In 1969 , the Chicano Moratorium Committee began organizing throughout the Southwestern US to protest the disproportionately high rate of Latino deaths in Vietnam and racism in the United States. One of their main slogans was: “Our struggle is not in Vietnam but in the movement for social justice at home”. After months of demonstrations and conferences, it was decided to hold a National Chicano Moratorium against the war on August 29, 1970. Carlos Montes encapulates the popular action and the brutal crackdown from the LAPD below. This was a turning point in the Chicano movement.
The Committee only lasted one more year but the political momentum generated by the Moratorium led many of its activists to form La Raza Unida Party, as well as continue their activism in other groups; its effects are still felt to this day in the continuing struggles against racism and imperialism. Originally posted on fightbacknews.org.
39th Anniversary of Chicano Moratorium
The Struggle Continues
Commentary by Carlos Montes
Los Angeles, CA – Today, Aug. 29, 2009, shows that our people are continuing the fight for equality and self-determination. It was demonstrated by the many groups that were present today at Salazar Park, including the student group MECHA and the new Brown Berets, to commemorate the historic day in 1970 when over 20,000 Chicanos marched down historic Whittier Boulevard in East L.A. to protest the war in Vietnam and the high casualty rate of Chicanos. The mass peaceful rally in 1970 was attacked by the Los Angeles Police Department and the sheriffs. Ruben Salazar, news director for KMEX, was killed, along with Angel Diaz and Lynn Ward. A similar example of repression took place on May 1, 2007 when the LAPD attacked a pro-immigrant rights rally at MacArthur Park.
This year’s event was organized by the local Chicano Moratorium Committee and had the backing of the East L.A.-based Latinos Against War. In Latinos Against War, we organize against the war in Afghanistan and against the military recruiters in our high schools. We support self-determination for Chicanos in the Southwest, the Chicano nation of Aztlan. Our strategy is working with community-based groups like the CSO to organize poor and working class Chicanos in our community to fight for our rights. This means fighting for better education, living conditions, for the rights of our people displaced by poverty in Mexico and Central America now living here and for full legalization.
The campaign “Escuelas Si, Guerra No,” (Schools Yes, No War) of CSO recently won the opening of a new high school in Boyle Heights. The Mendez Learning Complex had an open house today, and will open September 2009. The new school is a concrete victory won after years of struggle to relieve overcrowding at Roosevelt High School and to stop the U.S. military recruiters on high school campuses in East L.A. This is the way to build the annual Chicano Moratorium event that recently has had less participation, especially from the community.
Latinos against War also condemns and exposes the long history of U.S. military and political intervention in Mexico, Central and Latin America. For example many people do not know that U.S. Army General Pershing led an intervention during the Mexican Revolution to attack the forces of our famous hero General Francisco Villa; of course the U.S. failed.
In Central America the U.S. supported the brutal military regimes that killed many of their own people, who were struggling for democracy and self-determination. Now we have the example of Venezuela and Bolivia whose people have supported and elected leaders who defend sovereignty and work to improve the lives of the many poor in their countries. But U.S. intervention continues to sneak in – like in Colombia, which will allow the U.S. military to use several bases under the guise of fighting the war on drugs. But we all know it’s a war against the revolutionary forces in Colombia like the FARC, and to attack the independent and sovereign nations like Venezuela. The U.S. is also giving billions to the Mexican army under the Plan Merida to fight the drug war, but the army commits many human rights violations against the Mexican people.
So on this anniversary of the Chicano Moratorium, we commemorate a proud past of struggle and stand committed to a future where our people achieve liberation and self-determination.
Carlos Montes is a veteran fighter in the Chicano Liberation movement. He was a founder of the Brown Berets and the Chicano Moratorium. Montes is currently active in the Southern California Immigration Coalition, the East L.A.-based Latinos against War and with CSO, which organizes parents in the East Los Angeles area to fight against the privatization of public education in Los Angeles Unified School District.