Frequently Asked Questions on MEChA

What is the motto of MEChA? La Union hace la Fuerza
Translation: translated literally it means Union makes force. Translating loosely and to get to the actual meaning, Together We are Stronger. THERE IS NO OTHER MOTTO FOR MEChA.

What is the organizational structure of MEChA? Mecha has an unknown number of chapters in universities, colleges and high schools throughout the US. I estimate that there may be more than a thousand chapters. There is no National Office or are there National officers. There are no State Offices and no state officers. Each MEChA group operates independently. There are no official national or state web sites for MEChA. Although there are sometimes national, regional, and state conferences. MEChA chapters operate independently from each other. No MEChA chapter receives orders or direction from any another other MEChA chapter. Every MEChA chapter has a faculty advisor from their educational institution.

What is the purpose of MEChA? MEChA's main purpose is to encourage more Latinos to enter and finish college. MEChA is also where Chicano/Mexicano and other Latino students organize for political purposes such as fighting for latino student rights and other progressive political causes.

When was MEChA formed? MEChA was formed during the 1960s. Due to the fact that MEChA was formed when there were strong anti-war protests going on, there is very militant rhetoric in many early historical documents of MEChA. During this time many chicanos were being drafted into military. Whenever minorities are drafted and fight for their country, there seems to be a lot of intolerance against perceived racism and discrimination toward minorities. This was a time of the brown berets a group organized to try and force equal rights for Chicanos. MEChA was also formed to try and organize and to protest for more Chicano professors and more Chicano studies courses in Universities and High Schools. Hence, there are a lot of MEChA documents that are basically outdated now.

Does MEChA want the Southwest part of the US to become part of Mexico? This is probably the most ridiculous question and the biggest untruth put out by the racist anti-immigration groups. No MEChA group wants to overthrow the US or put the Southwest under Mexico. In fact, most Chicanos and Mexicans know that Mexico is a country suffering from serious political and economic problems. Why do you think Mexicans are leaving their country? The US has its problems but it is still the country that has a very fair political system and does a fairly good job in respecting human rights. Most MEChA members are just trying to get an education and stay politically active to help other latinos. These days with the universities getting more expensive it is hard enough just to hold some part time job and go to school. The overwhelming number of Latinos are struggling economically in college. There is no time, let alone desire, to overthrow the US. Most Chicanos find it astonishing that anyone would believe that MEChA members are really actually thinking or are making plans for overthrowing the US. MEChA members do not participate in or plan any violent protests. Ask the racist organizations out there to offer any kind of proof that MEChA has participated in violent acts. MEChA is a peaceful and law abiding organization.

What is Aztlan? Aztlan is the place where the Aztec people came from. No one knows for sure where Aztlan was, but we seem to have an idea that is is located in the Southwestern US near southern Utah. Aztlan is the one of the early homelands of the Aztec or Mexica people. I realize that most Americans, think that that Columbus discovered America and our Indigenous history before Columbus has no value and does not matter. Well that may be true for most Americans but not for most Chicanos. We cherish our Indigenous heritage and indigenous history. Indigenous Americans are not different below the US border. The border between the US and Mexico did not exist in the past. Indigenous languages and people are related North and South of the border by language and customs. Many Chicanos think this border is meaningless when it comes to our heritage. We belong to this land it is the land of our people. This may be hard to understand but think of it like this. Could you really tell an African that he does not belong in Africa? That he is a foreigner in Africa? Our ancestors were in America thousands of years before Columbus came.

Does MEChA want to kick the white, black, and Asian Americans out of the Southwest? One of the things that makes the US strong is the diversity of its people. MEChA has never advocated kicking anyone out of anywhere. MEChA has always worked in solidarity with other minority and non-minority groups. MEChA is inclusive not exclusive.

Why is there so much bad press about MEChA? Easy to answer there are forces in the US especially in the Southwest that do not like that fact that the Latino population is increasing. Even if there was no immigration the Latino population would increase at a fast rate. I think racism is the major factor driving these groups. They have dug out historical documents from the 1960s to smear MEChA, Chicanos and Latinos. They want the US general population to think that Latinos are not loyal Americans. However, the facts beg to differ. The make-up of the US military has a high percentage of Latinos especially people of Mexican descent. The casualty list of any war in this century will show our loyalty especially the WWII, Korea, Vietnam, and the Middle East conflicts. The medal of honor winners that are Latinos especially Mexican Americans consists in a much higher percentage than our percentage of the population. No other ethnic or racial group can claim that.

Who are the MEChA members or former members? MEChA members are usually the most successful people in the Chicano Latino population. The reason being that MEChA was and still is a type of support group for Chicanos and other Latinos in college. Historically we were only a small percentage of the University population and MEChA was/is our support group, somewhere to go to become politically active, and to help other Latinos enter College. At no time has MEChA done anything subversive against our country and never has the anti-MEChA groups produced any example of anything subversive by MEChA. MEChA members include veterans of all branches of the services. Many members of MEChA fought in Iraq and Vietnam. Some MEChA members were killed in action in Iraq. Former MEChA members are basically the most educated and honorable members of the Chicano/Latino community. The current Mayor of Los Angeles is a former MEChA member. Many successful entrepreneurs in our Community are former MEChA members. The current Lieutenant Governor of California is a former MEChA member.

What does "Viva la Raza" mean? Viva la raza is another phrase that is taken out of context and translated incorrectly by much of the racist anti-immigration people. Translated literally it means "Long live the race." However, that is not the real meaning. in Mexico, the term RAZA also means the people. Raza is also a term for mestizo or Mixed Indigenous and European people. Viva la Raza actually means "Long live the people". It is a term used in situations like when "Power to the people" is used in the US. In Mexico, the descendents of the Europeans still seem to be the ones in most of the positions of power. They are not the Raza. Raza means the people. Raza is not the Elite.

Does MEChA support illegal immigration? I have yet to meet any Latino that encourages or wants illegal immigration. In fact, Latinos do not set immigration policy. The State governments do not set immigration policy. That job belongs to the Federal government. We Latinos like most other Americans are helpless to set any immigration laws. However, having said that, most Latinos do support humane treatment of illegal immigrants. They are people and deserve to be treated humanely. Denying illegal immigrants the ability to drive a car does nothing to discourage illegal immigration. Nor does denying them a bank account discourage illegal immigration. It just makes their life more difficult than it is already. It does promote healthy illegal immigrants since they have to ride bikes and walk more. The anti-immigration people should employ some method to stop employers from employing illegal immigrants only this will stop illegal immigration. Powerful interests such as the agribusiness will most likely fight any action to stop the flow of cheap labor. Making criminals out of illegal immigrants is very wrong. On one had our country encourages illegal immigration with jobs and then on the other hand our country tries to make these people suffer or worse yet make criminals out people trying to make a living for themselves and their families.

Why will important Chicano leaders not denounce MEChA even though it may hurt them politically? I can easily answer this with my own experience. As a High School student, I was invited to a MEChA conference at University of California, Davis. This MEChA event was the single most important factor inspiring me to go to college. I had experienced racism by many teachers in my High School manfesting itself in unfairly lowering of my grades. White students in the school were allowed to commit violence against the Chicano students with no punishment. My counselor never gave me college bound courses until my father came to the school and insisted that he do so. The list of injustices faced by many Chicano students was endless. With so many negatives against the Chicano students, it is no wonder that many of us did not want to further our education. I will never forget the conference where I saw Chicano MEChA students that were almost my age attending a prestigious University. This lit the candle of higher learning in my mind. After this event, I knew that I would graduate from college. After 3 years in the Marine Corps, I did go to college and finish a degree in Computer Science from San Diego State and I am proud to say that I was a very active MEChA member there. I also inspired many Chicanos and other Latinos to go the College while in MEChA. For these reasons, I will never turn my back on MEChA.

Interesting quotes and very applicable to the MEChA campaign of defamation:
“Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it”,
“How fortunate for leaders that men do not think.
both quotes by Adolf Hitler

Do you need to know other things about MEChA? Send your comments to comments _at_ azteca _dot_ net.