Nativo Lopez, variously described as a “Latino activist” and “Hispanic activist,” has been charged with voter registration fraud. Missing from news reports is the back story, the alienation of professional ethnics from the people they claim to represent, and the failure of such radicals to deploy immigrants in anti-American causes.
Nativo Lopez, 57, is an old-line leftist and class warrior of unusual ferocity, in the mold of his mentor, Bert Corona, who left the University of Southern California to organize workers for the Communist Party USA, in which he stayed even through the Nazi-Soviet Pact. Corona defended the decidedly non-latino German Democratic Republic also known as East Germany, as a kind of workers’ paradise, despite its practice of gunning down workers who attempted to leave.
Lopez took on Corona’s militancy and shared his view that the country where millions of Mexicans had come to seek a living, and had prospered far beyond the prospects of their native land, and where they enjoyed not only liberty but many government benefits, was actually a factory of Anglo-capitalist oppression. The pair ran various divisions of the Hermandad Mexicana Nacional, the group that registered illegals to vote in 1996, the year Loretta Sanchez defeated Robert Dornan by fewer than 1,000 votes. The California Department of Education gave Hermandad millions of dollars in adult education funds to which they had no claim, and even punished the whistleblowers who uncovered the fraud.
Nobody ever elected Nativo Lopez as part of any political vanguard, and he often found himself at odds with California voters. In 1986 those voters made English the official language of the Golden State by passing Proposition 63 by 73 percent, a landslide. Lopez ran to the barricades against it as an instrument of “Anglo” oppression. In 1994 Californians voted in Proposition 187 to curtail spending on illegal immigrants. Lopez was one of the loudest voices against the measure, since overturned. In 1998, California voters approved Proposition 227, which effectively banned bilingual education policies which were harming the academic achievement of low-income children. Here Nativo Lopez also proved a reactionary.
In 1997 he managed to secure a seat on the board of education in Santa Ana in southern California. His record in the post was not distinguished and he tried to thwart the will of the people by imposing discredited bilingual policies. The people had other ideas. In 2003, they voted to recall Nativo Lopez by a vote of 63 percent, in a city where hispanics, most of Mexican extraction, make up 90 percent of the voting population. Lopez blamed affluent residents who did not want “brown” children on their streets. His efforts to overturn the vote failed and Rob Richardson won election to replace Lopez on the school board.
Lopez went on to make amnesty for illegal immigrants his major concern. He threatened that illegals might shut down ports and rail lines if full amnesty were not forthcoming. He helped organize protests in 2006, when he told Lou Dobbs that using the term “illegal immigrant” was equivalent to various racial epithets. He also spearheaded a boycott in the Los Angeles area, and pushed for drivers licenses for illegals.
Lopez now comes billed as boss of Hermandad Mexicana Latinoamericana, likely to distance the organization from its troubled predecessor. He also serves as president of the Mexican American Political Association and enjoys a reputation as a “latino activist.” None of that prevented the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office with bringing charges of filing false documents, perjury and fraudulent voting. Now it really is The People versus Nativo Lopez, and if convicted he could receive an unpleasant change of address for a few years.
What will come of the charges is unclear, but they might indicate that voter fraud, as an issue, is finally getting the attention it deserves. Meanwhile, Nativo Lopez’ record confirms that militant rhetoric about “the people,” is usually at odds with the people themselves. Immigrants come to these shores for many reasons, but few seek to deploy themselves against American democracy at the behest of self-appointed professional ethnics like Nativo Lopez, who does show some ability to change.
In 2004 he switched his registration to the Green Party. Lopez told Socialist Worker that the Democratic party “is an unresponsive party to the needs of the majorities and is driven by white male millionaires and their political consultants, who only seek to impose their political will on the majorities (including white workers) – and only support those candidates of color who they can control and manipulate for their own economic interest.”
But Lopez remains at odds with some Green Party doctrine. As he told Socialist Worker, “I still covertly like cockfighting – an old Mexican tradition.”