The Chicano Struggle and Proletarian Revolution in the U.S.
A Paper for Discussion

by a writing group of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA
June 2001


In the fall of 1999 the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA launched a great project--to produce a new programme for revolution in the U.S.A. A party programme is a kind of road map for destroying the old and creating the new. It is a tool for understanding society and the world, and for identifying the forces who will make revolution. After much work and with the efforts of many forces--combining the results of research and investigation together with all the Party has learned over 25 years of experience in grasping and applying the revolutionary science of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism (MLM)--the RCP,USA has produced a new Draft Programme! Now we are calling on people around the country to get their hands on this Draft Programme, study it, and get down with us to wrestle with its contents.

Our Party understands that to make revolution it takes a big united front under the leadership of the working class (the proletariat). And the key alliance--or the solid core--of the united front the proletariat must build under its leadership is the revolutionary alliance of the multinational class-conscious proletarian movement as a whole together with the struggles of the Black, Chicano, Puerto Rican, Native American, and other oppressed peoples against the common enemy--the imperialist system and bourgeois dictatorship. The struggles of the oppressed nationalities against their oppression as peoples are a tremendously powerful force for revolution. All this is definitely true for the Chicano people's struggle.

To better understand the changes in the makeup, the conditions of life, and the struggle of Chicanos since the Party's last programme was written over 20 years ago, a team under the leadership of the Party was asked to carry out research and investigation into the lives of the Chicano people and the Chicano movement today. We hit the library, met with Chicano scholars and researchers, and interviewed many youth--from those whose families have lived in New Mexico for five generations to the children of recent immigrants.

The new Draft Programme incorporates the results of that investigation, and we strongly urge everyone reading this paper to also read the Draft Programme. But because the history and present-day reality of the Chicano people is as complicated as it is important, the Party has asked the team to write this position paper, to explain in more detail the Party's analysis of the source of and solution to the oppression of the Chicano people concentrated in the new Draft Programme, and what that analysis is based on. While it puts forward and elaborates on the Party's position on this question, as set forth in the Draft Programme, this paper should be read more as a "paper for discussion" than our "final word" on these questions. We hope that this paper will contribute to and stimulate broad discussion and debate over the Party's Draft Programme as a whole, while advancing and deepening our collective understanding of why and how the proletarian revolution can put an end to the national oppression that Chicanos face, as part of ending all oppression.

A significant development in the past decade has been the emergence of a new generation of Chicano youth that are busting out into the streets in political action. These youth were energized by the 1992 L.A. Rebellion that saw Black and other Latino(1)

proletarians and other basic masses rise up after 4 cops were acquitted in spite of the fact that their brutal beating of Rodney King was caught on videotape for the whole world to see. Chicano and Latino youth played a powerful role in the student walkouts and protests against the anti-immigrant ballot measure Proposition 187 in California. And they were inspired and further challenged by the rebellion of hundreds of indigenous peasants in Chiapas on January 1st, 1994--the day NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) went into effect.(2)

Since then this new generation has been resisting the war on immigrants and the militarization of the border from Texas to California; battling to defend ethnic studies and affirmative action programs under attack in California, and to win them on campuses in the Midwest and East Coast; fighting against police brutality, repression and the criminalization of a generation nationwide; taking part in the international movement targeting the WTO/IMF and imperialist globalization; and more.

The great leader of the Chinese revolution and the world proletarian revolution--Mao Tsetung--once said: first people fight, and then they seek philosophy. What he meant is that first people are drawn into the struggle against injustice, and then that struggle itself leads them to dig deeper into the causes for that injustice--and other injustices--in search of the solution for ending them. That definitely describes what is going on today among growing sections of youth in general, including this new Chicano generation. They aren't sitting around just taking these attacks--they are "fighting in the daytime" and "debating philosophy at night." Many of them are trying to find the answers to deep questions about how to end the oppression faced by Chicanos and Latinos generally in the U.S.--and how that relates to the overall struggle of oppressed and exploited people here in the U.S., across the border in what U.S. imperialism arrogantly calls its "back yard," and around the world. Why are things the way they are, and how can they be radically changed? What kind of change is needed, possible, and desirable? And what is it going to take to bring that about? Our Party's new Draft Programme and this paper need to find their way into the hands of all those searching for the answer to "how to change the world."

Some Important Questions

In carrying out this investigation some basic questions emerged that we think are key to understanding the specific history and present-day reality of the Chicano people and the Party's analysis of the Chicano national question. One question that has come up is who makes up the Chicano oppressed nationality--who is a Chicano? As the Draft Programme describes:

"The history of the Chicano people is rooted in the conquest of the Southwest by the U.S. ruling class in the war they waged on Mexico in 1846-48, the domination of U.S. imperialism over Mexico, the maintenance of backward conditions in large parts of the Southwest, and the persecution and exploitation of Mexican immigrants. Dispossessed of their land, treated as foreigners in territory stolen by the U.S., persecuted if they defend their right to a culture and language different from that of the European-American nation, discriminated against in jobs, housing, education, and all realms of U.S. society--this common economic and social history, and these shared conditions of oppression, persecution, and discrimination, have forged the Chicano people into an oppressed nationality within the U.S.

"Many Chicanos trace their roots to the Southwest while many more are descendants of waves of immigrants from Mexico. The Chicano people are historically linked to the Southwest and are concentrated there today. But there are significant population concentrations of Chicanos living in other parts of the U.S. Even within the Southwest, Chicanos can differ in their language and culture. But Chicanos share the common experience of oppression which is reproduced and reinforced through the maintenance of the Southwest as a relatively backward and impoverished region, imperialist domination of Mexico and the superexploitation in the U.S. of immigrants drawn from Mexico, and the caste-like concentration of Chicano and Mexicano people in the lower rungs of the U.S. proletariat." (Draft Programme, p. 97)

Many of the youth in the forefront of the battles today are the children of Mexican immigrants. These youth reflect one of the distinguishing (and complicating) aspects of the Chicano national question--the fact that the Chicano nationality is continually being added to through the ongoing arrival of new immigrants from Mexico. As Mexican immigrants remain in the U.S., many of them--and especially their children--become incorporated into the Chicano national minority. Thus Chicanos are a distinct, but also very diverse population, made up of people of Mexican descent who were born, or who grew up, in the U.S. That can mean having roots that go back to the Southwest before the U.S. conquest, or having been born in Oaxaca in southern Mexico and emigrating to the U.S. It can mean growing up in Chicago or San Antonio speaking English, or in Los Angeles first speaking Spanish and then being ridiculed in school until you mastered English. Getting a deeper understanding of this diversity, and at the same time what it is that welds the Chicano people into a distinct, oppressed nationality--and how that affects their lives, their struggle, and the path to liberation--is one of the goals of this paper.

This leads to another important, related question--what it means to say that Chicanos are an oppressed national minority. The great majority of Chicanos who are now concentrated in the urban centers--mainly in the Southwest but also in the Midwest and increasingly around the country--were not dispersed there from the countryside of the Southwest, but from the countryside and cities of Mexico. And this has occurred mainly since 1910. In addition, as we'll see in the analysis of the history of the Chicano people that follows, the actual history of the Southwest shows that in those areas of the U.S. where Chicanos have lived for many, many generations, they did not develop into a nation. We will address the difference between a nation and a national minority in more detail later in this paper. But it should be clear that recognizing that the Chicano people are an oppressed national minority, not a nation, is important in order to see how to fight for the emancipation of the Chicano people, not whether Chicanos have a right to be free.

All of this points to the strategic significance of the fact that U.S. imperialism shares a 2,000 mile border with a country--Mexico--that it brutally dominates and exploits. The history and present-day struggle of the Chicano people is inextricably bound up with the domination of Mexico and the superexploitation of the Mexican immigrants forced to come here as a result. Even though the paths to revolution are different on the two sides of the border, the people of the U.S. and the people of Mexico have a common enemy and a common struggle to overthrow the criminal rule of the U.S. capitalist imperialist system. Already we have seen in recent years the ways in which struggles on either side of the border have reverberated across "la línea." For this reason, the growing struggles of the Chicano and Mexicano people in the U.S. are important in their own right and at the same time represent a potentially powerful force linking--and strengthening--the revolutionary movements on both sides of the border.

There are 3 parts to this paper: Part I looks at the history and the present-day conditions of the Chicano people. Part II gets into the underlying sources of the oppression of the Chicano people, and how the victory of proletarian revolution and establishing a socialist state can uproot all that oppression. And Part III comments on some of the different views and programs that are out there within the movement today, and where we have unity and where we have differences over what will bring true liberation.

Part I: The History and Present Conditions of the Chicano People

The day-to-day reality of the Chicano people is marked with the scars of oppression and exploitation: the young, bald and brown Chicano who has had his face pushed up against a wall by the police more times than he can remember; the Chicano families where the parents have slaved a lifetime making capitalists rich while they can barely make ends meet; the Chicano college freshman who has overcome the "savage inequalities" of an inner city education only to hear in not-so-soft whispers that he or she is "only there because of affirmative action"; all the Chicanos slapped on the back of the hand with a ruler for speaking Spanish in school or swept into Special Ed classes because their first language is Spanish; the Chicanos who are constantly fed the "John Wayne" myth that the defenders of the Alamo were "heroes" who died at the hands of those "bad" Mexicans. All this and more is the weight the Chicano people bear.

Historically, the U.S. has benefited from murderous plunder against the Mexicano and Chicano people. And today the system continues to profit from maintaining the majority of Chicano people in the lower rungs of the working class. National oppression enables the ruling class to systematically oppress an entire people on the basis of their Mexican heritage, their skin color and the way they speak--forcing them into menial and often backbreaking work for the lowest wages. Chicanos are overworked and underpaid, or pushed onto the unemployment lines. Chicanos are segregated into poor, run down neighborhoods with the worst schools and medical care, and where police brutality is rampant. It has been over 150 years since the U.S. stole nearly half of Mexico's land, but Chicanos still live with the effects of this history of theft and conquest, and the continued domination of Mexico.

This oppressor/oppressed relationship is embedded in the social fabric of the Southwest and the rest of the country--a whole superstructure of prejudice and discrimination has been built up by the system that demeans, disrespects and criminalizes the culture, language, and even the existence of the Chicano people. Chicanos are constantly told that they are an inferior people, that their Mexican heritage and Spanish language are inferior, and that the reason they are treated like criminals is because they act like them.

While the U.S. has a history of oppression and exploitation against the Chicano people, Chicanos have a rich history of struggle against national oppression and against capitalist exploitation as part of the multinational proletariat. They are a living example of that most basic law of class society--"oppression breeds resistance."

Colonization, Conquest and Capitalist Development

The Chicano, or Mexican-American, people are an oppressed nationality in the U.S. whose roots of oppression trace back to the original colonization of what is now the southwestern portion of the U.S. Their forced subjugation as a people and their long history of struggle against this subjugation is rooted in the conquest of the Southwest by the U.S. ruling class in the U.S.-Mexican War, the continuous domination of Mexico by U.S. imperialism, and the maintenance of large parts of the Southwest as an oppressed region.

The year 1492 marked the beginning of a new stage in human history when Columbus drifted onto the Americas. In Europe it triggered tremendous activity among the rising merchant classes--the budding capitalists straining against the constraints of feudalism--who saw in the Americas a new source of wealth and power. Spain was one of the leading countries scrambling to stake its claim on the Western Hemisphere.

In 1519 Hernán Cortés led a small band of Spanish soldiers into the territory of Mexico, where they encountered a number of different peoples, including the dominant Aztecs, who commanded an advanced civilization and large empire, and others such as the Zapotec, Mixtec, and Mayan peoples. For various reasons, they were able to conquer the Aztecs within a few years and then proceed to take over the areas under their control, and the rest of the surrounding populations. Eventually, this led to the establishment of a new civilization that covered a large part of the continents of North and South America--including what is now Central America, Mexico, and the U.S. Southwest--dominated by the Spanish conquerors and populated by the indigenous peoples. The Spanish faced great resistance on the part of the native peoples as they spread their empire throughout the Americas. Spain conquered Mexico gradually, through warfare and the devastation caused by the diseases they brought with them. But throughout this period, resistance to their rule continued on the part of the Native American and Mexican peoples.

The Spanish conquest of these peoples all but destroyed the previous societies, not just in terms of the institutions and customs, but also large numbers of the existing populations. Few Spanish women traveled to the "New World"--which came to be called New Spain (Nueva España)--so the physical blending between the Spanish and the indigenous people--often the result of plunder and rape--created the mestizo. Out of all this, over several centuries, arose a new culture, the modern culture of Mexico. In New Spain the mestizo was looked down upon and exploited, and the remaining indigenous peoples were kept in extremely oppressive conditions as a result of new social relations imposed and enforced by the Spanish conquerors.

It was the search for mineral wealth that drove early Spanish explorers into what is now the Southwest of the U.S. Later, permanent settlements were encouraged to fortify the frontier against rival European powers. Colonizing these areas was not easy--the fierce resistance of the Utes, Apaches, Comanches and Navajos made it difficult for the settlers to gain control over the area.

These Spanish settlements were able to survive by conquering and enslaving the Pueblo Indians, who had developed agriculture and were a more settled people. In 1680 the Pueblos rose up against a century of abuse, torture and disease in an organized, coordinated revolt that drove all of the Spanish settlements out of the region for the next fifteen years.

But by 1700 the Spanish were finally able to defeat this revolt of the Pueblos. The conquest eventually decimated the Pueblos, so the Spanish looked for new ways to settle and control the area. In the northern part of New Mexico a large population of Indians and Mexican peasants were granted communal land by the Spanish crown to encourage the growth of settlements that would protect their interests in that area against others who wanted to force them out--other Indians and the French. In these areas villagers lived off subsistence crops, raised sheep on communal land, and had communal water rights. Their isolation from Central Mexico and relative stability enabled the people of northern New Mexico to begin developing a society of their own, based on communal land grants and distinct from other parts of Mexico and other Southwestern settlements. These settlements started in the 1700s and still exist today.

The Southern part of New Mexico was settled differently. In this area large tracts of land were granted to a few Spanish elite who forced very poor Indian and Mexican peasants to work their land. In this colony, just like in other parts of Mexico, Spanish nobility ruled, while the Indians and the mestizos were at the bottom of society. But, because of constant Indian raids these settlements grew slowly. At the end of the 18th century there were only 8,000 settlers in all of New Mexico.

In Texas, the Spaniards arrived with a cross in one hand and a sword in the other. In East Texas they tried to establish Catholic missions and armed garrisons, but the Comanches gave them no peace. Settlers were more successful in the south of Texas between the Rio Grande and the Nueces River. Here Spanish ranchers viciously exploited the mestizos brought from Mexico to work their land. However, long distances and hostile Indians prevented contact between this settlement and those in New Mexico and California.

In contrast, in California the mission system was successful. Twenty-one missions, three towns and three garrisons were built between San Diego and San Francisco. The coastal Indians offered little resistance and many were converted to Christianity and forced to "serve God" by becoming slaves. The resistance of the nomadic Indians of central California prevented the development of missions there. California was the farthest from central Mexico and had the smallest population of all the Spanish colonies by the 1820s.

In Arizona there were many attempts to settle. But as a result of the resistance and attacks on settlements by the native people, lack of money, and the Spanish struggle to keep control over Mexico, the Spanish found it difficult to protect their interests in Arizona.

To sum up: The first settlements in what is now the U.S. Southwest and California were sparsely settled between 1600 and 1800 by the Spanish, relying on Mexican and Indian labor. Only Northern New Mexico developed communal land grants. And the mission system based mainly on Indian labor developed only in California. These colonized areas had little or no contact with each other or with central Mexico. The distance between them, difficult terrain, and the constant resistance and attacks from Indigenous tribes, meant that each region had its own unique development and had little in common, other than their general Mexican heritage.

Mexican Independence from Spain

Between 1776 and 1836, several colonial independence movements shook the Americas. One of the leaders of the Mexican revolution was Father Miguel Hidalgo, who led a revolt that sparked the outbreak of Mexico's war of independence. On September 16, 1810, Hidalgo shouted the famous "Grito de Dolores"--"Long live our Lady of Guadalupe, down with bad government, down with the Spaniards!" For the next eleven years there were many more uprisings and in 1821 Mexico declared its independence from Spain.

Even though the settlements in the Southwest were considered part of Mexico, they did not participate to a great extent in the independence movement because there was little or no contact between them and Mexico. These borderland settlements were developing more independently from the rest of Mexico. In what is now New Mexico, the suppression of the Apaches led to a revival of immigration from Mexico, resulting in the expansion of ranching and farming.

The Santa Fe Trail was opened in 1822 connecting Santa Fe, New Mexico with U.S. markets. The opening of this trail reduced the isolation of these provinces from the U.S., but increased their separation from the rest of Mexico. Ruling class forces in Mexico did not like the trade between the U.S. and Mexico's provinces and feared they would be lost to the U.S. These Mexican ruling class forces led a revolt in 1835 that brought Lopez de Santa Anna to power. His regime imposed taxes on the people who lived in the northern provinces. Rich and poor despised these taxes--they had already become dependent on the goods the U.S. sold them at a cheaper price. The revolt that followed was suppressed by Mexico and New Mexico's large landowners, who quickly saw they had more to fear from the Indians and peasants who were most active in the revolt than from Mexico's central government.

The U.S.-Mexican War (1846-1848)

In the early 1800s two economic systems were competing in the U.S.: slavery and capitalism. The southern slave system, with its constant need for new land, was the driving force behind the seizure of the territory of northwest Mexico (what is now the U.S. Southwest). But the capitalists in the North also eyed the territory as a source of land, gold and other mineral resources, and as an opening of trade to the West. In 1836, slave owners, who had moved into the eastern part of Texas, stole the land from Mexico and declared it the Independent Republic of Texas. Despite warnings from the Mexican government, the U.S. annexed this so-called republic in 1845, and this led to the U.S.-Mexican War.

Mexican and Indian peasants fought hard against U.S. aggression in the Mexican provinces. A number of Irish immigrants who were U.S. soldiers deserted to the Mexican side, forming the Batallón San Patricio (Saint Patrick's Battalion). While few of the rich landowners of New Mexico resisted the U.S., the masses of peasants and Indians in these regions did resist. There was struggle throughout the Southwest and California, but despite this resistance against the U.S., Mexico was defeated on February 2, 1848. By then U.S. troops had driven deep into Mexican territory, reaching and encircling Mexico City. In this way they were delivering a message that the U.S. was to be the dominant force in this hemisphere.

At the end of the U.S.-Mexican War the U.S. ripped off approximately 50% of Mexico's territory--the land richest in natural resources, suitable for growing fruit, farming, grazing, rich in minerals like copper and silver, and rich in oil reserves. The theft of this land crippled Mexico's future economic development.

Approximately 75,000 Mexicans were living on settlements in the Southwest at the end of the U.S.-Mexican War, 60,000 of them in New Mexico. They were mainly poor farmers, peasants, ranch hands and miners.

Mexico was forced to sign the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo, which while stripping it of half its land, promised that Mexicans in the Southwest of what was now U.S. territory were entitled to Constitutional rights and "shall be maintained and protected in the free enjoyment of their liberty and property." This treaty and the protocol that was also signed guaranteed the Mexican people their land grants, language and civil rights. But the treaty was treated as a mere scrap of paper and never respected by the U.S. government.

Only nine days after the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo was signed gold was discovered in California. Thousands of people flooded the area and the small Mexican population of 7,500 was completely overrun. The state's population leaped to 67,000 by the end of 1848 and soared to 250,000 by 1849. Taxes, squatters, and court costs to affirm land titles ruined Mexican ranchers. Some Mexicans worked as ranch hands or were self-employed as artisans and craftsmen. But Mexicans who attempted to mine gold were hit with "foreign" miner taxes that prevented them from mining. The Mexican people resisted this wholesale rip-off. Tiburcio Vasquez and Joaquin Murrieta, dismissed as criminals by prevailing versions of California history, became outlaws rather than accept the injustices coming down on Mexicans, and both of them headed up armed bands that roamed California until they were captured and killed.

In Texas the war was over, but the people's struggle wasn't. Big U.S. cattle barons and plantation owners set out to take over everything and push the Mexicans out of the way. This is where the Texas Rangers got their start--as the strong-armed thugs for the big ranchers, using murder and robbery to terrorize the Mexican people into submission. Poor Mexicans and displaced landowners rose up in resistance. Juan Cortina led an important and heroic resistance movement in Texas, avoiding capture and carrying out armed battles for over a decade.

In Southwest Texas and New Mexico U.S. expansion came slower. At first the Anglo-Americans who migrated there married into prominent Mexican families and became part of the elite. Step by step they bought out or stole outright the land from the small Mexican farmers in violation of the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo. Between 1850 and 1900, two million acres belonging to individuals, 1.7 million acres of communal land and 1.8 million acres of other New Mexican land were seized by the U.S. government. The Anglo settlers in Texas set up new towns alongside and separate from the old ones, while the Mexican people ended up as peons and ranch hands. In this way, the conquest brought with it the beginnings of institutionalized segregation and discrimination of the Mexican population that remained.

A notorious alliance of politicians and twenty rich New Mexican families, known as the Santa Fe Ring, worked together to acquire large tracts of land. Conducting court only in English, imposing high taxes, arbitrary laws, and expensive confirmation of land deeds, and through outright robbery and murder, they seized the communal lands away from the people. Many Mexicans lost their homes, and Mexican peasants moved northward into the southern portion of Colorado where their settlements still exist today.

The victory of capitalism over slavery in 1865 brought bigger changes to the Southwest. This victory accelerated the downfall of the feudal landlord-tenant setup that had existed in parts of the Southwest. The development of the railroads encouraged the expansion of large-scale capitalist agriculture, which ruined the landowners and forced the peasants into the ranks of the working class in the mines, railroads and truck farms, along with Irish and Chinese immigrants. The railroads also encouraged the development of large cattle ranchers who could ship their beef to the east. These powerful interests drove the smaller Mexican sheepherders and small farmers out of business and into the working class as well.

For the vast majority of Mexican people in the Southwest, capitalism advanced by running roughshod over them and subjugating them to its needs. A reign of terror was unleashed on them, and their resistance to its domination was drowned in blood. Through this brutal process the oppressed minority of Mexicans were transformed into a new and distinct oppressed national minority within the U.S.--the Mexican-American or Chicano people.

To sum up: as this history shows, when the U.S. seized what is now the Southwest from Mexico the various Mexican settlements in that region were small and isolated, not only from Mexico, but also from each other. The conquest cut these settlements off from the nation-building process that was taking place in Mexico. The consolidation of U.S. capitalism over the Southwest held back the independent economic, cultural, political and social development of the Mexican people in the area. In so doing it forged them together into a single oppressed nationality--Mexican-Americans or Chicanos--and welded them in their great majority together with workers of other nationalities into the single U.S. working class. All this set the stage for a higher level of struggle against the common enemy in the decades to come.

Mexican Revolution of 1910

Revolution broke out in Mexico in 1910 as peasants rose up demanding "Tierra y Libertad--Land and Liberty." Ninety-five percent of the Mexican people were landless peasants and tenant farmers and they fought for the land to be redistributed. Peasant leaders like Pancho Villa and Emiliano Zapata led the Mexican people in resistance. Organizations in the U.S. like the Partido Liberal Mexicano (PLM), led by Ricardo Flores Magon, actively built support for the revolution among Chicano and Mexicano workers. Magon was later imprisoned by the U.S. government and murdered in prison.

This period saw the first large-scale migration of Mexican workers into the U.S. The political and economic upheaval that accompanied the Mexican Revolution led to hundreds of thousands coming to the U.S.--nearly 10% of Mexico's population. The rapid development of U.S. capitalist agricultural production and its hunt for cheap farm labor greatly encouraged this migration as Mexican laborers poured into the country to work the cotton fields of Texas and Arizona, harvest sugar beets in Colorado, Michigan and the Great Lakes, and to pick California's fruits and vegetables. At the same time, the expansion of U.S. capitalist industry in the first decades of the 20th century sent recruiters to Texas and Mexico to fill jobs in the mines and railroads in the Southwest, in the Detroit auto plants, the Chicago steel mills, the slaughterhouses of Chicago, Omaha, Kansas City, and other growing industries in the Midwest.

The capitalists saw in these workers a source of cheap labor and a force that could be used to divide the working class. But working under dangerous conditions, performing backbreaking work, facing wage discrimination and treated as second-class citizens with no rights, Chicano and Mexicano workers united with the upsurge in the working class movement and fought together with workers of all nationalities in militant strikes in the fields and factories throughout this period. In Ludlow, Colorado in April 1914, one of the most famous strikes in this country's history took place as 9,000 miners, mainly Chicano, Italian, and Slavic, struck for union recognition, wage increases and better working and living conditions. J.D. Rockefeller called in troops to "protect his property" and they machine-gunned workers and then set fire to their homes, killing two women and eleven children in what has been known ever since as the Ludlow massacre.

World War I and the Depression

The stepped-up war economy and the recruitment of workers into the military during WW I (1914-1918) created a labor shortage that further encouraged the influx of Chicanos and Mexicanos into heavy industry. The war also cut off the flow of European immigrants to the U.S., and Mexican workers were turned to as one of the main sources of replacement for these European immigrants. Soon the Midwestern cities had growing Chicano communities. There were 4,000 Chicanos in Chicago in 1917; by 1930 this had increased to 20,000. But, following the Stock Market crash of 1929, and the economic crisis that followed, the 1930s saw tens of millions of workers laid off and wages cut by 50%.

The immigrants were used as scapegoats to take the blame for the economic hard times. Chicanos were cut off relief and were not allowed to work on government public works projects. It's estimated that there were 3 million people of Mexican descent living in the U.S. at the beginning of the depression. Of this number over 500,000--both Chicanos and Mexicanos--were forced to return to Mexico. In Detroit at least 12,000 of the 15,000 Chicanos and Mexicanos were repatriated. Families were split up. Sometimes the parents ended up on one side of the border, the children on the other, or with some of the children in the U.S. while the others were deported. There were many cases of people born in the U.S. being deported. In some cases those who had been born in Mexico but had spent almost no time there were sent back to live in a country they knew little about.

World War II

Nearly 500,000 Chicanos served in the armed forces during World War II, and for many this meant breaking the rural isolation they had lived in, coming into contact with new ideas and different people, including Chicanos from other areas. The war also brought more Chicanos and Mexicanos into the industrial and agricultural proletariat.

Sent off in large numbers to fight and die for U.S. imperialist interests, "at home" Chicanos were still seen and treated like second-class citizens and faced many forms of discrimination. They went to segregated schools, and it was not uncommon for people of Mexican descent to be denied access to public swimming pools and theatres, or to be refused service in restaurants. In Texas los rinches, the Texas Rangers, made it their sole purpose to harass Chicanos and Mexicanos.

In 1943 bands of sailors, aided and encouraged by the police, rioted in L.A. attacking Chicano youth. The reactionary press called these the "Zoot Suit Riots," because of the style of dress of these urban Chicano youth, and newspapers launched a propaganda barrage about the "criminal nature" of the Chicano people. In fact the generation of the "Zoot Suiters" brought a new character to Chicano culture, particularly in the more urban areas--taking on racist attacks on Chicanos and defying the dominant Anglo culture.

Bracero Program

The war also caused a shortage of labor in the fields, as many Blacks, Chicanos and poor whites that had worked the fields during the depression went into the military. In need of a cheap labor supply, in 1942 the U.S. and Mexican governments set up the Bracero program. This program guaranteed a set number of Mexican workers who would come to the U.S. and work for a particular harvest and then would return to Mexico at the end of the season. (Not all Braceros worked in the fields; some ended up working for the railroads laying tracks, and others found their way to factories in the East Coast.) The agreement stated that Braceros could not be drafted by the U.S., they would not take jobs away from domestic workers, and there was to be no discrimination against them. In reality they were forced into jobs with low pay, bad working conditions, and with no right to organize or fight back. From 1942 to 1947, 220,000 Braceros were brought into the U.S. for farm labor, in a program that lasted until the early 1960s. (Recently it has been uncovered that hundreds of thousands of Braceros were robbed of tens of millions of dollars through mandatory payroll deductions into "savings accounts" that most Braceros never knew about, and that were never turned over to them after they were sent back to Mexico.)

In the 1950s the INS carried out what they called "Operation Wetback." Using midnight raids, street dragnets, and the use of schools as concentration camps to hold people awaiting deportation, they unleashed a reign of terror against immigrants and Chicanos, eventually deporting millions of people, citizen and non-citizen alike.

By the 1950s there was a large Chicano population and many had a similar history of being born or raised in the U.S. of parents who had migrated from Mexico. This was a different generation than the "Zoot suiters"--but many of these youth had heard stories about and respected those youth of the 1940s. There was anger at being cast aside, being treated as outsiders, hounded by the police, etc. The immigrant and Chicano population that had helped build the Southwest--helped lay the rails, build the bridges and roads, worked in the mines and the fields--was little valued. And little was known about or considered worth knowing about the country of Mexico they had come from--its whole history, culture, and society. In the schools, these youth found that the curriculum included almost nothing that taught students the history of the Chicano people, and in society at large there was little recognition of the contributions Chicanos had made to society. It was as though Chicanos had never existed as a people, as though they had never accomplished anything of worth. In the early '60s Chicanos at UCLA discovered that some of the professional schools had never graduated a single Chicano--in the city of Los Angeles, with its large Chicano population.

Out of all this a new sense of awareness of being an oppressed people within U.S. society emerged, along with a culture of resistance and new organizations reflecting this.

The Farmworkers Struggle

Chicano and Mexicano farmworkers joined with striking Filipino campesinos in the grape fields of Delano, California in September of 1965. This began a new period of struggle in the fields of California and the Southwest. Under the leadership of what became the United Farmworkers Union, this new drive mounted a major challenge to the agri-business barons. Despite the fierce opposition of the growers and the rest of their class, the farmworkers movement scored significant gains and gave inspiration to workers of all nationalities, and to the awakening Chicano movement. The struggle involved thousands of farmworkers, and mobilized countless other workers (and people of other strata) in solidarity, through the boycott of produce picked by strikebreakers--"scabs"--and other support activity.

Workers from New York to Belgium refused to handle scab grapes and forced union bureaucrats and liberal politicians to give support to the struggle. Mass mobilizations brought workers and students from the cities to the fields of Central California in solidarity, returning with an even greater determination to step up the struggle against oppression. Given its impact and the support it attracted, it's not surprising that the bourgeoisie would do all they could to smash the farmworker movement, while trying to keep it within the bounds of trade unionism and on the reformist path. This did have an impact on the direction the movement took, with its leaders wanting to paint it as a moral, pacifist one while covering up and discouraging the very militancy which made it such an inspiration to the world. The leadership fell in with the ruling class line that "illegals" threaten American-born workers' jobs and should be deported--even though many of the most militant fighters among the farmworkers were workers without papers.

For other sections of the Chicano people the farmworkers movement was an inspiration, not only because of their resistance to exploitation, but also because in their fight the farmworkers drew a spotlight on the national oppression all Chicanos face. And they raised demands around many of the issues that Chicanos in the community were fighting for--including for better housing, schooling and medical care, and an end to all forms of discrimination.

The 1960s

National liberation struggles were raging in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, and together with this, the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in China was sending revolutionary shock waves across the planet. More and more, revolution was becoming the currency. (It was announced in the late 1960s that the Red Book of "Quotations of Chairman Mao" had outsold the Bible worldwide!) Vietnam, a small Third World country, was militarily defeating the "all-powerful" United States. Soldiers in the U.S. armed forces were killing their own officers, deserting, and refusing to fight. All this was the backdrop to the tremendous upheaval that erupted across this country. Millions of young people from all walks of life and different nationalities battled it out on the streets with the system against the bloody Vietnam war. And over one hundred cities burned in rebellion across the U.S. in the days following the murder of Dr. Martin Luther King.

A new generation of Chicano activists hit the scene with the force of an erupting volcano, inspired by the struggles of the farmworkers and by the militant Black liberation movement, as well as by the growing opposition to the Vietnam war among students and others. The struggle of the Chicano people against national oppression reached new heights during this period. Important battles were fought in New Mexico over land grant rights, and a significant Chicano youth movement developed in Colorado. High school "blowouts" shook East L.A. as thousands of Chicano students hit the streets demanding a decent education. Student struggles and organizations also developed in the high schools and college campuses across the Southwest and beyond, demanding Chicano Studies departments and open admissions. All the areas where Chicanos were concentrated became strong centers of resistance.

The question of revolution was being posed as the solution to the problems in society. Chicanos, like others, were demanding an end to the oppressive conditions they lived in, asking what it was going to take to really change this. There was an increasing need to chart a road forward and Chicanos began organizing themselves into a number of different groups. This growing political awareness and search for a way out from under their oppression brought together over 3,000 Chicano activists to a conference in Denver, Colorado in 1969. At this 1st National Youth Conference in Denver the Plan Espiritual de Aztlán was written. And a short time later, at a conference in Santa Barbara, MEChA (Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán) was organized as a unified student organization. The struggle developed to a higher level against the war in Vietnam, against language and cultural repression and discrimination in schools and in society at large, against police brutality in the neighborhoods; and political awareness and debate grew over how to liberate the Chicano people and all people. Chicanos spread their struggle in all arenas, including through a flourishing of culture--poetry, songs, theatrical works, paintings, etc.-- all depicting the life and struggles of the Chicano people. Some forces took up Marxism and looked to the overthrow of U.S. imperialism as the solution.

Chicano Moratorium

On August 29, 1970, over 25,000 Chicanos from across the country gathered in Los Angeles to demand an end to the Vietnam War and an end to national oppression. This was the first time in history that there was this type of gathering among Chicanos. On the morning of August 29th people began to assemble at Laguna Park (later renamed Ruben Salazar Park). There were Chicanos from Kansas City, Minnesota, Chicago, the Southwest -- they had all come that day, along with Chicano and Mexicano families from the Los Angeles area, to express their outrage at the fact that thousands of Chicanos who had died in Vietnam and to demand an end to the war. There were thousands of signs and banners with different slogans, including "Raza Sí! Guerra No!" and among a revolutionary section--"Raza Sí! Guerra Aquí!" People marched down Whittier Blvd. in East Los Angeles receiving applause and support from the Chicano community.

Once the rally began, the police used a minor incident a block away as an excuse to attack the crowd with teargas and clubs. The people fought back with whatever was at hand. The battle soon spread throughout the community, with older people as well as the youth taking part.

A member of the RCP who was at the Chicano Moratorium explained that "the police attacked the demonstration not because of a few unruly demonstrators but because the U.S. ruling class was under siege around the world and inside the U.S. Only 3 months earlier national guardsmen had murdered students at Kent State and at the all-Black Jackson State campus. In this situation they could not allow an aroused Chicano people to take matters into their own hands."

The battle lasted several hours. People who ordinarily might not have gotten involved were compelled to support the demonstrators because they saw that the attack on the Moratorium was unjustified. Many allowed the demonstrators into their houses and then refused to let the Sheriffs search for them.(3)

Three people were murdered by the Sheriffs that day, including the well-known journalist Ruben Salazar who was shot in the head with a tear gas canister inside a bar. But the ruling class and the cops received a taste of the fury and strength of the Chicano people.

By the early 1970s, for a number of reasons, the great upsurges of the '60s began to wind down.(4)

Some important struggles involving the masses of Chicanos did take place in the years that followed, like the strike by thousands of predominantly Chicana workers in 1972 against the Farah pants plants of Texas and New Mexico, which rallied support around the country and ended in 1974 with the workers winning most of their demands. And there were important battles against police brutality, like the Moody Park rebellion in Houston's North Side in 1978 that saw thousands of Chicanos rise up in two nights of fighting against the police after police came in to mess with their Cinco de Mayo celebration. The backdrop to this uprising was a year-long battle for justice for José Campos Torres, who was beaten within an inch of his life by police and then thrown into the bayou where he drowned--for which the police involved were given a year's probation and a $1 fine!(5)

The Conditions of the Chicano People Today

The powerful upheaval against national oppression in the 1960s forced the power structure to put policies like affirmative action into effect. At that time they saw affirmative action and ethnic studies programs as concessions that they needed to and could make, yet even while making these concessions they tried to use them as a way to cool out the struggle.

In recent decades, big changes in the world and in the worldwide capitalist imperialist system have driven the U.S. capitalists to take a "hard look" at the way they run the U.S. economy. On the one hand, with the collapse of the Soviet Union, the U.S. imperialists no longer have a rival superpower to contend with, particularly in the military sphere, but in the "new globalized economy" they do face intense economic competition from the rival capitalists based in Japan and Europe. On every level their response has been to launch completely heartless assaults on the lives of millions of people--from the poorest people in the inner cities and Indian reservations to somewhat better off strata that once held steady jobs in capitalist industry.

Now, powerful sections of the ruling class have decided that they will gain much more by abolishing programs that acknowledged inequality and justice in the U.S. They have calculated that the interests of their class are best served by not even pretending to be concerned about increasing opportunity for Black and Chicano people, women and other oppressed sections of the people.

Hand in hand with the system's changing needs in the '90s came the increasing cultivation of the "reverse discrimination"' and "minority politics" myths. Bourgeois mouthpieces like Linda Chavez(6)

claimed that "Mexican Americans are enjoying rapid progress" similar to that of European Americans. She argued that the descendants of Mexican immigrants were assimilating the same way that the descendants of European immigrants did, but this success is being overshadowed by the "pessimistic picture" created by Mexican immigration and that is what makes Chicanos think that they are at a disadvantage. Chavez pointed to the few "brown faces" in high places to claim that Chicanos can "assimilate" and "make it" in this so-called "land of opportunity."

The truth is that the oppression of the Chicano people has persisted generation after generation. No matter how long Chicanos have lived in this country, they are still discriminated against and most are kept at the bottom of society in the lower rungs of the proletariat. While there is more class differentiation among Chicanos today than in earlier periods, and there has been some growth in the numbers of middle class Chicanos, the reality remains that for large sections of the Chicano people things aren't getting any better, they are getting worse.

There are colonias in South Texas along the Mexico/U.S. border where over half a million Chicanos and Mexicanos live in conditions comparable to those in the Third World, with no running water, sewage systems, or roads, in unincorporated areas that are so desolate they can't even be found on a map. Generations of Chicanos have been born, raised, and raise their families in these colonias, where it is not uncommon for a family to live on less than $6,000 a year. The unemployment rate there averages 20%. Many of the inhabitants of the colonias work part of the year as migrant workers and have to hire themselves as day laborers or do odd jobs to try to survive. Half of the colonia children will not graduate from high school because their contribution to the family income is literally a matter of life and death. Only 1% of the youth in the colonias will ever make it to college.

It is estimated that 90% of the 20 million or more Chicanos in this country live in metropolitan areas. The median family income for a Chicano family is less than two-thirds that of whites. At the time of the 1990 Census(7)

one-quarter of all the Mexican-American families lived under the "official" poverty line of $16,000 per family. Almost half of the Chicanos in poverty in the U.S. today are children under the age of 18. The poverty rate of Chicanos as a whole is over 2 1/2 times as high as the rate for whites, even though most poor Chicano families have working adults.

Contrary to the claim that Chicanos are slowly "climbing up the economic ladder"

(Out of the Barrio, Linda Chavez) Chicanos are employed mainly in "blue collar" jobs, farm work, and service occupations. Nearly one third of Chicanos are concentrated in just three job categories --- operators, fabricators, or laborers. Chicanas, like other groups of women workers, are heavily concentrated in clerical and service work, which combined employed 2/3 of Chicana workers in 1991. To a large degree, the jobs Chicanos have are in the sectors of the economy that show the slowest growth.

Throughout the 1980s the movement of better paying jobs to the suburbs and the dismantling of governmental support programs and social spending on urban areas contributed to the worsening of conditions for Chicanos, as it did for Blacks and other oppressed peoples concentrated in the urban areas. Sharp federal program cuts throughout the 1980s devastated low income households. In other words, it was the combination of the workings of the economy and conscious policy on the part of the ruling class during the '80s that drove down the conditions of Chicanos and other oppressed people in this country.

The 1980s were called by some the "decade of Latino entrepreneurs." And there was a growth of small Chicano businesses in the decade. However, it is extremely hard for these small businesses to get loans, and most businesses find it difficult if not impossible to grow beyond their initial size. Even in L.A., with 75,000 Latino-owned businesses in 1995--the largest number of any city nationwide--these businesses receive few government contracts, and can't break into the "old boy" network of big companies. And this describes the situation before the ending of affirmative action in California, eliminating even voluntary quotas for distributing government contracts to businesses with women and/or "minority" owners.

Today U.S.-born Chicano men average a year and a half less education than white men and a third of a year less than Black men. Compared to whites in either California or Texas, Chicanos are more than 3 times more likely not to finish 12 years of schooling and less than a third as likely to obtain a bachelor's degree. And the increasing urban segregation across the nation is making the situation worse. In 1972/3, 56.6 percent of Latinos(8)

attended schools that were predominantly minority; by 1991/92 this proportion had reached 73.4! Latinos now have the distinction of being the most segregated grouping in U.S. schools. These statistics mean "savage inequalities" for the students: school funding that produces ten-fold differences in per-pupil expenditures (as in Texas, with Latino school districts at the lowest end of the spectrum); half-hearted instructional programs for Chicano and other Latino students; and tracking systems that disproportionately place these students on nonacademic educational paths.

Between 1980 and 1990 the proportion of Latinos (men and women) with bachelor's degrees increased from 7.7% to 10%. A 1999 California study found that still only about 10% of the state's 3rd-generation Chicanos (and other Latinos) had a bachelor's degree or higher, compared with 30% for non-Latinos. About 17% of 3rd-generation Latinos had no high school diploma, compared with 6.7% of non-Latinos.

And the attacks in the 1990s (and since) on access to higher education for the oppressed nationalities are having a significant impact. A student at UCLA wrote that the first freshman class to be admitted under California's Prop. 209 outlawing affirmative action had a 33% drop in both Chicano and Latino students, with predictions that things could get worse. A Chicano historian we interviewed in California predicts: "Chicano youth are going to get increasingly segregated into community colleges, even more than they are now, which is where the majority of Chicano youth are enrolled. And you're also going to have the phenomenon where some of the UC and Cal State campuses_ are going to be discreetly identified as minority campuses, and minority students will be shunted into them." The result of these policies is going to be a strengthening of the bonds of national oppression already holding the Chicano people "in their place."

Part II: The Source of -- and Solution to -- the Oppression of the Chicano People

What accounts for the continuing oppression of the Chicano people? Why is it that whether you are the child of recent Mexican immigrants or your ancestors have lived in the U.S. Southwest for centuries, you cannot escape national oppression?

There are two sources--one historical, and one international--for the ongoing oppression and discrimination against Chicanos. First is their historic subjugation as a "conquered" people, which is woven into the social fabric of this country as a result of and a justification for the theft of Mexican land and the brutal oppression of the Mexican people who remained there following the conquest. "Remember the Alamo"--the chauvinist rallying cry justifying U.S. expansionism--is still taught to children in Texas and throughout the U.S. In the period after the U.S. defeat of Mexico in 1848, Anglos and Mexicans in these territories confronted each other as conquerors and conquered. The Mexican population had their lands appropriated, their rights stripped from them, and their struggles against this injustice and oppression crushed, as they were forged into an oppressed, and overwhelmingly proletarian, national minority. Going hand in hand with and justifying this oppression, a whole superstructure of laws and racist attitudes of Anglo/white superiority was erected.

One hundred fifty years later this oppression and discrimination continues because it is built into the social structure of the Southwest and the country as a whole, and because capitalism profits and overall benefits from it. It enables the South Texas region to be maintained as a source of migrant laborers living in Third World conditions. And it keeps the majority of Chicanos locked into the lower rungs of the proletariat throughout the Southwest, the Midwest and beyond, working backbreaking and mind-numbing jobs for low pay, living in barrios with the worst, most segregated schools, police brutality, etc.

And this oppression is further reinforced and reproduced by the fact that the U.S. shares a 2,000 mile border with a country that it keeps locked into an oppressor/oppressed relationship. The U.S. dominates, subjugates and superexploits Mexico, and at the same time is deeply dependent on Mexican immigrant labor as a crucial source of wealth for the U.S. capitalists, keeping the overwhelming majority of Mexican immigrants in the bottom rungs of the working class. To maintain this setup and deal with the potential threat they see to their own stability, the U.S. rulers have institutionalized discrimination against those of Mexican descent and Latinos in general. They outlaw the use of the Spanish language in schools and workplaces, and in general treat the ability to speak Spanish as a "liability" rather than as something positive. They hunt down and criminalize so-called "illegals" and in the process create a situation where anyone who "looks Mexican" is treated with suspicion. They deny immigrants access to colleges and to medical care. They degrade Mexican culture, and they lie about the relations between the U.S. and Mexico, historically and down to the present day, to cover up and justify their plunder--blaming Mexico's problems on its own "corruption" and "backwardness."

Not only are recent immigrants subjected to this U.S. chauvinist oppression, but so are Chicanos who have been here for some time, including those who are U.S. citizens. Chicanos have to prove that they "belong" here, and they have to accept the worst education, jobs, and housing. They have to live in a society that degrades their roots, their relatives and ancestors, including the roots of their culture and language. There is no way these imperialists can continue to dominate Mexico and exploit immigrant labor without maintaining the oppression of the Chicano people as a whole.

Impact of the Recent Upsurge in Mexican (and Central American) Immigration

Recent decades have seen an unprecedented influx of immigrants from Mexico. The U.S. rulers like to claim that it is the image of "streets paved with gold," or the "promise of the American Dream" that has made millions of people from Mexico leave their homes and loved ones, travel miles across a desert, mountain, river, or climb razor-sharp barbed wire, and risk death, not only because of these physical obstacles, but also as targets of the murdering Migra armed with the latest technology in hunting human beings. In fact, millions of people have been forced to cross the U.S./Mexico border as a direct result of U.S. imperialist domination and plunder of Mexico.

So-called "modernization" in Mexico drips with the blood of the oppressed. Imperialist capital enters Mexico covered with the blood of the people of the world who produced it--from the fields of California to the sweatshops of South Korea to the gold mines of South Africa. And it leaves Mexico in the form of profits dripping with the blood of campesinos in the countryside, of women workers slaving away and losing their youth in the plants along the border, of the children forced to sell gum in the streets to survive, and of millions forced to leave their families and hire out their labor.

The inability of the Mexican economy--distorted to serve imperialism--to provide jobs to absorb the growing numbers of Mexican laborers into the workforce with wages they can survive on is at the heart of the forces "pushing" Mexicans across the border. And the ever increasing number of Mexican people seeking wage labor in Mexico and in the U.S. is to a large degree the result of their being driven from the countryside of Mexico through the workings of the imperialist-dominated system. At the same time, there is the greater possibility of finding work in a U.S. economy more dependent than ever on low-wage immigrant labor, and the chance to send part of those meager earnings back home to support their families. This is what "pulls" these immigrants into U.S. sweatshops and into the proletariat here.

Once they are in the U.S., immigrants fill the bottom rung of the U.S. economy, performing backbreaking work in sweatshops, kitchens, hotels, office buildings, etc. Paid extra low wages, their labor contributes to producing extra high profits for the capitalists. At the same time, life in the "promised land" means living in the worst housing and neighborhoods, being denied access to medical care, forced to send their children to the worst schools, while facing the risk of being deported by la Migra at any time because they dared to cross the border without papers. As these immigrants remain in the U.S., many of them--and especially their children--become part of the Chicano people.(9)

The immigrants from Mexico (and throughout Central America) have lived the human cost of the workings of imperialism. Their presence, along with immigrants from other parts of the world, "has greatly strengthened the internationalist character of the revolutionary movement in the U.S. The majority of immigrants are an integral part of the single multinational proletariat in the U.S., enriching the potential and forces for proletarian revolution in the belly of the beast." (Draft Programme, p. 101) But the U.S. rulers see the immigrant presence here as a source of instability and upheaval, and increasingly they treat them as a potential threat that undermines the U.S., at the same time as this economy increasingly relies on their labor. And in turn, the children of these immigrants have emerged among the front line fighters in the recent upsurge against U.S. government attacks.

In the late 1980s the U.S. began to raise the specter of uncontrollable immigration and started passing laws outlawing the employment of "illegal aliens." This turned into a full-fledged war on immigrants after the 1992 L.A. rebellion. That uprising--which brought Blacks, Chicanos, recent immigrants from Mexico and Central America and many others into the street in a revolt against the Rodney King verdict and the whole structure of national oppression that it revealed--inspired oppressed peoples in ghettos and barrios across the country, and people around the world. It woke up middle class forces to the reality of the police state that was being enforced on those at the bottom of this society. It knocked the smirk off the face of an arrogant U.S. imperialism that had slaughtered hundreds of thousands of Iraqis in a lopsided war only a year earlier. And it sent President Bush (senior) scrambling to L.A. to assure his class that the government was in control.

The imperialists got a glimpse of the potential for further upheaval and the role that these immigrants could play. They stepped up funding and training for the INS in the use of the latest and most high-tech weapons, sensory devices, and dogs to hunt people labeled "criminal aliens." They increased the clampdown on the border and the anti-immigrant propaganda perpetrated by the bourgeois media, cultivating an environment that made it acceptable for the border patrol, anti-immigrant vigilantes, and all the armed enforcers (Sheriffs, Marines, etc.) to create widespread fear among immigrants and unleash further brutality against them.

In 1994, as a result of this kind of highly-orchestrated campaign, California voters passed Proposition 187 (the first of many anti-immigrant ballot measures), which called for undocumented immigrants to be denied basic needs like healthcare and education. Thousands of Chicano, Mexicano, and Central American youth flooded the streets in a rebellious movement to stop the war on immigrants. Although many of the youth on the streets were Chicanos that would not be directly affected by the law, they felt a deep connection with those targeted by the war on immigrants.

More on the Relationship between the Struggle of Chicanos and Mexicanos, and the Question of the Border

The Chicano people and the people of Mexico have the same enemy--U.S. imperialism--and the same fight. Proletarian revolution in the U.S., and the overthrow of U.S. domination of Mexico, is the solution to the oppression of both these peoples. Today there are tens of millions on each side of the U.S./Mexico border whose lives directly connect with the lives and struggles on the other side, and who, to a significant degree, see and respond to the struggles taking place on either side as "their own." The killing of Ezekiel Hernández, a U.S. citizen, by U.S. Marines hunting "illegal aliens" near the border in South Texas, drew angry outcries in Mexico as well as in the U.S. Attempts in Texas to execute Mexican citizens have provoked strong opposition in both countries and even official protests by the Mexican government. And the movement confronting imperialist globalization has seen Mexican youth in Cancún, youth in the U.S. and other countries, all face bloody police attacks on their protests.

And, as we've already described, the uprising against NAFTA by the indigenous peasants in Chiapas (and U.S. military support for the Mexican army's bloody attacks on their encampments) has helped to raise the political understanding of a new generation of rebellious youth and bring them into political life here "in the belly of the beast." All of this points to a great strategic advantage for the struggle for liberation and proletarian revolution throughout this region. It is the responsibility of the class-conscious proletariat in this country to unite with and spread these "shoots" of internationalism, and to build support for and unity between the struggles against U.S. imperialism developing on both sides of the border.

We understand that the strategy for revolution in Mexico must be forged by a vanguard party of the revolutionary proletariat in that country. But, as our Party's new Draft Programme emphasizes, in speaking about the U.S. proletariat's policy towards borders:

"The current border between the U.S. and Mexico is a two-thousand-mile bloody scar gouged out by Yankee imperialism. Today, from one side, this border is like a sieve, allowing U.S. capital to flow freely into Mexico, exploiting its people and resources and wreaking havoc with its air, water and, above all, the lives of its people. From the other side, this border is a militarized zone, criminalizing and terrorizing those coming north in a desperate search to find work and feed their families and/or fleeing bloody repression.

"The revolutionary struggles in the U.S. and Mexico will be closely intertwined, as people north and south of the current border strive to defeat our common enemy. Advances in each country will spur forward the struggle in the other, at times spilling over the border, pounding at a crucial faultline and potential great vulnerability of U.S. imperialism--its close interconnection with Mexico in a relation of imperialist domination and oppression. All this will greatly strengthen the revolutionary struggle overall." (Draft Programme, p. 89)

How Socialism Will Uproot the National Oppression of the Chicano People

With regard to the oppression of the Chicano people and all oppressed nationalities in this country, the starting point and the heart of the analysis in our Draft Programme is that the only way to put an end to this oppression is by overthrowing this capitalist-imperialist system. This is because national oppression and vicious racism are so thoroughly built into the foundation and structure of capitalist society in the U.S. (and the whole structure of U.S. imperialist rule and domination in the world), so fundamental to the way this system operates and so crucial to the way it is held together, that the U.S. imperialists could not abolish and uproot this oppression and the whole structure of white supremacy even if they wanted to.

For this reason the struggles of the Chicano people and all the oppressed nationalities in this country for liberation are a powerful challenge to the system. Because Chicanos, Black people and other oppressed peoples are in their majority part of the single U.S. proletariat, concentrated in its most down-pressed sections, their fight for equality and emancipation is bound by a thousand links with the struggle for socialism and lends it great strength. The forging of the strategic alliance--between the struggle of the multinational proletariat to abolish all oppression, and the struggles of the Chicano people and other oppressed nationalities to end their oppression as peoples--has as its basis the reality that these objectives are realizable only through the overthrow of capitalism and the triumph of proletarian revolution; and the forging of this alliance is crucial to the victory of the socialist revolution in this country.

As set forth in our Party's Draft Programme, with the victory of the socialist revolution, the proletariat will do what the bourgeoisie can never do--lead the masses of people in eliminating national oppression and establishing genuine equality.

From the start the new socialist state will ban discrimination in employment and housing. The army of police will be destroyed, and in their place will be armed and organized revolutionary militias made up of the masses themselves. Segregation in neighborhoods, schools, etc. will be banned and integration promoted.

The new proletarian state will provide the resources, support, and leadership required to overcome all inequalities between nationalities and all barriers to full and equal participation in every sphere and on all levels of society. This will have nothing in common with the hypocritical tokenism of the bourgeoisie, but will be based instead on recognizing the crucial importance of fully overcoming the legacies of discrimination and national oppression and backing this up with the power and moral force of the proletarian dictatorship.

Immediately after the seizure of power, the policy of "raising up the bottom" will be applied across the board. Party members and other class-conscious people will set an example in practice, in self-sacrifice and voluntary labor, in order to ensure that the neighborhoods at the very bottom are rebuilt and improved first.

With state power in the hands of the revolutionary proletariat, we can finally do away with all the racism and chauvinism that the bourgeoisie insists is part of "unchangeable human nature." This won't all be eliminated overnight, but the first and giant step is sweeping away the capitalist system, which produces and thrives on this garbage. People will be free from the dog-eat-dog existence of capitalism and won't have to compete for jobs, housing, education, and the like. This will uproot a major prop of racist ideas among the people. We know the influence of racism is deeply embedded in U.S. society. It will take a many-sided and deep struggle to uproot it. Education about the lives, cultures, and history of oppression and resistance of all the formerly oppressed nationalities will be widely and deeply carried out, and the lies of the bourgeoisie will be ruthlessly and thoroughly exposed.

The new socialist state will put an end to the "English-first" and "English-only" policies of the bourgeoisie, and the state will provide resources and will mobilize and rely on the masses to make sure that people will not be forced to speak English in order to participate fully in the life of society and in the struggle to transform it. In areas where many people have Spanish as their first language, both English and Spanish will be taught in the schools to students of all nationalities, and this will be promoted more generally in society. English will not be the only linking language in society, and efforts will be made (beginning in the areas with large concentrations of Spanish and English speakers) to work toward the goal of making the entire population fluent in both Spanish and English.

The proletariat will promote a flowering of the cultures of the formerly oppressed nationalities, and will support the development of distinct national forms of culture, while not confining artists to any particular community or cultural form. Traditional forms among the various peoples will be respected and developed and, at the same time, will be increasingly infused with revolutionary content. At the same time a lively intermingling of cultures of different peoples, not only in the U.S. but throughout the world, will be encouraged in socialist society.

The proletarian state will uphold the right of the masses of Chicano people to land denied them through the violation of the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo, which sealed the U.S. ripoff of land from Mexico in 1848. This Treaty supposedly guaranteed Chicanos certain basic rights--like the right to land, water, and the equality of the Spanish language. But like the treaties the U.S. made with the Native peoples, these rights were quickly trampled upon.

In the struggle to uproot the legacy of national oppression and white supremacy, one important policy of the proletarian state will be to uphold the right of Chicanos--as well as Black people, Native Americans, etc.--to forms of autonomy/self-government. For Chicanos this would mean the right to establish autonomy (i.e., self-government within the larger proletarian state) in large areas of the Southwest. This may take the form of a single autonomous region or several autonomous areas. This will mean that, in contrast to things like the "Indian reservations" under the present system, the real needs of Chicanos and other oppressed peoples for some land and resources under their autonomous authority will be met. Areas that have been kept in a backward state, like South Texas, will be provided special assistance from the socialist state to promote development that meets the needs of the people.

The people in the autonomous areas or regions will have the right to self-government under overall guiding principles that promote equality, not inequality; unity not division between different peoples; and that serve to eliminate, not foster, exploitation and oppression. Autonomy will mean, in regard to language and culture, that the styles, forms, and expressions common to an oppressed people will be given priority in publications, in the creation of cultural works, etc., within the geographic area where autonomy is applied. And these will be popularized throughout society as well.

None of these land and autonomy policies will mean that Chicanos will have to live in Chicano autonomous areas. Many Chicanos will want to live, work, and struggle side by side with people of all other nationalities in other areas of the new multinational socialist state. But the proletarian state, while favoring and encouraging unity and integration, will ensure formerly oppressed peoples the right to autonomy as part of the policy of promoting real equality between different nations and peoples.

All the policies for achieving real equality, including equality of languages and cultures, will apply to immigrants, and the proletarian state will encourage and cherish the full participation of immigrants in all aspects of building the new socialist society. All forms of discrimination against immigrants in jobs, housing, health care, and education will be abolished. No human being will be treated as "illegal." And the apparatus that terrorized immigrants--la Migra, the police, military border patrols, and paramilitary vigilantes--will be smashed.

And in regard to the southern border--where the new border will be and how it is demarcated will be determined by the development and outcome of the revolutionary struggles in both the U.S. and Mexico. But the border will NOT be used as a means to terrorize and exploit the masses of immigrants and to reinforce the domination of Mexico. (For more on all these questions see the Draft Programme.)

Part III: A Look At Other Viewpoints and Approaches -- 
Where We Have Unity and Where We Have Differences Over What Will Bring True Liberation

The class-conscious proletariat strongly supports and actively takes part in the Chicano people's resistance to national oppression. Throughout the history of this country, this struggle has been a powerful force shaking the foundations of society, and it is bound to be a source of many more outpourings and rebellions in the period ahead. But the question is whether we're willing to settle for just "rattling our chains," while leaving the system intact. Or are we going to set our sights on smashing those chains once and for all, by contributing all we can to making all-the-way proletarian revolution that can put an end to all forms of exploitation and oppression.

For the proletariat and the masses of oppressed people to free ourselves, we have to want liberation badly enough that we're willing to be scientific about it. What does that mean? First, it means being clear about what is your starting point. Are you about fighting for the real needs and the real interests of the masses of people, or something less? Then you have to look honestly at what it will take to do that. You have to confront the cold truth that this system is completely worthless and cannot be reformed. In other words, you have to see the need for revolution. You have to wrangle over what kind of struggle it is going to take to deal with this system. You have to grapple with what kind of strategy and what kind of leadership we will need to lead the people to wage and win that struggle. And you have to decide what kind of society we are going to build in place of the old one, and how we will do that.

In the section that follows we want to take a look at other approaches and views towards putting an end to the oppression the Chicano people face. We will dig into what we see as the strengths and weaknesses of these different viewpoints and approaches, with the aim of encouraging the kind of wrangling and debate that can deepen our unity around a correct analysis, strategy, and concrete program for liberation through proletarian revolution. Mao Tsetung once said: "The enemy will not perish of himself_ [They] will not step down from the stage of history of their own accord." We need to make revolution, and we need to do it as fast as possible!

The Strategy of Reformism vs. The Struggle for Revolution

The rulers of this country have united around a program for the masses of people: prisons, punishment, and patriarchy. Today's battles are bringing the youth and the masses of people right up against the brutality of this system and its laws, against its police, and against the economic realities of capitalism. This experience is leading a section of these fighters to the fundamental truth that "revolution is the hope of the hopeless." But others see the strength of the system--not just its military strength, but the forces in society, particularly the middle class, who go along with it, and the divisions among different sections of the people--and can't see how a revolutionary movement under the leadership of the proletariat could topple this system through a real people's war. And this view can be reinforced by the ruling class' promotion of the "invincibility" of their military power.(10)

At the same time, with all the slanders of socialism propagated by those who control the machinery of public opinion, many of the new generation are not so sure revolution is desirable. All of this makes people susceptible to the arguments of middle class reformists and bourgeois politicians that revolution is not necessary--that Chicanos and other oppressed and exploited people can gain emancipation simply through waging mass struggles, or through the ballot box, without the need for a violent revolution to overthrow the capitalist system.

Reformism denies that this whole capitalist system is based on exploitation and oppression--and cannot exist without it. It denies that the interests of the rulers of this country are fundamentally and antagonistically opposed to those of the proletariat, and the masses of people. The ruling class maintains this system by keeping the masses of people in a state of combined "pacification and suppression." Even when it is forced to grant concessions in the face of mass struggle and upheaval, the capitalist class pursues its interests as ruthlessly as necessary. The problem with reformism, then, is not that people can never wrench concessions from the ruling class (and not that it is wrong to try to do this(11)

) but that this cannot solve the fundamental problem and cannot meet the fundamental needs of the people and bring about their emancipation. And over time--usually before too long--concessions that are made are taken back and overwhelmed by the workings of the system and the actions of the ruling class. This reformist approach ends up demoralizing the masses while letting the capitalist system off the hook. For that reason reformism is acceptable to and often promoted by the rulers and mouthpieces of the system themselves.

For all the arguments about how this reformist approach is more practical--or more realistic--than working for revolution, in fact there is nothing more un-realistic than thinking you can reform the teeth out of this vampire system.

The starting point of our Party and the class-conscious proletariat is the need to get rid of this system through waging and winning a people's war. We understand that the whole system we now live under is based on exploitation--here and around the world. This system is completely worthless and no basic change for the better can come about until it is overthrown. Our approach is to work at all times to push things closer to and to prepare for the conditions where the armed struggle can be launched. "How does what we are doing today prepare us for and get us into position to be able to actually launch and win the revolutionary war, when the time is ripe?"--this is the yardstick with which our Party measures its work for revolution in the U.S.

Does this mean that there is no point in waging battles against racist oppression or the millions of other injustices people face? Just the opposite. Resisting the attacks by the system and its enforcers plays a potentially powerful role in keeping the people from being beaten down, and at the same time in creating the conditions for waging the ultimate struggle for state power. But it does mean that, in leading the people to fight back against national oppression and other outrages of this system, we have to do it in a way that is guided by revolutionary ideology and serves revolutionary aims. In all we do our goal should be to increase the consciousness, and also the organization and fighting capacity of the people. We have to set our sights on preparing the masses of people to wage people's war when the time is ripe.

Conscious reformists try to hide their own non-revolutionary outlook by saying the masses will never go for revolution. They argue that if we tell the people the truth--that only revolution can put an end to their oppression--the people won't support us. But in general it does not help the masses, and in fact it actually holds them back, to come to them with anything less than the whole truth of what is fundamentally required for humanity's liberation. Just as it does not help a patient to have their doctor lie to them about how serious their illness is, and tell them to take two aspirins when in fact what they need is radical surgery. Revolution and revolutionary work is not a popularity contest. It is a serious responsibility to carry out the all round work of preparing the masses of people to realize their true revolutionary interests through seizing power and transforming all of society as part of the world revolution. And that includes arming the masses with this revolutionary understanding so that they can become revolutionary communist leaders themselves.

Others argue that it is wrong in principle--or arrogant--to take responsibility for leading the people to make revolution--for being the vanguard. Again, those who say this have either given up any hope that liberation is possible, or have bought into some utopian, reformist scheme that aiming for something far short of the revolutionary overthrow of the existing order and the revolutionary transformation of all existing conditions and relations is all that is needed. Such people are about leading the masses--but with this approach there is nowhere they can lead them except down a blind alley. What is wrong with this outlook is that, whatever people's intentions, they don't proceed from the fundamental interests and needs of the masses of people. They don't proceed from the actual problem that people face, the actual conditions and relations that people are shackled to.

As soon as you begin to grapple with what it is going to take to really carry through the struggle to overthrow U.S. imperialism and continue, together with the international proletariat, to see that struggle through to the end of class society, you immediately come up against the need for a vanguard leadership. There is no way you can do what has to be done, and lead the people where their struggle needs to go, without a leading group that can develop the ideology, the vision, the strategy, and the organization necessary to do that. In this country the RCP is taking that responsibility.(12)

Revolution or reform, vanguard proletarian leadership or reformist bourgeois leadership--these are crucial questions that confront the movements of today.

Elections are the Wrong Arena:
It's Going to Come Down to Revolutionary War

As this paper is being written, the results of the 2000 U.S. Census are beginning to be made public. The tremendous growth in the numbers of people of Mexican descent throughout the Southwest and the rest of the country is fueling peoples' outrage at their continued status as "marginalized" and oppressed peoples. Because of this, politicians are working overtime to channel that anger back into support for the system by arguing that the people should focus their efforts on "gaining political power through the electoral arena." At the same time they tell people that they have no one but themselves to blame for their continuing oppression if they don't devote all their efforts to getting more "brown faces in high places"--as people have been characterizing it since the 1960s. But who can deny that the decades since the '60s have seen Chicano politicians elected to higher political office in greater numbers than ever before--for both bourgeois political parties--while the conditions of life for the vast majority of Chicanos and the masses of people in general have only gotten worse.

Oppressed nationalities, as well as women, have had plenty of experience with politicians who "look like them" but act like the bourgeoisie--going along with and helping to implement the repressive agenda of the ruling class, despite paying lip-service to representing "their people." (And we only have to look to Mexico to see that just having people of your own nationality running things does not solve the problem of what class is in charge, and how that affects the conditions of the masses of oppressed people.) The experience with Chicano politicians is no different. Inevitably, once they are elected to political office, and regardless of their promises (or in some cases even their intentions) they eventually--and usually very quickly--go against the interests of the masses of people. Among other things, they are caught in the "logic" of the system, where if you want "to get anything done," you have to "go along" with the prevailing ways of doing things--which all serve the ruling class. And the fact is, regardless of who is elected to office, the ruling class has always been able to carry out its cruel agenda of oppression and exploitation against the working class and oppressed people here in the U.S. and worldwide.

This is because the problem is more fundamental than just that people keep electing the wrong Chicanos--or the wrong politicians in general--to office. This whole capitalist system is based on oppression and exploitation. And the political system--the superstructure of laws, the politicians and the bureaucracy, the cops and prisons, etc.--exists fundamentally to meet the needs of that oppressive setup and the bourgeois class that politically dominates and benefits from it. That's why, as long as you are working within the system--trying to "make it work"--you become its instrument, doing its bidding, whatever the consequences are for the people. For this reason there is no way out of all the misery people have to go through so long as we accept the framework of working within the same system that is the cause of that misery. It is extremely crucial to understand that the solution to all this madness cannot be found inside the "ballot box" or through participating in the "electoral process."

Many young activists today have come into political life through the battles to prevent the passage of various reactionary ballot initiatives. In some cases and to a certain extent, such struggles can be useful for exposing the reactionary program that the ruling class is trying to force on the people. But you cannot let yourself get locked into limiting the struggle to resisting/opposing these electoral attacks. RCP Chairman Bob Avakian has summed up about elections: "To state it in a single sentence, elections: are controlled by the bourgeoisie; are not the means through which basic decisions are made in any case; and are really for the primary purpose of legitimizing the system and the policies and actions of the ruling class, giving them the mantle of a 'popular mandate,' and of channeling, confining, and controlling the political activity of the masses of people."

This is an extremely important orientation for understanding what these ballot initiatives represent. More than anything, their purpose is to enable the rulers to claim they have the "mandate of the people" for reactionary policies that have already been decided on in the think-tanks, the backrooms and the boardrooms of the ruling class. If we let these electoral battles "channel, confine or control" our political activity in the effort to influence their outcome, then the ruling class will have succeeded in legitimizing their system and their policies. And we will be incapable of even challenging the political terms that the ruling class sets; instead of mobilizing masses to transform the political terrain, we will always be acting on a terrain and in a political atmosphere that is unfavorable for us and favorable for our oppressors. And they will succeed in derailing and demoralizing the masses of people and their struggles against oppression.

We cannot vote in a better society or an end to national oppression or oppression in general. The proletariat and the masses of people need to overthrow the bourgeoisie in order for real change to come about.


Many Chicano youth today identify with the history, the culture, and the struggles of the indigenous people of the U.S. and Mexico. Often this is part of trying to understand and to deal with their own history and the present-day reality of oppression they face. Many youth are also attracted to the indigenous way of life because they hate what technology in the hands of capitalism has done to people here and around the world. They see rejecting Western culture and going back to their "indigenous roots" as a first step toward ending their oppression. In addition, these youth are disgusted by the crass way that capitalism worships money and the relentless drive to make it at whatever cost to people and the environment, and find in indigenous beliefs an answer to the sense of emptiness and longing for something loftier that they feel.

There is much that the class-conscious proletariat unites with in their sentiments. The "rosy dawn" of this present-day system arrived drenched in the blood of tens of millions of native peoples wiped out through war, disease and enslavement within a few years of the arrival of the European colonizers. The fact that these youth identify with the struggles of the indigenous peoples here and in Mexico can contribute to their understanding that the oppressed and exploited internationally have a common struggle against a common enemy--the present-day imperialist system--a system that more and more threatens life itself on the planet.

The quest to learn about and identify with the civilizations of the past--and in particular those of the indigenous peoples, which have in the main been buried--is a part of Chicano culture. There is much from these cultures and civilizations that needs to be learned from and preserved. And further, it is necessary and correct to rebel against a form of "self-hatred" and national inferiority that has led some Mexicans and Chicanos to emphasize only the Spanish side of their heritage. But there is in some cases a tendency to deny the fact that Chicanos and indigenous people also have different, distinct histories, and to argue instead that all the indigenous people and people of Mexican descent on both sides of the border are the same. Making such sweeping statements oversimplifies the historical development of all the different peoples living in the regions of the Southwest and Mexico (and the rest of Latin America) before and after the Spanish and U.S. conquests, and does not give full recognition to the distinct histories of these peoples. Rather than helping to unite all the struggles of the people, it undermines that unity by denying the specific histories (and conflicts) and present-day differences in the conditions and demands of these different peoples.

The history of the Southwest is not the history of a single people. While the indigenous and then the Mexican and Chicano people of the Southwest suffered from the domination of the Spaniards and then the U.S. capitalists, the Navajo, Hopi, Pueblo and other Indians there have histories, cultures, and conditions that are distinct from those of the Chicano people there. And saying that all the people of Mexico are indigenous doesn't take into account that there are distinct indigenous peoples and cultures within Mexico that face discrimination and brutal oppression at the hands of the Mexican ruling classes in partnership with the U.S. imperialists. And who can deny what a huge difference it makes in the lives of the people to be born above, rather than below, "la línea."

If we are serious about ending oppression we have to get to the bottom of the way things really are, and how they got that way. Understanding the actual history and looking scientifically at all its aspects will enable us to unravel this history of oppression and get to the source of the problem and what actually unites us. It is capitalism that colonized this continent and committed genocide against native peoples, it is capitalism that continues to exploit indigenous people (and all people), and it is capitalism that has intentionally stolen and tried to stamp out the people's history of struggle against this oppression. And it is capitalist imperialism that is exploiting and dominating Mexico and other oppressed nations. If we do not grasp that it is the capitalist system that is the cause of the problems facing all the people, we may be led to mistakenly blame Western culture, or white people, and won't be able to unite all who can be united of all nationalities, and ally with those struggling internationally against that same system in the struggle to overthrow the rule of capital and build a new world without oppression and exploitation.

Seeing entire peoples destroyed by lumber interests, or watching as the natural resources of the earth are exploited for quick profit, can lead people to conclude that technology itself is the problem and what is threatening the destruction of the environment. And in response the argument is made that the solution is to go back to an earlier period in history before the development of technology. It has to be said that when you study the experience of peoples in that period, life was not so "idyllic." We're not talking about the "standard of living"--the truth is that for millions throughout the hemisphere the way they are forced to live today is more arduous than it was 500 years ago. But those societies often had their own class hierarchies, including in relation to women, and also violence and killing between tribes was commonplace. (For instance, Aztec society before the Spanish arrived not only had hierarchical relations, and exploitation and oppression among the Aztecs themselves, but there was also domination and plunder of other peoples--which is one factor that enabled the Spanish to rally some of those peoples to fight with them against the Aztecs.)

But the more basic problem with the idea of going back to "the way things were" as a fundamental solution to the problems brought on by this capitalist era is that humanity has moved beyond the historical stage where the mode of existence of hunting and gathering, or simple agriculture, can provide for a human population that exceeds 6 billion people worldwide. The truth is that it would not be possible to feed and house the people of the planet, or even just people in this country, without technology. And therefore it cannot serve the needs of the vast majority of people to try to go back to an earlier way of life--or an idealized version of that way of life--without technology. Our starting point must be the needs of the people today, and how these needs will be fulfilled.

At the same time there are important things that can and need to be learned from the experience of the indigenous peoples, including their appreciation of the need for society to maintain the well-being of the natural environment. And incorporating this is part of what will be achieved through the proletarian revolution in bringing forward a whole new way of life without exploitation and oppression.

It is important therefore to understand and make the distinction that it is not technology per se, but how capitalism develops and utilizes technology, that is destroying people's lives and the planet we inhabit. The problem isn't technology--the problem is that technology is now in the hands of capitalism:

"The imperialists in their endless quest to turn every thing into a means for private profit--and in their monstrous methods of warfare to enforce and extend their domination--tear down forests, pollute water and air, threaten the earth's atmosphere, devastate ecological systems, and generally wreak havoc on the earth and its resources. They are not fit to be caretakers of the earth. Their system has not only brought tremendous suffering for many generations ---every day they cause further destruction to the environment that will affect people all over the world for many generations to come." (Draft Programme, pg.7)

On the other hand, once the proletariat has seized power, technology and its development will be in hands that will guide and wield it to serve the needs of the people and the advancement of society, recognizing the need to restore and protect the environment:

"The proletariat's policy with regard to the environment is one of 'socialist sustainable development.' The proletariat will step by step repair the destruction of the forests, soil, water, and air. It will develop industrial and agricultural systems that are economically productive, ecologically rational, and socially just. In all, the new society aims to interact with nature in a planned way that preserves ecological systems and fosters a deeper understanding and appreciation among the people for the richness of the natural world." (Draft Programme, pg. 17)

Finally, as we have noted above, many youth turn to indigenous spirituality as a rejection of the emptiness of the ruling class' values, its insistence on selfishness as the "bottom line" of all human motivation, and the decadence and degradation it spews forth. And often these youth are also rebelling against the Catholic Church and its traditional religious values that uphold and reinforce the oppression of women, wage slavery, and more. There is a lot to unite with in their criticism of this society's ideals and morality and in their search for some alternative beliefs that originate from the oppressed rather than the oppressor. Communists approach this question differently--we do not believe in supernatural forces or beings of any kind and instead understand that it is the masses of people themselves who will achieve their own emancipation. And we see that the role of religion in general is to instill in the masses a sense that they are powerless before God and the forces of nature and those that rule over them in society, and to console them in their misery, rather than arousing them to rise up and abolish the source of it through revolutionary struggle. But we also know there are many people who, out of religious conviction or similar ideals, are propelled to fight against injustice, oppression, and sometimes to consciously fight against imperialism. So we urge people to take up this yardstick in evaluating whatever set of beliefs they are gravitating towards--do those beliefs lead them to accommodate with their oppression--to make their peace with it--or to overthrow it?(13)

Fighting For Socialism, Not a Separate Nation-State, Is the Road to Chicano Liberation

The concept of Aztlán(14)

as the mythic homeland of the Chicano people was popularized during the Chicano youth conference held in March of 1969 in Denver, Colorado. "El Plan Espiritual de Aztlán," which was a product of this conference, was just that--a spiritual declaration of Chicano independence and identity, and a demand for freedom and an end to oppression. Aztlán means different things to different people--but it remains a powerful symbol and central theme within the Chicano movement because it touches on some very real problems faced by the Chicano people and their desire to be free from oppression. For many Chicanos Aztlán symbolizes their common identity as a distinct people, and their common struggle for equality and for freedom.

Some people raise that after--or instead of--revolution, Chicanos should aim to set up a separate nation-state in the Southwest. The heart of their argument is that the Chicano people constitute a nation rather than an oppressed national minority; that the Southwest is the "historic homeland" of the Chicano people; and that forming a separate Chicano nation-state in the territory of the Southwest is the way to end their oppression. Sometimes this program is put forward as the struggle to "reclaim Aztlán." But this whole analysis is not based on an accurate understanding of the history of the Southwest or of Chicano history; it misunderstands the distinct character of Chicanos as an oppressed national minority; and therefore it cannot contribute to forging a correct strategy for ending their oppression.

To begin with, as we've seen, the complex history of the Southwest involves not only the theft of land from Mexico and the subjugation of the Mexican population who remained there, but also the suppression of the Native peoples who had been there long before the Spanish arrived, and who waged their own wars of resistance to the development of Spanish/Mexican settlements in the region and to the westward expansion of the U.S. Later these Native peoples were forced onto concentration-camp-like "reservations." The Native Americans also are a part of the history of the Southwest, and they too have just demands for compensation and for land that must be taken into account. And for that matter, Mexico, too, can legitimately claim that this is their territory, stolen in an unjust war--an issue that could come into play in the form of a revolutionary struggle challenging the border from below.

The Draft Programme provides for and upholds the right of Chicanos to autonomy--self-government--within the overall unified socialist state--in areas of their historic concentration. In doing so, it also takes this actual complex history into account:

"The application of autonomy policies with regard to the Chicano people will need to take into account several factors: how the revolution unfolds in the U.S.; how proletarian revolution in the U.S. interrelates with revolution in Mexico; developments in the U.S./Mexico border region; and the requirement that the proletariat respect the historical land claims of other oppressed peoples in the Southwest, especially the Native peoples." (Draft Programme, p. 97)

But is it the case that Chicanos constitute a separate nation? As we have seen, when the U.S. seized the Southwest territory from Mexico the Mexican settlements there were not sufficiently developed, and their isolation from each other and from Mexico was too great to give rise to their own development into a nation. With the conquest these settlements were no longer connected to Mexico and the nation-forming process taking place there. And in the Southwest in the period that followed the conquest, the Mexican population living there did not develop as a nation. Mexicans in the Southwest were subjected to brutal oppression that forged them into a distinct oppressed people within the U.S.--but a separate Chicano nation never came into being.

And it is important to understand the unique process of development and transformation that the Chicano people in this country have gone through since that time. Over the last century waves of migration from Mexico have added and continue to add tremendously to this population, so that today the vast majority of Chicanos trace their roots not to the Southwest, but to Mexico. For them Aztlán may be a unifying symbol, but it has no connection to their actual homeland. And, as we have pointed out, as these immigrants stay in the U.S., many of them--and especially their children--are integrated into the already-existing oppressed Chicano people.

There is a distinct Chicano people, whose relationship to Mexico is part of their defining characteristic. Chicanos have a culture that is influenced and affected by Mexico, but is different from it. Their heritage--and historic and present-day national oppression--continues to infuse Chicanos with a common identity. But the makeup and character of the Chicano population also reflects the wide diversity of its origins. Chicanos have different histories and roots, speak different languages (Spanish and English and many wonderful variations of both). And, although (as pointed out in our Party's Draft Programme) Chicanos share a certain economic as well as social history, this never has been on the level of a common economic life--an economic life rooted in a common territory and "woven together" throughout that territory--that is characteristic of a nation.

A nation is a "historically constituted, stable community of people formed on the basis of a common language, territory, economic life and psychological makeup manifested in a common culture" (Marxism and the National Question, J.V. Stalin). Modern nations first arose and developed with the rise and development of capitalism. For various reasons, some have become dominant over others and, while not always the case, generally the nations where capitalism has developed more quickly have dominated and oppressed other, less capitalistically-developed nations. And, in fact, this domination often prevented groups of people from developing into a nation at all.

The terms "nation" and "national minority" have specific meanings. The purpose in determining whether a people are a nation or a national minority is not to rate them according to how much they have suffered--or whether or not they have a right to be free of oppression. The point is to understand the historic development they have gone through and what this means for the future of the struggle. Nations have an internal cohesion that makes it possible for them to form separate states, not because anyone has granted them this possibility, but because this possibility has been created by their actual historical development. For this reason the proletariat upholds the right of self-determination, the right to secede from the dominant nation and set up a separate state--though whether or not the proletariat would favor this would depend on the specific circumstances and how best to unite the people and weaken the stranglehold of imperialism over them.

Oppressed national minorities, on the other hand, which have also been subjugated to the needs of the developing capitalism of dominant nations, do not have the right to secession. Not because the right has not been granted to them, but because their actual historical development has not created the conditions for their development as a nation.

The actual historical development of the Chicano people has not created the basis for a separate Chicano nation-state to be established. But the Chicano people do have the right to be free --free of national inequality and racism. That freedom can come about--but only through overthrowing the capitalist system that is responsible for and profits from national oppression--through allying with and taking up the proletarian revolution.

There is a class in this country--the proletariat of all nationalities--who can put an end to their own enslavement only by leading and carrying through the struggle to overthrow the system responsible for all the exploitation and oppression here, as part of the worldwide struggle to topple imperialism. Millions of people in this country are opposed to imperialism, and in particular the struggles of the oppressed nationalities have in the past and will in the future strike powerful blows against this system. With the leadership of the class-conscious proletariat, working to forge the alliance between their struggle for socialism and the struggles of the oppressed peoples against their oppression as the solid core of a broader united front, it is possible to bring about the victory of the proletarian revolution. And as we've seen, the socialist state will take up the ending of racism and national oppression throughout society as an urgent necessity, including upholding the right of oppressed nationalities to establish autonomy and forms of self-government within the larger socialist state in the areas where they have been historically concentrated.(15)

But here we have to recognize that different outlooks on this question represent different classes and class interests among the Chicano people. Given that the actual historical development of the Chicano people has not been characterized by their development into a nation, in reality and in the scientific sense, the view that Chicano liberation can only come in the form of establishing a separate Chicano nation-state does not represent the interests of the masses of Chicano people and the masses of oppressed and exploited people overall. In fact, it will actually play into the hands of the imperialist bourgeoisie, making it easier for the imperialists to pit the demands of different sections of the people on both sides of the U.S./Mexico border against each other and to lead the people's struggle into dead ends.

Chicanos have suffered tremendous oppression and exploitation over the past 150 years. Their struggle can lend great strength to the overall struggle to end the source of all the suffering that people here and around the world are forced to endure--the system of imperialism.

Nationalism and Internationalism

Nationalism has played a significant role in the struggles of the Chicano people and all the oppressed people in the U.S. and throughout the world. The refusal of an oppressed people to be dominated and down-pressed is a righteous thing and a powerful force for revolution. People's sentiments of wanting to be proud of their own history and "where they've come from," when their history as a distinct people is degraded, are certainly justified. The nationalism of the oppressed peoples is far different from the nationalism of the oppressors. The nationalism of an oppressed people has to do with fighting against oppression--against oppression and inequality--while the nationalism of an oppressor nation only has to do with enforcing oppression and trampling on justice and equality.

But ultimately, as an ideology, nationalism of any kind is the outlook of "my nation first" and represents the bourgeoisie and ultimately serves capitalism. As an ideology nationalism is still the outlook of exploiters and wanna-be exploiters, even if those who "wanna be" are held down and discriminated against by bigger, more powerful exploiters. Even where nationalism may take a radical or even revolutionary expression politically, as an ideology nationalism cannot lead to a complete rupture with the bourgeois framework and capitalist principles, and ultimately will lead back to that framework and those principles. And it is a basic truth that capitalism means exploiting people. Nobody has ever accumulated capital except by exploiting other people--and nobody ever could--that's the nature of the beast.

Nationalism may be a powerful and a positive force in the struggle of an oppressed people up to a point. But nationalism cannot take things as far as they need to go--it cannot be the guide to complete liberation. Nationalism falls short in uniting oppressed people of different nationalities. If nationalism is the guide, then everybody must look out for their own nationality first and before all else--that is what nationalism means, after all. Nationalism doesn't give a full picture of our struggle as a world struggle, and it isn't good enough as a guide in uniting with real friends to fight common enemies, not just in one nation or country but worldwide. And nationalism doesn't begin to give the answer to the question of how to end all oppression, including the big question of how to end the oppression of women.

What all this points to is that the starting point of the nation, and of nationalism as an ideology, is too narrow a framework to even conceive of, let alone carry out, the struggle to abolish all oppression and exploitation. And along with that, you cannot at one and the same time put the interests of your nation first and those of the proletariat first.

The proletariat is an international class, and while it can and generally will seize power country by country (and cannot seize power in the world as a whole all at once) the proletariat can only realize its fundamental interests on a world-wide basis, through the victory of the world proletarian revolution. For this reason the proletariat must develop its revolutionary struggle within any particular country as a part--and fundamentally a subordinate part--of the world proletarian revolution. Nationalism falls--and is bound by its very nature and logic to fall--way short of that.

Nationalism means putting your nation above other nations; so it is bound to regard things that divide the nation as harmful. Some variations of nationalist ideology try to make the interests of the lower classes (or the proletarians) of the nation identical to those of the nation as a whole, or to treat the upper classes of the nation as though they do not really belong to the nation. But they will be forced to deal with the reality that in fact the nation is made up of different classes and that the bourgeois class is also part of the nation. And if the unity of the nation is your highest goal, as it ultimately must be with a nationalist outlook, then things that "get in the way of the unity of the nation," including the class struggle of the proletariat against the bourgeoisie, will sooner or later be seen as obstacles to unifying the nation--obstacles which should be suppressed. And this also applies to the struggle against the oppression of women within the nation.

Even more fundamentally, if you're not thoroughly grounded in and guided by the scientific world outlook and methodology of the proletariat, including its internationalism, there is no way you can lead the masses of people to go up against, overthrow, and finally abolish all the long-established and deeply-entrenched relations of exploitation and oppression and all the corresponding ideas, conventions, customs, etc., with all the force of habit they have going for them. You will have no choice but to fall back on bourgeois means and methods and capitalist relations in attempting to solve very real problems. It's going to take the most determined and consistent struggle to grasp and apply the scientific world outlook and methodology of the proletariat--and to constantly battle against the "pull" of bourgeois relations and ideas and the whole "spontaneity" that works to reinforce them--in order to uproot all the deep-seated relations of oppression and exploitation that have existed, in one form or another, for thousands of years.

In terms of their fundamental interests, the proletarians in any one country have more in common with the proletarians (and masses of people) in other nations and countries than they do with the bourgeoisie of their own country or nation. Once again this shows why the nation is too narrow a framework within which even to conceive of, let alone to carry out, the uprooting of all relations of oppression and exploitation and their corresponding superstructure of politics and ideology. For this reason nationalism is not an ideology that can lead to the complete emancipation of the oppressed nation itself, nor to the fundamental emancipation of the masses of oppressed and exploited people within that nation--to say nothing of the emancipation of the exploited and oppressed the world over, and ultimately of all humanity.

To carry through this all-the-way liberating revolution, we need a different ideology. Because the proletariat, as a class, can only win its emancipation by ending exploitation and oppression, in every form, everywhere, the outlook that serves the interests of the proletariat is not nationalism but internationalism. Above all, the allegiance of the proletariat is not to any one nation, but to the cause of emancipation--of ending all exploitation and oppression--worldwide.

Chicanas in the Struggle for Liberation and Revolution

Some of the fiercest fighters in the Chicano movement today are women. At every social outpouring, demonstration and rebellion, in campus coalitions and organizations, women are refusing to take a back seat to men. Despite chauvinist notions that they should play a back seat role in the struggle, women are on the front lines and in leadership positions now more than ever and are demanding to be treated with equality and the same respect as men.

But as they are stepping out as leaders, and speaking out for equality for women, too often they come up against machismo in the movement. For a long time there has been a taboo against talking about it--because it is viewed by men (and sometimes women) as divisive to the movement as a whole. As a result of this experience deeper questions are being posed: Why is there so much machismo among Chicanos in a movement that's supposed to be against oppression? Why is there still a strong tendency for women's liberation to have a "back seat position" in the Chicano movement? How is women's oppression going to end?

Chairman Avakian has written: "In many ways, and particularly for men, the woman question and whether you seek to completely abolish or to preserve the existing property and social relations and corresponding ideology that enslave women (or maybe 'just a little bit' of them) is a touchstone question among the oppressed themselves. It is a dividing line between fighting to end all oppression and exploitation -- and the very division of society into classes -- and seeking in the final analysis to get your part in this."

Think about that again--where you stand on the oppression of women is a dividing line around whether or not you are about ending all oppression and exploitation. As we've just spoken to above, what these young women are coming up against is, among other things, the reality that nationalism, even nationalism of the oppressed, cannot fundamentally address the struggle to eliminate the oppression of women.

The fight for the basic interests of women brings you up against the need to take on the whole patriarchal setup which is a cornerstone of this system of capitalism. Do you want to embrace a force of people whose struggle threatens the foundation of the whole system or not? Those guided by nationalist ideology cannot help but answer no, because their outlook in the end is too narrow to see why or how to unite with this struggle and carry it through. But the revolutionary proletariat's answer is "Yes! Break the chains, unleash the fury of women as a mighty force for revolution!"

When women face resistance to their playing an equal role in all respects, including in leadership in the movement, some get discouraged. Often they turn to feminism as the answer. While feminism can play a progressive role in drawing attention to and encouraging struggle against the oppression of women, the problem is that feminism does not put the blame on and aim its fire squarely at the system of capitalism as the source of women's oppression, and therefore doesn't set its sights on the struggle to end it. Feminism can't see the need or the basis to unite all who can be united under the leadership of the proletariat and its vanguard party in the battle for revolution; nor can it fully grasp the basis for winning men to break with traditional, bourgeois ways of thinking about and dealing with women through the course of waging that battle. This can lead to demoralization, or to a turning away from the bigger struggle in society against the system.

We need to struggle for this new generation of Chicanas to see that the starting point of our revolution is indeed the ending of all oppression. And in that struggle women are, and must be, on the front lines. As the new Draft Programme says: "The proletariat will unleash the fury of women as a mighty force for revolution. As the proletariat comes to power, women will have already broken out of many traditional roles, having battled on the front lines, alongside men, for the liberation of all humanity. Many women will emerge as tested revolutionary leaders, and many men will cast away traditional thinking and practices towards women. These will be powerful positive factors in launching the socialist struggle against the oppression of women." (Draft Programme, p.21)

Our Vanguard is the Revolutionary Communist Party

Mao Tsetung said, "If there is to be revolution, there must be a revolutionary party." The Revolutionary Communist Party, USA was forged out of the struggles and upheaval of the tumultuous 1960s and early '70s. The RCP has consistently based itself on the scientific revolutionary ideology of Marxism-LeninismMaoism. Through fierce struggle the Party has kept on the revolutionary road, and today its line represents the outlook and the path to uprooting the oppression of Chicanos and all oppressed and exploited people in the U.S. as part of the world proletarian revolution. The Party has come to understand that in making the proletarian revolution our starting point has to be proletarian internationalism--that ultimately our struggle is worldwide. The Party is allied with other genuine Maoist forces around the world in the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement and is doing everything it can to strengthen the movement and advance the world revolution.

There is a challenge for all those who would like to see such a revolution, those with a burning desire to see a drastic change for the better, all those who dare to dream and to act to bring about a completely new and better world. Get down with the RCP and the RCYB (Revolutionary Communist Youth Brigade), and get your hands on the new Draft Programme.

This Draft Programme, and what it has to say about creating a new society, connects with the concerns of millions of people. The RCP is serious about learning from the ideas, suggestions, and the criticisms of others about this Draft. So if you refuse to accept this as the "best of all possible worlds"--if you are searching for a plan to change the world--we invite you to explore our new Draft Programme and take it to the people.

Throughout this paper we have emphasized the importance of making our starting point the real needs and real interests of the masses of people, and from that standpoint looking seriously at what it will take to meet those needs and those interests. We have seen that for the U.S. imperialists, the oppression of the Chicano people and the people of Mexico--who are forced to slave for them on both sides of the border--is so built into the very foundation and social fabric of their system, and so fundamental to the way the system operates and is held together, that they could not do away with it even if they wanted to. The Party's Draft Programme shows that through the overthrow of this imperialist system, and the establishment of socialism, the proletarian state will lead the masses of people to finally uproot the national oppression and white supremacy that the imperialists say is "eternal." With the leadership of the class-conscious proletariat it is possible to build a united front of all the oppressed and exploited people that are fighting against this modern system of global exploitation--imperialism--here in the U.S., in unison with those struggling against this same system across the border and around the world. And especially it is possible under the leadership of the proletariat to forge the crucial alliance that can make that broader united front possible--the unity of the multinational proletariat's struggle to overthrow capitalism and the struggles of the Black, Chicano, Puerto Rican and other oppressed peoples against their oppression as peoples, around a program for emancipation only realizable through and serving the struggle to topple imperialism and to go on to eliminate all oppression.

"If you can conceive of a world without America--without everything America stands for and everything it does in the world--then you've already taken great strides and begun to get at least a glimpse of a whole new world. If you can envision a world without any imperialism, exploitation, oppression--and the whole philosophy that rationalizes it--a world without divisions into classes or even different nations, and all the narrow-minded, selfish, out-moded ideas that uphold this; if you can envision all this, then you have the basis for proletarian internationalism. And once you have raised your sights to all this, how could you not feel compelled to take an active part in the world-historic struggle to realize it; why would you want to lower your sights to anything else?" (Bob Avakian, Chairman, RCP)

1. As will be gone into in more detail shortly, the term "Chicano," or "Mexican-American" refers specifically to people of Mexican descent born or raised in the U.S. The term "Latino" refers to the broader grouping of people who were born in or are descendants of people from Latin America. Chicanos are a part of the broader grouping of Latino people in this country, and in many ways the lives of the Chicano people have much in common with other Latinos in the U.S. But at the same time there is a distinct Chicano people, which this paper is focusing on. The term "Mexicano" refers to the people of Mexico, including those who are more recent immigrants to the U.S.

2. This armed uprising in the Mexican countryside shined a bright light on the oppression and struggle of the indigenous people throughout Mexico and the potential of a revolution based on the peasantry. And it revealed--and raised deeper questions about--the way the U.S. dominates Mexico and how that connects with the struggle here, "inside the belly of the beast."

3. As the comrade also recalls: "There was a cop defending this building. He looked up and realized, 'I'm defending this building, but there is nobody defending me.' And by then he was surrounded and the crowd came toward him. So he gets in the cop car and rolls up the window. That didn't do any good. People turned the car upside down, kicked the windows out, dragged him out and really let him have it.

"I'll never forget this young Chicana who pushed her way through the crowd and walked up to him and said: 'Motherfucker, this is for what you have done to me and my people for all my fucking life.' And she let him have it again.

"When the people have a justifiable hatred and an anger at being treated like this, that's going to find expression . . . You can't sit on people's anger and hatred for the way that they have to live and tell them to accept it. Because then what you are saying is that it's all right for the imperialists to plunder you, to do all this to you, but you have no right to try to do anything about it . . . A righteous anger is a wonderful thing--it can help change the world.

"There were a lot of examples like that. This older man came up_and he brought us empty coke bottles by the case and he said when you guys get done with those, there's more in the back. He was a small merchant, he wasn't a flaming radical. He saw what happened on Whittier Blvd. everyday. He could look through his window and see life as it passed in front of his store. The first chance he got of allying himself with people who were trying to do something about all that, that's what he did."

4. The U.S. was forced to confront defeat in Vietnam and withdraw its forces; certain concessions were forced on the system which pacified some who had been active in the struggle around various reforms; and there was a shift in world contradictions that was bringing the contention between the U.S. and the Soviet Union to the forefront. (The Soviet Union was by then an imperialist power itself, following the restoration of capitalism there in the mid-1950s.)

5. Travis Morales, a supporter of the RCP, and two other revolutionaries went out into the rebellion and then held a press conference upholding the rebellion as a glorious day in the history of the Chicano people. For this they were arrested and charged with felony riot. A battle to uphold the Moody Park rebellion and "Defend the Moody Park 3" was waged. In the end the state was never able to put Travis or the other 2 revolutionaries behind bars.

6. A conservative Chicana Republican with a long history as a right-wing spokesperson, George W. Bush nominated her to a cabinet position when he came into office in January 2001.

7. The 2000 Census figures are beginning to be made public as we write this paper. We hope to be able to update these statistics with the new data in the future.

8. Separate statistics for Chicanos were not available.

9. During this same period, escaping their own bloody nightmares at the hands of U.S. imperialism, there has been a significant influx of immigrants coming from Central America. Throughout the 1980s the U.S. imperialists armed and trained reactionary armies and death squad battalions in Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras and El Salvador that drenched the entire region in the people's blood. Facing guerrilla movements, many with the backing of the social-imperialist Soviet Union, these U.S.-backed regimes were the frontline fighters in the U.S. policy of preventing the Russians--at all costs--from gaining a foothold in "America's backyard." (Note: As we have pointed out, proletarian rule in the U.S.S.R. was overthrown in the mid-1950s following the death of Stalin, and replaced by a system of state-run capitalism. Well before the 1980s the Soviet Union was no longer socialist but had become an imperialist power contending with the U.S. in Latin America as well as throughout the world.) The cost of the policy and actions of the U.S. imperialists--and the butchers they installed and sponsored--was literally the lives of hundreds of thousands of Central Americans.

Thus the 1980s saw the arrival in the U.S. of tens of thousands of Central American immigrants escaping political repression and military and death squad terror. The Sanctuary movement of that period was a significant development among people from the middle strata in this country who risked FBI break-ins, death threats, and arrests for helping many of these immigrants enter the country without papers and for harboring them once they got here. The U.S.-sponsored slaughter in these countries caused long term destruction and instability which has continued to drive Central American immigrants to this country in the period since the ending of those armed struggles.

Although Mexican and Central American immigrants have distinct histories and cultures, and have been forced to come to the U.S. under different conditions and for somewhat different reasons, once here in the main they face a common oppression and exploitation. They often live in the same neighborhoods, work in similar bottom-rung jobs, and face the same discrimination, U.S. chauvinism, and police brutality that comes down on all Latinos.

Among these Central American immigrants are many who come from families whose lives can directly connect the hand that has a stranglehold on the oppressed and exploited inside the U.S. to the hand that trained and funded the Contras in Nicaragua, "Los Esquadrones de Muerte" in El Salvador, "La Mano Blanca" in Guatemala, and countless other agents of the state and secret police throughout Central America.

10. Our new Draft Programme speaks to these questions and shows why these imperialists are not invincible and how they could be overthrown by a powerful people's war. This would be based on a whole period of revolutionary work preceding a revolutionary crisis and then seizing on the ripening of such a crisis and actually drawing in and activating millions of masses who have come to the point of being willing to lay everything on the line for revolution.

11. Such as the battles for, and to defend, affirmative action programs, etc.

12. It is beyond the scope of this paper to try to get into the need for vanguard leadership in a more thorough way. For more on this important question we urge readers to study the Draft Programme, including the Appendices on the Party.

13. For more on this question see the section of the Draft Programme on "Proletarian Morality--A Radical Rupture With Tradition's Chains," that begins on pg. 134.)

14. Aztlán is the term used to describe the mythic place of origin of the Aztec peoples. It is said that the Aztecs migrated from this original site southward to the central plateau, where Mexico City is located today. The exact physical location of Aztlán is not known. Among Chicanos Aztlán has been used to describe the portion of the Southwest taken over by the U.S. following the war with Mexico.

15. See the Draft Programme, pp. 26-32, for more on "The Path To Power" and "The Strategy for Revolution: The United Front under the Leadership of the Proletariat."