Rev. Edgar Krueger and Ninfa Ochoa Krueger Organizing, Krueger said, “is all about letting go of one’s ego … One prominent leader should not attempt to do the entire job.” One cannot think of Ed Krueger without his wife, and vice versa. A strong personality, she is an important leader in her own right. They met how else ? through politics; at a conference in Edinburg of PASO, the Political Association of Spanish-speaking Organizations. The Kruegers were the first couple to win the Holy Spirit Peace and Justice Award. Ninfa Ochoa Krueger said she started questioning authority when she was six years old, when public-school officials “set me back in grade because I had attended what they assumed was an inferior Catholic, Mexican-American kindergarten.” Later she witnessed discrimination in the selection of the high-school homecoming queen. As a worker with the state Department of Human Resources, she recalls, “I flirted with La Raza Unida Party and was asked by the director to resign.” but it did not change hearts. Indeed, it became more difficult to organize, he said, as people were afraid that their food stamps would be cut. But with Susan Law and David Hall of Texas Rural Legal Aid, Krueger began “Colonias del Valle,” an effective organization that still addresses the problems of the small settlements of poorer Mexican Americans outside city boundaries. He also helped to establish “Su Clinica Familiar” to deal with growing health problems. Colonias del Valle got federal money to help meet the nutritional needs of elderly citizens. Krueger moved on, commenting, only half-jokingly: “After organizations become too acceptable, we get out.” Personal challenge not salary keeps organizers going. Currently Krueger works with the Project.” It is supported with monies from five churches and the binational “Comite de Apoyo.” \(As his wife, Ninfa, said, “Nothing gets said he aims to “teach people how to fish.” He fishes both sides of the Rio Grande/Rio Bravo, linking the more traditional “poverty” issues with environmental concerns. He also helps workers in the maquiladora factories in Mexico. She refused. “I didn’t know why; I just knew he had no such right.” In the early 1970s she became involved with the National Farm Workers Ministry in Delano, Calif., where she used to get up at 3 a.m. to face authorities on the picket line. “I remember escaping arrest because I was pregnant,” she said. “I felt guilty when all the others were arrested.” But she had to return home to feed her young boys. She notes wryly, “the most conservative force may not be the Rangers or strikebusters of the growers. The pull of home duties, the need for a paycheck often hamper organizing.” Yet, she insists, “children and marriage never stood in the way of my social activity. In fact, they enhanced it. The family went to post-Allende Chile during the mid-1970s, sponsored by the AFSC. They went to build cooperatives, to work with women and to develop health programs. These were the roughest days of the Pinochet regime, and organizing was illegal. The Kruegers were not endangered, but their oldest son was detained by the secret police on his way to a party at the U.S. Embassy. He was released, but others were not so lucky in those tragic days of “the Missing.” Ochoa Krueger said she relied on “a righteous anger that comes from the Holy Spirit.” She emphasized that “the type of fight I mean is inspired by my heroes, such as Gandhi, King and Chavez.” This soft anger has also led her to become a co-founder of Mujeres Unidas, a much-needed halfway house and counseling -center for battered women in the Valley. In 1981 she helped nurture another organization, the Valley Inter-Religious Task Force on Central America. This educational group sponsored conferences and protests of the U.S. policy in Central America, a policy that she blames for causing the refugee crisis in the first place. Others may burn out or never catch fire but she bums on. She helped found the influential Border Association for Refugees from Central America churches and individuals. BARCA deals with the plight of Central American refuges through a mixture of old-fashioned charity and liew-fashioned negotiation with the Immigration and Naturalization Service. “Some things have changed; reactionary forces are not quite as ‘hard core’ as they once were,” she said. Organizing has become more acceptable, she added. Fifteen years ago, she said, “Friends would hesitate to be seen with me an organizer. Now it is probably more acceptable to talk peace and work for social justice.” Ann Williams* Cass Ann Williams Cass is the pastoral administrator of Holy Spirit Catholic Church, which has 1,700 families but no permanent priest. She majored in biochemistry and minored in theology at St. Ambrose College in Davenport, Iowa, but her academic and personal priorities came to be reversed in the Valley, partly as a result of her inspiration by the charismatic Sister Carol Messina. Williams Cass helped fill the void left by Sister Carol’s death several years ago. “My philosophy today is to fulfill the church’s mission to be ‘Christ in the world’,” Williams Cass said. Williams Cass also joined the National Farm Workers Ministry, and a major part of her job is to help implement new laws protecting farm workers. She is involved with the Indigent Health Care Monitoring Commission, which monitors enforcement of spraying and sanitation regulations in Hidalgo County. THE TEXAS OBSERVER 9 Ninfa
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