March 14, 2003

The Public Forum . . . El Foro Publico

Another Vigil for the Dead

I just came back from the vigil held downtown in front of the State building for the 2 individuals killed and other persons injured when the border patrol chased them. It was a very moving vigil and the attitude voiced by many including Claudia Smith, Louie Natividad and Christian Ramirez is that we are completely fed up with these frequent and needless deaths.

Virgil Peña
Chula Vista

Hispanic Community Outraged over Heavy-handed tactics of Bush Administration

President Bush:

As Latino leaders of farm labor organizations representing immigrant workers from Mexico, their

families and retirees, we write to say that we are outraged by the heavy-handed tactics that your administration is employing against the government of Mexico in an attempt to secure its agreement with your plan for waging war on Iraq.

An Associated Press article by Dafna Linzer said that Mexican diplomats described the visits from U.S. State Dept. Officials as “hostile in tone” and complained that Washington was demonstrating “little concern for the constraints on the Mexican government, whose people are overwhelmingly opposed to a war with Iraq.” “They actually told us,” said one Mexican diplomat, “that any country that doesn’t go along with the U.S. ‘will be paying a very heavy price’.”

Our members do not want their government to act like a bully against another sovereign nation.

Our government cannot claim to be fighting for democracy in Iraq while at the same time demanding that the government of Mexico support a war without the consent and against the will of its own citizens.

We oppose this war because you have not made your case to the citizens of the U.S. or of the world that it is necessary. We oppose it in the name of democracy and we ask you to respect democracy and national sovereignty not only in our country but in all other countries, including Mexico.

Dolores Huerta, Co-Founder, United Farm Workers of America (AFL-CIO)

Arturo Rodriguez, President, United Farm Workers of America (AFL-CIO)

Baldemar Velasquez, President, Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC) (AFL-CIO)

Our Political System Is Dysfunctional

In answer to the questions presented in your editorial (“Has the Paradigm for running our political system become dysfunctional?” March 7, 2003) re:the state of our political system, I would answer: to some extent, yes, our system is dysfunctional.

One reason: lack of diversity among candidates and elected officials. Another reason: campaign financing.

Consider one of the questions you ask: “Has the quality of our elected officials improved with the injection of Latino, Black, Asian, or Chinese politicians into the system?”

Fair question- but it ignores other elements of diversity that matter as much as ethnic background or race. I am referring to age and gender, along with the other factors you mention: education & training experience, and socio-economic background.

By failing to add all of these elements to your question, you illustrate part of the “diversity” problem we face as a society: how do we think about diversity, and what do we believe the word means?

As for campaign financing: When it takes tens- if not hundreds- of thousands of dollars to run for office, most people are discouraged from even trying. So we wind up with people in the minority (those who have large financial resources) representing those of us in the majority- people who are not in the top tier of our economic ladder, and cannot even afford housing in San Diego!

No wonder we think this is dysfunctional! Consider recent federal budget votes: do the wealthiest people in the US really need more tax breaks, while the rest of us are just trying to get by?

For most working-class people- small business owners, teachers, police officers, firefighters, service industry workers, etc.- the dream of running for office ends before they make their first campaign contribution request. After all, how can we succeed in a campaign, when we must raise more money than we are likely to earn in a decade? And how do we run while balancing our jobs and home life?

It is a daunting proposition.

So- how do we fix a dysfunctional political paradigm? One campaign at a time, waged by people from diverse backgrounds.

Lori Saldaña
Environmental Research Fellow
Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies
University of California, San Diego

California College Republicans Responds to Art Torres Charge of Race Baiting

Dear Chairman Art Torres,

We were greatly disappointed that you could not attend our Affirmative Action Bake Sale (see story published February 21, 2003 “Torres Dishearntened Over Race Baiting by Republicas on UCLA Campus”) last Wednesday at U.C. Berkeley. As you know, we parodied the race based system of Affirmative Action by selling chocolate chip cookies at varying prices depending on the race of the buyer. Apparently, you did not find humor in the event, and instead of arguing the substance of the issue, you sent out an angry press release that resorted to name calling and false accusations.

You clearly have a chip on your shoulder, and to alleviate your grievances, we are humbly sending you a dozen of our finest chocolate chip cookies courtesy of the California College Republicans.

Please pass along a cookie to Lt. Governor Cruz Bustamante, who used the n-word in a speech during Black History Month in 2001.

And be sure to give a cookie to former Klansman and Democratic Senator Robert Byrd. We hear he’s a natural fit in his new role as a Confederate General in the movie Gods and Generals.

And don’t forget to save a cookie for Democratic Presidential Candidate Al Sharpton, who in 1994 was quoted as saying “White folks was in the cave when we built empires. We taught philosophy and astrology and mathematics before Socrates and them Greek homos ever got around to it.” A comment that is not just racist, but also homophobic.

We hope you enjoy your complimentary cookies that is, if there are any left after you share them with your racially sensitive cohorts.

Michael Davidson, Secretary
California College Republicans

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