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Interview with: Ramsey Muñiz
Archive Number: OH 331
0:00:09.1 I’d like to welcome you all here. (__??) with Mexican-American studies are proud to have Ramiro Muñiz here as a speaker today. And before we get the program started, I’m going to give you a little background. For some of you who don’t know Ramsey very well, or some update. And we’re going to have Dr. Armando Gutierrez, Professor of Political Science, and Doctor Mindiola will kind of give us an up-to-date on Ramsey’s situation, his contributions, and some of the stuff he’s done for the Chicano people and for the American society in general. So, I’d like to introduce Doctor Tacho Mindiola, director of Mexican-American studies.
Dr. Tacho Mindiola
Thank you. Well, I’ve been trying to think about what I would like to say about Ramsey Muñiz, an individual that I’ve known now for some 15 years. I think that Ramsey Muñiz is an individual who will definitely go down in history. Not only do I think that he will go down in history as a man. I think he will go down in history as a symbol. As a symbol of an individual who worked his way out of one of the poorest barrios in Corpus Christi, La Molina, and sought to improve himself. As a symbol of an individual who was on university campuses in the early 60s and therefore represented for the first time in the history of this country, the largest number of Mexican Americans ever to be educated by American universities. And a symbol, for sure, because Ramsey called himself a Chicano. And by calling himself a Chicano, represented a new and determined group of individuals who were critical of American society and their treatment of Mexican Americans in this country. And of course, he will go down as a symbol of that individual, who probably more than any other individual brought the Raza Unida party state, national, and international recognition and, in the process, called attention to the situation of mexicanos, not only in Texas, but in the United States. So, to me this is what Ramsey Muñiz symbolizes. To me, these are the reasons why I think Ramsey has secured a place in our history. So, it is both not only a pleasure, but indeed an honor to have know Ramsey these years, to have been his personal friend, to have visited with him in his house, to have spent countless hours talking about philosophy, ideology, and organizing strategies. So, on behalf of the Mexican-American Studies program, I would like to welcome Ramsey Muñiz to the University of Houston. Now I would like to introduce Armando Gutierrez, who will then introduce Ramsey Muñiz.
0:03:37.3 Okay, I’m in a little bit different situation because I didn’t think a whole lot before I headed down. I was just told I was going to do this introduction. Let me add, from someone who’s from Corpus, La Molina is not only a poor neighborhood, it’s a rough neighborhood. Some bad dudes come out of there, I guarantee you. Anyway, basically what I wanted to do—or what I was asked to do—is very briefly try and give you some background on not only Ramsey, but the campaign, el partido. For those of you who—I was in my class the other day and I was talking about the Vietnam War, and some of my students raised their hands and said, “Hey, I was only 8 years old during the Vietnam War.” Anyway, so I realized some people may not be real familiar with what was going on in 1970, ’71, ’72, right? As Tacho mentioned the Raza Unida party was essentially formed in late 1969, early 1970, of course particularly in Zavala County, in Crystal City. At that time the idea behind the organization was to develop as basically a grassroots organization in those communities, those counties in South Texas that had a majority Chicano population. There are 26 counties, if you draw a line from Del Rio to San Antonio to Corpus, inside of that line there are 26 counties that have a majority Mexican-American population. And the idea was to try and organize people there through the entity of a separate political entity, or separate political party. So it began as kind of grassroots kind of movement in that direction.
Now the fact of the matter is, of course, that there are many, many Mexican Americans—indeed the majority of Mexican Americans—who live outside of that line in places like Houston, places like Dallas, Lubbock, El Paso, and so on, just speaking of Texas. The point being that, fairly quickly, the idea of a separate political entity, a separate political party caught fire. And people from throughout the state, and indeed throughout the nation—Chicanos from throughout the state and throughout the nation—were demanding that they, too, be given something to do, some kind of a voice, some kind of alternative such as Raza Unida. The result of that was that the organization at a planning meeting decided that it would build a candidate for governor in the 1972 elections here in the state of Texas. One of the reasons that Ramsey was chosen, among others, was that he was the only one who was old enough at the time, or was going to be old enough. In the state of Texas you have to be 30 years old to be governor. We assumed he was going to be elected, therefore we decided we should have him run, right? To be very frank, for those people who were involved in that decision, we had a good deal of trepidation not only just about running a candidate for governor, but about Ramsey since some of us did not know him that well. Believe me, everyone was amazingly pleasantly surprised, overwhelmed indeed, by the choice—the kind of charisma, the kind of attraction that Ramsey brought to that campaign, the kind of enthusiasm that he generated among Chicanos from all walks of life. Even though he was a lawyer he had the capacity, which no one else in the movement at that particular time had, of being able to attract huge numbers of working-class, poor Mexican-Americans who never had been involved in the political process before. And, again, generating an enthusiasm that went beyond simply saying, “Okay, come election time I’m going to and pull the lever.” But it was an enthusiasm that they were willing to go out and work, willing to go out and organize, knock on doors, etc., etc.
0:07:33.0 To make a long story short, the result of that was that in the 1972 elections Ramsey spent less than 10,000 dollars and was able to get almost a quarter of a million votes here in the state of Texas. I say that, and as a point of reference I might add that, for example, in 1976 the Socialist Workers party—and I’m not meaning to cast any aspersions on them as an organization or as people—but they, for example, in the 1976 presidential election throughout the nation got 96,000 votes. Ramsey in the state of Texas was able to garner almost a quarter of a million votes—to be exact, 214,000 votes. That translated to a percentage of about 6.8 percent of the election. The significance of that, I think, just speaks for itself. But there’s other reasons that it was significant. It was significant, number 1, because no third party in the history of the state of Texas had ever received more than 1% of the vote. All of the political experts, all of the political polls said that he would get no more than 1% of the vote, so there was this total surprise just in terms of the number of the percent of the vote that he got. Number 2 was that in that election, where Dolph Briscoe and Henry Grover were the Democratic/Republican candidates, the difference in the election was less than 100,000 votes. The point being, of course, that Ramsey held the balance of power in that election, and indeed Briscoe was elected by less than a majority. He got approximately 46% of the vote. That was the first time that that had happened in over 100 years in the state of Texas, that a governor had been elected by a plurality. But more importantly than that, I think, as Tacho mentioned the symbolic thing was that the enthusiasm that was generated among Chicanos was quite astounding. And of course it spread very quickly, so that Raza Unida organizations developed in 27 different states in Texas.
In 1974 Ramsey ran again for governor, and again pulled approximately 6.3% of the vote. It was a smaller total number, but that was because there was less total turnout. As you know turn out is higher in the presidential election years than when there’s not a presidential election. So, with that kind of enthusiasm, with the kind of support that Ramsey generated—I might add that I ran as a state representative in Austin under Raza Unida when Ramsey was running in ’74 for governor—and again the kind of enthusiasm that we found in the community among Chicanos and among blacks, and among particularly young students was something to behold that I had not seen before, and I certainly have not seen since. And so this, again, was the impact that Ramsey had. I don’t think I have to tell you that after that there were a variety of efforts. I have 6000 pages of documents from the FBI and CIA that demonstrate that some of the activities that they engaged in, not only at aimed at the Chicano movement in general, or the Raza Unida party specifically, but most specifically at Ramsey himself. The upshot of which was that he was eventually sent to prison, and served a total of almost 5 years—I made a mistake of saying yesterday 3 to 4—and was recently paroled in December of 1980. I had not seen Ramsey in some time. I had talked to him over the telephone, but I am quite pleased to see that he is looking good and see that he has not—even after that time—lost the enthusiasm that made him such a fantastic candidate and such a fantastic individual. Again it is at the level not only of personal friendship, but in terms of respect for someone who, as Tacho said, has a place in Chicano history, that I feel most honored and I ask you to give a warm welcome to Ramsey Muñiz.
Thank you very much, muchas gracias. It’s been a long time since I’ve appeared publically or since I’ve spoken to anybody out in the so-called free world. A los mexicanos, y a las mexicanas que están aquí, les doy las gracias sinceramente con todo mi corazón. Nada más porque son mexicanas y son mexicanos, pero más importante porque miro que nos estamos tratando como hermanas y como hermanos. I thank the student body and organization, Tacho and Gutierrez for the kind words, and most of all I thank you for taking the time because I feel that we will be able to share something, and we’ll be able to communicate with each other not only about what we think our politics is, or what our direction for mexicanos will be, but also to be able to share the problems that we will be encountering during this administration, or should I say during this regime? (laughter) I’ve always found it very enthusiastic to speak to students because you don’t find only mexicanos. And if you find some, you find very few. And the few that you find, for some reason or another, think that when you get educated you’re supposed to change. We find all kinds of students, we find all kinds of races, and we find all kinds of people with different ideas. And I think that it’s fortunate, at this point and at this time, that we be able to communicate with each other.
What I have to say, you might not agree with 100%. In fact, you might not agree with it at all. And I respect that. I respect the individual rights that you have. And for how long you will have them, I don’t know. But I know that on paper, you have some. And I’m not up here to get into a racist confrontation. But I will tell you that I am a very proud mexicano. And I will always be a very proud mexicano till the day I die. That is something that no institution, no prison, no system, no government can ever take away from us. They can take my license. They can say what they want to say. And they can take everything else. But they can’t take this because what goes with that, I have to go. And with that, I only have to tell you that I feel that the direction of the mexicanos in this state, in the Southwest and in the United States, is going to be a direction that we must take, or that you must take, or that someone has to lead in order to bring about the changes that have not been brought about for our people.
And those changes have not been brought about for various reasons. Reasons for sometimes that we cannot help. But there are sometimes reasons that we can help, but we refuse to take the necessary steps. But the time is prime and the time is ripe to let this 2 party system, to let whatever institution there is that continues to oppress not only our rights, but your rights, and let them know that you have decided to become an A student, and you have decided to use your intelligence and that you have decided to let them know that you’re not satisfied. As mexicanos, as chicanos, there was a new word that came out when I was incarcerated. Now they call it Hispanics. It’s a new one for me. It’s a hard one because I couldn’t understand it at the very beginning, until somebody explained it to me. And I saw another means, another means by this system of directing us into a directions that we can be ignorant of at the very beginning. And that direction is that if we already know that we shall be the largest minority in this country, then let us speak like the largest minority in this country, and don’t give us any names. Just let us tell you que somos mexicanos. Y allí se acaba. (applause)
0:18:52.2 To let them know that if we—and you have agreed with us—that this man up here in Washington DC has already told us that he tried to hide the facts. He tried to see if they could, some way or another, not get everybody on the census. And I guarantee you that there are a bunch of mexicanos que no pusieron. A bunch maybe 15. ¿Cómo uno pone 15 viviendo aquí? Ponen no más 2, ¿no? Lo verán muy mal. So, there was a whole bunch de mexicanos nuestros that weren’t counted even. But when you get that large number, y comienzas a pensar que hay un bunch de mexicanos en este estado, y un bunch de mexicanos en mexico, y lo unico que esta es un río—there’s a whole bunch of Mexicans (laughing). So, you’d better call them something else, and let’s kind of direct them and call them Hispanics. So, when you come talk to us, don’t come talk to us like Mexicans, talk to us like Hispanics. Y los tapados aquellos se creen, y andan hablando como Hispanic. Well, I’m not Hispanic. Por más intelectual que eres, eres mexicano.
But those are the things that happen to us. Those are the directions, and those are the people that continue to lead us into that kind of direction. Because you know what you are. Nobody needs to go around telling you what you are. I respect—if he’s white, I respect the man’s white. If that lady’s black she’s black. The only thing I can see is she’s black. Now I don’t go around telling her she might me polka dot, or she might be another color. The woman’s black. And then at that point—we get to respect each other at that particular point because we know what we are. For you young mexicanos y mexicanas, I’m going to tell you something. It’s rough on you. I don’t blame somebody for coming and telling me que no saben que es lo que somos. Or they don’t know what kind of direction, or they don’t even know. It’s rough because of all the implementation and the programming that you’ve had in your minds. I don’t blame your parents. I don’t blame them either. I don’t blame any of that. The only thing that we need to do, is for us—para ustedes mismos—to take the direction that you want to take. Because the movement, the politics, the changes in this country are not going to come from upstairs. And they’re not going to come from the man and the women that are already settled. And they’re not going to come from the status quo. They’re going to come from the young people. It’s always come from the young people. History repeats itself. It comes from the young people. It comes from the youth. And we as a party, and we as a movement, and we as whatever you want to call it, we made an error in that we have a long span of years with no leadership within the youth. That we developed no leadership. That we didn’t take the time to plan. That we didn’t take the time to foresee the problems that were going to be existing. That we didn’t foresee that if a party was so criminally involved in a conspiracy against democracy in 1972, we couldn’t see that that same party would put an actor as the president of this country. We couldn’t foresee those things because we didn’t think that the people would tolerate someone to stick their fingers in what’s called the fundamentals of democracy of this country such as Watergate. We didn’t foresee that. So, we didn’t foresee the development of the youth, which is you today, especially among our own people.
0:23:34.9 Entre los mexicanos, nosotros no podíamos ver que fuera posible que no iba a haber la dirección entre la juventud porque nuestras historias mexicanas y nuestras historias—o generalmente nos dicen que nuestra fuerza viene de la juventud. Viene de la juventud. Porque nosotros como estamos aquí, yo mismo, no puedo ver la liberación de los mexicanos en este país, o en este mundo. After seeing what I’ve experienced, and after being in prison for the time that I was, and after being observant of all that, I know that the liberation of our people I will not be able to see. I know that. I’ve accepted that. It has to come from whoever more is going to do what needs to be done in the future. The only thing that we can do is to aid, is to assist, and to organize, and to provide, and do what needs to be done. Cuando se llegue el tiempo, los mexicanos que son mexicanos se van a presentar o no se van a presentar. Es tan simple así. It’s that simple. To a time right now for us that you’re either going to come forward and do what needs to be done, or you’re not going to do it.
We have a task. You have a task. You have a task as students. You have a task as humans. You have a task as una persona a expresar what you want to express. When you can’t express what you want to express, then you’d better watch it because believe me I’ve been in places where you can’t express nada. And if you say what you want to say, you’re going to find yourself by yourself in 4 walls and a little hole. And you cannot express yourself, and tell the wall what you want to tell it (laughing, inaudible). Pero esas cosas ustedes mismos las pueden hacer. I’m saying that to the youth because this is going to lead to the subject of what are we going to do? What are mexicanos going to do now?
It’s 1981. Has it changed for us? I’ve been locked up. I come out—well yes. I mean, a Mexican says something they hit you across the head. Since I’ve been locked up, I don’t know how many Mexicans got killed. They’ve got a license to kill now. Things haven’t changed for us. I haven’t seen that change. I’ll run into a couple mexicanos here and there that look real nice. In fact, they look real sharp now. That improved. (laughing) But our people hasn’t improved. And I don’t take away nothing. I don’t take away nothing from the leaders that exist among our people today. I take away nothing. Nada. And the reason why I don’t do that is because as a Mexican, I refuse to ever criticize my brother in public. Si yo tengo algo que decir a un mexicano, se lo digo. Y si no le gusta, pues en seguida a largarnos, ¿no? Tan simple así. No tienen que hablar, como dice uno, entre las viejas—las mujeres tienen mas huevo que los hombres. Tanto sí. Que dicen que ellas andan y que les dan—no, no, no. Andan más los hombres entre chismes hoy en día. La mujer tiene más corazón, y más dirección entre nuestro movimiento ahorita. Ahorita mismo. Que no estamos aquí para criticar, y no estamos aquí to say this is the best way, or this is not the best way.
0:28:42.6 But we know one thing. That that’s the only way. It is the only way for us. It is the only way for the mexicano in this state and in this country. The time comes when una raza, cuando una gente, when a people have to decide for themselves what your destiny is, or you’ll never do it. Because the time came, for the first time, that mexicanos on themselves decided to take something upon themselves and decide what was good for them and everybody around you. If we are going to implement a program, do you think the program would say, “¿Gringos desgraciados, no. Negros tampoco. Y esto y el otro?” No, sir. We’ve never advocated the politics of racism, so don’t give me that crap because I’ll give it right back to you. We judge our people, and we judge the people around us by your intentions as they are today, by your actions, and by your deeds. Nothing more. Nada más. Because this is the way that we would want to implement a political program or something that would evolve the community, or let you see what our program is. Give us a chance to show. Because the other 2 parties ain’t doing nothing for you. And if they are, you show me where.
There’s going to be students, man, they’re going to cut funds for the students in this country. There’s going to be people that will not be able to get an education. And we so proudly—this country proudly says this is an educational country. We give education. We educate everyone. But they’re going to cut the funds for your education and go implement another program in another country where they’ve got no business to begin with. But they’ll take that money and take it over there and do the same thing that they’ve been doing in that whole part of the world out there for 50 years. But let me tell you something. You can go over there for 1 year. You can go there for 2 years. And you can go for 3 years. And this country might be there for 5 years, but they’ll never make it. You know why? Because you can’t repress people for 50 or 75 years and then come back and say, “I’m sorry.” (laughing) Mira como estabas. Muerto de hambre. Pero yo andaba acá haciendo otro país y se me cayó. Y ahora en fin dejame arreglar aquél que no pude arreglar acá. Se te van a cerrar las puertas. Eventually, I mean, he doesn’t take anybody—I don’t know how many people make A’s, B’s, C’s. Tu sabes bien el que estaba fallando es el. It doesn’t take too much to figure that out. You treat me bad for 50 years, “Hey, pagame. Bastante es bastante.”
0:32:00.1 (end of audio)
0:00:02.4 And they’re seeing a problem over there when they’re creating a problem right here. You talk so much about human rights and about implementing human rights, take care of human rights here. You can’t go around killing people just because you’ve got a badge. And you can’t go around oppressing people simply because you’re the only 2 parties here. And you can’t go around punishing people because of their beliefs. And you can’t go around holding professors and holding people that can be valuable not only to this institution, but to all the other institutions in this state. Pero they know better. They know better. Believe me, when they take a step they know better. They know what they do and what he do. And we know, como una raza nosotros sabemos que ese veneno no es bueno para nosotros. Y el que lo toma, lo toma porque quiere morir en un tiempo. Pero la dirección esa para nuestra raza no trabaja. La única dirección para nosotros es que nosotros mismos tengamos algo que decir de nuestros cambios, de nuestro destino, de nuestra dirección.
And the only way that we’re going to be able to bring that respect and that power back is for us to bring it about among ourselves because they’re not going to give you nothing. If you’re sitting there thinking, “Somebody’s going to give me something,” you’re going to be sitting there a long time. Then I’ll come back again, and you’ll still be sitting there. Porque no te van a dar nada. This country and the institutions in this country and these parties only respect one thing and that’s power. You ain’t got no power, you have nothing. You have nothing. You might have money. You might have finances. You might be able to do whatever you want to do. But if you don’t have power as a race, as a people, as a group, as a student, as administrators, as professors, as anybody, you have nothing. Because you’ve got power within yourself ahorita mismo. That’s what drives it. But when that got away from you, you have nothing. No tienes nada. Nosotros como una raza tenemos que tener poder o no tenemos nada. Es tan simple así. Si nos respetan a nosotros como mexicanos en las penitencias, ¿porqué chingado no nos respetan aquí afuera? ¿Porqué? Porque hay mexicanos allí adentro que tienen lo que se dice corazón. Por eso. Porque they’d die for their respect. And we’ve had mexicanos die for repect all our lives, man, not just yesterday. If you read your history, you’ll see it. Go back and read it, man. Saca esa historia Mexicana que escriben nuestros mexicanos— nosotros decimos que “El Alamo,” no, no, man, historia mexicanas. This guy was trying to crack a joke the other day. He said, “Hey, Ramsey. Do you know why they only sent 2000 Mexicans down to the Alamo?” Dije, “No. ¿Porqué?” “Pues there was only 2 cars.” Oye eso. ¿Que somos enanitos o que? (laughing) Pero, ¿sabes qué? Que chingo.
0:04:15.9 But we must bring about that power. We must bring that power almost to the point of saying “by any means necessary.” And if you take me out of context on that, go back to the Newsweek of 1978, or 1977—I forgot what institution I was in. And the front page salió Carter and he was telling somebody that he was going to do anything he could, by any means necessary. Quote or no quote. So, I’m taking the same context. Si el presidente puede, nosotros también, como una gente. By any means necessary, I mean nosotros organizandonos nosotros mismos. Let me tell you, you can sit here right now. You might become executives. You might become the president. You might become professors. Hell, I don’t know. I hope to hell you don’t go to prison. But you will become somebody, and you will become something. Especialmente este mensaje es para el mexicano y la mexicana. Regardless of how high you get or what you become, they’re never going to let you forget that you’re Mexican. They’re never going to let you forget that. No importa si estás en la capital de la casa blanca, antes que hables te van a decir, “Hey do you know where I can get some real nice Mexican food?” (laughing) “Do you know where I can eat the best enchilada?” ¿Qué quiere decir, que nada más comemos enchiladas y tacos todos los días, o qué? Pero no más nos preguntan eso porque saben ellos que es lo que yo soy. So, if I’m that already, y ya sé yo que eso es lo que voy a ser todo el tiempo, vale más dejarles saber que con eso yo tengo un poder también. Si, dime mexicano, pero dimelo con respeto, ¿no? Si soy mexicano, pero me vas a dar ese respeto porque sabes que yo tengo este poder. Tengo este poder político. Tengo este poder como una gente que van a tener que respetar.
Y les voy a decir una cosa ahorita—el gobierno este, la policía esta, la institución esta, y en el mundo se respeta el mexicano como (__??) la raza. Eso yo lo sé, y lo tuve que aprender más en mi encerrada. Que allí mismos de los otros colors, ellos mismos te decían, “¿Sabes que? Con un mexicano no duermo. Mejor me meto en una hamoca con 100 personas que con un mexicano.” Porque saben que nosotros hemos sido una gente de way back there. We’ve been a people of revolution in 13 revolutions, en Mexico. Trece. Esta gente tuvo una en 208 y se estaban desmayando. We’ve had 13. And if you trace your blood, and if you trace your family tree, y arboles y todo para allá, vas a ver que vienes de una parte. No vienes de Alaska. No viniste de allá—you’re from Mexico. That’s where your parents, and my parents, and everybody else’s parents were born right there. Their parents were born there. We don’t have to go that far. Allí está. Pero nos hacen, “Ah, por lo menos sé como son mexicanos. Por lo menos nosotros también—” ¿Y el mismo? They ain’t nothing different. Pero nos hacen pensar así.
0:09:02.5 El ultimo punto que les quiero hacer es este. We need to start among ourselves communicating and understanding each other. It’s a very complex programming systematic things that affect us every day. We know that. But it’s very, very important for us to bring back that which we have lost. Anterior para atrás, toda esta gente que hemos perdido en ese camino que andamos haciendo, tratando a llegar a los terrenos nuestros. Que fueron de nosotros desde el principio, y fuimos una raza que nos quitaron. Eso lo sabemos. Por razones que tengan, la cosa fue que en un tiempo estos terrenos donde estamos aquí ahorita eran de nosotros. Eran de nosotros. Nosotros—we need to go back and bring all that which makes us what we are. El respeto, el honor, el corazón, el amor. Todas esas cosas que esta gente por siempre ha dicho que estos son las razones porque el mexicano no avanza en vida. Por eso no podemos avanzar, porque andamos deslavados de las mentes con tantas otras ideas que no nos pertenecen a nosotros. Por eso. Porque cuando ya traes lo que es tuyo y lo que tu eres, luego estás pensando muy limpio, y piensas con una mente que no te puede quitar nadie. No importa. Aquí pueden traer diferentes congresos, presidentes y todo, que este partido, ¿sabes que? Este partido es el unico partido que va a haber en mi vida, hasta que yo muera va a tener que ser un partido mexicano o nada. Yo no acepto nada.
Because of the principles and because of the ideas that are involved, and they have to come back. And like mexicanos o mexicanas, chicanos o chicanas, (inaudible) whatever. We have a duty. We have a duty to open our arms—our brazos—we open our arms to our brothers and sisters from Mexico that find themselves in this country right now. It is our duty and our obligation to join them and have them join us. And it is our duty right now to let those around you know that you have found your home again. Y es tiempo—los que puedan ir, I can’t go. I don’t know how long it will be before I can go. There was a saying that used to say, “Love it or leave it.” Well, I left, but they brought me back. You can go. Ustedes sí pueden ir.
Y les voy a tirar una cosa este día. When you have that opportunity, cross that border. Cross it, and get right out in the middle. Pasa para dentro. Get out of the car, y jala esa tierra, y besa esa tierra. Porque esa es tierra donde por generalmente salimos nosotros. Nosotros mismos, we need, necesitamos abrir estos brazos a nuestra gente. A mi no me salgan con illegal aliens. Y que aliens de outer space. Vinimos de todas las areas. Somos diferentes. O mojados. No se usa la palabra esa especialmente al lado de mi, por favor. Porque cuando usan la palabra mojados o wetbacks, o illegal aliens, you’re insulting me. Because what you’re telling me is that my mother and my father were wetbacks and illegal aliens, when they were here to begin with. They were the illegal aliens. (applause)
0:14:50.9 Otra vez I want to thank you, and I will be open for some questions. And I hope that sometime in the future we will be able to gather again and share whatever has happened to us. Thank you. (applause)
(break in audio ) some questions right now. But before we do, I have an announcement. On Tuesday, March the 31st, in the Dallas room, at 2:00 p.m., the Mexican-American studies program is sponsoring a speech by Mexico’s most distinguished and leading economist. Dr. Victor Urquidi will be speaking on the economic future of Mexico. Those that are in my class you are required to go. It’s Tuesday, March 31st, 2:00 p.m., Dallas Room, University Center. Dr. Victor Urquidi, Mexico’s leading economist will make an informal presentation of the economic future of Mexico. Another announcement.
Gracias. Questions. Comments. Any?
Male Speaker 1
I’m curious to know. Since I began studying history (inaudible). I was curious to know, had you been elected, how would you have dealt with those?
It would have been a very difficult task. As you’ve mentioned, the fact that we would have been a new party—the lobbies group is fully supported by Democrats and Republicans. We felt at that particular time that the only thing that we would have been able to have done, is to present the problems that we wanted to pass resolutions for, or to resolve, to bring them out publically. And let the public themselves, for example as they do now, if you want to pass whatever bill you want, or whatever needs to get mended or whatever. If they can’t get it done there, then you can make sure that they will put it out into the media, and have the public say something about it. Whoever your constituents are going to be that are going to elect you. It would have been, without question a very difficult time for us if we had been in office. Pero if we had gotten to that step really that would have been really enough for us to begin with. Because once you implemented something like that, ya estás hablando about bringing in representatives and senators. Whenever Reagan came in you know how he came in, and then he came in with about 20 or 30 guys. He knew that he probably didn’t have the majority that would back him, but he seems like he does now. Which concludes our statement that there’s no difference between these things.
Female speaker 2
Doctor Muñiz, you spoke before about starting from base with no fear, and from that person gets the force and everything. But I wonder if the people who are politically involved, like—does that mean, I mean how—there is a real threat of stuff like jail. You can’t let it intimidate you. But how, for people who are politically involved, do you have suggestions or comments on how to avoid without becoming fearful?
0:20:03.4 The way that I see the trend right now is that minority politics, student organizations, students’ rights, and other movements, we’re going to go into some real hard times. The reason for that is because of the implementation of this whole new type of political trend, which is to the right. It’s against—whatever this guy’s saying, we don’t like it. So, eventually these people over here are going to try to oppress whatever you’re trying to say. And that’s the reason why we’re saying that it has to be a very strong. It has to come from a very strong foundation. And to have power in order for them not to deal with you just as if you were nobody. Because the only thing I can tell mexicanos that are going to be marching or intend to go out and do what they want to do, “You better wear your helmets.” It’s going to be—I can foresee that right now. And the reason why I’m saying that I’m able to foresee that is where I just came from. It was rough. And it was getting rougher. So, if that’s the general attitude there, then I’m sure it’s the same in the streets, or it’s going to be the same in the streets. I foresee a lot of demonstrations. I foresee a lot of anti-administration and Reagan, and all sorts of things. I foresee those things. In fact, it gets to the point where you can feel it, the way you feel that. When you feel that, then you better get prepared, or don’t get into to it. One of two. Some people might want to riot. There’s different kinds of involvement and that’s one of them. The other is where you build your political base. And I think that our time has come, especially Mexicans, where I know that we’re going, or whoever, is going to take their time patiently and build a foundation. Because we want to be where the foundation’s at. If you don’t have a foundation, that’s where you fall. But if we have a strong foundation that’s there, and you know you have that political power there, then you always have that strength. You can always fall back on it.
Male Speaker 2
In ’72 the Raza Unida party got involved (inaudible) accused of being militant. How do they compare the Raza Unida party, being political, with the Ku Klux Klan who have never been called militants (inaudible).
0:23:35.2 Well, it’s common knowledge of everybody around here that the KKK and various organizations have been and will be and will always be racist because that’s their beginning and that’s their base. They will be tolerated. And in fact I just read, when I was flying up here, that they just hung a black. It’s 1981 and they just took a black and they hung him. In the airplane I heard some remarks about that. And it was real sad. And it was very sad to hear that. “That’s one less negro.” I turned around and said, “I can’t believe this.” It’s 1981 and they’re taking people and hanging them on a tree. So, that’s why I’m saying that those organizations will be tolerated and will be protected. They’ll get protected because of the trend that this country is in right now. For those reasons. Now what the actual conclusion is going to be, I don’t know, except that I know one thing. I don’t care if it’s the KKK or the (___??) or whatever it is, vale más que no chinguen con mexicanos. That’s all. (applause)
Female Speaker 3
I think it’s pretty much common knowledge by everyone around this (inaudible). Reagan came into office. He gave the green light to all kinds of right wing efforts, racist scum like the plan Nazis, and another right wing elements instigate a campaign of terror as is evidence by example by the hanging of the black man in Mobile, Alabama. And the murders of the black children in Atlanta, and the murders of the black men in (___??) and the murders of all the chicanos in the state of Texas, and all over the country as well. I think it’s most urgent that we need to organize in a united manner, una gente. Toda nuestra gente. It’s also important to realize that there are millions of other poor people in this country that face the same kinds of attacks. With the Reagan administration now in office, you’re talking about the Food Stamp program being cut. You’re talking about student aid programs, child nutrition programs, mass transit funds. You’re talking about a lot of moneys that were at one time being channeled into programs that were established because people fought for them. People died for these programs. These were gains that poor people made during the last 30 years that Reagan has taken away from us in just 3 months in office. These were gains people died for, you know. And it’s also important to see where’s this money being channeled to? The money that at one time went into these federal programs, who’s receiving these moneys now? It’s the military. They wanted to build more (MX) missals, to create neutron bombs—a bomb that’s going to destroy people but not buildings, which says a lot about what they represent. Where their interests really lie. And I just think it’s really important that we as chicanos—we need to unite ourselves in a united way and strong front. It’s also very important to unite ourselves with the rest of the millions of people in this country who are also victims of layoffs, of racist attacks, and the racist budget cuts.
(inaudible, several talking)
0:28:48.6 You could foresee that it was coming, even way before Carter was elected. Like I said, I think that it’s—this same country is trying to find itself. And they might take a direction, and that direction’s not working for us. And they might find studies that link to this, studies that link to that. It might be the students that are messing it up. It might be the high school students that are messing it up. It might be the woman. Es la mujer. They’re messing up this whole country. If it ain’t the women it’s got to be the blacks. Let’s put it on them. No, it ain’t the blacks, it’s the mexicanos. All the mexicanos is this. They’ve got problems, you see. So the only solution to that is todos (inaudible). So they implement that program, and that’s what comes about. The only thing that I can tell you is that you have to—it’s good to understand and be able to see that for what it is. Sabes porque agarraron, porque se metieron a este mundo. ¿Porque existe el mundo? The only thing that I got out of all that is that it’s reborn again. ¿Sabes qué? Si ellos lo pueden hacer otra vez, nosotros también. So, ellos tienen reborn Democrats and reborn Republicans, and reborn esto y el otro. We’re going to have some reborn mexicans. We’re going to be born again.
Male speaker 3
How much awareness was there of that prison riot, what was más o menos the atmosphere in terms of discussion about it. And number 2, the accounts that I heard of the prison riot in Mexico was that there was some very, very deep, very vicious kinds of racial divisions, not only white and Chicano, or white and black, but between all three—white, black, brown. Your experience in 3 or 4 different prisons that you were in, did you find those kinds of racial divisions to exist? And how did they manifest themselves?
Well, racial divisions are going to exist wherever you’re going to be.
0:31:59.5 (end of audio)