For Immediate Release
June 11, 2008
Contact Person: Nativo V. Lopez, National President (MAPA)
"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
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/.