The World Poetry Festival in Caracas, Venezuela

I'm most honored to be an invited poet to the 3rd World Poetry Festival in Caracas, Venezuela from July 17 to July 23, 2006. I arrived at Caracas Airport on Saturday, July 15 without a hitch. This was in contrast to my visit to Caracas this past January when I took part in the World Social Forum. Then there were problems with a downed bridge, late pickups, hours to get to the capital, confused schedules, and on my way out, spending a restless night in the airport trying to sleep in a plastic lawn chair until the next day when my flight was slated to leave.

This time, I was warmly greeted by members of the poetry festival's staff, including my own personal guide, a knowledgeable and friendly young man named Robinson Velasco. A new road had already been constructed that brought us into the capital of some 8 million people in almost no time. I met other poetry staff and volunteers, was given a nice room in the Hilton in the center of the city, and provided with breakfast, lunch, and dinner at no cost.

The magnitutude of this event dawned on me when I was told that there are less than a handful of world poetry festivals anywhere. Medellin, Colombia has perhaps one of the world´s largest (and, apparently, the largest in the Americas). The Caracas festival has grown in three years with more poets, more audiences, more financial and logistical support. The 28 invited poets came from Asia, Africa, South America, North America, the Caribbean, the Mideast, Europe, and Australia.

They included Hu Lanlan of China, Carman Valle of Puerto Rico, Tendo Taijin of Japan, Ali Al-Shalah of Iraq, Jorge Cocom Pech of Mexico, Nicole Cage-Florentini of Martinique, Tobias Burghardt of Germany, Francois Miguot of France, and Mike Ladd of Australia. Many were also from Venezuela including Miguel Marquez and Laura Antillano.

Four Americans were invited: Sam Hamill (founder of Copper Canyon Press and the amazing Poets Against the War), Allison Hedge Coke (well-known Native American poet), Jack Hirschman (the Poet Laureate of San Francisco and one of the most revolutionary voices in US letters), and yours truly. What a privilege to be linked to all these great poets!

On Monday, July 17, we were welcomed by the Venezuelan Minister of Culture, Francisco Sesto Novas, at a reception at the national library. We were also treated to a tour of the rare books section of the library, the pride of this relatively poor Latin American country that has now seen a great rise in literacy among the people. The government has recently published 500,000 copies of "Les Miserables" by Victor Hugo to go with the millions of other classics that are given free to the public. Their publishing imprint, El Perro y La Rana (The Dog and the Frog) is named after an indigenous symbol, connecting to the strong indigenous, African, and Spanish roots of the people. This is part of the Hugo Chavez government´s effort to expand the revolutionary process into all areas of the country (the way it has brought health care, new housing, schools, and computer centers free and accessible to millions of previously neglected populations).

Later that evening, after intense preparations and rehearsal (something many of us poets were not used to, being simple people of paper, pen, and voice), some 2000 people showed up to our gala inaugural event at the Teresa Carreño Theater. 2,000 people! I'm rarely amazed as a poet if I can get me a couple of hundred in the United States (one time I read to six people, four of whom were my family).

The response was tremendous. People sat through two hours of readings, with translations into Spanish of many of the poems projected onto the back wall of the theater. When it was over, hardly anyone had left (the audience included elderly and school children). The applause was enthusiastic, spontaneous, and gracious.

The next day, I did a reading at the Central University of Caracas with Anwar Al-Ghasanni of Iraq (who because of many years of exile was also fluent in Spanish, English, and who knows what other language) and several Venezuelan poets, including my friend Diego Sequera. Again, the response was heartfelt among the 100 or so people who showed up to listen. Press interviews followed at the university and later at the Hilton Hotel. More readings were also scheduled throughout the day.

Tomorrow, I'm scheduled to go to the state of Guarico, about a five-hour drive from Caracas, to read to largly agricultural communities. Other poets will be visiting other states throughout Venezuela so that most people in the country get access to the amazing words, images, ideas, passions, and presence of some of the world´s leading revolutionary poets. Hasta luego!
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Celebrating Words: Written, Performed & Sung

This past June 24, Tia Chucha's Centro Cultural organized the first "Celebrating Words: Written, Performed & Sung" festival in the culturally-neglected neighborhood of Sylmar in the city of Los Angeles. With support from the Youth Policy Institute and LA City Councilman Alex Padilla's Office (and funded by the city's Department of Cultural Affairs), we were able to get a few hundred people to enjoy the poets, spoken word performers, musicians, and bands that played on the stage -- and to see and buy art works, jewelry, T-shirts, books, and tamales from our vendors.

Our sister organization, Tia Chucha's Cafe & Bookstore, had three tables of books, in English and Spanish, to make sure the community had access to literature, words, poetry, and stories to complement the wonderful voices and sounds on stage that included the bands Quetzal, Upground, and Noxdiel. We also had music from Alfredo Hidalgo and Big Joe Hurt, conscious Hip Hop from El Vuh and the Hazze Hip Hop Dream Center, and poetry from D-Lo, Tia Chucha Press author ariel robello, Poets of the Roundtable (Mike the Poet and the Bus Stop Prophet), Tezozomoc, and yours truly.

The whole event was blessed by Tia Chucha's very own Aztec Dance group, Cuauh Temach Totecayotl.

Held in Sylmar Park, I heard comments from a couple of local residents who said they'd live in the area for many years, and never saw such a wonderful celebration at the park. We want to make this an annual event. Already we've received Department of Cultural Affairs' funding for next year.

We are also glad to announce our free Tia Chucha's Centro Cultural's Summer Music Program, partially funded by the Attias Family Foundation and sponsored by the Department of Cultural Affairs Music LA program. This year we will offer workshops in Conga, Piano, Harmonica, DJ/Mixing, Son Jarocho, Folk Guitar, Classical Guitar, Contemporary Guitar, Indigenous Drumming, West African Drumming, and more.

For more information, call (818) 754-2402, write to centroemail@aol.com, or go to www.myspace.com/tiachuchascentro.

Support the arts!
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"Express Yourself"

Charles Wright and the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band was for me one of the original, funkified, soul-deep bands of the 1960s and 1970s. I loved the urban African American music that hit the airwaves during that time. Earth, Wind & Fire led the pack for me, but they included War, Bloodstone, Maze, Sly & the Family Stone, the Whispers, Parliament, and Charles Wright. The Chicano Funk/Urban sounds emanating from LA, Texas, and the Bay Area around that time mixed right in there, including bands like El Chicano, Malo, Thee Midniters, Sunny & the Sunliners, Azteca, and Tower of Power.

Fortunately, I’ve become friends with Mr. Wright some 30 years after “Do Your Thing,” “Express Yourself,” and “Love Land” brought him international success. He came late last year to Tia Chucha’s Café Cultural at the invitation of our mutual friend, David Sandoval (one of the original producers of Los Lobos). He was there during our last Anniversary event this past February.

On Saturday, June 17, 2006 I was honored to host Charles Wright’s new CD release party at Tia Chucha’s Café Cultural with an amazing band that included original members of the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band as well as players for Earth, Wind & Fire and other musicians. In the audience were personalities like Charles McCormick of Bloodstone (“Natural High”) and a member of Sly, Slick & Wicked.

The new CD is called “Finally got it Wright” (Million Dollars Worth of Memories Records), now available at record shops and on the Internet (www.expressyourself.net).

Being there at this listening party and hosting this event was a dream come true for this once violent street kid. Music was one of the few sweet aspects of my crazy life then, particularly that era’s R&B. And Charles Wright and the band performed like there was no tomorrow. Playing some of his hits and cuts from previous albums, he also sang a few of the new ones. By the end, when he brought in the bass notes of “Express Yourself,” everybody in the house was on their feet, dancing, swaying, and singing along.

It’s important to note that this was one of the most authentic and original music this country ever produced. It was a time when people talked about important things like love, but also about the state of the world. There was consciousness and action in the streets and in the songs. While many of our youth today do not know much of this history, they hear the sounds in the various sampled records and current movie soundtracks. It’s still part of their world, although I don’t think we’re doing much to preserve the music or the musicians. I want to do my part to do both.

I want to thank Charles Wright, his band, and all those who attended this fantastic CD release party – for making this such a magical night.

Also please be on the lookout for another classic soul/rock/funk night when Chicano radio personality and music impresario Frankie Firme holds a CD release party of the new Ramparts Records release (featuring some of the West Coast, Eastside Sound they’re famous for) at Tia Chucha’s on July 8 from 5 PM until 10 PM. There will be live performances by Pepe Marquez and Anthony Prieto. Called “The Soul of Aztlan Show,” we’ll also feature a documentary by Ramparts owner Hector Gonzales and film maker Jim Velarde on the Ramparts Records phenomena (we’re also going to give yours truly a musical send off as I get ready to attend the World Poetry Festival in Caracas, Venezuela from July 15 until July 24).
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Completing Circles of Life

Jose Montoya is a pioneering Chicano poet whose legacy surpasses the Sacramento community where he lives and where he's much beloved. He's been honored in Mexico, Europe, and throughout the United States for his writings and his art. His poetry collection, "In Formation" (Chusma Press) is a classic. The father of Richard Montoya of the reknowned Chicano comedy group, Culture Clash, Jose has also planted seeds of consciousness, indigenous knowledge, literature, and community for future generations.

I first met Jose Montoya when I was 18 years old. I was just out of jail, using heroin, and sporting long Indian-style hair. I was inbetween two worlds -- the street life of my barrio, a street life I had known since age 7, and the movimiento, the Chicano movement for dignity, rights, land, and justice.

I probably could have gone either way at that time. One of the events that pulled me further into the movement, and a lifetime of revolutionary study, work, and writing, was connecting with Jose Montoya.

I was in Berkeley, CA (the first time I ever flew in a plane -- quite harrowing, despite have been shot at, having ODed, and jailed) after winning honorable mention in the Quinto Sol Chicano Literary Prize. The winners were Rolando Hinojosa Smith, another veteran Chicano expositer, and the late Estella Portillo Tramblay, a master storyteller.

I attended a poetry reading that featured Jose along with the Puerto Rican master poet Pedro Pietri and the African American word shaman David Henderson. It was the first poetry reading I had ever attended. I sat in the audience totally enthralled. I felt the energy, the spirit source of words and wounds, and I was changed forever. I didn't know then that my life would follow this thread. But somehow these voices and verses pulled me into my present life's passions and purposes (I now read all over the country, Latin America, and Europe).

That was 1973. I saw Jose again in the early 1980s when he read as part of the LA Latino Writers Association's reading series at Self-Help Graphics in East LA (I was director of the LALWA for a short time). Then about three years ago, Jose read at Tia Chucha's Cafe Cultural -- the bookstore, cafe, art gallery, performance space I helped create in the San Fernando Valley in December 2001.

Then as life tends to do in the process of completing circles, on May 19 at the Sutter Cancer Center in Sacramento, organized by my friend, the poetry healing doctor, Chip Spann, I read with Jose Montoya in a special evening that brought a standing room only crowd.

To say the least, it was magical. Jose's voice still resonates with years of barrio stories and images and truths. We had a kind of sparring -- Jose reading a couple of poems and I followed in a round robin of back-and-forth, give-and-take exchanges. We didn't rehearse, but it seemed as if we had been doing this for years. And perhaps in our spirits we have been. The elder and mentor, the teacher and student.

Gracias, Jose, tlazhokamati for being there in my life when I most needed this sage light to guide me. And thanks to Chip Spann and his crew who made this last event happen.
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Recent Attacks part of Systemic Plans to Divide and Divert

Today at 5 AM, sheriff's squad cars, helicopters, and bulldozers broke into the South Central Farm (on 41st and Alameda) to evict 350 families who have made a 14-acre garden oasis in an area of urban blight for more than 14 years. The showdown came weeks after the farmers and their supporters tried to get the city to work out a deal so they could stay. A wealthy developer fought in court to get the land back from the city so he could build warehouses in an area already inundated with warehouses.

Academia Semillas del Pueblo, a charter school for kindergarten to eight grade students, in the Eastside community of El Sereno continues to be targeted for closing by Dough McIntyre and other right-wing talk show hosts on Disney-owned KABC-AM 790 radio. The school's sole "crime" -- to be run by Chicanos/Mexicanos/Central Americans (and others) with indigenous concepts, and things like Tai Chi in the morning, and language courses in Spanish, Nahuatl (an indigenous tongue of Mexico and Central America), and Mandarin. McIntyre and his crew are saying the school is run by "terrorists," "self-segregationists," and "racists" because they don't abide by a European-based curriculum. Although the school is meeting charter-school standards and has rising test scores (in a community with some of the lowest test scores in the city), this is not good enough for the real racists at KABC-AM 790 radio. Last week, the school received bomb threats, forcing students to go home.

Attacks against Mexicans have been going on for decades. But the recent removals and targeting against institutions is to destroy anything that provides Mexicans self-sufficiency and independence. The recent anti-immigrant moves by groups like the Minutemen and Save our State (you may as well include the Congress and President Bush) are aimed against the so-called "mexicanization" of the culture. Although undocumented immigrants are made up of people from all over the world, the single largest group comes from Mexico.

This is an unfounded fear. Yet, hysterical calls for English as a national language, billion-dollar walls and National Guard troops on the border, and criminalizing undocumented people who live and work here (and those who support them) shows how desperate a people can be when they perceive a danger.

Terrorism seems to have driven some people mad. Yes, there are terrorists in this world. Yes, 9/11 has changed most everything about how we do things. But Mexicans and other immigrants are not terrorists. Apparently, most terrorists are coming through Canada. The people coming through Mexico are mostly trying to survive.

But just like the US lashed out against countries that had nothing to do with 9/11, including Afghanistan and Iraq, certain groups are lashing out at any people of color, in particular the large number of indigenous Mexicans and Central Americans forced to come here.

They are trivializing the true horror of what happened on 9/11. They are extending terrorism to almost anybody who has an issue or beef with this country. To even loudly proclaim any errors on the part of the government or President Bush has warranted an outrageous response from right-wingers and conservatives (look at how crazy some of them went against the Dixie Chicks, one of whom expressed her righteous opinion against President Bush).

We need dissent. We need critical voices. We need people to challenge the goose-stepping, racist-based, movement of people like the Minutemen and others.

The biggest thing to point out is how divisive this country has become (which is what some of these right-wingers live for) and how much diversion they have stirred up away from the real issues facing all Americans (citizen and undocumented alike, including "red state" conservatives): a polarized economy (falling for most people), increased fuel prices, astronomical housing costs in major markets, global warming, and a war that is a waste of humanity and resources.

Attacking urban farmers and charter schools who are law-abiding and within their rights to exist is a waste of energy, funds, and ideas. But that's where the dividers and diverters like to go.

The real issues facing this country, and the world, are pushed aside.

The problem is most of us won't forget. Our job is to keep bringing these issues back home. Poor whites (even in the Minutemen), poor African Americans, poor Native Americans, and poor immigrants (regardless of status) are in the same boat -- what unites us is greater than what divides us.

It's time we fought for the cohesion and coherency we need to truly safeguard our rights, our lives, and our livelihoods.
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KABC-AM Radio Attacks Eastside Charter School

From Xispas Magazine, June 5, 2006 (www.xispas.com).

Academia Semillas del Pueblo is an LAUSD (Los Angeles Unified School District) sanctioned charter school in the Eastside community of El Sereno with students from kindergarten through the eighth grade.

"[Academia Semillas del Pueblo is] dedicated to providing urban children of immigrant native families an excellent education founded upon their own language, cultural values, and global realities," their official website says (www.dignidad.org).

Besides meeting all requirements for students in LAUSD schools, ASDP provides an ancestral Mexican (indigenous) school environment, based on the Mexika/Aztec concept of kalpulli, which caters to the mostly Mexican/Central American community in El Sereno. Besides English, they also have language classes in Nahuatl (native Mexican), Spanish, and Mandarin. While the majority of the students are Mexican/Central American, the Academia is open to all children of any race, culture, or creed.

Recently, KABC-AM 790 talk radio, which the right-wing has used for years to spout their ugly divisive politics, has targeted ASDP for closure because "they do not instill 'American' values." In particular, Doug McIntyre, a morning talk show host, claims the school is part of the "multiculturalism" push in this country, which has become a particular focus of attack by some US conservative fringe organizations.

Last week, their rabid attacks against ASDP led to bomb threats against the school and its children (even forcing students to go home).

KABC-AM, which is apparently owned by Disney, is a disgrace to academic freedom and the celebration of a rich, cultural reality in Los Angeles and throughout the country. They argue for the homogenization of everyone in this country into what they deem is "white" American society. In essence, they are saying everyone should believe like them, act like them, talk like them.

This is fascism, pure and simple -- people walking in goose steps (literarily or figuratively, it's the same concept). It's also racist (in fact, McIntyre once stated on his radio show that it was good that Whites attacked and killed Native peoples for their land).

What makes this society truly valuable is the diversity of cultures, religions, tongues, and peoples who have come here (some out of necessity). This country was not just built by Europeans. Mexicans, in particular, have been working and fighting for this country for more than 150 years. They've helped build the railroads, pick our fruits & vegetables, and labor at all levels of industry. They've fought in all major wars in the 20th century, garnering more medals of honor than any other ethnic group during World War II. Although Latinos (including Mexicans) are said to be 10 percent of the US armed forces, they reportedly make up upwards of 30 percent of soldiers, marines, and National Guard units in Afghanistan and Iraq (including many undocumented people).

KABC is trying to close Academia del Pueblo not on any legal basis or for incompetence or any issues of malfeasance. The sole focus of their hatred is that the school is run by Xicanos, for Xicanos, and dedicated to Xicano/Mexicano culture and traditions.

What McIntyre and some of the other KABC anchors fail to realize is that Xicanos, Mexicanos, and Central Americans, particularly the indigenous Aztec/Mayan and other tribal roots that these people come from, are part of "America." They are as native as any Native American in this country. They were here for tens of thousands of years before any Europeans arrived. American English itself has many Nahuatl (Aztec) words, including avocado, jaguar, chocolate, maize, tomato, and more. While we at Xispas are not against European culture or people in this country, we are against any imposition of European (Anglo or otherwise) culture to people who are not European (that's colonialization).

While we agree this country should have a unifying language such as English, we also should be fluent in Spanish and/or tribal tongues (or any other of the more than 350 languages spoken in the United States) if we so desire.

In the United States, we can agree on uniting around essential aspects for all people regardless of their origins or traditions, including following the law (when they are just and based on our healthy development, not control), support for the well-being of all children, English as a common tongue, and the freedoms all of us (not just Europeans) have fought for. We should not demand we become homogenized into one mono-culture (in the US there's no such thing anyway).

American culture has the sighs of Jewish mothers, the scraping brooms of Italian street cleaners, the sweat of Algonquin construction workers, the callused hands of Mexican farmworkers, and the immense fortitude of African Americans through slavery and beyond. The Irish, the German, the French, the Japanese, the Filipino, and the British all belong here. So do the Lakota, the Navajo, the Pueblo, the Cheyenne, the Tohono O'oldham -- and now the millions of Zapotecas, Mixtecos, Mayans, Yaquis, Tarahumaras, Huicholes, Purepechas, Pipiles, and other indigenous groups from Mexico and Central America.

We need to stop KABC-AM's racist campaign to remove the variety of human lives and expression in this country. We ask all activists, leaders, speakers, teachers, youth, and elders to contact the radio station and demand they cease any more attacks against Academia Semillas del Pueblo and other non-European community-based institutions.
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Hearts & Hands -- A Pathway to Authentic Community

I am pleased to report that Hearts & Hands: Creating Community in Violent Times will be the core curriculum in a newly certified staff training program for State of California juvenile detention centers, halls, and camps.

The Seven Stories Press book was first published in 2001 and summarizes the almost 30 years of work I've had with youth, gangs, community building, men's work, and justice work.

Drawing from ideas as old as the oldest stories, to some of the best findings in current practices among community youth advocates, Hearts & Hands is a call for imagination, connection, caring, vision, and hope in a political environment that abandons youth, removes vital creative resources from schools and the economy, blames the family and the youth themselves, and then creates massive prisons and juvenile facilities as the only means to address the breakdown of adequate and whole sustenance -- spiritual and physical -- for all of us.

The actual program that has been certified is called "Conflict Management Training: Breaking the Cycle with Dignity," created by Fidel Rodriguez of K.R.Y.L.O.N-13 Educational Initiative (he's also with Divine Forces Radio and co-owner of Imix Bookstore in Eagle Rock, CA) and Michael de la Rocha of the City of Los Angeles Human Relations Commission. Barry J. Nidorf Juvenile Hall Superintendent Edward Anhalt was instrumental in seeing this program off the ground and eventually certified. My hats off to this open and courageous leader in youth transformation work in some of the most dire circumstances -- youth detention centers.

The program utilizes spiritual practices (yoga, meditation, indigenous, African, and others) and deep rage/grief work with staff members in our juvenile facilities so that they become the real advocates and activists for the youth themselves. It also includes work with the youth in those facilities, supported by and sustained by staff.

I took part in three of the six-month trainings this year first held at the Nidorf Juvenile Hall in Sylmar, CA. Youth probation superintendents and staff from LA County probation camps, juvenile halls, and gang units were also involved. All participants were encouraged to buy Hearts & Hands and read various chapters throughout the training. Guest facilitators included Luisah Teish, a long-time African American spiritual leader and community activist from the Bay area.

I hope this becomes a major step to injecting imagination, deep soul and spirit work, and mentoring/eldership into places where our most troubled youth need it the most. I'm honored to be part of this immensely vital work.
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A Letter

I recently received this letter by email, which was an honor to read. I'd like to share it with the rest of us (although with a couple of slight changes).

Dear Mr. Rodriguez,

Having just completed your most beautiful novel (Music of the Mill), I feel compelled and inspired to write you to say you are a timely voice -- not only for your people, but for all of us who cherish the eloquence and commonality of the human spirit. How relevant you are these days when the borders of our so-called American nation have become confounded with thoughts about who is, or is not, American. As you instruct, long before the onslaught of the Europeans, (Native peoples) crisscrossed a borderless land with hope and dreams of equanimity. Funny how those who usurp and uproot can now claim moral outrage. Shock and awe! You have certainly made me a convert to desire the assimilation, not only of current immigrants to this nation, but in the ultimate possibility of an America inclusive and truly diverse. What a voice you are. An awesome writer. I can't wait to read your next book.

Yours Truly,

Bob Rubenstein
Brooklyn, New York
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Teatro Chucheros

The young people, including several children, had their faces painted partly in skull face; boys with a cursory knowledge of music played bass, violin, guitar, and drums in the background; and a small but appreciative audience that included parents and friends smiled, laughed, and applauded during the opening performance of Tia Chucha's Centro Cultural's newest arts theater project: Teatro Chucheros (named after our cultural establishment in the Northeast San Fernando Valley).

Funded in part by the City of San Fernando, the play brought out the history of the community surrounding the San Fernando Mission, including the devastating impact the Spanish invadors had on the Native peoples, but also the role of their descendents and Mexicans in creating and expanding the city's roots, flavors, and future.

Taught and organized by the renowned Chicano comedy theater group, Chusma Theater Collective, Teatro Chucheros gave these youth and children theatrical and comedic skills as well as important history lessons, confidence, and recognition. We are thankful to Chusma as well as the City of San Fernando for making this project possible. We are also hoping it will continue and expand as an ongoing project of Tia Chucha's Centro Cultural.

Speaking of which, it's always great to come back from my many trips to this cultural space created by my wife Trini, my brother-in-law Enrique Sanchez, and myself, something I've always dreamed of and now have seen become a positively invaluable meeting place of books, art, poetry, performance, music, dance, and our indigenous Mexican and Central American roots.

Open to all people who can appreciate and honor these aspects in themselves, we've become a beacon of imagination and creativity in a community that had no bookstores, cultural outlets, or even movie houses until Tia Chucha's Cafe Cultural opened its doors more than four and a half years ago (in an area with more than 400,000 people, mostly Spanish-speaking, although LA is considered the Entertainment Capital of the World).

Thank you all, especially the children, the youth, their parents, and their teachers for expanding this dream of community empowerment.
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Where We Go From Here?

Today President Bush proposed deploying 6,000 National Guard Troops on the US-Mexico border to stop the flow of undocumented immigrants. This is nothing but pandering to the most conservative elements in Congress and in the country, including the vigilante anti-immigrant group, the Minutemen. Despite the fact the Minutemen have not had more than 200 people at any of their events (far less most of the time), they seem to matter more to Bush than the millions in 150 cities who boycotted, marched, demonstrated, and walked out on May 1 – probably the largest social mobilization in US history.

We know that the government will not do the right thing. Even their plans for guest worker programs are super exploitation programs. What the movement has been demanding is full and complete amnesty for close to 12 million undocumented people, and a fair & equitable immigration and border policy.

But it appears Bush and Congress will have nothing to do with this.

I think at present the movement has to expand its vision, its reach, its unity, and its organization. At the heart of this movement are the economic rights for all people to have decent lives, decent work, decent pay, decent healthcare, and decent housing. There are millions of American citizens, let alone immigrants, who don’t have these vital things. Let’s move into this Heart of America that the capitalist class, as well as their policy makers and apologists in the media, pretend don’t exist or don’t matter.

A unified, strong, ongoing movement of the poor by the poor and for the poor is the direction the present struggle for dignity and human rights for immigrants is going. Once engaged, the linkages across all borders in this hemisphere and other parts of the world can make this a truly world-wide, historically momentous movement, the possibilities of which are inherent in the recent mobilizations among labor, churches, and social organizations to change immigration policy in the US.
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