The 1% Cacique Democracy

EditorialBy: Armando Vazquez

I was born 65 years ago in the small village of Ahualulco, Jalisco, Mexico. After the rains came a barren and foreboding valley was temporarily transformed into a magnificent tapestry of God’s green promise to all of us. It was a promise of a better life for the impoverished campesinos. But that prayer of deliverance recited so piously, a desperate and incessant whisper by the campesinos, seemed to disappear into the cruelest black hole.

My father with his four brothers and three brother in- laws would march off  before sunrise to work on the caciques land.  They planted the caciques’ maize seeds, using the caciques’ tools, and working the caciques’ mules. Nothing, absolutely nothing belonged to my father or my uncles, except the bellyache in their guts from hunger or the alcoholism that was starting to kill three of them.

The Vazquez family made the decision that has been made for millennium, forced by hunger on desperate people all over the world.  They would migrate to find a better life. We came from Mexico.  I am acutely aware today we had no other choice because of a few very rich caciques controlled everything: the land, the food, the water, the church, the police, the businesses, the bars, the laws and the guns. In their greed they regulated our hunger and desperation by taxing everything.  The Vazquez family migrated 57 years ago because we were slowly being starved to death.

I learned early in my life that power corrupts, absolute power corrupt absolutely.

We Mexicans have a saying when we lament our often luckless fate: “So far from God, yet so close to the United States.”  Only a Mexican really understands that incredible paradox, we trade in one oppressor for another, willingly and without reservations; hemos llegado al Norte, para echarle ganas y consigir esa buena vida que merecermos!” But the cacique we left behind are no match for what we find in El Norte.  Here the 1% cacique are more far more insidious and armed with laws, guns and power.  But, at the very least, we are not starving to death. Yet, we lament our powerless march towards modern day indentured servitude.

We have all come from all over the world to the United States to seek a better life.  We all want is justice and to live free of tyranny.

Here in the United States, like in Mexico, and all over the world, we see the way power corrupts.  How it decides that a young man of color’s life is worthless. The system is rigged.  We know it and we can do precious little to change it. They say that we live in a democracy and that the vote matters.  Look around America; we would be fools to think that we as a people are voting for a county like this that has been so polarized and hijacked by so few. 

The 1% caciques have all the money, all of the property, all of the laws, all of the cops and soldiers, the media. We, the 99%, have precious little.

In many ways I am back to where my journey began some 65 years ago. My life, like the life of many of Americans, is now controlled by the insatiable greed of the very few, much like the caciques who ruled the lives of my forebears in Mexico. But I now reside in the United States.  I am a American citizen and I will not leave or migrate to another county like my father. This is my county and I will organize, mobilize, work, fight until my dying breath to make America live up to the promise that is this democracy has pledged. This land we call America is worthy of its lofty aspiration of liberty, equality and justice for all!

Armando Vazquez

Armando Vazquez

Armando Vazquez is a retired CEO, Executive Director, Business-Owner, teacher, community builder, group leader with demonstrated work history designing and implementing a variety of business, management, educational and vocational community support programs. Successful organizer of activities designed to promote and advance individual and community. Well-disciplined consensus builder.

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