Saturday, February 01, 2014

Keystone XL pipeline–big nail in Aztlán's coffin

A flashback from Chicano Movement history hit me today, because of what now sits on President Obama's desk that will severely damage more than just the Southwest. It began with recent news.

"In China, the drought dried up a 1300 square mile lake four times the size of NYC.
"In the American Sierra mountains, bears are not hibernating because it is too warm.
"In Australia, blistering heat chased koalas out of trees, sickening many, and baked 100,000 bats to death.
In Clovis, N.M., tumbleweeds are eating the town. "Up to four feet of tumbleweeds cover the ground. Some residents can't leave their house. Thousands of tumbleweeds from a freak weather pattern that's becoming the new normal." [The full article.]

If you're a Chicano in Clovis, you might be a little worried what the Keystone XL Pipeline will do to speed up Global Heating. Or not. Or you might have noticed the flood of Oil and Gas Industry commercials that make it sound like there's nada to worry about.

China? That's on the other side of the planet, you might think. Bears, koalas and bats? My kids can see them on the Internet or in the zoo, you might say. But, you might think other thoughts.

Polar bears threatened by Arctic drilling and polar icecaps that are melting from Global Heating are both colored white. But--silly analogy--that doesn't make them just a white Anglo problem. Anymore than smog is just a Chicano problem because it's brown.

Latinos and blacks flexed their political muscles and helped elect the first non-Anglo President, Barack Obama. So, we matter, when we decide to move into action.

The same as in 1967 Martin Luther King's 1967 speech when he spoke out against the War in Vietnam and the 1970 Chicano Moratorium against the War. Chicanos and blacks added their voices and bodies to oppose the War. That contributed to the U.S. 1970 talks with the North Vietnamese, and the U.S. Vietnamization policy that began pulling U.S. troops out of Viet Nam. All of Washington, D.C. gets nervous when browns and blacks start showing up in the middle of a lot of whites.

Every day, I receive Internet news and Email from throughout Aztlán and the U.S., from latino community, cultural and student groups struggling with issues like poverty, miseducation, Chicano studies, healthcare, and the list goes on and on. Obviously, these are important and I'm not suggesting they be thrown away to work on stopping Global Warming.

But Global Warming affects the health of inner-city children, abuelos, todos, not just those in Clovis, N.M. Toxic spills from fracking and pipelines won't go around Latino neighborhoods. Pollution is not prejudiced.

All this led me to imagine the following dynamic:

That when latino neighborhood organizations begin passing more resolutions against fracking-drilling near their communities;

When Chicano, dominicano, puertoriqueño high school and college groups take time from their actions defending minority studies, in order to add their bodies to "Stop the XL Pipeline" pickets;

When latino artists, authors, musicians and groups add their arts' perspective to widen the anti-fracking works that primarily appeal to Anglos;

When latino leaders--political, community, social--add their votes and resolutions to the resistance movement against the oil and gas industry;

When many, many more latinos decide that the air they breath, water they drink and dirt their children play in should be as natural and untainted as that of the Anglos,

THEN the struggle against Global Warming will take on a multinational character that polluters and political supporters of pollution will worry and do something about. Especially, at this moment, Obama.

Yesterday the U.S. State Department released its Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) on Keystone XL, the countdown to a final decision by President Obama on approving the pipeline. [Info on its environment impact.]

"The report does not take a stand on the pipeline’s climate impact -- leaving the ball entirely in President Obama’s court. The fossil fuel industry wants you to believe that today’s report means this fight is over. And that’s one difference between us and them."

Organizations made up mostly of Anglo activists, such as, and others are coordinating mobilization [a la Chicano Moratorium] for this year to help Obama make up his mind in a way that will keep our agua cleaner, our air more breathable and our lands more livable. They need the latino voice, leadership and numbers. And the blacks. Don't worry about the indios who are tied stronger to Nature; they have been in or led the struggle from the beginning, from Canada to Mexico.

If this post sounds like a 60s or 70s grito, blame my Chicano Movement upbringing. If it sounds like an old vato trying to relive the past, blame young activist Chicanos I've met who are involved or leading the anti-XL Pipeline struggle. If this sounds like something you don't think latinos must join, you only have to wait a little for it to come to your doorstep.

If you don't want to wait, here's what's happening, beginning Monday.

The largely Anglo movement against Keystone XL and Global Warming doesn't know well how to appeal to latinos. They don't always translate flyers to attract the mexicanos. Etc. Etc. They obviously can't do it without our expertise.

Perdón por mis recuerdos políticos, pero es todo, hoy,
(My new unpublished YA novel includes a Global Warming mini-theme.)

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