LOS ANGELES, April 24, 2006—Whatever mainstream media is saying about divisions in “Latino” leadership around the May 1 Gran Boicot, the real-life version of “A Day Without a Mexican” (and a Guatamalen, and a Salvadoran, and a Korean, and a Muslim, and their supporters) will be happening. The boycott, a call for no purchases, no work, no school, and rallies around the country has taken on a life of its own, and its heartbeat is here in Los Angeles.
The threats of deportation, criminalizing undocumented residency, and increased life-threatening border enforcement now being considered in the Senate have brought together dozens of local organizations in solidarity.
A partial list of area organizations supporting the Huelga General includes Action LA, Alliance for Civil Justice, ANSWER-LA, Barrio Planners, the Committee on Raza Rights, the Council on American-Islamic Relations - Los Angeles, Hermandad Mexicana, the Immigrant Solidarity Network, the Industrial Workers of the World, the International Social Organization, the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California, the L.A. Latino Muslim Association, Latino Movement USA, Los Angeles Mexican National Brotherhood, Los Angeles Troquero Collective, the March 25 Coalition, the Mexican American Political Association, Mexicans Without Borders, Multi-Ethnic Immigrant Workers Organizing Network, the Muslim American Society - Los Angeles, the Muslim Public Affairs Council, the Muslim Students Association - West, the National Alliance for Human Rights, La Opinion, People’s CORE-CDIR, Radical Women, Students for Amnesty, and Union del Barrio. Apologies to those not included here.
An international protest will take place at the San Diego-Tijuana border, and Vancouver will be rallying. Mexicans are rallying around May 1 as a day to boycott U.S. products.
Today, I talked to Ernesto Nevarez who has organized immigrant troqueros in the Port of Aztlan, as he calls it, to shut down the port on May 1, and maybe for four days following. Ernesto and Rudolfo were holding signs on Washington Avenue today on the boundary between Vernon and the City of Commerce to bring railway drivers into the strike. They called for “Amnistía! Union! Disol!, and dozens of troqueros honked in solidarity as they left the Union Pacific yard.
The troqueros’ support for the general strike is more than show: they have offered to refuse delivery to any company that receives container shipments and fires an employee for striking on May 1. The employee only needs to hold up a sign at the business that calls for “Solidarity—Help!” or “Fired for May 1 Strike,” or, if the troqueros’ strike goes into Tuesday, to come to Banning Park to notify the truckers of the situation, and the troqueros will return all shipments for that company to the loading area.
Ernesto explained that the drivers’ support for the Huelga congealed last week when ICE stopped fifty troqueros at the port and took seven people away for improper papers. “Not El Cucuy or the Cardinal can call it off now,” he added.
The port troqueros are outraged at the selective enforcement of drivers, without going after trucking companies that routinely violate cargo shipping rules. The port troqueros are bringing along line drivers, and now the rail drivers. They’ve brought in LAX taxi drivers in an action that may extend citywide. Using CB’s to spread the word, troqueros in Boston, Florida, Texas, New Jersey, Chicago, Detroit, and Baltimore are expected to join the strike. After the ICE raid, the “cowboys”—white drivers—are joining the “Mes-kins,” as Ernie said they call Mexican drivers. Emissaries have gone to Mexico to make sure Mexican drivers stop shipments to the U.S.
WalMart is expediting deliveries in anticipation of the Huelga. They have every cause for concern: Ernesto, who helped lead the 1999 port strike, has joined forces with Armando Gonzales, the leader of the 2004 freeway stoppage, who shut down his rig with other drivers to protest fuel prices. In the 1999 strike, a late-April troqueros’ strike, 4000 troqueros shut down the LA Harbor, ports in Oakland, Tacoma, San Francisco, the Stockton and Sacramento rail lines, and left only 15% of drivers on the road.