Draft Program for Chicano/Mexicano Liberation, La Raza Unida, 1995

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Ayotzinapa, Tlatelolco, Lucio Cabañas, and the Ongoing Struggle for the Future of Mexico



This week is anniversaries of two historic events in Mexico. September 26 is the 4th anniversary of the disappearances of 43 students from the Ayotzinapa rural school in the state of Guerrero, Mexico in 2014. October 2nd is the 50th anniversary of the Tlatelolco massacre in Mexico City in 1968. These two events are interconnected in their history, and its remembrance of an alumni from Ayotzinapa, guerrilla leader Lucio Cabañas. It also shows the need for historical materialist analysis in looking at these events.

The incident happened because of the Tlatelolco massacre in 1968. Students from the teachers school in Ayotzinapa were appropriating buses to transport others to an anniversary march that year for the commemoration of the Tlatelolco massacre. They were stopped by state security forces in the city of Iguala, where they were fired upon and six students were murdered. The remaining 43 students were taken and disappeared. The official story put out by the government was they were handed over to a drug cartel and murdered by them. But this story has not been accepted by the people. The mayor of Iguala and his wife were linked to the disappearances. Other links to federal authorities have been shown.

The disappearances of the 43 students galvanized Mexico like nothing else in recent years, exposing the contradictions of this society imposed by neoliberalism. It also brought international attention to Mexico, and solidarity rallies around the world happened. A violent drug war has left hundreds of thousands dead in the past decade, and up to 30,000 disappearances. What was notable about these disappearances is that the searches done by the state, under pressure, brought up several other mass graves, but none of the 43 students. The involvement of state security forces and drug cartels in collaboration exposed the corrupt underbelly of the comprador Mexican government and state. They became symbols also for the hope that they were still alive. The slogan raised was “Alive they were taken, alive we want them back.” 

Four years later the families of the 43 students are still fighting for justice. But these students will not be forgotten anytime soon. While the world is more likely to know about Ayotzinapa, lesser known is the history of the Normal School the students came from and another revolutionary alumni that came from there, Lucio Cabañas.

Lucio Cabañas was a teacher from the Ayotzinapa rural teachers school who became a guerrilla leader. He attended the same school as the 43, and images of him and other revolutionaries are painted on murals there. These schools, called Normal Schools, were created after the Mexican Revolution as a concession to the people. The students, called normalistas, have always had a history of revolutionary and communist organizing.

The 1968 massacre in Tlatelolco began the Dirty War by the Mexican state against popular movements, and turned many on the left to armed struggle. Cabañas turned to guerrilla warfare after the increased violence visited upon them by state forces, in one particular instance a massacre of peaceful protesters in Guerrero. Cabanas founded El Partido de Los Pobres (The Party of the Poor), which built a base among the impoverished communities in the mountains of Guerrero.  It became a top threat to the Mexican state and the ruling class, and received official attention from the CIA and American military. The military response to a rise in guerrilla movements was a brutal counterinsurgency. Cabañas was assassinated during an attempted expropriation in 1974.

The documentary “The Guerrilla and the Hope: Lucio Cabañas”documents this period of history in Mexico and the life of Lucio Cabañas. It is made up of oral histories of scholars and participants of the events of that time. This film was made before 2014, and it takes on a whole new meaning in looking at the similarities in the conditions. Images from the Dirty War show protests with posters and banners of black and white photos of the disappeared by the military. The same images show up in protests in  2014 and in other protests of those disappeared up to today.

Karl Marx once wrote in the 18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte, the key work of historical materialism:

Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past. The tradition of all dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living. “

The Mexican people are waging their struggle in many fronts. They fight their own bourgeoisie as well as Amerikan imperialism. One overall theme is the struggles in the Third World are more intense, being where those who have nothing to lose but their chains reside. As with this those in struggle in the oppressor nations should look to struggles in oppressed nations for leadership. In the United States its policies are driving the recent violence, with pressure from the drug war and direct military and policing aid given to state security forces. The violence in Mexico and Central America fanned by U.S.  policies are also a major driver of migration. For Chicanos we must see the struggle in Mexico as linked with ours. The more militant parts of the Chicano Movement attempted to make links with radicals and revolutionaries in Mexico, a history that is all but hidden The struggles in Mexico as well as other places throughout Asia, Africa and Latin America are the vanguard of the world revolutionary struggle against capitalism, colonialism and imperialism. As the popular slogan goes, La Lucha Sigue (The Struggle Continues). It must continue until victory.

Posted in Maoism, Mexico, National Liberation, National Question, Theory | Leave a comment

Requiem 29 (video): August 29th Chicano Moratorium

August 29th is celebrated as Chicano Memorial Day.

It is the anniversary of the National Chicano Moratorium against the Vietnam War day of action, August 29th, 1970. Held in East Los Angeles, it was a march and rally against the Vietnam War, and the disproportionate amount of death of Amerikan troops in that war being Chicanos. At over 25,000 participants, it was one of the largest rallies against the imperialist Vietnam War, and the largest organized by non-white people.

The Los Angeles police violently attacked the march. It left several injured and three dead. Two were Brown Berets, Lyn Ward and Angel Diaz. The other was Ruben Salazar, a journalist who was not directly involved in the movement but brought Chicano issues into the mainstream through his position.

The film Requiem 29 is a film that shows raw footage, with no commentary, of several events around this period. It shows the march, the police tactics and brutality used to disperse the march, the city inquest into the death of Ruben Salazar, and interviews with Raul Ruiz, a reporter and editor with La Raza Magazine.  One should but see it as a recording of this important time in history.

It begins with beautiful images from the march. Different groups including Brown Berets, signs from MAYO (Mexican American Youth Organization), signs proclaiming brown pride, nationalism, anti-imperialism. One banner with Che Guevara.

What this day represented was the realization of the Chicano nation, the beginning of a protracted national liberation struggle. The main reason it had to be crushed.

The inquest was more about slandering the Chicano Movement than getting to the bottom of Salazar’s death. One scene has the inquest ask Raul Ruiz about a protest sign mentioning Viva Che, clearly meant to redbait the movement.

This film should be viewed by all Chican@s and those who are on the side of national liberation of all oppressed people. Viewings should be planned on or around every August 29th.

Posted in California, Chicano Moratorium, Chicano Movement, Film Review, National Liberation | Leave a comment

Movie Review: Walkout (2006)


On this the 50th anniversary of the 1968 East Los Angeles high school Blowouts it is good to take time to study and reflect on these historic events. In a week long period starting March 1st, 1968, over 15,000 mostly Chicano students from 16 schools walked out of their classes in protest of the unjust and racist conditions of their schools and their education. It was a turning point in the Chicano Movement, being the largest mass demonstration led by Chicanos up to that time.

The 2006 HBO movie Walkout, directed by Edward James Olmos, dramatized these events and brings attention to this period to a more general audience.

There is great significance to the 1968 blowouts. The year 1968 was also a time of worldwide political upheaval. Several anthologies of this year have been written, yet there is almost no mention of the Blowouts this year, despite their effect in galvanizing the Chicano people. It is no coincidence they happened in Los Angeles, with the largest population of Mexican people outside of Mexico itself. Many activities within the Chicano Movement have occurred up to then, for example the film showing images of Cesar Chavez on his hunger strike that year. The actions the students took were inspired by the change going on around them.

The film illustrates the causes of the walkouts, based on the national oppression imposed upon Chicano students in their schools, basically institutions of colonialism. Students experience degradation and dehumanization in acts such as being locked out of bathrooms during their lunchtimes. They are punished for speaking Spanish in their classrooms, and their culture is disrespected. They are tracked and steered into menial jobs, and discouraged from applying to college. Janitorial work is imposed on students as punishment. In one scene a student punished with janitorial duty and monitored by a racist teacher violently lashes out and drops out of school. Dropout rates were extremely high, and in many cases it was more of cases of being pushed out. The administrators and teachers are shown as perpetuating this institution of racism and oppression, and from this came resistance.

The exception is shown by Chicano teacher Sal Castro, played by actor Michael Pena in the film, who becomes a main organizer of the students. Castro shows how Chicanos were written out of their history textbooks, and denied their legacy, for “if people don’t know about it, it didn’t happen.” One of the main protagonists is Paula, based on organizer Paula Crisostomo. An honor student, she becomes a main organizer after seeing the injustices and inequalities in their education. Castro gets Paula and other students to attend a Chicano Youth Liberation Conference where they meet other student and youth organizers. Castro analyzes false media portrayals of East Los Angeles, and reads from the epic poem I am Joaquin. Cultural consciousness of their lost identity becomes a catalyst for students to take action. The slogan of Chicano Power is raised, showing the struggle was not just about education reform.

Some of the main organizations are introduced. UMAS, United Mexican American Students, made up of some of the few Chicano students enrolled in area colleges, become key organizers with the high school students. The Brown Berets are another prominent organization, known for their increasingly militant stances. Their coffeehouse, La Piranya, becomes a main space for the student organizing. It shows the escalation of tactics that led up to the walkouts. They put out surveys to the student population. They petition the schools administrations and the school board. The exposure to these acts showed the need more more direct action. Violence and non-violence is debated. Comparisons to the Civil Rights movement are made, with one commenting that their schools are the back of the bus. Walkouts are decided on to bring pressure, as the schools get funding based on the number of students attending each day. They bring up a list of demands, (1) and bring organization beforehand to these actions.

The film also illustrates the police repression the organizers faced. The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) is shown surveilling La Piranya and individual students, and send an informant into their groups. One academic study stated of this time:”The LAPD intelligence reports show the department had detailed information on the financial status of Chicano organizations; the employment status, arrest records, and political affiliations of individual activists; and the decisions made at meetings and plans for upcoming demonstrations. In addition, both the presence of informers and the belief in their presence sowed debilitating distrust within movement organizations.”(2) The FBI was also involved in monitoring this movement, under COINTELPRO.(3) The police meet the walkouts with major brutality, and the realism of the terror inflicted is shown. Sal Castro states the importance of media to be at the protests, but the media gives the police version,  showing the students in a negative light, are redbaited, and seen as troublemakers. Internal conflicts with families is shown too, but the organizers get the community involved too. Further repression is put on many of the organizers, as 13 are arrested for conspiracy charges. They become known as the East LA 13, the first political trial of the Chicano Movement. With popular support the cases of all 13 were eventually dropped two years later as unconstitutional.

The film ends with a mass demonstration in support of the East LA 13. Paula confronts the undercover cop who infiltrated them, with him arguing that nothing really changed with the protests and turmoil created. Paula shoots back that while the institutions didn’t have immediate change they themselves changed, with the students showing their college applications thanking Sal Castro for inspiring them. This ending scene can give mixed messages. It is a positive one in that it shows the beginning of national consciousness developed through struggle. Revolutionary change is one of transforming oneself, and oppressed and marginalized people develop new-found confidence in themselves through this. On the other hand it could show that the struggle was one of individual achievement and reformism, with the primary goal becomes going to college. So the participants do not create structural changes but received greater sense of self-worth. In a sense this struggle succeeded, for the film ends with statistics that show the amount of Mexican Americans going to college dramatically increasing after this event. This in turn created not only new organizers in higher education but a new professional Chicano middle class that was less interested in social change once they succeeded.  There has been an ongoing debate about whether the movement was to be about simply civil rights or for national liberation. Viewers of Walkout can take it either way, but as shown the Blowouts were one of the sparks of national liberation for the Chicano people. This film is a good one to reflect on this history, to help in study of this time period, and to show the power of students and youth organized.

-Antonio Moreno


  1. https://siglodelucha.wordpress.com/2018/02/24/student-demands-from-1968-blowouts-east-los-angeles/
  2. Escobar, Edward J. The Dialectics of Repression: The Los Angeles Police Department and the Chicano Movement, 1968-1971. The Journal of American History, Vol. 79, No. 4 (Mar., 1993), pp. 1483-1514.  https://www.umass.edu/legal/Benavides/Spring2005/397G/Readings%20397G%20Spring%202005/7Escobar.pdf 
  3. https://laopinion.com/2014/10/14/el-fbi-vigilo-a-los-lideres-de-los-walkouts/
Posted in Aztlan, California, Chicano Movement, National Liberation | Leave a comment

Student Demands: from 1968 Blowouts, East Los Angeles

For the 50th anniversary of the 1968 East Los Angeles Blowouts, the Student Demands are reprinted for information and discussion – A.M.


BLOW OUTS were staged by us, Chicano students, in the East Los Angeles High Schools protesting the obvious lack of action on the part of the LA School Board in bringing ELA schools up to par with those in other areas of the city. We, young Chicanos, not only protested but at the same time offered proposals for much needed reforms. Just what did we propose?

To begin with, we want assurance that any student or teacher who took part in the BLOW OUTS – WILL NOT be reprimanded or suspended in any manner. You know the right to protest and demonstrate against injustice is guaranteed to all by the constitution.

We want immediate steps taken to implement bi-lingual and bi-cultural education for Chicanos WE WANT TO BRING OUR CARNALES HOME. Teachers, administrators, and staff should be educated; they should know our language (Spanish), and understand the history, traditions and contributions of the Mexican culture. HOW CAN THEY EXPECT TO TEACH US IF THEY DO NOT KNOW US? We also want the school books revised to reflect the contributions of Mexicans and Mexican-Americans to the U.S. society, and to make us aware of the injustices that we, Chicanos, as a people have suffered in a “gabacho’ dominated society. Furthermore, we want any member of the school system who displays prejudice or fails to recognize, understand, and appreciate us, our culture, or our heritage be removed from ELA schools

Classes should be smaller in size, say about 20 student to 1 teacher, to insure more effectiveness. We want new teachers and administrators to live in the community their first year and that parents from the community by trained as teacher’s aides. We want assurances, that a teacher who may disagree politically or philosophically with administrators will not be dismissed or transferred because of it. The school belongs to the community and as such should be made available for community activities under supervision of Parents’ Councils.

There should be a manager in charge of janitorial work and maintenance details and the performance of such duties should be restricted to employees hired for that purpose. IN OTHER WORDS NO MORE STUDENTS DOING JANITORIAL WORK.

And more than this, we want RIGHTS – RIGHTS – STUDENT RIGHTS – OUR RIGHTS. We want a free speech area plus the right to have speakers of our own choice at our club meetings. Being civic minded citizens we want to know what the happenings are in our community so we demand the right to have access to all types of literature and to be able to bring it on campus.

The type of dress that we wear should not be dictated to us by “gabachos,” but it should be a group of Chicano parents and students who establish dress and grooming standards for Chicano students in Chicano schools.

Getting down to facilities. WE WANT THE BUILDINGS OPEN TO STUDENTS AT ALL TIMES, especially the HEADS. Yeah, we want access to the Heads at all times…… When you get right down to it, WE ONLY DEMAND WHAT OTHERS HAVE. Things like lighting at all ELA football fields, swimming pools. Sport events are an important part of school activity and we want FREE ADMISSION for all students. We, CHICANO STUDENTS, BLEW OUT in protest. Our proposals have been made. The big question is will the School Board take positive action. If so, WHEN?


{From Chicano Student News [East Los Angeles], 15 (March, 1968), 3.} Reprinted from: Hendrick, Irving G. and Reginald L. Jones. Student Dissent In The Schools (1970). p. 68


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Posted in California, Chicano Movement | 7 Comments

The Black Berets Twelve-Point Program (1970)

To continue the interest in the Black Berets following the reposting of my article about them on the recent anniversary of the deaths of Canales and Cordova, here is the reprint of The Black Berets Twelve-Point Program. It was adopted by Las Gorras Blancas, the Black Beret organization in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in 1970. Another item I am reprinting from The Chicanos by Gilberto Lopez y Rivas. The book is long out of print by Monthly Review press, but the anthology has many important primary documents that are invaluable to the research of the Chicano movement.


The Black Berets Twelve-Point Program:

We, the members of the Black Berets of Albuquerque, Aztlán, being aware of the injustices, discriminatory, and oppressive actions against La Raza, hereby pledge to commit our lives to the Service, Education, and Defense of La Santa Raza.

In order to combat injustices, racial discrimination, and oppression we have set up a defense against the repressive agencies which carry out these established practices against the Chicano and all Third World peoples. To have an effective defense against these practices we must observe at all times the federal, state, local, and other agencies which are the main contributors to the repressive conditions which exist among La Raza and all other Third World peoples.

To serve the people means not only to correct the injustices, but to provide, wherever necessary, the necessities for a complete humane society. Whatever these necessities might be, a Black Beret will do everything within his power to provide them. We realize that to save our people we must be motivated, not only by the hatred for the marranoracista, but by the great emotions and feelings of love that we have for our Raza and the Third World peoples.

We have come to the conclusion that we cannot solve the total problems by ourselves so one of our most important tasks is to make our people aware. This is education. In order to completely educate people we must not only concentrate on the problems and the causes, but we must instill in our people pride in our culture and heritage and love for that which is ours.

Therefore the Black Berets’ Duty is to Serve, Educate, and Defend. 

  1. We Want Self-Determination and Liberation for All The Chicanos in the U.S.A.   

Before the Amerikkkans came into being we were here in the Southwest. When they came we taught them how to survive in the Southwest. Yet they have cheated, killed, and exploited us. Now the time has come to stoop all this. We demand control over our own destinies and the power be placed in the hands of the Chicano people in order to make Aztlán a reality and to insure our future existence. !Que Viva Aztlán Libre!

  1. We Want Self-Determination For All Latinos and Third World Peoples.

We will not be free until our Puerto Rican, Black, Indian, and Asian brothers in the U.S.A. are also Free from the oppressive and colonial rule of this system. We are not free until our brothers in Latin America, Africa, and Asia are liberated. Our struggles are basically the same. We must unite to end discrimination, injustices and to rise out of poverty. No Chicano Is Free Until All Oppressed People Are Free!

  1. We Want Community Control Of Our Institutions and Land.

We want control of our communities by our people and programs to guarantee that all institutions serve the needs of our people. People’s control of police, health Services, Churches, Schools, Housing, Transportation and Welfare are needed. We want an end to attacks on our land by urban renewal, highway destruction, universities, and corporations. La Tierra Es De La Gente!

  1. We Want A True Education Of Our Mestizo Culture And Spanish Language.

We want an end to the cultural genocide perpetuated by the Amerikkkan educational system against Chicanos. We must be taught about our ancestors truthfully. Pancho Villa and Zapata were revolutionaries, not bandits. Spanish is our language and must be taught as so. Our culture, a revolutionary culture, is the only true teaching. Viva Nuestra Cultura Mestiza!

  1. We Want Freedom For All Political Prisoners.

All Chicanos must be freed since they have been tried by racist courts and not by their own people. We want all freedom fighters released from jail. Free Tijerina Ahora!

  1. We Oppose the Amerikkkan Military And its Unjust Wars of Oppression.    

We want the U.S.A. out of Vietnam and Latin America and the oppressed communities of the U.S.A. Chicanos should not serve in the Amerikkkan armed services, since they are denied the right to live with dignity and pride here in the U.S.A. U.S.A. Out Of Vietnam, Latin America, and Aztlán!

  1. We Want Equality For Women. Machismo Must Be Revolutionary…Not Oppressive.

Under this system our women have been oppressed both by the system and our men. The doctrine of Machismo has been used by our men to take out their frustrations on their wives, sisters, mothers, and children. We must support our women in their struggle for economic and social equality and recognize that our women are equals within our struggle for Liberation. Forward Hermanas In The Struggle!

  1. We Want An Immediate End To Police Harassment, Brutality, and Murder of La Raza.

For years the colonizing army in our barrios, the police, have been beating, killing, and imprisoning our Raza. The police must stop now and not tomorrow. They must realize that they can jail us, beat us, and kill us, but they will never stop our determination to be free. We demand community control of the Police. End Police Brutality Now!!!

  1. We Want For Our People To Have The Basic Necessities To Exist.

We want for our people to be given the things necessary for existence, such as decent housing, clothing, food, transportation and medical services. Luxuries are privileges that must be paid for, but a man has the basic rights to have a roof over his head, to have food and clothes for him and his family, to good health, and transportation wherever he has to go. We Demand that the people receive all this from the Amerikkkan government as is their Right. !Hasta La Victoria Siempre!

  1. We Want Full Employment For Our People.

We believe that the federal government is responsible and obligated to give every man employment and a guaranteed income. We believe that if the white Amerikkkan businessman will not give full employment, then the means of production should be taken from the businessman and placed in the community so that the people in the community can organize and employ all of its people and give a high standard of living. No More Unemployment!

  1. We Oppose Capitalism and Alliances Made By Our Treacherous Politicos.

We oppose the politicos which oppress our people and give us empty promises before elections. We oppose the poverty pimps which keep our people down through useless and stagnated programs, social workers which keep our barrios divided and brothers fighting each other for crumbs. These people keep us from achieving our freedom. We demand that the people be given control of their barrios through political and economic power. !Venceremos!

  1. We Believe Armed Self-Defense and Armed Struggle Are The Only Means To Liberation.

We are against violence, the violence of illiteracy, the violence of hungry children, the violence of diseased old people, and the violence of poverty and profit. We have gone to the courts to protest racism and discrimination, we have voted for the politicos who have given us empty promises, we have demonstrated peacefully for what we believe in only to be met with more violence, injustices, and discrimination. We have to arm ourselves now to protect ourselves and the people from the oppression perpetuated by the businessmen, government, and police. When a government oppresses our people, we have the right to abolish it and create a new one. El Chicano Ha Despertado! Cuidate Chota!

(Reprinted from Venceremos, the newspaper of the Black Beret organization, Albuquerque 1971.

Continue reading

Posted in Albuquerque, Chicano Movement, National Liberation, National Question, New Mexico, Right Wing, Theory | Leave a comment

American Blowback: New Mexico’s Black Berets (video)

Posted in Albuquerque, Black Berets, Chicano Movement, Film Review, National Liberation, National Question, New Mexico, Right Wing, Symbols of Resistance | Leave a comment

Remembering Rito Canales and Antonio Cordova of the Black Berets of Albuquerque


Rito Canales. Albuquerque, N.M. Shot to death Jan. 29, 1972. Rito was fighting the prison system.


Antonio Cordova. Albuquerque, N.M. Shot to death January 29, 1972. Antonio was a movimiento journalist.

(Photos from 500 Years of Chicano History in Pictures. Elizabeth Martinez, editor. 1991)

January 29th 2017 was the 45th anniversary of the police murders of Rito Canales and Antonio Cordova, two organizers with the Black Berets of Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Rito Canales was an ex-convict, and through the Black Berets organization became an outspoken prisoner activist .

Antonio Cordova was a reporter and photographer for the Chicano movement press, which included the Berets own newspaper Venceremos, and El Grito del Norte, the movimiento newspaper edited by Elizabeth Martinez.

Many militant organizations formed from the Chicano Movement. The Brown Berets were formed in Los Angeles in 1967, appealing to many Chicanos with their militant postering and rhetoric. Many other chapters formed around the country. These organizations were mostly autonomous, and their ideology was a mix of cultural and revolutionary nationalism. Other organizations took up black berets and named themselves as such, in honor of Che Guevara.  The Black Berets groups took on a more internationalist approach.

The Albuquerque chapter, Los Gorras Negras, was formed in 1969 by Richard Moore and other Chicano activists. They created a 12-point program that was anti-colonial, anti-imperialist, anti-capitalist and internationalist. In it the organization pledged to commit their lives to “Service, Education, and Defense of La Raza.” The titles of each of their points are as follows:

  1. We Want Self-Determination and Liberation for All the Chicanos in the USA
  2. We Want Self-Determination for All Latinos and Third World Peoples
  3. We Want Community Control of Our Institutions and Land
  4. We Want a True Education of Our Mestizo Culture and Spanish Language
  5. We Want Freedom for All Political Prisoners
  6. We Oppose the Amerikkkan Military and Its Unjust Wars of Oppression
  7. We Want Equality for Women, Machismo Must be Revolutionary…Not Oppressive
  8. We Want an Immediate End to Police Harassment, Brutality, and Murder of La Raza
  9. We Want For Our People to Have the Basic Necessities to Exist
  10. We Want Full Employment For Our People
  11. We Oppose Capitalism and Alliances Made By Our Treacherous Politicos
  12. We Believe Armed Self-Defense and Armed Struggle Are the Only Means to Liberation

New Mexico was part of the northern land forcefully seized from Mexico by the United States in the war that ended in 1848. Remaining a territory for 64 years after, it only became a state of the union in 1912 after Anglos became a majority in the state. The Chicano people remaining on the land were subjected to colonization, making them an internal colony, an oppressed nation within the United States. The Chicano people became second class citizens in their own land. The Black Berets formed out of this oppression of the Chicano people, responding to this colonial oppression.


This picture was taken in Albuquerque in 1968 at a protest over the killing of Tommy Valles by police. This is a member of the Brown Berets chapter in Albuquerque. police terror was an issue that Chicanos organized around. (Photo from 500 Years of Chicano History in Pictures. Elizabeth Martinez, editor. 1991)

The Black Berets did many serve the people programs, such as food distribution, community patrols and other activities, modeled after the Black Panther Party. They were involved in many community issues and made alliances with other groups, showing their internationalist practice. Many members also participated in the Venceremos Brigades to Cuba in solidarity with the socialist country.

In 1969 in New Mexico, Bobby Garcia, a VISTA volunteer, disappeared and was later found dead in an arroyo outside of Albuquerque from a bullet to the back of his head. The Berets established the Bobby Garcia Memorial Clinic in remembrance. It was run by volunteers and gave health care to the people free of charge. It stood for independence and self-determination, accepting no government money for its operation and relying on the community.


Bobby Garcia Memorial Clinic, Albuquerque N.M.


An Albuquerque Black Beret, 1971

The issues of police brutality and prison conditions, directed mostly against Chicano and Native peoples, became main issues for the Berets.

With resistance came repression, by the state and reactionaries. The Black Berets and other Chicano activists became targets of the police and right-wing vigilantes. One group, the Minutemen, an underground right wing paramilitary organization, mailed Berets death threats of cards with cross hairs, a tactic they used on other leftists. There was increasing amounts of police shootings in this time, and up to 12 Chicano activists in New Mexico, in the region ranging from Albuquerque to Taos, were killed in this violence. There were rumors of a death squad operating within the Albuquerque Police Department and the New Mexico State Police.

The Black Berets uncovered evidence of the existence of the Metro Squad, an inter-agency group made up of officers from the APD, New Mexico State Police, Bernalillo County Sheriffs Department, and having the involvement of federal agents. The Metro Squad had worked with reactionary groups like the John Birch Society and the Minutemen, sharing dossiers they kept on activists.  This was a time where the COINTELPRO operation of the FBI against internal dissidents was exposed. While no account so far has shown the extent of what COINTELPRO has done to the Chicano Movement, it is clear that most state repression against the Chicano national movement was done through local and state police departments as well as independent fascist paramilitary groups.

The Black Berets also brought attention to prison conditions in the state, these institutions of which were made up mostly of Chicano and Native peoples. In November 1971 the Berets attempted a citizen’s arrest of New Mexico State Penitentiary warden Felix Rodriguez.

The Berets were going to have a press conference to expose wrongdoings at the state prison and the police terror inflicted through the Metro Squad. Before this happened the police ambushed and murdered Antonio Cordova and Rito Canales.

On the night of January 29th, 1972, a man named Tim Chapa lured Canales and Cordova to a construction site on the West Side of Albuquerque. Officers from all three departments in the Metro Squad were there, and engaged in a shootout with Cordova and Canales. Both ended up dead.

The official story alleges that the police were tipped off on January 19, 1972 that a burglary  would happen on that construction site in order to steal dynamite. When officers from the Metro Squad departments attempted to arrest Canales and Cordova, they engaged in a shootout, where both of them were shot dead. No police were ever brought up for charges in their deaths. With the demonization of Chicano radicals during this time, the police narrative was accepted.

This author would not fault Canales and Cordova for having weapons on them and using them in self-defense. They believed in and upheld the right to self-defense for oppressed people, even against the state that upheld settler colonialism. Also, others allege more nefarious motives, that they were kidnapped and brought to that site to be executed. The truth, having been buried, may never be truly known.

In January of 1974 the Canales estate filed a lawsuit in federal court for wrongful death. In September 1974, another lawsuit was filed by Mary Cordova, mother of Antonio Cordova, against the city of Albuquerque and various officials, along with the construction company, Wylie.  The lawsuits raised the argument that Tim Chapa, who led the two to the site, was a police informant. Chapa denied being an informant in an affidavit filed with that suit, and it was quickly dismissed in the courts.

Starting in 1999, other lawsuits were filed in court, this time because Tim Chapa changed his story about being an informant. Here is what the filing says:

“In 1999, Tim Chapa made an affidavit that purported to “clear [his] conscience in this matter regarding the homicides of Rito Canales and Antonio Cordova in January of 1972.” The affidavit stated that Chapa had been a confidential informant for the state police in the 1960s and 70s, that he was asked to infiltrate an organization called the Black Berets, that he had devised a plan in conjunction with the police to kill members of this organization, and that the plan had culminated in the shootings of Cordova and Canales. Chapa also stated that the police officers involved threatened to kill him if he ever exposed this plan and that he denied the existence of the conspiracy during all the subsequent court proceedings because he feared for his life.” (source: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/nm-court-of-appeals/1004022.html)

This case was also dismissed by the courts on technicalities.

The Black Berets as an organization declined, out of a mix of repression and cooptation. Many members continued to be community activists in other organizations up to today. The prison conditions highlighted by the Berets became visible in 1980 through the violent Santa Fe prison riots. The aftermath of the incident was 38 prisoners killed, being the worst in U.S. history so far. Police terror continues to effect Chicanos and other oppressed people all over this occupied land.

There have been a handful of cultural products to remember the martyrdom of Canales and Cordova. A play was written about the incident by Nita Luna-Davis, an ex-Beret who became an activist and playwright. A corrido by Roberto Martinez was written about them. A documentary and book are in the works about the organization. The fact that the names of Rito Canales and Antonio Cordova are not well known, as well as thousands of others who fought for the liberation of the Chicano people, is another example of how colonialism and neocolonialism has affected the national struggle.

The Black Berets represented the spirit of resistance for the Chicano people. We must always remember our fallen comrades.  As white nationalism has raised its specter in our occupied land, we must organize to resist it. Part of this is preserving the memory of this history of resistance, while using it to build toward the liberation of our land and our people.

-Antonio Moreno


“Twelve Point Program of Las Gorras Negras,” reprinted in Venceremos, Black Beret newspaper, 1971. Cited in – Lopez y Rivas, Gilberto(editor). The Chicanos – Life and Stuggles of the Mexican Minority in the United States. Monthly Review Press. 1973.

Correia, David. “The Return of the Albuquerque Death Squads.” Counterpunch. November 23, 2011.  http://www.counterpunch.org/2011/11/23/the-return-of-the-albuquerque-death-squads/

Paterson, Kent. “The Black Berets Live On.” Frontera NorteSur. October 10, 2012. https://fnsnews.nmsu.edu/the-black-berets-live-on/

Mygatt, Matt. “Court upholds ruling in Chicano activists lawsuit.” Associated Press. March 5, 2001. https://www.policeone.com/legal/articles/34781-Court-upholds-ruling-in-Chicano-activists-lawsuit/

Hernandez, Alexandro D. “A Corrido of Struggle: Remembering Roberto Martínez and the Black Berets through “El Corrido de Córdova y Canales.” Smithsonian Folklife Festival blog. March 16, 2013. http://www.festival.si.edu/blog/2013/a-corrido-of-struggle-remembering-roberto-martinez-and-the-black-berets-through-el-corrido-de-cordova-y-canales/

Posted in Albuquerque, Black Berets, Chicano Movement, National Liberation, National Question, New Mexico, Right Wing | 7 Comments

Bill Clinton on “Illegal Immigrants”

The Democrats are no allies to the Chicano nation or any migrants and refugees. Clinton, Bush and Obama helped lay the way for the current regime.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Message for 2017

I have been taking a break from this blog for a while. It is noticeable from the frequency of posts. Many things have contributed to this. For one, I have moved from my old residence to another state. I have been working on other projects as of now, along with keeping my own life together.

Also, this blog was intended to be an organizing tool. My new residence has had me shift my organizing priorities. This, along with the new political climate and realities in Occupied Amerika, has made me take a step back.

Yet I have many unfinished articles to post here. There will be more frequent posts on many different topics. To advancing the struggle in 2017.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment