Amerikan Border Wall, Increasingly Militarized, Destroys Surrounding Ecosystem

I wrote this article back in 2011, five years ago, for the RAIM website antiimperialism.wordpress.com. Now in 2016 we have white supremacist Donald Trump as the Republican candidate for president, beginning his campaign in attacks on Mexicans, with his promise to build a larger wall “and make Mexico pay for it” being a favorite cheer from his overwhelmingly white settler audience. Along with the many reasons we revolutionary nationalists campaign for open borders, especially between the United States and Mexico, is the ecological impact of the wall, a most unnatural thing for the longest time of the continent’s existence. This election cycle some attention to the environmental impact has been written about, such as here, and the reporting of this article is still relevant. Fuck the border, up with Chicano and Mexicano national liberation! – Antonio Moreno


With sentiment against migrants in Amerika growing, construction of the barrier wall along the U.S. border with Mexico continues.  This is a result of the increased militarization along the border regions.  The border was imposed by military force over 150 years ago, and the desperate attempt to keep migrants out is not only causing a grave humanitarian crisis but also devastating ecological impacts.

The humanitarian crisis is already bad and is getting more deadly for people.  Especially in Arizona.  Not only is the terrain of the southern part of the state a desert, more migrants have been going through there due to increased border militarization in neighboring states. Increased anti-migrant sentiment in the state makes the journey more dangerous.  According to the Los Angeles Times,  in 2007 a record 218 bodies were found in Pima County (Arizona).(1)  In August of 2010, the remains of 170 dead migrants so far were recovered, and the end of that year was expected to surpass the previous record.  The hottest month, July, was one where 59 migrants were found dead, with seven on July 15th of that year alone.  Some of the remains were reduced to skeletal ones, and 66% of the remains remained unidentified.  Likely many more dead remains are still in the desert not found.  Along with the increased anti-migrant repression with SB1070 and Sheriff Joe Arpaio, now neo-Nazi groups are conducting armed patrols of the border. (2)  The Minutemen groups, who were big on media stunts in their vigilantism along the border, officially dissolved that year after a call to violent action sent the directors panicked, with many individuals from this entity entering into the larger Tea Party movement and into Constitutionalist militias.(3)

Along with the humanitarian crisis there is a crisis of the ecosystem.

Walls along the U.S – Mexico border had already been authorized and built in the 1990’s at ports of entry that encompassed mostly urban areas.  This only made migrants go through more dangerous and isolated rural areas.  More border wall construction was authorized in 2005 with the passage of the REAL ID Act.  In Section 102 of the act it gave the Secretary of Homeland Security, which has authority over border policing, the power to waive any local, state, and federal law that would impede the construction of the wall.  This authority was used to waive over 30 environmental protection laws that would have blocked border wall construction.(4)  So far over 600 miles of walls and access roads have been constructed throughout the four border states.  The expenses have been estimated to be around $4.5 million per mile for fencing, and $1.6 million per mile for vehicle barriers.  The maintenance and other costs are expected to be still higher.(5)

The documentary put out by the Sierra Club, Wild Verses Wall, documents the environmental effects of the border wall.(6)  The region around the militarily imposed border of Mexico and the U.S. is a sensitive ecological area.  The ecosystem around the border is diverse, ranging from deserts to wetlands.  Over 40 percent of the land along the border are public lands protected under Amerikan law, which include several Wilderness Areas, National Parks, National Monuments, National Wildlife Refuges, and National Forests.(7)  In these areas vastly different species of plants and wildlife inhabit.  These areas are being destroyed to make walls and access roads, along with other infrastructure to increasingly police the border area.

The wall is disrupting natural wildlife corridors.  Migratory patterns of many animal species, some facing extinction, are threatened by this artificial wall. This is also causing interference with their abilities to obtain food and water, and disrupting natural mating patterns.  Animals have been photographed being blocked by the wall, some even trapped permanently in different parts of the barriers.  Stadium lights built along the border also hamper nocturnal animals.  All this artificial infrastructure will have long term effects on animal population dynamics.  In the meantime, human migrants will still cross the border, with the wall only making the journey slower and more dangerous.

Construction around the wall is also causing erosion in many areas, and affecting drainages.  Already many floods have been caused by the border wall.  The damage to plant life and vegetation, along with animal habitats, is vast, for these are some of the most biologically diverse areas in the world.

At the same time they are destroying the border environment with the wall, anti-migrant sentiment is clouded in environmental concerns.  It is claimed that migrants are leaving vast amounts of litter along their journeys.  While litter is left by migrants discarding their supplies, that trash is easily removable and has fewer long term effects on the ecosystem.  The border wall will leave longer and more damaging impacts, many yet to be felt.

In the classic book North From Mexico, author Carey McWilliams tells of the relationship that Spanish-speaking people have had with the environment around the border.  “The Spanish travelled as far, but only as far, as the gypsy of the cactus family, the prickly pear, had traveled.  Did they stop where they did because the environment had ceased to be familiar?  Whatever the reason, it is important to remember that geographically the Southwest is one with Mexico.”  Further he states that the resulting U.S.-Mexico border was “one of the most unrealistic borders of the Western Hemisphere.”(8).

The militarily imposed border has no relation to its surrounding ecosystem.  The border was created not through any consideration of the natural environment but solely for political reasons.  It was formed after the conquest of the northern part of Mexico ceded by force to the United States in  1848.  For thousands of years before this there were nothing of a border in this region.  The people who went back and forth on this region, like the majority who do today, are indigenous to this continent.  The settler nation of Amerika has ever since built up more walls to keep people out, a sign of their ever-increasing insecurity.  Their increased militarization not only violates human rights but even their own environmental protection laws.  Imperialist occupation here, like elsewhere, is not only is a threat to human life but to the broader natural environment.  The border wall and the occupation that sustains it must be torn down not only for humanitarian reasons but also for the sake of the ecosystem.

Sources:

1.  http://articles.latimes.com/2010/aug/24/nation/la-na-border-deaths-20100824

2.  http://gawker.com/5589640/neo-nazi-leads-vigilante-arizona-border-patrol-well-kill-them

3. http://patriotsforamerica.ning.com/profiles/blogs/coalition-of-militia-arizona

4. http://arizona.sierraclub.org/conservation/border/realid.asp

5. http://www.taxpayer.net/user_uploads/file/NationalSecurity/2009/Border/TCS%20border%20costs%20factsheet%204-09.pdf

6.  http://wildversuswall.bravenewtheaters.com/;  Video at http://vimeo.com/9561480.

7.  http://arizona.sierraclub.org/conservation/border/solution.asp.  Some of the areas along the border that have been affected by wall construction are:  San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area, Southern Arizona; Hidalgo County Levee, South Texas; Tijuana River National Esturine Research Reserve, San Diego; Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area, Imperial County, CA; the Sky Island region (including the Sonaran and Chihuahua deserts); Lower Rio Grande National Wildlife Refuge, Hidalgo County TX; Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge, Southern Arizona; Otay Mountain Wilderness, San Diego County, CA; Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area, Imperial County, CA; Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, Southern Arizona; Nature Conservancy Southmost Preserve, South Texas; Rio Bosque Wetlands Park, El Paso TX.  This list is not complete.  (Cited in Wild Verses Wall).

8.  McWilliams, Carey.  North From Mexico: The Spanish-Speaking People of the United States.  Greenwood Press, 1968 edition. p. 9;  p. 59.

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AN OPEN LETTER TO THE MOVEMENT ON WHY I LEFT THE NATIONAL CHICANO MORATORIUM COMMITTEE

I am reposting this recent open letter from a veteran organizer to bring awareness about serious problems of disruption within a key Chicano organization, the National Chicano Moratorium Committee. I welcome any discussion, comments, and other information about this.  – Antonio Moreno
To: National Chicano Moratorium Committee
To: our friends and allies
To: the Movement for self-determination and national liberation
To: Our enemies
To: 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:

1. Surveillance
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.
5. Neutralizations

The struggle continues!
For self-determination and national liberation.

Guillermo Suarez

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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 .
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Union Del Barrio: Trumpism Is An Imminent Threat! ¡La Amenaza Trumpista Es Real!

From http://uniondelbarrio.org/main/?p=2302:


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!

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Chicanos as as Internal Colony: Notes from Occupied America: The Chicano Struggle for Liberation (Rodolfo Acuna, 1972) – Introduction

occupiedamerica-acuna-1stedition

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)

Posted in Aztlan, Chicano Movement, Mexico, National Liberation, National Question, Theory | 3 Comments

May Day and the Mexican Flag: Reflections From 2013

Despite the efforts of liberals to suppress the Mexican flag at a march on May Day in 2013, this AP photo was what people saw from that march.

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!

-Antonio Moreno


From Seize The Time, Issue 5, Sept. 2013:

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.

Posted in 2016 election, Aztlan, Chicano Movement, Colorado, Mexico, National Liberation, Right Wing | Leave a comment

Streetlow, Magazine of Lowrider Culture, Disrespects Brown Berets

Streetlow Brown Beret

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.

Signed,
Comandanta Luz Catalina and all the Mujeres of the East Los Angeles Brown Beret Unit

streetlow brown beret1

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.”

-Antonio Moreno

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Review – Mexico: The Frozen Revolution

tapamexico

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.

-Antonio Moreno

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.

Revolution Stillborn

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

Revolution Hijacked

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.

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