Its rent sharply raised, Resistencia Books closes its current East Austin shop


Resistencia Books will close its current shop in a matter of days, forced to vacate after the rent at its East Cesar Chavez location was sharply increased.

The bookstore’s communications director Andrea Zarate told KLRU earlier this week that the organization had been notified that its $1500 monthly rent was going to be “more than doubled” and that it had to vacate the place by the end of July.

County tax records list the half-acre property at 4926 East Cesar Chavez Street at a current value of $1.33 million. Owner Rosa E. Santis has numerous commercial real estate holdings throughout the city and in East Austin, including the site of the former Artpost cluster of studios at 4704 East Cesar Chavez Street. Santis is a long-time board member of Mexic-Arte Museum.

Resistancia/Red Salmon leaders have started a fundraising campaign as they search for a new home. An email from the group said that all updates about a new location will be made via social media and the organization’s newsletter.

For the current fiscal year, according to publicly available documents, Red Salmon Arts received $52,500 from the city of Austin’s Cultural Contracts program.

Resistencia was founded by poet and activist Raúl R. Salinas. For nearly four decades, Resistencia and its companion non-profit cultural organization, Red Salmon Arts, have been an important part of Austin’s literary and cultural activist landscape, supporting writers and artists of Chicano, Latinx and Native American heritage and identity.

Raised in East Austin, Salinas opened Casa de Resistencia Books on East Sixth Street in 1981. He had just returned to Austin after being incarcerated in Seattle for over a decade on non-violent, drug related charges. During his time in prison, Salinas developed his poetic voice, creating a couple of prison literary journals. He also realized his political voice, speaking out on prisoner-rights, indigenous rights and was a well-known voice of the Chicano movement.

One of the first progressive bookstores in Austin, Resistencia became an important nexus for many in marginalized communities, a place for readings, performances and meetings. The bookstore moved to South First Street for 15 years, then moved back to East Austin in 2014.

In 1983 Salinas launched Red Salmon Arts, a nonprofit literary organization and small press that creates programming for the bookstore.

Salinas passed away from liver complications in 2008. A collection of his essays, raúlsalinas and the Jail Machine: My Weapon is My Pen, was published by University of Texas Press in 2006.


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