A Latino student group that drew attention during the California gubernatorial campaign of Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante says it will not disavow a founding document outlining the aim of recapturing the southwestern United States for Mexico.
Responding to allegation of racism, members of the MEChA chapter at the University of California at Los Angeles showed up in force at an undergraduate student government meeting Tuesday to protest, the campus student paper, the UCLA Bruin, reported.
The GOP student group at UCLA, the Bruin Republicans, have challenged MEChA to denounce a founding document, “El Plan de Aztlan,” which they assert promotes violence and damages the organization’s reputation as community servants. The text calls for the return of the U.S. Southwest to Mexico, though members said they do not follow this particular ideology.
But at the meeting, MEChA chairwoman Elizabeth Alamillo defended the document, saying it was made by founding members to protest racist activity against the Chicano community, the campus paper reported.
“We will stand by the ‘El Plan de Aztlan’ because it has guided us,” Alamillo said.
Aztlan, the mythical birthplace of the Aztecs, is regarded in Chicano folklore as an area that includes California, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico and parts of Colorado and Texas.
Alamillo said although the plan was used as a founding document, it was created generally for any group calling for Chicano rights.
Turning the tables, MEChA members accused the Bruin Republicans of racism, arguing the Latino group’s focus is merely to provide students access to education.
In a presentation to the Undergraduate Students Association Council, the campus Republican group said it is concerned MEChA documents such as “El Plan de Aztlan” suppress the rights of people of European descent.
“I don’t see why an upstanding student group has to be stuck with a racist ideology,” said Bruin Republican member Matthew Knee, according to the Daily Bruin.
During the campaign to recall Gov. Gray Davis last year, Bustamante was criticized for his involvement with the group while a student at Fresno State University.
The head of the UCLA Democrat group, Doug Ludlow, lent support to the Republicans, saying he understands their cause and believes they might have come off unintentionally as racist.
“I doubt they harbor racist views; it’s not what UCLA stands for,” Ludlow told the school paper.
MEChA was backed at the meeting by members of campus groups such as the Queer Alliance and Muslim Student Association, which said the Latino group assisted them after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Several council members said the Bruin Republicans should have addressed their concerns directly to MEChA. But Moritz said they had tried contacting the Latino group several times over the past couple of months but never received a response.
Alamillo rejected his assertion.
“The only type of note we received was on the door asking us to denounce [the document],” Alamillo said, according to the Daily Bruin. “But there was nothing to encourage a meeting and no contact info.”
Along with asking MEChA to denounce their founding document, the Bruin Republicans are planning to propose a resolution for the student council to de-sponsor and freeze funding for the group. They don’t expect it to pass, however, because they believe a majority of council members are opposed.