SAN ANTO: May 1 March, update on AZ story and SB 1070




Battle of Arizona: Liberate Arizona from Hate!

San Antonio-

Southwest Workers Union (SWU) is supporting the groups, like El Puente, Tonatierra, Human Rights Coalition (Coalicion de Derechos Humanos), Alianza Indigenas Sin Fronteras in the ‘front line’ struggle against HATE in Arizona. We STAND against SB 1070!!

SWU makes a CALL to ACTION to join forces and efforts to WIN the BATTLE of ARIZONA!!! SWU will be mobilizing social movement organization and movements to go and stand with our sisters and brothers in Arizona who are leading the battle.

On May1st SWU will march in San Antonio, Texas recognizing the front line struggle of the people in Arizona and we will make a call for organizing caravans to support the Battle of Arizona and to WIN the struggle for Human and Immigrant (workers) rights.

How did we get to this battle of Arizona?

Janet Napolitano, ex governor of Arizona is now head of Homeland Security for the Obama administration, so the fact that Arizona has been the ‘ground zero’ of immigration repression and forced deportations, meaning this is a continuation process going from micro to macro in a seamless process from the W to O administration.

Arizona is the home headquarters of John McCain’s right wing state rights, tea bagger movement. S. Palin was just there with Mc Cain adding racist fuel to the fire with Palin’s “don’t retreat, reload” comment and ideological attitude.

The Governor just signed the SB 1070, racial profiling made legal, as many of the front line social movements have called it. This law criminalizes migrants without papers, and authorizes ALL LAW ENFORCEMENT and SOCIAL SERVICE agency workers to report and arrest people they ‘think’ seem to be’ or ‘are’ illegal from Mexico and Latin America. As many activists put it “you will be stopped because you are BROWN”.


SB1070 promotes mass racial profiling of Latinos as it gives police officers power to detain persons to determine their immigration status based on a racial profile of what an undocumented person looks like. But, at its roots it is ethnic cleansing, a crime against humanity and a violation of international law.

Ethnic cleansing is the attempt to create ethnically homogeneous geographic areas through the deportation or forcible displacement of persons belonging to particular ethnic groups. Arizona’s governor Jan Brewer, the State legislature and Sheriff Joe Arpaio, among others, are engaged in a campaign to cause the forced migration of Mexicans and other Latinos from the state in violation of human rights. SB1070 is just one of their tools.

To be sure, ethnic cleansing did not originate in the United States. There are unfortunately examples the world over, in Europe, Africa and Asia from as far back as the 7th and 9th centuries. However, there is the historical precedent of the forced displacement of native Americans by white settlers in what is now territorial United States in the 18th and 19th centuries.

As expected, Brewer signed the anti immigrant legislation. In so doing, she has unleashed the dogs of war and terror on the state’s Latino population and its hundreds of thousands of immigrants, documented and undocumented.

Arizona’s State government’s Declaration of war on its Latino population carries the stench of partisan politics. As in the California gubernatorial primary race, it is crystal clear now that Arizona is the preview of what the republican national campaign will be for the November elections. Despite the fact that it could establish an apartheid like persecution of the Latino population, Republican Party leaders will attempt to whip immigration to a frenzy to win votes and galvanize their base. It does not matter that it will force the migration of thousands of Latinos out of Arizona, that tens of thousands of our children, citizen or undocumented, will live in constant fear of being deported, of losing their parents, their sisters and brothers, their neighbors and have their families separated. Nor does it matter that the forced migration of brown skin Latinos will drive Arizona’s economy to the ground. The Republican Party will feed Latinos to their base to win elections. It is obvious also that if this measure prevails in the courts, it will drive the state’s economy to lower levels, losing billions of dollars and over one hundred and fifty thousand jobs immediately. What is more, it will divide the people of Arizona because the persecution will foment discrimination and massify racial profiling of Latinos to levels unseen before. 

Profiling is based on subjective suspicions caused by external human features, primarily the color of skin and language. As in the southern states, where, before civil rights laws were enacted, African Americans were the target of selective racial enforcement, in Arizona, the targetted, hunted ethnic community will be Latinos, who are 37% of the population, citizen or not.

On a short term basis, the ethnic cleansing campaign is about winning elections, on the long term the Republican party and other reactionary forces seek to stem the inevitable growth of the political strength of Latinos, who upon obtaining citizenship will enroll in the ranks of the Democratic Party.As in many states of the union, it is only a matter of time before the brown skinned people become the majority in Arizona.

SB1070 is an assault upon Latino/police community relations and community security. The proponents of SB1070 steadfastly cling on to the idea that SB1070 is about enforcing the immigration laws which the federal government has failed to enforce. They stubbornly refuse to acknowledge the obvious and the warnings of police chiefs across the country: that SB1070 will create such fear of contact with the police that Latinos will refuse to report crimes out of fear of arrest and deportation and thus it will seriously deteriorate police community relations, generating a haven for future criminal activity and diminishing security for all the people.

To halt ethnic cleansing on its tracks and stem the tide of racism and xenophobia sweeping Arizona and other parts of the country, Congress and President Obama must move speedily on immigration reform. As well, the federal government has the power to intervene as it did in the sixties, in the southern states of Alabama, Arkansas and Mississippi, to stop discrimination and persecution of African Americans. The administration could at least refuse to cooperate with Arizona by refusing to take custody of any detainees and prisoners the state attempts to hand over to Immigration Customs and Enforcement(ICE). 

Meanwhile, the mass social expressions of rage and discontent of the people in Arizona and throughout the nation are also on the rise. For days, hundreds of youth have walked out of school and held demonstrations and vigils in front of Arizona’s Capitol building to protest SB1070. On Friday April 23, immediately after the governor signed the bill, in a matter of two hours, a reported 7,000 demonstrators surrounded Arizona’s State’s building complex. In Tucson, hundreds gathered on Saturday. In Phoenix, thousands rallied in protest with Congressmen Luis Gutierrez and Raul Grijalva leading the chorus. Throughout the nation media events and protests in solidarity with the people took place the past week. Furthermore, in the net and other venues, economic boycotts on Arizona economy have been called for by truck drivers associations and others, some calling for boycotts of sports teams, conventions and transportation of goods. 

SB 1070 has become another spark for Latinos and all people of good will. On May 1st, in an estimated one hundred cities across the country, immigrants and their allies will take to the streets and hundreds of thousands of marchers will loudly demand legalization and comprehensive immigration reform. The added battle cry on international workers day will be: BOYCOTT ARIZONA. 

Javier Rodriguez is a journalist and a media and political strategist. He has published extensively in La Opinion, LA Times, ZMAG.ORG, PORTALUNO.COM, Hispanic Link and other venues. Antonio H. Rodriguez is a civil rights attorney in Los Angeles.

What is the background history of Arizona?

The original people (Anazasi ) start living in the region about 25,000 years BC. The Hohokam, , Pueblo, Yaqui too and around 1,300 AC the Apache and Tohono’Odom arrived from Canada. But limited research has been done on the original people of the region that makes up Arizona today. Historically, the land known as Arizona and before Sonora and before that New Spain has been the traditional land of Indigenous (original) people.

Arizona (Sonora) first explored by Fr. Niza in 1539, claimed it for Spain under the colony of New Spain. Fr. Niza was looking for the famed ‘Cities of Gold’, later to be followed by Francisco Vasquez de Coronado in 1540. Fr. Kino, Jesuit, established the first two Spanish Missions in the region; the Guevavi Mission and Mission Tumacacuri around 1692. The San Xavier del Bac Mission followed and the Nogales Mission was established around 1700.

Spanish rule was established starting in 1540 and their control was mostly in cities, Rancherias and at the missions, and the rest of the territory remained free from Spanish rule. The first permanent settlement by the Spanish was Tubac in 1752. After the great revolt of the so-called, Pima and Papago in 1752, the Spanish built a military fort or Presidio in 1776 in present day Tucson.

Spanish ‘colonial’ rule ended 281 years later in the Independence of New Spain and the birth of the Republic of Mexico in 1821. Mexico established military control of the region named it Mexican state of Sonora. Sonora at this time was experiencing illegal immigration from the Europeans (White, Anglo, Saxon Protestants) doing trapping and fur business in the region.

By 1845, the United States had extended its expansionism south and west and declared war on Mexico. Sonora was a state of Mexico only between 1821-1848 or 27 years of ‘freedom’. After the war, Mexico was forced to sign the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in1848, seizing Sonora to the Gila River from Northern Mexico and now making it southwestern United States. The Gadsden Purchase in 1853, part of US expansionism, added land to the Arizona territory. Arizona has been under US imperial expansionist rule since 1848 to today in 2010 making it 162 years! So Arizona was under Spanish colonial rule for 281 years, 27 years of freedom as Mexico, and 162 under occupation under the US Empire.

According to Dr Rodolfo Acunna, in his book Occupied America, states “A racial and social hierarchy controlled the mines and the settlements orbiting them. Sonoran notables distinguished themselves from the larger mixed population and, much like those in other parts of northern Mexico, nurtured the myth of their racial uniqueness or purity. This colonial construct determined the social status and the colonial mentality of Mexicans in Sonora and in Arizona at the time of the U.S. takeover after the Gadsden Purchase of 1853 as did well into the twentieth century.” Pg 92

“The Indigenous population outnumbered all others, with 12,569 native males and 10,620 native females…the Sonorenses practiced African and Indian Slavery at the mines.” Pg 92

During the Arizona Territorial period, many miners were prospectors, or placeros (placer miners), who followed the news of gold and silver deposits. Techniques such as dry washing and patio processing, used to mine surface deposits, were perfected in Northern Mexico. Like stock raising, mining developed from a Mexican tradition and heritage. After the Gadsden Purchase in 1854, Americans re-opened mines in southern Arizona and recruited manual laborers from Mexico because they were experienced miners in this region and were inexpensive labor. The Metcalf Copper mine in Morenci relied on the Mexicans’ skills to build and operate the smelters, another mining tradition from Mexico.

In 1915-16, after years of poor mining working conditions, wage discrimination, and several strikes, 5,000 miners, supported by the Western Federation of Miners (WFM), staged labor strikes in the Clifton, Morenci and Metcalf areas. Possibly the most profound example of companies versus organized labor is the deportation of laborers from Bisbee by the Phelps Dodge Corporation in 1917 in reaction to the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) effort to unionize miners.

Soon after World War II, Mexican American veterans in Morenci staged the 1946 strike against the Phelps Dodge Corporation demanding equality with other workers.After the bitter 1983-84 strike against Phelps Dodge, the strength of labor unions was somewhat diminished. However, the presence, tradition and contribution of the Mexican American miner is still dominant in today’s southwest.(Henry S. McCluskey Collection)

In 1854 copper was discovered, and gold in 1858 in Arizona. Mining has been a part of the history of Arizona. First developed by the Spanish with Indian slavery, and later by Mexico peons and now by US multi-national corporations resulting in a rich labor history under the Mexican miners, and the Clifton-Morenci strike.

In 1861 the Confederate Army invaded Arizona to set up a ’Confederate Government’ in Mesilla, in southern part of the state they and fought the Battle of Picacho Pass against Union forces. Many confederates set up cities and remained there even after the civil war. A southern racist pro-slavery and pro-plantation, white superiority and racist ideology was transplanted in Arizona.

In 1862 Chief Cochise and the other Apache chiefs agreed to wage a war of resistance and thus started the ten (10) year Apache Wars. The US responded by sending Kit Carson on an Indian extermination campaign that resulted in the capture of 7,000 or more Dine (Navajo) people who were ‘forced marched’ out of Arizona in 1864 in the ‘Canyon de Chelly’.

In 1863 the territory of Arizona was separated from New Mexico. Prominent criminals officers in charge of the extermination pogrom was General Crook, General Heinzelma, and the notorious Capt. JG Bourke. These were experienced soldier-officers in the Indian and war against Mexico.

In 1881 the capitalist had secured passage of the railroad through Arizona allowing the mobilization of more military troops to force the surrender of Geronimo, Chief of the Apache, in 1886. He was imprisoned and hanged. Thus ended the 10-year war of independence and resistance by the Apache Nation. Around the same time Phoenix is made the capitol of the territory and in 1912 is admitted as the 48th state of the USA. North American Indians living in Arizona did not get US citizenship rights until 1948.

From: Che Lopez <chelopez>


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