Wednesday, May 29, 2013

COMMEMORATE THE 95TH BIRTH ANNIVERSARY OF BERT CORONA

COMMEMORATE THE 95TH BIRTH ANNIVERSARY OF BERT CORONA
Join the Mexican American Political Association and the Hermandad Mexicana in commemorating the 95th birthday of Humberto “Bert” Corona on May 29, 2013.  Bert Corona was a legendary leader in the Mexican American, Chicano, Mexicano, and Latino communities throughout the United States, but also widely known and respected in Mexico among union and social movements, political parties, and even government officials.  He was an activist and leader for 60 years in multiple social movements – labor, immigrant rights, peace, political/electoral representation and civil rights, and the academic institutionalization of Chicano Studies Departments in colleges and universities where he taught and/or lectured as a professor.   He is considered the father and political architect of the immigrant rights movement during the 1960s and 1970s with the founding of the Center for Autonomous Social Action (CASA) – General Brotherhood of Workers along with his companion of many years, Soledad “Chole” Alatorre.  In 1975 he co-founded with Chole and Socorro Alatorre, the Hermandad Mexicana Nacional, which had been originally founded in 1951 by Felipe Usquiano in the city of San Diego, California with other labor leaders of the Laborer’s  International Union and the International Brotherhood of Carpenters.  

Corona and Alatorre built CASA, and subsequently, the Hermandad Mexicana into a broad membership grassroots community-based organization as a fighting force against immigration raids and deportations and in favor of fair and humane immigration reform.  Their efforts ultimately culminated in the passage of the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA), which legalized 2.7 million undocumented persons.  More importantly, their practical teaching methods demonstrated that immigrants could successfully be organized into labor unions, community action organizations, electoral campaigns, lobbying visits to members of Congress and the state legislature, and build mass movements in the streets as an important form of political action.  This they did against all counsel and advice from supposed political experts, foundation funders, legislators and traditional party leaders, union officials, and even left organizations who declared that the undocumented could not be organized.

The slogan, “No Human Being is Illegal,” had its origin in the speeches and instruction of Bert Corona who did not compromise with the terminology used by the media in describing immigrants, including left and center-left media journalists, newspaper columnists, television and radio commentators and disc jockeys, and academia.  He clearly understood the value and power of words, depictions, and characterizations of a people and never surrendered any terrain on that score, not even in liberal irreverence or spoofing by so-called friends of immigrants at the expense of immigrants.

Much more could be shared regarding the multiple contributions over the lifespan of Bert Corona, as a follower of Pancho Villa and Ricardo Flores Magon; organizer and union local president under the International Longshore Union President Harry Bridges; companion to Soledad Alatorre, Luisa Moreno, Congressman Edward Roybal, Eduardo Quevedo, Herman Gallegos, and Ernesto Galarza; friend and mentor to Cesar Chavez (as Chavez himself expressed); collaborator with Reies Tijerina, Corky Gonzales, Jose Angel Gutierrez; national co-coordinator to Senator Robert Kennedy’s presidential campaign , and teacher and friend to so many.

We invite you to read more about Bert Corona’s life, travels, experiences, and stories in “Memories of Chicano History: The Life and Narrative of Bert Corona,” co-authored by Mario T. Garcia, and published by University of California Press in 1994.  

Celebrate the commemoration of Bert Corona’s birth by clicking to the photo gallery link below or go to www.hermandadmexicana.org or www.mapa.org.

Team Hermandad: Taina, Xel’ha, Sergio, and Nativo.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

MAPA Issues Call for Immediate Action From Immigrant Workers

STATEMENT

Tuesday, August 11, 2009
For Immediate Release
Contact: Nativo V. Lopez
NativoLopez@mapa-ca.org or 714-423-4800

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The Mexican American Political Association (MAPA) has issued a "Call for Immediate Action from Immigrant Workers" in response to the Obama administration's inaction on immigration reform. Below is a statement by MAPA National President, Nativo V. Lopez. He will have media availality today at Overhill Farms plant from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. and will be with approximately 100 workers. (Location - 2727 E. Vernon Avenue, Vernon, CA)

"President Barack Obama made clear today that there would be no immigration reform until 2010 in a press conference comment during his visit to Mexico to meet with the presidents of Mexico and Canada. There was no forewarning to the public or to immigrants’ rights advocates prior to his comment. Yet, neither did President Obama make any reference to the continued broad and harsh enforcement of immigration laws in the workplace, which is resulting in the discharge of thousands, and potentially will lead to the termination of hundreds of thousands of workers.

"Worker Councils from a growing number of companies that have been targeted by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), under the direction of Secretary Janet Napolitano, directed by the policy of President Barack Obama, are forming and fighting back under extremely adverse conditions the enforcement of employer sanctions sweeping the country. These companies bear the names of Overhill Farms, American Apparel, Farmer Johns, Micro Solutions, and many others. In fact, some 650 have been profiled by this administration. The initial mass terminations have only just begun.

"We are organizing ourselves to openly oppose these policies and practices, which are devastating our families during the worst economic times since the 1930s. We call on workers, employers, unions, churches, immigrants’ rights coalitions and advocacy organizations, human rights groups, and worker centers to unite and respect our broad call to mobilize urgently and demand an immediate moratorium of the aggressive unprecedented enforcement of employer sanctions with the I-9 audits of profiled companies that hire immigrants, the expanded use of eVerify, the federal system of employment verification, and the expansion of police-ICE collaboration through the 287g program. Enforcement heavy and legalization light is now the order of the day for President Obama.

"We call on all unions of the labor movement, that has a responsibility to defend us, to clearly articulate their open opposition to employer sanctions and the I-9 audits, defend their members and all workers targeted for termination due to no-match discrepancies with the Social Security Administration, and openly oppose contract-worker programs as modern indentured servitude no matter by what name they are titled.

"We call on the churches of all denominations, which have a responsibility to safe-guard our spiritual well-being, to express vocal opposition to the policies and practices that are tearing up our families and destroying the prospect of us remaining in the U.S. You have a duty to hold the line against any assault on the integrity and unity of the family.

"We call on the immigrants’ rights coalitions and national networks of different names, that represent that they work on behalf of immigrants and advocate in favor of fair and humane immigration reform, to not fear mass mobilizations of workers and immigrants openly demanding an end to the Obama enforcement strategy, but instead to join us. We want you to demand a full and generous legalization of undocumented immigrants without accepting a horrific deal of “smart enforcement” as a trade-off.

"We call on the state and federal legislators to have courage and fight for humane immigration reform and to not be sold on the idea that by demonstrating more enforcement they will be able to win over more moderate and even Republican politicians in favor of legalization. How much more does President Obama want to push us down in order to demonstrate his “tough on immigrants” fa├žade to the American people? We can only stand for so much.

"We call on all honest employers that depend on immigrant labor to join the broad movement to oppose employer sanctions and all its discriminatory implications as government heavy invasive intrusions and interruptions of the work-place. You have a moral duty to pay an honorable wage for a good day’s work.

"We are taking the brunt of the attacks and suffering the immediate consequences of this misguided policy, therefore, our call is urgent to take to the streets on September 5th, the Labor Day weekend, and October 12th, not to ask but demand that President Obama stop the attacks on immigrants and that he fulfill his promise of immigration reform, that which we heard during the presidential campaign, but has recently been forgotten.

"We are convening all organizations, unions, churches, and all those who support fair and humane immigration reform to march in the streets and let our voices be heard as one – all at the same level and force – that WE HAVE HAD ENOUGH MR. PRESIDENT. We declare that just as you politicians we also are human beings and we also need to eat and live with dignity. We are honorable workers and we deserve respect. The same as is demanded of us to pay taxes, we demand to be blanketed by the very programs that exist thanks to our contributions, especially during these distressful times.

"We represent a blessing for America and the solution to the economic crisis. We demand a fair and humane immigration reform for all NOW. We demand that Obama LEGALIZE AMERICA NOW!

"All out on Labor Day September 5th and October 12th!!!

"Worker’s Council of Overhill Farms
Worker’s Council of American Apparel
Worker’s Council of Farmer Johns
Worker’s Council of Micro Solutions
Hermandad General de Trabajadores Union International
Hermandad Mexicana Latinoamericana
Mexican American Political Association
Chicago Community and Workers Rights
CONLAMIC (The National Coalition of Latino Clergy and Christian Leaders)
People's Assembly for Popular Education & Liberation (PAPEL)
Chicano-Latino Artists for Social Equality (CLASE)
Congreso Internacional de Mujeres Activistas de las Americas (CIMA)

"Sign on to this call"

Nativo V. Lopez
National President

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The Mexican American Political Association, an advocacy organization, was founded in Fresno, California in 1963 and has chapters throughout California. It is dedicated to the constitutional and democratic principles of political freedom and representation for the Mexican, Mexican-American and Latino people in the United States. For more information, visit the MAPA website at http://www.mapa.org/.

Nativo V. Lopez is the National President of the Mexican American Political Association (MAPA) and Hermandad Mexicana Latinoamericana (HML), which requires of him full-time advocacy for the civil, human, labor, and immigrant rights of Mexicans, Mexican Americans, and Latinos throughout the United States. He has dedicated his life to these causes since his years as a high school student where he founded the first student movement organization, United Mexican American Students (UMAS). He was born in Boyle Heights, Los Angeles in 1951 to Mexican American parents, and is of both eighth-generation native U.S. born and immigrant stock. Nativo met the legendary immigrant organizer, leader, and advocate, Humberto “Bert” Corona, in 1971 and worked with him in various capacities for thirty years with the organizations Center for Autonomous Social Action (CASA), Hermandad Mexicana, and MAPA. He was a lead organizer in the 2006 pro-immigrant marches and was part of the creation of the National Alliance for Immigrant’s Rights (NAIR) and the Southern California Immigration Coalition (SCIC). For more information, go to http://nativolopez.blogspot.com/.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Banking on Obama with Open Eyes: I'm Voting for the Black Man

Nativo Lopez 3 MAPA Logo 1

Nativo Vigil Lopez
National President, Mexican American Political Association (MAPA)

The American people can now rejoice in one of the greatest blows against racism in its history - the election of President-elect Barack Hussein Obama. This is the culmination of a two-year campaign for the son of an immigrant African father and a white Irish-American mother born and raised in middle America Kansas. Obama qualified the election success as "a defining moment" for America in his victory speech.

No matter your take on his politics - either from the left or right - president-elect Obama will be considered an American epic figure. He has smashed the race barrier and the glass ceiling, and he did it not just with the black vote, but a quilt of votes from all races, national origins, ages, party affiliations, ethnic groups, and ideological inclinations. The vote count bears this out. But the story is also about white America that favored the Democratic candidate by 43%, a higher margin than that received by Senator John Kerry in his 2004 presidential bid. While blacks and Latinos can claim him as "our" president, the reality is that the combined votes of blacks and Latinos would not have been sufficient to sweep him into office. This speaks volumes for white voters who did not allow race to be a factor in their determination to select the new father of our country.

What mattered more to the voters, according to exit polls, was the economy - by a margin of 68%. Interestingly, the issue of immigration did not even rate as an interest of concern to the voters, notwithstanding the hardboiled anti-immigrant campaigning during the primary elections by the Republican Party.

The "Yes We Can" (Si Se Puede) slogan encapsulated the spirit of Americans across the board who wanted change, and fought for it with expressions of hope and reconciliation. It is a slogan taken straight out of the playbook of Cesar Chavez in mounting the movement to organize farmworkers in California during the 1960s. It is a slogan now chanted by Americans across the country to reflect their optimism about creating a different country, about creating change. It is an adamant and defiant chant, repeated by Obama before half-a-million celebrants in Chicago last night, which poses a positive determination of what will come. This is how Cesar presented his case at a different historic juncture.

We have overcome, the words uttered by an African American woman celebrating in Chicago after the announcement of the results, and overheard by a television commentator. This is the past tense of those words declared in a televised speech by President Lyndon Johnson in 1964 when he introduced the Voting Rights Act to the U.S. Congress - we shall overcome - words that he appropriately appropriated from the civil rights movement that demanded and struggled to obtain this legislation. It is said that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. openly wept when he saw and heard President Johnson on television repeat those words. He said that he never thought he would live to see a white man embrace this slogan. But King, like Obama 44 years later, was responsible for bringing together the political and social forces to create the opportunity and the moment.

This election reveals who we are as a people, and reveals this to the world. Does anyone ever remember when people throughout the world celebrated the victory of a U.S. presidential candidate as they did for the Obama victory as if to embrace him as their own president and their own victory? This is what the major media networks have reported.

Spike Lee characterized the moment as historic for the country, and that now we will reference U.S. history as BBO and ABO - Before Barack Obama and After Barack Obama. Doug Wilder, the former first black governor of Virginia, said he was "proud of America, and especially proud of Virginia." Pat Buchanan, an extremely conservative author and television pundit declared, "the Republican Party lost the Reagan Democrats in this election." Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr., (D- Illinois), observed, "The genius of the Obama campaign was that he ran as an American who happened to be an African American."

The American electorate has grown as a result of this election cycle - an estimated 133 million people voted, eleven million more than in 2004, 64% of the eligible voters. Blacks increased their share of the electorate to 13%, two percent above their role in 2004. Some other figures help to understand the moment. Blacks voted for Obama by a margin of 95%, Latinos by 66%, and young voters also by 66% - in political parlance this is a super-majority. Latinos brought home the winning of the West by voting more than 2-1 for Obama in California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, New Mexico, and Colorado. The Latino support in Nevada - an important swing state - for the first black president of the nation was 74%. And, the united black and Latino vote in Florida was responsible for carrying this state. This Latino electorate performance smashes forever the racist myth rolled out by many media pundits after the Super Tuesday primaries in February that Latinos would never vote for a black man for president. Latinos proved them wrong - big time.

I'M VOTING FOR THE BLACK MAN

In December 2007, I attended an immigration conference in Houston, Texas. I took a taxicab to return to the airport, and struck up a conversation with the driver, an African American, and it eventually got to the elections. I asked him whom he was supporting for president. Without missing a beat, he responded, "I'm voting for the black man." He added that "the first 43 presidents have been white men, so why not give the black man a chance, he couldn't do any worst." The logic was compelling. One month later the Mexican American Political Association (MAPA), for which I serve as national president, celebrated its endorsement convention and the hundreds of delegates unanimously voted to endorse Senator Barack Obama for president. The organization formed MAPA FOR OBAMA chapters and joined the campaign. The members resolved to cast their lot with our black brothers and sisters and look forward to the "change we need" - the Obama campaign slogan.

Many tears were shed, including my own, at the sheer delight of hearing president-elect Obama pronounce his speech at Grant Park in Chicago. I am proud of my president-elect, proud of white America, proud of the black community who demonstrated leadership, patience, and discipline moving towards this election, and proud of Latinos who showed the world that it is willing to support a candidate for the content of his character and not the color of his skin. The latter was a confirmation of what I have always experienced in life.

Obama's victory speech was somber in my interpretation and he took great pains to lower expectations within the context of expressing optimism, accomplishment, gratitude, and reflecting on the historic moment in reference to Abraham Lincoln and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He staked out a laudatory posture of reconciliation and reaching across the isle in a big way. This is how he intends on governing in a too-fractured America.

Like many other Americans, I too am banking on Obama just as Obama banked on Latinos to win the West. There is probably no issue of great import to the country that could not be considered a Latino issue. Everything in his platform speaks to our needs - the economy, financial markets, a more progressive tax policy, homeownership, ending the war in Iraq, re-building the infrastructure, global warming, the development of alternative energy sources and ending our dependence on fossil fuels, universal healthcare, and certainly, comprehensive immigration reform. We have everything to benefit from this presidency, but it will more likely occur by continued organizing, mobilizing, and being present, and being counted.

We should have no illusions about the speed of change we need and want, or about the ability of president-elect Barack Obama to deliver. There will be great difficulties. President Bush will hand over a basket-case of a country, two wars, a half-a-trillion dollar budget deficit, a doubled national debt of $11 trillion, millions of home foreclosures, one million jobs lost during the last twelve months alone, and a economic recession that will only deepen. These are overarching challenges for any new president. But, these too are our challenges. And, from crisis comes opportunity.

Friday, July 18, 2008

3rd Annual National Latino Congreso Begins Today!

The 3rd Annual National Latino Congreso begins today—the last large gathering of Latino leaders before the November elections.


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Friday, July 18, 2008
For Immediate Release
Contact: media@wcvi.org

Latino Congreso Gathering to Launch Five Million Dollar Nonpartisan National Voter Effort

Hundreds prepared to dialogue with political leaders during three-day gathering to urge a commitment to drive Latino agenda forward in the next Administration

LOS ANGELES, CA – Bolstered by a recent study conducted by the William C. Velasquez Institute that found more than one million new Latino voters registered to vote during this primary season, convening organizations of the National Latino Congreso will use the third annual gathering to launch a massive voter registration and get-out-the-vote effort geared at adding an additional 1-2 million new Latino voters to the rolls in time to vote in November’s election.

"Latino leaders will use this gathering to organize and fund-raise to launch a massive nonpartisan voter mobilization campaign,” said Antonio Gonzalez, president of Southwest Voter Registration Education Project (SVREP). “Already more than 10 million Latinos are registered to vote in America, and our efforts will help drive that number up to between 11 and 12 million."

More than 1,500 participants are expected to join the series of town-hall meetings where discussions facilitated by nationally-recognized elected officials and experts on will cover voter registration, voter education and mobilization efforts, in addition to traditional issues such as education reform and immigrant rights, and issues of growing concern for Latinos nationwide including public health, urban greening, foreign policy, climate change, social security, and much more.

“The Latino agenda has always been diverse and Latinos comprise 15% of the total U.S. population, but little attention has been paid to this segment of the electorate,” stated Oscar Chacon, executive director of the National Alliance of Latin American and Caribbean Communities (NALACC). “We are interested in the well being if this nation as much as anybody else in America but we must ensure that the main candidates, presidential, congressional or otherwise, not only pay lip service to our interest, but deliver once they are elected.”

The Congreso is one of the most diverse and participatory gatherings of Latinos in the United States. Participants come from all walks of life, including grassroots organizations, community leaders, religious institutions, day laborers, environmental activists, student organizations, small businesses, labor representatives, and national elected officials. The working platform will build on the previous two years of work surrounding more than 158 resolutions which will be presented to the presidential candidates and other elected officials and candidates running for congressional, state, and local offices.

“The Voting Rights Act is an important and necessary piece of legislation that continues to protect the voting rights of all voters throughout the United States, in particular those who have historically been denied or limited in their right and access to vote” stated Gina Montoya, Chief Administrative Officer of MALDEF. “Unfortunately, intimidation, disenfranchisement and strategic discrimination of low-income and minority voters continue today. Our community must be prepared to combat the coordinated efforts by those who wish to deny us our vote and voice in the political process this November,” Montoya added.

The Congreso will consist of interactive town hall meetings focusing on national/presidential issues on Day One, and Congressional and State/local issues Day Two. Discussions topics will include: justice for immigrants, war in Iraq, economy, climate change, trade and foreign policy, exclusion, public education, healthcare access and reform, community development, and poverty.

Confirmed speakers include Representatives Xavier Becerra, Assistant to the Speaker of the House of Representatives (CA), Raul Grijalva (AZ), Joe Baca, Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA), Ruben Hinojosa (TX), and Ciro Rodriguez (TX), Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, among others. Presidential Candidates, Senator Barack Obama and Senator John McCain, have both been invited as guest speakers to the “Latino Vote and the Presidency” fundraising lunch and dinner to be held on Friday, July 18, 2008

The Third Annual National Latino Congreso will be held at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel and the Sheraton Los Angeles Downtown Hotel. All activities are open to the public but registration is required at http://www.latinocongreso.org/. Members of the media wishing to attend the Congreso are requested to register at http://latinocongreso.org/media_registration.

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The National Latino Congreso is a multi-state effort convened by nine national organizations, including Hispanic Federation (HF), League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), Mexican American Political Association (MAPA), National Alliance of Latin American and Caribbean Communities (NALACC), National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON), National Hispanic Environmental Council (NHEC), Southwest Voter Registration Education Project (SVREP), and William C. Velasquez Institute (WCVI). The Co-convening organizations include Earth Day Network (EDN), Hermandad Mexicana Latinoamericana, Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA), and National Alliance of Craftsman Associations (NACA). Southwest Airlines is the official carrier of the National Latino Congreso.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

MAPA and Hermandad Mexicana Latinoamericana Endorse 3rd Annual National Latino Congreso

MAPA Logo 1Hermandad Mexicana Latinoamericana

The Mexican American Political Association (MAPA) and the Hermandad Mexicana Latinoamericana join the call of other conveners, co-conveners, and endorsers to welcome you to the Third Annual National Latino Congreso. Please look at our website now at http://www.latinocongreso.org/

Since 2006, the National Latino Congreso has brought together Latinos from all walks of life - from grassroots community members to national elected officials - to create a united independent Latino agenda on a variety of issues.

Help us welcome Senator Barack Obama on Friday, July 18, 2008 at the Bonaventure Hotel for dinner, and engage him on the issues that are important to our community. https://latinocongreso.org/registration.php.

Join us in engaging Senator John McCain in a discussion on the war, the environment, immigration reform, the use of torture, global warming, and other issues on Friday, July 18, 2008 at the Bonaventure Hotel for lunch. https://latinocongreso.org/registration.php.

The Congreso first broke new ground in 2006 with delegates from 20 states creating a platform of 70 resolutions. In 2007, delegates from 300 endorsing organizations and individuals from 15 states passed 98 additional resolutions.

The resulting 168 resolutions, created by Congreso delegates from over 500 organizations, encompass traditional issues such as educational reform and immigrant rights as well as issues of growing concern for Latinos nationwide - public health, urban greening, foreign policy, climate change, and much more.

Make no mistake about it - the pressing and urgent task before us collectively is to register to vote millions of new Latino voters, encourage those already registered to get involved in electoral campaigns, and mobilize our collective voter strength in the millions to make use of the vote on Election Day in November.

There is a role for every member of the family. Those too young to vote or those who haven't obtained citizenship status are important players in this campaign. They can make the difference in the mass mobilization of our community to march in the streets and march to the ballot box. This year we must move and act as one united family, and leave no one behind.

We welcome you to join MAPA or Hermandad Mexicana Latinoamericana and become a delegate or observer as we prepare our multiple delegations to attend and participate in all the town-hall discussions, debates, votes, and exchanges.

Join the many organizations that are conveners, co- conveners, and endorsers to the National Latino Congreso - http://www.latinocongreso.org/.

Willie C. Velasquez Institute * League of United Latin American Citizens * Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund * National Day Labor Organizing Network * Southwest Voter Registration and Education Project * National Alliance of Latin American and Carribean Communities * Hispanic Federation * Mexican American Political Association * Hermandad Mexicana Latinoamericana * National Hispanic Environmental Council

You and your organization can also become an endorser to the Congreso. Join us today in forging the broadest unity between Latino organizations in the United States.

Si Se Puede,

Nativo V. Lopez
National President

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

MAPA Joins San Diegans in Opposing Blackwater

MAPA Logo 1


STATEMENT

For Immediate Release
June 11, 2008
Contact Person: Nativo V. Lopez, National President (MAPA)
(714) 423-4800

"Today the Mexican American Political Association stands tall with San Diegans in opposing the presence of Blackwater USA (West) in Otay Mesa running along the U.S.-Mexico border. This is the equivalent of privatizing the functions of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement to enforce U.S. immigration laws, not much different from the manner in which our federal government has privatized the Iraq war.

"It is not just the manner in which Blackwater has set up camp in San Diego county to pursue its paramilitary affairs – a complete lack of public scrutiny, environmental review, public hearings, and transparency – but the very essence of this private mercenary operation is anathema to the existence of our democratic institutions. We oppose it on both grounds.

"There is no doubt in my mind that this is exactly why Blackwater, with the connivance of some local government officials, tiptoed secretly into the area, especially considering the successful public outcry of county residents in opposing the company’s previous attempt to build a 800-area training facility in Potrero, California, also near Mexico’s border.

"I would like to publicly congratulate and thank the patriots who are fighting for transparency and accountability, and the unmasking of Blackwater – Jeremy Scahill for his authorship of – Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army, and the local activists for their bravery – Carol Jahnkow, Martin Eder, Raymond Lutz, and Enrique Morones. It is only when good Americans come forward to fight for our democratic institutions that such are sustained and improved upon.

"What is our main objection to the existence of Blackwater in our country? Simply put, impunity. This paramilitary force, sustained by American taxpayers to the tune of multi-million dollar contracts, has operated with complete impunity in Iraq and other countries. The deployment of Blackwater’s forces domestically is a dangerous precedent that could undermine U.S. democracy. In fact, we are already observing that this is the case in San Diego. We concur with Michael Ratner of the Center for Constitutional Rights when he stated that Blackwater’s “actions may not be subject to constitutional limitations that apply to both federal and state officials and employees – including First Amendment and Fourth Amendment rights to be free from illegal searches and seizures. Unlike police officers, they are not trained in protecting constitutional rights.” These kind of paramilitary groups bring to mind Nazi Party brownshirts, functioning as an extrajudicial enforcement mechanism that can and does operate outside the law. The use of these paramilitary groups is an extremely dangerous threat to our rights.”

"When you consider Blackwater’s attempt to build a paramilitary base hugging the U.S.-Mexico border, it is quite apparent that the intention is to privatize border enforcement as this relates to drug interdiction and human smuggling. It is our view that this will only lead to more deaths along the border, a violation of civil, constitutional, and human rights, and greater difficulty on the part of those victimized to seek justice before our judicial system.

"We will continue to support and participate with the growing number of organizations, on both sides of the border, to oppose the presence of Blackwater in our communities. This is one time when the phrase, ‘not in my backyard’ aptly applies."

- Nativo V. Lopez, National President of the Mexican American Political Association

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The Mexican American Political Association, an advocacy organization, was founded in Fresno, California in 1963 and has chapters throughout California. It is dedicated to the constitutional and democratic principles of political freedom and representation for the Mexican, Mexican-American and Latino people in the United States. For more information, visit the MAPA website at http://www.mapa.org/.

Nativo V. Lopez is currently the National President of the Mexican American Political Association (MAPA) and Hermandad Mexicana Latinoamericana (HML), which requires of him full-time advocacy for the civil, human, labor, and immigrant rights of Mexicans, Mexican Americans, and Latinos throughout the United States. He has dedicated his life to these causes since his years as a high school student where he founded the first student movement organization, United Mexican American Students (UMAS). He was born in Boyle Heights, Los Angeles in 1951 to Mexican American parents, and is of both eighth-generation native U.S. born and immigrant stock. Nativo met the legendary immigrant organizer, leader, and advocate, Humberto “Bert” Corona, in 1971 and worked with him in various capacities for thirty years with the organizations Center for Autonomous Social Action (CASA), Hermandad Mexicana, and MAPA. He was a lead organizer in the 2006 pro-immigrant marches and was part of the creation of the National Alliance for Immigrant’s Rights (NAIR) in Chicago, Illinois. For more information, go to http://nativolopez.blogspot.com/.