|Tom Hayden Speaking at the Hacienda San Angel Chapel|
Democrats Abroad Mexico had their Annual Meeting in Puerto Vallarta on February 16. Tom Hayden, a member of the California State Assembly for 18 years, was the star of the show.
Hayden was the special guest at a cocktail party (with excellent food and wine) Saturday night. He spoke at length at the Annual Meeting on Sunday, and a well-attended public event on Monday.
The two speeches covered a lot of territory: his involvement with the “Freedom Riders,” the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), the Port Huron Statement and the founding of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), and the Chicago Seven trial. He talked a lot about the present, too; the changes in the demographic makeup of the United States, which he regards as “irreversible,” and how it will effect elections in the near and long-term future.
Here are some highlights from responses to questions from the audience on Monday:
The “Dreamers”: “They are children of Latino immigrants. They were born in the US, and they are not citizens. They are perfect examples of what Obama calls 'not settling for what your parents left.' They have voluntarily come out of the closet, and announced to the world, over and over, that they don't have papers, they are staying here to go to school, and they are willing to be deported. They have the support of churches, the AFL/CIO, most of the Democratic Party, many governors. Many universities are put in a quandary; these students are subject to deportation, and when they graduate, they will have difficulty getting a job. One of the things California has done is legislate protection for them. Obama issued an executive order, which I strongly advised and supported, protecting Dreamers that are already in the country, that is, they cannot be deported, and they are under Presidential protection. This can be extended through the end of Obama's term.
“These Dreamers are like the Freedom Riders. They will go into the cafeteria in Washington where John Boehner is having breakfast, and they will tell him their whole miserable story about how their mothers can't see them. They will sit in the offices of Democrats if they think that these Democrats are compromising. They will get arrested, and dare officials to deport them. They are a few thousand activists. Multiply that by their families, and you have the vanguard of the immigrants rights movement. They also do voter registration.”
(Hayden also talked about Freedom University, an online school based in Georgia that Dreamers can use even though they can't legally attend university in that state. It's supported by UCLA and the AFL/CIO.)
The Zapatista Reader, a book edited by Hayden: “There's some writings on Liberation Theology and the Zapatista movement by the Bishop Samuel Ruiz of Chiapas. He's a figure like Romero in El Salvador. He was a conservative, and he went down there. He was overwhelmed by the poverty, the resilience of the people, the fact that they speak 57 different dialects, and how remote the churches are. He became a consultant to the Zapatistas during the time they tried to incorporate an autonomous vision of a Mexican state.” (Hayden also talked about Bartolomé de las Casas, the first Bishop of Chiapas, who was an advocate for indigenous people in the Americas.)
California Governor Jerry Brown: “He was Chair of the Solar Energy Council in 1979. That's when he was considered 'Governor Moonbeam.' Now, California has more clean energy startups, funded by private investment. It has led the United States and the world in energy efficiency standards for automobiles. It has pioneered in solar. Brown should either announce for President on a climate change platform, or he has to find a global platform for being the leading advocate of the transition away from fossil fuels. He gets it. The people around him get it. The Legislature doesn't get it, but he believes that 100% renewable energy is practical and doable. How much of that can he do as Governor of California is tough. He can't do it with the U.S. Congress. There will be a revolt. It's already being planned. You can bet on it, because some of these problems are going to be solved.”
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