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  • 18 Oct 2018 14°C 7°C
  • 19 Oct 2018 17°C 5°C

The Hidden Mexican Legacy of my Father

            I recently returned from a visit to Mexico City (CDMX) for the first time in over 40 years. I'd lived there for an extended period during my adolescence with my father, Jose 'Pepe' Sueiro. My father emigrated to the United States when he was a young man married, and later divorced, my mother whom he had known since childhood in the town of Pontevedra (Spain) where she was from. Born in the seaside village of Sanxenxo, he was a merchant marine when he arrived in New York City and ended up remaining in the country, based in the United States and Latin America for the rest of his life.

            Many years later 'Pepe' became an interpreter for the State Dept. and through his charm and proclivity for languages translated at the White House under President Kennedy. He was also involved in national labor union politics and became known to the AFL-CIO and the union movement. When the Alliance for Progress was launched in the early 60's he was assigned to Mexico as Country Program Director working on social programs that would highlight U.S. solidarity with that nation.

            Among his many activities by far the most important was an affordable housing component that would build over 3,400 units of affordable housing in a building project ultimately titled, 'Unidad Habitacional Kennedy'. It was located in the Jardines Balbuena neighborhood near the airport - at that time on the outskirts of the Mexican capital and now considered a 'close in' neighborhood to city center.

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