The Chicanos' Struggle
for Self-Determination: 50 Ways You Can Help
This tract is not intended for the purpose of recruiting neophytes or beginners for the movement. Recruitment efforts should be based on a consistent politicization and consciousness raising of our people. Rather, these ideas are intended to provide a basis for discussion of new methods of struggle among current 'activistas' and others who see the just motives of our struggle but for one reason or another fail to participate in it.
What does self-determination mean? How is the concept relevant to the Chicano movement? Is it impractical for our people to think of it? Is it dangerous? Will we wind up in jail or dead if we dare to talk or write about it? Might we be deported or labeled as 'unamerican'? All of these are valid concerns, but the first step must be taken and to talk or write purposefully about this concept without fear of recriminations is in itself an act of self-determination. As human beings, as a People with a unique history and culture that gives us a distinct identity, we have this natural right to seek our own self determination. We as Chicanos need to go beyond the limitations imposed on our struggle by the better intended elements of a neoliberal system that tends to strait-jacket our needs into 'civil rights' or a search for parity with other racial and ethnic minorities. Human rights, civil rights, political rights, economic rights -- all these are empty elusive concepts which we will never fully attain if we remain a conquered and colonized people. This country and those in control of it will never put into practice the 'democratic' ideals that it so hypocritically advocates and which we so blindly defend with our lives whenever Uncle Sam asks us to.
To talk seriously about self-determination is to take a qualitative step forward in our people's struggle to improve our lot in life. Our people have lived under the boot of this oppressor for 148 years (1848-1996) and throughout this time there have been sporadic manifestations of our anger at the conditions to which we have been subjected. The experience accumulated from our past struggles should light the way for our own struggle for self-determination. Following are some ideas that can contribute to this struggle.
-- Oscar Lozano
- Refuse to legitimize the U.S. political system that oppresses us by not voting in state or national elections.
- Create democracy from the bottom up by forming grassroots, neighborhood coalitions to elect local representatives for city and county governments and school boards.
- Make public officeholders accountable to the People by insisting that they represent the interests of the community.
- Put personal resources at the disposal of the movement, such as secretarial skills, computers, xerox machines, cars and other vehicles, sound systems, 'feria', office supplies, etc.
- Don't let any incident of migra or police harassment go unpublicized and unchallenged. Know your 'rights' if stopped by any agent of the occupying power.
- Learn skills such as printing, silkscreening, mimeographing, layout and photography and put them at the service of the movement. Work to acquire the necessary equipment.
- Do not let Chicano political prisoners be forgotton. Publicize their plight and demonstrate for their release. Communicate on a personal level with these prisoners and fight against the internationally illegal death penalty.
- Organize border political events to dramatize the nonexistence of the illegal border, except in the minds of the U.S. imperialists.
- Politicize traditional holidays of our people with demonstrations, teach-ins, civil disobedience and other forms of protest.
- Support campaigns to change the names of public buildings, plazas, towns and cities from those of 'heroes' of the imperialist occupation to heroes of the people's resistance.
- The most basic political action is getting together with others, therefore, form interest groups with like-minded Chicanos in your neighborhoods, work centers, or churches and operate as a pressure force to bring change.
- Form groups to occupy and seize vacant property or property owned by slumlords. Commercial property can be used for community centers, tenements for cooperative housing and rural plots for ejidos.
- Participate actively in groups struggling for self-determination such as El Congreso Chicano de la Comunidad, or whatever groups exist in your community.
- Form international political networks with other groups struggling for self-determination, especially those in Mexico and Centro America.
- Actively recruit friends, co-workers, family members and acquaintances for service to the movement. Everyone has something to offer and often just need to be asked.
- Support Aztlan-wide networking of groups to create a national fuerza to fight the occupying power.
- Use 'legal' or direct (civil disobedience) methods against local ordinances or policies that restrict the People's ability to wage struggle, i.e. restrictions on public demonstrations, user fees for public facilities, etc.
- Create support networks for activistas who have been jailed by the oppressor in the forms of community bail funds, support for families and legal defense committees.
- Form mutual aid societies and self-help groups among neighbors, co-workers, extended families, etc. as a buttress against the hostile dominant society.
- Form interest groups among workers, artisans, and like-minded professionals to promote the ideals and goals of the movement.
- Call on Chicanos to volunteer at least one day of work a week for the movement.
- Use peer pressure to assure that the family remains our basic societal unit.
- Commit yourself to helping single-parent families by becoming a surrogate mother or father.
- Call on religious institutions that operate within our communities to make available to the movement their capital resources including buildings and office facilities.
- Call on Chicano students to commit themselves to
community service in their respective communities for a
specified time after they complete their education.
- Even in recreational efforts there is room for people to
participate politically in our struggle. Physical
conditioning is a must and an essential element of our
struggle and should be encouraged diligently. A healthy,
physically fit person is more likely to be a productive
activista. Moreover, our youth should be taught to engage in
organized team sports played or enjoyed by our ancestors
such as Tlachli.
- Be responsible as to regards of the use of drugs and
alcohol, as these can render your participation in the
- Form producers' and consumers' cooperatives to lessen
the ravages of capitalism on our people.
- Patronize movement-oriented businesses.
- Call on people to contribute a fraction of their monthly
income to the movement.
- As a means of becoming more self-sufficient from the
wage slavery system, familiarize yourself with skills that
helped our people and our ancestors be self sufficient for
centuries. (For example, small-scale cultivation of maiz and
other native crops, adobe-making, carpentry, the use of
hierbas and other traditional medicines, livestock-raising,
- Be willing to purchase items that empower and benefit
groups struggling for change, i.e. fundraisers,
cooperatives, Nicaraguan coffee campaign-type activities,
- Fight against consumerism by not wasting money on things
that you don't need and that only contribute to the wealth
of billionaires who control the economy.
- Support and participate in union activities at your
workplace. Buy union, and support union boycotts. Take
control of unions from entrenched bureaucrats and make them
genuinely responsive to the needs of workers.
- Work to form cooperatives for services such as
child-care, insurance, car repair facilities, etc.
- Learn Nahuatl, Raramuri, Quiche or another universal
- Refuse to use the English language in any official or
governmental transaction with the system, with the intent of
forcing it to become truly bilingual on our own terms.
- Start movement newspapers, magazines and clandestine
radio broadcasting stations to promote our struggle.
- Until we are able to influence and control the
curriculum used in public schools, organize alternative
schools to properly educate our young.
- Speak Spanish with pride and if you don't speak it,
learn to do so.
- Familiarize yourself with Mexican and Chicano history,
literature, art, music and other aspects of culture.
Participate in activities and groups that celebrate and
preserve our culture.
- Treat older people with the respect that they deserve as
elders of our people. Men and women should treat each other
- Boycott and protest against the commercial exploitation
of our people's holidays such as Cinco de Mayo and 16 de
Septiembre by beer companies and other businesses,
especially the racist and fascist Coors srewing Co.
- Create an alternative library of Chicano/
Mexicano/Latino books, films and music. Include world-wide
revolutionary literature, liberation theology, histories,
- Study the lives and revolutionary virtues of heroes such
as Tupac Amaru, Sandino, Zapata, Che, the leaders of the
1877 re volt in the El Paso valley, etc.
- Support the formation of student groups such as MEChA
chapters, and demand Chicano Studies programs. Actively
oppose any presentation of Chicano history that distorts or
downplays our achievements and struggles. Subjects such as
the racist presentation of Texas history found in many
schools should be targets for action by students, parents
and the community at-large.
- Help to instill a historical consciousness on our youth
by insisting on the term Chicano rather than 'hispanic', by
recalling for them the struggles of our people, and by
involving them in the day-to-day work of the movimiento.
- Support efforts to establish Chicano history, ethnology,
sociology, etc. as recognized scholarly disciplines.
- Boycott movies and other forms of en tertainment that
present stereotyped or racist depictions of Chicanos or
- Treasure the oral history of our people as the authentic
story of a people in struggle. This history is the basis of
our ongoing struggle. iLa Lucha continua!