The National Chicano Youth Conference held in Denver in 1969, organized by the Crusade for Justice, is a historic event in the history of the Chicano people. Out of it came El Plan Espiritual de Aztlan, which sought to organize the Chicano people around a nationalist program. Also what came out of this conference was this statement by the Revolutionary Caucus, which sought a politics beyond narrow nationalism, toward more class analysis and internationalism. This was a beginning point of a more internationalist outlook for certain sections of the Chicano Movement.
In March 1969 some 3,000 young Chicanos gathered at the Crusade for Justice in Denver, Colorado, to hold the first national Chicano Youth Conference, at which El Plan Espiritual de Aztlán was adopted. The statement of the “revolutionary caucus” also came out of that conference. –from Monthly Review book intro.
We, a nonconquered people living in a conquered land, come together hoping that a plan of liberation, a concrete revolutionary program acceptable to the entire Southwest, will come from this conference. Subjected to a system that has denied our human dignity, our rights are also being denied under a constitution which we had no part in formulating and, more fundamentally, the rights protected under the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo which grants the right to cultural autonomy have been violated.
For 144 years we have been trying to peacefully coexist but no peace has come to our communities. Revolution is the only means available to us. We owe no allegiance, no respect, to any of the laws of this racist country. Our liberation struggle is a war of survival.
To us, nationalism is an awareness that we are not Caucasian, not Mexican-American or any other label the system puts upon us, but that we are a people with an ancient heritage and an ancient scar on our souls. Because we know who we are, our nationalism becomes an internationalism that does not deny the human dignity of any other people, but accepts them as brothers.
Our culture has been castrated through the various institutions of this system. We have known the profound pain of becoming strangers in our own land, of seeing beautiful lands turned into parking lots, of seeing birds disappear and fish die and waters become undrinkable, and the sign “private property” hung on a fence around land that once was held in common, of mountains becoming but vague shadows to our lives behind a veil of smog. We are being killed in Vietnam yet our lands are in the hands of strangers.
Can we attain control of our lives and liberate our people under the present system? Before we can answer this we must be aware of how this racist system oppresses us. We are oppressed first because we are Chicanos, because our skin is dark. But we are also exploited as workers by a system which feeds like a vulture off the work of our people only to enrich a few who own and control this entire country. We suffer a double oppression. We catch double hell.
But its oppression is not limited to us. It is a world system of oppression responsible for the misery of the mass of humanity. We will not attain what is rightfully ours, or our democratic right of self-determination, without having to overturn the entire system. We will have to do away with our oppressor’s entire system of exploitation. In order to do this we must build a revolutionary organization which will fight on all levels to improve our conditions here and now, while at the same time seeing the longer range struggle which will definitively end racist society, exploitation, and guarantee our rights.
We make a call to all Mexicanos to put aside our so-called regional differences and realize our similarities: the greatest ones being that we do have a basic common experience of exploitation, and a common enemy that must be destroyed before we can be a free people, masters of our lives.
Source: (The Chicanos: Life and Struggles of the Mexican Minority in the United States. By Gilberto Lopez Y Rivas. Monthly Review Press. 1973.)