This past Sunday, August 29th, was the commemoration of the 34th Anniversary of Chicano Moratorium against the Vietnam War in 1970. The gathering in San Diego took place at Chicano Perk café and Cultural Center on 25th Street and Imperial Avenue, coinciding with other such events took place across the state. The celebration recalled when 30,000 people of Latino origin walked the streets of Los Angeles to ask for the Vietnam War to end and for better opportunities for this very neglected and discriminated community.
The Chicano Moratorium was violently stopped and culminated with three suspicious deaths. During the months after, East Los Angeles, an area inhabited typically by Latinos, was taken over by the police department and various protests thereafter were also stopped.
Carlos Pelayo from La Raza Unida Party who spoke about what happened during the ‘70s recalled how even though Chicanos were only the 6% of the population in the United States at the time, Chicanos made up over 20% of the casualties.
During the peaceful demonstration, the large group of people marched with signs about several different issues not only the Vietnam war. They also wanted changes to education, labor laws, etc. At the end of the march, there were speeches, dancers, music and poetry for the people to enjoy.
Pelayo said the police set up command posts in different high schools in the area and wanted to stop the peaceful gathering. The police said someone stole a six pack of beer from a liquor store and ran into the crowd and got lost. That was the excuse the police used to attack. The police came into the park fully armed with riot gear, clubs and tear gas canisters not only to disperse the group but to brutally attack. The police killed three individuals, among them Ruben Salazar a reporter from the LA Times.
With the past war with Vietnam as well as with the present war in Iraq, the Chicanos see no reason to attack a country that has not attacked us and never had the potential to do it. It is obvious that the main interest in this war is just oil and the large multi billion dollar contracts that go together with war.
Echoing this sentiment thousands were in New York protesting the military politics of the Bush regime and the imminent inauguration of the Republican Party in that city. Approximately 400,000 people marched that city demanding end to the war and invasion of Iraq.
Anyone interested in contacting Carlos Pelayo can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and he will answer your questions or steer you in the right direction. As he said, “our war is here, were we fight for justice and self-determination”.