El Plan de Santa Barbara, April 1969
In April 1969, student leaders from around
Aztlan – an Indian name for the Southwest). What follows are excerpts from its Manifesto.
For all peoples, as with individual, the time comes when they must reckon with their history. For the
Chicano the present is a time of renaissance, of renacimiento. Our people and our community, el barrio and la
colonia, are expressing a new consciousness and a new resolve. Recognizing the historical tasks confronting our
people and fully aware of the cost of human progress, we pledge our will to move. We will move forward toward
our destiny as a people. We will move against those forces which have denied us freedom of expression and human
dignity. Throughout history the quest for cultural expression and freedom has taken the form of a struggle. Our
struggle, tempered by the lessons of the American past, is an historical reality.
For decades Mexican people in the
few, have. But the cost, the ultimate cost of assimilation, required turning away from el barrio and la colonia. In the
meantime, due to the racist structure of this society, to our essentially different life style, and to the socio-economic
functions assigned to our community by Anglo-American society - as suppliers of cheap labor and dumping
ground for the small-time capitalist entrepreneur- the barrio and colonia remained exploited, impoverished, and
As a result, the self-determination of our community is now the only acceptable mandate for social and
political action; it is the essence of Chicano commitment. Culturally, the word Chicano, in the past a pejorative and
class-bound adjective, has now become the root idea of a new cultural identity for our people. It also reveals a
growing solidarity and the development of a common social praxis. The widespread use of the term Chicano today
signals a rebirth of pride and confidence. Chicanismo simply embodies an ancient truth: that man is never
closer to his true self as when he is close to his community.
Chicanismo draws its faith and strength from two main sources: from the just struggle of our people and
from an objective analysis of our community's strategic needs. We recognize that without a strategic use of
education, an education that places value on what we value, we will not realize our destiny. Chicanos recognize the
central importance of institutions of higher learning to modern progress, in this case, to the development of our
community. But we go further: we believe that higher education must contribute to the information of a complete
man who truly values life and freedom.
The destiny of our people will be fulfilled. to that end, we pledge our efforts and take as our credo what
Jose Vasconcelos once said at a time of crisis and hope: "At this moment we do not come to work for the
university, but to demand that the university work for our people.''
Commitment to the struggle for Chicano liberation is the operative definition of the ideology used here.
Chicanismo involves a crucial distinction in political consciousness between a Mexican American and
a Chicano mentality. The Mexican American is a person who lacks respect for his ethnic and cultural heritage. Unsure of himself, he seeks assimilation as a way out of his “degraded” social status. Consequently, he remains politically ineffective. In contrast, Chicanismo reflects self-respect and pride in one’s ethnic and culturel backgrouond. Thus, the Chicano acts with confidence and with a range of alternatives in the
political world. He is capable of developing an effective ideology through action.
Mexican Americans must be viewed as potential Chicanos. Chicanismo is flexible enough to
relate to the varying levels of consciousness within La Raza. Regional variations must always be kept in mind as
well as the different levels of development, composition, maturity, achievement, and experience in political action.
Cultural nationalism is a means of total Chicano liberation.
There are definite advantages to cultural nationalism, but no inherent limitations. A Chicano ideology,
especially as it involves cultural nationalism, should be positively phrased in the form of propositions to the
Movement. Chicanismo is a concept that integrates self-awareness with cultural identity, a necessary step in
developing political consciousness. As such, it serves as a basis for political action, flexible enough to include the
possibility of coalitions. The related concept of La Raza provides an internationalist scope of Chicanismo, and La
Raza Cosmica furnishes a philosophical precedent. Within this framework, the Third World Concept merits
Campus Organizing: Notes on M.E.Ch.A.
M.E.Ch.A. is a first step to tying the students groups throughout the Southwest into a vibrant and
responsive network of activists who will respond as a unit to oppression and racism and will work in harmony
when initiating and carrying put campaigns of liberation for our people.
As of present, wherever one travels throughout the Southwest, one finds that there are different levels of
awareness on different campuses. The student movement is to a large degree a political movement and as such
must not elicit from our people the negative responses that we have experienced so often in the past in relation to politics, and often with good reason. To this end, then we must re-define politics for our people to
be a means of liberation. The political sophistication of our Raza must be raised so that they do not fall prey to
apologists and vendidos [sellouts] whose whole interest is their personal career of fortune. In addition, the student movement
is more than a political movement, it is cultural and social as well. The spirit of M.E.Ch.A. must be one of
hermandad [brotherhood] and cultural awareness. The ethic of profit and competition, of greed and intolerance, which the Anglo
society offers must be replaced by our ancestral communalism and love for beauty and justice. M.E.Ch.A. must
bring to the mind of every young Chicano that the liberations of this people from prejudice and oppression is in his
hands and this responsibility is greater than personal achievement and more meaningful that degrees, especially if
they are earned at the expense of his identity and cultural integrity.
M.E.Ch.A., then, is more than a name; it is a spirit of unity, of brotherhood, and a resolve to undertake a
struggle for liberation in society where justice is but a word. M.E.Ch.A. is a means to an end.
 La Raza, literally, “the Race.”