The Latino Students for Social Change Front
A concept paper
BRIEF HISTORY OF LATINAS & LATINOS FOR SOCIAL CHANGE
In 1992 a group of Latin American activists began meeting to find ways to work in an organized fashion within the Central American Solidarity Association (CASA). The predominant feeling among them was that while many of these activists had participated in solidarity work, decision making was in the hands of white progressives. In alliance with some of these white progressive activists, the Latino Committee of CASA came to exist.
Two sectors joined forces within the Latino Committee. One of these sectors came from the the group called 500 Years of Resistance, the other, was composed of Latinos who had worked independently in CASA. One of their first actions within CASA was to expand the solidarity work to all of Latin America and the Caribbean. Thus, the organization became the Latin American and Caribbean Solidarity Association (LACASA). This change in focus allowed the immediate incorporation of the July 26 Coalition in Solidarity with the Cuban Revolution to LACASA.
Shortly thereafter, the members of the Latino Committee understood that this was an excellent opportunity to carry out a wider political work not only confined to Latin American solidarity. They also verified the fact that Latinos who live here in the US have specific problems to solve. Another key element was the realization that there are plenty of social services for Latinos, and that, in general, the paid officers of those agencies are mistakenly perceived to be the natural political leaders of the Latino community.
The Latino Committee then decided that our goal was the radical change of the society we live in. In 1994, Latinas & Latinos for Social Change was officially formed. One of our main objectives was then to give shape to a wider movement of Latinos working for social change.
During the last five years, we have developed educational campaigns around struggles in Latin America and the Caribbean, with special emphasis on the Puerto Rican struggle for independence and socialism and the liberation of their 15 political prisoners. We have also denounced the repressive regime of Alberto Fujimori in Peru, which keeps nearly 6,000 political prisoners. We joined in the international campaign to demand that former Chilean dictator, General Augusto Pinochet, be brought to justice in Spain for crimes against humanity. Pinochet will never be tried in his own country under a constitutional system he himself created. We have also carried out demonstrations against the oppression of Mexican peasants and indigenous people.
Likewise, we have given central importance to rescuing the celebration of March 8th, International Women Day, and May 1st, International Workers Day. Both, of these important commemorations are completely ignored by the majority of people in the US, while the rest of the world pays homage to all those who fought for the few gains we enjoy today, like the right of women to vote and the 8-hour work day.
Finally, we are in the process of developing local fronts of Latinos for social change. During the year 2000 we will concentrate in developing the latino student front. This front is of central importance to us to revitalize political work for social change with new ideas and renewed energy.
WHY A LATINO STUDENTS FOR SOCIAL CHANGE FRONT?
Latinos for Social Change consider that the existance of a Latino Student Front is of extraordinary importance for the protection and advancement of the interest of students. This Front will develop the many political talents that students have and that are currently suppressed by an individualistic system. Let it be clear that this Front will serve as an agent of politcal change to solve the problems that affect students and society. The Front will defend the interests of the students in their struggles against unilateral administrative impositions. Even more, it will denounce the reasons for these impositions which include the fact that, in this society, education is not a right but a profit making institution.
A well-organized Latino Students for Social Change Front will be of great benefit to all students. The Front will lead students in the battle against racist theories such as the Bell Curve and the Massachussets Comprehensive Assesment System (MCAS). The Front will also shed light on our realities as a social class. The vast majority of students attend college with the hopes of improving their current socio-economic position within the class system.
But even this is not realistic within the boundaries of the capitalist system. Even when students graduate and attain a "well paying" job, they are still wage slaves tied to the limitations that this implies. The Front will encourage students to engage in political analysis that when applied to the social, political and economic conditions under which we currently live, will lead them to confront the system and to reject reformist illusions.
Most Latin American countries currently in the midst of an acute economical crisis can not even guarantee employment to their university graduates. This situation, along with the privatizational process of education, has caused student uprisings in several countries like Mexico, Chile and Brazil. It has been approximately seven months since the seizure and occupation of the University of Mexico (UNAM) by its students. The students organized themselves to take this action in response to "reforms" imposed by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. During the struggle they learned that in order to sustain this level of resistance, they have had the necessity to work as a collective with unquestionalble comraderie. This struggle, once again confirms that organized students are an indispensable and powerful force to reckon with in the fight for social change.
These years that we are now living are years of unmatched importance in the struggle for the establishment of a fortified alliance between students and workers. Our goal is to finally create and develop a new society that is just, egalitarian and without exploitation amongst human beings; a society that is truly democratic: a revolutionary communist society.
PROPOSED STRUCTURE OF THE LATINO STUDENTS FOR SOCIAL CHANGE FRONT
Local committees of students for social change will be created in different campuses and high schools. Each local committee will elect a basic leadership group composed of a coordinator, a secretary, a treasurer, and a public relations and media secretary.
While these committees develop, Latinas & Latinos for Social Change will coordinate the activities of the local committees. Eventualy, when at least three local committees are in existance, the Latino Students for Social Change Front will be officially formed. Each local committee will be autonomous, yet, it is very important to have some basic agreement to have a solid front:
- We organize to fight for a radical social change of society.
- We oppose and fight against all forms of oppression and exploitation, including racism, sexism and homophobia.
- In the short term, we struggle to improve the condition of Latin American workers and all workers who live in the US.
- We are in solidarity with all those who struggle against economic, social, political and cultural injustice in Latin America and the Caribbean. We see a definite link between those struggles there and our own here.
- We oppose capitalist imperialistic intervention in all of its forms, whether in Latin America or the rest of the world.
- We fight against militarism within the educational system and the rest of society. We stand against programs like the Reserve Officers Training Corp (ROTC) in colleges and universities and the Junior ROTC in high schools.
- We denounce and confront racism and monocultural eurocentrism in the capitalist educational system.
- We will use all means at our disposal to achieve our goals and are committed to working towards them in an active and permanent fashion.