Hugo Chavez and a New World

I’ve been to Venezuela three times in the past ten years – to attend the World Social Forum with the theme of “A New World is Possible,” as an official reader in the Caracas Poetry Festival, and as invited guest and presenter to their amazing book fair that looked at the possibilities of revolution in the United States. Each time I could see a country in the throes of new beginnings, striving for justice for those abandoned by present social and economic conditions.

During those trips I visited outlying areas, met with indigenous people as well as young people including activists, poets, artists, and workers. I went to marketplaces and entered free computer centers and medical facilities in the poorest areas. I also spent time in the slums of Caracas (similar to Brazilian favelas only in Venezuela they are called ranchitos), which had no lighting until their president Hugo Chavez made sure they had access to electricity.

Once I got to meet Chavez briefly, just before he gave a more than two-hour talk at the main sports stadium that held up to 100,000 people. This was hard for me. I’ve been trained in the fast-paced, ADD-inducing, TV flipping realities of modern times. I have a hard time listening to most people for more than five minutes before my mind wanders and my feet get antsy. But I didn’t lose interest. Hugo Chavez spoke mostly extemporaneously, citing the Bible, Karl Marx, poets, and others. He knew facts and history. He was funny, serious, angry, and gracious. He even sang. At the time the U.S. had George W. Bush as president, whom satirists and other political commentators poked fun at due to Bush’s poor command of English, of facts or of history.

And I couldn't imagine Bush singing.

Bush a few times characterized Chavez as a monster, blaming him for turmoil and discord in South America, although most of this was due to U.S. foreign policy decisions and third world capitalist realities. The majority of reporting and comments on Chavez in U.S. media were unflattering and downright slanderous. I always knew U.S. media, except for a few remarkable instances, misrepresented Latin America. Being there in Venezuela, on the ground floor – as I have done over the past thirty years in Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras, Peru, Puerto Rico, and Argentina – provided a fresh and more nuanced sense of what was really happening.

Yes, Venezuela is still poor (although Chavez in sixteen years cut the poverty rate by half). Slums continue to reach high up into the mountains surrounding the capital. There were also major political splits, although most of this fell into social class backgrounds – for the most part the rich (a small minority) hated Chavez; the poor and working class loved him.

Venezuela is also violent. For years, Caracas was known as one of the three most violent cities in the world. And Chavez had many issues, many holes in his doctrine as well as personality. I can be as critical about persons, parties and policies as anyone. But I also support unconditionally the Venezuelan people and their revolution – even with the back-and-forth, up-and-down nature of social change.

What the Venezuelan people have accomplished is a beacon for this continent – and the world. Venezuela represents hope and possibilities during this period of global electronics-based capitalism, when financial decisions in the office suites of banks and corporations of the U.S. impact more what Latin American countries do than their own elected presidents or legislators.

Chavez stood up against U.S. Empire. He stood up against those who would enrich themselves at the expense of the poor and working classes. He took over oil production and placed much of this income into bettering the country, but also in helping others. Chavez spearheaded a new Bolivarian Revolution, re-igniting the revolutionary spark that Simon Bolivar first lit to get rid of Spanish rule in the Andes region of South America.

Poetry, song, dance, political teachings, and more exploded in Caracas and elsewhere. Having free medical care and computer access – something not available in the richest and most powerful country in the world – is revolution in itself. I walked into one of those clinics, talked to the doctors and medical assistants, and watched as they brought the best medical practices to anyone who walked in the door. People needing help didn’t have to show their finances, their status, or even their passports. Rich or poor, Venezuelan or foreign, with no regard to religion, gender, sexual preference, or race – all were able to get this kind of attention.

Venezuela is a country of contradictions, like most countries of the world. But unlike many others it is moving in an equitable and embracing social economic and political direction. Hugo Chavez didn’t make this happen by himself, but he held the leadership.

Chavez died last week in Cuba from cancer. He was 58, born the same year I was born. I feel connected to his dream and his actions, his striving for more knowledge as well as his practice. Anyone who places a gulf between the two is missing the vital connection of how ideas become a material force. A vision, a plan, and getting things done – that’s Hugo Chavez’s legacy.

I send condolences to the Venezuelan people – who treated me as a brother, fellow poet and revolutionary – for the loss of their president: Hugo Chavez Frias.

c/s

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David Hernandez -- R.I.P.

Puerto Rican poet, band leader, and pioneer of the country's cutting edge in poetry performance, David Hernandez passed away on Monday, February 25, 2013 in the city he loved, Chicago, due to a heart attack. He was 66.

I met David thirty years ago exactly, 1983, during a fundraiser for mayoral candidate Harold Washington, who went on to become the city's most beloved mayor. I then moved to Chicago in 1985 and worked with David in various configurations of the poetry and art scene in that vibrant city until I left in 2000.

David Hernandez and Street Sounds were the performers to bring to any occasion. Combining David's humor, poignancy, and rhythms with words, the group took poetry to new heights. According to the Chicago Tribune, David once performed to a million people in Chicago's Grant Park and was commissioned to write a poem for the city's 150th anniversary. He worked with troubled youth in lockups and prisons, with the homeless, with the most forgotten and pushed aside. He carried the soul of his Puerto Rican heritage through words and music. At the same time he reached out and embraced all peoples, all colors, all of Chicago's amazing cultures, languages, and voices.

He was my friend and a poetry partner, helping me also create Tia Chucha Press in 1989 and in establishing the Guild Complex Literary Center. Along with books by Michael Warr, Patricia Smith, and Rohan Preston, David's 1991 poetry collection "Rooftop Piper" helped launched this press to national status. At one point he was declared the city's "unofficial poet laureate."

David also knew about drink, drugs, and the street life--in this respect we related, even as we got clean, worked hard to help others, and tried to tear away from the most debilitating prisons of the mind and spirit.

David was one of the sweetest person I ever knew; he always embraced me, treating me like a brother. The last time I saw David, Tia Chucha Press was doing a reading at Jak's Tavern and Restaurant near Greektown as an offsite reading for the American Writing Programs Conference in February of 2012 -- celebrating 23 years of existence. Also on the bill were veteran TCP poets Mary Hawley, Warr and Smith, among others, and new ones such as Jose Antonio Rodriguez, Luivette Resto, and Melinda Palacio. I recalled his big smile, as if he was enjoying not only colleagues but his children continuing to break through all boundaries as we revolutionize the world with words, ideas, and song.

David's legacy can be found in all that we do.

His spirit is now in Tia Chucha's Centro Cultural and Bookstore, which I helped bring to the Northeast San Fernando Valley section of Los Angeles in 2001 with a strong influence from Chicago's cultural cafes, theaters, art galleries, and studios.

Hermano, compay, te doy abrazotes fuertes -- que en paz descances.

c/s

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Join Luis J. Rodriguez in celebrating the art of making dreams a reality

Tia Chucha’s Centro Cultural & Bookstore is a dream of community empowerment. It is the intersection of grassroots community building — drawing on the talents, visions, capacities, and imaginations of the culturally rich Northeast San Fernando Valley — within the framework of a nonprofit institution. This effort requires both feminine and masculine energies. Both expansive freedoms and restrictive necessities. Dreaming and working. Chicano/Central American/Mexican at its core, but open to everyone of any background or community. Tia Chucha’s is also a story of struggle and triumph against great odds. Trini and I, along with countless others,  have withstood many challenges to keep this dream alive. We have moved to three different spaces in twelve years. The first move was because of a drastic rent increase that forced us to put our expensive coffee shop equipment, books, CDs and other supplies into storage, only to have our valuable inventory burglarized and damaged. Our second move was necessary to find a more community-friendly location for our endeavor. We have also had to endure opposition from various local political entities, and the debilitating absence of a comprehensive policy of support for community-based arts in every neighborhood. The weight of these many challenges have been difficult to carry. In fact, when we were pushed out of our first space I found myself contemplating having to close down Tia Chucha’s. Saddened, I showed up at a Tia Chucha’s Open Mic. The spirit of the poets, spoken word artists, singers, and guitarists lifted my spirits. At one point that evening a young girl, about nine years old, got on stage to speak. She just wanted to share her day in school. I was mesmerized by her clear words, comforted that she felt safe and open at this gathering of community of all ages, glad that there was a place where her voice and story could be heard. This convinced me that we had to keep going. Yes, safeguarding Tia Chucha’s has been difficult, but we have not wasted time focusing on fighting anyone who pushed us away, or on setbacks, or on crying—even though there has been tears. Instead, we put our all into continuing to create a full-fledged arts cultural space, based on the cosmologies of our indigenous peoples, but also celebrating the power of visual arts, music, dance, theater, digital media, writing, healing arts, puppetry, photography, and books and more books.  As a result, many would agree we have established one of the best community gathering and learning centers in the whole Los Angeles basin. Now we celebrate twelve years with dignity and respect. But also with much love for our patrons, participants and partners. With much love for our wonderful staff and board of directors. With much love for our growing volunteer base and our generous and talented facilitators. And with endless appreciation of the many funders and donors that have helped keep us alive and relevant. We can’t do this without you. In honor of this struggle for a dream anchored in the love of community, we invite you to celebrate with us on February 23rd from 1 to 6 pm. I will be at Tia Chucha’s to sign books, along with Salvadoran children’s book author  René Colato Laínez who will do the same. The day will be full of wonderful things to see, do and enjoy.Please join me in celebrating twelve years of Tia Chucha’s Centro Cultural & Bookstore in the Northwest San Fernando Valley, and the many more years to come. Luis J. Rodriguez, cofounder and president of the Board, Tia Chucha’s Centro Cultural.
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Time for a New Politics, a New Party

This is a statement by Luis J. Rodriguez during a national CONFAB on February 16, 2013 for the U.S. Justice Party. Luis was the Justice Party vice-presidential candidate along with Rocky Anderson for president during the last presidential elections. He is author of many books, including the bestselling “Always Running, La Vida Loca, Gang Days in L.A.” and its sequel “It Calls You Back: An Odyssey Through Love, Addiction, Revolutions, and Healing.” He is co-founder of Tia Chucha’s Cultural Center & Bookstore and the independent cross-cultural publishing imprint, Tia Chucha Press. In addition he was a co-convener in 2011 of the Network for Revolutionary Change.

In my work as a writer, community activist and urban peace advocate, I travel around the country and speak to thousands of Americans. Recently my trips have taken me to economically strapped communities in Michigan, Illinois, New York, Maryland, Washington, Colorado, Arizona, and California. Let me tell you all these people, many without jobs or in low-paying work with no benefits, need a Justice Party.

I’ve spoken to youth, men and women, mostly of color and all poor, in juvenile lockups and correctional centers—in the past two weeks in California alone I visited Soledad and San Quentin prisons, the San Bruno County Jail, and the Alameda County Juvenile Hall… they need a Justice Party.

I read today that unmanned Drones have been bought by U.S. police forces under this current administration to be used against us—already those given the badge to supposedly “protect us” have shot and killed many innocent people in our urban centers. And they want police officers in all our schools?

As a former steelworker and organizer for AFSCME, it’s also outrageous to see corporations and banks steal the homes and livelihoods of union workers – they need a Justice Party.

To migrants from all over the world, but in particular those from the native lands of Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, forced to leave the countries they love just to survive – they need a Justice Party.

To the neglected people in our Native American reservations, in our migrant camps, housing projects, trailer parks, and homeless enclaves, where for decades I’ve done workshops, readings, and talks – they all need a Justice Party.

Presently the interests and aspirations of the working class, of the poor, of the pushed out and neglected, are incompatible with the capitalist motive aim of profits over lives… and incompatible with a two-party system that has strangled the democratic process and brought war to our doorsteps.

This country, more than ever, needs a Justice Party, beholden to no one but the majority of the American people who cannot accept any longer the deterioration of our environment, our healthcare, our schools, and our economy.

These people are hungry for a new politics and a new America. They need a vision of what true justice looks like, feels like – one that can last. It’s time for new thinking and new ways to unite the most diverse cultures, to cross over our varied beliefs and even ideologies, pulling these streams into one energy, one ocean, in cooperation for the benefit of everyone, everywhere.

The technology is on our side, the digital revolution that has preceded the social upheavals and discontent in our midst. For the first time our governance can align with the best clean advancements and the immense capacities of the people.

It’s time for a new party based on a truly broad movement for meaningful and livable work, for peace and the healthy wellbeing of children, teens, adults and seniors. It’s time for the Justice Party.

I, therefore, challenge all of us – can we find the character, the courage, the big ideas needed to create such a party? Can we set aside the unprincipled differences and drama that has dogged so many burgeoning third parties? Can we find the people and whatever funds are necessary to get the Justice Party on the ballot in every state of the union?

To reach out, to awaken, to incorporate more activists, thinkers and leaders into a different kind of politics – this is our challenge. I, for one, am willing to assist this course of action – to see if we can finally break the slavery of the two-party system and begin a new road toward the emancipation of the American voter.

I’d like to end with a story – of a young Guatemalan who had legal U.S. resident status and who graduated from high school in the Los Angeles area. Marine Lance Corporal Jose Gutierrez, age 22, became the first U.S. combat death in the last Iraq War. His citizenship was bestowed after his sacrifice.

Can we have a country worthy of people like Jose Gutierrez – who loved this nation and gave his all to the war makers, yet there are many like him returning home to little or nothing?

Please join with me in what is no doubt a historical and practical necessity. Join with me in making justice a reality for all.

c/s

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A Good Way to Start the New Year

AndreaThis past Thursday, January 3, 2013 two important family events occurred.

First my daughter Andrea, who’s now 35 years old, married Sean Patrick Kenney in Las Vegas, Nevada. I’m so happy for her and Sean. Andrea’s 16-year-old daughter Catalina was there as well as Sean’s 8-year-old son Trevor. We plan to have family and friends do a reception in L.A. later this month. I send many blessings and much love to my only daughter Andrea, who I love immensely, and to Sean, a great person and partner for Andrea.

May their union be unbreakable and soul sustaining.

Also that day my brother-in-law Tony Cardenas, my wife Trini’s brother, was officially sworn in as U.S. Congressman for the 29th District – the first Chicano/Latino from the San Fernando Valley to be in the House of Representatives. Trini and I were at his new offices across from Congress in Washington D.C. watching the proceedings on TV (Tony could only have a couple of people inside the chambers during the opening of the new Congress, which included his 14-year-old daughter Alina).

Many new congresspersons were sworn in that day. Like Tony, they had receptions in their new offices. However, Tony’s reception was particularly large and brown. Many family and friends from the San Fernando Valley were there—brothers, a sister, cousins, and his sons, daughters, and many nephews. Also at the reception were members from Tony’s old staff from his former L.A. city council offices, other friends and supporters, and such notables as California State Senator Alex Padilla, California State Assemblyman Raul Bocanegro, L.A. School member Nury Martinez, L.A. City Councilmember Felipe Fuentes, and others.

That evening a wonderful dinner was held at the James Madison Room of the James Madison Building in Washington D.C. It was quite moving when Tony arrived with his wife Norma. Many applauses – this is a big deal. When Tony spoke there were many tears. I’ve known Tony for as long as Trini and I have been a couple – close to thirty years. He’s grown up a lot in that time. I remember him then as a quiet, unassuming and bright young man. Now he is a true leader, sturdy and strong, with many accomplishments (he was the first Latino from the San Fernando Valley in California’s State Assembly and an L.A. City Councilperson for many years).1

Needless to say this is a moment to be proud of—and I wish Tony well as he tries to negotiate some justice and change and to realize some badly needed hopes in the hell pit of dealings and delays, squabbling and surprises that make up the U.S. Congress.

And I don’t exaggerate when I say that. There’s hell fires there, but I believe Tony can do this—and with grace and dignity (which I’m also aware is hard to find in some of these circles).

Congratulations to my daughter Andrea and Sean as they embark on a new life together.

And congratulations to Tony as he tries to do what few have done in Congress – not just survive but stay energized and inspired to make a defining difference.

c/s
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James Lilly – May He Rest In Peace

Today my friend James Lilly died from a self-inflicted bullet wound. He was a former Chicago gang member, paralyzed when he was 15 years old from a rival gang bullet. Still, he emerged over the years as a champion wheelchair racer who also spoke to kids in schools about not joining gangs. We spoke at events together and took part in conferences and circles on ending gang violence. He sought me as a mentor, and in the end we became friends. You can find out more about his championship run at http://pushin-forward.net/ I have much love for this brother, who emerged as a hero in my eyes. Like many traumatized young men, he also had much to wrestle with. I send love, prayers, and good thoughts to James, his oldest son Jimmy, his wife Nora, and their children. I also send prayers and much respect to Izumi Tanaka, who made the film on James’ life and stayed close to him and his family. For now, I am deeply saddened. Que en paz descanse. c/s
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2012

http://www.youtube.com/embed/4cWyjGXK9l4?list=UU-iJa60bRBOEak3eF5eO62Q&hl=en_US

For a more of my thoughts on the subject read a piece I wrote for the Huffington Post, "What 2012 Means"
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The Election This Time

I was fortunate this year to be a candidate for vice-president under the fledgling Justice Party. Justice Party presidential candidate Rocky Anderson appeared in a number of media outlets, including Democracy Now!, Huffington Post Live, Al Jazeera, and Russia Today, among others. A third party debate at Chicago’s Hilton Hotel in late-October, moderated by Larry King, was seen online by more than a million people—Rocky did a great job articulating the issues. I also traveled on my own to help get the Justice Party’s message known. I did this while promoting my new book (“It Calls You Back: An Odyssey Through Love, Addiction, Revolutions, and Healing”), bringing awareness to the Salvadoran gang peace that I’ve been involved with as a member of the Transnational Advisory Group in Support of the Peace Process in El Salvador (TAGSPPES), and promoting Tia Chucha’s book and film that I co-produced this year (“Rushing Waters, Rising Dreams: How the Arts are Transforming a Community”). Since July, I spoke throughout the Los Angeles area as well as Port Townsend/Seattle, Salt Lake City, San Francisco, San Diego, Washington DC area, Albuquerque, Boulder/Denver, upstate New York, Chicago, Seattle (again), and Phoenix—not to mention spending seven days in El Salvador. I tried to piggyback media events to add my voice to the public debate. The Justice Party had no money for major ads or for a tour. There was no corporate funding. Despite this we were on the ballot in around fifteen states and as official write-ins in another twenty states. Although our numbers on Election Day were little more than 36,000, third parties totals that day—including the much bigger Libertarians and the Green Party—broke the two million mark. There is a growing vacuum among those disenchanted with the two party system, the DuoCracy that Rocky speaks about, in which regardless of diverse interests pertaining to the economy, class, race, or gender we’re supposed to be represented by only two political parties, two heads of the same beast, both owned and run by massive corporate interests. America deserves better. This so-called democracy is mostly closed to the majority of Americans, in particular the working class and its poor. I’m outraged that more than $2 billion was spent in the presidential campaign—mostly greased by Super Pacs made up of big money that is neither seen nor accounted for. Yes, President Obama won. He won the majority of the “battleground” states. His electoral college numbers were 332 to Romney’s 206. Young voters, women, African Americans, Latinos, and progressive whites carried the day. Still there were 94 million eligible voters who did not turn in a ballot. And even though the President took the popular vote, it was largely evenly split (50.6 percent of the voters went for Obama; 47.8 percent for Romney). This country is severely divided. I’ve read and heard many arguments about why Romney lost and why the Democrats held on to the presidency and maintained their lead in the Senate… as well as harangues and even vitriol from right-wing pundits, analysts, and lay people. Some of the nuttier rants from right-wingers included statements like “America Died” and “Evil won.” Anne Coulter cried. Ted Nugent blew a casket. Karl Rove had nothing but excuses. One social media voice called Obama the “N” word and stated the president should be assassinated (she claimed she was not racist or threatening, only “stating her opinion”—when will people like her be real). I read also that residents in more than thirty states have filed “secession” papers (in Texas, as of this writing, some 80,000 people filed a petition to secede). The crazies in the Republican proved what we always knew—they are too out of it to be part of any decent public discourse. For them, it’s not about what’s right and what’s wrong—or even about reality. It’s about “I’m right… and the rest of you are the devil’s spawn.” The Republicans are a complete joke, and it’s their fault. As MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow expressed, they are simply wrong on the issues. Wrong on same sex marriage. Wrong on women’s choice in abortion. Wrong on immigration rights (Romney cut his own throat when he said the U.S. should make life so miserable for immigrants that they would “self deport”). Wrong about climate change. Wrong on not taxing the rich more than the rest of us. Wrong on cutting back the social net. Wrong on full health coverage for all people. They’re wrong about capitalism and the power of greed and money to do society any good. And as for right-wing Christians, they are wholly wrong on their most fundamental belief—which is that God is on their side. Really? Why even acts of God helped Obama win (Super Storm Sandy was one of Rove’s excuses when he said it stopped Romney’s momentum). Now how about the Democrats? Many progressives in the black, brown, Asian, and white communities went all out for Obama—even when voter suppression was used against poor and working class communities (in one of the more outrageous examples, an Ohio ballot box was removed after it was discovered that people who voted for Obama ended up inadvertently voting for Romney). But I contend these weren’t votes for the Democrats. They were votes against Romney, against the powerful and rich, against lies, against the racists (there were many subtle and not-so subtle racist statements and expressions against Obama, including more than one effigy of Obama lynched on people’s yards). While it’s true the Democrats had better electoral strategies to get out the votes, better way to track numbers and voting patterns, remember: both parties had more money than ever before. Republicans didn’t do too shabby. The point is regardless of what Republicans did to manipulate their way throughout this campaign, people aren’t buying. They knew the current crisis was a direct result of one of the largest corporate thefts of homes, finances, stocks, and loans in history—which Republicans are directly responsible for and the Democrats pretty much went along. And despite Obama’s win, most people understand—the Democrats cannot pull us out of the crisis. The system, however, only gives us two choices. We can’t be precise, cogent, or able to vote our true interests—they are being hijacked at all levels. If one party doesn’t have the right personality, funds, or the numbers, there’s always the other one... Right. America deserves better. The Democrats have failed on the economy (of the new jobs that supposedly dropped the unemployment rate during the campaign, more than 60 percent were low-paid and unorganized non-permanent positions); the national health plan is a convoluted mess with insurance companies’ hands all over it; more people were deported under President Obama than any previous president; and people’s homes are still on the line, the modification plans enacted by the administration just not able to assist the vast majority of needy homeowners. Poverty is worse and wars continue. It’s great that the electorate pushed back and a few states got same-sex marriage and even marijuana reform. Change is real and powerful. And I’m all for it. But America deserves more. The point is—we can’t stop now. We must want more and we must organize for more. We need to push forward the permanent and true interests of the poor and working class—the only social class that will free up the economy, politics, and our culture. This means not letting President Obama off the hook: Pressure, pressure and more pressure. He shouldn’t be allowed to acquiesce anymore to the big banks, big corporations, big capital interests. I also contend we must break up the big parties. People don’t need to secede from the union (although I welcome this for any state that can get a majority to agree). The Republicans can’t contain their motley crew of Tea Party extremists, right-wing Christians, moderates, libertarians, and even Gay members under one umbrella—too many interests that don’t see eye to eye. And the Democrats are made up of even more varied groups, people, colors, and flavors. Great… that’s America. But isn’t America also about many voices, many concerns, many needs. What if we had more clearly defined political parties vying for the vast American electorate, truly engaging them, pushing the majority to actually care enough to vote? What a concept? Isn’t this what the United States pushes to emerging democratic states around the world—more parties, more voices, each party given equal time? You betcha. Yet, we still think the two party system is God-given and insoluble. There are so-called third world countries known for greater corruption and control, yet with five or six political parties in their national assemblies. I, for one, plan to continue building a movement to free up the democratic process. I will do this with the Justice Party if possible. We have a long way to go, but the Justice Party is on the map and I believe it has room to build and to impact. The Green Party did well in 2012—time to build, not just for elections, but also as a movement. More voices, more imaginations, more ways to go. Yet at the same time to struggle in a rational and common sense manner (based on deeper understandings and knowledge) for the unity-in-diversity needed to keep our country equitable, expansive, and just. America deserves this and more. c/s
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Why I’m the Vice-Presidential Candidate for the Justice Party

I’m 2012’s vice-presidential candidate for the Justice Party, running with presidential candidate Rocky Anderson. Why? Because we need justice in our economy, in our environment, and in our politics.

Today there is a growing gap between the wealthiest and the poorest people of the land, a largely closed and corporate-run democratic process, and few remedies to address climate change and fossil fuel dependence.

Neither Republicans nor Democrats have the long-range, comprehensive, and substantial solutions to any of these as the two parties are daily revealed to be two heads of the same beast.

I understand the dangers of having Governor Romney and Senator Paul Ryan possibly becoming our president and vice-president with the same outlook, policies, and war-mongering that got us into this mess in the first place—there is no way they can be removed from the hammer blow of responsibility for what Republicans in the White House and Congress have done to our country.

I support the historical place Barack Obama has as our first African American president and whatever good he has done against terror in the Middle East and for job growth. Most of those who voted for him reached out to the hope.

But as many others have said before—we should want more.

The Obama Administration’s continual bail-out of financial institutions that have mercilessly ripped off the American people, increased raids and deportations of hard-working immigrant families from Mexico and Central America, and the fact that 60 percent of the job growth has been in the low-paid, unorganized and unrepresented sectors of the service economy cannot be excused.

The eroding of our civil liberties, the waste of lives and monies in the drug wars, and the ongoing use of military operations to resolve the world’s problems, leading to more insecurity, cannot be excused.

President Obama is also a leader. It’s clear he can’t lead us out of economic and political collapse, except to prop up the same ideas and tired structures from the other side of this two-headed entity—which has also failed us.

I’m in this race with Rocky Anderson to inject new ideas, to inspire a new imagination for what’s possible, and to help with a true healing of the people and the land.

I’m in this to make sure the poor and pushed out are at the forefront of any policies and plans—finally… justice for all.

The first step is to allow the voices and alternatives to the two-party system a full airing, the same free and equal access to the media, and to be given a chance to speak out on these issues. You don’t have to agree entirely with Rocky or I, or any of the other far more interesting and knowledgeable candidates out there. But you can agree we all need to be heard.

I’m a first generation U.S. born son of Mexican migrants. My parents believed in the American Dream, which in poor neighborhoods we lived in like South Central L.A. and East L.A. was largely frozen. Although I was a troubled youth—on drugs, in gangs, and out of school—before I left my teens I dedicated myself to education, books, social justice as well as deep economic and political change. This provided me direction, meaning, and energy to move forward as a person and for my community.

I myself became a steelworker, construction worker, paper mill worker, and foundry smelter for many years until I decided in my mid-twenties to be trained as a journalist, and later as a poet, fiction writer, essayist, and memoirist. I’ve also stayed active in my community for some forty years for proper youth development, immigrant rights, better schools, neighborhood arts, and for a vibrant economy and a dynamic political reality.

That’s why I’m running as vice president of the United States for the Justice Party.

Can we win? All I know is that with the Democrats and Republicans we constantly lose. It’s time to vote for what you believe, for what you know to be true, for what you deserve.

It’s time to vote for true justice.

c/s

http://www.youtube.com/embed/QkywfNksVtE

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Justice in Our Environment, Justice in Our Economy, Justice in Politics

As most people know by now, I am the vice-presidential candidate with the Justice Party, running next to Rocky Anderson for President. Here is a link to learn more: http://www.justicepartyusa.net/ I'm honored to have been invited to be in on the national dialogue on issues of poverty, jobs, democracy, the environment, and the end of war. More on this later. For now here are some national media events I've taken part in so far. The Democracy Now! vice-presidential response from Friday, October 12: http://www.democracynow.org/2012/10/12/expanding_the_vp_debate_third_party The Huffington Post Live debate from Friday, October 12: http://live.huffingtonpost.com/r/segment/507339affe34445fe4000151
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