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Old 09-16-2008
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Default La Raza and 9/11

Erhard Düvel (Mr.)
National-Zeitung (Newspaper)
DSZ-Verlag (Publishing House)
Paosostr. 2
D-81243 Munich

Ruben Botello, Chicano Activist

Mr. Botello, the 7th anniversary of 9/11 nears. How has 9/11 affected your life and the experience of Chicanas and Chicanos?

It is important to know where Chicanas and Chicanos “came from” in order to understand where we are after 9/11. We did not come from anywhere, our ancestors were here in our Americas long before Europeans and other foreigners arrived.

Terrorism is nothing new for us. Our people have had to deal with foreign terrorists and their fanatical religions for over 500 years.

Chicanas and Chicanos are a large segment of the Native American population who were borne out of the U.S. invasion and occupation of Northern Mexico in the 19th Century. The U.S. stole our ancestral lands and freedoms in California, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and parts of Colorado and Wyoming by forcing Mexico to surrender them in 1848 or suffer more terrorist attacks.

Most of our ancestors remained in the occupied territories of Northern Mexico even though they were heavily persecuted by the occupying forces and their offspring after 1848. Chicanas and Chicanos are mostly the offspring of these ancestors. We are officially declared “U.S. citizens” but treated like foreigners or aliens in our stolen land nevertheless.

Since 9/11, the U.S. government has been targeting all indigenous Americans (Indigenas) for increased harassment, discrimination and persecution under the guise of “homeland security,” as if we were all somehow responsible for those horrendous 2001 atrocities on the East Coast. The Wall Street Journal has even called for Chicanas and Chicanos of the Southwest to be deported despite our U.S. citizenship.

We were not being treated as equals or justly before 9/11, and it is much worse now. The U.S. government is even building a “Mexican Wall” to block our people from migrating freely throughout our Americas as they have been for centuries.

2. How did you become involved in the Chicano movement?

I was born and raised in Texas where racism against Mexicans and Mexican-Americans is prevalent at all levels of government and society. Despite being a native-born U.S. citizen like my parents, I was treated like a “dirty Mexican” as the schools taught us all to “Remember the Alamo!”

In a suicidal state caused by the racism, I joined the U.S. Marines to “die for my country” in Vietnam like many other Chicanos. Luckily, I was assigned to a field band and experienced most of the war on the sidelines.

Upon my return from Vietnam, I went to college on the G.I. Bill where I learned what the Chicano Movement was about. I immediately joined the Movement by starting a MEChA chapter at the college and haven’t stopped fighting for La Causa since. (Learn about MEChA at Internet Mecha)

La Causa or our cause is peace and justice. I was against the war even while in Vietnam and I knew there could be no peace without justice so the Chicano Movement fit me like a glove.

3. I have the impression there is considerable division within the Chicano Movement (i.e. Plan Espiritual de Aztlán, MEChA, and the Nation of Aztlán (NOA)). Why is this so?

Almost every nation, state, city, organization and movement on earth has considerable division. There is considerable division in all human affairs but from a Chicano perspective, this division or diversity is good.

“Divide and conquer” does not work on us. Our strength is derived from our diversity moreso than from any unity, conformity or obedience to a singular leadership or philosophy. La Raza is composed of all kinds of people from all kinds of places with all kinds of lifestyles, interests and beliefs.

The Chicano Movement is an umbrella for all this diversity, not just for a select few. Our divisions make us a dynamic force to be reckoned with. (As the Marines say, “Spread out or one grenade can get you all!”)

4. Why is there a need for Nuevo Plan de Aztlan?

The original Plan de Aztlan was crafted during our Movement’s infancy over 40 years ago. It was mostly an emotional appeal for young Chicanas and Chicanos to stand up for our basic rights alongside African Americans and other oppressed Americans as the Vietnam War raged on in the background.

Most of our Chicana and Chicano youth never read the original Plan, they just joined in with all the millions of other Americans who coalesced across the nation to protest the Vietnam War, discrimination and poverty during the turbulent Sixties and Seventies. Most of this dissent fizzled when the White liberal majority in the antiwar movement left us Minorities to fend for ourselves at war’s end, and mass media shut us out.

The original Plan de Aztlan was all but forgotten until immigrant-bashing racists began to quote choice words from the old document to assail the entire Chicano Movement for supporting Indigenas from throughout Latin America who wanted to live, work and travel freely in the U.S. decades later. Nuevo Plan de Aztlan deals with these disingenuous attacks and especially with the new wave of harassment, discrimination and persecution Indigenas have been confronted with since 9/11.

All Latinas and Latinos are now being portrayed as some sort of “threat” to national security as thousand of “immigrants” among us are being rounded up and herded out of the U.S. like cattle. We are all being treated like foreigners, aliens or immigrants while most European-Americans are pretending to be the only “real Americans” that ever existed.

Is it not the law in Europe that those who knowingly receive stolen property are guilty of this crime and cannot own said property? European terrorists robbed us of our ancestral lands while their offspring now pretend to own this stolen property; and they even call themselves “natives” as the rest of us are treated like foreigners or worse!

The Wall Street Journal in a May 15, 2008 editorial by Jason Riley even urged the federal government to “deport” Chicanas and Chicanos despite our U.S. citizenship for supporting indigenous rights. Nuevo Plan de Aztlan declares all Indigenas should be able to live, work and travel freely throughout our Americas, and that all Chicanas and Chicanos should join in this struggle for indigenous rights.

5. How do you define your heritage?

Our Native American heritage includes all our ancestral lands and freedoms, and all our cultures, religions, traditions and mores as they existed before, during and after the European terrorists began their invasion and occupation of our Americas in the 15th Century.

Chicanas and Chicanos today want our offspring to learn everything they can about our Native American heritage because it represents who and what we are and will always be for so long as the rivers flow. We also want our offspring to have a wholesome understanding of how assimilation, acculturation and interracial procreation have made La Raza an amalgamation of all the races, colors, cultures, nationalities, ethnicities, religions and creeds on earth in our Americas. We are not a race or The Race, we are all the races on earth, la raza cosmica.

6. How have federal and state governments reacted against the Chicano movement? What security concerns do Chicano activists have?

Government and private agencies have spied on us since the Sixties. They have never found anything to be seriously concerned about because Chicanas and Chicanos are predominantly law-abiding citizens who are merely expressing our human concerns as advocates for La Raza and La Causa.

Some of our leaders like Ruben Salazar have been killed while others like Ramsey Muniz have been framed and falsely imprisoned. Politicians like U.S. Congressman Tom Tancredo use the Minutemen and other vigilante groups to attack Chicanas and Chicanos at the grassroots level so public officials can in turn “justify” taking hostile government actions against our people. Mass media and the Internet then spread this racism against Mexicans and their supporters across the nation and around the globe.

We are concerned the U.S. government may eventually take some or all of our leaders “out” because MEChA organizers like me defend our people regardless of their national origin or immigration status. U.S. officials and their private squads are now mostly attacking us in public for speaking out in favor of open borders for indigenous people.

These public attacks alone create a chilling effect in many of our Movement circles at this time because none of our leaders want to be blacklisted or lose their jobs and other advancement opportunities. The old adage of course applies, “Cut off its head, and the body will fall.”

7. What are the reasons to believe that the frequently discussed concept of a North American Union (a political and economic union of Mexico, USA and Canada similar to the European Union) is a measure by the powers that be to forestall or preempt any eventualities that might arise from changes in the demographic transition (demographic transition in favor of the Chicano movement)?

I do not believe the Mexican, U.S. or Canadian governments are too concerned with our growing population in terms of this demographic being some sort of threat to their established powers. I believe the North American Union initiative is designed to exploit Mexico’s cheap labor and natural resources at a time when there is growing resistance to U.S. imperialism in Latin America.

The North American Union initiative is designed to divide Latin America against itself, not to improve the quality of life for Mexicans or the rest of Latin America. The U.S. and Canada want to control all of Mexico while fighting for control of the cheap labor and natural resources of the rest of Latin America in decades to come.

Under the North American Union, Mexico would become a buffer zone for U.S. interests much like Israel is in the Middle East. What does this mean for Chicanas and Chicanos in Aztlan except for more of the same old song and dance.

All the ruling elites of these three countries want to hear from us is our mariachi music as they eat our tacos and beans. Whatever gains them more wealth and power, that’s what their North American Union is all about, and you can bet the U.S. will get everything it wants out of the whole enchilada.

8. What observations have you had about the conflict of interest between being a US citizen and having an interest and loyalty towards your own ethnic group?

First and foremost, I am a citizen of the world. My loyalty is to all humanity, not just to the U.S., Aztlan or our Americas.

The U.S. government is an Anglo-American enterprise. When it turns against my people, I defend them, not this racist enterprise. No one should follow his or her government blindly.

9. Is the war on Iraq a second Vietnam for the USA?

I do not believe the war against Iraqis is much like the war against the Vietnamese people in that the U.S. government wants to steal as much Middle East oil as possible regardless of the costs. Whether it’s Obama or McCain, the war for Middle East oil will continue because most U.S. citizens are too powerless, fearful and ignorant to demand otherwise.

As Major General Smedley Butler of the Marine Corps once wrote, "War is a racket. It always has been... I was a high class muscleman for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the Bankers...In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism." The offspring of the European terrorists who originally stole our ancestral lands and freedoms are now doing the same thing in the Middle East.

10. What opportunities are there for the Chicano movement in the ongoing economic and domestic crisis of the USA? Is there a possibility that things will change under Barack Obama if he is elected president?

Things will change regardless of who is elected but not to the extent the Chicana and Chicano Movement will benefit to any significant degree. The pendulum has swung so far to the right in the U.S. these past 40 years that today’s Democrats behave like yesterday’s Republicans, and that is bad news for all Indigenas.

The illusion that Obama is some sort of savior of the downtrodden has been created by his party machine, the same people who shafted us under the Clinton and Carter administrations. The Republicans are much worse but the better of two evils has never gotten La Raza ahead in this racist nation.

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