By Javier Rodriguez March 30, 2012 from Mexico City
A social movement without a history is like life with no water and air, like night without stars.
We are now 31 days away from celebrating May 1st International Workers Day in Los Angeles. From any rational logical perspective, a successful May Day 2012 mobilization will place the issues of the 99% as well as immigration reform and legalization for the country’s large undocumented immigrant community on the front burner, before and after the November presidential elections. To be clear, success on May 1st unequivocally means, tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands on the streets of downtown LA and in cities throughout the country. Then and only then will this social movement create a significant political groundswell of the people to not only partake in the defeat of the ultra conservative Republican block, but also augment the public pressure on Congress and the White House, demanding real solutions to the mega problems faced by the overwhelming majority of Americans, including the large immigrant community.
The last time we had an upsurge of massive street power nationally was in 2010, when 200,000 people, mostly Latinos, marched on Washington D.C. demanding immigration reform. Forty days later, on May 1st , over ¼ million people marched in downtown LA on the same issue and against Arizona’s SB1070. Subsequently, for thirty days straight, the City of Phoenix saw continuous protests and on May 30th over 100,000 people marched 7 miles in sweltering heat to the State Capitol, to also demand a stop to the anti immigrant legislation.
However, today, as in 2009, the LA movement is deeply divided and if the efforts now being made to crystallize unity of all the forces fail, once again, we may be on the path to political disaster. What’s at stake in real human terms means the welfare of the millions of Americans and setting the cannons of the people on taking down Wall Street.
Differently though from that dreadful year’s political crash, serious attempts for unification are taking place and optimistically then present to the people and the media a united front. On that point today, there is conversation and debate involving some of the forces, coalitions and labor, but with time racing fast against the clock, it is imperative that a meeting be convened as soon as possible, on the first week of April, inviting all the point persons of this movement, including the new players, the horizontals. If this summit materializes and the spirit and goodwill is there to change the political panorama, the proposed venue may become the qualitative leap the social movement needs to reach an agreement to move together on May Day, as one. With all the media activists already on board, immediately thereafter, the historical announcement that unity has been agreed, can be made to the press and to the people of Los Angeles. Trust me, the photo and the video shots on the news of all the organizers unified into one broad coalition will send a highly positive message to the community, the organizations, schools, churches, and the press. This in turn will intensify the grass roots and rank and file outreach and organization in all corners of LA County and beyond. Through the progressive and mainstream mass media as well, the message of unity will reach millions of people, not just here but also nationally, setting forth in motion, the building of the momentum and favorable public opinion for -as Occupy Wall Street has coined it- “A Day Without the 99%” and I will add “Without the 11.8 Million undocumented Immigrants” on May Day 2012. With some variances, this is the way we have done it in the past and it works and hopefully this time around, we can consolidate a permanent unified city wide coalition.
Lastly, for your information and analysis, by next week I will be completing a brief historical narration of the political divisions in the immigrant rights movement since 2005 to 2008, but focusing on the year 2009 to the present quagmire. To say the least it will be interesting and polemical, ZAZ.
Javier Rodriguez is a long time activist in LA’s social movement, particularly Latino politics, has been active in the field of immigrant rights since 1971, with 22 years as a rank and filer in labor, he is also an independent journalist, a media and political strategist, and today is presently with the Dec 12 Coalition and Occupy LA.