To: National Chicano Moratorium Committee
To: our friends and allies
To: the Movement for self-determination and national liberation
To: Our enemiesTo: the people
AN OPEN LETTER TO THE MOVEMENT
ON WHY i LEFT THE NATIONAL CHICANO MORATORIUM COMMITTEE
The National Chicano Moratorium Committee (NCMC) was initially organized during the height of the Chicano movement in the 1970’s. It was first organized after a call issued by the National Chicano Youth Liberation Conference in Denver, Colorado. This first embodiment of the NCMC was infiltrated by agents of the federal government. One agent, Francisco Martinez, now known as Mohammed, even became the national coordinator for a time.
The NCMC was re-constituted in Dec. of 1989 at the initiation of the Partido Nacional de La Raza Unida and Union del Barrio to not only commemorate the 20th anniversary of our people’s resistance during the police riot after the 1970 NCMC march against the war in Vietnam but also to continue our people’s struggle for self-determination and national liberation. The NCMC has commemorated the historic march for the last 25 years. It grew to have chapters in Oakland, San Francisco, San Jose, Los Angeles, and San Diego, California. Chapters also existed in Tucson, Arizona, Albuquerque, New Mexico, and El Paso, Texas. The majority of these chapters/regions subsequently left the NCMC for differing reasons.
Unfortunately, recent development involving the possible infiltration of the NCMC has caused myself and the majority of members and organizations at the time to leave/withdraw from the NCMC process. This development is the participation of JAN B. TUCKER (JBT) in the NCMC. JBT claims to represent CALLAC, a California recognized organization. However, a check in 2015 of the webpage for the Secretary of State of California states that this corporation is ;suspended by the Franchise Tax Board (FTB).
In either late 2010 or early 2011, we were warned to be careful of the participation of JBT who was alleged to be a spy, without supporting argument. At that time, we did not follow-up on this warning. Because the allegation was a simple one sentence, we liberaled out and did not conduct any further investigation into this allegation.
JBT’s webpage has him pictured separately with both L. Head, an ex head of the FBI and with ex-president B. Clinton. As if that is going to make him acceptable to those in the movements for national liberation and self-determination. The FBI is the political police for the settler colonial state. It must be remembered that Clinton passed and implemented NAFTA, lead to the mass incarceration of Brown and Black folks as well as beginning the militarization of the militarily imposed border and the mass deportation of our people.
Sometime in 2012, JBT began an internet flame war against both the Partido Nacional De La Raza Unida (PNLRU) and the National Brown Berets. This included personal (not political) attacks upon the leadership of these organizations. It also seemed to push the organizations against each other. It also included personal attacks upon family members of the PNLRU. It included public allegations that the Partido had not complied with certain federal regulations, which could lead to a federal investigation of the Partido. These allegations also included sexist attacks upon members of the PNLRU.
These allegations began after a failed personal relationship between JBT and a member of the PNLRU, who is the sister of the Pres. of the Partido Nacional de La Raza Unida. Because of these allegations and insinuations, and the lack of action by the leadership of the NCMC in addressing these unprincipled criticisms, the Partido withdrew from the NCMC and has continued to organize independent commemorations of August 29. . I am self-critical that I did not strongly denounce these actions at the time.
We were told by long-standing Chicano activists that they would not join the NCMC as long as JBT remained or continued as a member of the NCMC.
After the successful 2013 annual commemoration, without prior approval or authorization, JBT sought to have new recruits of interested persons to contact him directly instead of directing folks to the NCMC coordinator.
In 2014, two independent Chicano activists alleged on a public internet email list that JBT was an agent based upon circumstantial evidence. To our knowledge, JBT has taken no action against these activists. Again, the NCMC took no action to investigate these allegations, nor to censor JBT.
During a meeting of the NCMC in June of 2015, JBT was questioned about his relationship to Infragard, which he alluded to in a post on his blog. It is interesting to note that his blog has pictures of JBT with Louis Freeh, prior Director of the FBI and with ex-pres. Bill Clinton. ON it’s webpage, Infragard is described as an FBI created organism to assist it with the collection of intelligence and information. Despite repeated requests to address the questions presented, JBT just walked out of the meeting. He did not ask that the matter be tabled for a future time when he could participate.
According to Infragard’s webpage the California office is housed by the FBI.
Rather than ask for a further meeting of the NCMC to address the issue raised, JBT sued over half of the then membership and several organizations of the NCMC for monetary damages. The suit even named the NCMC as a defendant and sti ll the NCMC allowed JBT to continue participating in the NCMC. The lawsuit continues.
Because of these actions of JBT and the lack of action by the NCMC, I terminated my participation in the NCMC process. I w ill continue to organize for the self-determination and national liberation of our people.
These actions by JBT bring to mind the following quote from a writing of Mumia Abu Jamal:
Here are the basic five techniques employed in domestic espionage:
2. Infiltration: Seeding groups with police agents or using members for the purposes of internal surveillance or as provocateurs to entrap others in illegal acts.
3. Intelligence gathering: the gathering or compiling of data to use in destabilization efforts.
4. destabilization: any effort that derails, disrupts, frustrates or weakens an organizations ability to function or fulfill collective efforts.
The struggle continues!
For self-determination and national liberation.
<>j<> <>j <>Seems to me that the actions of Tucker meet these criteria, especially item number 4.Because of an ongoing health issue I had not previously issued this statement .
We must be organized raza! In a speech Donald Trump delivered on August 31, 2016, in Phoenix, Arizona, he increased the intensity of his anti-Mexican rhetoric to a level we have not seen within a presidential campaign, in at least a lifetime. Win or lose, his candidacy “a soltado los demonios,” and “trumpism” has become an imminent threat to the security and well-being of our communities, our families, and our future.
The Democrats will not defend our communities from “la amenaza trumpista.” If anything, Obama has proven that mass raids and deportations are a central part of the Democratic Party strategy for “Latino outreach.” By the time he leaves office, he will have deported at least 3 million people. Hillary Clinton is no better. She is currently moving her campaign more towards the right wing, actively seeking to attract “moderate Republicans” into the Democratic Party. The Democratic Party is not our friend.
Enrique Peña Nieto is the president of a murderous and corrupt narco-government. Today, as he shook Mr. Trump’s hand, he showed the world what a shameful, useless, lapdog he truly is. The Mexican government is not our friend.
There are 50 million of us living within the current borders of the United States. WE ARE NOT A MINORITY. When we unite, we will defend ourselves, we will shake the political foundations of this county to reshape the power structure, and never again will animals like Donald Trump threaten us, in order to advance their own political careers.
Raza – we must be our own liberators!
Chicanos as as Internal Colony: Notes from Occupied America: The Chicano Struggle for Liberation (Rodolfo Acuna, 1972) – Introduction
The first edition of Occupied America, the series of Chicano Studies textbooks by Rodolfo Acuna, was written in 1972, during the peak of the Chicano Movement. This edition was titled “Occupied America: The Chicano Struggle for Liberation.” Later editions were simply titled “Occupied America: A History of Chicanos.” The first edition is known for advocating an analysis that the Chicano people were an internal colony. This thesis was downplayed in subsequent editions.
More writings on internal colonialism are being planned. I post this excerpt from the introduction of this book to advance discussion. Posting does not imply endorsement or affiliation with everything said here.
From the Introduction:
“Mexicans – Chicanos – in the United States today are an oppressed people. They are citizens, but their citizenship is second-class at best. They are exploited and manipulated by those with more power. And, sadly, many believe that the only way to get along in Anglo-America is to become “Americanized” themselves. Awareness of their history-of their contributions and struggles, of the fact that they were not the “treacherous enemy” that Anglo-American histories have said they were-can restore pride and a sense of heritage to a people who have been oppressed for so long. In short, awareness can help them to liberate themselves.” (p. 1)
“…the title of this monograph might appear to be a misnomer. Many readers will argue that Occupied Mexico would have been more appropriate since the monograph is about the occupation of an area formerly belonging to Mexico. While this argument is valid, I feel that Occupied America is more precise, for “America” is the identification that Europeans gave to two continents. When the name was later appropriated by thirteen colonies, the designation “America” was deemed the exclusive province of the new nation, and United States citizens considered themselves the “Americans.” Chicanos, as well as other peoples, however, refute this exclusivity and correctly maintain that all inhabitants – on both north and south continents – are Americans and that the whole hemisphere is indeed America. Thus, I hold that Anglo control of Mexico’s northwest territory is an occupation of a part of the American hemisphere.” (p. 2)
“…some U.S. citizens of Mexican extraction might object to the identification of “Chicano” in the title, for many call themselves simply Mexicanos or Mexicans. Moreover, a minority refer to themselves as Spanish-Americans or Latin Americans. Recently, the label Mexican-American has become popular, following the hyphenization tradition of other ethnic groups. Anglo-Americans have promoted the use of this label, and for a time it seemed as if it would be universally accepted. But within the last four years, activists have begun to question this identification. At first, some just dropped the hyphen and symbolically broke with the Americanization tradition. Others sought to identify themselves with a name of their own choice. They selected the term Chicano, which had often been used to designate lower-class Mexicans. Even though it had negative connotations for the middle class, activists considered that it was a symbol of resistance as well as a demand for self-determination. Such self-identification is, I believe, a necessary step in the process of awareness by which Chicanos can liberate themselves collectively. (p. 2)
“Central to the thesis of this monograph is my contention that the conquest of the Southwest created a colonial situation in the traditional sense-with the Mexican land and population being controlled by an imperialistic United States. Further, I contend that this colonization-with variations-is still with us today. Thus, I refer to the colony, initially, in the traditional definition of the term, and later (taking into account the variations) as an internal colony.” (p. 3)
“I feel that the parallels between the Chicanos’ experience in the United States and the colonization of other Third World peoples are too similar to dismiss. Attendant to the definition of colonization are the following conditions:
1. The land of one people is invaded by people from another country, who later use military force to gain and maintain control.
2. The original inhabitants become subjects of the conquerors involuntarily.
3. The conquered have an alien culture and government imposed upon them.
4. The conquered become the victims of racism and cultural genocide and are relegated to a submerged status.
5. The conquered are rendered politically and economically powerless.
6. The conquerors feel they have a “mission” in occupying the area in question and believe that they have undeniable privileges by virtue of their conquest.
These points also apply to the relationship between Chicanos and Anglos in Mexico’s northwest territory.
In the traditional historian’s viewpoint, however, there are two differences that impede universal acceptance of the reality of Anglo-American colonialism in this area.
1. Geographically the land taken from Mexico bordered the United States rather than being an area distant from the “mother country”.
Too many historians have accepted-subconsciously, if not conveniently-the myth that the area was always intended to be an integral part of the United States. Instead of conceptualizing the conquered territory as northern Mexico, they perceive it in terms of the “American” Southwest. Further, the stereotype of the colonialist pictures him wearing Wellington boots and carrying a swagger stick, and that stereotype is usually associated with overseas situation-certainly not in territory contiguous to an “expanding” country.
2. Historians also believe that the Southwest was won in fair and just warfare, as opposed to unjust imperialism.
The rationale has been that the land came to the United States as the result of competition, and in winning the game, the country was generous in paying for its prize. In the case of Texas, they believe Mexico attacked the “freedom-loving” Anglo-Americans. It is difficult for citizens of the United States to accept the fact that their nation has been and is imperialistic. Imperialism, to them, is an affliction of other countries.” (p. 3-4)
“In discussing the traditional and internal colonization of the Chicano, it is not my intention to rekindle hatreds, nor to condemn all Anglo-Americans collectively for the ignominies that the Mexican in the United States has suffered. Rather, my purpose is to bring about an awareness-among Anglo-Americans and Chicanos-of the forces that control and manipulate both seven million people in this country and keep them colonized. If Chicanos can become aware of why they are oppressed and how their exploitation is perpetuated, they can work more effectively toward ending their colonization.” (p. 5)
In the aftermath of both May Day and militant anti-Trump rallies in California, led by Chicano and Mexicano youth, columnist Gustavo Arellano penned a piece titled “It’s Not Only OK for Activists to Wave the Mexican Flag at Protests—It’s Necessary.” He looks at the controversy of waving the Mexican flag at protests, decried not only by the cracker right wing but also by liberals who think it will hurt their cause. In the end he argues that it is right for the protesters to wave the flag, as an affirmation of our culture and resistance of a people that are under attack. I wholeheartedly agree.
On the issue of the Latino liberals having a problem with the Mexican flag, I have personal experience with this back in Denver, one incident during a immigration reform march on May Day in 2013. Below is a repost I helped write of a report-back of this march, originally published on the RAIM website at Anti-Imperialism.com. It is no longer posted there for some reason, but it exists through our then-publication, Seize The Time.
As documented here, the institutionalized immigrant rights leadership pursued a strategy of assimilation to achieve support for reform. Today in 2016, the result is Donald Trump, a neofascist demagogue, riding to win the Republican presidential nomination through the demonization of Mexicans and Muslims. Only through the independent and radical organizing of the masses of our people can we hope to resist the coming fascist onslaught from the mobilized reactionary settlers that Trump has brought to surface. That entails realizing and building our power, part of which comes through an understanding of our history and culture. So let the Mexican flag continue to be waved on occupied land!
Report from Denver May Day ‘Immigration Reform’ March
May Day is an annual international holiday for workers and oppressed peoples, and around the world this day was marked with militant demonstrations against capitalism and imperialism. A march and rally was also held in Denver focusing on immigration reform, and it was vastly different.
Radical communities in the city did not organize for May Day in 2013, so the event this year was put on by labor unions and foundation-funded nonprofits that are heavily tied to the Democratic Party. The message they spouted was one of assimilationism and pro-Amerikanism. The speakers were mostly made up of those groups along with elected officials and business leaders. Late notice for the event and a snowstorm kept turnout lower than previous years, yet about 200 people came out. In attendance were supporters of the IWW and the Occupy movement, along with a few activists wearing socialist and communist symbols. Nevertheless the organizers attempted to keep tight control on the messaging.
A small conflict happened at the beginning of the rally when some RAIM comrades came to the march with a Mexico flag, which we have brought to similar demonstrations to show support for Chicano/Mexicano liberation. Parade marshals attempted several times to make us remove the flag from the march, saying they did not want any “nationalist and polarizing” message to stain their event. Our comrades stood their ground and refused to remove the flag. It is not known if the march organizers attempted to suppress other messages they found offensive, but it was clear that the Mexico flag was too subversive for the leadership at this march.
The assimilationism got worse later on. The march ended at a nearby park which the march organizers renamed “Citizenship Park.” There, the organizers attempted to lead the mostly migrant participants in the Amerikan Pledge of Allegiance and the Star Spangled Banner. RAIM comrades did their best to not vomit. We spent the rest of the rally passing out fliers and talking to people.
The march was typical of many actions done by the nonprofit-industrial complex: lacking in militancy, direction, and vision. The groups are staff-run entities who attempt to steer their supporters into the sinkhole of the Democratic party. They believe, if they portray migrants as willing to assimilate into the dominant Amerikan culture, the people of U.S. will accept them with open arms. This ignores the whole history of genocide, slavery, and land theft carried out by the U.S. And, of course, there was little suggestion by the organizers that people from U.S. should assimilate with the rest of the world. All and all, the event was a spectacle of ‘leftist’ and ‘pro-immigrant’ Amerikan chauvinism.
The effects of US imperialism and parasitism are felt even within the struggles of migrants and oppressed nations. Thus it is not surprising, especially absent a radical mobilization, that some migrant communities can be swayed by the siren song of assimiliation and ‘Amerikan’ patriotism. Even as the U.S. tortures migrants, NGO ‘progressives’ and First Worldist ‘Marxism’ still exhort migrant communities toward pro-U.S. ideologies.
The program to put forward is one of national liberation and global revolution– in other words, the end of oppression and exploitation based on capitalism. Hopefully radicals in Denver can get it together next year on May Day to truly be on the side of the peoples of the world.
Magazines of the lowrider culture have long used semi-nude models in their features and advertisements to attract more readers. Recently one of those magazines, Streetlow, published its latest issue with one of their models wearing a Brown Beret uniform in a sexualized manner. As the Brown Berets have been a symbol in the Chicano community of resistance and revolutionary struggle, this disrespect caused righteous indignation from actual Brown Berets. It also attention to the wider problems of misogyny in this car culture where this would happen.
As for the Brown Berets, women have long been active in the organization since their formation in 1967 and after. Brown Beret chapters today are organized autonomously in different local regions, and has been an organization where women have been prominent in leadership. They have also struggled internally within the organization with sexism and misogyny, facing the same struggles and abuse as from the dominant culture. The Brown Berets as a whole have never been given a proper treatment in any histories, and the role of women in the organization have been given even less. It would be a necessity to get a complete analysis for our future efforts for liberation.
This is a statement from the East L.A. Brown Berets:
April 18, 2016
To Whomever It May Concern:
Any form of image that sexualizes women in the movement is not okay and they will absolutely not be tolerated. We the women do not appreciate this false image for the arousal, fetish, or commercialization of our bodies, as well as the movement itself. We the women in the movement are not sexual objects. In the 1960’s women fought hard against not only society, but the male patriarchal system within the Civil Rights movements groups. The women fought hard for their respectable roles within the movement, where at the time they were only seen as a supportive role; to cook to clean and for personal comfort.The mujeres fought hard to be treated with respect and be seen as equals amongst our brothers in the struggle. They were and continue to be the backbone of any struggle. When you sexualize our women, you downplay their achievements.
We hereby demand that the cover be removed from Streetlow Magazine, and instead invite them to take real photographs of the women within the movement. That being said, we welcome you to provide a true statement of the women within the movement instead of a far fetched sexualized ideal for the appeal of others. We will no longer allow our women to be sexual fantasies and be exploited for their bodies.
She is the birthgiver, mother of nature, she is the struggle in her own way.
Comandanta Luz Catalina and all the Mujeres of the East Los Angeles Brown Beret Unit
This was followed by statements from other autonomous Brown Beret chapters, as well as other individuals outraged by this depiction of a Chicano symbol.
This issue is about common respect for a movement symbol and for the respect of women overall. This current incident shows not only the disrespect of an important symbol for Chicanos, but the larger issue of the portrayal of women in this culture that was created by Chicanos.
History of Lowriders
The history of the lowrider subculture, where stock cars are lowered and customized, comes from the history of the Mexicano people in the United States to preserve their culture from assimilation. Its roots can be traced to an old Mexican ritual called paseo, where young, unmarried villagers walked around their central plaza. It then involved displaying their horses as a symbol of prestige.
The transformation to cars came about in the the 1930’s from the pachuco “zoot suit” culture in Los Angeles and El Paso. Then, sandbags were put into the trunks to intentionally lower the cars, often older Chevys, while cruising. One history states that the pachucos and the car culture that developed from it came about from “a generation caught between cultures, struggling to find their own identity.” The lowrider culture developed through the decades, and it was in contrast to the mostly Anglo hot rod culture, with more emphasis on the style and presentation of the cars. It has been an outlet for creativity for our people. Lowriders became more mainstream, especially spread through hip hop culture to a wider audience.
One troubling aspect of the culture is the role of women in it. Although women have been more involved in the culture in recent years, men make up a predominant part of it. The car shows and magazines that come from it, the most prominent one being its namesake Lowrider, commonly show semi-nude bikini models in its features and advertisements, seen as props next to its cars and automotive machinery. This is often the only image of women that is shown in this culture, and it is not an empowering one.
This particular incident of the sexualization of a movement symbol shows the problems in this culture of the objectification of women. As others have noted, this is a problem in Mexican culture as a whole. This is not the only target. It also shows the limits of cultural nationalism in fighting all forms of oppression. Our revolutionary struggle cannot go forward if La Mujer is not respected. As an old slogan said, “if you are dissing the sisters, you are not fighting the power.”
For the anniversary of the death of Emiliano Zapata on April 10, 1919, I repost this review of Mexico: The Frozen Revolution (1971), which gives an excellent overview of the Mexican Revolution, and analysis of its aftermath. I originally wrote this documentary film review in 2010 for the Monkey Smashes Heaven blog under the pen name Siglo. The blog subsumed into another organization which I and others split from and are no longer part of. I have updated it from the original to correct spelling and grammar, clean up unnecessary verbiage and take out dogmatic language.
Mexico: The Frozen Revolution
Directed by Raymundo Gleyzer, 1971
The documentary Mexico: The Frozen Revolution was directed by Raymundo Gleyzer in 1971. Gleyzer was a documentary filmmaker from Argentina who was involved with Cine de la Base, a group committed to bring revolutionary films to the people. In 1976 Gleyzer was kidnapped and killed by the fascist military regime in Argentina during the Dirty War. The Dirty War aimed to physically annihilate leftists and popular movements andclaimed the lives of over 30,000 Argentinians. The film was barely recovered along with his other films and luckily today it survives. Mexico: The Frozen Revolution looks at the history of the Mexican Revolution, which began in 1910, and how it fell short of its goals. The film looks at how the aftermath of the Mexican Revolution affected the people in the then present time, . still striving for justice through revolutionary social change.
The film opens with footage of the 1970 presidential campaign in Mexico, introducing Luis Echeverria, candidate of the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI. It shows the cynical manipulation of the memory of La Revolucion by the ruling party that came out of the revolution. Echeverria is shown echoing the themes and slogans of the revolution in his campaign speeches and public gatherings while promoting the business as usual politics of the PRI, invoking the masses to not struggle for gains but only to work harder. Yet it will not matter, for Echeverria had nothing to worry about in the campaign. The PRI candidate up to then has won every election, with at least 85 percent of the official vote. It obtains its office by whatever means are necessary not short of outright fraud.
This film then presents the history of the Mexican Revolution. It mixes rare newsreel footage from the period with interviews of veteran soldiers in the Revolution to tell briefly the rich history of this struggle. It cost the lives of 1 million people, and had lasting effects on the history of Mexico. The Mexican Revolution, one of the first major social revolts of the 20th century, has its roots in 1876 with the rise of dictator Porfiaro Diaz in a 4-decade rule known as the Porfiriato. Diaz was the first to open the nation of Mexico to direct United States imperial influence, and reduced it to semi-colony of the U.S. It also led to vast inequality, for in 1910, 1 percent of the population owned 97 percent of the land. These antagonistic contradictions came to a head that year.
Class Dimensions of the Mexican Revolution (1910-1919)
This revolution was waged by different class forces, taking the form of armed conflict. Each of the sides took on different generals and other leaders. Popular forces led by Madero overthrew Diaz in 1911, bringing in a more reformist era. But this era was short-lived, for as the film explains there was no universal philosophy to unite the vastly different forces that took power. Madero fell in 1913 to counter-revolutionary forces of the wealthy classes. They consolidated their power through the military dictatorship led by Diaz-era general, Victoriano Huerta. The closest to a progressive unifying platform for the revolutionary forces was offered by the Agrarians in the south led by Emiliano Zapata. The resulting Plan de Ayala they presented was able to rally popular forces to a cause of “bread, land, and justice,” meeting the needs of the oppressed and exploited peoples which were the majority of the population. The revolutionary forces united under this plan to fight a common enemy. These included those led by Pancho Villa in the North. In 1914 both Villa and Zapata’s forces occupied the capitol, taking the seats of power. But as the film stated “spontaneity was not enough to consolidate power”, and the revolution became “stillborn.”
The outcome of the revolution, which officially ended in 1919, became the assassination of Zapata, and the dispersing of revolutionary class forces. For instance, the film mentions an anarchist workers house leading militias that fought against Villa. Many urban workers threw their support to reformist leaders Obregon and Carranza, with Carranza the ultimate victor of the revolution. Carranza took a seemingly middle path on the revolution, appeasing popular classes by co-opting revolutionary slogans, while keeping the wealthy oligarchy’s in power. The new government failed to carry out the promises given to the people who fought the revolution. Land reform was offered on paper, but little concrete was done. Fifty percent of peasants still had no land, and those that legally had land could not benefit from the product of their land and labor. Like most modern revolutions, the Mexican Revolution was ultimately one of class struggle. These class forces were divided among each other and had no common program to offer. This lack of a program led to the upper classes gaining power, and the lives of the poor peoples remaining the same as before.
In another context, in observing the revolutionary situation in China, Mao Zedong wrote of peasant revolts that previously occurred in that country. Oftentimes the goals of those revolutions was often no more than the overthrow of corrupt landlords and not changing the system that produced the landlords. Corrupt landlords were overthrown and land changed hands, but new ones emerged that would continue the exploitation and inequalities. It was not enough to change positions of power, revolutionaries needed to change the structures of power itself, economically as well as politically. Overthrowing individuals and not systems led to those oppressive systems continuing in a new form. That is why he warned “never forget class struggle.” In the context of the Mexican Revolution, the failure of revolutionary forces to unite and seize state power resulted in the revolution being co-opted.
The film explores the results of the revolution being stalled. Many interviews are taken with rural campesinos in southern Mexico in the present day then. The failure of land reform from the revolution resulted in extreme poverty for many Mexicans. One man, formerly a slave to his landlord before the Revolution, still works, at more than 70 years old, to prevent from starving to death. A farm worker cutting sisal hemp debates eating less one day so that his children do not die from lack of food. Two of his children died already. Another worker in the state of Chiapas chops wood and carries it on his back for miles to sell in a nearby city. He does this, like others, just to afford food to live another day. The people here are also indigenous, facing additional oppression in the form of colonialism. Families mention experiences at community meetings (organized because no one trusts the White authorities) about disappeared family members and friends, likely by the White landowners who exploit the indigenous peasants. The lives of the masses are of bare subsistence, struggling every day to survive. A medical worker is quoted on the vast hunger and malnutrition happening in Mexico. In contrast, the upper classes are shown as arrogant and corrupt. A descendant of the old landed aristocracy recalls better days because at the present time they have only 14 haciendas where before they had 21. They naively dismiss the idea that there is discontent within Mexico, as they naively dismiss problems of racism “like in the U.S”. While they sit in their shaded patios and profit from the campesinos’ labor, they call the campesinos lazy because they schedule their work to avoid the hot sun in the fields. One truth the oligarchs admit is that their crops are priced by the global market, with the difference being that changes in markets can often mean death for those that depend on work from the land and what it produces. The campesinos are part of the poor and exploited majority in Mexico, who the revolution was fought for, who must not only contend with an exploiter comprador bourgeoisie but also the Amerikan-led capitalist-imperialism. This is similar to other countries in what is known as the Third World
The revolution was hijacked by the oligarchical forces who formed the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI. The PRI cunningly uses the symbols of the revolution to legitimate their power, and reduces the revolutionary aims to empty campaign slogans. The new ruling class uses the revolution for their own benefit. The PRI exercised total political control of the country, and dissent is repressed. The film shows the party machine bussing in rural people for their rallies, who have no other choice to go. The film calls their unifying politics the “ideology of the poster,” where campesinos are given posters at the rally of a man they have never met who will be the next government official. One peasant says that all they got from the revolution is a slogan. The new business class became a base of support for the PRI and even some of the urban workers form a labor aristocracy that gets privileges from the corrupt corporatist system that the PRI governs. Unions and workers are channeled through the PRI and even in the May Day rallies they are forbidden to go against the government. They rule through ballot stuffing, voter intimidation, and outright fraud, all of which was an open secret in Mexican politics.
“Left” Opposition of Mexico, Revisionist and Opportunist
The left opposition is divided, underground, and more than often outright opportunist and revisionist. They provide no leadership to the peoples movements. An example in the film is given where the leader of the revisionist Popular Socialist Party (PSP) is interviewed. He explains why they, a self-avowed Marxist Leninist party, put their support behind the PRI candidate based on a supposed alliance with the national bourgeoisie to bring development so that Mexico can resist imperialism. In reality they do nothing to make Mexico independent from imperialism, and only legitimates the current government. It is the same argument given by many a revisionist party in justifying alliances with the comprador bourgeoisie. Instead of being an independent force for the proletariat it in practice becomes another part of the PRI.
PSP shows their revisionism in their analysis of the Tlatelolco massacre in 1968. The PSP leader claims that the students who protested and were killed were pseudo revolutionaries, saying students mentioned Mao and Che in their banners, and he asks “what does Che have to do with revolution in Mexico?” Proletarian revolution has always been about internationalism, and the students in Mexico, as did people around the world, saw their struggles represented by those led by Mao, Che, and Ho Chi Minh, struggles of the Third World rising up against First World colonialism. The students were correct in holding aloft the banners of these leaders, and the PSP like other revisionist parties were irrelevant.
The then Secretary of Interior Echeverria orchestrated the massacre at the Plaza de Tlatelolco, where 400 students were assassinated. Images of the dead students with songs written about the massacre are shown, and the film says the students were “the consciousness of the people,” and the massacre “revealed the rot of the frozen revolution.”
Many things have happened in Mexico since the film was made. The PRI lost their 70 year long grip on power after 2000 and the more right wing National Action Party, or PAN, became the ruling party. Chiapas, one of the most exploited region of Mexico as shown in the film, was the birthplace of the Zapatista movement, pursuing a different strategy than taking state power. There are several other guerrilla groups operating in Mexico to this day, along with several more social movements. For Echeverria, in a last attempt to bring him to justice, was charged with genocide in 2006 for his role in the Tlatelolco massacre, but the charges were dismissed.
Mexico is still plagued by vast inequalities. Mexico remains a comprador state, where Amerikan imperialism still interferes in it, and a comprador bourgeoisie that rules and oppresses the people. With the 100th anniversary of the Mexican Revolution happening in 2010 the ideals and unrealized dreams of the revolution are coming up again for debate. It is also the 200th anniversary of the start of the Mexican War of Independence, and pundits have wondered whether this cycle will bring anything comparable with the two. Revolutionary scientists don’t look to metaphysical explanations like this, but it is clear that the problems Mexico faces must have revolutionary solutions, and as one campesino says in the movie the whole system must be swept away for something new. Those committed to revolution have a duty to study past revolutions in order to understand current potential openings. Mexico The Frozen Revolution is a valuable film to understand the history and politics of Mexico and to look at current events there from a proletarian worldview.
photo from sandersguideblog.wordpress.com/
On the 2016 election, in the final analysis this election will not mean much for the struggle for self determination for the Chicano and Mexicano people. Nevertheless the people to a mass extent will participate in the elections. The Democrats under Hillary Clinton are expecting the traditional Latino vote to go to her, helping her win a majority. Bernie Sanders campaign, as a democratic socialist, is attracting many people in opposition to the establishment politics of Clinton, including many Latinos, who are also attracted to his social justice message.
Many others on the Left have commented on the many issues with Bernie Sanders, including his pro-imperialist and pro-Zionist voting records, his appealing to white populism at the expense of non-white peoples, and his votes on immigration issues. One item in particular that Chicanos and Mexicanos should question Sanders on is his stance on Sierra Blanca.
Sierra Blanca is an impoverished community in South Texas populated mostly by Chicanos and Mexicanos. It was also a dumping ground for toxic waste from elsewhere in the country. A failed resort site called Mile High Ranch turned into a sludge dump in this community. (Yardley, Jim. “New York’s Sewage was a Texas Town’s Gold.” New York Times. July 27, 2001.) Sanders pushed to expand its hazardous waste dumping by authorizing Vermont’s nuclear waste to be transported and stored here. This was a move opposed by progressive Democrat Paul Wellstone and many activists. In 1998, the Juarez-El Paso bridge was blockaded in protest. In May 11, 1998, the Sierra Club met with Sanders, who would not oppose the Texas-Vermont-Maine compact.
It should be well known that under a settler colonial rule, other politicians and other white allies will not have our best interests at heart, and we as an internal colony should strive for self determination in all of our affairs. It also means that we should have no illusions about the meaning of this election, and we should strive to build our own independent power. The stance of Bernie Sanders on Sierra Blanca is further evidence of this, as an avowed socialist is willing to put Chicano and Mexicano people under the bus for his own political interests, that are at odds with ours.
This excerpt below is from a 4 part series posted by This passage below deals directly with Sierra Blanca:on the progressive feminist blog Shakesville, entitled Looking for Bernie. The entire series is worth reading as it examines the entire history of Bernie Sanders from an intersectional perspective.
Looking For Bernie, Part 4: Turning Right Towards 2016
Posted by Aphra Behn at Friday, July 17, 2015
…Before I end, let me address one more aspect of Sanders’ record in Congress that needs to be talked about, and (I hope) improved upon.
In 1997, Sanders supported the Texas-Vermont-Maine Compact, a bill that would allow the latter two states to dump their nuclear waste at a site near Sierra Blanca, a small, impoverished, hispanophone community in Texas. Then-governor George Bush enthusiastically supported the bill (of course). When the planning for the site had begun in the 1980s, the state of Texas deliberately sought out a Spanish-speaking area for the dump, believing that the less informed the population was about the bill, the less opposition there would be. (Plans for the site would eventually be released in a 28 volume, 60,000 page, English-only document). Sierra Blanca fit the bill:
Sierra Blanca has a largely Mexican-American population, and the percentage of Spanish-speaking residents is high, as one might expect, along the entire length of the border. This is an area where colonias, communities without water and sewage facilities, are still constructed, where US companies build factories in Mexican border towns and house their managerial staff across the river, and where the US Government maintains an army, complete with checkpoints, a network of radar balloons, an electronic surveillance grid laid out over rough, sparsely populated terrain, and, sometimes, camouflaged troops hidden in the brush along footpaths where drug traffic is suspected. Such a patrol last year shot and killed Esequiel Hernández, a high school student herding his goats, in the county immediately downstream from the proposed nuclear dump site. Poverty and unemployment are high, and the seat of government in Austin is over 500 miles distant.
The community rallied against the bill, getting 700 local signatures, and gaining national interest. The deal was hotly debated in Congress, with Senator Paul Wellstone one of its biggest detractors. In 1998, Wellstone decried the dump as “part of a ‘national pattern of discrimination in the location of waste and pollution’ that preyed on those lacking political clout and financial resources.” Sounds like it’s up Bernie’s alley! Did he join Wellstone?
He did not. He spoke in favor of the plan, introduced to the House as H.R. 629, the Texas Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Compact Consent Act. There’s a full transcript of Sanders’ remarks from C-Span, but here are a few highlights:
Mr. Chairman, I rise in strong support of H.R. 629. Mr. Chairman, the Low-Level Radioactive Waste Policy Act and its 1985 amendments make commercial low-level radioactive waste disposal a State and not a Federal responsibility…One of the reasons that many of us oppose nuclear power plants is that when this technology was developed, there was not a lot of thought given as to how we dispose of the nuclear waste. Neither the industry nor the Government, in my view, did the right thing by allowing the construction of the plants and not figuring out how we get rid of the waste.
But the issue we are debating here today is not that issue. The reality, as others have already pointed out, is that the waste is here…It would be nice if Texas had no low-level radioactive waste, or Vermont or Maine or any other State. That would be great. That is not the reality. The environmental challenge now is, given the reality that low-level radioactive waste exists, what is the safest way of disposing of that waste.
No reputable scientist or environmentalist believes that the geology of Vermont or Maine would be a good place for this waste. In the humid climate of Vermont and Maine, it is more likely that groundwater will come in contact with that waste and carry off radioactive elements to the accessible environment.
There is widespread scientific evidence to suggest, on the other hand, that locations in Texas, some of which receive less than 12 inches of rainfall a year, a region where the groundwater table is more than 700 feet below the surface, is a far better location for this waste….
From an environmental point of view, I urge strong support for this legislation.
So that was Bernie Sanders making an “environmental argument” for dumping nuclear waste near a poor Hispanic community. Because it has to go somewhere, and Texas is really dry.
When it came up for a vote in May 1998, Sanders listened to 12 anti-dump delegates as they outlined their concerns. The next day, he spoke in favor of the bill because of its “strong support” in all three states.
But at least he listened politely that time. In September of that year, Sanders faced protestors in Vermont, joined by Texans from the Sierra Blanca area. Here’s how independent Socialist Sanders reacted, as originally reported in the Texas Observer:
The marchers from Vermont were careful to restrain the West Texans from protesting aloud on any platform occupied by Bernie Sanders, Vermont’s independent Socialist candidate for re-election to the U.S. House. Sanders’ campaign committee had warned march planners that Bernie wouldn’t show if the West Texans were on the platform.
…Before the rally Sanders invited the three West Texans to meet with him privately, and the Texans eagerly agreed. The meeting was no longer than Sanders’ attention span – when it comes to Sierra Blanca. “He didn’t listen,” Curry said. “He had his mind made up.” Afterward, Bernie was giving his pro forma campaign speech, never mentioning nuclear power or nuclear waste. Sierra Blanca activist Bill Addington, who’d arrived just that morning to join the march, along with his neighbor María Méndez, had had enough, and he yelled from the crowd, “What about my home, Bernie? What about Sierra Blanca?”
Several others joined in. “What about Sierra Blanca, Bernie?”
Sanders left the stage, which surprised no one in the small Texas delegation. Earlier, he had told them, “My position is unchanged, and you’re not gonna like it.” When they asked if he would visit the site in Sierra Blanca, he said, “Absolutely not. I’m gonna be running for re-election in the state of Vermont.”
“Absolutely not. I’m gonna be running for re-election in the state of Vermont.”
The guy who can visit Mexico and Nicaragua and the Soviet Union can’t go to a poor community in Texas because he’s running in Vermont.
And that is what I found when I went looking for Bernie.