Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

October League (M-L)

Chicano Liberation

Resolution of OL’s Third Congress


The culture of the Chicano and Mexicano people goes back to the Indian peoples before and after the era of slavery under the Spanish colonizers. A “mestizo” culture, part Spanish and part Indian, grew out of the developing feudal era of the 17th and 18th centuries.

The annexation of Mexico’s northwest territory by the U.S. capitalists and the border set up after the Mexican American War separated the Mexican people. The Mexicanos remaining on the U.S. side of the border developed (through the era of imperialism) a new culture, distinct from both the Mexican and Anglo-American cultures, known as “Chicano culture.”

The term “Chicano” had its origins among the Aztec Indians. “Chicano” is derived from a word used by the Aztecs which they pronounced ’Meshicano.’ Since the Spaniards had no ’sh’ sound in their language, they tended to write the word as ’Mexicano.’ However, the last part of the word as pronounced by the Aztecs has survived ’Shicano’ or ’Chicano.’[1]

This term has always been attacked and slandered by the imperialists and wasn’t popular among conservative Mexicanos (who felt it was a demeaning term), while in fact it has been used for generations to express a warmth and unity. The Chicano culture expresses the “common psychological make-up” of the Chicano people and has survived the U.S. imperialist attempts to suppress and wipe it out.

During the 50’s, U.S. imperialism created a temporary and artificial division between Chicanos and Mexicanos by cutting down contact between the two peoples through mass deportations and the Bracero Program. The Bracero Program didn’t allow the Mexicano to leave the farm labor camps or areas of work until the completion- of the harvest, when he was immediately shipped back to Mexico under guard.

For the Chicano, cultural repression took the form of not being able to speak Spanish in the schools or on the job, distortion of Mexicano and Chicano history, and slanderous stereotyping of all aspects of Chicano life.

These attacks created generations of Chicanos who could no longer speak Spanish or relate to their historical and cultural ties with Mexico. It went as far as producing a situation where some Chicanos denied their national origins. During this period, the revisionist CPUSA totally betrayed the Chicano people’s struggle. Echoing the imperialists’ distortion of history, the CPUSA referred to the annexation of the Southwest as the “unhitching of the wagons.” Even during their best period, the CPUSA never viewed the Chicano question as a national question. During this wave of chauvinist, imperialist attacks, they offered no support or revolutionary leadership. So Chicano culture began to develop an inward direction, never assimilating with Anglo culture, but not wholly Mexicano. “Spanglish,” a mixture of the English and Spanish languages was born with the annexation of the Southwest (because of the new, Anglo government and settlers). An interchange of common words followed, with Anglo pronunciations changing Spanish words, and Spanish pronunciations changing English words. During the 1950’s Spanglish consolidated into a distinct Chicano dialect used even today.


During the 1960’s Chicano consciousness underwent profound changes for a variety of reasons, such as: the upsurge of the Afro-American struggle, the Delano grape strike of the UFW, the renewed immigration of Mexicanos after the Bracero Program ended, the Vietnam war with the high death-rate of Chicanos, and the anti-imperialist upsurge in Latin America and Mexico. This led to a new militancy in the Chicano movement of the 60’s, demanding an end to national oppression and suppression of the culture. A new Chicano cultural re-identification with the nation of Mexico, and a developing anti-imperialist culture arose.

One significant example of the upsurge in Chicano culture is El Teatro Campesino, a theater company whose actors came out of the fields and the struggles of the UFW. They traveled across the country, dramatizing the story of the migrant workers. Through these activities, this cultural troupe showed the close ties between the modern-day Chicano field workers and the proud tradition of the Mexican people’s struggle.

Community demands for bi-lingual, bi-cultural education led to massive “blow-outs” in Los Angeles schools in 1968. Community artists began to paint murals depicting the lives and struggles of the Chicano people on the barrio walls all over the Southwest. (Mural art had traditionally been a revolutionary art form in Mexico, led by the three great Mexican mural artists, Rivera, Siquieros and Orozco.) In the 1930’s Siquieros was asked to paint a mural on a Los Angeles federal building. The mural depicted a Mexicano tied to a cross, with an American imperialist eagle with its claws dug into his shoulders. Enraged American officials immediately painted it over. In 1972 Chicano college students initiated a campaign to restore the whitewashed Siquieros mural.

Another great revolutionary, cultural tradition of Mexico, the corrido (folk songs) is again rising in the Southwest. The corrido is a method used by the people to immortalize events or heroes in songs passed from generation to generation. Countless corridos are written about the people’s struggle, such as the Farmworkers, the Chicano Moratorium, and the airplane hijacking by Ricardo Chavez-Ortiz.

Other revolutionary art forms such as teatros (Chicano theater groups), Ballet Folkloricos (folk dances), and conjuntos (musical groups) have blossomed throughout the Southwest reviving the cultural ties with Mexico, and adapting it to serve the present Chicano struggle. After attempting over 100 years to crush Chicano culture, imperialism is now trying to rip the revolutionary content out of it. However, revolutionary struggles need and produce revolutionary culture, and the Chicano people’s struggle is part of the working class struggle for liberation. Any attempt to split the Chicano national struggle away from the multi-national working class struggle for socialism is reactionary and will only serve to strengthen the imperialist domination of the people.


Under socialism and regional autonomy in the Southwest, full democratic rights for the Chicano people will include reflourishing cultural development. This would revive and preserve past language and culture, insuring the true teaching of the Mexicano and Chicano peoples’ history. This is not only necessary to unite the Chicano people, but also to unite Chicanos with other nationalities and with the working class on the basis of mutual respect.

While under socialism there is a general program for education, regional autonomy will insure the right of the Chicano people to introduce special subjects in the schools and insure that the schools fulfill the particular needs of the Chicano people. As the demands of the people have already made clear, bi-lingual, bi-cultural education is a necessity. As the internationalist aspect of regional autonomy, not only will Chicano history be elevated to its rightful place, but the histories of all oppressed, working class struggles will be brought to the people from behind the imperialist lies currently being taught.

In conclusion, the Chicano national minority has its own distinct culture and psychological make-up which ties it together as a people. It’s a culture which is comprised of the whole history of struggle of toiling people since the beginning. It’s a history of struggle and revolutionary militancy, reflected in songs, literature and art. It has grown strong in the face of suppression by imperialist culture. It will fully develop only with the victory of socialism, full democracy and regional autonomy.


[1] Martinez, Longeaux, and Vasquez, Viva La Raza