Book Suggests Political Models to Empower Latinos, Mexicanos

UCR political scientist Armando Navarro examines possibilities for a ‘brown century’ of progress and change

A new book by UC Riverside political scientist Armando Navarro examines the current state of Latino and Mexicano politics in the United States, and outlines models for change that would alter U.S. boundaries and empower a population he contends is politically and economically powerless.

A lecture and book-signing are scheduled mexicano-latino-politicsat UCR on Tuesday, May 5, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. in the Tartan and Tweed Room in the Student Services Building. The event is free and open to the public. Parking permits may be obtained at the kiosk on West Campus Drive at the University Avenue entrance to the campus.

Navarro, who teaches in the UCR Department of Ethnic Studies, has authored six other books. His latest book,“Mexicano and Latino Politics and the Quest for Self-determination: What Needs to be Done” (Lexington Books, 2015), argues that:

  • Mexicano and Latino politics have failed to represent, empower and foster social change for a large and rapidly growing segment of the population in the U.S., particularly in the Southwest, because of leadership, organizational, ideological and strategic crises.
  • The United States is no longer a representative democracy, rather, it has evolved into a “corpocracy” controlled by corporations and the wealthiest individuals.
  • Liberal capitalism as a political and economic system is in decline because of pervasive gridlock in both Congress and the presidency, and an economy that did not fully recover from the Great Recession of 2007. Many Americans today live in what Navarro calls the “Second Great Depression (2009-2015).”
  • Latinos and Mexicanos in the Southwest, particularly the region Mexico lost to the United States in 1848 – a region Navarro calls Aztlán – are “an occupied and internally colonized people,” regarded as less important and, therefore, neglected by those in power.
  • Mexicanos and Latinos will become the majority ethnic group in this region as early as 2035. By the end of the 21st century they will be country’s new majority. This demographic transformation will radically change U.S. culture, politics, the economy and society.

“Without changing our current condition our Mexicano and Latino communities will in the 21st century be relegated to a politically and economically powerless state,” he writes. Mexicanos are Mexican citizens living in the United States.

Navarro argues that only two alternatives exist to empower Latinos and Mexicanos in the U.S. in this century, and he outlines these change models in his 577-page book. The first calls for the creation of a nation-within-a-nation using the French-speaking Canadian province of Quebec as a template, a model he calls “Aztlán’s Politics of a Nation-Within-a-Nation” and says is likely the most applicable and viable alternative. The second suggests that the region of the Southwest Navarro refers to as Aztlán secede from the U.S. as an independent and sovereign nation-state or be reintegrated with Mexico, a model he calls “Aztlán’s Politics of Separatism.”

“Either model will make the 21st century a ‘brown century’ of great progress and change, not just for Mexicanos and Latinos, but for all the peoples of Aztlán and the country as a whole,” Navarro writes. “While both change models may be perceived by some as being too radical, … both … are change models …, using a working within the law, peaceful/nonviolent electoral, political pressure, and protest approach.”

He also predicts an escalation of economic crises in the U.S. and globally, which he said could “intensify the prospects for war, civil unrest, political instability, food shortages, and capitalism’s deepening contradictions. Global poverty, global inequality, and climate change will reach alarming levels.”

Navarro is “one of the few scholars who know what is to be done to correct the imperfections of a society that prevents Latinos access to education and the political power that is necessary to obtain the human rights we take for granted,” said Rodolfo Acuña, founder of Chicana and Chicano Studies at CSU Northridge who is also regarded as one of the academic fathers of Chicano Studies. “As in his previous works, Navarro draws a bight line under the problems and what is to be done, presenting two change models: one examining the Chicano national question, ‘Aztlán’s Politics of a Nation-Within-a-Nation,’ and ‘Aztlán’s Politics of Separatism’ in which he puts the struggle into a historical context.”

Author: Richard Sandoval

Richard Sandoval is an award winning journalist who produces Hispanic Lifestyle a television program broadcasting on several PBS stations throughout the United States. editorial@Hispaniclifestyle.com

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