Skip to comments.TRAITOR? WHAT CAME FIRST - MEChA OR CRUZ BUSTAMANTE?
Posted on 09/20/2003 12:44:25 AM PDT by AnimalLover
(NOTE: Union del Barrio (UdelB) is a Marxist-Leninist grass-roots organization working for the betterment of La Raza in the segregated barrios or ghettos of Aztlan.) ---------------------------------------------------------
WHAT CAME FIRST - MEChA OR CRUZ BUSTAMANTE? Position Statement by Union del Barrio September 16, 2003
The future of our gente depends more on developing our own political vision versus electing a brown democrat to be governor of California...
THE SO-CALLED MEChA-BUSTAMANTE CONTROVERSY
California today is a place of numerous important political battles, each running parallel to each other. The first and most prominent is the recall campaign to remove Gray Davis; a campaign initiated by right-wing politicians and supported by a consistent majority of voters. The second battle is led by forces hoping to impose a right-wing governorship over the state. A third struggle is to keep out a progressive/leftist candidate from winning the post. And the forth struggle is that to keep the massive "latino/a" population (particularly Mexicanas and Mexicanos) politically marginalized. While each one of these struggles might over-lap, each has its own specific framework.
The first three listed involve opposing sides of the ruling class locked in a vicious fight for power in California, and the whole United States. It is the last struggle listed that directly impacts the future of our gente in California and beyond. This considered we have to undertake a serious analysis regarding the gubernatorial candidacy of current Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante and the subsequent attacks against him regarding his membership in Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan (MEChA) during the 1970s.
Numerous individuals from our community have offered written responses to these attacks, while too few have come from community organizations. What we hope to offer is a Mexicano liberation perspective on this political crisis.
Union del Barrio (the most consistent and longest existing Raza liberation organization within what today is the southwest United States considers it imperative that the true nature of the Bustamante/MEChA question be analyzed, primarily on how it affects the great majority of our people (poor and working class Mexicanas and Mexicanos). If an analysis does not come from the perspective of Mexicana and Mexicano workers, then it must not be taken seriously.
THE CURRENT ATTACKS ON MECHA ARE ATTACKS AGAINST THE BASIC RIGHTS OF ALL PEOPLE
This issue was brought to a head recently when the notoriously right-wing Fox news program "The O'Reilly Factor" viciously attacked MEChA and denounced Cruz Bustamante for his former participation in this student group. Immediately the anti-MEChA/anti-Bustamante attacks were intensified with massive coverage through other news programs, newspapers, and via the Internet.MEChA was slandered and denounced as a violent, anti-white group, and was even compared to the racist "Klu Klux Klan" organization. And in a not-so-subtle fashion, the right wing also attempted to associate MEChA with terrorism. The logic followed that since Bustamante had once participated in MEChA, then he must be a raving radical Mexicano nationalist ready to wipe out the gringo, and claim California on behalf of Mexico. Right wing political commentators demanded that Bustamante not only "renounce" his past affiliation with MEChA, but to also condemn the ideals and founding principles of MEChA.
The attacks against Bustamante must be considered separately from the attacks against MEChA. The campaign to discredit Bustamante is of course focused on derailing his plans for becoming governor. Bustamante is the only Democrat with the money and political machinery capable of keeping California under Democratic Party control. Connecting him to anything outside the ruling class interests is only a smoke screen - it is obvious that Bustamante is in no way a Mexican radical. In fact he is simply a darker and heavier version of Gray Davis. This short list of examples clearly shows us where he is at politically:
- Cruz Bustamante has never taken a stand against Operation Gatekeeper, a border enforcement policy responsible for the deaths of over 3,000 people (the great majority Mexicanas and Mexicanos).
- Cruz Bustamante risked absolutely nothing while he built up his political resume, with the only exception of arguing ineffectively with Gray Davis over a procedural item in Prop 187.
- Cruz Bustamante has done nothing to punish public schools that are not educating our young people - instead these public schools impose policies that strip us of our language and culture, and kick out nearly 50% of Raza students before they finish the 12th grade.
- Cruz Bustamante was both member and Speaker of the State Assembly during the 1990s - a decade in which a record number of prisons were built in California, and into which our youth were (and continue to be) shoved into en masse - suffering under torturous and subhuman conditions.
- Cruz Bustamante has done nothing to end police/migra brutality.
- Cruz Bustamante, when questioned about his affiliation with MEChA, did nothing to defend the student organization to which he owes so much, and from which he gained many of the skills that got him his cushy job in the first place.
On the other hand, what our gente should be much more concerned with are the constant and increasingly vicious attacks against MEChA. These attacks are immeasurably more dangerous than anything thrown at Bustamante. The campaign against MEChA is part of the campaign against the right of Mexicanas and Mexicanos to self-determine our destiny as a people.
Union del Barrio upholds the right of our people to organize ourselves in our own interests under an independent political program. We believe that as a people there is no future unless we are capable of defining our own national and class interests - rising up from underneath a pro-USA frame of mind. Mexicanas and Mexicanos living within the current borders of the US must break away from the war-mongering reactionary worldview in this country and achieve an anti-imperialist, independent/indigenous political consensus.
We must develop a political, economic and cultural vision linking us to Latin America. This is what we struggle for, and this is what the ruling class fears more than anything. This is the main reason they hate MEChA.
We don't have to look deeply to understand why O'Reilly and the rest of the Mexican hating reactionaries are in such an uproar in regards to MEChA. The answer can be found in the activism of some MEChA chapters, as well in statements and objectives found in MEChA documents (i.e. El Plan de Santa Barbara). These statements, most of them written at the height of the Chicano Power Period (1965-1975), were an expression of our people's righteous struggle for basic democratic and human rights - our right to have access to the university; our right to study our historical, cultural, economic, and political realities (Chicano Studies); and our right to educate and train future organizers and leaders that would advance the liberation of our people. These were, and continue to be, the true goals of MEChA. These are precisely the bold expressions of justice and freedom that the right wing and racist reactionaries find so menacing. How dare we "messicans" think for ourselves!
ADDRESSING THE QUESTIONS OF LAND AND CLASS STRUGGLE ARE FUNDAMENTAL IF WE ARE TO RESOLVE THE MANY PROBLEMS FACING NUESTRO PUEBLO
A central point of the attacks against MEChA is the fact that some (not all) Mechistas have called for the liberation of the land which the United States stole from Mexico. Right-wing racist reactionaries have cleverly labeled this call for the liberation of our land as "the Reconquista"
The term "reconquista" is being used strategically by the ruling class (Democrats and Republicans) to brand our claim on the return of our land as an "act of conquest," versus an "act of liberation." Basically, this covers up the fact that people can't conquer what is theirs - they liberate it. It attempts to turn history upside down by painting Mexicanos as invaders, and whites as the oppressed indigenous population being stripped of what has always been theirs. This is done to deny the reality that Mexico is an indigenous nation, and thus they conveniently label us as the "foreigners"and "conquerors."
WE SUPPORT THOSE MECHISTAS WITH COURAGE AND PRINCIPLE
Union del Barrio sees the land question as fundamental to resolving the current conditions under which the great majority of nuestro pueblo live as a colonized and oppressed population. Far from apologizing for our beliefs, our position is that we want back the lands that were illegally taken from the Mexican nation, and which continue to be illegally occupied.
Furthermore, we want reparations and compensation for the wealth and natural resources that have been exploited from these territories and from our labor. These demands are based both on historical fact and international law. This is why we support and applaud those Mechistas who have had the courage and principle to uphold the land question.
Leftists and progressives as well as right-wingers and racists have issued numerous "responses" to this particular controversy. We understand that many people have reacted to this issue in an honest way, while others have been dead wrong, cowardly, and/or opportunistic in their response.
For example, we have seen those that seek to defend Bustamante at all costs, arguing that he is "la Raza's" candidate. We also have "defenders" of MEChA that choose to portray it as a benign group of youngsters, whose are only concerns revolve around college recruitment, partying and harmless rhetoric.
Then there are those who in the process of "defending" MEChA actually make declarations opposing the principles of self-determination and liberation for Mexicano people.
Many "leaders" and "intellectual/academics" that have weighed in on this controversy seem to be unable or unwilling to take a stand for Mexican Liberation. Some of the "defenses" we have seen of MEChA and the Movimiento in general are attempts to do "damage control" for Bustamante. This amounts to outright historical revision and whitewashing the history of the Chicano Movement. By negating the militancy and pro-liberation tendencies found within MEChA they are doing more to destroy its progressive legacy than the right-wing racists themselves.
WHAT HAPPENED TO CRITICAL THINKING?
Some of the "defenders" of MEChA have explained that the "reconquista" to them simply means graduating from college, getting positions in universities, or becoming elected officials (most likely within the Democratic Party). Since the mid-seventies we have seen an "emerging hispanic middle class" who most directly benefited from the Chicano Power Movement of the 1960s and 1970s. In fact, it was militancy and rhetoric in the movement that enabled most of them to become part of this "middle class." 30 years later, in order not to jeopardize their middle class positions, these elements deny the past and sanitize history in a fashion that secures their new life-style, and justifies their conformist, non-confrontational politics.
Others are urging support for Bustamante because he is "one of us." Why is he "one of us?" Simply because he is brown-skinned? Didn't the Crusade for Justice, the Brown Berets, La Raza Unida Party, the Black Berets, the National Chicano Moratorium Committee, Mechistas, and countless Chicano Studies professors educate us that the Democratic Party and the Republican Party were the two heads of the same monster (or the "two party dictatorship")? How could some former members of these groups tell us to vote for another Democrat? Aren't both of these still the parties of capitalist greed, imperialism, war, corruption, racism and sexism? What has changed to make the Democratic Party more a part "of us?" What happened to critical thinking? More importantly, we ask, what happened to dignity?
Some argue that supporting Bustamante is the only way to keep Schwarzenegger out. They ask, "Do we want another Pete Wilson?" Why should a massive population such as ours always have to settle for "the lesser of two evils"?
This backward position has done nothing for us, although it has allowed the Democratic Party to continue pimping off our political power. The only way we can gain our liberation is through the building of an organization that can unite and mobilize all sectors of our gente to defend our rights and interests. There are no shortcuts.
WE KNOW WHAT WE WANT
The fact is that today we have more Latino elected officials than at any other time in our history. At the same time we have seen an intensification of our marginalized, repressed and exploited condition. Moreover, we are witnessing the growth of fascism and racism throughout this country, with both parties assuming leadership through war and fear mongering. Why would we urge support for the Democratic Party, a party that never has and never will work in the interests of our people. The Democratic Party has turned its back to all poor and the working class people.
The great majority of these "elected," handpicked, or self appointed leaders do not represent the aspirations of the majority of nuestro pueblo (poor and working class Raza). It does no good if the Border Patrol Chief, the police chief, the sheriff, the prison guard, the principal, the college dean, or the governor is "brown skinned," if he or she is preserving a system that brutalizes, marginalizes and exploits our people. Our Movimiento as a whole must go beyond supporting Bustamante and his dream of being "Mr. Neocolonialist Number One." It is time for all Raza to stand up and defend our dignity and our right to self-determination - not fight for Cruz Bustamante and his petty bourgeois aspirations.
We do understand the need to use all forms of struggle to win our liberation - including the electoral arena. In San Diego we organized two electoral campaigns for City Council in District 8; in 2001 and 2002. However, these campaigns, much like the efforts of La Raza Unida Party of the 70s, depended on using this space to raise the contradictions confronting our gente and advance the struggle for self-determination.
We do not call on our community to support Bustamante. Instead, we call for the support of MEChA, and the right of all oppressed people to define the character and content of their social movements. Union del Barrio calls on those who are exhorting our gente to support Bustamante and are putting their energies against the "recall" of Davis, to instead put their energies into building an independent Movimiento with the capacity to truly fight for our liberation. We call on MEChA and all sectors of our people to unify and intensify our struggles in defense of our people and for self-determination.
For more information:
Union del Barrio PO Box 620095 San Diego, CA 92162
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.