The American Dream: A Latino Family Comes Out of Divorce

LA Vanguardia: An L.A. Times project celebrating the Latino vanguard transforming our cultural landscape, community and daily life. The American Dream has always been defined by the notion that hard work and determination will…

The American Dream: A Latino Family Comes Out of Divorce

LA Vanguardia: An L.A. Times project celebrating the Latino vanguard transforming our cultural landscape, community and daily life.

The American Dream has always been defined by the notion that hard work and determination will give you the things you want.

That is not the case for one Latino family coming out of a long and contentious divorce.

Jose, 33, who’s from Ecuador and works as a janitor at a restaurant, left his wife, Lidia, who’s from Guatemala, on Jan. 3 after 20 years of marriage. They met at L.A. City College and shared a house in the city’s Pico-Union neighborhood, where she worked as an assistant to the librarian. Both were educated at Pico-Union High School and Jose taught English in an ESL program while she worked at City College and he worked in the culinary industry.

The marriage was rocky even before the divorce. The couple had financial problems and Jose felt he was being treated by Lidia as if he was a nuisance, according to his parents, who live in Guatemala.

“We didn’t see how we were going to make it so she moved to Guatemala,” said Jose’s father, Eduardo, who declined to give his last name. Eduardo said the couple went to a psychologist together, but when Jose didn’t seem affected following the session and his wife came home, he realized the marriage was not healthy.

Lidia eventually returned to Pico-Union, where she worked at her husband’s restaurant. But Jose did not. He had a job at an elementary school in the neighboring community of South Gate, teaching English as a second language. He also took classes at South Gate High School. But he felt he couldn’t make a career out of it with his wife gone for a year.

A year and a half after he and Lidia split, Jose left his wife and moved to Colombia, where he found work he could be proud of, according to his mother, Sonia. While he was there, he started volunteering for a non-profit organization that helps poor children. Jose has a degree in psychology and hopes to pursue an education to be a lawyer. He’s been working on that part of his

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