Part 2 of a pamphlet concerning the formation of a Latine libertarian socialist/anarchist movement in the United States of America. This part will focus on the history of the formation of the Latine people due to European colonialism as well as the history of the Latine people in the US and Latine socialist organizations during the radical social movements of the 1960s and their downfall or neutralization.
Part 2: The Latine People Within the United States of America
A History of the Formation of the Latine People
The first documented European to ever land in the Americas was Christopher Columbus on the 12th of October, 1492 in the Bahamas. For the next several hundred years, the entirety of the Americas and its indigenous inhabitants would be divided and conquered by the European powers of Britain, France, Spain, Portugal, and the Netherlands. We will lightly cover Latin America’s colonization by the Spanish as it is necessary to understand the history behind the conditions and events that lead to the Latine people in the US being one of the fastest growing minority populations alongside the African-American people.
After Christopher Columbus landed in the Bahamas, the Spanish Habsburg Crown which funded his first expedition became extremely interested in his discovery and financed three more expeditions into what is now called the West Indies and gave him immense powers of governance over this new territory. As Spanish Conquistadors (explorer-soldiers) discovered more and more of Latin America, their power and wealth increased as well.
The various indigenous peoples and civilizations that met the Spanish faced a slow death as they were pitted against each other and conquered one by one. The biggest conquests were of Mexico and Peru, where the Aztec, Maya, and Inca civilizations presided. It would take over a hundred years for these civilizations to be fully subjugated and with much of their ethnic identity and cultural heritage and history lost or deliberately destroyed. The indigenous peoples themselves were heavily thinned in population as war and the introduction of various European diseases, the worst of which was Smallpox, as well as the brutal labor conditions they endured on the plantations and mines where they dug up precious metals such as silver and gold. The Spanish heavily cataloged and recorded their cruelty during this period of time. 1
The Viceroyalty of New Spain, Peru, New Granada, and Rio de la Playa was officially established at the behest of the Spanish Habsburg Crown in the 16th century. At its territorial height, the combined Viceroyalties that formed Spanish America stretched as far north as the modern US-Canadian border all the way down south to the southern tip of South America. The laws and codes which governed Spanish America created a semi-fluid racial hierarchy between the Spaniards, indigenous, and mixed peoples.
The Casta system (‘Lineage’ in Spanish and Portuguese) was a racial system that Spanish America used in order to identify the various mixed races of Spanish America and it is where many Latine terms such as Mestizo and Mulatto come from. While it was often portrayed as rigid and the basis of the colonial hierarchy in Spanish America, during most of its history this was often not the case. The various races identified by colonial authorities were: Spaniards, Indigenous, Black people, and Mestizos. 2
From here we can see how the Latine people as an ethnicity formed historically. Rather than being a single race it is a multitude of different races and peoples each with a unique cultural heritage slowly blending together over several hundred years to form modern Latin America and later as these Latin Americans were integrated into the US, the Latine people. I should note the clear difference between race and ethnicity within this definition. Race means a people of shared physical attributes stemming from common ancestry and ethnicity means shared social attributes. An alternative I occasionally use is that of the nation in the original definition of the word: a community of people relating to each other with cultural, ethnic, and social similarities.
A Modern History of the Latine People within the US
Going forward several hundred years in history to the 19th century, the start of the integration of the Latine people in the US begins with imperialism. Specifically the Mexican-American War of 1846. After the quick defeat of the Mexican Army in the war, the Mexican territories of Alta California and Santa Fe de Nueva Mexico were handed over to the US in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. Further land was gained in the Gadsden Purchase of 1853. Many Mexicans decided to stay within these territories and go through the process of becoming US citizens. While the Treaty promised that Mexicans stayed full and immediate citizenship, the reality was often much bleaker. Widespread and immediate discrimination perpetrated against Mexicans becoming the norm in the new US territories. Special mention should be given to the indigenous peoples of California who faced systemic and immediate genocide at the hands of the US after the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. 3
Many Mexican-Americans ranging from the elites to the working-class peasants lost much of their land in court battles as successive laws disenfranchised them. Various new laws were introduced time and time again that gave white Americans larger and larger claims to Mexican-American lands often on as little as a basis that they “improved the land”. Violence against Mexican Americans as well grew massively. Between 1853 and 1860, 163 Mexican-Americans were lynched in California alone. Naturally, armed resistance began to blossom against systemic injustice. The largest of which during the period was the Cortinistas, a small militia led by its namesake Juan Cortina that took over the town of Brownsville during the American Civil War in retaliation for the beating and mistreatment of his former employees. While Cortina was defeated, he is considered to be the predecessor of great Mexican Revolutionary forces like the Villistas. 4
Going several decades beyond the other side of the North American continent to the late 1800s, we will now proceed to talk about our Caribbean brothers, the Cubans, and Puerto Ricans. In 1898, the Spanish-American war erupted between the US and the Kingdom of Spain. Stemming from tensions between the expansionist United States and the Spanish Kingdom that were attempting desperately to hold onto its last territories, the boiling point was during the Cuban War for Independence. The Cuban War for Independence was a war of national liberation lasting from 1895 to 1898 for the independence of Cuba from the Kingdom of Spain. Some of the finest Latine revolutionaries of that time, such as Jose Martí, fought and died in that war. 5
The US had made important economic investments In Cuba at this time, especially in its sugar plantations to the point it had a monopoly on them so it was incredibly interested in the war. Some US politicians such as Secretary of State James G. Blaine outright stated that Cuba and portions of Central and South America should fall under the US sphere of influence and thus domination.
On February 15th, 1898, the USS Maine exploded in Havana Harbor. Sent on the orders of then President William McKinley it was tasked with ensuring the safety of US citizens in Cuba and more importantly the protection of its economic assets. While the explosion of the Maine didn’t immediately result in war the deaths of hundreds of US sailors had galvanized the US population with many national newspapers stating that Spain had destroyed the Maine (with some newspapers stating this a month before the official US Navy investigation was concluded). On April 25th, 1898, approximately two months after the destruction of the Maine, the US declared war on Spain and several days earlier had already started a blockade around Cuba.
The Spanish-American War was swift. Ending in only 3 months on August 13th, 1898, after an almost total US victory in the Philippines, Guam, Cuba, and Puerto Rico against the Spanish. All of these nations would be occupied by the US Military for years and sometimes decades to come and in the case of Puerto Rico, the US has never left the island and in fact annexed it into the wider US empire as a ‘non-incorporated territory’. Puerto Rico is currently one of the poorest US territories, far surpassing the poorest US state in comparison.
The US victory had pronounced effects on US foreign policy that is still felt today. It was the first time the US had fully entered into global affairs and produced one of the most devastating mindsets used to justify US imperialism: it established the mindset that the US was a ‘defender of democracy’. A mindset that many nations have felt firsthand and have been devastated by. Another smaller effect was that of an independent Cuba by 1902 with the caveat introduced by the Platt Amendment to the constitution that the US had the right to intervene in Cuban domestic affairs.
On the 5th of October, 1910 in Mexico, Francisco I. Madero, a wealthy landowner from the northern state of Coahuila, issued the Plan de San Luis Potosí from Texas after his imprisonment was ordered by the then-dictator of Mexico, Porfirio Díaz, as part of a rigged national election. This letter marked the beginning of the Mexican Revolution and the historical height of libertarian socialism within Latin America and the birth of some of its greatest heroes such as Ricardo Flores Magón and Emiliano Zapata.
From the 20th of October, 1910, to the 1st of December, 1920, Mexico’s people were embroiled in a war of liberation for their society, culture, and lives. It was a war they lost. Its effects were felt all across the American continents and in some cases beyond but for this pamphlet, we will concern ourselves with the limited research on how it affected the Latine populace within the US.
Effectively overnight, the US-Mexican border became a militarized buffer zone with sixty-five thousand troops stationed in El Paso alone in order to protect the city from Pancho Villa’s División del Norte better known as the Villistas. The violence in Mexico caused a mass exodus of Mexicans from all over to flee to the US border. This was only exacerbated by the 1916 Pancho Villa Expedition by the US Army which sought to capture Pancho Villa and defeat his forces after several incursions on border towns.
An estimated sixty-thousand to one million refugees fled Mexico during this time. The largely white landowners of Texas feared the spread of revolutionary socialist and libertarian values at this time due to the influx of refugees and often pitted poor white workers against their Mexican counterparts. One such example was in Chihuahuita, a predominantly Mexican neighborhood in El Paso, in January 1916 where white workers and soldiers entered the neighborhood and attacked every Mexican they could find including women, children, and elderly after the Villistas had attacked a train carrying white miners coming back from Mexico. 6
Many Mexicans found themselves at the mercy of an often racist and apathetic US government and its subordinate state governments. Unfortunately at this time, the eugenics movement within the US was at its peak and heavily influenced policy decisions concerning the large number of immigrants coming into the US with many academics such as Charles Davenport arguing that “undesirables” such as Mexicans would cause a degradation of the US and argued for genocidal measures such as sterilization and segregation of families that were considered “genetically inferior”.
These efforts by the eugenics movement would ultimately culminate in the 1924 Immigration Act which cut the immigration quota of the US by 80% and completely barred immigrants from Asia from entering the country. The effect this had on Mexican immigration meant that many Mexican refugees were often denied vital humanitarian aid, imprisoned, or deported back to Mexico. Those that were able to make it to the US often faced terrible racism from the state such as exclusion from welfare and in many states, forced sterilization. One estimate in a 2018 edition of the American Journal of Public Health put that 40% to 60% of Mexicans who came to the US were forcibly sterilized in California alone. 7
One of the worst periods of anti-Latine violence in the US was during the 1910s called La Matanza (The Massacre). Carried out by white Texan vigilantes and law enforcement, they often attacked and lynched many Mexican-Americans. It only ended after the 1919 Canales Investigation in which several Texas Rangers were charged with said charges ultimately being dropped. 8
On October 29th, 1929, the weight of international capitalism almost entirely collapsed in on itself when the New York Stock Exchange crashed. This would set off a chain of events that would lead to internationally widespread poverty and governmental oppression that would later become known simply as the Great Depression. It would also lead to the rise of fascism in many countries.
The immediate effect of the Great Depression on the Latine population in the US was the almost immediate unemployment of one and a half million Mexican Americans, most of whom worked in agriculture. This unemployment crisis was only worsened by the efforts of unemployed white workers who were told by the Herbert Hoover presidential administration that Mexican-American workers were taking away jobs from American citizens, specifically white American citizens.
When Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed into law the Social Security Act of 1935, Mexican-Americans and many other minorities, immigrant or otherwise, were purposefully excluded from the act. The act barred agricultural and domestic workers from receiving either social security benefits or unemployment insurance. 9
For many Mexican-Americans, the loss of their jobs, the mistreatment and oppression by both federal and local governments, and the ever-increasing threats on their lives led many of them to voluntarily repatriate themselves back to Mexico and many more were forced either under de-facto deportation or the threat of deportation. This era would become known as the Mexican Repatriation. Over 400,000 Mexican-Americans were repatriated back to Mexico. Half of them carried US citizenship. 10
On the 1st of September, 1939, Nazi Germany invaded the Second Polish Republic triggering a global struggle against fascism that would become known as the Second World War. It should be stated first and foremost that many latines fought and gave their lives in the stopping of global fascism as did many of the world's peoples. All of their lives must not be forgotten.
Many latines joined the US Armed Forces, as many as 500,000, and fought all over the world. From the shores of the Italian Peninsula to the islands of the Pacific, as many as 9,000 latines were killed. It is speculated the actual number is much higher as documentation is lacking in many areas. 11
Back home in the United States despite the heroic sacrifice of many minorities, racism was at an all-time high. This was especially true in Los Angeles where it quickly became home to key training facilities as well as prodigious use of its port by the US Armed Forces. In the Summer of 1942, José Gallardo Díaz was found dead in a nearby reservoir dubbed Sleepy Lagoon. Jośe’s death is still debated today but to the Los Angeles Police Department, the perpetrators were simple to identify. John Y. Matuz, Ysmael Parra (Smiles), Henry Leyvas, Gus Zamora, Manuel Reyes, Robert Telles, Manuel Delgado, Jose Ruiz (Chepe), Victor Segobia, and Henry Ynostroza were all labeled suspects in the death of Jośe and were sentenced to second-degree murder without bail. 12
While they were eventually set free in 1944 after an appeal, the murder case set the stage for the 1943 Zoot Suit Riots. Named after the zoot suit, a type of large and flamboyant suit, the riots were caused by the manufactured public opinion that wearing such suits was “unpatriotic” because they used so much fabric in their construction which was rationed during the war. This along with the organization of many Mexican-Americans in “Pachuco” and “Pachuca” gangs as a necessary precaution against escalating racist attacks eventually led to the riots.
The riots would eventually include thousands of servicemen and LA residents as they assaulted any young Mexican American they could find wearing suits and beyond. Many African American and Filipino American young men were also attacked. After several days, over 150 people had been injured and more than 500 Mexican Americans arrested on often little more than “rioting” or “vagrancy”. No American servicemen or white LA residents would ever be charged.
While the Zoot Suit Riots are often treated as little less than a footnote in history, I believe it showcases that even during the height of anti-fascist activity in the US, state-instituted racism and manufactured public outrage were still the status quo for many.
We will move back to the other side of the continental United States back to Puerto Rico for a short duration until we have successfully reached the present, at which point we will move back to the continental United States. On June 10th 1948, the Puerto Rican Congress essentially banned the growing Puerto Rican independence movement by passing the “gag law”. This law made it illegal to sing Puerto Rican patriotic songs and reinforced an old colonial law making it illegal to display the flag of Puerto Rico. On July 3rd 1950, Puerto Rico was allowed some measure of autonomy when President Harry S. Truman signed into law the Puerto Rico Federal Relations Act of 1950. This act allowed the island to establish its own internal constitution in order to apply to elevated “Commonwealth” status but since the gag law was still in effect the independence movement was effectively barred from contributing to the establishment of the constitution. There was no option for independence. 13
On October 30th 1950, the Partido Nacionalista de Puerto Rico (Puerto Rican Nationalist Party), or PNPR launched revolts all over the island of Puerto Rico in defiance of US domination over the island. The US response was swift, with Puerto Rican National Guard units and police deployed almost immediately. At the time, mainland US news services described the revolts as a simple “incident” between the Puerto Rican population. This view drastically changed on November 1st 1950 when two PNPR militants, Oscar Collazo, and Griselio Torresola, attempted to break into the Blair House where President Henry S. Truman was staying in order to assassinate him. While they ultimately failed and were killed, their tenacity showed just how serious the cries for Puerto Rican independence were. 14
After the attempt on his life, Harry S. Truman began to take the Puerto Rican issue more seriously. In 1952, he allowed a referendum on whether to fully fold Puerto Rico under “Commonwealth” status and to ratify its constitution. As in the last referendum, there was no option available for Puerto Rican independence.
In the early 1960s, the Puerto Rican independence movement took on a new dimension with the establishment of the FALN (Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional). While espousing a Marxist-Leninist view of “independence” and committing itself entirely to frankly fruitless bombings and robberies, the FALN was still an important stepping stone in the struggle for Puerto Rican independence 15
The FALN would be followed almost immediately by the EPB (Boricua Popular Army), better known as Los Macheteros or the Machete Wielders. A much more effective organization, the EPB has since the 1970s engaged in active war against the US government in Puerto Rico. While still primarily an authoritarian Marxist organization, it has shown to commit itself to more than simple armed action, especially since the collapse of the global Communist Bloc. Creating a newspaper called La Machete dedicated to explaining the conditions of neoliberal capitalism to the Puerto Rican people. 16
On September 23rd 2005, the FBI raided a safe house where the EPB’s co-founder and leader at the time, Filiberto Ojeda Río, was staying. He was killed when a single bullet entered one of his lungs. Many human rights organizations both domestic and international criticized the raid as illegal. 17
This concludes this chapter's talk on Puerto Rico. We will now go back in time slightly and return to the continental US.
The 1960s in the US was a time when many marginalized groups had reached a boiling point. Starting with the civil rights movement under Martin Luther King Jr. simply advocated the integration of the black populace with white America and ended with the Rainbow Coalition under Fred Hampton which advocated for the essential destruction of the US in its current form. It was a time when the US as a political entity was finally being threatened by its own people that it had trampled over for decades and in some cases centuries.
Perhaps two of the most important developments in Latine socialism in the US happened during this time. The Young Lords of Chicago and the Chicano movement. We will first cover the Chicano movement. The word Chicano was originally a slur stemming from Spanish colonialism to denote working-class, often poor, Mexicans and later Mexican-Americans. Starting in the 1940s, attempts were made by “Pachuco” gangs to reclaim the term. They were successful as over the decades the term Chicano came to denote Mexican-Americans who had resisted US attempts at assimilation into the empire. 18
Chicano as a movement is hard to define and articulate. As any movement dedicated to liberation, it is not one static monolith but many different facets of people, ideas, and organizations. Many of them are extremely important to what little development of Latine socialism in the US there is as well as wider anti-racist socialism. Groups such as the Brown Berets, the Third World Liberation Front, and the Mexican American Youth Organization. Their commitment to the liberation of not only the Latine people but indeed all the world's people cannot be understated. However, one group dominates the conversation on the Chicano movement and its leader the conversation on the Chicano movement’s greatest figures. For better or worse, I will talk about them primarily.
The UFW (United Farm Workers) indeed was and continues to be an incredibly important union for agricultural workers but I would be lying to you if I painted only a rosy picture of them or more specifically its co-founder, Cesar Chavez. Cesar Chavez was one of the US’s most important union activists but he also was criticized for being an autocratic leader of the UFW, an anti-communist to the point of paranoia, and a virulent anti-immigrant activist to the point that late into his leadership of the union many internal schisms and splits had formed. 19
Born March 31st, 1927 to Mexican immigrants in Arizona his early life was shaped by the Great Depression as it did many other people. Alongside this, he was raised a Roman Catholic which affected his view of the poor significantly. After spending two years in the US Navy from 1944 to 1946 he joined the NFLU (National Farm Labour Union) in 1947 which was a farmers union originally started to help poor black sharecroppers in the Southern US. He would immediately join NFLU strikes against cotton farm owners in Southern California.
In 1962 he moved to Delano, California where he would later founded the NFWA (National Farm Workers Association) which during the successful 1965 Delano Grape Strike would merge with AWOC (Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee) to form the UFW. Almost immediately after forming the UFW, Chavez began a campaign to purge the UFW of members that were against his increasingly autocratic control of leadership and against joining into the AFL-CIO (American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations) all under the guise of “ejecting communist influences” which did not exist in the union to the point the FBI report on the union at the time did not find any evidence of communist infiltration.
After the end of the Grape Strike in 1970, the UFW began to flounder as Chavez gained more and more power as the union's president. He became increasingly frustrated at the union’s later lack of success and soon turned to a scapegoat: illegal immigrants. From 1972 onwards, Chavez steered the UFW into an increasingly anti-immigrant position as he viewed them as scabs who worked on farms the UFW strikes at for next to nothing. While immigrant labor indeed worked at farms for extremely cheap, Chavez missed the fact that for many of these immigrants, it was often work or starvation. Not too dissimilar to the conditions he grew up in. The worst excesses of this policy were in 1974 when his cousin, Manuel Chavez, launched UFW-controlled border patrols that infamously became known as the “wet line”.
As anti-immigrant violence caused by the UFW grew, the union became increasingly isolated from other progressive groups and allied unions. First, the NLG (National Lawyers Guild) refused to work with the UFW and later the Mexican CTM (Confederación de Trabajadores de México) broke ties with the UFW altogether.
After further centralization of the UFW in the late 70s, Chavez began to become paranoid at the idea of internal dissenters within the union. This only intensified after the defeat of Proposition 14 in 1976 which would have enshrined workers' rights into the Constitution of California. Chavez's response to the defeat was to assume there was a far-left conspiracy in the party. Many longtime members found themselves at the end of Chavez’s purges.
Chavez continued to take the UFW down an increasingly dark path, from associating with the cult Synanon and praising its efficient manipulation of people to praising Filipino dictator Ferdinand Marcos both in 1977 alone. Chavez died on April 23rd, 1993 in San Luis, Arizona from natural causes while staying at a supporter's house during a legal battle with the Bruce Church company. The UFW has yet to recover from its mistakes.
I would be dishonest if I was to say Cesar Chavez and the UFW totally represented the Chicano movement but I would be even more dishonest if I painted a false picture of its largest figure. The Chicano movement was an incredibly important facet to Latine socialism in the US but as with everything liberatory, its champions are not above criticism.
We will now move on to the other facet of Latine socialism, the Young Lords of Chicago. Established in 1960 as another street gang roaming el Barrios of Chicago. That was until September 23rd, 1968 otherwise known as El Grito de Lares, the day when one of the first Puerto Rican revolts against Spanish colonial rule occurred in 1868. On its 100th anniversary, Jose Jimenez, better known as “Cha Cha”, reorganized the Young Lords from a street gang into a potent political group that would be at the forefront of Latine socialism in the US. 20
Cha Cha Jimenez himself is an interesting revolutionary figure. Born in Caguas, Puerto Rico on August 8th, 1948 would be moved to the continental US the following year. Cha Cha’s early life would be shaped by crime. Joining the Young Lords when it was still a street gang at 11 he would fall into a life of petty crime until the reorganization of the Young Lords when he was 20. The Chicago he grew up in was becoming increasingly racialized as a mixture of Puerto Ricans, Black people, Mexican-Americans, and poor white Appalachians moved into predominantly white middle-class neighborhoods. His life was shaped by these racial lines and the constant oppression these groups faced. After joining St. Theresa Junior High School, an all-white catholic school, he would become a Young Lord.
After his release from a 60-day prison sentence on drug charges, a now politicized Cha Cha Jimenez after reading a steady diet of Martin Luther King Jr, Malcolm X, and PNPR militants returned to reorganize the now newly renamed YLO (Young Lords Organization). Their slogan was “Tengo Puerto Rico en mi Corazón” which in English translates to “I have Puerto Rico in my heart” which showed their firm support to the Puerto Rican people and their independence from the US empire.
News of the Young Lords spread fast. As allied Black Panther newspapers spread the word of the newly formed Young Lords of Chicago and their exploits in the improvement of the lives of the Puerto Rican populace. One Miguel Ernesto Melendez, better known as “Mickey”, then head of SAC (Sociedad Albizu Campos), would read this paper and rush to Chicago with his friends to meet Cha Cha Jimenez himself for guidance on what to do in the equally impoverished barrios of New York. After a lengthy conversation, the decision was made that a New York Chapter of the YLO would be formed. On July 26th, 1969, the day named after the Cuban guerrilla organization M-26-7, a merger of three aspiring YLO organizations merged into what would later become the YLP (Young Lords Party).
The YLP would quickly become the YLO’s most active and successful chapter. With “offensive” after “offensive” aiming at everything from protesting New York City’s lack of garbage collection in the barrios of East Harlem, to door-to-door lead poisoning testing, to seizing the First Spanish Methodist Church and proclaiming it “The People’s Church”. Their most well-known exploit however was the 1970 takeover of the Lincoln Hospital located in the Bronx. Taken over in protest of the deplorable conditions of what was then known as “The Butcher Shop of the Bronx”, Lincoln Hospital was taken over on July 14th and proclaimed “The People’s Hospital” as a Puerto Rican flag was placed on the top of the hospital.
Perhaps the most promising development with the Young Lords was on April 4th, 1969 when Fred Hampton who was Chairman of the Illinois Chapter of the Black Panther Party founded the Rainbow Coalition. The Rainbow Coalition’s goal was to unite working-class minority organizations all across the US under the banner of a radical socialist organization in order to combat US racism, imperialism, and capitalism. The Young Lords along with the Young Patriots Organization, a group made up of poor white Appalachians who had moved to Chicago, and the famous Black Panther Party, made up the original three founding members of the coalition. Later groups such as the Students for a Democratic Society, the Brown Berets, the American Indian Movement, and the Red Guard Party would all soon join in what was seen as the beginning of the end of the US empire.
Sadly, tragedy struck the Rainbow Coalition when on December 4th 1969, Fred Hampton was secretly drugged at a dinner party and taken by his friends to his house where a Chicago PD police team raided his home and shot him dead while he slept. According to public COINTELPRO documents the FBI considered Hampton a radical threat to US hegemony. The raid is widely considered to be an assassination ordered by the FBI.
The assassination of Fred Hampton is widely seen as the unofficial disbandment of the Rainbow Coalition as many of its leadership left and in some cases went underground as they feared for their lives. This blow was especially hard for the YLO since it effectively neutralized all the momentum they gained in their first year of operations. In May 1970, the YLO hosted a “retreat” in order to assess the organization's goals, how to properly expand with all the new members they had, and how to combat increasing FBI and police surveillance. While this “retreat” was intended to solidify and unify the YLO it only fractured it when the YLP decided to sever ties with the Chicago headquarters and become its own organization after disagreements over debates of traditional Marxist class struggle vs. more Maoist forms of class struggle as well as the increasing tensions between the Chicago headquarters and the New York branch.
The new course the YLP took would signal the collapse of the organization by 1976. One of the first major acts of the YLP was to move its headquarters directly to Puerto Rico itself in early 1970. This move was questioned by many on the YLP’s Central Committee and many more of its lower-ranking members. Almost immediately the move to Puerto Rico began to encounter problem after problem. 10,000$ of donation money meant for room and board for the Puerto Rican headquarters was stolen, many members of the Central Committee who were to be relocated barely spoke Spanish, and its allies that it would join up with on the island were rendered mere shadows of themselves after the 1950 revolts due to police and FBI surveillance and counter-intelligence.
The new Puerto Rican headquarters of the YLP almost immediately floundered. In the simplest terms, they were out of touch with the Puerto Rican populace. This plus the increasing drain on resources the Puerto Rican headquarters demanded meant that soon enough by June 1971, the New York offices of the YLP had closed. Their paper ¡Palante! continued to be published but it meant little as the YLP ceased to have any major presence in New York by 1971. The YLP gained a brief surge in popularity after the infamous repression of the 1971 Attica Prison Uprising as many YLP members had been imprisoned at Attica and had taken key roles in it before the uprisings repression.
In July 1972, the YLP held its last congress as it reorganized into the Marxist-Leninist PRRWO (Puerto Rican Revolutionary Worker’s Organization). It closed its Puerto Rican headquarters and started a fruitless campaign of study groups, out-of-touch labor organizing, and in true Marxist-Leninist fashion, purge after purge of members critical of the group’s trajectory. The PRRWO would collapse by 1976.
While the YLO continued to organize until 2002, it focused its efforts not on revolutionary organizing but on electoral politics that rendered the organization effectively neutralized. Cha Cha Jimenez is still alive as of the writing of this. As of 2023, there has been no concentrated effort to create another Latine socialist organization to the scale of the radical organizations of the 1960s.
- 1 “Each Crueler Than the Last” - Crimethinc.
- 2 Social Dimensions of Race: Mexico City, 1753 - Patricia Seed - Hispanic American Historical Review (1982)
- 3 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo - David Pletcher - Texas State Historical Association
- 4 One Man In War Against a Nation: Juan Cortina - Luis Molina Lucio - St. Mary's University Research Scholars
- 5 The Spanish-American War - The World of 1898 - Hispanic Division, Library of Congress
- 6 A Growing Community - Library of Congress
- 7 Disproportionate Sterilization of Latinos Under California’s Eugenic Sterilization Program, 1920–1945 - American Journal of Public Health
- 8 'Cult Of Glory' Reveals The Dark History Of The Texas Rangers - Dave Davies - NPR
- 9 Mexican Communities in the Great Depression - Tadeo Weiner Davis - The University of Chicago
- 10 Immigration, Repatriation, and
Deportation: The Mexican-Origin and Population in the United States, 1920–1950 - Brian Gratton; Emily Merchant - International Migration Review
- 11 Latinos in World War II: Fighting on Two Fronts - National Park Service
- 12 Los Angeles Zoot Suit Riots, 1943 - Los Angeles Almanac
- 13 Ley de la Mordaza: The Law That Made the Puerto Rican Flag Illegal - K.C. Lopez - PBS 39
- 14 Puerto Rican Nationalist Uprising - University at Albany, State University of New York
- 15 The SAGE Encyclopedia of Terrorism, Second Edition - Gus Martin
- 16 The Disenchanted Island: Puerto Rico and the United States in the Twentieth Century - Fernández, Ronald
- 17 The Killing of Filiberto Ojeda Ríos - Félix Jiménez - The Nation
- 18 Chicano - Arnoldo De León
- 19 The Crusades of Cesar Chavez: A Biography - Miriam Pawel
- 20 The Young Lords: A Radical History - Johanna Fernández