La Raza Unida….
2022 is the 5Oth anniversary of that eventful 1972 Raza Unida Party Convention in El Paso that sent a powerful signal to the Texas political establishment, showing that there were enough voters to put a third party, a Chicano political party, no less, on the ballot. No, except for some local victories, RUP won nothing at the state level in the general election, but it changed politics in Texas by proving that the Mexican-American vote was substantial enough to put a gubernatorial candidate and a full slate up for election. Seriously as we are taken, it is sad that the so-called sleeping giant is underperforming…. it is actually, the traditional stereotypical Mexican deep into his siesta, not to be bothered to come out of his stupor and go vote in numbers that can make a difference. Make no mistake, the numbers are there but the turnout continues to be dismal.
The Raza Unida Party is now gone but a new generation of pragmatic, progressive Chicano politicians is out there, beneficiaries of what RUP ushered in. I was at that 1972 convention with my cameras, taking as many pictures as I could to try and get a visual impression of the electricity that a sense of empowerment generated.
While I was taking pictures, a friend, probably Pancho Velásquez or Carlos Guerra grabbed one of my Nikons and snapped a picture of renowned Los Angeles filmmaker Jesús Salvador Treviño filming the event and me taking photographs. We were still in our twenties at that time. Jesús is on the left of the central person with his back to the camera and I’m just barely peeking out to the right of him.