"Balance" by Chicana Muralist Judy Baca (used by permission)

Saturday, January 24, 2009

On to the Fifth World

Juan Rafael Santos of the Aztlan Mexica Nation Harmony Keepers/American Indian Movement, my brother, passed into the spirit world on Thursday, January 22. That gentle, fierce, loving, brilliant, poetic soul outgrew the shackles of his body and this realm. He is on his way to take his place with the ancestors so he can be with us all. He has found life in balance, but he is not resting, not Rafa. He's writing and laughing and righting great wrongs and showing us all the way to the Fifth World. He has joined the spirits where he can even better shine his truth-revealing light, rescue our Mother Earth, and inspire what he took to calling a Green Renaissance. Listen for him.

--Leslie Radford


DebC said...

Leslie...My sincere condolences for your loss - our loss. My heart broke as I read this post as I'd only just recently found him.

I devoured his words because they so elegantly and honestly expressed my beliefs, my feelings, my hopes. He let me know that this journey of me was neither paranoid, nor crazy in this paranoid and crazy world.

If you don't mind, I would like to remain linked to the blog so that I can continue to "listen for him."

Leslie said...

The blog will stay, and soon I hope to lead other people here to leave their wordgifts for his wordgifts. You're not alone--many of us found assurance and expression through Juan.

Don Durito said...

Words escape me. I'm relieved to know that his written legacy will continue to live on.

Unknown said...

Here is one of my favorite pieces from Rafa.

Con mucho amor y respecto. Saludos a mis antepasados.

Leslie said...

The passing of Juan Rafael Santos will be celebrated in Native American ceremony this Friday, January 30, at the East Olympic Funeral Home, 4556 E. Olympic Blvd., Los Angeles, starting at 6:00 p.m. All those who loved and honored Rafael are invited to attend.

A celebration of his life will be held in the near future, at a time and place I will post here.

If you would like to remember Rafael with a gift, please contribute to the South Central Farm, where Rafael served as a council member with all the passion that we remember him for. You can make a gift to The South Central Farmers or to them at 1702 E. 41st St., Los Angeles, CA 90058.

And please pass this message on to anyone who loved Rafael.

Leslie Radford

Terry Goodman said...

Passionate, brilliant, keenly analytical, full of style and wit, mellow of voice and sharp of pen, Rafael was my favorite internet forum antagonist. I will miss him.

q-bird said...

I am deeply saddened with the passing of Juan Santos. His uncompromising voice for the Earth will sorely be missed. I had wanted to visit and dialog with Juan last year, but was unable to get a response. His blog was one of my favorites, with it's passion, clarity and brilliance. I will keep the link to The Fourth World on my blog, Eagle-Quetzal-Condor at: aguilahombre.wordpress.com
As a Native American and Chicano, I have tried to strengthen the links between the two people's who are both Indigenous to this continent.
I will try my best to attend the Memorial service, when the date is announced.
Roberto Mendoza

Unknown said...

Emily said...

A few hours ago, I learned of Juan's death from a mutual associate. In response, I felt compelled to write about him -- partly for personal closure and mostly because I want to rejoice in and honor his life through sharing my sense of him, which, like anyone else's, is unique in that everyone always has a different understanding and relationship to the same other person.

More fully, the reason that I want to extend my own understanding of him is that he was and still is so inspirational for a wide variety of reasons. Consequently, he will always provide a good example to others. In addition, others knowing of him would lead them to possibly want to investigate his writings, projects of his like South Central Farm that need widespread support and possibly provide other benefits.

"The Passing of Juan Rafael Santos, Champion of Myriad Causes"

The tremendous activist and writer Juan Rafael Santos, I just learned, died last month. So, I write this commemoration in both grief and celebration of his life.

I deeply admired, respected and valued Juan, and recall many of our conversations over the past few years, which were evidence of his full breadth of being. As such, they included topics as ranging as the plight of lepers in Trinidad, nuclear disarmament, globalization of industry, climate change, the Masai of E. Africa, his sense of fierce protection towards all harmed people, the foundations of spirituality, the development of ethics in young children, heart wrenching works of art, the positive kinds of cultural universalities that all of humankind expresses, overpopulation, his health problems, his employment, his tenderness towards several colleagues and friends, his unyielding efforts to support indigenous native and Chicano causes, the worsening economic and environmental collapses, his enthusiasm over the insights of Russell Means and William Kötke; the roots of his moral indignation, compassion and courage to carry onward despite periods of despair; and other matters far too numerous to mention.

Often I reflected on his strong sense of duty to provide outstanding service to others on a continual basis, his profound sensitivity towards all forms of life and life as an integrated wholeness, his seemingly bottomless caring for the Earth, itself; his many tireless humanitarian activities and intense compositions, including the last writing of his that I'd read -- "The Lessons Of Gaza In A Time Of Collapse And Rebirth" -- that can be obtained through an online search. Indeed, one could relish all of his various forms of outreach as a consistent theme ran through every single one of them pointing to his profound love of the world, undeniable need to relentlessly "speak truth to power," persistent backing of just actions, and unswerving desire to improve the quality of life for all...

I'm weeping as I gather my thoughts on him together in this farewell message. Yet despite my sorrow and wish that I could have told him one more time that I cherish him, I realize that his stance STILL means so much to many of us. Indeed, it can continue to serve to rally many people, even ones who did not know him, onward as we collectively struggle against losing hope in the face of great suffering in the world and concerning which we are forced to bear witness again and again as we try to provide whatever modest relief as we can manage to muster while confronting huge daunting global and smaller scale problems as exist in these troubling times. As such, he can continue to provide the example of goodness that he so thoroughly expressed in his living as his spirit can carry on through others -- the persons who, like him, offer their utmost best effort to try to improve the quality of life on a grand sweeping scale.

Meanwhile, there is so much about him that is memorable, such as his involvement with South Central Farm, a cause about which he was so passionate that, when I urged and pleaded with him to leave LA due to the looming water shortage and other factors, he, alternately hopeful and gloomy, told me that he had to stay where he was to try to make this farming venture and other ones in which he was engaged "work" since so many people, in fundamental and critical ways, depend on them. Certainly, he never quit whenever an activity got dauntingly hard, but simply exerted himself all the more in response.

In the end, I will always remember Juan for his unswerving ethical resolve and dedication to provide all that he, humanly, could in the areas of human rights and environmental well-being. Even when it sharply pained him to write because of a severe longstanding back injury, he carried onward due to caring ever so much more about his causes than his own distress. This was always the case whether it was physical in nature or due to his compassionate sensitivity and for which he sometimes used anger to mask.

So as I try to sum him up (a task that can never be completed) and make sense of his life, I realize that I will sorely feel his absence more and more with the passage of time, but will strive all the harder, by right actions, to make up for the gaping hole that his passing has produced. All the same, no one, it would seem, can quite fill it. Such was the largeness of his being.

If you wish to know more about Juan's life and passing, you can find it on two pages at
http://www.southcentralfarmers.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=363&Itemid=48, http://la.indymedia.org/news/2009/01/224231_comment.php#224328 and his web site, http://the-fourth-world.blogspot.com/. At the third listing, one can contribute and read memorial statements, as well as gain access to a wealth of Juan's writings and other affirmative material.

Farewell to a dear friend, an individual who can easily serve as a standard for humanitarian and environmental activism, and, in the final reckoning, a successful champion of myriad causes. You were treasured and you will be missed.

Unknown said...

Emily said...


I submitted to post on several progressive sites (including some at which Juan's works can be found)a slightly revised version of the writing that is above. In a few days, it can be found, through the title, online and, hopefully, it will lead people back to this web site and to South Central Farm's!

clintoncallahan said...

I counted on this guy Juan Santos as one of my allies.
How did he die?
I didn't know anything about Juan except that he had a fierce clarity and an authentic intelligence that I liked and that I could speak to. He inspired me to keep taking risks.
Now what?
It just makes things more urgent for me.
Thanks for caring about Juan Santos. I cared about him too.
All the best,
Clinton Callahan

UnityForSurvival said...

Basit......I am deeply saddened and express my sincere condolences.... to a friend whose words was a great motivation and will motivate and guide future generation with written legacy
Abdul Basit

Andrea said...

I knew Juan via e-mail for the interview on Obama.
He showed an absolute passion for the cause in which he believed and a fine insight.
He was an ace of the critical thought. I admire the wearing path he chose to follow.
Yet, now, what stucks me the most is that he showed a sincere, total and very human helpfulness for me, for a person he had never seen before, even in his last days.

He did leave me something. I hug all the persons who are suffering for his loss. Good luck.

Grazie per tutto, fratello.
Buona fortuna

Jason lee said...

I too am sorry for your loss. My condolences.


Thomas Saros (Wadena)

Julian Real said...

Dear Leslie,

My heart goes out to you, and to all who knew him personally. I regret, as others do, not knowing him except through his words. But that is quite a legacy through which to see into the depths of a person, to know his passion and his intellect, and I am so grateful you will leave this blog up, for others to find, learn from, and link to, so that his words will find more hearts to hear it, and pass it on and on.

Thank you. My deepest condolences to you at the loss of your beloved brother.

La Ventana a mi Barrio said...

My condolences. I am really saddened by these news. I have not been to this page in a while and tonight for some reason I was listening to an interview I did with Juan Santos in 2007 on the subject of the film Apocalypto. I must say I learnt a lot from reading the Fourth World and from my 30 mins. conversation with Juan. He was an admirable human being and respected person of great knowledge and insight. He will be missed. You can listen to our talk at: http://emma2.radio4all.net/pub/archive2/07.01.07/news@ckln.fm/386-1-20061222-Apocalypto-InterviewWithJuanSantos.mp3

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