Sunday, April 17, 2011
Bert Corona and the Communist Roots of the "Immigrants Right" Movement"
Illegal immigration, especially from Mexico is once again a huge issue in the United States.
It is an issue that could provoke violence from both sides and has the potential to cause major social disruption if President Barack Obama presses forward with plans to grant amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants this year.
Like most radical social movements in the United States, the "immigrant rights" was initiated (and is maintained) by communist and socialist forces.
Communist Party and Democratic Socialists of America member David Bacon is a leading immigration rights activist. He made an interesting admission in an article published in the Communist Party's Political Affairs of March 2009. Commenting on the annual immigrant's May Day marches, Bacon wrote;
In a little over a month, hundreds of thousands, perhaps even millions, of people will fill the streets in city after city, town after town, across the US. This year these May Day marches of immigrant workers will make an important demand on the Obama administration: End the draconian enforcement policies of the Bush administration. Establish a new immigration policy based on human rights and recognition of the crucial economic and social contributions of immigrants to US society.
This year's marches will continue the recovery in the US of the celebration of May Day, recognized in the rest of the world as the day recognizing the contributions and achievements of working people. That recovery started on Monday, May 1, 2006, when over a million people filled the streets of Los Angeles, with hundreds of thousands more in Chicago, New York and cities and towns throughout the United States. Again on May Day in 2007 and 2008, immigrants and their supporters demonstrated and marched, from coast to coast...
The protests have seemed spontaneous, but they come as a result of years of organizing, educating and agitating - activities that have given immigrants confidence, and at least some organizations the credibility needed to mobilize direct mass action. This movement is the legacy of Bert Corona, immigrant rights pioneer and founder of many national Latino organizations. He trained thousands of immigrant activists, taught the value of political independence, and believed that immigrants themselves must conduct the fight for immigrant rights. Most of the leaders of the radical wing of today's immigrant rights movement were students or disciples of Corona.
Indeed, it all does go back to Bert Corona.
The son of a murdered Mexican revolutionary, Corona joined the Communist Party in Los Angeles in the late 1930s. He was particularly close to Harry Bridges, a leader of the Longshore Workers Union and a secret member of the Communist Party Central Committee. Coincidentally, Bridges was instrumental in persuading secret Chicago communist Frank Marshall Davis to move to Hawaii, where he went on to meet and mentor a young Barack Obama.
Corona later worked as a union organizer and helped set up a local branch of Saul Alinsky's Community Services Organization, where he began working with Farm Workers leader and Communist Party darling Cesar Chavez.
Corona was most closely identified with the work of La Hermandad Mexicana Nacional, or the National Mexican Brotherhood. Founded in 1951 in San Diego , the organization provided services to immigrants. Over the years, La Hermandad established chapters throughout the country and at one point boasted a membership of 30,000. The focus was organizing trade unions, defending undocumented workers, and providing social services to the undocumented. Corona helped establish its Los Angeles chapter. For the next four decades, he devoted much of his time to La Hermandad. He was the group's executive director when he died in 2001.
In Spring 1974 , La Hermandad held a conference at Northridge California , where representatives from ten states met to discuss problems confronting Mexicans in the United States who had no visas or citizenship documents. The first day, participants discussed how to defend persons detained by immigration authorities and how to help immigrants acquire disability and unemployment insurance and welfare.
The next day, participants discussed resolutions from the workshops. Corona stressed the need to establish a legislative program to campaign against bills that would crack down on the hiring of illegal immigrants and to "fight for humane immigration policies and practices".
Ever the "moderate" communist, Corona had to hold back some of the even more militant members of the organization. According to participant Carlos Ortega;
This conference helped us organize at our campus and in the local community. At the same time, La Hermandad was also going through some changes. There had been an influx of student activists, professionals, and community organizers. The ideological nature of these groups brought a strong Marxist appeal, which changed the focus of the organization as Corona knew it. The newer activists wanted to deemphasize the service aspect of the organization and focus on larger ideological issues. At Northridge, there was some support from students who wanted to push a more revolutionary agenda, but many of us were not convinced how this agenda--which had its merits--would bring immediate results for the undocumented and the poor. I threw my support to Corona and to the idea that organizing could not be accomplished by polishing leftist vocabulary but rather by working hard, speaking to one person at a time, and building an organization.'
By 1975, Corona had moved his operation to the San Fernando Valley, so he could continue to work with the undocumented. A group of students including Carlos Ortega brought Corona back on campus for a conference to clarify how students should organize and mobilize against deportation raids and repression in general.
"Present-day immigration policies and practices of the government are fundamental characteristics of the capitalist system," he said, "and the only possible way to confront those oppressing us is to organize as one, the alliance of students, workers, and the community." He added: "The student movement only has validity if directly linked with the workers' movement and the movement of people."
Corona, "more than any other person, furthered the ideological struggle against the nativists," says Rodolfo Acuna, professor of Chicano Studies at Cal State Northridge.
Corona made the issue of immigration and undocumented workers, in particular, a civil and human rights concern.
There is no evidence that Bert Corona ever left the Communist Party and though he worked inside the Democratic Party (He co-chaired bobby Kennedy's Southern California campaign in 1968) he remained close to the Communists until his death.
Through his Mexican American Political Association, Corona steered several young radicals into the Democratic Party , including Los Angeles mayor and Obama Transition Team member Antonio Villaraigosa and California State senator Gilbert Cedillo.
Corona's most important legacy however, is a radical movement that threatens the security and prosperity of several U.S. United States. If that movement succeeds it will destroy the very country that gave Bert Corona far more opportunities than Mexico ever could have.