MacAllen Peace and Justice Conference
A report from the 12th Annual People for Peace and Justice Gathering
By Adrián Boutureira, National Political Organizer of the Green Party of the United States
The Green Party's participation at the conference came as a result of the relationship building work done in the region during the Jill Stein presidential campaign. At that time, and given its geographic, economic and demographic special political conditions, the Texas Valley had been given top organizing priority. I still believe that securing a GP political presence in the region is a high-value objective, not just for the Green Party of Texas, but to the Green Party as well.
In my participation at the conference, I was one of the two keynote speakers, co-led a panel on immigrant worker rights and resistance, and another on Environmental Justice. I was also given a table for GP materials and to do some direct Green Party education and recruitment.
My 25 minute keynote speech was at the beginning of the event, and in front of around 150 participants. As requested by the organizers, I concentrated on the importance of the event towards building a real unified progressive, grassroots movement in South Texas, outside of the democratic party's control, and about this movement ultimately needing to have a political party of its own, vis a vis the GP. I concentrated on the historical and present reasons and value for the existence of real and legitimate leftist parties to serve as the collective vehicle for organized civil society in resistance (the bulk of the conference's attendees). The response was overwhelmingly positive. Back outside, again staffing the Green Party table, the flow of people wanting to learn more about the party, and/or to invite me to further elaborate on one point or another of my speech, was truly very reaffirming, and fueled my spirits and very tired body for the duration of the conference. Questions included further elaboration of what a Green Party presence would look like in the valley, to elaborate on the Democratic party’s history of betrayal, the role of youth inside the GP, our party’s position on the wall, on the bombing of Syria, on immigrant rights, etc.
Both the panels I co-lead were relatively well attended. The Immigrant worker’s panel in particular, was very hands on. We actually talked strategy and several of the young folks there were ready to get organized and start working on tangible things. It was also a particularly emotionally moving panel, as many of the young people in attendance have immigrant parents who are terrified. Some of these young folks even beginning to really live with the fear and worry of having to take care of their younger siblings, if their parents get deported. It was these folks that were the most ready to get involved.
The Environmental Justice panel was also very active. My co-panelist was well-informed and very active himself, and together we did a good job in helping to connect the folks there to the whole liquid gas terminal issue that would be affecting this community.
Overall, I recruited almost 20 people, mostly young latino's for a follow up meeting or chat with the local young folks already trying to organize themselves as a Green Party chapter in the McAllen Metro area. In direct collaboration with the Green Party of Texas, the national Green Party aims to reinforce our presence across the Texas border, as we look towards playing a leading and solidarious role as a party in the growing immigrant worker rights movement there. This must be done directly and though people to people party building and real solidarity. Will not happen on FB. It wont be easy, and it will be hard work. A lot of it from scratch, but so be it. If this is the type of party we want to build, one that stands by the people and is made of the people, then we have to accept that only direct organizing action will get us the goods. I remain hugely optimisitc about the prospects.
Hasta la Victoria,