Regional Organization of Oaxaca (ORO)
Organización Regional de Oaxaca (ORO) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting and preserving indigenous Oaxacan culture in California. ORO has been an important influence on the growing Oaxacan community in Los Angeles for the past 30 years. The organization’s biggest event is Festival Guelaguetza, an annual celebration of Oaxacan culture that consists of music, dancing, and food. What started as a basketball tournament among friends has grown into a two-day festival with numerous collaborators that gathers over 20,000 people each year.
For the past four years, the Festival has included the Calenda Parade as part of the festivities. The parade travels from Crenshaw Blvd to Normandie along Pico, showcasing traditional music and dance that is infectious. Los Angeles hosts the largest population of Oaxacans outside of Mexico and the cultural identity was not always so pridefully embraced. For a long time, many Oaxacans avoided admitting they were from the region but the festival is one example of the swelling cultural pride exhibited by the group today.
The name “Guelaguetza” comes from the Zapotec word “guendalezaa” meaning “exchange or offering.” The festival extends its vibrant, family-oriented culture to visitors and expects nothing in return but joy and celebration. Isai Pasos, the President of ORO, is an inspirational figure for the Oaxacan community. Pasos embodies Oaxacan pride, working to bring together different regions of Oaxaca and showcase their traditions and talent with the platform of ORO.