Luis Ortega didn’t exactly understand the point behind Occupy Wall Street.
As the Mexican immigrant made his way around the outskirts of Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan, he tried to decipher anti-corporate slogans strewn on cardboard but his limited English vocabulary didn’t include the word tycoon. He was thinking of leaving when he found the Spanish translation of the newspaper Occupied Wall Street Journal documenting the protest in New York City.
“If you want to unite the people, you have to speak their language,” he said in Spanish.
That’s exactly what the media team behind the protest thought when they released their first Spanish version of the paper on Sunday.
“We were realizing we could reach great amounts of people in New York City through social media and print, but a huge portion does not speak English,” said Michael Levitin, managing editor of the Occupied Wall Street Journal. “How can we bring them into the movement?”
Only two days after the translated copy came out, just a small percentage of the 20,000 copies remain in neat piles amid rumpled sleeping bags, mountains of coats and stacks of backpacks.
A second issue is in the works that will vary markedly from the first version. Latino designers and production managers assisting in the newspaper’s development will create something more in line with traditional Latino newspapers.
The paper will be distributed among Manhattan’s Latino neighborhoods such as Spanish Harlem and Washington Heights, and parts of outer boroughs with strong ethnic enclaves such as Queens and Brooklyn.
“This movement needs Latinos on board,” said Levitin.
Latinos who have been camping out at the park enjoyed the addition of the newspaper saying that it made them feel like their issues with health care, immigration and economics were something that they didn’t have to suffer in isolation.
“These problems aren’t just Latino problems,” said Wilfred Salomon, a Cuban-Puerto Rican from Staten Island who has been protesting for a few days. “These problems take over every race, every color, every creed.”
The paper is just one way organizers are looking to reach out to Latinos. On Sunday, they also had their first general assembly meeting in Spanish to help steer the larger goals of the protest.
The organizing efforts among Latinos involved with the Occupy Wall Street protests is nascent, said Dani Moore, an immigrant rights worker from Raleigh, North Carolina, who helped organize the Spanish general assembly.
“There is a lot of interest from the Spanish-speaking population,” said Moore, who is continuing to work with Latino leaders to find ways to bring the community into the movement.
Meanwhile, at Liberty Park, Ortega took a seat on a step in front of a Halal food cart on the outskirts of the encampment to pore over the paper.
“Me gusta la lucha (I like the fight),” said Ortega with a smile after he finished reading. “Me gusta mucho.”
Soni Sangha is a freelance writer based in New York City.