Each year, millions of Chicanos and Mexicanos in the U.S. celebrate Cinco de Mayo (May 5) as a national holiday.Cinco de Mayo represents the victory of Mexico over the French in the Battle of Puebla in 1862. At the to the time, Mexico was a poor nation that had just suffered a brutal war of aggression by the U.S., for over half of its territory was stolen at that point. France, on the other hand, was one of the mightiest colonial powers in the world.
The victory of Mexico’s forces against the larger and better-equipped invading army was the first defeat of the French troops in nearly 50 years. The courage of the people of Puebla inspired all of Mexico to rise up under the leadership of Benito Juarez to drive France off of Mexican soil
Today Cinco de Mayo shines as an example to the people of the third world in their continuing struggle against neo-colonialism and foreign intervention. For Chicanos, Cinco de Mayo has a special meaning. Not only does it demonstrate the pride of our Mexican heritage, but in its own way it reflects the determination of Chicanos and Mexicanos living in the U.S. to fight our oppression and struggle for liberation.
Following the war of 1848 when the U.S. invaded and forcibly annexed the Southwest, Chicanos have developed as an oppressed nation with the right to self-determination. The most brutal terror imaginable was used by the Anglo capitalists to seize power and subjugate the Chicano people.
Ever since, millions of Mexicanos have migrated north to live in the Chicano Nation. The only jobs available were in the ones that the Anglos didn’t want, and they slaved side by side with Chicanos in the mines, in the fields and railroads owned by gringo capitalists. Today, they are still forced to accept lower pay than Anglos, in many cases, even when performing the same jobs.
And so they join in celebrations which the Chicanos hold each year on Cinco de Mayo and September 16 (Mexican Independence Day), days of pride when the Mexican flag is held high, when mariachis (bands) and ballet folkloricos bring life to the placitas
(city squares) constructed by Mexican labor.
Is it any wonder that, with time, the Mexican immigrants and their families have become part of the Chicano Nation? Imperialism has given them no choice. Because of the common heritage and language which makes us different than the Anglo majority, imperialism has forced Mexicanos to bear the burden of a common oppression.
The daily life of the Mexican immigrant is one of struggle for survival. That struggle contributes to the strength and power of the Chicano Nation. Mexicanos and Chicanos have fought together for unions and better working conditions on the job. Mexicanos have played an important role in the fight for social justice. Like Chicanos, they have raised their voice against the police murder of Chicano youth, they oppose deportations and migra raids that terrorize the barrio, and they fight for a better education for their children. They fight for the right of self-determination, which includes the right to secede and form a separate government. Mexican immigrants add to the already growing Chicano population in the Southwest and increase the political strength of the Chicano Movement.
The fight for unconditional residency
As Mexican immigration to the U.S. grows, the capitalists fear the rising power of the Chicano National Movement, their democratic demand for self-determination
and their growing participation in the revolutionary working class movement for socialism.
The Southwest is among the richest areas in the world in petroleum, uranium, coal and other precious resources vital to the interests of U.S. imperialism. The imperialists
also make extra profits by paying Chicano and Mexicano workers lower wages. The imperialists will do everything in their power to suppress the Chicano Liberation
Today, the capitalists are trying to attack the Chicano Nation from two sides. On the one hand, they promote the term “Hispanic” in the hopes that Chicanos will reject
their identity and ignore their political rights as a people to self-determination. On the other hand, the capitalists are pushing through a racist immigration bill (Simpson-
Mazzoli) to close the border and drive a wedge between Chicanos and Mexicanos.
But the tactics are not working. Chicanos are opposing in large numbers the
Simpson-Mazzoli bill and building a large movement to defeat it. The stand which the Chicano people takes on the immigration question is an important one, one which
could mean the success or failure of the struggle for self-determination.
Unconditional residency would mean that millions of undocumented would immediately gain legal residency status. They would no longer face the fear of deportation at the hands of the INS. They would be able to openly organize in their plants for unions and better working conditions and would be able to join more fully the struggles of the Chicano people for justice, equality and political power.
On May 7, demonstrations called by Comity de la Raza and Comitd TENOCH in Los Angeles, and RAZA S! in San Jose will take place under three demands: defeat the
Simpson-Mazzoli bill, immediate unconditional residency for all undocumented and self-determination for Chicano and Mexicano people. These actions show the courage and strength of the Chicano and Mexicano people in joining in a common struggle for our people’s rights. Chicanos and Mexicanos are bound to build an unstoppable movement for their liberation. This is the greatest promise in the tradition of Cinco de Mayo.
Viva Cinco de Mayo!