The following is a press release from an organization unaffiliated with Voice of OC. The views expressed here are not those of Voice of OC.

In the Battle Against Gentrification and Exclusion, el Centro Cultural de Mexico Wins a Permanent Home in Santa Ana

“A new home for El Centro is part of a larger community and economic development strategy”

Santa Ana, CA — On April 1st, el Centro Cultural de Mexico moved in to its new building on 837 N. Ross Street, marking a significant win for Santa Ana’s immigrant community and grassroots groups fighting for rights and equality across Orange County.  The new home for El Centro Cultural was secured with the support of the California Endowment and a five-year process of grassroots fundraising, and community organizing, which will continue in this new space.

“Bienvenidxs al Centro!  This is an emotional moment for so many who have worked, taught, shared, cried, and laughed to advance the mission of a space for our community,” said Laura Pantoja, an immigrant woman, who has been working with el Centro since its inception and is one of the Centro’s community organizers.  “From our daily programming, brand new conference rooms to an entire building for the community. This is an opportunity not only for organizations, but for all of Santa Ana, mothers, fathers, workers, and youths who want to organize, share and build in community.”

Over the years, el Centro has been a de facto organizing hub in conservative Orange County, housing leading grassroots groups like RAIZ (Now Resilience OC), Colectivo TonantzinOrange County Dream Team and Breath of Fire Theatre.  But as gentrification has advanced in Santa Ana, el Centro Cultural has been displaced from various spaces, despite paying up to $7,000 in rent a month.  Together, el Centro has moved five different times in the past 15 years.  The last space it rented continues to be empty.

“This is a win against the forces that seek to displace immigrant and working people across the U.S.  A building is just a building, but when it is rooted in a community-based process, it becomes a space for the people, for developing ourselves, for sharing ideas, and building a real foundation for Santa Ana’s future,” said Ana Siria Urzua Campaign coordinator for Santa Ana BHC.  “A new home for el Centro is part of a larger community and economic development strategy.  That is community health and well-being.”

This win required a broad base of support from individuals and local and state organizations, such as Santa Ana Building Healthy Communities, Little Tokyo Service Center (LTSC), the Orange County Community Housing Corporation, Robert Solomon and the Community and Economic Development Clinic, the UCI Immigration Law Clinic, the National Day Labor Organizing Network, Gilda Haas, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, just to include a few.  Takao Suzuki from LTSC shared, “As a fellow community based organization committed to improving the lives of individuals and families through culturally sensitive services, Little Tokyo Service Center is aware of the need to strengthen neighborhoods through housing and community development, and promoting the rich heritage of our ethnic communities. We congratulate El Centro Cultural de Mexico’s latest venture of increasing their capacity to continue its work to empower the Santa Ana community by acquiring the site for their community center.”

Founded in 1994 by a group of immigrant women from Mexico, el Centro Cultural is dedicated to providing a space for the peoples’ popular and cultural movements.  Today, el Centro is a hub for a dozen grassroots community partners, and home to over a dozen free classes, including danza, baile folklorico, son jarocho, art, and self-defense. Its major community celebrations includes Dia del Nino, which will be celebrated on Sunday April 30th, and includes a Children’s March, and Noche De Altares, which last year hosted over 50,000 people. It is one of the founding organizations of the newly formed community land trust THRIVE Santa Ana. 

El Centro Cultural will be launching its building fund campaign to support renovations, and hosting a grand opening this summer. El Centro will share updates through their website and Facebook, and Radio Santa Ana.  For more information on how to support and donate please visit these pages:

Dia del Nin@:

5th Annual Children’s March:

El Centro Cultural de Mexico:

Radio Santa Ana:

Karen Sarabia

El Centro Cultural de México

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