Saturday, September 29, 2012

A 1914 Letter from Emiliano Zapata to the US President

Letter from Emiliano Zapata to Woodrow Wilson, President of the United States. General Headquarters of Yautepec, Morelos August 23, 1914. Mr. Woodrow Wilson, President of the USA. UU. of America. Washington. Dear Esteemed Sir: I have seen in the press statements you made regarding the agrarian revolution which for four years has been developing in this Republic, and with great surprise I became aware that in spite of the distance you have accurately understood the causes and aims of the revolution which has increased especially in the South of Mexico, a region which has had to suffer the most from acts of dispossession and extortion by the large landholders. That conviction that you sympathize with, the agrarian emancipation movement, leads me to explain to you regarding the facts and background of the press in Mexico City, which being dedicated to serving the interests of the rich and powerful, has always worked to deface with infamous calumnies before the rest of America and the world in order that the deep significance of this great proletarian movement would never become known. I'll start by pointing out to you the causes of the revolution that I lead. Mexico is still today is a country in full feudal epoch, or so it was at the outbreak of the 1910 revolution. A few hundred landowners have monopolized all the arable land of the Republic, from year to year they have been increasing their domains, which in order to accomplish they have had to strip the people of their ejidos or communal fields, and their modest parcels of individual inheritance. There are cities in the State of Morelos, for example Cuautla, which are lacking even land needed to dispose of their garbage, land which is rightly required for the development of the population. So it is that the landowners, by dispossession upon dispossession, today with this pretext, tomorrow with another, have been absorbing all properties that rightfully belong to and from time immemorial have belonged to the Indigenous Peoples , lands from whose livelihood and culture the Indigenous Peoples have drawn sustenance for themselves and their families. To realize this extortion, the land barons have used legislation which has been elaborated under their influence that has allowed them to take over vast tracts of land, with the pretextthat these lands are idle, or not protected by legally correct titles. In this manner, aided by the complicity of the courts and even worse acts of the sort, such as false imprisonment or forced consignment into the military, the small landholders are robbed, and the great land barons have become sole owners of the entire country. The Indigenous Peoplesnow disposed of their lands, have been forced to work on plantations for low wages and are forced to endure the extreme mistreatment of the landowners and their stewards or overseers, many of whom, being Spanish or the children of Spanish parents, consider that they are entitled to conduct themselves as if they live at the time of Hernán Cortés, in other words as if they were still the conquerors and masters, and that we the "peons" were mere slaves, subject to the brutal law of conquest . The landowner's position regarding the “peons” is exactly equal to that held by the feudal lord, the earl or baron of the Middle Ages, in regards to their servants and vassals. The Hacendado (Squire) in Mexico has at his will the complete person of “his peon". He may reduce him to prison if he likes, he may forbid the “peon” to leave the ranch with the pretext that there is debt that can never be repaid, being so ordered by judges whom the hacendado bribes, and then there are the prefects or "political bosses" who are always their allies. The landlord is truly the complete Lord of Life and Property without doubt, within their vast domains. This unbearable situation is from whence originated the Revolution of 1910 and which as primary principle and direction has intention to destroy the feudal regime and fight against the monopoly of land in the hands of a few. But unfortunately, Francisco I. Madero who coming from a wealthy and powerful family which owns large tracts of land in the north of the Republic, Madero naturally quickly joined with other landowners, and invoking the power of legislation (laws for the rich and favoring the rich) as an excuse, chose not to fulfill the promises he had made to restore the stolen lands to their rightful owners and destroy the overwhelming monopoly of the landowners, through the expropriation of these lands in the name of public interest and with corresponding compensation, if possession was legitimate. Madero failed in his promises and the revolution continued, mainly in the regions that had seen the greatest abuses and assaults by the hacendados, such as in the states of Morelos, Guerrero, Michoacan, Puebla, Durango, Chihuahua, Zacatecas, etc., etc. Then came the Coup of the Citadel, that is the effort made by the ancient Porfiristas and conservative elements of all shades to seize power again, for they feared that Madero would be forced one day to have to keep his promises. At that juncture, the campesino population became justly alarmed and revolutionary ferment spread with more force than ever, since the coup, followed the assassination of Madero, was a challenge - a true threat to the revolution of 1910. At this point the revolution encompassed the full extent of the Republic, and chastened by past experience, and I chose not to await final victory but instead began the distribution of land and the expropriation of the large estates. Thus as has happened in Morelos, Guerrero, Michoacan, Puebla, Tamaulipas, Nuevo Leon, Chihuahua, Sonora, Durango, Zacatecas, San Luis Potosi: in such a way that it can be said that the people have done justice for themselves, as the legislative process does not favor justice and given that the current Constitution is a hindrance rather than a defense or security for working peoples, and especially for the campesino communities. It was at this point that the Campesino Pueblos realized the need to break the old patterns of legislation, and seeing in the *Plan de Ayala* the articulation of their desires and the expression of the principles that should underpin the new legislative process, began to implement such a plan, as required by the supremacy of law and justice, and this is how revolutionaries throughout the Republic have restored the lands of the dispossessed peoples. They have divided up the monstrous estates and punished the eternal enemies of the people, the feudal lords, with confiscation of their estates, along with the caciques and chief accomplices of the dictatorship of Porfirio Diaz as well as the perpetrators and accomplices of the Coup of the Citadel. It is to be ensured, therefore, that there will be no peace in Mexico until the Plan de Ayala is raised to the rank of law or constitutional provision, and fulfilled across the entire country. This position is reference not only in terms of social issues, or the need for land redistribution, but also with regard to the political question, or the manner of appointing the interim president who must issue the call for elections and has to start the process of implementing land reform. The country is tired of impositions, Mexico no longer tolerates imposed masters or leaders, our desire is to take part in the appointment of our governors, and since the interim government should emanate from the revolution and in order to assure this, is logical and fair that these be true representatives of the Revolution, or the heads of the armed movement, who should carry out the appointment of Interim President. This is guaranteed by article twelve of the Plan de Ayala, in spite of the wishes of D. Venustiano Carranza and his circle of ambitious politicians, who propose that the Carranza step into the position of President by surprise, or rather, by a bold stroke of audacity and imposition. The only way to wisely choose the Acting President is through the collective conviction of the revolutionary leaders across the country. Only so can be presented a man who by his record and his ideas provide absolute guarantees, while with Carranza as an owner or shareholder owning large properties in the Border States, his imposition is a threat to the campesinos of the country, as he would opt for the same policies as Madero. His ideas are clearly identified, with the only difference that Madero was weak, while Carranza is man capable of exercising a most tremendous dictatorship, which would again provoke a formidable revolution, perhaps bloodier than those before. Therefore you will see, being that the Revolution of the South is a revolution of ideals, not of revenge or retaliation, that this revolution has committed before the country and before the civilized world, to a formal contract to provide full guarantees for the lives and interests of nationals and foreigners, before and after our victory, and I am happy to make you aware of this fact. This long exposé should confirm to you in your well-illuminated mind regarding our movement of Southern Mexico, and convince you that the vile, banal, and corrupt press of Mexico City has maligned my personality and that of my compatriots. May these notes better illustrate, along with the information which Messrs. Dr. Charles Jenkinson and Thomas W. Reilly will share with you, and who as kind visitors of this State, we have had the pleasure to offer our modest but gracious hospitality, and via whose kind conduct I send these lines. For my part I can say to you that I understand and appreciate the noble and uplifting policy that you are carrying forward, within the limits of respect for the sovereignty of each state in this beautiful and not always happy Continent of the Americas. I would have you believe that, as long as this policy respects the autonomy of the Mexican peoplein pursuit for their own ideals [and] as they understand them, I will be one of many of your sympathizers from this sister Republic and hopefully not the least useful of your servants, which I reiterate now with my particular appreciation. General Emiliano Zapata - Mexico THANK YOU TO TUPAC ENRIQUE ACOSTA DE LOS COMITES DE DEFENSA DEL BARRIO & NETWORK AZTLAN FOR POSTING THIS LETTER FROM OUR GENERAL! Translation: Tupak Huehuecoyotl TONATIERRA YouTube: Corrido de la Muerte de Zapata YouTube: Film Emiliano Zapata Una Pelicula Mexicana ******* Los Comités de Defensa del Barrio September 22, 2012 Declaración de Resistencia, Rebellion y Regeneración

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Reis Lopez Tijerina - They call him "El Tigre"

They call him “El Tigre” but he does not call himself that. He says that because his birthday lands on September 21 and that is the year of the Tiger in Chinese Astrology that it’s okay with him. They attribute sayings to him such as, “Tierra o Muerte” but he says that he does not advocate violence and never has. They want to make a movie about his life, the Alianza Federal de Pueblos Libre (Federal Alliance of Free Pueblos/People/Communities) and the land grant movement that he started that lead to a New Mexico courthouse raid on June 5, 1967 in Tierra Amarilla,NM where those who were fighting to preserve the basis of village communal life against centuries of land pirates, private and federal, moved in an organized manner and made arrests and leveled charges against the colonizer judges, politicians, and police. He laughs and says, “They want Mel Gibson to play me in the movie, no way hombre. I don’t like the script anyway. It has to be re-written.” Reis Lopez Tijerina is bigger than a Tiger. He is every bit the greatness of our most revered cosmic animal in our Anahuac indigenous history, the Jaguar. As I sat with him in his bedroom with another great Chicano activist, Dr. Luis “Nacho” Quinones, I noticed immediately just how God-like my Tocayo is. He’s in his mid 80’s but stronger than a bull, sits upright, looks you in your eye, and constantly pushes, taps, pulls, and slaps you on your arms and legs to get his point across and make sure that you’re listening good. Good enough to want to make you go out and make more citizen arrests or round-up occupiers and invaders of our land who still think that they have a god given right to be here and be squatting on earth that is not theirs. I asked him why they think this is so. He replied, “They are in trouble with God because they stole our land and put it on paper and signed their names to these crimes in the name of God in their constitution. You cannot use God’s name while you’re thieving from people. You will have to pay dearly for it. So God is and always has been on our side.” Where do we go from here Don Tijerina? “Mijo, figure out how to unlock the key to their grand deception and let everyone know.” What is that grand deception maestro? “That they profess to be the chosen ones, that they have always been the chosen ones. Expose this lie and let everyone in the world know that they, as the creators and executors of the atomic, hydrogen, neutron, and nuclear bombs, have deceived every single person into believing that they are the true children of God when in fact they are nothing but devils by nature that come from Babylonian blood. What is coming for them they cannot or won’t even be able to stop. They are in serious trouble especially around here in the Southwest and their greatest fear is guiding them in to furthering their oppressive behavior. That fear is that we outnumber them and they can do nothing about it. Our land will be united once again.” I could have sat and discussed the world and life with our great leader for the entire day and his wonderful and beautiful wife Esperanza would have allowed us to do so too. Without question she welcomed us over for our visit with the Jaguar. We took food and he took a quick bite, pushed it aside saying that he wanted to talk to us more than eat. Esperanza sat with us the entire time helping him at times to find some words that he needed to complete thoughts and get his point across. She knew exactly what he was saying and what he wanted to say at every moment. In an instant she would reach for papers, shuffle through folders, a file cabinet, and would pull books off of the shelf many times without him asking and would help him drive his point home to us about history. I wanted to hug her many times over and over again for helping to keep our revolutionary leader alive and healthy and for appreciating the fact that one day soon we may be without him and every second counts, every interview matters, every visit from people with genuine hearts will help spread and keep his example, his message to the world, and his fire alive for eternity. I was honored to be invited and welcomed in Don Tijerina’s home. Especially now at this time in history when our books are being banned, our teachers are being attacked, our children are being sent to war, being incarcerated, beat, killed, and separated from their mother’s and father’s. Especially at this time when every single one of our most educated, capable, and talented intellectuals and activist’s still refuse to do what only the great, courageous Jaguar did over four decades ago…..go right to the heart of the matter and deal with the question of stolen land and our right to it. Coward’s, every single one of them, cowards chasing their tales around in circles telling people to vote, to ask uncivilized parasitic invaders who killed 100 million indigenous people of the “Americas” and who continue to commit acts of genocide against our people for freedom and democracy, for a spot at their dinner table, for recognition in their system of exploitation, poverty, murder, and death. Don Tijerina, tomorrow is the anniversary of the Chicano Studies ban in Arizona. No worries. We will not let inactive vendidos lead our lives. We will remember. We will not forget that when everyone else was asking for a secure spot in the ranks of that illusive lie they call “the middle class” you were teaching us that all of us have a right to wealth through our heritage and that includes the thing that comes before all else, LAND. Forever your student, Hueteotl Lopez

Friday, March 23, 2012

Dr. Seuss & Racism - Pt.II

March 23, 2012

Dr. Seuss & Racism, Pt. II

Today marks the day in 1942 when the United States rounded up and interned 120,000 Japanese American citizens in twenty-seven prison camps because they were deemed a threat to national security by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and the U.S. war department during WWII. On December 7, 1941 the Japanese attack that was allowed to happen on Pearl Harbor led directly to the U.S. declaring war on Japan the next day.
In line with the long history and tradition of racism used by those of European extraction who occupy America and many parts of the world to achieve dominance and control over others, Americans blamed the bombing of Pearl Harbor on Japanese espionage. In the midst of a massive concerted war effort fueled by racial hatred and hysteria Roosevelt immediately drafted and signed into law Executive Order #9006 which established and declared the west coast to be a war zone and for all “enemy aliens” to be removed. Hence, California was the location of the beginning of the almost instantaneous removal, round-up, and incarceration of hundreds of thousands of Japanese American citizens.
New Mexico was not exempt. From 1942-1946 the United States military operated two internment camps - one in Santa Fe, NM which held 4,555 men of Japanese descent and the other in Lordsburg, NM where Japanese, Italian, and German immigrants were held. Out of the two, the Lordsburg camp was the more notorious of the prisons known for intolerance, prisoner abuses, and death at the hands of guards. New Mexicans, every single one of us, should know this history and more importantly, that racism was the prime motivating factor which caused people all over the country to be conditioned to turn a blind eye, tolerate, mimic, and even demand that their government and military behave in a fascistic manner by attacking and imprisoning innocent Japanese Americans. Proof of this is when in 1988, Congress passed and President Ronald Reagan signed legislation which apologized for the internment on behalf of the U.S. government. The legislation said that government actions were based on “race prejudice, war hysteria, and a failure of political leadership.” In turn, the U.S. government eventually disbursed more than $1.6 billion in reparations to Japanese Americans who had been interned and their heirs.
A cursory glance of that time period, one of many dark moments in the history of the U.S, will bring us to the understanding that countless people in positions of influence and power played a major role in fanning the flames of racial hatred by using their work to further promote the false idea of world-wide white supremacy. One of those individuals who today is widely recognized and celebrated as a children’s hero and who in all of Grant County, New Mexico has recently been deified, is Dr. Theodore Seuss Geisel better known today as “Dr. Seuss”.
Geisel, as I like to call him, was from an upper class German family and had his early start as a Rockefeller employee. He was an advertiser for that great oppressive robber baron and multi-national corporation Standard Oil. More importantly, during WWII he worked as a propagandist for the U.S. war machine in the animation department of the U.S. Army and this is when he began to create some of the most hateful and racist cartoons against Japanese people that called for nothing short of their persecution, incarceration, and murder. In all, Geisel created more than 400 cartoons promoting war, racism, invasion, death, and xenophobia. (Google: “Dr. Seuss’s Racist Cartoons” for more like the example above)
Of course, this was not his only legacy and many Geisel celebrants, as a way of dismissing his racism, would point to the magnificent creations later in life he produced that helped millions of children enjoy learning to read. Moreover, they would say that in post WWII America he seemed to use the power of the pen to create literary and artistic works of art that denounced the Holocaust, discrimination, and other forms of violence. But, the damage had already been done and he regrettably had to go to his grave knowing that his promotion and participation in violence and racism during WWII without a doubt contributed to teaching and cultivating a general feeling in the hearts and minds of the U.S. population that war as a means of solving problems is not only justified but that firebombing Japanese communities and killing women and babies was needed, that unnecessarily dropping two atomic bombs on the people of Nagasaki and Hiroshima was a must, and that killing over 2 million Japanese and 56 million on all sides of the war was unavoidable.
Why do Grant County and other parts of the country go out of their way every March to elevate Dr. Seuss to God status while during Black History Month in February fail to do anything of major significance that would honor and recognize Dr. Martin Luther King’s life and legacy or any African American contributions to the history of the U.S. and world for that matter? My previous essay answered this question. However, the response to that critical analysis from countless Anglos afterward asking me “what I was prepared to do to help change the situation” was a reaffirmation to me that their racism is a definite matter of deep seated conditioning that makes them totally oblivious to their hate.
The question is not whether or not we are prepared to deal with racism. The question is whether or not whites are prepared to step forward in mass and end it. We have tried. But, When in almost every instance we petition, ask to include “main street” in the organizing of events, try to access funding, access education, access the use of facilities, or have teach-ins, classes, books, leaders, and cultural contributions sanctioned by mainstream society we are told no, strung along, or forever made to feel that our history is part of some focus group effort that is too subversive or not patriotic enough or inclusive enough to be worthy of an all out city effort. On top of that, you have in every community across the country an iron grip on finances, land, institutions, churches, federal funding, non-profits, the press, businesses, banks, food, and major resources all controlled and overseen in almost all cases by an interlocking network of whites on governing boards, councils, advisory groups, executive bodies, auxiliaries, and all other decision making positions where the outcome is always favorable to those who are privileged, owners, wealthy, connected, friends of bosses, non-confrontational people and who do not challenge, question, or try to change the established order of things. In this way, Anglos are just as oppressed as people of color and they just can’t see it.
I’ve come to understand that they have been conditioned by the Dr. Seuss’s of the world to believe that because of their skin color they are somehow better and superior to others and must always use direct aggression, passive aggression, and/or outright violence to prove it. That they are conditioned to believe that the English speaking people of the world have an absolute right to the power and control over all land and resources of other nations; conditioned to believe that they have a right to do anything to secure and maintain the privileges that are inherited across generations as a result of that power and control; conditioned to believe that their God is greater; conditioned to believe that their vision for humanity is the most pure and righteous; conditioned to believe that when Indigenous intellects like myself question their superiority complex and point to their history of colonialism and imperialism that I am foolishly blaming all white people for that or using reverse racism. Finally and most importantly, I have come to understand that they are ultimately conditioned to believe that because we question their behavior that we are the ones who have a problem, we are the ones who must come up with solutions to the neglect and social problems white supremacy creates, and we are the ones who must be responsible for our own anger at failing to break through so many solid militarized borders at every level of society, the world, and deep within the white soul that creates barriers to our success, our knowledge of one another, our peace, unity, our co-existence, and the progressive evolution of humanity that would create an existence never before seen on Mother Earth - an existence where Dr. Seuss, Dr. Martin Luther King, Cesar Chavez (whose birthday & national holiday is on March 31) and any other great contributors to the human experience are all shared and celebrated equally.
-Hueteotl Lopez

Friday, March 2, 2012

When Dr. Seuss's B-Day is More Important than MLK's, Something is Wrong

March 2, 2012
Today Silver City and I suppose in surrounding cities too everyone is in a festive mood. A drive through downtown this morning where ribbons and light pole decorations greet people drove home the point that if you’re not taking a moment out of your day to recognize and honor a wily cat who wears a funny hat and who can trick or treat you or trap and trip you with his verbal stew then you’re probably just not in the spirit of things. Today is Dr. Seuss’s birthday.
Reading is important no doubt and the truth is that Dr. Seuss does deserve recognition for his contribution to children’s literature – even if you don’t like green eggs and ham. But, this is not what is in question. What I’d like Grant Countians to think about today is why did not a mere month ago the entire county, every school, and all of those folks over in that ever more cliquish downtown area go out of their way to promote Black History Month? More importantly, on January 16, 2012 it was another Dr.’s birthday – Martin Luther King’s. During that time, the community did not experience the same amount of excited effort by all that is being put into celebrating the life of Dr. Seuss’s.
The month of February is Black History Month in our nation. In this month we reflect or are supposed to be encouraged to reflect upon great contributions that African descendants have made to our lives in the country and world. In February alone the poet and activist Langston Hughes was born as well as the great educator, writer, and orators Fredrick Douglass and WEB Dubois. February 21, 1965 is also the day that marks the assassination of Malcolm X.
There was no mention of any of this history in my child’s classes before or after MLK’s birthday and national holiday. During this time these important dates and more is what we set aside family time to study and teach to our seven and five year olds who attend schools in Silver City. The schools haven’t creatively and consistently integrated this history into the classrooms so we as parents have had to deliver. When Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday arrived in January we spent seven hours together on the computer learning about segregation, boycotts, sit-ins, demonstrations, voting rights, equality, standing up and speaking out, lynching’s, hangings, and murder. This was just a prelude in January that helped prepare my children for Black History Month in February.
We took it upon ourselves to teach our children this because no one in positions of power, no institutions charged with educating our children, and no Main St. decoration brigades took it upon themselves to do so for King or Black History Month. Today, they’ve posted happy birthday signs to Seuss in clear view on school poster boards and marquees, every teacher in every class will choose to read passages from Seuss’s books, video’s will be shown, popcorn will be eaten, and kids who forgot or who were not allowed to wear their dreamy-sleepy pajama wear to school at the behest of the entire school staff and administration’s blessing will cry and probably feel left out. Similarly, arts & crafts, poetry and costume contests will take place and children and adults who will spend countless hours dressing up and competing for cash prizes will be awarded for whipping themselves up and jumping head first into the “love the Cat in the Hat” madness. In the midst of this frantic frenzy we must remember that all of this would be even more special if Martin Luther King and Black History were given the same amount, if not more attention than Dr. Seuss and his cartoon characters.
When my 2nd grade son asked his teacher yesterday why this wasn’t so she replied, “because people can celebrate whatever they want to celebrate.” I think that this points to the heart of the matter. Anglos, especially those in positions of power, aren’t that ready and willing to put their heart and soul into teaching and honoring diversity and the history of contributions through struggle, sacrifice, and overcoming great odds that real life human beings have had to live through. But, they can in a massive way and city-wide effort comfortably celebrate a white author named Seuss and his Cat adventures because it is safe for them to do so. No matter how complex the verbal gymnastics of the Cat are, severe tongue twisting is less painful than having to pick scabs off of old wounds by recalling, remembering, and teaching about what whites in positions of power have and are still doing to persecute people in the world who are different than them. (Think nation- wide anti-Mexican legislation, exploitation, & the Arizona Mexican-American Studies & book ban)
Organizing a day or month of festivities that celebrates non-white greatness and the ability to overcome oppression does nothing to liberate Anglos from the shame and guilt they feel or would feel every time they have to think about their privilege, inherited money, wealth, and social status because of that privilege and sense of superiority passed on from one generation to the next. Maybe this is why European celebrations reign supreme every month of the school year.
By choosing to emphasize and elevate Dr. Seuss over MLK and even heroes such as Cesar Chavez, Anglos show their extreme inability to put an end to racism once and for all. Choosing to do the opposite would do just that and our little one’s impressionable minds and our earth would be the healthier for it. Instead, a sanitized version of history through the life of an imaginary cat in a twisted hat is intimately presented and joyfully celebrated while our history remains in the shadows. On Dr. Seuss’s birthday and sadly year round our great contributions to the human family and our existence on earth does not and will not rule the day.
-Hueteotl Lopez