This photograph commemorates the painting of an international mural on a wall in Belfast, Northern Ireland coordinated by a Chicano muralist, Victor Ochoa, in July of 1997. How a Chicano from San Diego found himself heading up an international team of muralists is the story behind this Moment in Time.
Victor Ochoa, who was one of the initial co-founders of San Diego’s Chicano Park mural complex in 1970, had been invited to work on a mural in Barcelona, Spain in the 1990s. The Spanish and Catalan muralists he met there spread the word about Chicano Park across Europe. Muralists aligned with the Irish Republican Party invited Victor to work on a mural in a working class neighborhood of Belfast, Ireland. Victor’s skill and experience earned him the role of coordinator of a mural project created by an international group of muralists that featured images of Che Guevara, Steven Biko and other heroes of nationalist struggle.
Victor recalls, “When I got to Belfast and saw the plight of the Catholic Irish I realized they were the white Mexicans.” News of Victor’s mural painting quickly spread. “When the Mexican Consul in Dublin heard that there was Chicano from Tijuana/San Diego painting a mural in Belfast, he couldn’t believe it. He invited me to do a presentation at the Mexican Consulate which I did. I was on the same program with Irish national poet and nobel laureate, Sheamus Heaney!”
Victor decided he would share the documentary, “The San Patricio Batallion” by Mark Day, with the audience. “People were in tears as they saw the names of the San Patricios appear on the screen–they were family names they knew. They asked us to screen the film again, and we did, and the next night there was a line a block long of people waiting to see the film.”
Jerry Adams, head of Sein Finn, the Irish Republican political party, visited the mural site on several occasions. In this photo we see Victor Ochoa standing next to Jerry Adams in the center of the picture.
A Chicano in Belfast…another LATINOPIA MOMENT IN TIME.