Lazaro Aguero during Palestine protests.

INTERVIEW: Why This Dad Supported His Daughter During Palestine College Protests

Courtesy of Lazaro Aguero.

A growing number of Latines in the US are joining the nationwide protests across university campuses, displaying that the ongoing issue matters greatly to the Latine community.

One Latino father, Lazaro Aguero, went viral last month in his interview with ABC7 for his unwavering support of his daughter, Camila Aguero Salas, who joined the student-led protests at USC. Aguero and his daughter are now speaking up about the viral moment, why they are so passionate about demanding academic institutions divest funds from Israel and the connection they see between the struggles of Latines and Palestinians.

“My daughter made the right decision. If she was arrested fighting for Palestine, I will be the happiest daddy if she’s doing the right thing,” said Aguero in the now-viral moment shared across social media. His daughter, Salas, is 20 years old and studying international relations at USC with a minor in law and migration studies. At the time, it was unclear, but his daughter was not arrested or harmed during the protest.

Salas’s decision to join the protest was not an easy one given it was finals week, but she told Remezcla, “I’ve learned so much about the issue that I think there was just no way that I could just stand back and do nothing.” She discussed her decision with her dad who was immediately supportive, something that meant a lot to her given his own past.

“Back when he was in Peru he used to get arrested because they were protesting against an authoritarian government. And so he also taught me that sometimes getting arrested doesn’t always mean that you’re a bad person,” says Salas. That understanding put her fears at ease. She explains, “[Because] my dad was willing to say all of that on television just made me feel very proud to be his daughter.”

Sometimes getting arrested doesn’t always mean that you’re a bad person.

Aguero is a Peruvian immigrant living in Los Angeles and has been an activist since his early teens. He moved to the States at 15 years old in 1991 and became a US citizen. “I think that all human beings when there’s situations happening like the one in Palestine, we cannot be indifferent.”

Courtesy of Lazaro Aguero.
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That is a message his daughter has taken to heart, recollecting the lessons her dad taught her when she was young. “Growing up hearing [phrases] like ‘revolucion’, [and] ‘el pueblo unido jamás será vencido’” Salas explains, “as I was growing older, he tried to talk to me and my siblings about how the U. S. had intervened in a lot of Latin American governments, including Peru, so he always taught me to question the U.S.’s foreign policy.” It has guided her studies at USC which have also informed her views on the current political situation. 

Those U.S. interventions have also contributed to the Palestinian diaspora, much of which is in Latin America. The largest Palestinian diaspora outside the Middle East reside in Chile where the population is now estimated to have more than half a million Palestinians, many third, fourth, or even fifth-generation, according to Reuters. There are an estimated 700,000 Latin Americans of Palestinian origin living across 14 countries in the region, and have a significant footprint in Honduras, El Salvador, and Chile, according to TRT World.

While academic institutions have always prided themselves on nuanced intellectual discourse about political subjects, Salas has learned firsthand that that may no longer be the case when it involves Palestine. Despite their peaceful protests, USC’s president Dr. Carol Folt called the LAPD onto campus risking the student’s safety, something Aguero strongly condemns. “The police never, ever has to be on a campus,” says Aguero, “The university has private security and the police is for the streets, not for the universities. Not for the schools.” 

Attending the protest ended up being a family affair as Aguero invited his two elderly parents, in their 90’s, to support Salas. Once the police arrived, Aguero was concerned for their safety and moved them out of the campus, but they later called him and said they were willing to be involved. “My parents, they were calling from the outside [saying], ‘Hey, if you get arrested, I want to be arrested!’” Aguero recalled.

Courtesy of Lazaro Aguero.
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Aguero message to Latine parents is to treat this moment like any other lesson you teach your kids when an injustice happens and not be afraid to speak up. “I teach my youngest daughter that if she sees a little child hit a friend, to go and tell an adult or help them,” Aguero explains “If I don’t teach them [about] the biggest lesson, which is genocide, how [Israel] are killing children like them, I lose my valor as a father.”

It’s a lesson many Latines in Los Angeles, where the Agueros live, have been taking to the streets for over 6 months. Many are seen at protests chanting “Viva, Viva Palestina” and carrying signs reading “Latinos para Palestina”. 

And it translates to university protests as well. According to USC’s own website, 15% of its student body identifies as ‘Hispanic’. Aguero says the students, including his daughter, give him hope and inspiration. “They want to create awareness to the rest of the world that Palestine is not forgotten,” he says, “that the students of the United States are with Palestine.”