Sunday, March 20, 2016

The Rebellion of Los Mojados / LA REBELION DE LOS MOJADOS

My last post was from millenials and the vote, and how important it is. Now I bring you back longtime activist and frequent contributor Julio César Guerrero, telling us about the Xicano vote...


Back in 1954, the Mexican film industry released an iconic movie entitled LA REBELION DE LOS COLGADOS. Based on a novel by B. Traven, the movie told the story of a Chamula Indian family that ended up working as slaves in the mahogany rich jungles of Chiapas, illustrating the socio economic conditions prevalent during the Porfirio Dias dictatorship, which brought about the Agrarian Revolution of 1910. It goes without saying that when the movie came out, things hadn’t changed that much under the reign of the PRI, which may explain why the film begins with the disclaimer, "Today Mexico is one of the great modern democracies."

Poster for film La Rebelión de Los Mojados, 1954

The story of La Rebelión de los Colgados is a classic depiction of brutal oppression characteristic of feudal times juxtaposed against the era of the industrial revolution. The title derives from the depiction of workers' punishment, if they did not comply with the work assigned. Each individual was forced to cut four tons of mahogany per day, and failure to comply led to punishment: they would be hanged by their limbs from a tree. By the end, the Indians rebel, turning against the company men. 

The creative forces behind the production did an extraordinary job with the story’s crude realism, to the point that some parts of the movie were censured in the United States.

Recent reports of long lines of Mexican immigrants applying for citizenship that will make them eligible to vote in the November general elections in order to counteract Donald Trump's presidential campaign make me think of borrowing B. Traven’s title to adapt it to La Rebelión de Los Mojados.

I think a parallel can be made if one considers that discrimination against indigenous people hasn’t changed that much since the last century, taking into account the numerous murders of native activists in rural Mexico under the watch of the narco-government and the blatant economic divide based on class and race that permeates US society, to the point of hearing a loud YA BASTA!!! from the mere people social scientists call statistics.

From Lynchings in the West, Erased from History and Photos.
K. Gonzalez-Day (2012).
New York Times.
At the risk of misconstruing the use of the M word, I think it’s fair game as long as we use it in a positive manner to empower ourselves and laugh back at Trump’s attempts to ridicule our community.

La Rebelión de Los Mojados then is about the thousands of Mexican nationals who have lived in the United States under their permanent resident status and have at long last decided to use their collective power to turn against systemic discrimination through electoral politics. It is about the vast army of courageous undocumented workers and students who have taken the issue of immigration reform to the streets, to the extent of physically blocking ICE deportation vehicles, bringing to life the war-cry "NO PAPERS — NO FEAR."

According to a recent poll of Latino voters by the Washington Post and Univision, “80 percent had an unfavorable view of Mr. Trump, including 72 percent with a very unfavorable view, far more than for other Republican candidates.”

There is an all-year open door for US. Citizenship applications, but back in 2007 over one million immigrants applied in light of a fee increase just before the 2008 elections. Due to the present rush of the new wave of applications in order to factor in for the next elections, members of La Rebelión should apply before May 1st to allow new citizens enough time to register to vote.

About the Author

Julio César Guerrero earned a Master’s degree in both social work and telecommunications at the University of Michigan. He spent many years teaching in the Michigan University system, where he developed ample experience in student services, classroom teaching, community organization and development, social and human services, nonprofit and human services administration, community and media relations, diversity training, outreach, and recruitment.

As a pioneer in bilingual community radio, he participated in the development of KDNA and Radio Cadena National News in Washington State, KUFW-Radio Campesina for Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers in California, and KRZA-Radio Raza in Colorado. He also worked as a program director and producer for KPFT Pacifica Radio in Houston, KBBF in California, KUAT in Arizona, and WKAR in Michigan.

Under the role of community organizer, he participated in several educational events with union workers and human rights activists throughout the Midwest and Mexico, coordinated tri-national conferences for education and telecommunication workers from Canada, US, Mexico, and France, and coordinated some of the largest Latino workers' leadership conferences for the Institute of Labor and Industrial Relations at the 
University of Michigan. 

Most recently, Julio César Guerrero worked nonstop as the national coordinator for Caravana43, an international support network for the Ayotzinapa families of the 43 forcefully disappeared students in Guerrero, Mexico, when they made their tour through the United States. 

Julio César has been a frequent guest contributor to Adjunct Justice. 

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