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My name is Raul Carranza.
And I am the 99%.

by Raul Carranza
San Diego, California

Raul Carranza joins in leading the Human Rights March for Labor/Occupy SD through downtown San Diego. He is accompanied by his nurse Sam Uybungco. Photos by Nic Paget-Clarke.

Raul Carranza joins in leading the Human Rights March for Labor/Occupy SD through downtown San Diego. He is accompanied by his nurse Sam Uybungco. Photos by Nic Paget-Clarke.

Raul Carranza joins in leading the Human Rights March for Labor/Occupy SD through downtown San Diego. Photos by Nic Paget-Clarke.

The following speech was delivered by Raul Carranza at a joint Occupy San Diego/Labor rally in front of the Social Security Administration building in San Diego on Human Rights Day, Saturday, December 10, 2011. He spoke with the aid of a laptop computer. After the rally, there was a march around downtown back to Freedom Plaza (the Civic Center.)

I have been following the “Occupy” movement since it first started. I’ve seen it grow and spread like wildfire. I’ve also seen people question what the purpose of these protests is. Critics of the movement have said that it’s just entitled people wanting handouts and that it’s just protesting for the sake of protesting. I am not able to attend the protests as the environment has become too dangerous for me. I can, however, attempt to help the movement the only way I know how, by telling my story.

My name is Raul Carranza. I have a disease called Muscular Dystrophy. It's a progressive disease that prevents my muscles from making any energy. This, in turn, causes the muscles to atrophy over time, I have lost the ability to walk, move my arms, eat and breathe. Because of this I require around the clock nursing care. But this has not stopped me from striving for an independent life. Last year I moved away to UCLA by myself and lived away from my family for a whole semester, unfortunately I had to come back home to San Diego at the end of December. One of the reasons I had to come back was because I was involved in a battle with the State of California over my nursing hours. The state funds my care through a program called The NF/AH waiver, under this waiver pediatric patients get more money than adult patients. There are 3 categories in the waiver, they are: A/B, sub acute and acute, acute being the level with the most funding. Medical put me in the sub acute level of care, even though I qualify for the acute level of care. We appealed their decision and went to court with them, we managed to convince the Judge that I was, indeed, qualified for the acute level of care. However, the director of the program overturned the judges decision, and provided no reasoning for his decision, We have since been denied a rehearing and will be filing a lawsuit against the state of California. We have been forced to purchase a private insurance that costs nearly $500 a month, not including out of pocket costs. To add insult to injury, once I hit my yearly limit of $75,000 they stop covering everything until the start of the next year. I’ve only had the insurance since late August and I’m already hitting my limit this month.

The private insurance was supposed to cover the cost of the nursing hours that were cut. That’s not how it works, however. MediCAL won’t pay for anything until the private insurance gets billed. This has led to a situation where my medical bills have been piling up. I’m already thousands of dollars in debt and MediCALwon’t cover anything more.

Right now, the only thing I want to do is go back to UCLA. Unfortunately, that is not possible unless I get the care that I need.

My family immigrated to the US after me and my brother were diagnosed. I remember asking my parents why we had decided to move here. Her answer was simple, “Opportunities. More opportunities.” I believed her. But now, I’m slowly finding out that this government no longer cares about their citizens. It’s become a giant bureaucratic machine run by corporate lobbies who’s only interest is gorging on money regardless of who they tear down in the process. And we have a government that condones and enables this behavior. We have a government that would rather stay in power than help it’s people. All that money we spent on bailouts could have been used to give people the care they need. People are fed up and we, the 99%, want things to change. We want our tax dollars to be used on people that need it, not rich CEO’s. We want a better regulated financial system that isn’t allowed to run roughshod destroying more value than it creates. We want politicians to be held responsible for their mistakes. Most importantly, we the people, want the power back.

I’ve faced many obstacles in my life; obstacles that most normal people can't even imagine. Sometimes I get discouraged or depressed, it feels like no matter how much crap is thrown at me, there is always a little more, its never gonna end. Then I realized that that is what life is: a series of obstacles, its not supposed to be easy. It is how you deal with these obstacles that define you as a person. There will always be people that want you to fail, people trying to stop you and I already see this toward the Occupy movement. I see the police raiding these protests like they are some drug cartel, treating them like criminals. I realize that for a lot of you protesting it must be frightening. Being brutalized by someone who is supposed to be protecting you is sickening. But, you have to remember that YOU are more powerful than they are. You, ALL of you, united wield more power than the entire US Army. They have guns and bombs, but you have something much better: the power to change an entire country, to go down in history as the catalyst that ushers in a new, and better era. One where everyone has equal rights, where people control the government, not corporate lobbyists. Where everyone is held accountable for their actions. This could be the point where we get America back to what it was supposed to be: a government by the people, for the people. A land where everyone has the same opportunities and constitutional rights are not trampled on. So to all of you, everytime you get raided, arrested, brutalized and beat on, remember to pity those officers. They are afraid. They know you are a threat to the status quo and they know they are running out of options. They know time is running out for this unsustainable current system and it is about to go down. Ben Franklin said “the pen is mightier than the sword.” Even today that statement holds true. The pen is mightier than any weapon they can think of. Yes they can, and do, destroy ... but they can’t create. We CAN. I want you to fight. Fight for me, fight for the millions of unheard voices. Fight for yourselves. No matter how hard they try to stop you, don’t be discouraged.

Frederick Douglass once said, “Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lighting; they want the ocean without the roar of its many waters. The struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, or it may be both. But it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand; it never has and it never will.”

My name is Raul Carranza. And I am the 99%.

Published in In Motion Magazine - December 12, 2011

For more writing by Raul Carranza see his blog at:

Also, for more on the Occupy Movement: