Live from Romero Beatification: What it´s Like

May 23, 2015

Live from Romero Beatification: What it´s Like

Dateline San Salvador: beatification celebration for Monsr. Oscar Arnulfo Romero  is building up momentun, playing Sombrero Azul, the national anthem of the revolutionary left during the bloody barbaric civil war that laid the cultural, economic and political foundation for the current gang–government slaughter in this  muy sufrido pueblo.

As they listen to the lyrics–

y que venga la alegría
a lavar el sufrimiento
y que venga la alegría
a lavar el sufrimiento
(and may happinesss come)
to wash away thesuffering)

the massive crowd dances into a raucous call-and-response of “Dale Salvadoreno, Dale!!” (Hit it, Salvadoran, Hit it!), in the process leaving, at least momentarily, all semblance of traditional religiosity in the morgue of mainstream mass…

Suddenly, a US-born Salvadoran journalist notices a 4´5 nun and her Carmelite sisters –the same sisters who braved bullets to protect the dying Romero in his final hours–in their  brown habits singing, clapping as if doing the revolutionary song´s bidding to wash away the suffering with happiness– and in fullfillment of Monsenor Oscar Arnulfo Romero´s promise: ¨”If they kill me, I will rise again in the Salvadoran people.”

Then, the journalist watches the 4´5 nun, who starts ecstatically singing “Dale Salvadoreno!”, raising her fist, erasing in that moment all distinction between ´religion´and ´revolucion,´ between the hope of this life and the hope of the next.

As he watched the nun, as he listened to the music and as he remembered the sufrimiento he´d known–a sufrimiento that was melting, washing away in that momentary collapse brought on by the miraculous– the journalist cried, washing the word “periodista” (journalist) on his credential onto the floor of forgetting.

And in the flood of tears,the journalist became water mixed with blood and swished and disappeared into the ground, giving rise to another Romero, one of millions rising prophetically out of the Crowd of Former Nobody´s. He has risen.

Romero Vive…

2015-05-23 08.57.21

Yes, We Are the Champions, But Your Giants Are Not Our Giants…

October 30, 2014

world champs


For several unforgettably exquisite hours last night, celebrating the San Francisco Giants victory on 24th Street felt musical, like a mix between a peasant land takeover, the L.A. riots and an Afro-Latin festive devil celebration in which traditional notions of “good” and “evil,”master” and “slave” are temporarily twisted, turned over and completely toppled in the Dionysian delirium of it all.

The streets were literally ours. Overwhelmed by the thousands of people taking their Giant joy to the civic center, the stadium and, especially, to the traditional center of working-class baseball zealotry,the Mission, the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) was temporarily reduced to standing by and watching masses of happy, high and originally (and some unoriginally) hip people block streets Latin America-like with their cars, with their motorcycles, and, especially, with their dythirambic, dancing bodies. Other streets, like the corner of 19th and Valencia were also taken over.

Contrary to the predictable and barely veiled racist, look-at-these-violent-colored-people denunciations by mostly white bloggers and journalists tasked with showing us the difference between “good” Giant fans and “bad,” the streets looked quite different from the drunken orgy of violence they painted. This is an attempt to unleaven these civilized folk of the white woman and man’s burden of explaining the behavior of the brown barbarians, barbarians whose food and Balmy alley murals they love, but whose presence they want erased faster than you can say “I can afford a $3000/month bedroom–all by my lonesome.”

sfpd main

Sure, the Resident and his peers wearing recently-purchased Giants hats and shirts as they nervously rushed past the throngs of brown people did sincerely share with us the excitement of the baseball win. But their Giants are not our Giants. The tipsy twenty something who’d “never heard” of  Willie McCovey or Juan Marichal had no idea how he sounded to someone whose father worked overtime so he could take his boy on the bus to see these Giants idols in the $7 seats near the outfield of Candlestick park in Hunter’s Point, the same HP where hipsters are hopping on happy, new trollies to join realtors working at hyper-DSL speed to eviscerate the last vestiges of Black San Francisco.


On 24th Street, on the 2 blocks between South Van Ness and Folsom, long time low rider friend and talented street festival organizer, Roberto Hernandez, turned his baseball fever into action.  By inviting a bunch of his lowriding homies to join him and his cherry (look it up, hipster) white impala to completely block off the street, Roberto didn’t just scare the living latté out of white passers-by who’d rush off after not feeling very connected to us. He also did 2 other unreported, but very important things.


(with Roberto in his 63 Impala last night on 24th)

First, he provided us, especially the younger among us, that rare glimpse of our collective power before SFPD and other authorities that perpetrate and sanction or do nothing about official crimes like the murder,in nearby Bernal Heights, of Alex Nieto, an unarmed 28 year-old security guard and Giants fan, a crime considered emblematic of the police-as-gentrifier-protection-force that many, many Latinos still living in the Mission know all–too-well.

The heroic SFPD officer of which corporate media and their hipster underlings write in their articles and blogs is not our SFPD officer. Some of us grew up and know another SFPD, an SFPD like that led by former Mayor Dianne Feinstein, who many of us must thank for baptizing us with the batons of institutional violence and racism– and the “journalism” that papers over it with images of so many jailed and beaten “bad guys” our family members in SFPD talk about. Last night, I ran into my cousin’s thirty-something son, who I’d known as a laid back, gentle spirit before he was re-programmed in the police academy. When he saw me, he smiled, fist bumped me and then marched towards a young celebrant, yelling, “Move any closer and you’re gonna get smashed.” The city with division–winning, World Class baseball is also home to World Class divisions of race and class, even within our families.


The other thing Roberto led us in was in momentarily taking us back to that Golden Age Mission where Latinos lived and created the community that gave the world the sublime  sounds of Santana, the sweet sight of murals coloring the neighborhood’s walls and the lyrical fury of a Central America solidarity movement in which a “refugee community,” including its guerrilla poets and other revolutionaries, successfully altered  and defeated the domestic immigration and foreign (spelled “w-a-r”) policies of the most powerful country on earth.


(Roberto Vargas & Alejandro Murguia)

Watching young people climb on stop lights, taunt powerless police and throw bottles at the Google buses carrying the end of Latino-Mission history, one could not help but see the spirit of Mission past claiming its space on 24th street. Watching the annoyed and scared look of the young Resident of the $2 million dollar condo (which used to be garage shop where “El Samurai” painted lowriders) as he waited for hours before the blue–uniformed cavalry arrived to evacuate the brown barbarians from his domain, one could not help but be swept away in a magical moment of poetic justice.

So, yes we are all World Campions today. Yes, we will celebrate on the same physical streets and at the same parade on Friday. But We are the Champions of a different spirit, We are Champions for a different reason. And for one unforgettably exquisite moment last night, we were the Champions of another city, the City you cannot buy your way into, the Free City of the Giants…

Mass Graves, Mass Deportations and Blossoming of Big Hope in América

October 28, 2014


Ever since machine-gun-wielding members of the Mexican military kidnapped, raped and then beheaded her daughter, forcing several members of her family to migrate, my friend Ana María (name changed to protect her) understands all too intimately the deep connection between mass immigration from Mexico and the mass graves that reside there.

Yet, more than most, Ana María is a source of old-fashioned hope. Threatened by her own government and hunted down by drug cartels aligned to that very same government, she was intrepid enough to disguise herself and sneak into a military installation to interrogate a military officer suspected of being involved in the disappearance. She fights on, for the love of her daughter. Ana María’s is the spirit that transforms policies and topples governments, the spirit of América the beautiful, América the borderless.

The murderers are in the palace. (CREDIT: PetrohsW)

When I read, mostly in Spanish (US media is failing us on Mexico), about mass graves and Mexican migrants, I often think of her.

When, as a journalist, I notice how the unprecedented mass mobilizations like last Sunday’s protest in Mexico get none of the media coverage in U.S. media that similar or smaller protests in Hong Kong, Venezuela or other countries with U.S.-funded opposition groups get, I think of her.

And when I wonder, “What happens in the heart of a mother whose child was beheaded by our ‘enemies in Afghanistan,’ ISIL or by our ‘allies” (Saudi  Arabia),” I think about my friend, who lives not in the far-off Middle East, but in Mexico.

Like Ana María, the millions of us who refuse to be walled off from our families, friends and stories just south of us are on the verge of bursting the border of the Washington Consensusthat has long defined both U.S. immigration policy and U.S. foreign policy in Latin America. Here’s why:

  1. Mass graves and mass deportations both impact Latin@ bodies and are both rooted in the same massive problem-posing-as-a-solution: militarism. Bodies in Mexicans mass graves are directly and unambiguously rooted in U.S. policy solutions, centered in U.S. military aid and political support for Mexican security forces. These multibillion dollar policies have failed so badly that even former Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo has joined former Colombian presidents and others to no longer support the “trillion dollar failure” they were once charged with implementing. Similarly, the millions of bodies deported, the hundreds of thousands of bodies jailed and the many bodies killed as a result of U.S. immigration policy under Barack Obama (and his predecessors Bill Clinton and George W. Bush) are the direct result of a major militarization of migration policy. This “boots-on-the-ground,”  “border-security first” approach to policy makes the U.S. immigration bureaucracy a larger recipient of taxpayer dollars than the FBI, the DEA, ATF, the (very challenged) Secret Service and all other federal criminal law enforcement agencies—combined. As a result, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency is breaking deportation, Latino imprisonment and other records of all previous administrations—combined. These colossal failures of policy, the bodies of our loved ones murdered, deported and disappeared, connect in the most intimate way.
  1. Failed U.S. immigration and failed drug war policies are both premised on the same cheapening of human life that Mexicans, U.S. Latinos and others cannot and will not allow to continue. Throughout the region, more are understanding what some of us understood in the 1980′s, when we saw U.S.-backed military dictatorships using media to perpetually dehumanize youth and other opposition: you can’t pass devastating policy against or kill those you see as human. But now this most social media so interconnected of generations will continue to aggressively to expose the role of too many media outlets: the dehumanizing attack dog that cheapens the lives of migrants, the disenfranchised and the student-led movements that defend the voiceless. The selective editing out and framing that defines who is human and who is hated will soon become apparent to others besides policy wonks. Especially problematic for Obama, Enrique Peña Nieto and the Miami-based “Washington Consensus” on Latin America is this troublesome fact: Mexico’s government kills more students in a few days than Venezuela, Cuba, Bolivia, Ecuador & other U.S. “enemies” do in the entire year—combined. “Ayotzinapa” is IndigeSpanglish for “U.S. Latin American policy is an abomination that must end.”
  1. Student-driven, mass mobilizations will force the hand of Presidents Obama, Peña Nieto and the U.S military—industrial interests behind the failed immigration and drug war policies. Historians of the Obama era in the U.S. and in Mexico will highlight one major commonality shared by youth in both countries: a total lack of faith in existing political parties and political systems. Youth activism on immigration and around what —before the current “age of (small group) terrorism– we used to call “state terror” reflects the increasingly deep-seated belief in pursuing social change beyond ballot box and on the streets. As a result, students on both sides of the border will start connecting their issues, as seen in immigration activism of more left-leaning DREAMers or during the 2012 Caravan for Peace, in which students and others from Mexico and the U.S. traveled to 26 U.S. cities to make incisive and unprecedented connections between the “drug war” and immigration, incarceration, police violence and other issues.

“I never saw myself speaking out,” Ana María sometimes tells me , adding “but all that changed after what they [the Mexican government] did to my daughter.”

Increasingly, many average Mexicans and even cross-border pop icons like the musical groupManá or soccer star Chicharito are following Ana María’s example, speaking out about immigration and mass murder. Sadly, Ana Maria and others say, U.S. policy continues to produce more Ana Marías.

The silver lining in this coming cloud is that more of us will encounter more voices that will remind us of what’s possible if we do the necessary and urgent work of linking the tragic dots of Latin American life in the region. And more of us will be inspired by people moved to transform and topple governments, people moved to do the impossible because they experienced the unimaginable.

Mass Murder in Mexico Demands Greater Awakening in US

October 8, 2014


Reading about Mexico reminds me of El Salvador. Older Salvadoran sensations —the smell of rotting flesh mixed with the sweet fragrance of almond trees, the sight of young faces burned into half skeletons that look like the masks our kids wear for Halloween, the unforgettably sad sound of a dead student’s mother screaming without ceasing—  insinuate themselves as I read other stories about the mass graves of Mexican students killed by their government. This news affects me differently from the nonstop reports about the more “sanitized” warfare of drone strikes against “terrorists.” One major difference: my stomach knots as I read the articles about this latest mass killing in Mexico, a country that barely had a military in the 1980′s, when those Salvadoran almond trees became the trees of the knowledge of good and evil.

The difference in reading experience mirrors the difference between our news and perceptions about Mexico and our news and perceptions about other Latin American countries. Even though no country is closer to us in terms of sharing both a border and a massive population of its nationals living here, mass murders by Mexico’s government are reported, read and treated far differently than real and alleged human rights violations in other countries in the hemisphere—all of which spells more terrible news for Mexico, and for many of us here.


In Mexico, our failure to recognize the real dimensions the Mexican crisis means we’re blind to an equally disturbing fact: our government’s continued use of our tax dollars in the Drug War pay for the training, guns and bullets that slaughtered those students. This despite the fact that some of the same former Mexican presidents who received billions to fight that same Drug War now say that that war is a trillion dollar failure of titanic proportions. Less heard are the cries of the families of the students buried in the mass graves of Guerrero, who join Mexico’s more than 80,000 Drug War dead, thousands of whom were journalists, priests, human rights advocates and others whom like the students, were killed by government security forces we help fund. Viewed through a regional hemispheric lens, the children and young people migrating here from Mexico and Central America are walking, talking reminders of our utterly failed and extremely biased policies in the region.

Earlier this year, I traveled to Venezuela several times to cover the widely-reported conflicts there. I did so because I sensed something was not quite kosher about U.S. media reporting on students in Venezuela, who, instead of following the tradition of fighting U.S.-funded projects like those in Mexico, are actually the recipients of U.S. funding. After reading this week’s violence in Mexico, the journalist in me couldn’t  help but ask, “What would happen if police or other security forces of the Venezuelan government killed 43 students and buried them in a mass grave?” 

The journalist’s answer I came up with is informed by what we saw during last summer’s upheavals: high profile denunciations by global human rights organizations, interviews with Venezuelans in Miami and front page headlines with the word “Killings” as the operative verbs next to sentence subjects and objects like “Students” and “Maduro Government.”

On one September day just two weeks ago, an estimated 43 students are alleged to have been disappeared and killed by Mexican police linked to drug cartels. That is equal to the total number of people killed in Venezuela during the 2014 protests—at least half were allegedly killed by paramilitaries and students opposed to the Venezuelan government. All 43 in Venezuela were killed over the course of not one day, but 160 days or four months. Looking at the media coverage and the official responses from government and non-governmental institutions, one would think that Venezuela was Mexico or wartime El Salvador. Such a distorted understanding of regional realities among the citizenry of such a powerful country enables those perpetrating slaughter in Mexico to continue doing so.

Despite all this terrible news, I do think that the radical disproportion in both reporting and policymaking circles will soon face a major challenge: students themselves. In line with the Salvadoran and U.S. youth who altered U.S. policy in El Salvador and following the dynamic activism of students leading social movements around the world, the young people of Mexico are showing great courage before their country’s critical situation. With millions of DREAMers and other U.S. students and others engaged with Mexico through familial relationships, it’s only a matter of time before the same kind of activism that fought and exposed the two million deportations and other devastating immigration policies of the Obama Administration starts to inform Obama and the next U.S. president’s foreign policy in Mexico.

Such a combination —Mexican and U.S. youth joining forces to stop the madness— has the potential to change not just Mexico, but the United States, as we are witnessing with the decline and fall of traditional Republican and Democratic party immigration politics. Increasingly, Latinos are and will continue engaging far and beyond the ballot box, beyond the sterile, suffocating smell of the militarized border as the winds of the south awaken us with a deeper knowledge of the good and evil hidden in the smell of almond trees.


Roberto Lovato is a writer and a Visiting Scholar at UC Berkeley’s Center for Latino Policy Research. You can follow Roberto on Twitter @robvato.

Roberto Lovato Moving On From

June 12, 2014



Dear Friends

Greetings and good wishes to you.

Since 2009, I have served as Strategist for, an organization I am proud to have (co)founded. I’m writing to let you know that I will no longer be working in that capacity. I have accepted an invitation to be a research fellow and scholar at UC Berkeley’s Center for Latino Policy Research, and will also continue my journalism and other writing projects. Other endeavors are about to come to fruition and will be announced shortly.

Though the immense challenges we designed to face are hardly resolved, I leave the organization contented that our community has a longer list accomplishments with which to draw inspiration from as we continue our historic fight. At a time when the enterprise of “hope” and “change” have been twisted and humiliated to serve Power,, with the support and solidarity of allies throughout the country, delivered real hope and concrete change,  : Lou Dobbs, the single most powerful anti-immigrant person in the United States, and the media company he co-founded,CNN, no longer enjoy millions in daily profits from the hatred of immigrants and Latinos on primetime national television;  The Associated Press stylebook-the stylistic bible for journalists and media organizations throughout the world–has tossed the term “illegal immigrants” and its derivatives into the the dustbin of decrepit, discriminatory words;  A Latino-led online organization with zero members in 2009 now has close to 350,000 members and Latino and other communities have a model for technological and political behavior;, a multi-issue, consciously-left organization made it known that Latinos are concerned about and engaged with issues like criminal justice, LGBTQ rights, police violence, network neutrality, climate change, drug policy, workers rights, women’s rights, and, of course immigration; The Trail of DREAMs, a little-known group of 4 intrepid youth, helped focus attention on the need for President Obama to stop the deportation crisis; Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio was exposed in and forced to change his anti-immigrant positions as Latinos across the United States clamored “No Somos Rubios”; The historic Caravan for Peace established an unprecedented example of a different kind of solidarity that addresses issues on both sides of the border; Since we began in 2009, when most were delirious with the certifiably false promises of “comprehensive immigration reform”and its backers who were covering the Bush-era policies leading to the current immigration crisis, joined those leading the immigrant rights movement -NDLON, NIYA and others on the left of the immigrant rights movement- to focus the country’s and the Administration’s attention on the deportation and detention crisis that began and continues the Obama legacy. Before, people ignored deportations and we were attacked and in the minority opinion. We leave  in the majority of Latino opinion, as an polls and the recent, though stilted, movements of the Democrats and President Obama towards deportation relief indicate.

Most importantly, during my tenure with Presente, we helped create a powerful and independent voice in the Latino community and in the larger community. At its best, echoed the dignity and aspirations of millions of Latinos and their allies who resist the corruption, cowardice and mediocrity that made too much of what we call “immigrant rights” and “Latino politics” subservient to corporate, philanthropic, non-profit and party politic agendas. These powerful interests–Republican and Democrat and their allies–may or may not have liked, its independence or its imaginative campaigns, but they learned to respect and, sometimes, even fear our honesty and the singular integrity of our pursuit of justice. We need look no further than the immigrant condition–and at the Washington DC politics that define that condition– to see the very urgent need to continue the kind independent, bold and imaginative vision that embodied.

It has been my honor to have led the development of and its strategies and I am especially grateful to all the compañer@s inside and outside the organization whose unconditional support made possible the many victories we delivered to our community. Much love to you all and I look forward to continuing the work with you.

Un fuerte abrazo de tu amigo y compañero,


Roberto Lovato


Why the Media Are Giving a Free Pass to Venezuela’s Neo-Fascist Creeps

April 1, 2014

Luis García Britto
Luis García Britto (Reuters/Carlos Garcia Rawlins)


April 1, 2014


The novelist, essayist, historian and playwright Luis Britto García is a titan of Latin American literature and thought, though he’s not nearly as well known on this side of the cultural border between “America” the country and América the continent. Many consider this prize-winning author the most important writer and intellectual in Venezuela. In addition to his novels and many other books on language, culture and politics, Britto García has written extensively on the role of the media in Venezuelan politics. Earlier this month,Nation contributor Roberto Lovato met with Britto García, 73, in his home in Caracas to talk about the role of the media in the current conflict.

Roberto Lovato: You’ve written a lot about the media and politics in Venezuela. How are the media behaving in the current conflict?

Luis Britto García: The current situation in Venezuela has a historical context that must be understood. During the previous coup attempt, in 2002, the television networks in particular played a determining role in what amounted to a media coup. The media themselves became political actors, something I’ve documented in my book Media Dictatorship [2012]. Just consider, for example, how the Carmona decree—in which the coup leaders essentially gutted the Constitution—was signed by representatives of the major media. This same media also edited out images, stories and facts that didn’t fit their narrative.  During the coup, the television crews even showed up before the repressive acts were performed by the coup leaders.

And how are things similar or different today?

In this current coup attempt, the television networks have adopted a different tone, but the radio and social media and international press are playing a leading role, using images of repression in Egypt, Syria, the United States and other countries to depict supposed repression in Venezuela. Look, for example, how a few hundred violent students come to symbolize “students,” “youth” and “the country.”

Are you saying images of rock-throwing, tire-burning youth are inaccurate or fake?

No. I’m saying we’re a country of 29 million inhabitants. I’m saying that in Venezuela, nine and a half million Venezuelans are studying. Of these, more than 2.5 million are in higher education. What does that mean? That almost one in ten Venezuelans are in higher education. The overwhelming majority of them are in perpetually free institutions. This whole image that the media try to convey of a “student rebellion,” which [jailed opposition leader] Leopoldo López tries to project—the image that all youth are against the government, against [President Nicolás] Maduro, against Bolivarianism—is absolutely false. Yes, clearly there are young people who are against the government, for various reasons. We’re a free country, and people can think however they like. But it’s just a fraction, a small minority of the entire student population—something the international media aren’t reporting.

And what else do you see being edited out of the current Venezuela story in the media?

There’s an important split in the right that is also not being reported. To begin with, they’ve lost eighteen of the last nineteen major elections—and they’ve protested all of them, except the single referendum that they won. It’s also important to point out that López is being projected as the latest in a long line of messiahs of the right, even though he doesn’t even pull together the vast majority of the [voters] of the right. The right supported [former presidential candidate Henrique] Capriles Radonski in three elections, and he lost all of them. In the internal elections of the right, López ended up in third place; I think he got something like 2 percent of eligible voters. So, like I told you, the right wing in Venezuela is very divided. It plays with a messiah who’s going to hand them an instant paradise, and if he doesn’t do it, they become disillusioned, disenchanted with him, which is precisely what will happen with López, who has a strong rift with Capriles. López and his ally, María Corina Machado, another extreme right-winger, have chosen the option of desperate street violence. Capriles, meanwhile, has cautioned against “generating false expectations of change through street actions.”

So how did Capriles and López come to prominence?

There was a collapse of the traditional parties. From this void emerged the idea of founding another right-wing party. Study the rise of Capriles, López and their right-wing parties, and you see how weird politics in Venezuela are.

What do you mean?

Before becoming leaders of the right, López and Capriles spent part of their youth in an almost comical group called “Tradition, Family and Property.” It was a fanatical fascist group, somewhere between a religious and a political organization. They used to stand out on street corners of urban neighborhoods with large Superman-style red capes, berets, things like that. It was this ultra-super-reactionary, right-wing group. Yes, red-caped, like Superman! From there, they became the right-wing Primero Justicia [Justice First] party, which arose out of a television show begun by a lawyer named Julio Borges [now leader of Primero Justicia].

A television show? You mean that Primero Justicia, one of the most important parties of the right and a party that WikiLeaks cables tell us was partly funded for more than a decade by the United States through the National Endowment for Democracy, actually started thanks to a TV show?

Yes. Out of nowhere, all of the sudden Borges has a show on television that’s calledJustice for All. It was a show where he played the role of a justice of the peace, and plaintiffs were brought before him. These are often neighbors suing each other, and he tries to offer a sort of charismatic mediation of disputes. [In the show they] had the litigants pass through a narrow hallway so that they would run into each other, getting into fights and hitting each other.

Sounds like court shows in the United States.

Yes, it’s copied from reality shows in the United States. The curious thing, however, is that this program was converted into a political party under the leadership of Julio Borges. From Justice for All, Borges and his allies created Primero Justicia. The right needed something like a political right wing, because the social democratic and the social Christian parties that have traditionally dominated Venezuelan politics were so discredited that they didn’t constitute a force any longer. This new party was developed on one side by Capriles, and on the other side by López. So, the media also had a role in helping to create the current leaders and splits in the right.

Are you saying that the strategy and tactics of the right have an element of political and media theater? In a way. Look at the violent actions like grabbing and holding middle-class people prisoners in neighborhoods with barricades called guarimbas. I’ve never understood it. This “strategy” was “invented” by a Cuban-Venezuelan named Robert Alonso, brother of a Hollywood actress, Maria Conchita Alonso, who did a movie with Schwarzenegger. Mr. Alonso invented the guarimba as a way for a fractious minority to gain media attention by shutting off the street. They chuck trash or debris or waste so that their neighbors can’t get in our out. It gets media attention, but also immobilizes the right, a real political marvel. The guarimberos are cutting themselves off from the very people who could support the right. You hear the complaints, but not in the news reports. So what are you thinking, shutting down, burning down your own neighborhoods?

What do you think will happen?

We’ve seen a lot of this before. The cameras like the guarimbas, but, looked at from within the country, it’s a ludicrous political action. Insane. They tried this out before, in 2004, and it failed. They’ve had political messiahs like Leopoldo López, most of whom have been forgotten. You saw the future in the recent Carnaval celebrations. The right called for a boycott of Carnaval. The poor rejected their call and filled the beaches and the streets with their celebrations. Yet again, the international media didn’t take notice. The Colombian novelist William Ospina says that in the entire world, the rich celebrate and the poor protest. Only in Venezuela do the poor celebrate and the rich protest.

Fauxccupy : sous les masques de Guy Fawkes de l’opposition vénézuélienne

March 16, 2014

Caracas – Les news et l’imagerie disponibles sur le Venezuela de ces dernières semaines mèneraient l’homme de la rue à conclure que les jeunes d’opposition sont des “manifestants pacifiques” dans la lignée de l’activisme global des jeunesses du “printemps arabe”, du mouvement Occupy ou d’autres pays d’Amérique Latine. Une telle conclusion serait erronée tant les informations sur le Venezuela relèvent de pratiques journalistiques très contestables, sur une échelle sans précédent.

pour Roberto Lovato

Qu’on considère, par exemple, les personnes tuées dans les deux camps. Les médias privés (en anglais ou en espagnol) ont omis de couvrir les huit (et plus) victimes pro-chavistes des violences perpétrées par les étudiants ou par le reste de la droite. Aucun n’enquête sur les dénonciations selon lesquelles les morts sont en majorité imputables à l’opposition. Le gommage radical des victimes pro-chavistes est surprenant.

L’image ci-dessus montre, par exemple, des membres de la droite vénézuélienne tendant un fil barbelé qui a décapité un cycliste innocent, Rafael Durán de La Rosa, mort omise par la plupart des médias. Autre exemple du silence, l’assassinat de l’étudiante chilienne Gisella Rubiar le 9 mars à Mérida, tombée sous les balles de militants d’extrême droite alors qu’elle tentait de dégager une rue obstruée par leur barricade.

Un autre aspect de ce traitement très spécial des médias sur le Venezuela concerne les images des masques de Guy Fawkes, symbole des mouvements anti-capitalistes popularisé par Hollywood et, plus récemment, par les manifestations du mouvement Occupy.

La semaine dernière j’ai interviewé des membres de l’opposition, parmi lesquels des dizaines de jeunes. Presque tous ceux-ci sont des étudiants de classe moyenne et supérieure vivant dans les quartiers ultra-élitaires de Caracas, les plus riches des Amériques. Lorsque je leur demandai s’ils se définissaient comme “anarchistes” ou “marxistes” ou comme partisans d’une des idéologies qui ont caractérisé la plupart des oppositions historiques ou actuelles dans la région, ces étudiants ont uniformément répondu par la négative, certains y allant parfois d’un “para nada !” (“pas du tout !”) ou d’équivalents espagnols de “Jamais de la vie !”

Certains des interviewés m’ont dit s’identifier à des militaires tels que le Généralissime Marcos Pérez Jiménez, ancien et très répudié dictateur. Ils se sont également reconnus dans l’opposition vénézuélienne, emmenée par trois membres de l’élite du pays —Henrique Capriles, María Corina Machado et Leopoldo Lopez— tous trois impliqués dans le coup d’État de 2002 contre Hugo Chávez et possédant des liens familiaux direct avec les propriétaires ou les plus hauts dirigeants des plus importants conglomérats privés du Venezuela et du continent.

Or, si l’opposition du Venezuela est dirigée par des milliardaires dans un pays pauvre et si, au lieu de combattre les initiatives multi-millionaires de la politique des USA (comme le font la plupart des mouvements latino-américains), cette opposition reçoit des millions de dollars du département d’État, comment comprendre toutes ces images d’étudiants portant un symbole associé aux mouvements de gauche ?

La réponse est triple. La première est que l’idée de porter ce masque face aux caméras fait partie de la très sophistiquée formation aux médias que les étudiants ont reçue de OTPOR/CANVAS et d’autres consultantsloués avec les millions de dollars US. La deuxième est que des étudiants commettant des violences et qui craignent les sanctions ont besoin de se cacher. Enfin, c’est la logique du marché, il y a des personnes achetant des masques parce que c’est cool ou d’autres qui y voient une aubaine commerciale, comme j’ai pu l’observer dans les photos que j’ai prises la semaine passée.

Sans analyser de près l’imagerie dominante, sans examen minutieux de ce qu’est l’opposition vénézuélienne, on risquerait de la confondre avec quelque chose comme le Che Guevara ou Occupy ou le Printemps Arabe. Mais avec des dirigeants de la droite étudiante comme Lorent Saleh, lié aux paramilitaires de l’ex-président Uribe et à des groupes néo-nazis colombiens (voir El Espectador du 21/7/13) (1) ou Yon Goicochea qui a reçu les 500.000 dollars du prix “Milton Friedman” et d’autres financements privés ou gouvernementaux des États-Unis, il y a beaucoup plus derrière les masques de Guy Fawkes au Venezuela que ceux que nous laissent voir les médias. Et peut-être que nous voyons naître quelque chose de nouveau et radicalement différent dans le continent insurgé de l’Amérique : Fauxccupy

Roberto Lovato…

Roberto Lovato est écrivain, journaliste et co-Fondateur de, une des principales associations on-line de défense des droits des immigrants latino-américains aux États-Unis. Une de ses enquêtes sur l’exploitation des travailleurs immigrés à New Orleans après les ravages de Katrina, Gulf Coast Slaves, a servi de matériel pour une enquête du Congrès. Producteur de programmes de radio et collaborateur régulier de dizaines de médias dont Nation magazine et Huffington PostLire son blog. Twitter : @robvato.

Photos : Roberto Lovato

Traduction de l’anglais : Thierry Deronne

Fauxccupy: The Selling and Buying of the Venezuelan Opposition

March 15, 2014


MARCH 13, 2014 BY 
EDITOR’S NOTE: Latino Rebels contributor Roberto Lovato visited Venezuela last week and wrote the following opinion piece. As of this morning, according to reports, the death toll resulting from the protests in Venezuela is at 25. The most recent violent events have occurredin San Cristóbal, near the Venezuela/Colombia border.


CARACAS—Reports and imagery coming out of Venezuela in the past weeks would lead the casual observer to conclude that the country’s youthful opposition are “peaceful protesters” following a long line of global youth activism seen during the Arab Spring, the Occupy movement or in other parts of Latin America. Such a conclusion would be false, as the news from Venezuela’s protests contains journalistic practices that are very questionable and on an unprecedented scale.

Consider, for example, how both sides have killed people. The corporate media (both in English and in Spanish) have failed to cover the eight (or more) pro-Chavista victims of student and other opposition violence. No one is investigating claims that the majority of the killings were committed by the opposition. The radical erasure of pro-Chavista victims is astonishing. The following image, for instance, allegedly shows Venezuelan opposition students setting up barbed wire that beheaded an innocent cyclist, 29 year-old Elvis Rafael Durán de La Rosa, whose death eluded most global media.


Another example used in the carefully curated Venezuela media reports pertains to the images of rock-bearing youth wearing Guy Fawkes masks, a popular symbol of anti-capitalist movements, thanks to a Hollywood movie and, more recently, the Occupy protests.

Last week, I conducted interviews with opposition members, including dozens of opposition youth. Amost all of the youth were middle- to upper-class university students living in middle-class to ultra-elite neighborhoods of Caracas, the wealthiest in the Americas. Asked it they identified with  ”anarchists,” “Marxists”  or any of the other oppositional ideologies that have historically and which still define most opposition movements in the region, these students uniformly responded in the negative, with some even throwing in a “para nada!” or other Spanish equivalents of “hell no!”

Some interviewed even told me they identified with military men like El Generalísimo Marcos Pérez Jiménez, a much reviled former dictator. They also identified with Venezuela’s opposition, led by three elites —Henrique Capriles, María Corina Machado and Leopoldo Lopez— all of whom have direct familial ties to either the owners or top executives of the most important corporate conglomerates in Venezuela and the entire continent.

So ask the following question: If the Venezuelan opposition is led by millionaires in a poor country and if instead of fighting multi-million dollar US policy initiatives (as do most Latin American opposition movements) the Venezuelan opposition is receiving million$ from US policy, how do we account for all those images of students wearing a symbol associated with and used by leftist movements?

The answer is threefold. One is that the mask-wearing is part of the very sophisticated media training the students (and the opposition) received from OTPOR/CANVAS and other consultants bought with millions of US dollars. Second, students engaging in violent acts or those who fear retribution need cover. Finally, there is the logic of the market—people buying the masks because they’re cool and because someone saw a chance to make a buck, which is what I mostly documented in the photos I took last week.



(Photos: Roberto Lovato)

Without closely analyzing the imagery and careful curation of the Venezuelan opposition, one would conclude that this opposition is just like Che Guevara or Occupy or the Arab Spring. And with Venezuelan student opposition leaders like Yon Goicochea receiving the $500,000 Milton Friedman prize and other funding from private sources as well as from the U.S. government, there’s much more behind the Guy Fawkes masks in Venezuela than meets the media eye. And we may be witnessing the birth of something altogether new and radically different in the insurgent continent of América: Fauxccupy.


Roberto Lovato is a writer and dissonant dude. You can read more at his blog. You can also follow him on Twitter @robvato.


For Lulu: You Get What You Pay for in Venezuela-and Online

March 14, 2014

“Lulu,” one of many supporters of the Venezuelan opposition, recently tweeted complaints about my article titled “Fauxccupy: The Selling and Buying of the Venezuelan Opposition,” an article about how the Guy Fawkes masked worn by many youths of the opposition seems odd in a social movement led by millionaires and made up of middle to upper income people in a largely poor country. More specifically, Lulu challenged me about the vendor of the masks pictured here:

fauxccupy v

Curiously, Lulu questioned whether I’d even spoken to the woman and her life, while at the same time generously offering to host me in her (Lulu’s) home. The mix of her sincerity and the kind gesture informed my response, something I don’t bother to give most online right wing Venezuelan trolls whose invective and propagandistic repetition doesn’t even inspire a fart for an answer to one of her questions about the woman in the pic:

lulu ilulu ii

Not being able to tweet the pics I took bc they were too big, I am answering Lulu here by saying yes, I did interview her and she had a lot to say about a lot of things, including her poverty and what she thought of the middle to upper class, mostly white people protesting and buying the Guy Fawkes masks that most poor people “couldn’t afford and didn’t want them.” And she also had some choice words and body language for them…(expletives deleted)

altamira ii

(Fotos by Roberto Lovato)

Venezuela’€™s opposition is united against Maduro, but internally divided

March 7, 2014
History suggests it may be difficult to overthrow a Venezuelan government without support from the country’€™s have-nots


Cristian Hernandez/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

CARACAS — His face and muscular arms sweating, hands dirtied from the sand-filled sugar bags he dragged toward the makeshift rampart blocking half of his street, Emilio Palacios’ immediate political struggle was with his mother. “No, Mama, no!” he yelled toward his mother, Maria Bravo, a longtime resident of the Chacaito district of Venezuela’s capital. “No!” he repeated, after hearing her tell Al Jazeera that the purpose of the barricade under construction in front of their apartment was “getting rid of this government.”

Measuring his words, he offered a different explanation. “We’re here as students to protest against the insecurity in the country and scarcity and the killing of students by the National Guard,” said Palacios, an engineering student at Central University. “This is not a protest against the government. We’re sending a message to the government.”

“OK. We have differences,” responded Bravo, a 48-year-old publicity and marketing executive, while sitting in a plastic lounge chair alongside her dog, Bruno, who almost knocked over a makeshift sign saying “Resistencia SOS Venezuela.”

On the anniversary of the death of socialist President Hugo Chavez, his successor, Nicolas Maduro, faces the biggest challenge to his 10-month-old government. Demonstrators frustrated by a long string of electoral defeats in municipal, gubernatorial and presidential election challenges to the Chavistas are exploring new strategies: taking to the streets to demand Maduro’s resignation as a solution for rampant crime and food shortages. But history suggests it may be difficult to overthrow a Venezuelan government without support from the country’s have-nots, and they have yet to be seen mimicking the burning of garbage or smashing of concrete seen in more well-off neighborhoods.

“Yes, we’re here to support the students, to protest the waiting in lines for food like we were in Cuba,” Bravo continued. “But we’ll be in the streets until this nefarious government, until this dictatorship goes, until Maduro renounces!” Asked how the crisis affects her well-groomed mixed sheepdog, she said, “Four kilos of dog food costs 400 bolivares ($63). Four hundred bolivares! Absurdo!”

A visibly tense Emilio raised his eyebrows, nodded his head from left to right and rushed down the street to continue gathering tree trunks and sugar bags to fortify the barricade. The lines of burning garbage, rocks and dead trees were not clearly drawn. Neither are the political divisions within Venezuela’s opposition.

The family argument between Palacios and Bravo reflects wider differences in the opposition involving politics, strategy and tactics over the protests and street clashes that have left 18 dead, including some Chavistas. While Chavez built the base of his movement among Venezuela’s poor and working class, the current protests are centered in middle- and upper-class neighborhoods. The movement challenging Maduro is led by wealthy and privileged individuals, some of whose photographs feature regularly on the society pages of El Universal and other newspapers. And they seem unable to agree on whether change will be achieved via the ballot box and negotiation or through insurrection and violence — and also on who should lead the opposition. What they are united over is their desire to end crime and shortages, but also to reverse the Chavez legacy of major government spending in housing, education and other social programs, limits on profits that can be made by companies and other socialist initiatives.

The most visible leaders of the opposition — former presidential candidate Henrique Capriles, the telegenic Harvard-educated former mayor of Chacao Leopoldo Lopez and Lopez’s closest ally, Maria Corina Machado — all hail from families that own or have powerful positions with conglomerates in media, food and other industries. All are connected to middle- and upper-class student groups currently protesting in the streets of Caracas. And WikilLeaks cables suggest that the key protest groups have, over many years, been the beneficiaries of hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. “democracy promotion” assistance.

Despite efforts to project unity at recent rallies and marches, deep differences divide the opposition. Lopez and Machado are seen as promoting the more confrontational street actions to end Chavismo, but other opposition leaders fear that those tactics will alienate the larger public. Some opposition leaders even called for a moratorium on protests out of respect for commemorations of Chavez this week — a call that was ignored by student leaders and Machado.

Capriles and his key allies, including a number of industrialists, are more inclined to press for negotiations with Maduro, signaling discomfort with the more radical approach of the unyielding “Salida” (“Exit”) call by Lopez, Machado and many student groups on the streets who demand Maduro’s ouster. Capriles ally Lorenzo Mendoza, one of the wealthiest people in Venezuela, recently stood alongside Maduro to report on the National Conference for Peace, convened by the president and attended by leaders in politics and industry. “This is a convening to build a peace agenda,” declared a solemn Mendoza to a national audience.

Statements like Mendoza’s also reflect growing discomfort on the right with some of the student violence, like that which ended the life of Santiago Henrique Pedroza Longa. He was a 29-year-old motorcyclist who was beheaded by barbed wire put up by students at the behest of a pro-opposition retired general who had tweeted instructions on how to “neutralize the criminal hordes on bikes.”

And then there are the more radical student activists who distrust the close ties between fellow student groups and well-connected, well-heeled leaders of the political parties. “Leopoldo Lopez is a prefabricated martyr engaged in political theater designed to promote him as the new leader of the opposition,” said Joshua Cespedes, a 20-year-old working-class student protester and member of the Organization of Nationalist Students (ORDEN). “Capriles is the same, but he’s losing ground to him because people on our side are getting desperate and want quick solutions,” he said on Sunday at an opposition protest, standing next to a colleague hiding his face behind large, dark shades and a black poster with big white letters saying “Negotiation = Submission.”

Cespedes and other youth founded ORDEN after concluding that “politics in Venezuela is controlled by international interests. The opposition is controlled by the U.S. and Obama, and the government by Cuba. So the only solution is a nationalist solution.”

ORDEN traces its nationalist legacy to El Generalissimo Marcos Perez Jimenez, a former dictator, whose repressive policies eventually brought about his demise. Many years and several political defeats later, Perez Jimenez’s legacy still brings division to the right. After unfurling a banner with a picture of the smiling generalissimo, members of ORDEN were violently challenged by supporters of rival opposition groups during a widely televised opposition gathering on Jan. 23, 2013. “We were beaten with our own flags, punched, kicked at and dragged out of the conference — all at the hands of our ‘allies,’” said Cespedes. Despite the internal tensions, he said, he and the other members of ORDEN will “continue to organize and agitate in the streets.”

Striking a philosophical pose about the possibility of continued student clashes with Venezuelan government forces, 62-year-old Edith Mujica, Secretary for Organization for Caracas in Primero Justicia — the political party founded by both Lopez and Capriles — worried that the continued confrontation will not yield the desired results. “We may learn that all this excitement in the streets turns out to be an error,” said Mujica. “We might actually end up looking like we don’t want peace. We may even end up strengthening Maduro and the Chavistas. And we all agree we don’t want to do anything to make them stronger than they already are.”

Stilling Words for Turbulent Times From Julia de Burgos

August 15, 2013
Reading the feral poetry of  Julia de Burgos, delving with her into the wide world of her courage, I’m obligated to reverberate. She writes of water and stills the soul like the calmest river; She sings to Love as if snatching our breath.The audacity and honesty of poems like “A Julia de Burgos” reminds me of who and how we are or aspire to be, with wonderful words like these:

Tú eres como tu mundo, egoísta;
yo no; que en todo me lo juego a ser lo que soy yo.

Written during a turbulent time in Puerto Rican & global history, De Burgos’s poem overflows with wisdom to face the turbulence of our own times. She reminds us, for example, of how, In order to rescue Hope, the severely ravaged, always necessary fount of any real and lasting change, we must of necessity heal our society, heal our selves. The rape of the soul , the radical global ambition of the absolute lie perpetrated by the extraordinarily powerful forces masked by trillion dollar machinery of “Hope” we face has no historical precedent.
Good news is this: if you can find the solace and social solution to confront & defeat the Falsity Within, you are or will be, in historical terms, quite the Bad Ass, a Julia De Burgos of your own turbulent times. And the world desperately needs the baddest bad asses in our bad selves right about now.

Gracias por recordarnos, Julia.

Breathing in Our Dead and the Spirit of Immigration Reform

August 13, 2013


Of all our senses, the one that can most alter U.S. immigration history — and U.S. history itself — is our sense of smell. If we could, for example, magically bring the smell in the freezers of the Pima County Medical Examiner’s office to politicians, advocates and voters on either side of the immigration debate, the current bipartisan push for a “border surge” would die faster than a cricket stung by a scorpion in the extremely arid stretch of desert known as the “Devil’s Highway.”

I visited the Medical Examiner’s office and the Devil’s Highway, where most of the bodies of the migrants tagged “John Doe” were recovered, as part of the film project produced by with the help of filmmaker Jason Michael Aragon of Pan Left Productions. Our goal: to document the impact of border security policies on communities living and working — and traveling — in and around border towns like Tucson.

“Don’t stay in [the freezer] too long,” Dr. Gregory Hess, the very gregarious and straight-laced Chief Medical Examiner, told us as if he were Virgil warning Dante against being too curious about the Inferno. “We try to get in and out as quickly as possible. After a few minutes in there, the smell will stick to your clothes — and it’s hard to wash out.” Forty-five minutes of filming later, we more than understood the cold wisdom Dr. Hess was dropping on us.

What we didn’t yet understand was what the smell of 100 decomposing bodies does to your spirit long after you get the smell out of your clothes. Almost two weeks later, my time in the freezer inspires thoughts of how spiritus, the Latin word for “spirit” and “soul,” is directly related to spirare, the Latin word for “breath”, “vigor” and what in spanish we call “animo.”

Breathing in the spirits of the dead causes an intense conflict in the stomach, a conflict between profound sadness and the amino to live and fight on. Hess’ matter-of-fact statements add even more tightness in the belly.

“Previous attempts to increase border security have not decreased the number of bodies we see here in the freezer,” Hess told us. “In June, we registered more than 30 deaths, a very significant increase.”

In the fight to end border militarization and what activists in Tucson and other border states call the “border overkill” at the heart of comprehensive immigration reform, nothing in Tucson or anywhere else matches the persuasive power of the smells emanating from the stiff, dehydrated and decomposing dreams stored in white body bags; Not Hess’ map with the red dots signifying locations of the more than 6,000 immigrants who have died from heat and dehydration in the desert since “increased border security” began in earnest in 1994; Not the scholarly reports on Hess’ bookshelf with titles like “A Continued Humanitarian Crisis at the Border”; Not the colorful crosses used in protests against “border militarization” and “racial profiling” of entire border communities; Not even the tears and pain-packed words of mothers like Guadalupe Guerrero who told us about how her unarmed U.S. citizen son, Carlos, was shot and killed by Border Patrol agents. None of these facts and stories match the gut-wrenching smell I first came to know in the 1980s and ’90s, when the war in El Salvador filled “fosas comunes” (mass graves) with the skeletons and dirt-filled clothes of with victims of war.

Two weeks after I visited Tucson, the smell in the freezer inspires the will to peace, the necessary will to end the war — in this case, the war on immigrants. In the same way that smells and steam of desert plants like the ceresote, sage or the hediondilla (literally “little smelly one”) plant have long been used by local native and Mexican people as curative plants that relieve gut-wrenching pain and discomfort and other ailments, the smell of the freezer can and should cure us of the disease of “border security.” And in doing so, we will have made the bodies of the desert dead in the bags a little less anonymous — and a little more like the long line of peacemakers in the desert.

This post appeared originally on See hard-hitting new video by & Jason Michael Aragon of Panleft Productions:

El Turno del Ofendido (The Offended’s Turn): Liberación Consciousness on 4th of July

July 6, 2013

corazon revolucionario

(NOTE: Best read while listening to the hope-filled song that, along with Roque Dalton’s El Turno del Ofendido & the ferocious spiritual and physical freedom fighting of all my Compañer@s de Lucha, inspired these lines, What You Say by Pete Rock & InI <Thanks, Ali!>

Liberacíon consciousness on 4th of July weekend: celebrate the absolutely undeniable, certifiably good and positively righteous fact that, despite the uber, techno-mediafied surveilling Big Mega Corporate-Military-Industrial Money domination of it all, despite the illusory psychological operation of this super duper f…n anti-terrorist-militarized-border-anti-human climate changing empire power, despite all that pointing at each and every single one of us, despite it all, liberation consciousness lives,  Liberacíon movements grow. Millions of us still really really feel “Venceremos” (Victory is Ours) as we fight thru the duration. So, rather than celebrate offensive  “freedom” on this Fourth of July,  “Independence Day” weekend, We, El Pueblo, We hold these truths to be self-evident and celebrate instead the Real Thump and Bump of that heart that still thuds & thunders divinely for the Better Day. Still strong -and living inside the Bestia! We have already torn down that border wall blocking our hearts. You cannot and will not divorce us from global liberation. Neither is global annihilation an option. Really. Lo siento pero, Global Liberacion still lives, it loves and we is fighting back to win.  Es el turno del ofendido. It’s the Offended’s Turn. Solamente, R


“Sî Se Drone!”: Music and Slogans for a “New Civil Rights Movement”!

June 28, 2013

dreames drones

The passage of the Corker-Hoeven amendment in the Senate has been called “historic”, “landmark” and lauded in many different visual,, verbal and vibrant ways. Others are protesting at the border and in different cities as if the Corker Hoeven legislation meant more death and destruction. Confusing, right? Needless to say, the passage of the Senate bill has also brought about much confusion and conflict within the immigrant rights movement.

Now that the extreme right wing Corker-Hoeven amendment has replaced the hard right wing “Gang of 8” proposal as the new “bi-partisan” Senate “immigration reform” proposal, we “progressives”  of the “new civil rights movement” have to fight for and defend sanctity of the Corker-Hoeven legislation from the REAL extremists in the House. By linking “border security” to “citizenship”, all this legislation has made it neat and cool and necessary  for all of us to do our patriotic duty to support 20,0000 new border patrol agents, 700 miles of fencing and national ID cards as part of our “new civil rights movement” progressive agenda. As the pic created by a disgruntled DREAMer shows, Drones and the DREAM act are the essence of political cool. If we don’t fight to protect the DREAM and the drones, things could get worse because the Real Bad Guys in the Republican-controlled House will not give us any part of our “new civil rights movement” freedom.


So, in order to save the cause of freedumb, we here at Of América, the people that brought “Si Se Pedo”, want to do our part for la causa by sharing  slogans that fit the joyous celebration of this “historic victory.” We also want to help of what some call a “new civil rights movement” (despite the fact that overwhelming majorities of black people “do not like the idea that (immigrant rights) messages might attempt to “piggyback” onto the Civil Rights movement.”) So, without further adios, we bring you new slogans that you can use as you march, protest and sit in as part of the”new civil rights movement”:

“We shall over love the DRO-O-O-NES, we shall love the DRO-O-O-NES, we shall love the DRONES todaaayyy. oh, oh deep in my heart, I dooo bleeeeed we shall love the DRO-O-O-NES today. Hallelujah!”


“Que viva la muerte de inocentes en el desierto!” Que vivan los DRONES!”

“What do we want? MORE DESTRUCTION OF BORDER COMMUNITIES! When do we want it? NOW!”

“Si Se Drone!”

“El Muro Unido Jamas Sera Vencido!”,

“The (11 million) People United Will Never Be Legalized!”

El Nuevo Gulag: “Immigration Reform” Will (Further) Increase the Massive Latino Prison Population

June 26, 2013


The country is paying attention to immigration of late, but few know about one of the recent history and coming  effects of federal immigration policy from Clinton to Obama:  transforming the federal prison system to make Latino prisoners the largest single group in that federal system. Though most immigrant prisoners have committed no crime, changes to federal immigration policy have created what’s known as the “crimmigration” system in which changes to immigration law have multiplied exponentially the ways in which undocumented immigrants can be prosecuted and jailed as criminals.

Most troubling in all this, is that the “crimmigration” policies were partially enabled by more than a decade’s worth of messaging about “tough and smart,” “bi-partisan comprehensive reform” premised on a dangerously simplistic equation: immigrant=criminal. Look at all of the “immigration reform” proposals with their emphasis of “earned legalization”, “tough enforcement”, “border security” and other multi-milloin dollar framing and messaging, and you will see the makings of the Frankenstein immigrant prison monster that has been pieced together “bi-partisan” patches of some legalization in exchange for massive amounts of more and more punitive policy.


Legal experts and the Congressional Budget Office estimate that S. 744, the Senate version of the immigration reform bill, will  legalize no more 5-8 million, NOT the “11 million” undocumented people touted by reformers). This means that millions will be left as vulnerable to imprisonment, deportation and terror as any previous generation of immigrants. This is one of the many inconvenient facts that “immigration reformer” don’t mention in their talking points about a “tradeoff.” 


At the same time, the current “immigration reform” bill will do nothing to impact the juggernaut of immigrant imprisonment-except intensify and expand it. Consider these impacts guaranteed under the Corker-Hoeven amendmendment, which is now the de-facto bi-partisan Senate bill: 20,000 more border patrol means more “detainees”; More surveillance equipment means more “detainees”; more billion$ for ICE means more privately run federal immigrant prisons and, therefore, more federal immigrant prisoners. New laws in the legislation will increase the categories of immigrant criminality, which means more immigrant prisoners.

And then there’s the policies that gave rise to mass mobilizations and demands for citizenship, policies like SCOMM that will remain in place as President Obama speeds to break his own record of 1.7 million deportations, hundreds of thousands of immigrant prisoners and countless children and families terrorized by thousands of ICE raids. When asked about these kinds of issues during a recent call with immigrant rights advocates, Sen. Charles Schumer, the lead Democrat on immigration, gave stayed with talking points heard from big money, Beltway immigrant rights groups: legalization means that people won’t be subjected to Obama’s deportation machine.

deporterin chief

While predictable, such responses from Schumer and other Democrats “leading the charge on immigration reform” are untrue and dangerous, beginning with the fact that the millions that will be left out of the legalization provisions of S. 744 will face an expanded and more aggressive immigrant prison and deportation dragnet. Future migrants will enter a United States growing even more hostile, more violent and more greedy with regard to immigrants. Nobody, it seems, is thinking of the future, especially the future of immigrant prisoners. Countless reports document that sub-human conditions in which immigrant prisoners are exposed to rape, psychological abuse, beatings, torture and even murder at the hands of immigration jailers.

In the face of “immigration reform” guaranteed to degenerate further the immigrant condition-and non-immigrant condition(i.e. we are complicit with our silence)- in the growing immigrant gulag of the United States, these immigration reformers would do well to remember the words of Doestoevsky, “The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons.”

We are entering an immigrant prison without precedent, one being built and bolstered with chants of  “Si Se Puede” &  talking points that “trade off” millions of immigrant prisoners for increasingly fewer and fewer immigrant citizens.” (Some) DREAMers and other “Immigration reformers” are gearing up for what, in the context of the coming immgrant gulag can only be called an “Orwellian victory” (or perhaps a pyrrhic victory  What does it mean for the cause of immigrant rights? What does it mean for “civil rights” and Latino politics? And, most importantly, what does this all mean for our civilization? What?

Open Letter to Supporters of “Immigration Reform”: Defend, Explain Support for National ID cards

June 25, 2013


Dear undocumented person, DREAMer & “immigrant advocate”, some of us have supported you, your cause, for decades, in some cases since before you or your CIR cause were born. Many of us in the immigrant ally community often draw inspiration and direction from your example, from your moral authority around immigration reform. At the same time, however, current “immigration reform” discussions have reached that delicate point at which “reform” is no longer just about immigrants anymore-if it ever really was. (i.e it’s also been and is about white privilege, empire and the decline of both). I write because as someone directly impacted by the possible institution of a national identification card system, as someone who knows the devastation wrought by such systems,and as a journalist who has investigated such systems, I have the moral responsibility to speak about this critically important issue.

As it becomes clear that “immigration reform” becomes an excuse for legalizing all manner of wickedness that has little to nothing to do with either immigrants or “reform”,  you should be aware that we have also reached the point at which there limits to your moral authority around certain issues in the “immigration reform” bill, issues like the totalitarian system of social, political control inherent in the national ID card proposal that’s in the”immigration reform” bill you say we need to support.

When I was covering state surveillance as a journalist, I tried to interview some of the national leaders in DC about national ID provisions Sen. Chuck Schumer was trying to introduce in previous CIR bills.  Many said “no comment”; Others called by long after my deadline.  None spoke on record. In muy opinion,  that’s not how we should deal with such colosally important issues. This is not how to give public face to talk of a “tradeoff.” It’s evasive, cowardly and dangerous. The national ID legislation is a Trojan horse that we can’t write off simplistically as “necessary to get Republican votes,” especially since a Democrat, Schumer, has been doing the bidding of high-tech moguls like Oracle’s Larry Ellison, who has offered the technology making national ID’s possible for more than a decade.


And if you want my support for this bill, I challenge any of you or some of the big powered money and political interests behind the bill to publicly defend things like national ID’s as something worthwhile. At the very least, you should educate the broader community about what you’re asking them to support, you should conduct massive polls that ask people-all people because all are impacted- if they want this. If you can’t or won’t, then as a comrade-in-arms, I again challenge you to break your silence, to be “undocumented and unafraid” and say publicly-on television, radio, news, internet- that “national ID cards” drag us all, citizen and non-citizen, into 21rst century totalitarianism.

With all this surveillance, border militarization and other nefarious garbage in it, the “immigration reform” bill has morphed into a monster that impacts more than 11 million people. It impacts US-MExico relations, (further) impacts all US citizens and hurts all workers in profound and profoundly bad ways that extend beyond the simplistic, infantile stories we’re being told about this bill. When it comes to things like national ID’s and foreign policy, we can’t let desperation, lousy strategists & negotiators and youthful or willful ignorance drag us deeper into the totalitarian abyss. Not trying to out anyone as much as break the silence some have tried to enforce by ascribing moral authority to things like national ID cards where no such moral authority exists.

Thank you

“Oppressive” “Totalitarian” “Dystopia”:Technologists, National Security Experts, Public Officials, Media Organizations Condemn Obama-NSA Spying

June 10, 2013


As the Obama Administration and its Democratic and Republican allies begin to try and defend & explain away Obama’s recently-exposed NSA spying, here are some major voices-technologists, national security experts, public officials, media organizations- offering their views of the threat posed to democracy in the United States:

Unwarranted government surveillance is an intrusion on basic human rights that threatens the very foundations of a democratic society.” Tim Berners-Lee, inverntor of World Wide Web

Is it just me, or is secret blanket surveillance obscenely outrageous?” – Al Gore

The (Obama) administration has now lost all credibility on this issue.” – Editors of the New York Times

We believe the large-scale collection of this information by the government has a very significant impact on Americans’ privacy, whether senior government officials recognize that fact or not.” – Senators Ron Wyden & Mark Udall

“The Foundation of a Very Oppressive State”- Brian Jenkins, Top Intelligence and Security analyst at RAND

 “On a Slippery Slope to a Totalitarian State”William Binney, a former top official at the National Security Agency

Be careful” –John Schindler, former NSA analyst & technical director

“I, personally, am by now disgusted with their conduct: the national security apparatus has convinced itself and the rest of the government that the only way it can do its job is to know everything about everyone. That’s not how you protect a country. We didn’t fight the Cold War just so we could rebuild the Stasi ourselves.” – Yonatan Zunger, East German Chief architect of Google+ on what he thinks of the Obama Administration’s activities (FYI, the “Stasi” were E. German security apparatchiks, famous for massive repression

“…we now live in a surveillance dystopia beyond Orwell’s Big Brother vision.”- Nick Weaver, UC Berkeley professor & one fo the country’s top experts on computer and network security


Obama, NSA’s Crisis Giving Rise to Renewed (and Rescued) Hope

June 9, 2013


In case you hadn’t heard: in an age in which so much of our productive, political and personal life is mediated by information networks, the cause of human freedom now has a direct & irreversible relationship to the free flow of information across these networks. If you feel an inexplicably warm and fuzzy feeling about what’s happening as Obama’s NSA crisis evolves, let it flow. Don’t shut it down, don’t keep listening to the comforting lies of the elected, bought and unelected killers of Real Hope.

Besides signaling profound societal shifts and possible threats, this tickle of astonishment and wonder might also be the battered, silenced, but still vital voice of Possibility in you. We have nothing to lose but the isolation, despair and powerlessness designed for us by the Killers of Hope.

Welcome to the Bushama Era of Privacy & Security

June 7, 2013


Bush: “After September the 11th, I vowed to the American people that our government would do everything within the law to protect them against another terrorist attack.”

Obama: “When I came into this office, I made two commitments that are more important than any that I make: number one, to keep the American people safe and, number two, to uphold the Constitution.”

Bush: “The privacy of ordinary Americans is fiercely protected in all our activities.”

Obama: “That includes what I consider to be a constitutional right to privacy.”

Bush: “The intelligence activities I authorized are lawful and have been briefed to appropriate members of Congress, both Republican and Democrat.”

Obama: “When it comes to telephone calls, every member of Congress has been briefed on this program. With respect to all these programs the relevant intelligence committees are fully briefed.”

Bush: “The government does not listen to domestic phone calls without court approval.”

Obama: “Nobody is listening to your telephone calls … If the intelligence community actually wants to listen to a phone call, they’ve got to go back to a federal judge.”

Bush: “So far we’ve been very successful in preventing another attack on our soil.”

Obama: “They make a difference in our capacity to anticipate and prevent possible terrorist activity.”

(source: New York magazine)

Bush: “As a general matter, every time sensitive intelligence is leaked, it hurts our ability to defeat this enemy.”

Obama: “I don’t welcome leaks, because there’s a reason why these programs are classified.”

“Get Used to it”: How Obama & Allies Are Trying to Avoid NSA Scandal Becoming Watergate-Level Crisis of Democracy (or Bigger)

June 7, 2013

king threat

These are the kinds of messages & tactics that (some) corporate media, Obama allies (including some Republicans) & government are using to spin & divert in order to avoid having revelations of Obama’s massive spying network becoming a Watergate (or bigger)-sized crisis of government:

– making light, making jokes (i.e. playing James Bond music, laughing, smiling during reports on spying)

–  saying “this has been going on for years” – in other words, “not a big deal”

– “get used to it”, “get over it” (many headlines with these messages in Slate, Mashable and on TV networks

– launching a war, putting the country on war footing, including a cyberwar

blame the Chinese. Say they’re for stealing state and corporate secrets (as if the U.S. government has not, does not spy massively around the world)

-create a false dichotomy, create a “tradeoff” between “privacy” and “security”

-Use the power of government to create government diversions

– repeating “this is legal” message through Congress and other messengers like Dianne Feinstein

– attack NY Times and other media trying to call this crisis for what it is: a massive crisis and opportunity to turn back the unfettered power of the security state in our midst.

-attack the messenger – Glenn Greenwald and others

– play up other sensational stories that take up space this unprecedentedly huge story merits

– continue the massive distraction from world and domestic events that is daily life in the U.S.

-anything but tell the people that their privacy has been destroyed, that they are at risk of serious anomalies destroying their reputations, livelihood and lives, that the government is pacifying the populace for coming repression