On May 5, 1971, the Brown Berets and the Chicano Moratorium Committee organized La Marcha de la Reconquista (A 1,000 mile march from Calexico to Sacramento). The political march and rally was organized to demonstrate the grievances of the Chicana/o community. The march would cover approximately 1,000 miles in three months.
The march began in Calexico. It went through several Chicana/o barrios, such as El Centro, Brawley, Calipatria, Niland, the Salton Sea, Mecca, Coachella, Indio, Indian Wells, Palm Springs, San Jacinto, Redlands, Casa Blanca, Los Angeles, Bakersfield, McFarland, Fresno, Mendota, Merced, and Stockton.
The march ended with five days of organized protest in Sacramento. The key issues were farmworker’s rights, better education for Chicanas/os, the over-reaction of the state capitol riot police, welfare rights, and prison reform, among other issues.
The issues of 1971 are still relevant today. Not much has changed. In fact, the political and economic status of Chicanas/os is worse today than in 1971.
The National Chicano Moratorium Committee announced La Marcha de la Reconquista in 1971. It began on Cinco de Mayo 1971 in Calexico.
The Cinco de Mayo celebration and commemoration of the Mexican army’s victory over the French at the Batalla de Puebla on May 5, 1862 was begun at Cal State L.A. by Chicana/o students in the early 1970s.
Cinco de Mayo was supposed to be our community’s acknowledgment of our historical and cultural ties to our people on the other side of the Imperialist created border as well as a recognition of the legacy of resistance. The Chicano Movement was resistance and what better way to connect our people than through a heroic event.
Cinco de Mayo has been co-opted and hijacked by corporate beer companies who continue to push their alcoholic poison into our community. Meanwhile, the Hispanic and Latino identified Vendidos are complicit in all of this as they receive huge amounts of corporate funding to maintain their silence.
José Antonio Burciaga, in his essay Reasons to Celebrate Cinco de Mayo in the classic book Drink Cultura: Chicanismo, argues that without a Mexican victory over the French, the French would have aided the Confederate South against the Union and the course of U.S. history would have been very different.
Its time we reclaim Cinco de Mayo. Cinco de Mayo is a heroic moment of resistance and victory against Imperialism.
What follows below is the original statement made by the National Chicano Moratorium Committee in 1971. Let us remember Cinco de Mayo as an act of resistance. Let us remember La Marcha de la Reconquista as continuing that legacy. Know your history.
Marcha de la Reconquista
This leaflet is to inform you of a march we of the National Chicano Moratorium Committee are now undertaking. The march is to protest the police brutality against our people, the indignities and brutalities which our people suffer at the hands of the Department of Immigration, Nixon’s senseless and maniacal war in Southeast Asia and the cutbacks of E.O.P. and other grants to Chicano students.
The march started on El Cinco de Mayo (May 5th) from Calexico, California and will terminate in Sacramento, California. This march will cover approximately 750 to 800 miles; it will take about two or three months to complete and has been named, “LA MARCHA DE LA RECONQUISTA.” We are reconquering our rights! The events of the last few months have clearly shown us that it is useless to place any trust in this present political system.
1). The police kill our people and all is forgiven by calling their actions “a tragic mistake.” Then when the Federal Government intervenes, and sets up a congressional investigation, Police Chief Davis and Mayor Sam Yorty of Los Angeles scream police harassment from the federal level to the point where the investigation is withdrawn. This does nothing more than give the police a license to kill, because now the Los Angeles City Council has voted to pay for the legal defense of these killers with our tax dollars.
2). Daily our brothers are arrested, held prisoners and deported without due process of law. Now, despite Nixon’s words to the contrary that this country finds ifself in an economic squeeze–the same situation is now causing mass deportation of our people. This we connot tolerate!
3). The war in Southeast Asia continues, and as you well know, our Chicano brothers are still being sought for use as cannon fodder. This we cannot allow to happen!
4). There is now a concerted effor to force MECHA and other Chicano organizations off the college campuses. One of the tactics being used in California is the cutbacks in the EOP (Educational Opportunities Program) funding. On the one hand Governor Reagan withdraws funding for students because of a lack of money and on the other he gives $13 million dollars to three campuses. That money will be administered by three police department heads. These police officials will receive $55,000 each apart from their regular salaries and they will not have to answer to anyone. We believe that in reality they will attempt to buy out the Chicano students who will be using their grants!
5). Governor Reagan is now pushing a welfare “reform” which is nothing less than the enslavement of Chicanas and other poor women and provide their children with less than subsistance aid. He is following the same tactics that the slave traders and plantation bosses used to destroy the black families hundreds of years ago.
It is obvious that racist reactionaries like Reagan, Yorty, and Chief Davis are using the Chicano as a whipping boy trying to drum up support in the racist recess of a middle America’s troubled soul. “We must now discredit and demoralize the type of men who perpetuate policies of Chicano genocide!” We call on all of you to join and support our March as often as you can.
(La Marcha de la Reconquista was begun on May 5, 1971. The Brown Berets spearheaded the efforts. Rosalio Muñoz was also instrumental in the 1,000 mile march).