1,000 Miles To Denver, 1,000 Miles of Aztlan
To all my Companeras/os del Partido and other Revolutionary Raza we met and shared time and space with on this trip, even those very special ones that weren’t able to be there in person but who’s spirit we carried along the hundreds of miles.
You don’t really think about it when you’re in one location for a long time, you get used to your surroundings the sights, the sounds, the weather, the landscape if any, but traveling by car from Phoenix to Prescott and from Prescott to Denver with one stop in Albuquerque, Nuevo Mexico you learn a lot, in my case it reminded me of a lot as the last time I was in any of those places I was a child.
We were invited by the La Mesa a coalition of different Brown Beret groups to speak on behalf of El Partido (La Raza Unida) at their annual action, this year in Denver, Colorado. For an entire year many of the people I and we would meet we had only seen through a computer screen and even built a sense of Carnalismo. For others we met along the way such as Enrique and Karen in Burque LRU who I hadn’t seen in years and only spoken to on the phone and occasionally seen through zoom.
Everything we saw from the people, the landscape, the places were reminders of who we are. It was in a way sort of like a mother calling out to you to remind you that you are her child and she definitely, your mother. The rugged landscape, the towering red mesas and formations, the vast green forests or the deep canyons that cut through like the weathered skin of an elder they were there to remind you and as we drove down the highway the signs and place markers (aside from your typical “Rest Area”, or “No Services” and a few others that seemed more like existential statements “Strong Winds May Exist”), the majority of them were names in Spanish and some pointed to places we have possibly only read about in Chicano History books, Taos site of the Taos Revolt of 1847 when Mexicano and Pueblo gave their lives as one people to oust the Yankkkee invader, Ludlow where the massacre of workers many of them Chicano Mexicano took place in 1914, then one place I believe should be treated with the same significance Teotihuacan, Tula and many others are given in Mexico… Chaco Canyon center of the ancient Chacoan culture which had economic and cultural ties to Mesoamerica. They are the ancestors of many of ours who spread throughout the Southwest and what today is Mexico.
We drove through the Dine (Navajo) Nation, passed many Pueblos, and into the barrios of Denver we finally arrived. It’s easy to forget living in one area of how literally huge our population actually is. All throughout the voyage there you see our people and in Denver you come to realize that there is such a profound and rich history of La Raza that left its mark and which the wound caused by the paramilitary war that left several martyrs from the Chicano people is still open and bleeding.
We were in Denver right in the same barrio were Corky Gonzalez walked and talked and organized the Crusade For Justice and La Raza Unida, here were on March 17, 1973 the Denver Police raided the headquarters of the Crusade and assassinated Luis Jr Martinez a young Chicano revolutionary. A day in we drove not too far away to Boulder to look for the monument built for “Los Seis de Boulder” six Chicano students and members of UMAS (United Mexican American Students) a precursor to today’s MEChA (Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano/a/x de Aztlan) who had their cars bombed on two separate occasions in May of 1974. There we met with other local companeros who told us about the struggle to even keep the monument and the fact that it is even a struggle to have the student body and community simply know about who Los Seis were. Being there, taking in the moment was something deeply moving, because here so far away from California where we remember our very own martyrs a thousand miles away there in Denver is a history OUR Chicano history just as significant. The same dreams of a bright new future, the same will to resist an unjust colonial order, the same passion to build Aztlan was there, the monument small in comparison to what these young Chicanos gave sticks out in your memory like a book marker, a reminder. These young people, young Chicanas y Chicanos lives were taken away, their blood long ago seeped into the soil. But like so much of our history, in fact almost all of it, since it is a history of resistance to settler colonialism, of resistance to the United States to be exact it is completely ignored and swept under the rug, nowadays they even have some of us not only doing that but sowing seeds of diffidence amongst each other to neutralize us once and for all if possible. They will fail, we will win.
Nevertheless, there we were to see this monument and remember these six Chicanos whose sangre like that of many others nourished the will of future Chicanos to fight. We then went up the road to Chautauqua a park where a small marker was placed to also remember them since that is exactly where one of their cars exploded. I asked in the Parks office building if they knew where we could find it, and nobody even knew, the European American receptionist had to call somebody else, they told her, and she gave me a map and marked where it was. We walked around and still had to ask until we found it behind a building on the floor in the grass. If you do not know it is there you won’t ever know.
Saturday finally came and we attended the “Day of the Chicano Warrior” at La Alma-Lincoln Park yet another historic site where several demonstrations, walkouts ended during the height of the Chicano Power struggle and in 1969 one of many ended in full hand to hand combat with the police who clubbed and beat La Raza and then dropped tear gas by helicopter into the barrio. This Barrio is also the oldest part of Denver no surprise as most barrios in Aztlan always are the oldest section of that city or town. It also like so many other barrios is being heavily gentrified and the attempts to erase it are being resisted by La Chicanada. We spoke to the crowd about El Partido, passed out leaflets, flyers and stickers and got some contacts.
The next day, Sunday, we drove back. We were not able to make it to the La Raza Park unveiling but left satisfied that we had made many contacts, learnt a ton and left a significant impact.
In conclusion if a nation has a common history, land mass, culture, language and even psyche then this trip made it more evident. Approximately 1,028 miles separate Pacoima, CalifAztlan from Denver, ColorAztlan yet we and every barrio in between are closer than we even imagine. The drive reminds you that if Chicanos are a real group of people, then Aztlan obviously is very real since a nation cannot exist without a landmass that gave birth to them. Without Aztlan, without this land where we reside, where people like us have existed and created culture and resisted occupation even by force of arms having been successful once against Spain, without this land we would not exist, her name is written all over in our blood and sweat, but her cry for help is muffled by the shackles of Imperialism and Colonialism. As I traveled by plane then automobile all the way across, we passed probably thousands of barrios and In every one of those thousands of barrios exist millions of Chicanos and La Raza, loving, hating, caring and fighting, all of them, all of us struggling to survive on our very own motherland and just like those of us that struggle to raise the fighting and righteous spirit of Resistance de La Raza there are many more spread across Aztlan. Let us find each other and build something that we have only dreamt of as of yet, the physical space separating us means absolutely nothing for you are home anywhere in Aztlan.
It is our duty!
To the sacred memory of Los Seis, Corky, Luis Jr. Martinez, The Crusade, and all the martyrs of La Raza! Que Viva Aztlan Libre y Socialista! Que Viva El Partido Nacional de La Raza Unida! C/S