In the interest of accuracy, while reading the following article, replace the word “Latino” with the word “Mexican”: Every time you hear about the so-called Latino vote, keep that in mind.
Los Tigres del Norte backs President Obama, Latino voters
The Mexican supergroup Los Tigres del Norte is already taking part in a campaign to encourage U.S. Latinos to vote in the upcoming presidential election.
Now it turns out that that includes some members of the Sinaloa band itself. Leader Jorge Hernández, who has dual U.S.-Mexican citizenship, told the Mexico City newspaper El Universal in an interview that he plans to cast a U.S. presidential election ballot for the first time this fall.
“This will be my debut for voting in the United States. I like the idea,” Hernández told the newspaper. He also said that Los Tigres will make an appearance on behalf of theDemocratic Party within the next two weeks.
Notable among their many love songs and ballads about drug smugglers is “Somos Mas Americanos” –“We Are More American.” It contains lyrics such as “Let me remind the Gringo / That I didn’t cross the border, the border crossed me” and “We are more American / Than any son of the Anglo-Saxon.” The fact that this resonates deeply with ordinary Mexican immigrants doesn’t mean they will demand an Anschluss between California and Mexico, but rather that ambivalence runs very deep – and not ambivalence normal to any stranger in a strange land, but ambivalence about America as such.
Ambivalence the Democrats are willing to exploit.
The DNC’s keynote address was given by Julian Castro,
Indeed, he, along with his twin, Joaquin, currently running for Congress, learned their politics on their mother’s knee and in the streets of San Antonio. Their mother, Rosie helped found a radical, anti-white, socialist Chicano party called La Raza Unida (literally “The Race United”) that sought to create a separate country—Aztlan—in the Southwest.
Today she helps manage her sons’ political careers, after a storied career of her own as a community activist and a stint as San Antonio Housing Authority ombudsman.
Far from denouncing his mother’s controversial politics, Castro sees them as his inspiration. As a student at Stanford Castro penned an essay for Writing for Change: A Community Reader (1994) in which he praised his mother’s accomplishments and cited them as an inspiration for his own future political involvement.
Accomplished she is,
Rosie named her first son, Julian, for his father whom she never married, and her second, who arrived a minute later, for the character in the 1967 Chicano anti-gringo movement poem, “I Am Joaquin.” She is particularly proud that they were born on Mexico’s Independence Day. And she was a fan of the Aztlan aspirations of La Raza Unida. Those aspirations were deeply radical. “As far as we got was simply to take over control in those [Texas] communities where we were the majority,” one of its founders, Jose Angel Gutierrez, told the Toronto paper. “We did think of carving out a geographic territory where we could have our own weight, and our own leverage could then be felt nation-wide.”
Removing all doubt, Gutierrez repeated himself often. “What we hoped to do back then was to create a nation within a nation,” he told the Denver Post in 2001. Gutierrez bemoaned the loss of that separatist vision among activists, but predicted that Latinos will “soon take over politically.” (“Brothers in Chicano Movement to Reunite,” Denver Post, August 16, 2001).
Gutierrez made clear his hatred for “the gringo” when he led the Mexican-American Youth Organization, the precursor to La Raza Unida. According to the Houston Chronicle, he “was denounced by many elected officials as militant and un-American.” And anti-American he was. “We have got to eliminate the gringo, and what I mean by that is if the worst comes to worst, we have got to kill him,” Gutierrez told a San Antonio audience in 1969. At around that time, Rosie Castro eagerly joined his cause, becoming the first chairwoman of the Bexar County Raza Unida Party. There’s no evidence of her distancing herself from Gutierrez’s comments, even today. Gutierrez even dedicated a chapter in one of his books to Ms. Castro.
While apologists for La Raza Unida now claim that the group has been dedicated to the “civil rights of Mexican-Americans and promoting a strong ‘Chicano’ identity,” as Zev Chafets of the New York Times puts it, its brand of populism and socialist radicalism was controversial among Mexican-Americans and Democrats who considered it too extreme. The party pushed racial redistricting, affirmative action, bilingual education, and Chicano studies.
One of La Raza’s most powerful leaders, Frank Shaffer-Corona, an at-large member of the Washington, D.C. school board, even visited communist Cuba for a conference on Yankee imperialism and conferred with Marxists in Mexico. He was prone to conspiracy theories, decrying the “pervasive influence of the Central Intelligence Agency on American politics and what he says is a conspiracy of the multinational corporations against all minorities and the people of Latin America,” in the words of the Washington Post. (“His Pitch: Populism, and Very Latino; Shaffer-Corona Unruffled After Trip to Cuba,” Washington Post, August 28, 1978). The radical organization’s second most successful candidate, Texas gubernatorial aspirant Ramsey Muñiz, remains in prison on drug charges. La Raza Unida members periodically call for him to be pardoned, saying without evidence that the corrupt Muñiz is a “political prisoner.”)
Carlos Pelayo, another founder of La Raza Unida, clung to communism even after the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991, telling a San Diego paper that “the desire of people for social justice will never end.” “If it doesn’t work [the Soviet Union’s] way, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t work,” he said. “So we capitalists have 20 different cereals and Nike shoes. Over there [in the Soviet Union], they have free education, free medical care.” (“Fall of Communism Fails to Deter Local Communists,” San Diego Union Tribune, September 14, 1991)
Is Ms. Castro repentant in the slightest over her involvement with La Raza Unida? Not in the least. She sees the rise of her sons’ political fortune as the fulfillment of her promise—some say threat—in 1971 when she lost her bid for San Antonio city council: “We’ll be back.” “When Julian was installed, it was just such an incredible thing to be there because for years we [the Chicano activists and La Raza Unida] had been struggling to be there,” she told Texas Monthly in 2002. “There was so much hurt associated with being on the outside. And I don’t mean personal hurt, but a whole group of people [the activists] being on the outside—the educational, social, political, economic outside.” Now she has not just one, but two men on the inside—her sons.
In July of this year, she attended a reunion of the now-defunct party. Its promoters recalled her 1971 bid for the San Antonio city council and announced that her sons were the heirs of the party’s founders and thought. Indeed Irma Mireles, who after Rosie was the second chairwoman of the Bexar County Raza Unida Party, “sees results of the party’s work” in Mayor Julian Castro and her godson, Julian’s brother Joaquin, who is running in the 20th congressional district as a Democrat. Mireles and Ms. Castro continue to use the experience they got running the party to benefit the Castro brothers. Zev Chafets of the New York Times writes of the “barrio machine” that got both elected to office straight out of law school. He was elected to the city council in 2001 and was elected mayor in 2009 and 2011 after narrowly losing his first bid in 2005.
One of Julian’s first acts as mayor in 2009 was hanging a 1971 La Raza Unida city council campaign poster, featuring his mother, in his office.
Julian’s twin brother Joaquin is running for a Texas congressional seat.
We’ll be hearing about them for a long time.