Antonio Santana Maestro
My son loves to play soccer, and he loves school since he was a little boy. He always went to school with his brother. This is what I want, that the government gives them back to us because we’re desperate. We’re not tired and we won’t give up but we’re desperate. It’s been so long since we’ve laid eyes on them.
- Brígida Olivares
When he was a child, Antonio accompanied his mother, an elementary school teacher, to work. Among those four walls with no electricity he became aware that he wanted to devote his life to teaching children in marginalized communities. His nickname is El Maestro (The Teacher,) partly because of his surname, and especially because he can discourse on any topic he has just learned. "In our political workshops, he always expresses himself so eloquently," says a fellow student. "He is a very smart person who knows everything about everything you ask him... In one workshop, he spent ten minutes speaking on subjects that no one had any knowledge of. He made a remarkable speech out of what he had heard and read.”
Since Antonio is so skilled at recalling information, his schoolmates have also given the nickname “Copy.” When he was younger his grandmother Brígida Oliveras would ask him why he did not bring his textbooks home from school. “I have everything here,” replied Toño tapping his head with his index finger. In reality, since he completed his homework so quickly, he would secretly read his brother’s books until it was time for him to organize the daily soccer games among his cousins. Although he loves to play guitar, soccer, and video games, what he loves most is reading.
Antonio and his brother Wilbert grew up in the San Isidro neighborhood of the city of Tixtla among their aunts, uncles, cousins, and their grandmother Brígida who raised the brothers. They call her “mum”, and she calls them “son.” Maria Olivares, Antonio’s mother, says that her son is very focused and responsible. Antonio would help support his family by working in the field, at a torteria, and also selling empanandas. Brigida says he is an excellent cook, and she has asked him to teach her how to make his delicious sauces. His brother describes him as someone who always looks for solutions and sees the positive side of things.