Statement of the Revolutionary Caucus (Chicano Youth Liberation Conference, 1969)

chicanoyouthliberation

The National Chicano Youth Conference held in Denver in 1969, organized by the Crusade for Justice, is a historic event in the history of the Chicano people. Out of it came El Plan Espiritual de Aztlan, which sought to organize the Chicano people around a nationalist program. Also what came out of this conference was this statement by the Revolutionary Caucus, which sought a politics beyond narrow nationalism, toward more class analysis and internationalism. This was a beginning point of a more internationalist outlook for certain sections of the Chicano Movement.

-Antonio Moreno

In March 1969 some 3,000 young Chicanos gathered at the Crusade for Justice in Denver, Colorado, to hold the first national Chicano Youth Conference, at which El Plan Espiritual de Aztlán was adopted. The statement of the “revolutionary caucus” also came out of that conference. -from Monthly Review book intro.

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We, a nonconquered people living in a conquered land, come together hoping that a plan of liberation, a concrete revolutionary program acceptable to the entire Southwest, will come from this conference. Subjected to a system that has denied our human dignity, our rights are also being denied under a constitution which we had no part in formulating and, more fundamentally, the rights protected under the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo which grants the right to cultural autonomy have been violated.

For 144 years we have been trying to peacefully coexist but no peace has come to our communities. Revolution is the only means available to us. We owe no allegiance, no respect, to any of the laws of this racist country. Our liberation struggle is a war of survival.

To us, nationalism is an awareness that we are not Caucasian, not Mexican-American or any other label the system puts upon us, but that we are a people with an ancient heritage and an ancient scar on our souls. Because we know who we are, our nationalism becomes an internationalism that does not deny the human dignity of any other people, but accepts them as brothers.

Our culture has been castrated through the various institutions of this system. We have known the profound pain of becoming strangers in our own land, of seeing beautiful lands turned into parking lots, of seeing birds disappear and fish die and waters become undrinkable, and the sign “private property” hung on a fence around land that once was held in common, of mountains becoming but vague shadows to our lives behind a veil of smog. We are being killed in Vietnam yet our lands are in the hands of strangers.

Can we attain control of our lives and liberate our people under the present system? Before we can answer this we must be aware of how this racist system oppresses us. We are oppressed first because we are Chicanos, because our skin is dark. But we are also exploited as workers by a system which feeds like a vulture off the work of our people only to enrich a few who own and control this entire country. We suffer a double oppression. We catch double hell.

But its oppression is not limited to us. It is a world system of oppression responsible for the misery of the mass of humanity. We will not attain what is rightfully ours, or our democratic right of self-determination, without having to overturn the entire system. We will have to do away with our oppressor’s entire system of exploitation. In order to do this we must build a revolutionary organization which will fight on all levels to improve our conditions here and now, while at the same time seeing the longer range struggle which will definitively end racist society, exploitation, and guarantee our rights.

We make a call to all Mexicanos to put aside our so-called regional differences and realize our similarities: the greatest ones being that we do have a basic common experience of exploitation, and a common enemy that must be destroyed before we can be a free people, masters of our lives.

Source: (The Chicanos: Life and Struggles of the Mexican Minority in the United States. By Gilberto Lopez Y Rivas. Monthly Review Press. 1973.)

Chilili Land Grant Struggle, 1976 (pamphlet)

The following is a pamphlet about the land struggle in Chilili, New Mexico in 1976.

(Thanks to the one in the Chicano Movement group in Facebook for scanning this in the first place. )

Chilili Land Struggle

Chilili Land Struggle 2

The pamphlet was put out by La Federación Land Committee, affiliated with La Alianza group in New Mexico, known for Reies Lopez Tijerina. By that time La Alianza Federal de las Mercedes and Tijerina were involved in a change in politics that had much internal struggle. With that, I do not have any more information about the group behind the pamphlet.

Some research online about this turns up this following polemic from the August 29th Movement. They were a Marxist-Leninist group that came out of the Chicano Movement, and upheld a line on the Chicano Nation in their book Fan The Flames: A Revolutionary Position on the Chicano National Question. They were around during the New Communist Movement, a series of party building efforts in the United States in the aftermath of the New Left in the 1970s. These groups were known mostly for sectarian excesses, and ATM was no different, as shown here from this passage of the writing, titled: “Editorial: Practice Marxism Not Revisionism
ATM Cadre Reject Splitters.

What did the revisionist line of the splitters lead to in practice? Their narrow nationalist line led them to glorify the role of the peasantry, ignoring the leading role of the proletariat and Marxist-Leninists. In the Chilili land struggle, for example, they never distributed the REVOLUTIONARY CAUSE or any other Marxist-Leninist literature; the role of the proletariat was reduced to support resolutions by a few unions. They never once even mentioned the worldwide danger of Soviet Social Imperialism. Flowing naturally from their line, the splitters completely failed to bring class consciousness to the people of Chilili. After many months of supposed “Communist” work by ATM, the villagers of Chilili told us they were only fighting for their land grand and did not understand the question of a Chicano Nation and Communism.

Yep, the “worldwide danger of Soviet Social Imperialism” was of utmost importance to organize around the land grant struggle. It goes further in finding fault with the cadre attempting to organize in this area for further deviations, calling them “splitters.”  The editorial writers even bemoan the splitters for making them falsely report a mass turnout for a court solidarity when there were few who showed up, blaming the splitters for not organizing the masses. Go ahead and read the rest if you are a fan of archaic polemical style of the New Communist Movement. It didn’t help for me that I just watched again “Monty Python Life of Brian.” Overall, this led to a split in ATM in June 1977.

The ATM later merged with other groups, most of them non-white led,  to form the League of Revolutionary Struggle in 1978. The title of the second issue of their journal “Forward” with a date of August 1979 was devoted to the struggle for Chicano liberation, at least their view of it. Here is a picture from this issue that day. Note the banner in the background says “Self-Determination for the Chicano Nation.”

Chilili-Forward-lrs

I am currently doing research on the August 29th Movement, and its impact on the Chicano liberation struggle. I will post more as I get it.

The Chilili land grant was known because it maintained most of its land from before it was under Mexican sovereignty. It is still governed by a board of trustees. As seen in the pamphlet above, the struggle for the land grants is ongoing.

Here is a report about a legal struggle that started in the 1980’s.

In Chilili, another incident that brought up the sovereignty of the land grant was when the trustee president of the land grant rented out land to a movie production company but claimed by another person who is Anglo.

What this shows is that the militant component of the Chicano Movement was at its peak in the 1970’s, when many tendencies embraced armed struggle. For Chicanos, this time period saw many land grant battles. One of these was at the Tierra Amarilla grant in the 1980’s. Many more. They show that the struggle for Chicano liberation was recognized as one about land.

 

 

 

 

An Account from the 45th Anniversary of August 29th Chicano Moratorium, Los Angeles, 2015

This is my chronicle from the August 29th Chicano Moratorium Commemoration in Los Angeles this year in 2015.

The history of the Chicano Moratorium held on August 29th, 1970 in Los Angeles is important in Chicano/Mexicano history. The attacks by the Los Angeles police resulted in three dead, the first martyrs of the movement. Two of them were members of the Brown Berets, Lyn Ward and Angel Diaz. The third was more well known, Ruben Salazar. He was a journalist for the Los Angeles Times and later a reporter for a local television station. He was a Chicano who was a mainstream journalist, and although he was one who not directly involved in the Chicano Movement, at the time he was one who articulated their views to a wide mainstream audience. His death ended a promising life. It also was a turning point in the Movement,  and showed the stakes ahead for those involved.

Nearly every year since then the Moratorium has been commemorated, and August 29th has become known as Chicano Memorial Day, to remember those who lost their life on this day.

In Los Angeles this year, for the 45th anniversary, there were two marches for August 29th. One was held in East Los Angeles and recreated the original route from 1970, ending at the park which has been renamed Salazar Park in honor of Ruben Salazar. The other was held in Pacoima, a suburb of Los Angeles. This was related to politics around the National Chicano Moratorium Committee that started a few years back from now. From this, that is all I will say on it, as I am not that familiar with the politics on the ground here in Los Angeles to take a side of either. Some information is available online, and I will allow those who have experience on it to comment on it if they deem necessary. With that, as I was attending out of town, I could only attend one event, so this account is from the march in East Los Angeles.

The march participants gathered in the early morning on Saturday August 29th on the outskirts of East Los Angeles, on a route that would lead it to Whittier Blvd, down to where the original march ended. Some of the Organizers included members of Union Del Barrio, Brown Beret National Organization, and other autonomous Brown Beret organizations.

There was a minor occurance at the beginning when some supporters of Bernie Sanders attempted to coopt the march by waving their candidate signs to vote for him in the election. The organizers stood forth that the message of the march would be that of self-determination, and while supporters would be welcome to participate in the march, the march itself would not be seen as advocating for any candidate. It was the right move, as this should not be seen as endorsing any candidate in the electoral system. Also there are many problems with Bernie Sanders from an anti-imperialist perspective, and many speakers later called him out for his politics. This was the right move by the organizers.

About 100 participants started the march. Others joined in as the march progressed. It was emphasized at the beginning that the march was not just a commemoration but to rally around issues still relevant today. Chants included remembrances of Salazar, Diaz and Ward. Further chants included “Zapata Vive, La Lucha Sigue;” “Somos Un Pueblo Sin Fronteras;” “Esta Es Mi Tierra, Esta Es Mi Lucha;” “Chicano Power;”  Signs included ones advocating for the 43 missing students in Ayotzinapa. Many people waved Mexican flags, along with other progressive and revolutionary signs and flags. The march was received well by many people along the route.

The march ended at Salazar Park. Different groups were tabling. Speakers gave speeches on the history of the three martyrs from this day, and on the need to continue the struggle the Chicano people are facing. Other groups gave solidarity statements. There was a wide variety of music entertainment, including a performance by Aztlan Underground.

Above all, the August 29th Commemoration here went well, was inspiring, and was an honor to be part of this event. As many of the speakers stated this day, it was not only to remember this day but to continue the struggle. This is a reminder that to honor those before us we must put forward the struggle for national liberation.

Beginning of march

Beginning of march

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Chicano Moratorium, 45th Anniversary

I am currently in Los Angeles to observe the anniversary of the Chicano Moratorium against the Vietnam War, which happened August 29th, 1970. It is observed as a Chicano Memorial Day because of the three martyrs that happened on this day.

Here are some videos about this day:

Some raw footage of the August 29th protest and subsequent events afterward:

BBC interview with Chicano Moratorium Committee chair Rosalio Munoz: http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-34006603

Older interview with Rosalio Munoz. Has good insight on the history, but do not endorse the reformist message at the end: