August 9 2002

Chismes de mi Gallinero:

Corporate Piracy — Chicano-Style

By: Julio C. Calderón

It may seem frivolous to compare the piracy of the Mexican American Political Association (MAPA) to how the big boys do it on Wall Street. However, it seems appropriate in these times of corporate corruption to expose this act of piracy at the hands of past MAPA State President Gloria Torres and past First Vice President Steve Figueroa.

Torres and Figueroa boycotted the August 2001 MAPA Constitutional Convention, thereby did not run for reelection. Ben Benavidez was elected by those present and voting. Torres and Figueroa were quoted in an article in the Fresno Bee on August 19, 2001, following the convention, as believing that “…they (referring to Torres and Figueroa) must move on and wish Benavidez and MAPA well.” Figueroa went on to state his plans of “organizing a new political group that he says will be reflective of a larger Hispanic community…”

That was a year ago. Now, Torres claims to be the president of something called MAPA National. Figueroa claims to be the president of MAPA Voter Registration and Education Corporation. And the Mexican American Political Association, they claim, no longer exists.

In March 2002, Figueroa and Torres attempted to file a statement of officer with the Secretary of State listing themselves as the officers of the Mexican American Political Association (MAPA). They were denied their application because the Chairman of the San Francisco Chapter of MAPA had filed a reservation for revival of the organization, thus protecting MAPA for 60 days.

What was not protected was the MAPA Voter Registration and Education Corporation. They were able to file their statement of officers on that organization. The MAPA Voter Registration and Education Corporation was founded in 1980 by then MAPA State/National Present Eduardo Sandoval. They listed Gloria Torres as the president of the corporation.

MAPA President Ben Benavidez filed the updated Statement of Officers with the Secretary of State on April 29, 2002. On April 30, 2002, Steve Figueroa and Gloria Torres filed a Certificate of Amendment of Articles of Incorporation naming Figueroa as President and Torres as Secretary. The amendment was to the Articles of Incorporation of the Mexican American Political Association (MAPA) that changed article I, the name of the association to MAPA – National. The Secretary of State accepted the change.

The Certificate of Amendment requires the signers to declare and certify that they were the President and Secretary of the Mexican American Political Association and sign the form “under penalty of perjury…”

One would believe that the “under penalty of perjury” would carry some weight and that the Secretary of State could take legal action against anyone violating this requirement. The President or members of the Association will have to challenge them in the courts. Perjury on their part shouldn’t be hard to prove, neither were officers of the Association authorized to make the changes they made to the Articles of Incorporation. Their terms ended in August 2001 and MAPA will not have another constitutional convention until the summer of 2003. The election of officers and amendments to the by-laws can only be done at a constitutional convention.

MAPA has been divided for some time. Years of in-fighting in the courts have taken their toll on the integrity of the Association. The battles between MAPA State and the San Francisco Chapter have been settled. Former State/National President Sandoval has been aiding Benavidez and the L.A. Metro Region with their convention and with the Secretary of State issues. The opposing camps have vowed to assist in uniting MAPA once more and putting its house in order.

When Torres and Figueroa spoke to Tracy Correa, reporter for the Fresno Bee last August they acknowledged the Benavidez election to the presidency of MAPA. They also bade farewell to the Association. Somewhere between August 2001 and March 2002, they realized that without the MAPA titles they were of no value in the political arena, so they set out to pirate the association’s name and history for themselves.

Benavidez and MAPA’s L.A. Metro Region will hold its General Elections Endorsement Convention on August 17, 2002, at the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles. Torres and Figueroa held a convention in Los Angeles the weekend of July 27. It was the tree that fell in the forest that no one heard…no candidates, no people, and no media…nada.

The list of confirmed candidates for the August 17th convention at the Biltmore is headlined by Gov. Gray Davis, Republican Gubernatorial Candidate Bill Simon, and Green Party Candidate Peter Miguel Camejo, as well as Democrat and Republican candidates running for other state constitutional offices…. furthermore, and more important are the more than 300 pre-registered members committed to attend. This hasn’t happened to MAPA since 1982.

Unfortunately, this convention may be watered down by the fact that Torres and Figueroa are willing to sell themselves to any candidate that wants to have their endorsement as being the ‘real’ MAPA.

What has damaged MAPA the most over the years is the involvement of the courts. It has been a never-ending battle. Just as past Benavidez enemies have packed away their lawyer’s briefs, another looms over the horizon.

It’s funny…but when I get toward the end of these ‘Chismes’ I seem to find myself somewhere my old friend and member of the Democratic National Committee, an odd friend considering my Republican credentials, Steve Ybarra, told me I shouldn’t be trying to breath life in an old dinosaur. Perhaps my only reason is that MAPA is the keystone of modern Latino history…and it deserves preservation.

Calderon was the State/National President Mexican American Political Association (MAPA) 1981 – 1983. He can be reached at latsac@aol.com.

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