By Javier Rodriguez Los Angeles 29 October 2014
The November 2014 Mid Term Elections are now a week away and the debate between the far right Republicans and the Democrats has intensified and the major prize is control of the US Senate. With it is the destiny of the rainbow of national issues including health care, abortion and women rights, tax breaks for the super rich, and of course the erosion of immigration reform is also on top of the Republican agenda. See today’s Paul Ryan quote:
“GOP-Led Senate Will Block Illegal Amnesty Plan. If President Barack Obama carries through with his plan to take executive action on amnesty for illegal immigrants after the midterm elections, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan vows to use every weapon in the Republicans’ congressional arsenal to stop him.” NEWSMAX With the Republicans at the helm of both Houses and their unequivocal agenda on behalf of the super rich and the fact they will use their majorities to bulldoze anything built to benefit the 99%, the National Latino Organizations, US Labor and growing Latino media see the writing on the wall and for sometime now have been mobilizing the vote for the President and Democrats. Unfortunately though, the perpetually divided “Old Guard” of LA immigrant rights leaders and their Coalitions, as usual, have failed to respond in unity. When Barack Obama postponed the awaited DACA II Executive Order for the 11.5 million Undocumented Immigrants until after the November 4 Mid Term elections, the street response was almost invisible but the crying game was loud. Then closer to home, the conservative faction of the LA County Board of Supervisors voted to continue the infamous 287g Program in the county jails and sadly the opposition responded with a reported 50 people instead of thousands.
I selected the quote “Se Hacen Pendejos/They play the idiot part” from one of Latin America’s premier writer, the late Carlos Fuentes. A critical and influential Mexican voice, Fuentes made this poignant, idiosyncratic and condemning comment in March 1996 against Mexico’s ruling class. It was precisely after President Ernesto Zedillo ordered a major military attack against the Zapatista Army of Liberation Front in the State of Chiapas who since the January 1, 1994 uprising, controlled 40% of the jungle land that bordered with Guatemala. For two years, the liberated territory had lived in relative peace under an internationally watched negotiated agreement between the Indigenous EZLN and the government. The armed confrontation, which involved thousands of soldiers and rebels, stunningly lasted only twelve days because broad sectors of Mexican society compelled both fronts to successfully negotiate peace. Otherwise, there could have been a bloodbath similar to Felipe Calderon’s 1996 war which is now Pena Nieto’s with over 100,000 dead and 30,000 disappeared. This is precisely what Fuentes was alluding to when he communicated the classic “Se Hacen Pendejos” criticism to President Zedillo and the reactionary political wing of his administration.
For years in Los Angeles the leadership of the immigrant rights movement has had a similar mindset of thoughtlessly playing the game of “Hacerse Pendejos.”Though with exceptions when provisional unity has been reached by all the coalitions there has been relative success as in 2010. However, when the political reality for a historical breakthrough was at a crossroads, as in early 2009 or today 2014, the sectarian and factionalist bipolar mentality of this generation of LA leaders, unfortunately, leads them into the reckless divisions and predictably the Crying Game of blaming everything on the political ruling class, the politicians, instead of analyzing the defeat and asking, “where did we go wrong?” To be fair, the only one with a loud enough megaphone to point in the direction of self analysis was Univision’s Jorge Ramos when he alluded to the lack of Plan B in the fight for immigration reform.
In January 2009, when Barack Obama took possession as president and “his promise to fight for passage of immigration reform in his first year in office was in the air, it was imperative for LA to unify and convene the nation to take the streets in huge numbers, in many cities, to maintain the pressure on the democratic administration and on the newly elected and first ever African American president Barack Obama to place immigration reform on par with health reform, which admittedly, was the most popular national issue.” To that end, the March 25 Coalition implemented an early strategy of knocking on every door of our illustrious leaders from Las Hermandades Mexicanas, CHIRLA, MIWON, CFL, LIUNA, Full Rights Coalition, COFEM, SCIC, Angelica Salas, Myron “Rasputin” Payes, Juan Jose Gutierrez “El NAFTA,” Raul Murillo, Francisco Moreno, the ultra leftist Ron Gochez, Jesse Diaz, the 300 Lb. activist, etc. and place before them the undisputable need to unify a serious collective force to face the historical challenge before the movement, but to no avail.
However, even though the year before the March 25 Coalition led the May 1st 2008 campaign and successfully moved and estimated 40,000, the 2009 efforts to unify the whole of the coalitions into one mega march ran into a Chinese Wall of rejection. The arrogance of the leaders led them to believe they had been rehabilitated. They, apparently concluded the people would line up behind them for an upcoming and successful next round of May 1st 2009 marches. Incredibly, their quest to control the political street process, blinded them, and unfortunately, they couldn’t see the historical election of the first African American president beyond their egos and logically, because of the same afflicted dogmatism, they didn’t see the political opening, la coyuntura historica, in front of their eyes and the need to battle with all the grass roots power at the disposal of the movement.
So the historical juncture brought on by Obama’s black presidency and to push for the promised immigration reform in his first year in office, incredibly, instead of one unified colossal mega march in the hundreds of thousands or millions in Los Angeles, the bedrock of the movement, the leaders played the divisive card all the way to May 1st and had 6 marches averaging 2,000 each for a total of 12,000 people. It was a circus and logically, the Democratic Party and the White House took notice, saw the opening and placed reform on a second plain.
In the fight to ensure the coveted reform or the Obama Presidential Executive Order, the years 2013 and 2014 are also highly important years and a unified movement could have played a significant role, but again, because of the bipolar political mentality, la mentalidad enana in the LA leadership, it has yet to materialize.
In my next blog I’ll briefly address the success of the 2010 struggles against Arizona’s SB 1070 and the marches that moved hundreds of thousands in the nation in D.C., LA and Phoenix. I will also give an X-Ray of the making of the September 22 Millions of Voices March in Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Texas in the context of the national campaign, the May 1st marches of the same years and the onerous, divisive and extreme sexist role of the LA leaders, or in synthesis el “Como se Hacen Pendejos,” ZAZ
*Javier Rodriguez is a journalist, a blogger and a media and political strategist. A long time social activist, he founded the Committee to Rescue La Casa del Mexicano; he is also co founder of the Millions of Voices Coalition in LA that on Sept. 22, 2013 organized one of the largest marches with thousands of people in Downtown LA for Immigration Reform; He was also the initiator and directed the making of the 1.7 million historical immigration march in Los Angeles on March 25, 2006, as well as the May 1st 2006 Great American Boycott;
Back in 1982-86, he directed the mass street mobilizations in LA that led up to the Amnesty Law IRCA of 1986; a journalist, he traveled for 5 ½ months throughout Mexico in 2012, observing and writing about the country’s political process, the aftermath of a highly questioned presidential election, visited several war zones and his family, as well as the State of Tabasco, at the border with Guatemala, where the Central American migrants catch the train they call “La Bestia-The Beast.” Between 1987 and 1996, his son Jesus, his nephew Jaramillo and his brother Jesus all fell victim to neighborhood violence in the area. His blog is Larayueladejavier.wordpress.com; a victim of hacking his old email firstname.lastname@example.org has been recovered.