[Marxism] The National Latino Congress

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Mon Oct 8 10:35:07 MDT 2007

The Second National Latino Congress was held here in Los Angeles this
past weekend at the Sheraton Hotel. I spent most of the day there on
Saturday. It didn't look like the kind of gathering you would expect
to find at a five-star venue, since it seemed to be mostly activists
from Latino or Latino-oriented groups around the country. 

These are notes, not a comprehensive report on the event. Lots of
Spanish was spoken in the hallways and meetings, though at the main
luncheon on Saturday everyone spoke English on the platform, starting
with Congresswoman Maxine Waters who have a militantly anti-Iraq war
speech. Lots of Democratic Party figures participated, especially the
Kucinich campaign seeking support for his presidential bid. It was easy
To enter as an observer. The L.A. Times coverage emphasized the efforts
being encouraged to get people registered to vote, which was a major
theme of conference organizers. A band of anti-immigrant Minutemen
protesters marched outside the first day of the conference. I didn't
see them, but people said about twenty showed up. These people are
quite active in Southern California. The congress passed resolutions
against the Iraq war and a range of issues. These will all be posted
on the Congress's website, some already are.


Two Cuba-related panels were held, each attended by about fifty
people. The one on US-Cuba relations featured remarks by people
like Francisco Aruca, the founder of Marazul Tours and a man who
has a daily talk show in Miami with a pro-normalization stance.
Sylvia Wilhelm of the Cuban-American Commission for Family Rights
spoke about the tragic consequences for Cuban families of the 
harsh visititation restrictions imposed by Bush in 2004. Also 
from the Commission, Aidil Oscariz, a Rutgers University law 
student discussed possible lawsuits against the visitation regs.
Sgt. Carlos Lazo, the Cuban-American National Guard member who
was denied his right to visit his children in Cuba spoke to this
pane, in Spanish, his first language. The workshop was chaired
by Alvaro Fernandez of Progreso Weekly. A number of Cubans who
live in Los Angeles came to participate as well.

A major panel on the Cuban Five was held chaired by Alicia Jrapko
Resolutions in support of the Five and in support of the rights
of the wives who've been denied visitation were unanimously
adopted by the Congress. Speakers included Attorney Leonard
Weinglass, National Lawyers Guild President Marjorie Cohn,
Rev. Lucius Walker from Pastors for Peace, and attorney Jose
Pertierra, the Cuban-American attorney who represents the
Venezuelan government in its efforts to have Luis Posada
Carriles extradited to face terrorism charges in Caracas.

There was also a peace panel with soldiers like Sgt. Augustin
Aguayo and others who've resisted being sent to Iraq. Mucisian
Peter Dudar and film-maker Sally Marr who made ARLINGTON WEST
also participated.

Translation was made available in the workshops in which I was
present, and presumably the others, in whichever direction was

Around 1-2000 people were present. Lots of Democrats, some Greens, and
only two left tendencies which I could observe had a presence there:
the CPUSA, which was a sponsor and had some speakers. The CPUSA had
the largest participation with stacks of the People's Weekly World
placed around, and some being distributed by hand. The SWP was next,
participating in the two Cuba workshops which I attended as well, and
that was about it. They were not distributing THE MILITANT, but will
report on the event in THE MILITANT. Two people from the Freedom 
Socialist Party were present passing out leaflets for a series of 
classes on Che which they announced. No left organizations had 
literature tables. The International Committee to Free the Five,/
headed by Alicia Jrapko had a table. 

I'm sure there will be detailed news reports by the various
participating organizations as well as additional media reports
which we'll pass along as they come in. 

The struggle for immigrants rights is the driving force behind
the growth of this organization. This is not a struggle which is
going to find resolution anytime soon. Those of us who are focused
on Cuba can only welcome the growing struggle over the rights of
immigrants because it can help shed some long-overdue light on
the Cuban issue by comparison and contrast. As Tom Miller put it 
in a lively commentary last year: 

"The million-plus who have taken to the streets in the last month
seek the same rights Cubans have. If they want fast-track
legalization, they should simply demand expansion of "The Cuban
Adjustment Act" and turn it into The Immigrant Adjustment Act. Now,
if all immigrants were treated like Cubans, that would level the
playing field."


Walter Lippmann
Los Angeles, California

p.s. And I sold a good half-dozen copies 
of the book of Celia Hart's writings, 

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