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East LA honors 45th Chicano Moratorium anniversary

By staff

Carlos Montes at commemoration of Chicano Moratorium.

Los Angeles, CA – Nearly 100 community members, along with various organizations in the Chicano Moratorium Committee, celebrated the 45th anniversary of the historic Chicano Moratorium.

The Chicano Movement was on the rise after several years of mass actions like the East Los Angeles high-school walkouts, land struggles in New Mexico, strikes by the United Farm Workers union and the growth of new Chicano groups like the Brown Berets and MECHA (Movemiento Estudiantil Chicano de Atzlan, a Chicano student movement of the Southwest).

Here is a Fight Back! interview with veteran Chicano leader Carlos Montes, one of the founders of the Brown Berets.

Fight Back!: What was the Chicano Moratorium?

Carlos Montes: The moratorium was the largest Chicano- led and organized march in the name of self-determination, and in opposition to U.S. imperialism in U.S. history. 45 years ago, over 30,000 anti-Vietnam War Chicanos chanted “¡Raza si, guerra no!” while marching down Whittier Boulevard, the heart of East Los Angeles.

Fight Back!: Who was Ruben Salazar?

Montes: Ruben Salazar was the Chicano KMEX news director who was killed by the Los Angeles sheriffs during the Chicano Moratorium. Police were in full force during the Moratorium and with 30,000 Chicanos in an uprising, they were desperate to try to fight back against the people. Salazar was killed in a community bar when an LA Sheriff shot a pepper spray canister into the bar's crowd; the canister hit Salazar and immediately killed him.

Fight Back!: Do you think the military has let up on recruiting Chicanos?

Montes: No the military has not stopped. If anything, it has increased the number of poor Chicanos joining. LA’s Roosevelt High School is home to a ROTC center and high-schoolers are bombarded with propaganda insisting that they join the military.

Fight Back!: What advice do you have for Chicanos who are trying to organize themselves?

Montes: If you are in a new area where there is nothing going on, reach out to any of us in the Legalization for All Network. We are made up of many organizations and individuals across the U.S. and we are available at [email protected]. But also, there is much work left for us to do. We must organize ourselves -as Chicanos – and unite with our Black brothers and sisters in the Black Belt South and unite with working class people all across the country to demand equality and liberation!

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