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Chicanos Demand, 'People Yes, War No!'

by George Iechika McKinney |
October 1, 2002
Marching against new wars
Marching against new wars on the anniversary of the 1970 Chicano Moratorium against the war in Vietnam. (Fight Back! News)

Los Angeles, CA - Marking the anniversary of the 1970 Chicano Moratorium Against War, hundreds of people took to the streets of Highland Park on Aug. 24, chanting "Raza Si, Guerra No!" - bringing life to a popular chant from the Viet Nam War era. They marched in one of Los Angeles's oldest communities, which is dotted by monuments to those who died in past U.S. wars. Throughout Aztlan (the southwestern United States), commemorations of the massive Aug. 29 Chicano Moratorium Against War took place. Thousands participated in events, many of which were covered by mainstream newspapers and television stations during the 2 weeks surrounding Aug. 29

Yvonne De Los Santos, a protester who was at both the 1970 Moratorium and this year's march, explained, "We are demanding the same things we did back in 1970. We still want health care, living wage jobs, an end to the targeting of brown youth to die in military service, no imperialist wars and a free Aztlan."

In San Francisco, a sunrise ceremony Aug. 25 ended in a rally at Dolores Park in the heart of the Mission District. Betita Martinez, rally organizer and author of 500 Years of Chicano History spoke from the stage. From her personal experience on Aug. 29, 1970, she recalled how 70,000 assembled and how the police killed three. The park where the police attacked was renamed for the progressive Los Angeles Times journalist Ruben Salazar - who was slain that day by a deputy sheriff. She recalled how police also killed a young Brown Beret member and a motorist that day.

The protest was a defining moment for the Chicano community. "Before the moratoriums, there were no Mexican-American organizations," said Rosalio Munoz, chair of the 1970 National Chicano Moratorium Committee and Chicano Moratorium Committee 2002.

"Within weeks of the protest, the small business administration was calling and offering me a loan, when before, I, and many others, had been denied," explained Joe Sanchez, long-time Moratorium supporter and grocery store owner.

"The struggle for an Aztlan libre was the same struggle the Vietnamese were fighting - a struggle for self-determination, to free Viet Nam from imperialism," said a speaker from Asian and Pacific Islander Coalition Against War. She explained the current period is no different, "We all know that this is not a war against terrorism but rather a terrorist war against the world's people to maintain U.S. global dominance."

"The Centro CSO is demanding money for schools, not for war," said Carlos Montes, former Brown Beret leader from the 1970 Moratorium, at an evening panel discussion. "In Boyle Heights, students at Roosevelt High School are now sitting on the floor because overcrowding is so bad."
"Currently, the Bush administration is pressing Congress, the United Nations and the Security Council to permit a first-strike attack on Iraq, at a cost of billions of American taxpayer dollars - dollars that could be used to keep Los Angeles's emergency health clinics open," said Joe Caballero. "This is in addition to the billions already allocated to funding military operations in Colombia and the Philippines. We can't just let this happen."

Moratorium members have pledged to continue their work as they join forces with the growing peace movement.