Talking About Bob Avakian on the Mexican Border

Revolutionary Worker #1243, June 13, 2004, posted at

The following correspondence is from a Revolutionary Communist Youth Brigade member in Los Angeles.

On Friday morning, four of us left Los Angeles around 11 a.m. We were headed to San Diego, loaded with anticipation and hundreds of copies of the special May Day issue of the Revolutionary Worker newspaper. We were on a mission: to hook up Chairman Bob Avakian with people from across the border. Around 2 p.m. we met up with some YBers from San Diego, and we all talked about how to bring the Chairman's vision of a beautiful communist future to some of the people who most need (and want!) to hear about it.

We decided to sell at a grocery store near the border where there are several check-cashing places. Most of the people here were from Tijuana, and we knew that if we got out bundles of newspapers to them, they would be taking them back into Mexico. This would be a great opportunity for us to get the word about our Main Man across the border and connect him with the masses over there.

There were about three check-cashing places on one corner. It was a good set-up. At first, we found it a little difficult because we had to speak Spanish. At least I know I did. But we did very well and we got a great response from the masses out there. They told us we should go sell at the bus stop of these big buses that drive people into the U.S. so they can go shopping or for when they go back home from work, and they gave us directions to the bus stop.

We decided to break into two teams: one team would stay at the check-cashing places, and the other team would sell at the bus stop where people bus back to Tijuana. We had one person agitating while the rest of us would go and sell the paper to the people waiting for the buses or standing in line to cash their checks.

Overall, we got a very positive response. There were people from different strata, both middle class and proletariats, who hate how the world is and want it changed. People were in a hurry, but once they saw someone buy the paper, they wanted it, too, and would come back and get it. One YBer said she mostly talked to people about how we were celebrating the paper's 25th anniversary, and most of the masses asked how was that possible if it was the first time they ever saw it. Someone else summed up that most of the women at the bus stop really liked the article around the youth in Mexico, and never knew people in Mexico were fighting back against their oppression.

I spoke to several people who could not envision another world. One man told me that all he could do in this life was work and survive. What else was there? He felt hopeless, but got the paper because he wanted to know what Bob Avakian was saying about revolution and how we can change the world.

Another man I spoke to thanked me for being out there because he felt that young people should be trying to change the world. He also was angry at the situation he was in. He used to be an alcoholic, but now he lives in a mission and is forced to work very hard as a farmworker. He hates what the president is doing to the Iraqi people and "his people." He bought a subscription on the spot off of looking over the Chairman's article.

One of the YBs spoke to several people who were surprised she was even talking about revolution. They would say, "Revolution? In this country?!" (meaning, the U.S.). They all wanted the paper.

Almost everyone we spoke to got the paper and we got bundles out as well. We raised over $40 and got out all Spanish papers. Most of the money we received was in pesos. One YBer came up to me and showed me the pesos, so enthusiastically, like it was her first time she saw one. I guess it was a trip for her because here we were selling the paper to people from Mexico, something we'd never really done before.

Later that night we shared our excitement and our stories. We learned that most of us had been trying to connect with people by talking about the Cancun article or the 25th anniversary of the newspaper or by using agitation comparing what the U.S. is doing to the Iraqi people to what they do to immigrants crossing the border. We'd sold a lot of papers but we'd hidden Bob Avakian and his vision of a bright communist future from the people we'd met!

Then one of the comrades made an important point. She said that when she was selling the paper, she'd led with the Chairman's article and it called to the advanced--people were challenged by his words and wanted to know more. She said that what we should do is lead with the Chairman's article. As we made plans for Saturday, we were determined to do just that.

On Saturday, four more YBers drove in to join us. We shared some of our stories with them and what we'd learned from the day before. Today we drove out to Calexico which is about two hours away from San Diego, a border town in the middle of the desert. I was told it could get up to 110 degrees out there, but today we were told we were lucky--it was only about 102 degrees! The 102 degree heat was pretty intimidating, but we all said if the farmworkers could do it and these are the conditions they slave and break their backs under, then we can take the paper out to them in these conditions as well!

A comrade from San Diego talked to us about the people we would be selling the paper to in Calexico: how the majority are farmworkers; how they have to come into the U.S. to sell their labor; how they have to wake up at 2 in the morning, work their asses off for the majority of the day, then go back home around 8 p.m. just so they can eat, shower, sleep a few hours, then do the same thing all over again the next day.

When we got to Calexico, we broke into teams once again. One team stayed at a supermarket. The other team, which I was on, went chasing after buses that bring in farmworkers from all over California and Arizona. When we would see a bus coming, we would look at where it parked and we would run to catch it. It was pretty fun but tiring, especially running in 102 degree heat!

We got onto a couple of the buses and sold the paper to literally every person on the bus. We had one agitator, two people passing out the paper, and one person passing the hat around for donations. While one person was agitating in Spanish about how horrible this system is and how we must change the world, almost everyone on the bus nodded his or her head in agreement. Like I said, not one person did not get a paper. There was one instance where the bus driver gave us a dollar donation and thanked us for coming onto his bus and bringing this to the people. That particular bus was going to Coachella where they would pick onions.

We finally found a station where the buses would stop and drop off the workers. The farmworkers there told us they were bused to places like Coachella, Yuma, Westmoreland, and other places. They picked onions, melons, watermelons, and corn. When we talked to them, we once again got a sense of their hatred for the world they live in but, once again, that they could not imagine another world. Many said that all they could do is work and try to live the best they can.

One lady I spoke to said that no one cared about how she had to work hard all her life and struggle to survive. No one gave a shit. I then told her that if people knew what was going on, they would be outraged and would do something about it. The problem was they didn't know, and this paper brings the truth to people and it lets them envision another world, a world without such oppression. She said that it could be true, and that if we were out there trying to change things and we cared, then there could be something to it. The she said, "I care, too! Give me a paper." She took a paper and a bundle. She said she was going to take the paper out to her friends.

One elderly man got very emotional when we spoke about the tortures in Iraq. He yelled and pointed to the front of the paper: "I don't know why they do this! Why do they have the right to do this?!!" He was very upset. There were a lot of people who got angry.

When we took out the Chairman's article, many people asked who was Bob Avakian? And they would try to pronounce his last name as best as they could. Most of the time it would come out as "Abakanan." One YBer found it very inspirational hearing these farmworkers trying to pronounce our Chairman's name. They would say, "Quién es este Abakanan y qué clase de líder es él?" Not only trying to pronounce his name, but also asking who this leader was. One farm worker asked why hasn't he heard of this person before? He's been around for a long time! Most people loved the idea of revolution.

There was a man who didn't know how to read. But after someone spoke to him about the Chairman and what he said about revolution, his eyes got bigger and bigger. He was really digging what he was hearing. He told us that he himself couldn't read but he knew a family member who could read it to him, and so he got the paper.

Some people wanted the paper but didn't have money, so there were two instances when one comrade got melons for the paper. People didn't have money, so they gave her fruit. It was pretty cool.

All the YBers said that almost everyone they spoke to was surprised we were communists. They couldn't believe it. They couldn't believe there was a communist party here in the U.S.

This was our first experience going onto buses and taking out the paper to farmworkers, and it was pretty emotional. One YBer said she almost felt like crying because people on the bus really dug what we had to say and not one person disagreed that a whole different world is needed. When people told us their stories, it was very inspiring and heart-wrenching at the same time. I know I got a little choked up.

One time, as I was running towards a bus, I ran into a teacher who came from Fresno with a couple of his students. He asked me if I was going to pick corn. I told him, no, I was running to the bus to take out this revolutionary communist newspaper that had an article from our chairman, Bob Avakian. He asked to see the paper and we spoke about revolution a little. He said he worked with a lot of people who picked fruit in Fresno, that he was down here checking things out. He said that he wanted to read the Chairman's article to see what his thoughts were about changing things. He took a paper and a bundle. He said he was going to give one to all his students so they could read it on the ride back home.

Now, this is pretty funny. It was the end of the day and we were about to leave when suddenly a bus drove right by us. We decided to drive after it. When it stopped, we all jumped out of the car and got into our positions.but only two people got off the bus. One YBer started to go onto the bus, saying he wanted to show people this paper. Everyone on the bus said "nooooo!" They wanted to leave. So the YBer jumped off the bus, we all got back in the car and chased the bus until it stopped again. Again, we all got out of the car, and this time we all just ran onto the bus and started taking out the paper. The farmworkers apologized after they learned why we were there. They said they'd wanted to get home and take a shower because they were really tired and dirty from working in the fields all day, but after we spoke about the paper most of them wanted it and put a donation in our can. It was pretty cool! All together, we hit about 11 buses that day.

I noticed a change in everyone's practice when it came to taking out the paper, even in myself. Everywhere I turned, there was a YBer opening to the centerfold with Bob Avakian's article, boldly taking out the paper, and discussing revolution, our Chairman, and communism to farmworkers who, before they met us, couldn't even imagine a bright future. We made a difference by taking out the paper in San Diego and especially to the farmworkers and the people of Mexico. Getting the paper into Mexico will let people there know that there is a real communist party with a great leader who is fighting for a different world, a communist world.

I would say that this was a great experience for the YB. We learned a lot from the farmworkers, how their lives are full of struggle and hardships, how this system has failed them and nothing short of revolution can take them out of their misery. It was a reality check for us, I would say, like a slap in the face. By the end of the weekend, we'd gotten out over 700 Obrero Revolucionarios. We came back to L.A. with a little more pride, knowing that the majority of papers we'd sold were crossing the border and that hundreds of our sisters and brothers in Mexico would now be able to meet Chairman "Abakanan."