Lessons from Mexico's Independence Day and Hispanic Heritage Month

To the Editor:

Late at night on Sept. 15, 1810, the parish priest of the small Mexican village of Dolores, Padre Miguel Hidalgo, tolled his church bells and summoned the startled congregation (mostly poor Indian villagers) to the church, where he proclaimed Mexico's independence from Spain. By the morning of Sept. 16, the whole countryside was inflamed with revolution. This climactic event has come to be known as "El Grito de Dolores," literally, "The Cry of Pains or Sorrows." It was to be the beginning of a long, painful struggle that appropriately started with the "cry of pain."

Padre Miguel Hidalgo launched the war of independence with only a few thousand impoverished followers against the might of the Spanish armies. It would be good to remember some of the things that this extraordinary priest and patriot represented, especially for us here in Colorado Springs who are often the targets of an excessive right-wing agenda and a rigid but often hypocritical fundamentalist religiosity.

Padre Hidalgo, sometimes called the George Washington of Mexico, was not anything like Washington. Unlike our founding father, Hidalgo was not a privileged member of the bourgeois slave-holding class. Unlike our founder, Hidalgo stood for the rights of the common people, not the privileges of an entrenched property-owning upper crust. Unlike other members of the Catholic clergy of his time, he stood for the rights of the Indians and other downtrodden people of Mexico. Unfortunately for Mexico, his high ideals were subverted by an elite class bent on the preservation of their own privileges.

Padre Hidalgo's impassioned cry for liberty unleashed in Mexico the pent-up frustrations of the victims of a social structure that condemned the working classes to a harsh servitude in a church-state system that the church sanctioned as divinely ordained. This battle still goes on in Mexico and Latin America, and increasingly it seems to characterize our own country. The growing income gap between rich and poor, the deterioration of the buying power of the U.S. middle class, and the strident cries of the right-wing religious fundamentalists who believe that some kind of state-sponsored religion will be our salvation, are signs that the United States is becoming a kind of Third World country, with need for a real social revolution to correct the imbalances. The lesson of Hidalgo's life and struggle and the Mexican War of Independence is that the real separation of church and state is absolutely essential for true democracy, and that any society that degrades into a rigid caste system of rich and poor is doomed to failure.

-- Jose J. Barrera and members of Colorado Springs Hispanic Community
Colorado Springs

Who smells?

To the Editor:

As usual, the conservative answer to bettering themselves is to tear everything else apart (Public Eye, Sept. 6). Even a missing woman presumed to be dead isn't safe from their rusty knives. All that would have been needed was a television anchorwoman calling President Clinton's deceased mother a barfly and the scene would have been complete. I guess, if you can't pull yourself out of the gutter, you hole up in a resort hotel and congratulate yourself on how well you can convince the public that it is someone else who smells, "not little ol' us."

--Terry Blakstad
Willits, Calif.

A brief plea

To the Editor:

Forgive me if you've heard this before, but as someone near enough to the tragedy in New York City, I would like to make a brief plea for:

1. Blood donations, no matter where you are in the United States or Canada. They are flying in blood from as far away as Denver, so it does matter.

2. Money donations to the Red Cross. There is rumored to be asbestos from the towers' original construction all over the area and there are not enough gas masks and other face masks for doctors, rescue workers and emergency crews to even enter the vicinity. Call 800/GIVELIFE or 877/REDCROSS. It's busy a lot, we know, but please keep trying.

3. A prayer, even if you don't pray.

My cousin's spouse was in one of the towers and is all right, thank God. Several children in our schools and towns went home to no parents last night.

My condolences and prayers go out constantly to any and all receiving this e-mail who know or love someone affected by this horror.

Thank you for your patience with this unusual message and for your time and consideration.

-- Deirdre Weaver
Via the Internet

What's in the water?

To the Editor:

In just a few days, the Colorado Springs City Council/Utilities Board will make a final decision regarding the addition of hydrofluosilicic acid to the public water supply. Hydrofluosilicic acid is a waste byproduct of the fertilizer industry, and contains lead, arsenic, mercury and silicon compounds, in addition to fluoride. There is no chronic toxicology (long-term safety) data on this waste byproduct and a recent Dartmouth study showed a significant correlation with increased blood-lead levels in children where hydrofluosilicic acid is added to the public water supply. The Union of EPA scientists has called for a national moratorium on the use of this industrial waste fluoridation product and the Fort Collins Water Board has recommended removing it -- after less than 10 years of use -- from the Fort Collins water supply.

If this information concerns you, contact the members of the City Council to let them know you oppose water fluoridation with an untested, industrial waste byproduct. Attend the final meeting on this issue on Sept. 19 at 9 a.m., at the Plaza of the Rockies, 121 S. Tejon, South Tower, 5th floor, Blue River Board Room. There will be a public comment period. Speak up or drink up!

-- Lisa McLaughlin and Thomas E. Levy, M.D., J.D.

Shadow government needed

To the Editor:

Yes, our 90,000 votes in Florida gave you George Bush as president, so what are we doing to make up for it? Well, in Europe it's a long-standing tradition for the opposition party to form a shadow cabinet to critique specific actions of the administration in power. Our last two national Green Conventions have empowered a committee to recruit the members of such a shadow cabinet.

Your publication or network can have input on this. Some years ago issue #48 of "New Options" called for readers to nominate experts in the cabinet areas who could promote a presumably more progressive agenda. The results were printed in issue #53.

Why not print our Ten Key Values (available at www.greenpartyus.org) and call for your constituents to nominate leaders to serve as "problem solvers in their areas of expertise"? Consistent with a movement away from patriarchy, we greens feel "expert problem-solver" is a better definition for a cabinet secretary than "friend and ally of the president." We further feel that the comments made by such a shadow cabinet will help clarify the issues for average Americans, most of whom subscribe to our 10 key values without realizing it. Shadow cabinet members will make snappy, newsworthy response to the administration.

What leaders are admired, dedicated, expert and progressive enough to serve as a Shadow Cabinet to critique the Bush administration? Won't you and your readers/constituents help us find them?

-- Glenn Hopkins
Member, Green Shadow Cabinet Exploratory Committee
Santa Monica, Calif.

Ignore it and it will not go away

To the Editor:

Hello, I thought I would write you a note to tell you that I appreciated your article titled "Safety First!" (Student Survival Guide, Sept. 6). Assuming that you will probably catch your share of flack for it, my opinion is that articles like that are what need to be printed. The general populace of the United States seems to hold the notion that if we just ignore the drug culture, it will go away, and that the lives we lose in the process were not worth saving. Thank you for acknowledging the fact that young people are going to explore, and that knowledge is the key factor in the "war on drugs."

-- Cecelia E Foerch
Via the Internet

Who's genitally challenged?

To the Editor:

David Anthony's wailing missive "Genitally Challenged" (Letters, Sept. 6) was good for several hearty yucks. Particularly since his perspective is exactly reversed from reality -- which is a native attribute of right-wingers in the Springs, observed since I moved here from Columbia, Md.

In truth, the Indy is the only paper I've noticed in the area with any cojones. A paper true to itself -- that doesn't spout the bought-and-paid-for propaganda generated by corporate or libertarian think tanks, like the Cato Institute, or the "Thomas Sowells" or "Mike Rosens" of the world. And it does this in what is arguably the most conservative metropolitan sector of the country outside Dallas, Texas and Richmond, Va.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but it takes a helluva lot more balls to write what the Indy does in a citadel of conservatism, than to just hop on board the already established repub-libertarian-corporate think bandwagon. "Balls" are awarded to the entity or person with the guts to articulate an unpopular thesis in the midst of sheeple who all believe the same basic things ("corporate is good," "government spending only for corporate and military welfare," "state's rights" etc. etc.)

Make no mistake. The paper that needs to "grow some balls" is emphatically not the Indy. It takes balls to speak truth to power. It takes very few -- or micro-ones --to merely spout the same crappola that everyone and his uncle does.

-- Phil Stahl
Colorado Springs


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