickly fades with the passing of time and death. When Jaurigue is informed there are plans to buy the Yaqui reservation in order to build a freeway through it, he and the M.A.Y.O. collective join forces with other activists and Senator Morris Udall in order to stop it from happening.
Tata Rambo reads like an animated history book full of bold, colorful chicano illustration. J. Gonzo’s art calls to mind many renowned chicano murals across the country, such as “La Ofrenda” in Chicago by Yreina Cervantez. “La Ofrenda” even depicts latinx activist Dolores Huerta at its heart, and she actually plays a part, along with Cesar Chavez, in helping M.A.Y.O. protest the sale of the Yaqui natives’ reservation. Gonzo is respectful of Barajas's ancestry by not sensationalizing the story. As a matter of fact, Barajas includes photos of the M.A.Y.O. post epilogue, and Gonzo’s reimagined renderings in the comic are quite accurate. There are numerous pages and panels alone that could be murals or works hanging in a gallery. Gonzo should be proud of his work and respectful representation.
Barajas presents us with a history that is political yet personal. It shows that history repeats itself time and time again. When reading this comic, I cannot help but to recall the Standing Rock Sioux protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline (No DAPL) that manifested in early 2016. Numerous groups of Native Americans became involved in that protest to protect sacred spiritual land, burial grounds, and the waterways that would be affected by the pipeline. There are also the protests in the present against ICE for its horrific detention and deportation tactics mostly targeted towards latinxs. There are modern day Ramon Jaurigues and M.A.Y.O.s that merit their place in history. I hope Barajas's comic inspires others to ensure their activism and efforts are documented for future generations.
La Voz De M.A.Y.O: TATA RAMBO is published by Image Comics and is on sale October 30, 2019.