March from Tijuana to SF Mission District
Latino Voices Against the Iraq War
Revolution #040, March 26, 2006, posted at revcom.us
From March 12-27, throughout neighborhoods across Tijuana, San Diego, Santa Ana, Los Angeles, and San Francisco—covering over 241 miles—the Caminata por la paz (March for Peace) is protesting the war and bloodshed in Iraq and the escalating attacks on immigrants. Some of their stops include the border region between Tijuana and San Diego, Camp Pendleton, several high schools in East L.A., the March 18 anti-war demonstration in L.A., farmworker communities in Fresno and Watsonville, and the Mission District in San Francisco.
The initiators for this march are Fernando Suarez del Solar, whose son Jesus was the first Latino to die in the current U.S. war in Iraq after stepping on an illegal U.S. cluster bomb; Pablo Paredes, naval officer who refused to board an Iraq-bound naval ship; Camilo Mejia, a National Guard war resister who was jailed for nine months for his opposition to the war; and Aidan Delgado, who is a conscientious objector of the Iraq war who served at Abu Ghraib. March 27 is the third anniversary of Fernando’s son's death. The march was also initiated to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Gandhi’s anti-British Salt March in India.
At the opening press conference in Tijuana, Pablo Paredes said, “We live in a country where 2/3 of the population is against the war, and we want to give people the opportunity to express their opposition. We want to do this not just through polls or on the internet, but we want this to be seen on the streets and have the people’s voices to be heard. This is the call that we are making today and will make these next few days.”
Gaining strength from the recent outpourings of hundreds of thousands of immigrants in Chicago stepping forward against the intensifying anti-immigrant climate in this country and bills like HR 4437 (that could make it a felony to be undocumented and a crime to provide any kind of service to an undocumented person), the March for Peace aims to rouse resistance to put an end to the war and the anti-immigrant attacks.
Fernando Suarez del Solar said, “The ill-named 'war on terrorism' is attacking immigrants with borders and with laws that make everyone a criminal . . . there are young immigrants that have green cards and are serving in the military. Some have parents that are undocumented and their parents can be deported as a result of these new immigration laws. This is all one struggle. We shouldn’t differentiate between the war in Iraq and the war against the people here in the U.S. This is one struggle: against imperialism and against the abuse of immigrants.”.
Pablo Paredes said, “The Bush administration is putting fear into people’s minds by talking about unending war against ‘terrorism’. . . This relates to the situation immigrants face in the United States because they have used it as an excuse to enforce and reinforce the border with more agents….”
The march has been gaining support from people in every area they have walked though. Immigrants, anti-war and peace activists, college and high school students, and people who saw the protesters marching by have joined in along different stretches of the daily 15-mile walk. In East Los Angeles over a hundred people took over a street, including students from Roosevelt High School (which has one of the highest rates of military recruitment in the country), and marched to a military recruiting station in Boyle Heights that targets proletarian Chicano youth and undocumented youth with promises of money for college and an opportunity to be U.S. citizens. At Roosevelt H.S., a school with more than 5,000 students, for every college counselor there are five military recruiters.
Camp Pendleton in Oceanside, California is where Jesús Suarez del Solar was trained and deployed to Iraq from. The troops from this base have the largest casualty rate in the Iraq war. As the marchers rallied outside the base Fernando said, “We have discovered that there are military recruiters who dress up as civilians and go to Tijuana on Saturdays to dance clubs and befriend youth there. They invite them to have a beer and talk to them and investigate what their legal status [in the U.S.] is. They gather all this information and then invite them to join the military . . . This kind of disguise is a strategy [the U.S. military] is using to recruit people within the borders of Mexico.”
Pablo Paredes was lured by military recruiters with the promise of getting money for college. But when it came time to go to Iraq, he confronted what this government actually wanted him to do there. He refused to serve in a war that he saw as illegitimate and immoral. Now he’s taking part in this protest with many others to build a movement of people opposing the crimes of this government, and to expose the lies of military recruiters and the targeting of immigrants and Latinos.
The March for Peace will conclude on March 27 in San Francisco's Mission District. For more information: http://guerreroazteca.org/