La Raza -Chicano Activism in California

By Diana Hull
Published in The Social Contract
Volume 9, Number 4 (Summer 1999)
Issue theme: "Population growth and resource depletion"

The coming numerical dominance of California's burgeoning Latino population was confirmed by the Census Bureau in July 1997. In 49 years, only 13.8 percent of Los Angeles County will be white and 69.1 percent will be Latino - a consequence of two amnesties for three million illegal aliens, sieve-like borders, and the high levels of legal immigration that have made Los Angeles the second largest Mexican city in the world.

"Latinos" indicates Central and South Americans; the word "Hispanic" is generic. Radical leftists of the 1960s gave "Chicano" a new defiant meaning and proclaimed Mexican-Americans heirs to Aztlan. the mythical homeland of the Aztec people.

The predicted demographic shift from minority to majority status is a triumph for Chicano activism and brings vast new political opportunities for its leadership. But the literal "retaking" of California pales in comparison to its symbolic value - the long-awaited return of those "illegally annexed territories" which the Chicano movement claims were stolen from their indigenous forebears in 1848, by the occupying forces of the United States, after the Treaty of Guadelupe-Hidalgo.

The passage of California's Proposition 187 was the first major obstacle in the path of this "reconquista" movement, and in response, after the election, 400 Latino leaders held a summit conference at the University of California at Riverside. The participants were Hispanic elected officials and the Hispanic press, university faculty and students from Texas and Arizona as well as California, and the leadership of the major Hispanic organizations.

At the opening session, the campus director of the Ernesto Galarza Public Policy Institute announced the good news about the "browning of America" and the "transfer of power" to the new California Latino majority.

The uniformed "Brown Berets of Aztlan" stood shoulder to shoulder along the walls of the meeting room; Mexican flags were flying and student tee shirts bore the message, "We don't need no stinking green cards." Benicio Silva of UC Berkeley declared that having to show them at the border was a "violation of our human rights" because "Aztlan is ours and the white man is the invader."

"They say we're 'Latinizing' Los Angeles! Don't you love it?" boomed fiery orator Jose Angel Gutierrez, long-time University of Texas faculty member. "We are fighting to build a new Mestizo nation," he shouted, "in this, our historic homeland for for-ty thou-sand years."

At that, the Brown Berets raised their fists in the air and the excited crowd screamed "Chicano Power" and began stomping and clapping with the familiar two-three beat: clap-clap, clap-clap-clap. "We are here again," Gutierrez continued, "we are millions and millions, and the aging white Americans are not making babies, we've got to get ready to govern!"

Adaljisa Sosa-Riddell, of the Chicano Research Center at the University, of California at Davis, said the best preparation for governance was training the youth, and demanded more Chicano Studies programs because, according to Gloria Romero, Professor of Chicano Studies at Loyola Marymount University, "a classroom is just another place to organize."

The members of MEChA (Movimiento Estudiantil Chicanos de Aztlan) student group, that sponsored the Riverside Conference, were products of this curriculum, by which young Chicanos learn they are victims of "genocide" and "ethnocide" and belong to an oppressed people, stripped of their land, language and culture.

Art Torres, state chair of the California Democratic Committee, assured the audience that the much-hated Proposition 187, limiting government benefits to illegal aliens, was the "last gasp of white America," and Herman Baca, founder of the Committee on Chicano Rights, said that "we are going to win - and take our rightful place as owners of this land."

The land he was talking about includes California, the Southwest, and the western United States as far north as Oregon and Washington - all of it claimed by the make-believe state of Aztlan whose reclaiming serves as a rallying cry for the irredentist movement, and a justification for the continuing northward migration and the illegitimacy of the U.S. border with Mexico.

The "stolen lands" theme is a favored tool of insurgency. It politicizes Palestinian boys of the Hezbollah and Hamas and it is meant to incite, in Hispanic youth, the same resentment and desire for vengeance.

Most Americans do not understand the character and reach of the Chicano movement, and Chicano activists want it that way, because the leadership model for their "street fighter" troops is the use of threatening hyperbole and anti-white "hate talk."

Having an enemy promotes "in-group" loyalty, which must be maintained to counter the attractions of American society. Young people are particularly vulnerable to "defection" and the future of the movement depends on their ties to "La Raza."

The major Hispanic organizations, like MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund), LULAC (League of United Latin American Citizens) and the National Council of la Raza, are understandably protective of their influence in the highest government circles. Because of the prestige and sponsorship of the Ford Foundation, their leaders sit on the boards of major non-profit organizations and private corporations and serve on federal boards and commissions. Therefore security is tight when they reveal their racist face at a militant meeting like the one at UC Riverside.

In December 1996, another MEChA-sponsored conference, at Cal State Northridge, began with the shouts of "Chi-ca-no" then "Chi-ca-ha" - each word belted out, first from the podium, then from the audience. Emotions were high by the time Professor Rudy Acuņa, author of Occupied America, got up to speak. He warned hundreds of students and their immigrant parents about "being taken to the intellectual ovens," and told them they live "in the Nazi United States of America."

When parents are not around his language gets rougher. He explained at a student meeting in Santa Barbara that "the University of California is not going to change unless we beat the shit out of them, and that is what we are going to do." (In 1996 Professor Acuņa won a discrimination lawsuit against the university and received $326,000.)

Acuņa is a tenured full professor at Cal State Northridge and author of Occupied America, the third best-selling text in Harper and Row's college division. He has spent the past 22 years building the largest Chicano Studies department in the nation, and claims "Immigration advocacy organizations have so penetrated the nucleus of government that the government itself is now an immigration advocacy organization."that one third of the academic deans in the California system have come out of his program. Professor Acuņa likes to compare U.S. treatment of Hispanics to Hitler's treatment of the Jews.

Attempts like this by radical Hispanics to "hijack" the holocaust finally caused Senator Alan Simpson to lose his temper at a Senate immigration hearing. When Simpson's proposed employee verification system was likened by the ethnic lobby to "bar code tattoos" and the tactics of Adolph Hitler, he was irate. "These rhetorical excesses are disgusting and offensive," he said, "and I'm sick of this racist demagoguery!"

What Senator Simpson angrily called "bullying tactics" is part of a "machismo bad boy" act - the trademark of Chicano "political theater." During one of Professor Acuņa's typical speeches, a white photographer was removed from the room by security guards, who tried to confiscate his camera and film. When he refused, they encircled him, pounding clenched fists into curled left palms and asked him repeatedly, "Are you afraid yet?"

Critics of the Chicano movement have reason to be afraid, because how do they know if the physical threats are just bluster, or if they're for real? Rudy Acuņa warns that Chicano youth "bring the possibility of violence" to the Chicano movement, and the "Brown Berets" tell "gringos" that "the streets will run red with the blood of tyrants, who have murdered us for so long."

You would think this kind of talk would embarrass someone like LULAC's national president, Belen B. Robles, a listed participant at the UC Riverside conference. But evidently she has no shame. At one congressional hearing she pushed for admission of unskilled immigrants because "they contribute to our country's cultural development."

In her many roles, Robles epitomizes the reach of Hispanic ethno-nationalism and how it links mass immigration advocates in tile giant non-profits, like LULAC, to elected officials, government bureaucracies, international corporations and the Mexican government.

Robles is on the board of HACR (Hispanic Association for Corporate Responsibility), an "invitation only" group where Hispanic leaders "sell" population growth as a "market benefit" to international companies like Coca Cola. McDonald's and Coors.

Because of her influential connections it is unlikely she will ever go back to her federal job as a supervisor in the U.S. Customs Service. Robles has been on an extended paid leave tor years, thanks to the 1970 Intergovernmental Personnel Act whereby a federal agency can "lend" an employee to a nonprofit organization.

Her $60,000 federal salary probably doesn't cover travel expenses from her home in E1 Paso to all the meetings she attends. She is national chair of the advisory committee to the INS commissioner. She is on the panel for the INS/US Border Patrol merger and an advisor to cabinet meetings on Mexican American affairs.

Immigration advocacy organizations have so penetrated the nucleus of government that the government itself is now an immigration advocacy organization. Robles is just one "biomarker" of this "altered identity." Another is Norma V. Cantu, former regional counsel for MALDEF before her appointment as the U.S. Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights.

In the Executive Branch there is Mickey Ibarra, a leader of the "Latino Vote 2000 Alliance." Its other key members are MALDEF's president and general counsel, Antonia Hernandez, and Belen Robles. Ibarra is currently White House Director for Intergovernmental Affairs.

In its quest for the ultimate "good," the Ford Foundation became the leading protagonist in an effort to open up the United States to mass Third World immigration. Tapping its $7 billion endowment, Ford created MALDEF, LULAC, and the National Council of La Raza, as well as taking over the financing of the ACLU. All are now non-profits in their own right and remain client beneficiaries of the Ford Foundation, so "To militant Chicanos there is no need for borders, green cards or proof of citizenship."long as they heed the command to "be fruitful and multiply."

Now thousands of organizations all over the country speak with one voice and have identical goals. They want cultural hegemony for Hispanics and their political dominance through numerical superiority; continued mass immigration; another amnesty for illegals; complete social, medical and educational services for immigrants, legal or illegal; no barriers at the borders; Spanish language parity with English; voting rights for all U.S. residents, legal or not; and easy access to U.S. citizenship.

Virtually all of these demands are supported by the Clinton administration and promoted by the Mexican government. Gaston Rosas, administrative officer of the Consulado de Mexico in Los Angeles, and his staff, participate in "strategy sessions" with the 125-member Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA). The consulate is listed as a "sponsor" of CHIRLA along with MALDEF and the ACLU. Despite their "diplomatic" mission, consulate officials have set up a data base on Mexican nationals in the United States and keep it in a computer in the offices of CHIRLA on "permanent loan."

Several years ago in Dallas, with Bill Clinton at his side, Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo advised Mexican-American elected officials that they were "Mexicans who lived north of the border." Addressing the National Council of La Raza last year in Chicago. President Zedillo told Mexican workers "you are part of our nation."

The 1996 LULAC national convention repeated this theme in its program: "A Mexican living in the United States," it said, "is and always shall be a Mexican." And guest speaker Ambassador Jesus Silver-Herzog warned that neither military units nor walls at the border could stem the immigrant flow.

U.S. legislation that attempted to do that in the form of "accelerated deportation" stirred what was called a "firestorm" in Mexico City (Los Angeles Times, April 3, 1997) and all four of Mexico's political parties declared it a violation of immigrants' rights that they would fight through the United Nations.

They needn't have been so concerned. Belen Robles announced at the LULAC convention in Anaheim that she had just met with President Clinton the previous Monday and, as a result, LULAC attorney Ray Velarde would be part of the committee revising the new immigration reform law.

Why would the president entrust such a mission to LULAC, considering their immediate past history of crime and corruption? Why the instant forgiveness? In 1995, Jose Velez, who preceded Robles as LULAC's national president, was convicted in E1 Paso of embezzling $9 million by forging thousands of fraudulent citizenship documents.

But to militant Chicanos there is no need for borders, green cards or proof of citizenship. The U.S. and Mexico apparently agree because their "bi-national" plans are making Aztlan into a destination that will soon be reachable by bullet train. The Mexican government has changed its constitution to allow dual citizenship, so the mythical state will become tangible and citizenship fungible - Mexicans remaining Mexicans while enjoying unlimited access to the infrastructure and resources of the United States.

Of the 17 million people of Mexican descent in the U.S., millions are U.S. citizens. Those born in Mexico, or having Mexican parents, are expected to besiege the 41 consulates, once this program goes into effect.

On July 14, 1997, Monica Lozano, editor of the Spanish-language newspaper La Opinion, explained to the Southern California public television audience that "we will see Mexican candidates for office in Mexico campaigning actively in California." Polling places will be opened here, she said, so that any citizen of Mexico working in the United States, can vote in Mexico's elections.

Simultaneous with the changes that will allow Mexicans living abroad to keep their nationality, Jose Angel Pescador Asuna, the Mexican Consul General in Los Angeles, advised Mexicans who were not U.S. citizens to become citizens, so thev could vote in the United States to defend the interests of Mexico. To "...many parts of California and the Southwest are already de facto Mexican territory where the combination of demographics and ethnic politics pull against assimilation in the future."bring this about as quickly as possible, he pledged to work with the "citizenship" efforts of "nongovernmental organizations" like LULAC, MALDEF and CHIRLA.

So, in this new hybrid polity, the Mexican government will conduct Mexican government business with millions of' its own citizens within our borders - borders that the U.S. has deliberately blurred for years by crippling the INS, by approving NAFTA, and with a variety of federal initiatives like the joint training of police, and the U.S. Department of Education's La Frontera program to "promote U.S.-Mexican integration."

The border region is spreading, and many parts of California and the Southwest are already de facto Mexican territory where the combination of demographics and ethnic politics pull against assimilation in the future. Now the rumble of the coming dominance and struggle is getting louder from the leaders of the coming Hispanic majority.

"How beautiful the new world will be" former HUD Secretary' Henry Cisneros opined three years ago, in Spanish, at a Southwest Voters Registration and Education meeting, "when we have a governor named Gonzalez or Hernandez or Martinez, and when the mayors of Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego all have Spanish names."

Congressman Eshaban Torres set his sights higher when he told a meeting of the Latino Vote USA - Campaign 96 that "we will decide the ballot issues and elect the next U.S. president."

While we are used to calls for loyaly to party or platform, we have not heard in our lifetime such open pandering to loyalty based on race, - except from the Ku Klux Klan or the likes of Louis Farrakan. This "hard core" racial nationalism does not bode well for even a relatively harmonious, let alone an enduring, multi-ethnic nation. And it is hardly an illustration of multiculturalism's progress toward what sociologist Nathan Glazer called, "co-equal existence and voluntary power-sharing."

But multiculturalism may be irrelevant anyway, because it is not the direction in which we are headed. In California and parts of Texas, little American culture remains. Multiculturalism was just a transitional stage before Hispanics reached a critical mass and replaced the existing social hierarchy with one of their own.

Add to that the cultural imperatives of Koreans, Blacks, whites, mainland Chinese and other Asians, Africans and Middle-Easterners - all likely to import their historical antagonisms along with their charm and interesting food. Shall we assume that, absent assimilation, they will go along with the "happiness in diversity" script, for which there has never been even one successful "plain clothes" rehearsal in all of history?

The "must-be-inclusive" crowd in Los Angeles has come up with some new catchy lines to cover their recent anxiety. They now praise the "excitement" in the cacophony and hostility, and the "fun" of not knowing the results of the endgame. What will an Irish-Mexican-Chinese-Iraqi look like, they ask breathlessly, and who will they be? As they applaud changes at our core, they claim confidence in American humor and stability to defeat "Lebanese" politics and carry us through - as in having your cake and eating it too.

Resistance to the northward press of Hispanics at our southern borders was thwarted by mischaracterizing it as "immigration." By the mid-1980s it had actually become an unregulated self-selection process, with no enforceable "right of refusal" on our part. Increasingly, this movement of people shared only surface similarities to the traditional immigration template, while conveniently keeping immigration's "halo effect."

Governor Pete Wilson recognized this new hybrid when he filed a $2.4 billion lawsuit against the federal government, accusing them, among other things, of violating their constitutional duty, to protect California from "invasion." As a result, MEChA flyers showed Wilson's face covered with a black swastika, and Chicano activist Dolores Huerta thanked the "great spirit" for taking away the governor's voice.

Chicano activists are not the only ones pleased that the culture of the United States has melted south of Malibu and is dissolving in New York and in Chicago. Michael Clough, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, and co-chair of the New American Global Dialogue, is cheered by the changes wrought by immigration and economic globalization.

He wrote in the Los Angeles Times last year that "national unity is being eroded from above and below" and that "the idea of one America is gone." He apparently approves. He predicts that the country will be divided into sectors with different economic interests and even a "quasi-independent foreign policy."

But the interests that converged to deconstruct the nation have used each other badly in this marriage of convenience, and they have divergent blueprints for the future. Calculations made by global marketeers fail to factor in the force of tribal rage, or predict the future battles for ascendency. They haven't thought about the coming fury at the losses, like American identity, - the meaning of our heroes and the "motherland" and tongue - the love of home.

Our country never was the globalist's to gamble with - nor a gift for Washington to give away. And to whom will all the good accrue from this dismembering? But it is past undoing now and time has run out - at least for California.

So say your fond farewells! Mecha means fuse, and it is lit.


1 La Raza, the race, is a political construct masquerading as an authentic subgroup based on physical similarities and a common culture. Chicano activists identify themselves as "bronze people of color" to justify their separatist goals, but "Hispanics" come from widely different cultures and could be white, black or brown. The "Chicano" political movement in the United States was created by Mexican-Americans or Mexican immigrants. In the last decade, they have been joined by immigrants from Central America. Yet, everyone with a Hispanic surname is considered by them to be part of "La Raza."

2 The author is indebted to the California Coalition for Immigration Reform (CCIR) for its research of the opposition. Many of the quotes in this article are memorialized on tape and were obtained bv CCIR at some risk to the individuals involved.

About the author

Diana Hull, Ph.D., is a behavioral scientist trained in demography and epidemiology. Co-founder and co-chair of the Santa Barbara County (CA) Immigration Reform Coalition, she is a frequent contributor to The Social Contract.

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