Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Unite everyone who can be united: Building the Chicano united front

First Published: Unity, Vol. 3, No. 7, March 28-April 10, 1980.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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The monopoly capitalists are rapidly stepping up their attacks on the livelihood, and the political and social rights of workers and minorities in the U.S. These attacks strike hardest at the minority nationalities, who are hit fastest and hardest by inflation, layoffs, high taxes, police brutality, deportations, cutbacks in social programs, the threat of military draft and so forth.

Therefore it is crucial that working and oppressed peoples strengthen their unity and fighting capacity. In this article we will address the question of how this can be done, and the particular tasks of revolutionaries in this period.

The need for unity

The Chicano Movement has a long tradition of struggle dating back to the annexation of the Southwest in 1848. Over the last two decades especially, the movement has grown in its political and organizational maturity and cohesion. However, in an overall sense the movement is still fragmented and scattered.

This situation must be brought to an end if the Chicano people are going to wage a successful struggle against the sharpening oppression they face. The crisis of the ruling class is leading them to step up their superexploitation of the Chicano nation, and to try to crush the growing resistance of the Chicano Movement. This provides the objective basis for the unity of the Chicano Movement: the need for all different sectors of the movement to resist oppression and safeguard their interests.

At the same time there is a broad and growing awareness among many different sectors of the movement of the need for unity. The upsurges of the 1960’s and 1970’s helped to bring home this lesson, and to educate a broad spectrum of the Chicano people about the nature of U.S. imperialism as the source of their oppression. Those upsurges also brought into motion widely diverse sections of the Chicano Movement – workers, students, intellectuals, professionals, businessmen, women, youth and others. This helped to develop among them a consciousness of being a single people fighting for equality and, among many, of being an oppressed nation fighting for self-determination.

All of these factors provide favorable conditions for building unity.

Self-determination is the aim of the united front

The Chicano united front will assume many different forms. It may not necessarily take the form of an actual Chicano liberation front, such as exists in many third world countries. The exact final form of this front will be determined by the actual conditions and needs of the struggle in the Southwest.

The aim of the united front, no matter its form, is to fight national oppression and to win Chicano self-determination. The oppression of the Chicano people flows from the domination of their nation in the Southwest by U.S. monopoly capitalism. Without the right to self-determination, that is political control of their territory in the Southwest, the Chicano people will always lack the means to enforce their basic rights such as the right to control their lands, to speak their own language without restriction, to develop their culture, to freely unionize as workers, to have equal political representation, etc. The various struggles which the Chicano people are waging throughout the Southwest reflect their strong desire for political power as the only guarantee for their fundamental national rights.

The character and scope of the united front

Practice has shown that the Chicano united front will take on a local, regional and Southwest-wide character. This is a reflection of the varying local conditions of the struggle, and of the present stage of the struggle.

These various types of fronts have been built on the basis of unity of action around concrete issues, such as the fight against the Carter Curtain which united a broad spectrum of forces in different parts of the Southwest. In El Paso, Texas, the front included Chicano political figures, clergy, students, professionals, workers organizations and revolutionary nationalists. The basis for their unity was solidarity with the Mexican immigrants against the migra and especially against the government’s plan to build a concrete and barbed wire fence along certain sections of the U.S.-Mexico border. Within this front there were of course a wide range of political perspectives, but this did not prevent effective united action with a progressive orientation.

Similar type fronts have been built around issues like police brutality, support for the farm workers, and the commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the Chicano Moratorium. This has given a new impetus to the development of a united front among a broad range of Chicanos. This activity has and is bringing together Chicanos from all walks of life to articulate their demand for political power in the Southwest, as well as their demands on specific issues such as land rights, police brutality, for social services and so forth.

The scope of the Chicano united front is very broad including many different classes and political forces. The subjugation of the Chicano nation has led to the oppression of them all in some form and to some degree. The only group which should be excluded from the united front are the small handful of out-and-out traitors like Joseph Montoya, former U.S. Senator from New Mexico; capitalists like Ramona Banuelos, former Treasury Secretary; Leonell Castillo, former head of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, and people like them who directly serve the monopoly capitalists in oppressing the Chicano people. The front also excludes groups which have clearly exposed their counterrevolutionary character to the movement, such as the Socialist Workers Party and the Revolutionary Communist Party.

The broad scope and diversity of the Chicano united front is a source of its strength and vitality. All efforts to restrict the united front to only a few groups or only the most revolutionary-minded forces hurts the cause of Chicano liberation. The Chicano Movement cannot be successful in fighting for its immediate needs, or in winning self-determination without the fullest participation of all the oppressed sectors of the movement.

Tasks in building the united front

The time to strengthen and build the united front is now; the ruling class assault is stepping up and there is no time to waste. United fronts should be built up on a local, regional and Southwest-wide basis. Fronts that already exist, such as those to oppose the nuclear corporations in the Southwest, in support of the farm workers, and in support of struggles like the Vogue Coach strike should be strengthened and broadened.

Revolutionaries have a special responsibility to build their unity within the Chicano united front. They should work harder towards this end to set an example for the entire movement, and as a means to provide a more consistent overall revolutionary orientation to the Chicano struggle.

As representatives of the basic interests of the Chicano masses, revolutionaries should be exemplary in fighting sectarianism and in uniting to take up the basic issues facing the Chicano people. These actions will create more favorable conditions for making the Chicano Movement conscious of its right to self-determination and of the necessity for a revolutionary struggle to win that right.

Secondly, revolutionaries should build up their ties among Chicano working people who make up more than 80% of the Chicano population. Chicane laboring people suffer the most severe national oppression and therefore make up the main and firmest section of the united front. The ultimate success of the Chicano liberation struggle rests on their shoulders.

Thirdly, it means building unity among all sectors of the Chicano people, including reformist elements. We must seek common ground on specific issues, uphold the fundamental interests of the people, and struggle in a principled and straightforward way against their incorrect ideas.

The Chicano struggle for self-determination is a revolutionary struggle, and an important part of the struggle for socialism in this country. It provides strength and inspiration to all working and oppressed people in the U.S., and in other parts of the world, particularly Latin America. The Chicano liberation struggle should therefore be given wholehearted support. The victory of the Chicano people is assured if they can, in this next period of struggle, build their unity in a step-by-step and concrete way. A heavy responsibility rests on Marxist-Leninists and Chicano revolutionaries to help build this Chicano united front.