The Corner

‘If I Want to Make Changes, I Have to Infiltrate the System’

Bernie Sanders’ candidacy has had the advantage of outing today’s Democrats as the socialists they are. As Brother Geraghty put it recently, “America Now Has an Openly Socialist Party“.

But Sanders isn’t the only socialist who’s migrated to the Democratic party. In my homepage piece on Paul Ryan and my earlier Corner posting I mention Luis Gutierrez, a Democrat congressman from Chicago who is Ryan’s partner in pushing for increased immigration. Little known is that Gutierrez was a member of the now-defunct Puerto Rican Socialist Party (PSP), a Marxist-Leninist outfit inspired by Castro’s revolution. Here’s the party’s flag:

Gutierrez socialist flag

In the 2003 book National Performances: The Politics of Class, Race, and Space in Puerto Rican Chicago, anthropologist Ana Ramos-Zayas quotes one of Gutierrez’s former comrades commenting approvingly about the PSP as a more-effective counterpart to the FALN terrorist group:

I admire Gutierrez. He used to be a PSP leader. He had the background. He was able to notice that “if I want to make changes, I have to infiltrate the system.”

Gutierrez came up in other interviews by Ramos-Zayas and, though not employing violence, Gutierrez’s goals don’t seem to have been that different from those of the FALN. Here’s a local small business owner:

Ada explained that Chicago Puerto Rican politicians were all nationalists: “You see, Gutierrez and Billy Ocasio are nationalists. They are with the FALN.”

Another interview subject:

At a West Town gym Puerto Rican aerobics instructor Lisa Marrero told a neighbor and me how she disliked Congressman Gutierrez, whom she associated with “those people who placed bombs.” Lisa commented: “I went to Northeastern [Illinois University] with him. He was friends with all those people who placed bombs and are in jail. I went to school with them. Those people are trouble.”

Trouble indeed.


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