Op-ed: 40th Commemoration of La Raza Unida Party stirs honest reflection

La Voz de Austin

EL PASO — They came from all over the country. They came to remember what happened 40 years ago in El Paso when more than 3,000 delegates from 25 states participated in the first La Raza Unida Party Convention.

1972 was the heyday of the Chicano Movement. Cesar Chavez’s United Farm Workers Organizing Committee became a full-fledged member of the AFL-CIO and changed their name to the United Farm Workers Union of America. Little Joe Hernandez released the song Las Nubes in the Para La Gente album. Chicano Studies programs were beginning to flourish around the country.

This year (2012), they came back to El Paso but in fewer numbers. Some were now in their 60s and 70s. José Angel Gutierrez spoke as did Dr. Armando Navarro, a political science professor at the University of California, Riverside, who argued that “Mexicanos and Latinos are in the midst of a severe political leadership and organizational crisis,” and need a new party or movement to guide them toward self-determination as early as 2013.

Is a new raza-based political party going to be a reincarnation of the old Raza Unida Party or something resembling an international political party as suggested by José Angel Gutiérrez, the party’s first national chairman?

How do you energize a raza that doesn’t even bother to vote in a major city that is predominantly Hispanic?

Speakers lamented the lack of organization in communities across the United States, a country where millions of Mexicanos do not even have legal status. One aging veterano activist even suggested the “sleeping giant,” the term often used to describe the ever-growing Hispanic population in the U.S., is perhaps not sleeping but comatose.

Let’s face it. Too many people, Chicanos or whatever, no longer care about the history of injustice and discrimination against Mexican-Americans and other ethnic minorities in this country. How many of your alleged friends keep asking, what have Chicanos ever done for me?

Have too many of us become fake Chicanos?

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