Archive for the 'MEDIA' Category

Thoughts On the Decline and Fall of That Most Ignoble of Terms, “Illegal immigrant”

April 2, 2013

AP NO MORE

Today’s stunning  announcement by the Associated Press that it dropped the racist term “Illegal immigrant” from its AP Stylebook, the BIble of  journalistic usage, marks a historic juncture. The history of the decline and fall of the term “illegal immigrant” and it’s derivatives (“Illegals”, “illegal alien” and the like) is one that should be recounted, IMHO.

Firstly, it’s important to understand the long how and the deep what of this collective accomplishment, this latest victory, because victories, including linguistic victories, are one of the defining characteristics of major social movements. One need look no further than  the social and linguistic change engendered by the movements of black power (“N” word, African American), women (“B” word & others), queer communities (“F’ word & others), disabled people (“C” word) and many others. Many, many did indeed work on this and we should all celebrate. In the words of Ivan Roman, former President of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, which led the fight in the quiet of editorial rooms throughout the country since the late 90’s,

“Thanks to lots of work by a lot of people and more intense work more recently by a certain cluster of folks, it’s finally happened! Kudos!”

Journalists and the poc journalism orgs led and were the most consistent in this fight for many years and that needs to be underscored because it is less-known.

undocumented

Within that most recent “cluster” Ivan mentions, I identify and salute Jose Antonio Vargas & Define American, Oscar Chacon & NALACC, DREAMers, Presente.org, artists, linguists and lots of local, regional and national groups who mounted different initiatives with different outlets in different cities at different times in the past 3.5 years that defined that cluster moment. Of special note are Rinku Sen and the Applied Research Center (ARC) and their Drop the I  Word campaign for the money,  for the full and part-time staffing and for the consistency that, since 2010, carried the campaign to national scale and attention, far and beyond the polite (and sometimes impolite!) conversation of the editorial room.

And I know of no single person who spent more time thinking about, who worked more hours (slept fewer hours!) with more groups in more cities and with more media outlets to drop the I-Word than Monica Novoa, ARC’s former Drop the I-Word Coordinator, current Define American team member;  These facts I want not to be lost in the thrill and buzz of victory.

monica_novoa_CLdrop the i word

In terms of the deep what of what was accomplished, we should recall that the roots of the Associated Press’ decision-and the campaign that brought that decision- lie  in the history  and confluence of the Jewish and the Salvadoran experiences of violence- and the dehumanization that enables it. Unbeknownst to most is that the language activism of  Drop the I-Word and the immigrant rights movement that informed it was itself a continuation of the work begun- en Español-  by Salvadorans organizing the “Nigun Ser Humano Es Ilegal”campaign in the 1980’s. In support of the right of Salvadorans in the 1980’s to legal status in the U.S. under international political asylum statutes, Nobel Prize-winning novelist Elie Wiesel gave the Salvadoran sanctuary movement the now storied phrase, “No Human Being is Illegal.” “Yes, I gave that term to the Sanctuary movement, Wiesel told me some years ago. “It was wrong to deny them (Salvadorans and Guatemalans) (legal) status. I was happy to support the cause.” And there,  in the marriage of Jewish and Salvadoran dignities, was born the beginning of the end of the ignoble term “illegal immigrant.”

vallen_no_human_illegal

Speaking with Wiesel and with Salvadorans, Guatemalans and other victims of extreme violence, one thing about language becomes tragically obvious: violent, oppressive language is a necessary precursor to both violent, oppressive policy and violent, oppressive physical and psychological action; What also becomes clear is that eliminating such language does, in fact, make bad policy and violent behavior that much more difficult and avoidable. This alone is reason to celebrate.

Let us now add this ignoble term to the dustbin of dead and offensive language that includes “nigger”, “faggot”, “cripple”, “chink”, “jap”, “bitch” and too many others in a country born of a noxious blend of Biblical language and the language of exploitation and officially-sanctioned violence.

Let us rejoice that, over time, our children will learn you don’t refer to human beings as “illegals”, “illegal immigrants” and other dehumanizing (to referent and to speaker) terms.

Over time, we will all proudly remember that we held our own faith and were resolute in delivering the Word: Ningun Ser Humano Es Illegal.

Anaheim and the Disneyfication of Death

August 3, 2012

“We’ve been protesting here at Disneyland for weeks,” Theresa Smith told me. “Because of the recent shootings, now everybody’s starting to pay attention to what’s happening here in Anaheim.”

Smith, a longtime Anaheim resident whose son, Caesar Cruz, was shot and killed by police in a 2009 incident that she still demands answers about, persists in peacefully protesting before the Magic Kingdom because she has to. Thanks, in no small part, to living just a short drive from the vast entertainment empire symbolically centered on Harbor Boulevard, Smith and other Anaheim parents know what what the world outside of Anaheim will soon come to realize: that if they are to protect their children from further extreme violence from the police, Latinos here and across the United States will literally have to defend themselves from Mickey Mouse and his militarized minions.

The current crisis in Anaheim began following a surreal and shocking incident in which Anaheim police unleashed a K9 police dog on and shot rubber bullets at a crowd of local small children, mothers with babies and terrified parents protesting against the police who shot and killed their unarmed neighbor, Manuel Diaz. In the wake of these violent incidents, street-level reality and Disneyesque fantasy are fusing in uniquely dangerous and strange ways. The response to the situation by both the Anaheim police and the media has magically moved reports of violence away from the concerns of Smith and other residents and on to the “violence” of “outside protesters”—kicking police cars, burning garbage cans, vandalism.

When viewed from outside of the very poor, overwhelmingly Latino community in Anaheim, Disneyland itself initially looked and felt like a funny foil for jokes that lightened the gravity of the bloodshed in the tiny city, where a militarized police department has killed three men in less than a week. But in a span of days, all this changed.

The spectacular contrast between the image of police “protecting” children in Disneyland and the images of those same police shooting rubber bullets at Latino children in Anaheim have made more obvious the lesser-known, local role of the “Happiest Place on Earth:” Creating a Disneyfied image of a city in which huge swaths live in deep poverty and under constant harassment of the Anaheim police and other security forces.

In the aftermath of the shooting of Manuel Diaz, Anaheim has, for many Latinos, come to symbolize the institutionalization of official police efforts and extra-official corporate efforts to distract, distort and deny the bloody on-the-ground realities that Smith and other local residents are desperately trying to keep in the public mind.

Just when we thought that the images coming out of Southern California could not get any more bizarre, Anaheim police decided to engage in their own imagineering. After more than a week of protests, theAnaheim police deployed officers dressed in military outfits and wielding military equipment, including what appeared to be hand-held rocket launchers capable of launching either rockets or beanbags. The military fatigues, camouflage, boots and heavy weaponry caused many to wonder were we watching a repeat of the images of national guardsmen deployed during L.A.’s social explosion in 1992.

Though the display of militarized police power ran the risk of moving the situation in Anaheim to tragic-comic proportions, the move by controversy-ridden Anaheim police Chief John Welton served multiple and very strategic functions. Consider how, for example, the deployment instilled fear among local community members. Gabriel San Roman, a reporter with the Orange County Weekly and Anaheim native who still lives in the affected community, told me he thought the operation resembled a “military psyop,” or psychological operations like those used in Afghanistan and other counterinsurgency settings across the world. Other Anaheim residents report increased fear of protest, as well.

At the same time, the deployment of the militarized-police deflected from the true source of deadly violence in Anaheim—the Anaheim police. By positioning themselves in front of Disneyland for all the local, national and global media to see, Anaheim PD is trying to divert media coverage away from images of a department shooting at a crowd of children and toward those of brave troops protecting the Happiest Place on Earth from marauding Latinos. And the local media, including media owned by Disney, appear more than willing to join them, as much of the reporting in Southern California includes images and stories about police “clashing” with “violent” “outsiders” described in the city’s press releases.

Though the roots of the Anaheim conflicts lie in little-covered police violence taking place in working-class Latino neighborhoods, the media treatment of the violence and protests there resemble more the frames and reportage that were eventually applied to Occupy: police-military “cleaning up” after the violent acts of unruly, dirty and anonymous subversives threatening the public good, in this case the public good embodied by Disneyland.

Though Disney remains officially silent about violence and protests (except for a tweet dispelling rumors that visitors were forced to remain behind the gated confines of the Kingdom), Disney and its multiple and intersecting media businesses wield direct institutional power in the life of Anaheim.

Disneyland—the motor of the local tourism and entertainment economy—is the digital age equivalent of the all-controlling Octopus in the classic California novel by Frank Norris. It controls (and owns) or profoundly influences local media, the land, the city council and, of course, the local police of this small city. On the ground, the ginormous power of the company is on display nowhere better than in its successful effort to block 1,500 units of affordable housing near the hallowed area known as “the Resort Area.” Whatever disturbs the flow of the local entertainment economy centered around the Resort Area is deserving of whatever police deem necessary, a mandate readily boosted by local media.

Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait has invited the president of Disneyland to lead the Anaheim business community in taking “a leadership role” in moving the city out of the current crisis. The effort may well become Anaheim’s own “Rebuild L.A.,” the largely forgotten and failed effort led by Disney and other corporations that were supposed to “rebuild” South Central Los Angeles and the rest of the city after the LAPD’s violence sparked a social explosion.

But there is good news in all this: The Latino community is losing its fear of the violent police in Anaheim and across the country, a theme not reported or commented on. Among the less-reported themes and images coming out of Anaheim are those of Latinos clamoring for justice. Powerful images of Latino children, youth and families standing defiantly before the police capture the only force that can bring an end to the official violence: protest and people power.

Roberto Lovato is a writer and commentator with New America Media and a regular contributor to Colorlines.com.

To Protect & Defend or to Report Honestly?: Media Responses to Obama’s Radical Deportation Program Deportation Vary

October 19, 2011

The Big Media had a broad set of responses to yesterday’s conflict between the Obama Administration, which announced a new record -400,000- on deportations and those of us that are calling for an end to SCOMM (cynically named “Secure Communities”), the mass racial profiling program that is one of the main drivers of deportations and other failed immigration policies.

Some of the reporting opted to uncritically accept the Obama Administration’s claims that most of the 400,000 deportees were the “serious criminals” that President Obama’s top Latino Advisor on immigration,Cecilia Munoz, has been in the habit of repeating ad nauseum lately. Among the more banal and dangerous because banal is this piece in USA Today. The title, “Most illegal immigrants deported last year were criminals” reads like it was written by the White House press office.

Guilty before proven human

The USA Today article fails to note, for example, that, of the 400,000 “criminals”  deported in 2010, a little over 50,000 were people that allegedly committed murder (1,100), sexual and or drug offenses (whatever the Obama Administration means by “drug offenses”). Nobody asked, what are the alleged “crimes” of these 350,000 other “criminals”? Had USA Today or other uncritical media outlets attended yesterday’s anti-SCOMM actions in 10 cities, they would have found the answer: women who call the police to report domestic violence and end up in one of the Obama Administration’s immigrant gulag’s, that’s who; men who drive without a license and are deported, that’s who; women stopped for a broken traffic light and then get put into “detention” where they are raped, that’s who the Obama Administration is labeling and treating like “criminals”.

CBS News: Checking facts, reporting without White House talking points

What USA Today and other uncritical outlets missed in yesterday’s botched opportunity is all laid out in serious journalistic colors in Lost in Detention. And this piece by Stephanie Condon at CBS News is by far the best in terms of connecting the Obama deportation announcement and yesterday’s national day of action against SCOMM. and to do so within the context of the 2012 elections,where, as Condon notes, Candidate Obama faces an electoral crisis precisely because of his immigration policies.The CBS article also managed to inform readers about the Obama Administration’s radical racial profiling of Latinos. Citing an important report released today by the Cardozo law school, Condon states that, “The (Cardozo) report also found that 93 percent of individuals arrested through Secure Communities were Latino, even though Latinos make up 77 percent of the undocumented population.” 93 percent Latino. This difference of 16% proves clearly that looking “Latino” (whatever that looks like) means looking “criminal” in the eyes of the Administration. These little facts matter, but somehow continue to be under-reported  and ignored by most of the Big Media.

Whether the Obama Administration decides to do the right thing and abolish SCOMM of whether he continues his current path-deny wrongs,  divert attention and have surrogates try to silence oppostion remains to be seen. Either way, we need to watch the media and hold them accountable to tell the truth about immigrants and about Obama.

Obama’s King Memorial Speech Calls for “Compassion to the Immigrant Family”, Obama’s Actions Don’t

October 16, 2011
“Always aim at complete harmony of thought and word and deed.” Mohandas K.Gandhi
During a speech made at dedication of the monument honoring the Reverend Martin Luther King today,President Obama declared in King-like cadences that slain civil rights leader “stirred our conscience.” Obama, who is desperately trying to win back Latino votes lost since 2008, went on in the speech to say that King reminds us “to show compassion to the immigrant family, with the knowledge that most of are just a few generations removed from similar hardships”

While Obama’s words about compassion for immigrant families are most welcome, Obama’s deeds and their effects on immigrants provide an astonishing contrast. As documented in Tuesday’s upcoming broadcast of Frontline’s Lost in  Detention, President Obama’s policies have led to the record-and-heart-breaking deportation of more than 1 million immigrants, the separation of thousands of families and the imprisonment of hundreds of thousands more. Lost in Detention documents how President Obama is exposing human beings, immigrant families held in immigrant prisons to rape and sexual abuse, racism, having to eat worm-infested and rotten food, the denial of basic rights and other subhuman and humiliating conditions.

You can the difference between immigrant fact and immigrant fiction, between words of change and deeds of degradation in the video clip we at Presente.org put together (see below). And don’t forget to watch Lost in Detention on Tuesday night and see for yourself.

El tiempo está a favor de buenos sueños (Time is on the Side of Good Dreams)

October 15, 2011

Gazing @ the bright red map that is today’s #Occupiedworld, mobilizing w millions of like-spirited humans, breathing in the sigh of gratitude for our heroines & their children, I am reminded that we would not be here were it not for the parents, the teachers, the mentors and, most especially, the martyrs whose breath still inspires (as in “take in spirit”) that which many had already relinquished to the Powers That Be , Real Hope.

 

 

El tiempo está a favor de los pequeñosde los desnudos, de los olvidados.

El tiempo está a favor de buenos sueños

y se pronuncia a golpes apurados.

Interview: Occupy Wall Street, an Open Source (ing) of US Politics?

October 14, 2011

This interview with Sonali Kolhatkar of Uprising Radio is quite fresh. Seasoned and most wise activist-writer-thinker, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz and I had the better part of an hour to anayze and explore the history, strategies and potential of the #OccupyWallstreet movement. I especially enjoyed delving into the fresh ground linking open source technology, anarchist thought and practice and the great traditions of left organizing and thought. As always, Sonali’s breezy-smart interview style succeeds in drawing out the marrow of the OWS matter. This is one of the better interviews I’ve been involved with on this issue. Check it out!

(you can also click listen to it directly right here )

White Nationalist Anger and Violence: A Preview of Even Greater Anti-immigrant Violence?

August 10, 2009

https://i0.wp.com/1.bp.blogspot.com/_eQFMSrewFec/R5tmWA7LUjI/AAAAAAAABac/9uJWfK3IKFM/s320/hate1.jpg

Though its primary subject is the rise of violent white nationalism, this important article by Eric Ward and our friends at Imagine 2050 has indirect and seriously bad implications for the not-so-distant immigrant future.

I say this because I think and fear that recent developments- the acidic anger seen during the Sotomayor hearings, the deadly absurdity of the “birther” frenzy in the media and the outbreak of violence seen in the health reform debate- preview what will likely be even greater levels violence we will see during the immigration debate, if and when Obama and the Democrats decide to move forward with their proposal.

Given what I believe anyone traveling throughout the country sees and hears-that immigrant violence grows exponentially- we should begin preparing on how to deal with the more open anti-migrant warfare that those invested in promoting false ideas of immigrant criminality are working towards.

I say “even greater levels of violence” only because the violent cat of anti-migrant violence has already been let out of the white nationalist bag: spikes in anti-Latino, anti-migrant hate crimes, increased murders and only God knows how many unreported cases there are; The overwhelming number of hate crimes, especially those targeting the most vulnerable, undocumented have been perpetrated without ever being documented. And we can only imagine what it’s like in most places in the country, places that have never created systems to document such crimes as in Los Angeles, where we will likely see those systems diminished by budget cuts. I fear that such a situation make the anecdotal descriptions of violence I encounter with unrelenting intensity throughout the country a preview of things to come.

Beyond building and saving existing hate crime reporting infrastructure, by far the most important thing the immigrant rights movement can do is stop the debate from including any more legislation that directly or implicitly reinforces the constitutionally dangerous notions of immigrant criminality.

In other words, in an environment in which visual, verbal and physical anti-migrant violence has gone viral, there should be a moratorium against ANY AND ALL LEGISLATION PREMISED ON DANGEROUSLY FALSE NOTIONS OF THE IMMIGRANT AS CRIMINAL NEEDING AND DESERVING PUNISHMENT FROM THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT. Such notions only further legitimate similar notions proferred by pols -Republicans and Democrats-, mainstream media and the racial extremists whose ideas they give a platform to.

We no longer need to give extremists and their ideas a platform by legitimating them thru “tradeoffs”, “compromises” and with toxic talk of more enforcement and punishment. There has to and is another way: stop. Regardless of whether the messenger advocating for more punitive policy is Republican or Democrat, Minuteman or “immigrant advocate”, anyone promoting even more punitive legislation (don’t we have enough punitive laws as it stands?) should be called out for fomenting policies premised on dangerous ideas of immigrant criminality that enable further violence against immigrants and others.

If hate crimes are any indicator, the idea that comprehensive immigration reform will do anything to diminish hatred is proven painfully wrong by the broken bones, bruised faces and cracked ribs of the citizens and residents attacked for their appearance. Hate crimes against migrants are rapidly rising worldwide. Just imagine how vast the toxic sea of violence against migrants in the US is.

There is another way and it begins at the border between policies that equate immigrants with criminality and those that don’t.

Act Now to Stop the Obama Administration’s Racist 287G Immigration Policy

July 24, 2009

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Groups across the country are mobilizing to put pressure on Department
of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and President Obama to
end the devastation caused by the Obama Administration’s 287G program.

Denounced by l(some) police chiefs, several government officials and
many, many community groups, 287G is the program that allows local and
state law enforcement officials act as enforcers of federal
immigration law and provides the legal means for the racial profiling,
mass and arrests and other violations of the most basic civil and
human rights. The program enables the widespread and illegal practices
of notorious Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

Join the increasing numbers of Latinos, civil and immigrant rights
groups and others who are growing impatient about what they consider
the hypocrisy and duplicity of President Obama with regard to racial
profiling. In light of the massive amount of racial profiling taking
place under his recently expanded 287G program-a program Obama and
Napolitano recently expanded- many find lees-than-credible President
Obama’s statements concern about how the recent arrest Professor
Louis Gates reflects “a long history in this country of
African-Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement
disproportionately.”

The current target of what will be a series of actions to pressure the
Obama Administration is tonight’s appearance by Secretary Napolitano
on the Bill Maher show. Community groups are asking Maher to raise
racial profiling and other 287G issues during his interview

You can take several actions including:

Contact the Bill Maher Show on Facebook and ask them to raise the
issues with Napolitano- http://www.facebook.com/Maher?ref=t

And on twitter here: http://search.twitter.com/search?q=%23billmaher

Press release for the action (complete with lots of hyperlinks) is
here: http://jornaleronews.ndlon.org/?p=349

And those of you in Los Angeles can join the protest and press
conference at Bill Maher’s studio tonight (more information below_

For Immediate Release // Excuse Cross Postings // Please Forward

Contact (Engish y Español): Loyda Alvarado, (323) 434- 8115
What: Press Conference, Rally, and Demonstration
Why: To Urge Bill Maher to Ask Secretary Napolitano about DHS
Racial Profiling Practices, 287(g), Joe Arpaio
Where: 7800 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, CA (Near corner of Beverly
and Fairfax)
When: Friday, July 24, 2009
Time: 5:30 to 7 pm

(Los Angeles) Immigrant, civil, and labor rights advocates will hold
a rally and press conference outside the taping of Real Time with Bill
Maher on Friday at 5:30 pm. Protestors will urge Mr. Maher to ask
tough questions of DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano about her
relationship with the notorious Maricopa County Sheriff, Joe Arpaio.
Specifically, Secretary Napolitano should be asked why DHS has not
severed its contract with Arpaio (Napolitano’s hometown sheriff), and
why DHS opted last week to expand a failed experimental Bush
immigration enforcement policy that has demonstrably resulted in mass
racial profiling.

During his press conference yesterday, President Obama used very
strong language to denounce racial profiling practices by local
police. However, last week week, Department of Homeland Security
Secretary Janet Napolitano announced the expansion of the
widely-criticized 287(g) program, which outsources federal
immigration enforcement authority to local sheriffs. In recent
years, Joe Arpaio has become a symbol of the program’s failure, as his
use of 287g has resulted widespread allegations of racial profiling.
The Department of Justice recently launched a high-profile
investigation of Arpaio’s practices. Indeed, Sheriff Arpaio’s
relationship with neo-nazi’s has been noted by Phoenix Mayor Phil
Gordon; Arpaio himself has said it’s an honor to be called KKK; and he
has even posed for photos with high-profile neo-nazi’s. The New
York Times has published several editorials calling for the
termination of the 287(g) program in general and Arpaio’s contract in
particular. Those editorials are available here, here, here, and
most recently, here.

Salvador Reza, a community leader in Phoenix, issued the following
statement: “Secretary Napolitano has the legal authority and the
moral obligation to end Arpaio’s reign of terror in her hometown of
Phoenix. Instead, she is expanding the 287(g) program and intends to
make the country look like Maricopa County. We hope Bill Maher has
the courage to ask hard questions of Secretary Napolitano.”
###

Honduras’ El Libertador Puts Faces-and Names- on “Los Golpistas”, coup ring leaders: BIG BUSINESS

July 21, 2009

El Libertador

image

Considering the repressive conditions under which it was published, this statement by El Libertador demonstrates courage on a scale little known to most. In it, the editors name the names and show the faces of those they believe are the true power behind the coup-powered Micheletti regime in Honduras.

As the Obama Administration starts considering its next steps inl ight of the impending failure of its Arias-led negotiations, some are already calling for tougher measures, measures applied to other regimes, measures like denying the visas and freezing the bank accounts of those found to be both financing and benefiting from state terror as if the government aparatus is some kind of repressive slot machine. Some will probably see the Libertador’s list as a list of whose bank accounts to start freezing, whose visas to revoke.

You can read the statement in its entirety below.

These are the Coup Leaders, They Will be Judged!

(Editorial by the daily El Libertador of Honduras)

These are the coup leaders: 1) Carlos Flores Facussé; 2) Rafael Leonardo Callejas; 3) Cardenal Óscar Andrés Rodríguez; 4) Adolfo Facussé; 5) Armida de López Contreras; 6) Schucry Kafie; 7) Elvin Santos; 8) Emilio Larach; 9) Enrique Ortez Colindres; 10) Pastor Evelio Reyes; 11) Felícito Ávila; 12) José Alfredo Saavedra; 13) Jorge Canahuati; 14) Jorge Yllescas; 15) Juan Ferrera; 16) Juan Ramón Martínez; 17) Carlos López Contreras; 18) Billy Joya; 19) Ana Abarca; 20) Rafael Ferrari; 21) Juan José Pineda; 22) Vilma Morales; 23) Marcia Villeda; 24) Renato Álvarez; 25) Ramón Custodio; 26) Rafael Pineda Ponce; 27) Olban Valladares; 28) Pastor Oswaldo Canales; 29) Ricardo Maduro; 30) Romeo Vásquez Velásquez; 31) Porfirio Lobo Sosa; 32) Ricardo Álvarez; 33) Antonio Rivera; 34) Guillermo Pérez Cadalso; 35) Mauricio Villeda; 36) María Martha Díaz; 37) Antonio Tavel Otero; 38) Luis Rubí; 39) Toribio Aguilera; 40) Ramón Velásquez Nassar; 41) Elán Reyes Pineda; 42) Luz Ernestina Mejía; 43) Martha Lorena Casco; 44) Rodolfo Irías Navas; 45) Rigoberto Chang Castillo; 46) Mirna Castro; 47) Gabriela Núñez; 48) Hugo Llorens.

1. All of these people used their positions to plot, cause, or finance the breakdown of constitutional order with the kidnapping and extradition of President Zelaya, which culminated in the coup.

2.  They are directly responsible for the deaths, injuries, imprisonment, and the unease imposed upon Honduran society; they have destroyed democracy and ruined Honduras’ image nationally and internationally.

3.  The coup leaders reactivated the anti-terrorist and anti-communist organization called the Alliance for Honduras’ Progress (APROH), which operated in the 1980s.  Their greed and lack of culture prevented them from understanding that the people are free to choose the political and ideological system that will offer them security and well-being.

Tegucigapla.  This time their names and faces will go down in history, and Hondurans and citizens of the world will remember them.  They will be judged by society and by national and international courts.

The coup plotters utilized variations on the mechanisms that the Alliance for Honduras’ Progress (APROH) used in the 1980s.  Under the guise of a business organization, it hid clear political doctrine of “low-intensity war against those who opposed the repression of the Sandinista government and against social discontent in Honduras.  United States intelligence financed the organization through the Moon sect.”

“Industrious Businessmen”

Nothing particularly “suspicious” is written in the APROH’s statutes.  A group of businessmen got together to study their problems, with a project to assist other sectors.  The economic model that the associates defended was clear: they advocated laissez faire policies with few mechanisms of control and with many mechanisms to maximize profits.

The associates were required to “guard the confidentiality of the documents and information that they acquired through their participation in APROH activities and that divulging this information could cause harm to its members. [sic]

In the beginning of 1983, soon after its founding, APROH didn’t draw attention to itself.  It was seen as a new attempt to bring together Honduras’ most conservative sectors.  In November of that year, the newspaper “Tiempo” published one of those confidential “documents:” APROH was recommending to the Kissinger Commission, through a personal friend and aid to Kissinger, a military solution for Central America.

Yesterday and Today’s Truth

Military fascism found its place in APROH–then in Gen. Alvarez, the president of that organization, and now [Gen.] Romeo Vasquez.  As now, it was comprised of the country’s far-right business class, although in reality more than being ideological they are corrupt businessmen who have gotten rich because they determine what happens or not in the country.  They are the eternal scroungers who live off financial subsidies, they are the ones who obtain concessions and million-dollar debt forgiveness from the state.  They are the ones who finance and control the political parties and use their influence to have power in the National Congress and in the courts. In short, they are the ones who have the country trapped and don’t allow the advancement of other businessmen and marginalize the people because for them it’s business as usual that they remain ignorant and hungry.  It’s easy for them to manipulate them with the corporate media, as they are doing with this coup.

At the end of 1983, [there was] a rumor that the United States embassy was concerned about what it saw as the consolidation of a pressure group within the country that was very conservative and very vulnerable to criticism, as is the case now.  The coup leaders are once again a problem for the United States.  Then, the APROH was dormant for many years, but it awoke on the morning of June 28, 2009, to carry out its work: overthrow the President, manipulate through the corporate media, extra-judicial executions that no one will know about, repression, and psychological war in order to confuse people.

Who Were the Members?

Gen. Gustavo Alvares was the boss, the man in charge of APROH.  Rafael Leonardo Callejas admitted that when he was the APROH’s Secretary of Student and Worker Affairs–which hoists the flag of anti-communism–he worked so that Osawlado Ramos Soto would be the rector of the National Autonomous University of Honduras (UNAH).

The Moon Sect, a well-known religious organization, collaborated with this organization.

The APROH was created by Álvarez Martínez during the Roberto Suazo Córdova administration as the precursor to the Security Doctrine and responsible for dozens of political assassinations and disappearances in the country.  José Rafael Ferrari, Miguel Facussé, Fernando Casanova, Rigoberto Espinal Irías, Benjamín Villanueva and ex-union leaders Andrés Víctor Artiles and Mariano González were also members.

Osmond Maduro, brother of the ex-president and coup leader Ricardo Maduro Joest, was also a member, [as well as] national and international bankers; textile and chemical industry, agribusiness, and television barons; and the technocrats.  All of them were represented in the APROH.

Now look on this page at the coup leaders; they are members of the new APROH.  There is no difference between them and those of the past.  Some of them are even the same: Miguel Facussé, Rafael Leonardo Callejas y José Rafael Ferrari.

_________________________________________


Know the “Brainwashing Codewords” the Coup Leaders Use to Manipulate Hondurans

The coup leaders’ fierce psychological war waged through their corporate media, which are the driving force behind media in this country, reproduces codes of mass manipulation of the population’s mind.  For example, it is legal to kidnap the President, because he is Chavez’s friend.  Micheletti is good, because he hates Fidel and Daniel and Chavez.

by El Libertador

Tegucigalpa.  The brainwashing the coup leaders use as its prototype of Honduran democracy can be decoded as seeing what’s bad as good, illegal as legal, and the usurper as necessary because he loves the country.

The coup as a “constitutional succession” and the hatred of Hugo Chavez, Daniel Ortega, and Fidel Castro justifies a breakdown of the rule of law and the soldiers’ savagery against protesters who demand a return to constitutional order.  Those who seek the path of a country where the law is respected are rabble-rousers and vandals, and those who support the dictatorship dress in white because they are pure. They are patriots because they sing the national anthem and demand democracy, which is the same as defending Micheletti because he shares the desire for peace and harmony in Honduras.  Many are incapable of understanding that this is how the masses are manipulated by means of the method known as “fool catchers.”  Others who have weak minds belong to families that have gotten rich off of the misery of the majority of the population.

The Democracy Code According to the Coup Leaders:

Democracy = no Chavez-no Fidel-no Ortega;

Democracy = the rich are innocent, the poor are guilty;

Democracy = Yes to he who breaks the law for our own good, no to Mel who breaks the law for the good. [sic]

Democracy = I support Micheletti and I am a peacemaker, you support Mel and you break windows;

Democracy = I love the Cardinal, you forget our father (and you offend the cardinal);

Democracy = corrupt, more or Zelaya [sic], but hate Chavez and hate Fidel [sic]

Democracy = Kidnapping Mel is good, opposition’s bloodshed is good and repression is good, communism is bad.  Mel is a communist.  The coup leaders don’t respect life nor the law because the protect us from bad.

Democracy = Mel is dangerous because of Chavez, Daniel, and Fidel.  Micheletti only seeks the good for everyone.  Micheletti is good, Mel is bad.

Democracy = Chavez and Fidel want to impose strange ideologies on Hondurans.  Mel is Chavez and Fidel’s friend, to loathe Mel, Chavez, and Fidel is good because we are Hondurans.

Source: Popol Nah Foundation for Local Development

¡Estos son los golpistas, el soberano juzgará!

Estos son los golpistas: 1) Carlos Flores Facussé; 2) Rafael Leonardo Callejas; 3) Cardenal Óscar Andrés Rodríguez; 4) Adolfo Facussé; 5) Armida de López Contreras; 6) Schucry Kafie; 7) Elvin Santos; 8) Emilio Larach; 9) Enrique Ortez Colindres; 10) Pastor Evelio Reyes; 11) Felícito Ávila; 12) José Alfredo Saavedra; 13) Jorge Canahuati; 14) Jorge Yllescas; 15) Juan Ferrera; 16) Juan Ramón Martínez; 17) Carlos López Contreras; 18) Billy Joya; 19) Ana Abarca; 20) Rafael Ferrari; 21) Juan José Pineda; 22) Vilma Morales; 23) Marcia Villeda; 24) Renato Álvarez; 25) Ramón Custodio; 26) Rafael Pineda Ponce; 27) Olban Valladares; 28) Pastor Oswaldo Canales; 29) Ricardo Maduro; 30) Romeo Vásquez Velásquez; 31) Porfirio Lobo Sosa; 32) Ricardo Álvarez; 33) Antonio Rivera; 34) Guillermo Pérez Cadalso; 35) Mauricio Villeda; 36) María Martha Díaz; 37) Antonio Tavel Otero; 38) Luis Rubí; 39) Toribio Aguilera; 40) Ramón Velásquez Nassar; 41) Elán Reyes Pineda; 42) Luz Ernestina Mejía; 43) Martha Lorena Casco; 44) Rodolfo Irías Navas; 45) Rigoberto Chang Castillo; 46) Mirna Castro; 47) Gabriela Núñez; 48) Hugo Llorens.

1 Cada una de estas personas desde su posición maquinó, motivó o financió la ruptura del orden constitucional con el secuestro y extradición del Presidente Zelaya, consumando así el golpe de Estado.

2 Son responsables directos de los muertos, heridos, encarcelados y de la zozobra impuesta a la sociedad hondureña; son los que destruyeron la democracia y la imagen del país en el ámbito nacional e internacional.

3 Los golpistas reactivaron la organización antiterrorista y anticomunista que funcionó en la década de 1980 llamada Alianza para el Progreso de Honduras (APROH). La falta de cultura y avaricia les impide razonar que los pueblos son libres de elegir el sistema político e ideológico que le ofrezca seguridad y bienestar.

Redacción / EL LIBERTADOR

Tegucigalpa. Esta vez los nombres y los rostros quedarán para siempre para que la historia y los hondureños y el mundo los conozca, y sean llevados al juzgado de la sanción moral de los ciudadanos y a los tribunales de justicia nacionales e internacionales.

Los urdidores del golpe de Estado contra Zelaya pusieron en marcha una variante de la maquinaria que en la década de 1980 utilizó la Alianza para el Progreso de Honduras (APROH) que bajo un disfraz aparentemente empresarial, pero debajo escondía líneas políticas doctrinarias claras de “guerra de baja intensidad contra los opositores a la represión contra el gobierno sandinista y el descontento social en Honduras. El financiamiento de la organización lo trasladaba la inteligencia de Estados Unidos a través de la secta Moon”.

“EMPRESARIOS LABORIOSOS”

En los estatutos de APROH no aparece nada especialmente “sospechoso”. Un grupo de empresarios se asocian para estudiar sus problemas, con una proyección asistencial hacia otros sectores. El modelo económico que defendían asociados era claro: presionar por políticas de libre empresa con escasos mecanismos de control y con múltiples mecanismos para maximizar la ganancia.

A los socios se les exigía “guardar la debida confidencialidad sobre los documentos o informaciones que conocieran mediante su participación en las actividades de APROH y que la divulgación pudiera causarles perjuicios a sus miembros.

Recién creada, en el primer semestre de 1983, APROH no llamó la atención de nadie. Se veía como un nuevo intento de cohesionar a los sectores más conservadores de Honduras. En noviembre de ese año, diario “Tiempo” publicó uno de esos “documentos” de uso interno: APROH recomendaba a la Comisión Kissinger, a través de un amigo personal y asesor de éste, la solución militar para Centroamérica.

LA VERDAD DE AYER Y HOY

Rata.gifEn APROH se reúnen el fascismo militar que representaba en aquel entonces el general Álvarez -presidente de la Asociación y, ahora Romeo Vásquez. Estaba integrada como ahora por la ultraderecha empresarial del país, aunque en verdad más que ideología son empresarios corruptos enriquecidos porque lo se hace o no en el país lo determinan ellos. Son los eternos vividores de prebendas fiscales, son los que obtienen concesiones y perdones de deudas millonarias con el Estado. Son los que financian y controlan a los partidos políticos e influyen para colocar sus cuadros en el Congreso Nacional y en el Poder Judicial. En suma, son los que tienen atrapado el país y niegan la superación a otros empresarios y marginan al pueblo porque para ellos es negocio que siga ignorante y con hambre, así les resulta fácil manipularlo con sus medios de comunicación como pasa en este momento con el golpe de Estado.

A fines de 1983, los rumores sobre la preocupación con que la embajada de Estados Unidos veía el consolidamiento de un grupo de presión tan conservador y tan vulnerable a la crítica al interior del país, igual que ahora, los golpistas se han vuelto un problema para los mismos Estados Unidos. Entonces la APROH fue dormida por muchos años, pero la despertaron en la madrugada del 28 de junio de 2009 para consumar su trabajo: botar al Presidente, manipular a través de los medios de comunicación, ejecuciones extra judiciales que nadie sabrá, represión a propios y extraños y guerra sicológica para confundir al pueblo.

¿QUIÉNES ERAN LOS MIEMBROS?

El general Gustavo Alvares era el jefe, el hombre a la cabeza de la APROH, Rafael Leonardo Callejas reconoció que cuando era secretario de asuntos obreros y estudiantiles de la Aproh –que enarbolaba la bandera del anticomunismo, se impulsó a Oswaldo Ramos Soto para que llegara a la rectoría de la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Honduras (UNAH).

Es de señalar que la APROH fue creada en el gobierno de Roberto Suazo Córdova por Álvarez Martínez, máximo precursor de la Doctrina de Seguridad y responsable de decenas de asesinatos y desapariciones políticas en el país.

Esta organización contaba con la colaboración de la “Secta Moon”, una organización religiosa conocida en todo el mundo.

Es de señalar que la Aproh fue creada en el gobierno de Roberto Suazo Córdova por Álvarez Martínez, máximo precursor de la Doctrina de Seguridad y responsable de decenas de asesinatos y desapariciones políticas en el país. En la Aproh también estaban José Rafael Ferrari, Miguel Facussé, Fernando Casanova, Rigoberto Espinal Irías, Benjamín Villanueva y los ex dirigentes sindicales Andrés Víctor Artiles y Mariano González.

Esta organización también tenía entre sus miembros a Osmond Maduro, hermano del ex Presidente y golpista Ricardo Maduro Joest. Los personajes de la banca nacional y extranjera, los de las industrias química y textil, los de la agroindustria y la televisión y los de la tecnocracia. Todos estaban representados en APROH.

Ahora usted mire en esta página a los golpistas más representativos, son los miembros de la nueva APROH. No hay diferencia con los del pasado, es más, algunos son los mismos: Miguel Facussé, Rafael Leonardo Callejas y José Rafael Ferrari.

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Conozca el “código de palabras lava cerebros”

de golpistas para manipular a los hondureños

La feroz guerra sicológica de los golpistas a través de sus medios de comunicación, que son la mayor fuerza mediática del país, reproduce en la mente de la población códigos de manipulación de masa, por ejemplo, es legal secuestrar al Presidente, porque es amigo de Chávez; y micheletti es bueno, porque odia a Fidel a Daniel y a Chávez.

Redacción / EL LIBERTADOR

Tegucigalpa. El prototipo de la democracia hondureña en clave que los golpistas reproducen el cerebro de los hondureños, se descifra como ver lo malo como bueno. Al ilegal como legal, al usurpador como necesario porque ama el país.

El golpe de Estado como “sucesión constitucional”, el odio contra Hugo Chávez, Daniel Ortega y Fidel Castro justifica el rompimiento del Estado de Derecho y el salvajismo de los militares contra los protestantes que reclaman la vuelta al orden constitucional. Los que buscan el camino de un país donde se respeten las leyes son chusma y vándalos, y los que apoyan la dictadura se visten de blanco porque son puros, son patriotas porque cantan el Himno Nacional y claman democracia, eso es igual a defender a Micheletti porque comparte el deseo de paz y armonía en Honduras, pero para muchos la incapacidad de entender que así se manipula a las masas mediante la técnica conocida como “atrapabobos” y otros igual de mentes débiles pertenecen a familias que se han lucrado con la miseria de mayor parte de la población.

LA DEMOCRACIA EN CLAVE DE LOS GOLPISTAS:

Democracia = no Chávez-no Fidel-no Ortega;

Democracia = Rico inocente, Pobre culpable;

Democracia = Sí al que viola la Ley por nuestro bien, no a Mel que viola la Ley por el bien.

Democracia = Yo por Micheletti soy conciliador, tú, por Mel rompes vidrios;

Democracia = yo amo al Cardenal, tú, olvidas el padre nuestro (y ofendes al Cardenal);

Democracia = corrupto, mayor o que Mel, pero odia a Chávez y odia a Fidel;

Democracia = El secuestro de Mel es bueno, el derrame de sangre de los opositores es bueno y la represión es buena, el comunismo es malo: Mel es comunista; los golpistas NO respetan la vida ni la ley porque nos protegen del mal.

Democracia= Mel es peligroso por Chávez, Daniel y Fidel, Micheletti sólo busca el bien de todos; Micheletti es bueno, Mel es malo.

Democracia= Chávez y Fidel quieren imponernos ideologías extrañas a los hondureños; Mel es amigo de Chávez y Fidel; aborrecer a Mel, a Chávez y a Fidel es bueno porque somos hondureños.

Fuente: Fundacion Popol Nah Tun Para el Desarrollo Local

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Aline Flores, ha jugado un papel vital

antes y después del golpe de Estado

A La Cámara de Comercio e Industrias de Tegucigalpa (CCIT), cuya presidenta es la empresaria Aline Flores, admite que los empresarios han obligado a su personal a marchar de blanco contra el Presidente Zelaya.

B El gobierno de Zelaya le dio un golpe bajo a la empresa Corporación Flores (representante exclusiva de la marca Toyota en Honduras), propiedad del padre de Aline Flores, y donde ella es la gerente general, al descubrir y demandarla ante los tribunales por la venta de automóviles con dispensas falsificadas el caso sólo lo publicó este periódico con el título “Toyotazo”.

C El padre de Aline Flores, Alan Flores, enfrenta un juicio desde hace más de dos décadas por parte del hermano menor Valentín Flores, que lo acusado de haberse apropiado de manera indebida de la participación accionaria que el papá le dejó y que la influencia de Aline y Alan en el sistema judicial y medios tradicionales de comunicación ha impedido que hasta hoy se haya emitido sentencia final.

Redacción EL LIBERTADOR

ALINE.gifTegucigalpa. La Cámara de Comercio e Industria de Tegucigalpa ha jugado un papel importante antes y después del golpe de Estado. Esta cámara es una versión de federación de cámaras hondureñas. Dos días antes del secuestro del Presidente Zelaya, la presidenta de la cámara, Aline Flores, envió esta nota a personajes de dinero solicitando un apoyo que iba de 1,000 a 3,000 dólares y les dijo: “es necesario que el sector privado de Honduras, tome acciones urgentes encaminadas a apoyar la defensa de la democracia y de las libertades sociales y económicas”.

Además, esa cámara repartió panfletos entre sus afiliados exhortándolos a acudir a un “gran plantón” contra Zelaya, quien según ellos “atenta contra tu libertad”. El panfleto dice: “Esperamos que las empresas se hagan presentes con todo su personal”.

LA CAMARA, ANTES DEL GOLPE

Diferentes dirigentes sociales y otras fuentes privadas en contra del golpe denunciaron que muchas de las marchas realizadas en oposición a Manuel Zelaya antes y después del golpe de Estado han estado llenas de empleados a quienes se les obligaba a marchar, con la amenaza latente que de no hacerlo serán despedidos.
Esta versión, desestimada por la prensa tradicional hondureña y algunos medios internacionales, en realidad es muy fácil de confirmar: La Cámara de Comercio e Industria de Tegucigalpa (CCIT), lo confirma en su grupo de contactos en línea por Facebook.

En Facebook hallamos un panfleto que convoca a los empresarios afiliados a un “gran plantón” el 26 de junio (dos días antes del golpe de Estado) en contra de la encuesta promovida por el Presidente Manuel Zelaya, donde dice: “Participa con tu personal en defensa de la democracia”.

LA CAMARA, DESPUÉS DEL GOLPE

Después del golpe de Estado, la Cámara de Comercio de Tegucigalpa llamó de nuevo “a todos los empresarios y empresarias afiliadas: se les invita a participar en el Gran Plantón a realizarse el día Martes 30 de Junio de 2009 a las 10:00 a.m. en el Parque Central de la Ciudad Capital” en apoyo al gobierno dictatorial de Roberto Micheletti. En el mismo, indican: “esperamos que las empresas se hagan presentes con todo su personal“.
Estas protestas fueron mostradas por los medios locales y las cadenas internacionales como una muestra del “respaldo popular” que supuestamente tenía el gobierno golpista de Micheletti.

Honduran, Latin American & U.S. Activists Prevail: Obama Cuts Military Aid to Honduran Government Obama

July 9, 2009

This report from Reuters confirms that the Obama Administration will cut military aid to the Honduran government. The announcement represents a major victory for activists in Honduras, Latin America and the U.S., who have demanded such action by the Obama Administration since the coup began in June 28th.

Though the aid represents a small amount- $16.5 million-, the political value of this shift in U.S. policy is enormous. Some will try to interpret the Administration’s acquiesence to popular demands (elites never admit to responding to pressure) thru the foggy lens bureaucratic process. But anyone with any political sense knows that the cutoff of military aid would not have happened without the actions-phone calls, letter writing, protests, marches and other pressures-applied directly and indirectly by individuals, organizations and some governments throughout the hemisphere.

While President Zelaya has not yet been reinstated (negotiations begin today), those of us opposed to the coup, those who are helping the Obama Administration do the right thing, should take at least a brief moment to breathe in a deep appreciation of our work. Despite a media blackout, despite opposing the policies of an extremely popular president, the workings of popular hemispheric power continue. And though we should continue actions, we should should continue them in the knowledge that these actions have an impact. Yes We Will.

Death, Detention and the Dream of Legalization: GritTV Panel on Immigration Reform

July 3, 2009

This show about the possibilities of immigration reform this year was deftly done by the folks at GriTV. Host Laura Flanders steered panelists in what I think is one of the better discussions on this topic I’ve seen. Check out show which includes Mallika Dutt, Executive Director of Breakthrough, Ravi Ragbir who spent two years in immigration detention and is a member of Families for Freedom, Lynn Tramonte, Deputy Director of America’s Voice and yours truly. Issues hidden away in the shadows of the debate are brought to light and the results are really infromative. So, check it out the clip below! And if you like it, then check out the full episode here.

Why Was Alex Sanchez Arrested? Uprising Radio Interview

June 27, 2009

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Interview by Sonali Kolhatkar with former Sanchez lawyer, Alan Diamante, and your truly. Hope it’s of interest:

Uprising Radio Interview

Arrest of Gang Intervention Leader Alex Sanchez Raises Questions, Concerns in Community

June 25, 2009

alex-sanchez

Today’s FBI arrest of Alex Sanchez, one of the most respected gang intervention leaders in the country, has raised major concerns in Los Angeles and around the country. As his wife and children watched, Sanchez, who leads Homies Unidos, a violence prevention and gang intervention organization with offices in Los Angeles and El Salvador, was arrested and taken away by FBI agents this morning at his home in Bellflower. The federal charges- being a “shotcaller (someone who manages narcotics operations) for Mara Salvatrucha (MS) and conspiring to kill Walter Lacinos, an MS member shot and killed in El Salvador in 2006- have raised fears and great concerns among the many who’ve known and worked with Sanchez over the years, including myself.

First and foremost among the concerns in the community are concerns for Alex’s immediate safety. As a former gang member who works to help others leave gang life, Alex faces great danger in whatever LA County facility he’s held in-even if he’s put under Protective Custody (PC). Law enforcement authorities have an axe of historic proportions (see Rampart scandal) to grind against Alex and some have demonstrated a lethal propensity towards retribution. Known as “Pecetas”, those held under PC are considered by many gang members to be informants and, therefore, legitimate targets for direct retribution from gang members -and direct and indirect retribution from police.

For more reasons than I have time to enumerate here, I for one do not believe the charges. Rather, I think that these recent accusations are but the most recent in the long, rotten chain of attempts by law enforcement officials to frame Alex, who was regularly beaten, framed, falsely arrested, deported and harassed by the Los Angeles Police Department since founding Homies Unidos in 1998. First and foremost, I spent the evening calling those who know and have worked most closely with him, and they ALL share that sense that, as one of his best friends told me, “He really is a good person.” I’ve known him for years and will be sending a strongly worded support letter like the many I’ve sent over the course of the many years and many frame-ups law enforcement has ravenously pursued. Those close to Homies and Alex know and are again feeling that cloud of anger and concern that comes with being harassed by authorities abusing the power delegated to them.

Also, Alex is alleged to have conspired to kill Walter Lacinos, who sources in the Salvadoran and gang communities tell me had, in the words of one gang expert interviewed, “many, many enemies in the U.S.-and El Salvador.” While most of charges levelled against most of the the 24 other plaintiffs point to physical acts and evidence, the one and most serious indictment (see full indictment here) naming Alex alleges that he participated in “a series of phone conversations” in which the possibility of killing Lacinos is discussed. No proof is offered to corroborate the charges relating to managing narcotics operations for MS.

Lastly, the sensationalistic judgements of many media and some law enforcement officials raise serious concerns, as well. Close scrutiny of the media coverage reveals an definite disposition to judge and convict Alex before his trial even begins. For example, almost all of the coverage follows uncritically the logic laid out in the indictment. No attempt is made to notice that, for example, Alex is not named in most of the 66-page indicment. Other plaintiff’s names appear throughout. Those reading reporting in the LA Times and other outlets might come away believing that Alex might be involved in the murder of seven people or in conspiring to kill another 8. Consider this note from today’s LA Times:

The arrests cap a three-year investigation into the gang and its cliques, which operated in the Lafayette Park area, west of downtown. Among the most serious allegations contained in a 16-count federal indictment unsealed today was the claim gang members conspired to murder veteran LAPD gang officer Frank Flores.

Those named in the indictment include Alex Sanchez, a nationally recognized anti-gang leader and executive director of Homies Unidos.

Notice how there’s zero attempt to clarify or give greater context to Alex’s story, even though he headlines most of these stories. Even worse is the way that law enforcement authorities like L.A. Police Chief Bill Bratton, who the Times tells us has a big “I told you so” for the city, use Alex’s case to build the case for punitive-and failed-anti-gang policies,

LAPD Chief William J. Bratton said the Sanchez case reinforces the thinking behind the city’s efforts to consolidate and more strongly regulate anti-gang funding.

Bratton is no stranger to racially charged policing policies in New York or in Los Angeles (ie; Bratton was roundly repudiated when he first tried to apply the “terrorist” frame to L.A. gangs). Neither he nor any other L.A. official has accepted responsibility for helping create Mara Salvatrucha in L.A. and El Salvador, a country with no previous history of gangs before LAPD collaborated with immigration authorities to deport Mara members. Adding fuel to the fire burning to replace the anti-gang work of Homies Unidos with more punitive, law enforcement-centered approaches favored by Bratton and his, boss, L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, are reports like this one which have begun a non-profit and politico witch hunt even before Alex has seen a single day in court. Rather than look more deeply into the charges, media, political and police personalities appear bent on assuming Alex’s guilt and then waving this alleged guilt as if it’s a flag at the front of the contemporary equivalent of a witch hunt.

Although the story of Alex Sanchex touches upon people and issues-immigrants, gangs, Salvadorans- that are explained-and dealt with- simplistically, dangerously, the leadership of Los Angeles must speak out in defense not just of Alex, but of a fundamental principal of a just society: that you are innocent until proven otherwise.

Much more on this important issue in weeks and days to come.

Justicia!: Sotomayor and the Long March of Puerto Rican History

June 18, 2009

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NEW YORK — Inside the red brick walls of the Bronxdale housing projects, 24-year-old mother of two Geisha Sas says she still hears echoes of music from the 1950s, when her building’s most famous former resident, Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor, lived there. “Older people still listen to Tito Puente and Eddie Palmieri inside their apartments,” said Sas, a salsa and hip-hop fan. Before morphing into the embodiment of urban decay that they became in the 60s and 70s, these public housing projects provided the young Sotomayor the new, lower-middle class housing that facilitated her early pursuit of justice. For Puerto Ricans of Sas’s generation living here, the Bronxdale experience of justice is quite different.

“I’ve also heard gunshots and saw a boy killed on that grass,” said Sas, looking at a large patch of grass surrounded by several seven-story buildings. Asked what expectations for justice she has from fellow Bronxdale Boricua (Puerto Rican) Sotomayor, Sas declared, “I hope she knows how to tell the difference between justicia and injusticia. I hope she does the right thing and that she doesn’t forget where she’s from.

Sas’s clamor for justice echoes the very particular concerns expressed by many Nuyoricans (Puerto Ricans in New York). Lost in debates about Sotomayor’s “ethnic allegiances” and what they consider the story of her rise from poverty, are the contributions of the silenced majority living in and beyond the Bronxdale projects: the Puerto Rican community whose political thought and action made Sotomayor’s rise possible.

“The media keeps telling us that she (Sotomayor) has a ‘one in a million’ story,” says Miriam Jimenez Roman, a visiting scholar in Africana Studies at NYU and director of the Afro-Latino Project. “But what they forget to tell us is how the million made the one possible. Many people struggled so that she might become the first Latina on the Supreme Court.” Roman notes that, for example, most news reports and commentaries about Sotomayor frame her life as an up-from-the-bootstraps story of individual accomplishment. This story, says Roman, is partial, at best, in that it excludes mention of the many and ongoing efforts of Puerto Ricans in the Bronx and other areas who fought to improve educational, health, employment, electoral, and other institutions.

Most importantly, says Roman, Sotomayor was very likely exposed to a broad spectrum of political thought about “justicia” that is not mentioned in the current national discussion surrounding her nomination. “I suspect that she heard and was influenced by the Puerto Ricans who were fighting for social justice,” said Roman. “We’re all glad about the nomination. But collapsing the story of an entire people into the story of a single individual is extremely problematic.”

Groups like United Bronx Parents, ASPIRA and the Puerto Rican Student Union organized for improved educational opportunities for young Puerto Ricans like Sotomayor, who herself was active in student access and curriculum issues while at Princeton. More militant groups like the the Young Lords, the Health Revolutionary Unity Movement and the Think Lincoln Committee took over Lincoln Hospital — one of the only health facilities in the Bronx — and forced it to provide better services and greater access to the community when 16-year-old Sotomayor lived in Coop City. A long line of Puerto Rican independistas (those who support ending what they consider the colonial status imposed on the island by the United States), from Pedro Albizu Campos and the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party to the activists who took over the Statue of Liberty, have kept the issue of Boricua identity in the minds of many like Sotomayor, who wrote her graduate thesis about Luis Muñoz Marin, the former nationalist who went on to become the island’s first elected governor. And the hometown associations that doubled as political organizations — fighting housing discrimination, racism and police brutality — were the first to organize the annual Puerto Rican Day parade that took place last weekend along Fifth Avenue.

Beneath the signs marchers in last Sunday’s parade were holding in support of Sotomayor was the long march of Puerto Rican political history, a history many believe helped raise the judge to the pinnacle of legal and political power as much as her much-lauded personal efforts. “There were many institutions that have helped her (Sotomayor) and many others,” said Angelo Falcon, director of the National Institute for Latino Policy.

“Different people took different routes to social justice,” said Falcon, who knows Sotomayor and supports her nomination. “She took the legal route, but is still a product of her community.”

Roman, who is around the same age as Sotomayor, agrees. She says she hears the workings of Puerto Rican political struggle in the music heard in Bronxdale since the 50s. “Back then,” said Roman, “even listening to booglaoo and salsa — Spanish language music created in the United States by the children of immigrants — was a statement, an assertion of our history and culture. It was normal for us to listen to it, but, in the larger context of an English-speaking country, it was radical in a way.”

Sotomayor’s Confirmation Hearings Will Be a Trial-of the GOP

May 27, 2009

The Huffington Post

As she faces what is already expected to be a host of hostile questions from the Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee in her confirmation hearings, Judge Sonia Sotomayor, President Obama’s first nominee to the Supreme Court, should remember one thing: that it is not she who will be on trial, but the Republican Party.

Rather than allow herself to be put at the center of another racism and sexism-laden political circus around the qualifications of a candidate who brings more real-life prosecutorial and actual judicial experience than any other Supreme Court nominee in the last 100 years, Sotomayor should consider another strategy. She – and we – should instead view those hearings as nothing less than a trial to determine whether the GOP is ready to make restitution for its role in a number of judicial and political wrongdoings perpetrated in the Bush era. Those wrongdoings include unleashing unprecedented and dangerous political attacks on Latinos, and breaching the political and electoral contract the “new GOP” said it wanted with Latinos, one of the country’s most important voting blocs.

The Sotomayor hearings will determine whether members of the Republican Party are ready to renew fundamental principles of justice and the rule of law.

Consider the case of U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas. Cornyn supported the nomination of the last Latino to be considered for a high office dealing with matters of justice — disgraced former Attorney General and Republican Alberto Gonzales. Even after Gonzales’s role in crafting the now infamous “torture memos” became apparent, Cornyn raised none of the “red flags” and “lots of questions” he now says he has about Sotomayor.

During the Senate Judiciary hearings around the Gonzales nomination, Cornyn declared that the candidate would be vindicated by history: “The growing consensus behind the president’s decision that al Qaeda terrorists are morally entitled to humane treatment but not legally entitled to the special privileges afforded to prisoners of war under the Third Geneva Convention of 1949 provides compelling vindication to supporters of Judge Alberto R. Gonzales’ nomination to be our nation’s 80th attorney general.”

Even when Atty. Gen. Gonzales came under fire for his role in the firings of a group of United States attorneys in late 2006, Cornyn and other Republicans on the Senate Judiciary defended Gonzales as an “honorable and decent man” who “finds himself in a bad situation.”

Though Gonzales will likely turn into the invisible brown GOP man, or go on a long vacation during the Sotomayor confirmation, millions of Latinos will watch what for them is a historical event of the utmost political and intimate importance. Many of these Latinos will be watching to see any signs of the racism and xenophobia many Latinos blame the GOP for and voted overwhelmingly against in the last election. Latino voters will, for example, be vigilant about what GOP Senate Judiciary members like Jeff Sessions say before and during the hearings.

Earlier this month, reports linking Sessions, the ranking Republican on the committee, to anti-immigrant groups filled Spanish-language
media. According to the Washington-based America’s Voice, the Alabama senator has appeared at several events organized by the Center for
Immigration Studies (CIS), NumbersUSA, as well as the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which was designated by the Southern
Poverty Law Center and other organizations as a “hate group.”

Anything in this must-see Latino political event resembling the anti-immigrant rhetoric that has been Sessions’ trademark will cost his party for years to come. Such concerns about GOP leaders among Latinos, who are only beginning to realize their enormous political potential, pose a gigantic dilemma to a Republican Party that must make inroads among Latino voters if it is to have a political future.

Whatever they say in the hearings, Republicans will be at a great disadvantage when it comes time to counting votes in a Democrat-controlled Senate that will be at, or very close to, the filibuster-proof 60-vote majority needed to confirm Sotomayor.

So it will be the GOP and not Sotomayor that will be on trial in this high-stakes judicial confirmation of the post-Bush era of Republican dominance. Latinos will watch to see if GOP leaders will use the Sotomayor hearings to distance themselves from Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and others many Latinos consider to be anti-immigrant extremists.

And we should all be watching to see if Republicans are prepared to use the Sotomayor confirmation as a way to communicate a willingness to redeem themselves for the great injustices of our recent past.

Climate of Hate Means Immigrant Rights Organizations Should Commit to Excluding Punitive Policies in Any Reform Proposal

May 5, 2009

This post was inspired by another post by my friend, Alisa Valdez, who uses the MSM’s coverage of the Markoff “Craig’sList Killer” case to draw our attention to how twisted -and dangerous-the values of the media ecology we inhabit have become. Reading Alisa’s tight analysis alongside reports of that the racist killers of immigrant Luis Ramirez were declared innocent (and of course, the daily bread of anti-immigrant, anti-Latino hate found on radios, TV’s and websites everywhere), triggered concerns made even clearer during a recent visit to Europe to cover the UN conference on racism. More specifically, Alisa’s piece provided me with the spark to say something I’ve been mulling for while: the dangerous even murderous anti-migrant climate requires that immigrant advocates commit not to support any “Comprehensive Immigration Reform” (CIR) proposal containing punitive immigration policies.

The piece below floats the seemingly uncontroversial idea of a petition asking immigrant rights orgs-and their leaders- to commit
to excluding, not supporting any and all punitive policies in any “comprehensive immigration reform.” Seems pretty obvious,
but the absence of such accountability allows the noxious policies-and the immigrant=criminal logic undergirding them- to pass
with the apparent support of that segment of the “immigrant rights movement” that can afford media flaks, PR spinsters, bloggers
and others allowing them to speak for the entire immigrant rights movement. Hopefully, this is non-controversial, but let’s put it to a test.

Neither aggressive, nor hostile, such a petition simply commits its signatories to excluding policies that, in such a radically hateful
climate, enable further hatred, terror and death in immigrant communities. how could anyone purporting to be a defender of immigrants
not agree to something so basic?

I encourage any comments, suggestions or disagreements those of you reading this might have. Gracias, R

Here’s the response to Alisa’s piece:

That a crazed murderer would be described with such fawning language while maids, gardeners and immigrants and other Latinos are described in the harshest, most hateful language speaks powerfully to how perverted the “values” of this decadent “civilization” have become. Reinforces a theory I have about how we’ve moved beyond the rather stale notion that legalization or increases in the Latino vote will do anything to diminish the rise in hate towards Latinos.

Between radical demographic shifts (young, rapidly growing Latino population, aging, diminishing white population), editorial rooms chock full of old- and young- still mostly white “editors” who normalize lethal logics and the companies that capitalize and profit from “news”programs, talk shows premised on promoting Darwinian racial ideologies, what we have is the possible institutionalization of perpetual race war targeting Latinos, especially immigrant Latinos, who are suffering the brunt of hatred, death and devastation.

In such a lethally charged climate, at such a decadent moment in the history of this country, we need to raise the cost of promoting or enabling the radical racial logic of the newsrooms described so cogently by Alisa. This is why I propose, for example, that we start eviscerating any trace of the racially charged immigrant=criminal logic in our own “community.” We can start addressing this by developing and circulating a petition or some document demanding that any “immigrant rights organization” commit itself to excluding any and all punitive immigration proposals they might advocate in the name of “legalizing the 12 million” or whatever spin people come up with in their efforts to legitimize the now deadly immorality known in legislative circles as a “tradeoff” (legalization in exchange for more punitive policy). We can then extend the commitment to the Hispanic Caucus and other members of Congress and move forward into the editorial rooms with greater force and unity of purpose.

As the possibility of “comprehensive immigration reform” rears its head again, we might want to consider the possibilty that, in allowing or even supporting punitive policies, we in the “immigrant rights movement” are unconsciously accepting the logic of criminality by allowing or supporting laws premised on now extremely lethal notions of immigrant criminality manufactured in hate groups, “think tanks” and the news rooms Alisa aptly describes. Make no mistake, in times when hating immigrants is proven to yield daily profits for news organizations and their advertisers, times when you can kill an immigrant and go scott free (or even hailed as heroes as in the gross distortion that is the Compean case), “tradeoffs” mean we are willing to accept logic that kills, the same logic of the racists disguised as editors use. I also think that the institutions-news orgs, hate groups, political parties, including Democrats- invested and investing in this radical, deadly turn deserve the same treatment we used to give those who enabled the slaughter of innocents in El Salvador: pouring colored red liquid symbolizing the blood of the dead and maimed on their offices-or even their suits and dresses. Things, have, I believe, reached that point of urgency-but the “news” will not report it or, if they do, they’ll do so in the most banal terms possible. Such are the rotten fruits of decadent “civilization.”

Thanks again for your work on this, Alisa. Good writing should spark discussion and debate and you succeeded.

Best,

R

New Republic Attacks Judge Sotomayor With Sexist, Racist “Angry Latina” Meme

May 4, 2009

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It’s that time in the political year when, in addition to “swine flu” crisis, there’s also a sudden outbreak of another dreaded disease: expertise around Latino politics on the part of the fatally ignorant. Consider this specimen (handle such disguised hatred with extreme caution) from The New Republic’s (TNR) John Rosen, who makes the case against nomininating federal appeals court judge Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court:

“But despite the praise from some of her former clerks, and warm words from some of her Second Circuit colleagues, there are also many reservations about Sotomayor. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been talking to a range of people who have worked with her, nearly all of them former law clerks for other judges on the Second Circuit or former federal prosecutors in New York. Most are Democrats and all of them want President Obama to appoint a judicial star of the highest intellectual caliber who has the potential to change the direction of the court. Nearly all of them acknowledged that Sotomayor is a presumptive front-runner, but nearly none of them raved about her. They expressed questions about her temperament, her judicial craftsmanship, and most of all, her ability to provide an intellectual counterweight to the conservative justices, as well as a clear liberal alternative.

This double sexist, racist whammy has an old, even ancient history, a very deadly history (yes, Latinos have history, despite their absence on the History Channel and other outlets, Mikey) Rosen seems to draw upon with ease. See the whole article here.

Lest we forget, this is the same New Republic that pushed the “Latinos-will-not-vote-for-a- black-candidate” meme during the elections, elections in which almost 70% of Latinos voted for Obama. What’s fascinating is how TNR and other liberal publications, media where Latinos, Latino issues, Latino writers brillan por su ausencia (shine for their absence), are suddenly demonstrating expertise on Latino issues, Latino pols, judges, etc.

This is ripe for powerful pushback. Time we started challenging and hitting sexists, racists of the liberal variety too. Right wing Jewish groups of the extreme and liberal varieties waste no time attacking some of us as “anti-Semitic” when, for example, we join the chorus of global denunciation (including Human Rights Watch, Amnesty Intl.) around the slaughter of Palestinian babies, using cluster bombs and other depredations and war crimes of the Israeli government. For those of you tempted to find an excuse to divert attention from the issues at hand, namely the racism and sexism of TNR, my statement means, ISRAELI GOVERNMENT AS OPPOSED TO JEWISH PEOPLE. so,please save it for Fox News watchers, the lobotomized or someone else with time to waste.

The opportunity here is to build out political space, political clout establishing that we will not tolerate such garbage from sexists, racists of the right wing or liberal variety.

Mo(u)rning in El Salvador

March 26, 2009

The Nation.

A young supporter of FMLN presidential candidate, now president-elect, Mauricio Funes. RODRIGO ABD/AP

Roberto Lovato

March 26, 2009

In Izalco, El Salvador, an idyllic but very poor village nestled under the gaze of the great volcano of the same name, I asked Juliana Ama to help me understand how the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN), the guerrillas-turned-political-party, had managed to triumph over the Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA) in the presidential election on March 15, ending the right-wing party’s twenty-year reign. Ama guided me to a dusty, football field-size dirt lot adjacent to a church. The 61-year-old schoolteacher said nothing at first, staring meditatively at a round spot blackened by a campfire or some burnt offering. Then she said simply, “It’s our dead.”

Her explanation lacked the revolutionary bravado and the análisis político heard from chain-smoking former guerrilla commanders and Facebook-using radical students in San Salvador, the capital. Instead, she threw open her arms and said, “Most of the people killed in the Matanza [the Great Killing] are buried here.” Before us lay the remains of many of the 20,000 to 30,000 mostly indigenous Pipil-Nahuat killed in January 1932 on the orders of military dictator Maximiliano Hernández.

In slow, measured speech, Ama, one of a tiny fraction of Salvadorans who identify themselves as indigenous, explained how indigenous peasants like her great-great-granduncle, the peasant leader Feliciano Ama of Izalco, and others from the western coffee-growing part of El Salvador rose up against deadly poverty, stolen land and other abuses in Depression-era El Salvador, only to be brutally slaughtered.

“We’ve organized commemoration ceremonies on this spot since 2001,” said Ama, as she pointed at the darkened patch on the lot. “People who can’t remember and are silent are people who are submitted (sumisos). Those ceremonies made it normal and acceptable to be open about the loss of long ago, the loss that still lives with us. Nothing like this was ever possible before, and I think that the ceremony made it possible for people to start being more open about political feelings too.”

My initial reason for visiting Izalco during the country’s presidential election season was that I’d learned of ARENA’s defeat in the Izalco mayoral race in January–the party’s first defeat since it was founded in 1981 by Roberto D’Aubuisson, who also founded El Salvador’s notorious death squads. The death squads, backed by the right-wing military government, were responsible for killing many of the 80,000 people who died during the bloody civil war of 1980-92.

The FMLN’s recent victory in small, neglected Izalco–after campaigning on a message of change backed by a coalition of Catholics, students and evangelicals–had political analysts buzzing about how it might herald a national trend in the lead-up to the historic presidential election. Even some ARENA loyalists I interviewed quoted D’Aubuisson’s prophetic maxim: “The day we lose Izalco, that day will be the end of the party.”

In Izalco it became clear how Ama’s explanation of the FMLN’s victory aligned perfectly with the central lesson of revolutionary political warfare that some former Salvadoran guerrilla commanders told me they’d learned in Russia, Vietnam and other Communist-bloc countries in the 1960s and ’70s: the spirit of the people matters most. The power that broke the chain of oligarchies and military dictatorships that shackled El Salvador for 130 years was the will of the people to break their silence.

Few embody this will to break the silence like Mauricio Funes, the FMLN candidate and the first leftist elected president in the history of El Salvador.

Funes, a 49-year-old former journalist, rose to prominence in no small part thanks to the democratic space created by the signing of the peace accords ending the war in 1992. Until then, the seventy-year rule of oligarchs and dictators made freedom of expression a rarity. My first memories of Funes are as the talk-show host and commentator my family in San Salvador would listen to in the late ’80s as they huddled around a small, battered black-and-white television set during their lunch breaks.

As the grip of state military-run television loosened in the postwar period, Funes became the country’s most popular TV personality in his role as host of Entrevista al Dia (Interview of the Day), El Salvador’s equivalent of Meet the Press.

Hosting al Dia, on which he grilled and debated left- and right-leaning guests with his famously mercurial intelligence, helped to make Funes a symbol of the openness ushered in by the signing of the peace accords. After losing every presidential race since laying down its arms to become a political party in 1992, the FMLN embraced change. With the help of people like Funes’s mentor Hato Hasbun–a sociology professor who worked closely with the six Jesuit priests killed by the military during the FMLN offensive in 1989–the party finally recognized that putting up presidential candidates who were former guerrilla commanders or wartime opposition leaders might not be the best strategy for winning over an electorate trying to overcome the war’s painful legacy. The party chose Funes, who was neither a combatant nor a member of the FMLN during the war.

In doing so, the former guerrillas gave their party a much-needed upgrade that allowed them to use the FMLN’s legendary organizational capacity (during the war, the US State Department called the FMLN one of the “best organized” and “most effective” people’s movements in Latin America in the last fifty years) to meet the political requirements of the media age. And as a Jesuit-influenced intellectual, Funes also gave the FMLN–an organization with many leaders who were themselves profoundly influenced by liberation theology and first organized in Christian base communities–some ideological comfort.

When I interviewed Funes on the night of his victory, in the restaurant of a San Salvador hotel, the first thing he did was echo the thinking of one of those who courageously broke El Salvador’s silence. “Now we need a government like the one envisioned by [Archbishop of El Salvador] Óscar Arnulfo Romero, who, in his prophetic message, said that the church should have a preferential option for the poor. Paraphrasing Monseñor Romero, I would say that this government should have a preferential option for the poor, for those who need a robust government to get ahead and to be able to compete in this world of disequilibrium under fair conditions.”

Like almost every Salvadoran I spoke with after Funes’s victory, the candidate said he wished a deceased family member, in his case his brother killed during the war, was with him to share the moment.

And like Juliana Ama, he too rooted his victory in the legacy of silence and struggle from Izalco: “Our history–what happened in 1932, the poverty of the ’70s that caused the armed conflict in the ’80s and the state in which many in the countryside like Izalco still find themselves today–these can be explained fundamentally by the unjust distribution of wealth, the use of the government to support the process of concentrating wealth.”

After talking with Funes at the hotel, I went to the Escalon neighborhood, where those who have benefited from the concentration of the country’s wealth live and do business behind the big, heavily guarded walls of gated buildings and fortressed mansions. For reasons I don’t know, but imagine have something to do with poetic justice, the FMLN decided to hold its massive victory celebration that Sunday night on Escalon Boulevard.

The neighborhood was also where the FMLN launched its offensive on San Salvador in 1989. After the demise of Communism put in doubt the survival of Latin American revolutionary movements, including El Salvador’s, the FMLN made a strategic decision to bring its guerrilla army of young men and women and older adults, some of whom had little to no combat experience, into the capital, leading to some of the bloodiest battles of the war.

I walked along the crowded blocks of the Escalon with my good friend Joaquin Chávez, a fellow in the NYU history department, who founded the first Central American studies program in the United States with three other colleagues and me. Passing by Citibank and Scotiabank, OfficeMax, McDonald’s and other corporate buildings on the Escalon never felt so exhilarating. The major difference was the hundreds of thousands of boisterously happy, red-shirted, mostly poor children, youth and families waving homemade red-and-white FMLN flags.

For his part, my bookish, bespectacled historian friend Joaquin, who had lost many friends and family members during the war, was initially pretty academic about what the electoral victory meant.

“The origins of the war were not ideological. What brought on the armed struggle,” began Joaquin, whose current research looks at the role of intellectuals in the origins of the war, “was the reaction of various groups to the repression of the state. If the government had allowed fair elections in 1972 and 1977, there would have been no war.” His voice started to crack slightly with emotion. “And that’s what makes tonight so hope-inspiring: it makes possible a political transition through legal and electoral means.”

Watching the wave of thousands of mostly young FMLN supporters walk, sing and dance as they held handpainted signs with messages like Misión Cumplida: Compañeros Caídos en La Lucha (Mission Accomplished: Compañeros Who Fell in the Struggle), Joaquin reminisced, not as the accomplished historian but as the former guerrilla leader: “I remember being here on Seventy-fifth Street (during the 1989 offensive) to pick up the bodies of dead and injured young combatants. They were the ages of these kids walking here now.”

He continued: “Tonight I feel like they didn’t die for nothing. Spiritually, it feels like a weight has been taken off of you, where you feel the absence of those who initiated these processes. This is an explosion of happiness and a celebration of rebellion, a triumph of the 1932 rebellion of Feliciano Ama and the indigenous people.”

Back at the empty lot, near the blackened patch of dirt that is ground zero of revolutionary El Salvador, Juliana Ama pondered the escape from silence her country had begun. Despite the threats the commemoration ceremonies provoked, she said, “our ceremony is not intended as a political act. It is first and foremost a spiritual act. We have no choice; we can’t remain and suffer in silence.” Her eighth-grader son, Alex Oswaldo Calzadia Chille, stood solemnly nearby.

Asked what he thought the political turns in his country portended, the rather reticent, dark-skinned 14-year-old star student, soccer forward and drummer at the Mario Calvo school responded with an unexpected forcefulness. “I’m Pipil (Indian). Feliciano Ama, he’s my family and was killed defending the land against the government, like many people do today.” As if he’d been waiting for the opportunity to speak even more, he declared, “My family voted for the FMLN because they wanted change.” His intense brown eyes alive with the energy one imagines his rebellious ancestor had, Alex added, “When I’m old enough, so will I.”

Must See Moyers Interview: Mike Davis on “De-globalization,” the Socialist Option and the Role of the U.S. Left

March 22, 2009

Mike Davis, photo by Robin Holland

If we lived in a world in which depth of thought-regardless of political orientation- was publicly recognized and rewarded, my friend and companero (a word he loves), Mike Davis, would have a movie about him called “A Beautiful Mind” (hopefully a better-made, well-acted and ardently personal-is-political version.) One of less than a handful of inspirations for my own preferential option for the Militant Word, Mike is the author of more books than I have time to name here (Late Victorian Holocausts & City of Quartz are among my favorites).

I can think of few thinkers whose depth of analysis, way with words and serious conviction rise to the moment of crisis we face. This interview with Bill Moyers gives Mike the ample space needed for us to appreciate his thought, short of actually reading him.Trust me: you can’t leave listening to Mike without reconfiguring your synapses in some way. Besides introducing concepts like “de-globalizaton,” one of the most interesting things about the interview, which, BTW, Bill conducts nimbly, is that Mike let’s out the lesser-known optimism lurking in his socialist heart. Must Watch Television. Really. Enjoy.

R

Yes We Can Raid: Latinos, Immigrant Advocates Denounce Obama Administration’s 1rst Raid

February 26, 2009

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While Department of Homeland Security (DHS) chief Janet Napolitano testified before a Congressional subcommittee about changes to Bush Administration immigration and security policies, DHS and Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers in Washington state were signaling no change: they launched the Obama Administration’s first major immigration raid. This story in the Seattle Times describes the raid on the Yamato Engine Specialists in Bellingham.

Shortly after announcement of the raid, immigrant rights and Latino organizations across the country condemned the actions of the Obama Administration.“President Obama told us to believe in change as he prepared to work on behalf of all Americans. “Workplace raids are remnants of failed immigration policies that have done nothing to solve the undocumented immigration problems we face,” said Jorge-Mario Cabrera of Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA). “We need immediate actions that support our President’s personal commitment to the American electorate, including the more than 10.5 million Latino voters, that a just and humane immigration solution is a priority,” added Cabrera. Even groups that have called for “tough and smart” enforcement as part of an immigration reform “tradeoff” for the legalization of 12 million undocumented workers denounced the raid., groups like America’s Voice and the National Council of La Raza, whose Executive Director, Janet Murguia, declared in response to the raid, “At a time when messages of change and hope abound, we are left to wonder how change will come to these failed policies.

That Obama and Napolitano’s loud roar of “Si se Puede Redar” (Yes We Can Raid) was received with such uniform and vociferous condemnation bodes well for the immigrant rights movement, which has too often, been divided between those emphasizing legalization and those concerned about detention, raids and other enforcement issues. At the same time, the universal condemnation also serves as a measure of the depths of the immigrant detention abyss the country is mired in; It may indicate that stories of a “softening” on immigration by Obama hard-liners like Rahm Emanuel may not be sufficient for many in the immigrant rights movement to drop their guard. We’ll see.

——————————

On the action front, should these policies continue, my own preferred response would be to create a petition asking the President to cease and desist from using the “Si Se Puede” slogan and its English language variant, “Yes We Can” and to instead adopt the increasingly popular “Si Se Pedo” slogan, which Of América can give him exclusive rights to.

Those of you wanting to denounce these actions by the Obama Administration can join the National Network for Immigrant and Refugees Rights call for letters, phone calls and other actions (see below.)
Call President Obama and Congress

Demand an End to ICE Raids & Abuses

Dear NNIRR members, partners, allies & friends,

Please call President Obama and your Representative and two Senators to denounce the brutal ICE raid against immigrant workers that took place yesterday in Bellingham, Washington (see background information below).

Call (202) 456-1414 and tell President Obama:

Ø The ICE raid yesterday in Washington state violates the rights of immigrant workers, harms the economy and makes our communities vulnerable to abuse and exploitation.

Ø You must end all raids and suspend all detentions and deportations.

Ø Restore and protect our Constitutional rights

Ø Please investigate ICE abuses and end the inhumane treatment immigrants are suffering in detention and deportation.

You can also send fax President Obama at: (202) 456-2461

Call (202) 224-3121 and ask to be connected to your Representative’s and Senators’ offices, tell them:

Ø The ICE raid yesterday in Washington state violates the rights of immigrant workers, harms the economy and makes our communities vulnerable to abuse and exploitation.

Ø End all raids and suspend all detentions and deportations.

Ø Restore and protect our Constitutional rights

Ø You must hold hearings to investigate ICE abuses and end the inhumane treatment immigrants are suffering in detention and deportation.

You can also get full contact information for your Congressional delegation at:

http://www.usa.gov/Contact/Elected.shtml

Please take action today!

For more talking points and messages to our elected officials, see NNIRR’s letter with signatures

to President Barack Obama at

www.nnirr.org