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In memory of a comrade, a veteran fighter for a better world: Juan Torres

José Torres and Manuel Torres  |  Issue: April | May 2018
Juan Torres

Juan Torres


A veteran comrade, Juan Torres, passed away in January 2018. He was born and raised in the Rio Grande “Valley of Tears.” Juan labored in the fields during his youth as an adult In the Valley and in the summers migrated north.

After graduating from high school, Juan joined the Marines and achieved the rank of Corporal. After his military carrier, he immediately joined the ranks of the people struggling for social change.

Juan had a natural sense for understanding that there is something wrong with a system that denied farmworkers the basic right of putting a price on their labor and the right to join a union of their choice. In early life he was part of the movement to organize farmworkers wherever they labored.

Later when he settled in Michigan, he fought not only for migrant farmworkers, but for those who settled in Michigan to try to make a better living. Juan organized the settled farmworkers to fight for their basic rights: quality education for their children, housing, and jobs. He also fought against police brutality and for other civil rights issues.

After living in Michigan for several years Juan returned to the “Valley of Tears” and continued to struggle for the farmworker community on every front that he could. He was also a strong fighter for veterans’ rights, a dear issue to him.

In his last years Juan was a correspondent for the Tribuno del Pueblo and for the People’s Tribune.

We will miss Juan and our deepest condolences go out to his mother Julia, his sisters and especially to his sons and daughters.

Rest well, comrade. The fight will go on until we have won.

From his son Julio Ortiz

My father had written articles about the death march in Texas. No one knew the valley more than him. He lived like he wrote, from the heart. He lived what he preached.

He recently voluntarily evicted himself from his apartment. So, he was homeless, again. He went to a homeless shelter to escape the torturous cold weather that had ravaged the Rio Grande Valley recently. On the 3rd of January he was taken to the Valley Baptist Medical Center. He lost the battle on January 4th.

May there be more like him, a truly courageous man who did not seek reward for lifting others out of the much or confusion and ignorance. He leaves behind four children and three grandchildren to follow his footsteps, to carry the torch, and may knowledge not be extinguished.

Un Comentario | One Comment

  1. Julio ortiz says:

    I want to thank Jose Torres and Manuel Torres for writing this article. I apologize for not responding sooner. I wish i could say that it would get better. I wish that i could say that the pain goes away. The struggle contiues. I look to my past to see what glimpse of hope my father had. I want to make a correction. After investigating and recalling accounts that my family had compiled. I find it more unbelievable the circumstances that led to my fathers’ death. He died at the Harligen medical center. He went via ambulance on January the 4th. He was misdiagnosed with having idiopathic thrombocytopenic pupora. The evidence shows that he had a UTI and was septic. The hopital failed to treat the sepsis aggressively enough and he was subjected to unnecessary treatments such as a bone marrow biopsy. My father was under the care of nurses, doctors, and specialists. None, could identify the fact that he was altered mental status, due to sepsis. My father kept on saying he was homeless and that he had no next of kin. When he had an apartment, but was forced to go to a shelter because the landlord refused to fix the heat. Unfortunately, since my older sister signed the death certificate and there is no autopsy. There is no way to refute these facts. In spite of all these circumstances, i try to channel all the anger and pain. To direct it in a more positive direction. So that we may not remember him the way he died but the way he lived.

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