May 3, 2008
The Chicano / Latino Experience in the
and Our Similarities with the People of
Dr. Jess G. Nieto
Educational & Cultural Foundation
Chicano & Latino
Scholastic & Leadership
Professor- Department of
Chicano & Latino Studies of
President of Nieto & Associates: Marketing & Advertising & Cuatro Vientos Internacionales, Inc.
1004 H Street Suite F
Tel: 661- 325-5098
FAX 661- 322 3212
It is indeed an honor for me to be able to be part of the
first Chicano / Latino delegation to visit
. Not only is this a joyful
experience for me but it also reminds me of the enormous responsibility this
delegation has in opening the doors for further relationships, dialogue, and
collaborations with our friends of this beautiful country.
I am proud of our Mexican and Latino roots in the
, and I am also proudly painfully aware of the hardships, struggles, and
horrible problems our group has had in our country.
But I am also keenly aware of the many triumphs, achievements,
sacrifices, and contributions our ancestors had made to the founding and
development of our country.
I live in
in the state of
which is in the
as it is also known). The Valley
contributes to the wealth of the state of
through its agriculture and petroleum industry, making it, if it were a county,
the country with the 7th or
8th largest economy in
the world. And yet in the midst of
all of this wealth, the Chicanos and Latinos constitute the largest group of the
(46%) and the
at 55% and
which is the largest kindergarten through 8th grade school district
in the state has 74% of its students classified as Hispanic or Latino.
It should be stated in this “land of plenty,” if the
was a state of the Union, the Valley would be the 49th state out of
being the lowest, and in fact, the
has been referred to by social science writers as the Appalachia West of the
would be classified as a “developing nation” or a Third World country with
the inherent characteristics is has in the Valley!
Chicanos and Latinos represent the population group with the least
income, the least education, the highest levels of unemployment and
underemployment, the most poverty, the
highest levels of communicable disease in the nation, higher levels of
alcoholism than any other group, the highest levels of drug abuse, and highest
levels of teenage pregnancy in the country.
To repeat, all of the indices that would qualify this region as an
“undeveloped country” or as a
nation are present here in this “land of plenty.
Our people have fought these economic and political
inequalities in government and in other social sectors like in education.
The lack of protection for Chicano and Latino workers, especially in the
agricultural field, lead to many examples of exploitation, injustices, and
unfair treatment. It has been only
since the decade of the 1960s when the efforts of farm labor organizer Cesar
Chavez and the United Farm Workers led to improvements for farm workers.
Chicanos and Latinos were segregated in schools and other
public places and it was not until the late 1960s and early 1970s that
desegregation began to occur after horrific battles against the white controlled
Changes in the political electoral process did not begin to
occur until the late 1970s and early 1980s, and there is still a great deal to
do in this arena in obtaining political representation for our people.
The battle has just begun although Chicano and Latino populations now
constitute the majority of many cities, counties, and it is the largest ethnic
group in the state of
We believe that it is necessary is to link up with other
groups in this nation and certainly with other countries to seek the development
and establishment of models of interrelationships to work for mutual benefit.
We must think of ways in which we can work in ways that can be of mutual
benefit. I am hopeful that we
can achieve this historic type of relationship.
It is this bittersweet experience and historical memory
that we have that ties us closer to our Venezuelan brothers.
Both of our countries were part of a historically important part of the
independence movement against
. Although the dream of
’s Simon Bolivar, one of the most important figures of the War for
by Nueva Espana, was not fulfilled in a united America Latina due to the
fragmentation of the hemisphere into territories and countries, nonetheless, we
share a shared important historical commonality of struggle and eventual triumph
of achieving national independence.
We also share the experience of the Yankee’s Manifest
Destiny in which los norteamericanos sought to control and develop North America
from the Atlantic to the Pacific Oceans even though
stood in the way. This missionary
zeal was deeply ingrained in the American psyche.
Americans believed from the earliest times when John Wintrop proclaimed
his dream of building a “city upon the hill” to which the world would look
for guidance and inspiration, that Americans developed a sense that they were a
special people. This “Manifest
Destiny” made many Americans believe that God had selected them to be a
“special people” with the inalienable right to secure, populate, develop,
and control lands occupied by inferior “savages,” or non-whites.
A poem by Rudyard Kipling encouraged this missionary fervor when he
up the White Man’s burden
forth the best ye breed,
bind your sons to exile
serve your captives’ need;
wait in heavy harness
fluttered folk and wild.
new-caught sullen peoples,
devil and half child.”
Mexico refused to sell California in 1846 to President
James Polk and the United States, so true to
his presidential campaign that if he could not obtain California and other
Mexican territories “por la buena” (through purchase and other persuasive
means), then he would use force (“por la mala”) to forcibly take California.
refused these imperialistic overtures, President Polk orchestrated a minor
military skirmish in a disputed area between the
which was the boundary between the
, and persuaded the U.S. Congress to declare war on
in 1846 because
troops had been attacked the
This incident was incredibly
similar to the
incident when President Lyndon Baines Johnson positioned American warships in
off the coast of
to be “attacked” after the
had bombed the North Vietnamese and instituted acts of terrorism, sabotage, and
political assassinations. A
members of Congress opposed the imperialistic Mexican War including future
president Abraham Lincoln.
In two years after three invading armies swept into
, the Yankees defeated the Mexican armies and through the Treaty of Guadalupe
to turn over half of her land, including
, and large parts of
. Through this war of aggression,
also lost over 70% of her natural resources.
Mexicanos living in these territories who suffered through this conquest were
given a second class status as
residents and citizens, and experienced a total deterioration of their
political, economic, cultural, and language rights even though there were
sections of the Treaty that were to protect these interests. My own family, that
of Manuel Nieto and his descendents who settled in California in 1769 and who
eventually owned over 300,000 acres of land in Southern California lost
everything by 1870 through the U.S. courts and unscrupulous official and
unofficial acts of the new laws, government, and the swarming Yankees who took
over the land and completely overturned and swallowed up all existing laws,
traditions, and customs that protected the Mexican populations.
As Chicanos, we understand the foreign policies the
has practiced in America Latina. In
addition to the acts of aggression against
and its remaining citizens abused by the new order in the new “Southwest,”
many other historical events demonstrate the demand by the Yankees to spread
their brand of domination and influence. The
Spanish American War, and the suppression of a nationalist movement in the
to obtain independence after the
obtained the islands through the defeat of
, further fueled the betrayal of the traditional American traditions. These
groups included former President Grover Cleveland, industrialist Andrew
Carnegie, labor leaders, writers, and other well known Americans.
This large contingent of American idealists spoke out against this change
in foreign policy and urged other peoples and nations the right for “self
determination” that Americans so deeply cherished.
Although the United States had proclaimed Latin America to
be free of European interventions and entanglements through the Monroe Doctrine,
the U.S. hypocritically proclaimed that it had the right to protect itself and
its’ interests in her backyard.
Due to the triumphs in the Mexican War, the Spanish
American War, and the defeat of Philippine guerrillas, the moderate urgings of
the American idealists were quickly drowned out in the
when other sectors of American life resonated with optimism, ambition, energy,
and the desire to spread the American ideals.
A new group of Americans called for the acquisition and control of new
resources, markets, and opportunities for the American corporations while at the
same time calling for the overthrow of other Latin American governments to
impose “real republican democratic” institutions and practices.
Hence, American troops under President McKinley moved to depose a Cuban
nationalist movement and government, and President William Howard
Taft acted to depose the government of
to help promote “real patriotism.” Earlier
during the administration of President Theodore Roosevelt, he had indirectly
contributed towards the overthrow of President Jose Santos Zelaya of Nicaragua
and used the “Roosevelt Corollary” to the Monroe Doctrine which stated that
had the right to intervene in any country of the
that needed intervention. (The
Monroe Doctrine in 1823 stated that the United States would not tolerate any
attempt by any European power or nation to control the destiny of a nation or to
“influence the course of events in the Americas.”)
The Roosevelt Corollary in 1904 stated in part:
wrongdoing, or an impotence which results in a general loosening of the ties of
civilized society, may in America, as elsewhere, ultimately require intervention
by some civilized nation, and in Western Hemisphere the adherence of the United
States to the Monroe Doctrine may force the U.S., however reluctantly, in
flagrant cases of such wrongdoing or impotence, to the exercise of an
international peace power.”
administrations at the beginning of the twentieth century had no feelings of
regret in instituting these types of action and intervention in America Latina.
These acts were also influenced by feelings of racism.
In countries where the people were of a “colored” or of mixed bloods
(miscegenation), these new leaders of the
believed that these inferior peoples were in need of guidance from the more
enlightened whites of
. Hence, the whites of
had a moral obligation to control these peoples with the result that systemic
repressions and exploitations occurred. Incidentally
speaking, these were the policies and practices that Afro-Americans and Mexicans
(and other ethic minorities of color) had inflicted upon them and hence,
suffered in the
Hence “regime change” operations became commonplace in
the twentieth century for the United States in Latin America if the action
justified its mission of “Manifest Destiny,” resources and markets
acquisition, and the overthrow of inferior governments that were not “real
Chicano / Latino groups in the
have struggled since 1846 to retain and win their rightful rights as citizens
. Although there have been many
victories, these have not come easily. As
Chicanos and Latinos in the
, we understand the paternalistic policies that have been instituted in
has actually been unfit and unsuited to rule other governments or countries.
In the majority of cases, the
has not understood the nationalistic movements of these countries, and its
desire to maintain politically stable governments and environments to protect
its economic interests has made it incompatible to promote the needs of these
countries and their societies. In
’s obsession with the idea they are uniquely endowed to bring progress and
virtue to other nations and peoples has become a part of the American national
identity. Being favored by God, has
convinced them that by bringing their political and economic system to others,
they are doing God’s work. The
conviction that capitalism and individual political choice as President George
W. Bush stated that it is “right
and true for every person in every society.”
In reality, the
has acted in the intervention of other countries for self-centered motives and
However, many of the
sponsored interventions in many instances using clandestine operations by the
Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) have produced generations of patriots from
their countries who articulate their frustration and revolt against American
interests in their countries.
Many of these patriots are then called “terrorists,”
“revolutionaries,” or “subversives” by the
for what these people believe is the defense of their sovereignty and national
The fact is that American foreign policy and of the
Administrations from Polk to Bush have deluded themselves into believing that
has the right to intervene in other countries and that their citizens would
immediately rush to embrace American forms of government, values, and economic
systems. The reality is just the opposite where the majority of countries which
been intervened or invaded reject the American presence and influence and in
many instance initiate movements of resistance and opposition.
The United States in turn sponsor groups within that nation with military
and economic aid to quell the dissatisfactions, rebellions, and opposition.
These efforts by the
in turn creates greater movements of rebellion, violence, and opposition.
During the last decade, the
has ignored Latin America (except for the economic and military it provides to
to combat the drug trade). According
to a recent speech to the Organization of American States in
. by Bill Richardson, Governor of New Mexico, Latin America is still growing on
average of 5% per year, and has lured more than $125 billion from
. It is within this historical
aggression (and to some extent non-attention to Latin America in the last
and its President Hugo Chavez has faced the beginning of the twenty-first
President Chavez has survived a take-over by dissident
military personnel supported by the
television and radio media stations sponsored by the
to whip up support for his “resignation” which all American newspapers
reported after this “resignation lie” had been spread to all
media by the U.S. State Department. The
coup leaders bungled their operation within 48 hours, and because Chavez was not
murdered, the truth became known to
the world. He escaped his captors,
and returned proclaiming the truth of what had happened.
In actuality, there is still a continuation of
sponsored activities to promote the demise of the Chavez administration.
media has used words like “dictator,” “autocrat” “crazy,” and
Chavez has in turn instituted policies to protect his country from the onslaught
of attacks from the
. Why is the Unites States attacking
The answer may partially lie in Chavez’s efforts to
’s neocolonial efforts to use its will and foreign policy to extend their
global reach politically, economically, and socially.
This in the past has also been known as “expansionism,”
“imperialism,” and now “neocolonialism.”
been used in the late 20th century
by critics of developed countries' like the United States,
particularly in Latin America and their involvement in the developing world
(like Laatin America). Opponents of neocolonialism, like President Hugo Chavez,
argue that existing or past international
arrangements were created and used
to maintain control of developing nations.
The term Neocolonialism can combine a critique of current actual
colonialism (where some states continue administrating foreign territories and
their populations in violation of United Nations resolutions and a critique of
businesses involvement in nations which were former colonies or are developing
nations. Critics of neocolonialism contend that private, foreign business
companies continue to exploit the resources of post-colonial peoples or
developing nations, and that this economic control inherent to neocolonialism is
akin to the classical, European colonialism
practiced from the 16th to the 20th
centuries. In broader usage, current especially in Latin
America, Neocolonialism may simply refer to involvement of powerful
countries in the affairs of less powerful countries. In this sense, "Neo"colonialism
implies a form of contemporary, economic Imperialism:
that powerful nations behave like colonial powers, and that this behavior is likened
to colonialism in a post-colonial world.
President Hugo Chavez argues that this is the motivation of the
, and the challenge of his efforts in
and in other Latin American countries, is to confront this hegamony and
dominance of the
. This, of course, is emphatically
opposed by the
because its foreign policy is merely what many have called the “enforcer”
of Wall Street interests.
and Latinos in the
, members of our delegation understand these historical patterns of
relationships between the
government and its foreign policies of intervention and neocolonialism.
We therefore express our solidarity with the people of Venezuela and
their right to determine their own self destiny, and their right to establish
political, economic, and social/cultural programs for the benefit of the
majority of its’ people. A very
sacred principal to Chicanos is that it is necessary to guard against the
“tyranny of the majority,” and to protect and to safeguard the rights of
minorities which we, as Chicano and Latinos, have historically struggled and
fought to maintain and protect.
It is our
intent that we are able to open new avenues of communication between our two
countries and peoples, especially between our U.S. Chicano and Latino
. We are optimistic that we can be a
bridge of dialogue and understanding, of the establishment of new and
beneficial relationships and programs of a mutual nature between
. We believe that this is only
the first visit to
to plant the seeds of goodwill, and this to be followed by other visits to
harvest the results of our mutual labor.
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