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)

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.

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

Review – Mexico: The Frozen Revolution

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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.

On Sierra Blanca: Should Chicanos Support Bernie Sanders?

 

bs-sierrapic

photo from sandersguideblog.wordpress.com/

On the 2016 election, in the final analysis this election will not mean much for the struggle for self determination for the Chicano and Mexicano people. Nevertheless the people to a mass extent will participate in the elections. The Democrats under Hillary Clinton are expecting the traditional Latino vote to go to her, helping her win a majority. Bernie Sanders campaign, as a democratic socialist, is attracting many people in opposition to the establishment politics of Clinton, including many Latinos, who are also attracted to his social justice message.

Many others on the Left have commented on the many issues with Bernie Sanders, including his pro-imperialist and pro-Zionist voting records, his appealing to white populism at the expense of non-white peoples, and his votes on immigration issues. One item in particular that Chicanos and Mexicanos should question Sanders on is his stance on Sierra Blanca.

Sierra Blanca is an impoverished community in South Texas populated mostly by Chicanos and Mexicanos. It was also a dumping ground for toxic waste from elsewhere in the country. A failed resort site called Mile High Ranch turned into a sludge dump in this community. (Yardley, Jim. “New York’s Sewage was a Texas Town’s Gold.” New York Times. July 27, 2001.) Sanders pushed to expand its hazardous waste dumping by authorizing Vermont’s nuclear waste to be transported and stored here. This was a move opposed by progressive Democrat Paul Wellstone and many activists.  In 1998, the Juarez-El Paso bridge was blockaded in protest. In May 11, 1998, the Sierra Club met with Sanders, who would not oppose the Texas-Vermont-Maine compact.

It should be well known that under a settler colonial rule, other politicians and other white allies will not have our best interests at heart, and we as an internal colony should strive for self determination in all of our affairs. It also means that we should have no illusions about the meaning of this election, and we should strive to build our own independent power. The stance of Bernie Sanders on Sierra Blanca is further evidence of this, as an avowed socialist is willing to put Chicano and Mexicano people under the bus for his own political interests, that are at odds with ours.

-Antonio Moreno

This excerpt below is from a 4 part series posted by on the progressive feminist blog Shakesville, entitled Looking for Bernie. The entire series is worth reading as it examines the entire history of Bernie Sanders from an intersectional perspective. This passage below deals directly with Sierra Blanca:


 

Looking For Bernie, Part 4: Turning Right Towards 2016
Posted by Aphra Behn at Friday, July 17, 2015

…Before I end, let me address one more aspect of Sanders’ record in Congress that needs to be talked about, and (I hope) improved upon.

In 1997, Sanders supported the Texas-Vermont-Maine Compact, a bill that would allow the latter two states to dump their nuclear waste at a site near Sierra Blanca, a small, impoverished, hispanophone community in Texas. Then-governor George Bush enthusiastically supported the bill (of course). When the planning for the site had begun in the 1980s, the state of Texas deliberately sought out a Spanish-speaking area for the dump, believing that the less informed the population was about the bill, the less opposition there would be. (Plans for the site would eventually be released in a 28 volume, 60,000 page, English-only document). Sierra Blanca fit the bill:

Sierra Blanca has a largely Mexican-American population, and the percentage of Spanish-speaking residents is high, as one might expect, along the entire length of the border. This is an area where colonias, communities without water and sewage facilities, are still constructed, where US companies build factories in Mexican border towns and house their managerial staff across the river, and where the US Government maintains an army, complete with checkpoints, a network of radar balloons, an electronic surveillance grid laid out over rough, sparsely populated terrain, and, sometimes, camouflaged troops hidden in the brush along footpaths where drug traffic is suspected. Such a patrol last year shot and killed Esequiel Hernández, a high school student herding his goats, in the county immediately downstream from the proposed nuclear dump site. Poverty and unemployment are high, and the seat of government in Austin is over 500 miles distant.

The community rallied against the bill, getting 700 local signatures, and gaining national interest. The deal was hotly debated in Congress, with Senator Paul Wellstone one of its biggest detractors. In 1998, Wellstone decried the dump as “part of a ‘national pattern of discrimination in the location of waste and pollution’ that preyed on those lacking political clout and financial resources.” Sounds like it’s up Bernie’s alley! Did he join Wellstone?

He did not. He spoke in favor of the plan, introduced to the House as H.R. 629, the Texas Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Compact Consent Act. There’s a full transcript of Sanders’ remarks from C-Span, but here are a few highlights:

Mr. Chairman, I rise in strong support of H.R. 629. Mr. Chairman, the Low-Level Radioactive Waste Policy Act and its 1985 amendments make commercial low-level radioactive waste disposal a State and not a Federal responsibility…One of the reasons that many of us oppose nuclear power plants is that when this technology was developed, there was not a lot of thought given as to how we dispose of the nuclear waste. Neither the industry nor the Government, in my view, did the right thing by allowing the construction of the plants and not figuring out how we get rid of the waste.

But the issue we are debating here today is not that issue. The reality, as others have already pointed out, is that the waste is here…It would be nice if Texas had no low-level radioactive waste, or Vermont or Maine or any other State. That would be great. That is not the reality. The environmental challenge now is, given the reality that low-level radioactive waste exists, what is the safest way of disposing of that waste.

No reputable scientist or environmentalist believes that the geology of Vermont or Maine would be a good place for this waste. In the humid climate of Vermont and Maine, it is more likely that groundwater will come in contact with that waste and carry off radioactive elements to the accessible environment.

There is widespread scientific evidence to suggest, on the other hand, that locations in Texas, some of which receive less than 12 inches of rainfall a year, a region where the groundwater table is more than 700 feet below the surface, is a far better location for this waste….

From an environmental point of view, I urge strong support for this legislation.

So that was Bernie Sanders making an “environmental argument” for dumping nuclear waste near a poor Hispanic community. Because it has to go somewhere, and Texas is really dry.

When it came up for a vote in May 1998, Sanders listened to 12 anti-dump delegates as they outlined their concerns. The next day, he spoke in favor of the bill because of its “strong support” in all three states.

But at least he listened politely that time. In September of that year, Sanders faced protestors in Vermont, joined by Texans from the Sierra Blanca area. Here’s how independent Socialist Sanders reacted, as originally reported in the Texas Observer:

The marchers from Vermont were careful to restrain the West Texans from protesting aloud on any platform occupied by Bernie Sanders, Vermont’s independent Socialist candidate for re-election to the U.S. House. Sanders’ campaign committee had warned march planners that Bernie wouldn’t show if the West Texans were on the platform.

…Before the rally Sanders invited the three West Texans to meet with him privately, and the Texans eagerly agreed. The meeting was no longer than Sanders’ attention span – when it comes to Sierra Blanca. “He didn’t listen,” Curry said. “He had his mind made up.” Afterward, Bernie was giving his pro forma campaign speech, never mentioning nuclear power or nuclear waste. Sierra Blanca activist Bill Addington, who’d arrived just that morning to join the march, along with his neighbor María Méndez, had had enough, and he yelled from the crowd, “What about my home, Bernie? What about Sierra Blanca?”

Several others joined in. “What about Sierra Blanca, Bernie?”

Sanders left the stage, which surprised no one in the small Texas delegation. Earlier, he had told them, “My position is unchanged, and you’re not gonna like it.” When they asked if he would visit the site in Sierra Blanca, he said, “Absolutely not. I’m gonna be running for re-election in the state of Vermont.”

“Absolutely not. I’m gonna be running for re-election in the state of Vermont.”

The guy who can visit Mexico and Nicaragua and the Soviet Union can’t go to a poor community in Texas because he’s running in Vermont.

Oh.

And that is what I found when I went looking for Bernie.


 

The White Nationalism of the Colorado Greens (2008)

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This is an article I wrote back in 2008 for the website of Revolutionary Anti-Imperialist Movement – Denver. This was around organizing leading up to protests against the Democratic National Convention held in the city that year. Internal conflicts between the protest groups included that within the Green Party of Colorado that year, which disavowed their own presidential candidate for agreeing to attend a rally with the Recreate 68 alliance.  Further investigation into the Colorado Green Party that year revealed that their chairman was also advocating anti-immigrant and nativist politics, including favoring seizing cars of undocumented workers. This coming from the leader of a supposed progressive party. This was just another example of how even on the Left, especially environmentally minded parts of it, there is a tendency toward white chauvinism. It is interesting that a little bit after this article was circulated the Colorado Greens had a shake up in their leadership, and Dave Chandler, the one described here, left the Green Party shortly after. The present leadership  seems to be a little better, at least more diverse and not populated by white populists. I am no longer with RAIM at present, but still uphold most of its analysis, one of which is that reactionary white settler politics exist even in progressive circles, and must be fought.

-Antonio Moreno


The White Nationalism of the Colorado Greens (2008)

There has been much news as of late of the reaction of the Colorado Green Party to the stances of their presidential and vice presidential candidate ticket, Cynthia McKinney and Rosa Clemente. For the treasonous act of attending events by Recreate 68 during the Democratic Convention protests, they have been made personas non gratas by their own party. The Colorado Green Party has been violence-baiting Recreate 68 because of their radical stances and hosting of events that agree with the politics of McKinney and Clemente. Looking further, it seems the Colorado Greens, at the very least their top leadership, is set in the white nationalist politics that affects much of the Amerikan faux-left.

Dave Chandler, anti-immigrant nativist, head of Colorado Greens

One of the co-chairs of the Colorado Greens is Dave Chandler. He was one of the key forces trying to kick McKinney off the ballot of their own party. Chandler attacks McKinney and Clemente on his blog for accepting endorsements from leftist political parties he doesn’t like, for advocating a Hip Hop political party (which he admits he does not know the definition of), and most of all their supposed advocacy of violence because they mention weapons (1). As the Black liberation struggle in the United $tates has often than not been a violent one, this would not be out of line, but for the Greens who can’t see past their white privilege, this has put them in a tizzy.

On the next item on his blog, Chandler comes out in favor of an ordinance to seize the cars of undocumented migrants who don’t have insurance, a measure supported by local right-wing groups (2). Looking at his other posts reveals Chandler is an advocate of population control via stopping immigration. In other words, let poor people in other countries starve and die so Amerikans can keep their high standard of living.

According to Chandler, immigrants lower wages, destroy the environment, and threaten the white middle class. Here’s a sample of the views of the Green Party Chairman:

“In the late 1970s and early 1980s, a skilled meat cutter could make a top wage of about $20 an hour. Today, a meat cutter might make about $11.50.

    In Iowa an illegal immigrant meat cutter might make $5.00.

    We make this observation in light of the protest this weekend in Postville, Iowa, against the May 2008, immigration raid at the Agriprocessors plant. The illegal, released women protesters in Iowa are way out of line; they allowed themselves to be co-conspirators in perpetrating identity theft and in undercutting decent standard of living for citizens.

    This on-going story illustrates why illegal immigration is so corrosive to working class Americans — it illustrates how corporations shamelessly exploit illegals.

    Especially as unemployment rises because of the deepening recession, we hope that those thinking about crossing the border into the U.S. illegally will reconsider …”(3).

And:

“I support stopping illegal immigration into Colorado and the United States.

    My support for this proposition is based on two criteria: our environment and the economy.

    We must stablize (sic) our population growth here in the United States (and around the world) if we are to create a sustainable natural environment for future generations.

    We need to reivigorate (sic) and empower the American working and middle class if we are to remain free and prosperous” (4).

And:

“Working Americans lost in federal court. As soon as this Thursday, working Coloradoans may begin to lose in a more substantive way when Mexican trucking companies and Mexican drivers are permitted to haul Chinese-made goods and produce into the U.S. for distribution.”(5).

And:

“There he was yesterday, Colorado’s U.S. Senator Ken Salazar promoting an ‘immigration reform’ plan that will further hurt our environment and the standard of living for working class Americans… this new ‘immigration reform’ deal — if passed into law — would a dream-come-true for the oligrachical (sic) elitists who want to turn the United States into a low-wage nation. The Dimocrats …also seem to be operating under the vague impression that somehow increasing the pool of exploitable labor by millions and millions will pay-off in votes for them someday.

    This plan would ‘legalize’ up to 20,000,000 illegal aliens already in the country, and in the future permit over a million new ‘guest workers’ and people with a host of various visas to enter the country every year.

    My biggest objection to these ‘immigration reform’ proposals, however, has been their effect on our environment …I am willing to break the political taboo and talk about over-population and the ecology of the nation and the planet — we simply cannot afford millions and millions more human beings striving to grow into the natural-resources-consuming footprint of the American lifestyle.”(6).

Not knowing who said this, this is the same rhetoric that comes out of the Minutemen and other white nativists. This is just the left wing of white nativism. The Green Party chair serves to incite hatred and violence against migrants.

Of course there’s not going to be sealed borders. Amerikans have long been bought off by imperialism, and they get special privileges, one being they don’t have to do much real work. Amerikan capitalism is dependent upon cheap labor for lower costs, no doubt. With imperialism destabilizing Third World economies, labor comes to where that stolen money is, and business readily accepts it. Remittances are a major source of income for many Third World nations. Those crackers sitting on their lawn chairs watching the border aren’t scrambling to take jobs for $5.00 an hour doing back-breaking labor. Not to mention the issues of stolen land, exploited and oppressed nations, and reparations. No, the Green Party shows that its interests are with the white middle class. Despite rhetoric about environmental destruction, they want to keep Amerikans privileged standard of living built upon stolen wealth and environmental destruction.

It’s unclear how the rest of the membership of the Green Party feels about Chandler’s views, but as the Greens make a big emphasis on their “grassroots democracy,” we can assume these views are highly tolerated if not widely accepted. There has been no public criticism of Chandler that we know of. His views are not surprising, as the Green Party itself is committed to white populism, keeping the standard of living for white Amerikans, and the Amerikan environment preserved for their weekend hiking trips. Many still want it to be a party of the great white hope Ralph Nader, which would also explain their opposition to McKinney.

We at RAIM have no qualm about exposing the reactionary politics of the Greens and other fake leftists. We don’t support the McKinney campaign because electoral politics is a dead end for any radical politics, and have no illusions about voting in an imperialist system. But we do admire the McKinney campaign taking some principled stands against white populists within her own party, and the reactions of the Greens showing their real politics. RAIMD supports open borders, return of land to oppressed nations, and liberation of the Third World against U.S. aggression, including reparations. We put radical politics in command, and stand against reactionaries in progressive wrappings.

Sources:

(1). http://www.davechandler.us/2008/08/a-colorado-gree.html

(2). http://www.davechandler.us/2008/07/the-loony-left.html

(3). http://www.earthside.com/earthside/2008/07/blumner-lords-o.html

(4). http://www.davechandler.us/2006/06/super_highway_t.html

(5). http://www.davechandler.us/2007/09/mexican-trucker.html

(6). http://www.davechandler.us/2007/05/separation_of_c.html

Update on the Myth of Dolores Huerta, 2016

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Back in 2014 I wrote the article “The Politics of Opportunism and Capitulation: The Myth of Dolores Huerta.” It was written after the midterm elections of 2014, and during a time of resentment against the Obama administration and traditional Latino establishment power brokers such as Dolores Huerta who came to its aid. Partly in response to the feeling that Huerta cannot be criticized because of her iconic status, I deconstructed this status in this article, which was documented and sourced. It not only examined her reformist history, but also her recent history with the Clintons’ and the Democratic Party, and predicted that she would continue to support Hillary Clinton in her next presidential campaign to be used to bring out Latino voters. Recent news about Dolores Huerta’s actions in the Nevada Democratic Party caucus this year in 2016 made this article get a lot of attention recently, more than a year later.

During the Nevada caucus it was alleged that Dolores Huerta was shouted down by Bernie Sanders supporters for offering to translate for Spanish speaking voters, with Sanders supports shouting “English Only.” This was first tweeted out by actress America Ferrera, then tweeted on Dolores Huerta’s Twitter account. The story was then picked up by the media in the frantic election coverage which reported this story uncritically, with the implication that Sanders supporters are racist. It also spread through social media by supporters of Hillary, who also uncritically accepted the story because of the reputation of Dolores Huerta. Yet due to both Huerta and Ferrera being vocal Clinton supporters, this story was questionable from the beginning.

Later on many others who were there disputed Huerta’s account. A video from the caucus showed that people were shouting “neutral,” to favor a translator who was not affiliated with either campaign, as Huerta was there as a partisan of Clinton and wearing her campaign shirt and buttons. It turned out that”English Only” was said once by a moderator over some confusion about the rules, not from Sanders supporters as was reported. Snopes.com determined the story as False after extensively researching it. Other reports debunked the story too. Yet Huerta continued repeating this lie after it was discredited.

This comes about with other reports of election irregularities in Nevada, a common occurrence in the primary election in a tight race. Dirty tricks happen from all aisles in the campaign, but this one is at play with the Hillary campaign, which is faltering with competition from Sanders, and desperate to get the Latino vote, which she ultimately lost in Nevada.

This all could have been an honest misunderstanding or a backhanded plot by a partisan of Hillary. The motives of Dolores Huerta may not be known. But the evidence shows that it would not be surprising that Huerta intentionally did this to help her candidate, for she has been a vocal supporter of Clinton for many years, and willing to attack anyone for those she favors. Yet many still see Huerta’s iconic status as a reason to automatically believe her, and any criticism was muted because well, she was Dolores Huerta.

This incident was for many their first glimpse of the back handedness of Dolores Huerta. Because of this my article was forwarded several times around social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, garnering over 8,000 hits the days after the story broke. It was used as evidence about what Dolores Huerta’s real politics are about, which is to capitulate to the Democrats. It generated much discussion about this and many other issues, mainly about how myths of our leaders are used to bring our people in line.

Other evidence has been presented about Huerta’s ties to the Clintons’, including the Clinton Foundation’s $100,000 donation to Huerta’s own foundation. Others have come out against what Dolores Huerta did, as more are willing to criticize her politics despite her status.

Also, just to note, I do not have anything against Dolores Huerta personally, I am willing to go after any leader or figure if their politics are wrong. I am not a fan of Bernie Sanders either, as he has shown he would sell out Chicano people in the case of Sierra Blanca. I may write about this in the future. Either way, we as Chicanos need to create our own liberatory politics independent from this system, and the above is further proof of that.

Personally I am glad that something I wrote has had an impact like it did, and brought more attention to my blog. It is noteworthy for I have had an irregular posting schedule. Because of this, I will pledge to post more on this and other topics for my new readers here in the future.

-Antonio Moreno