From: Workers Vanguard No. 1170
21 February 2020
The following article appeared under the Partisan Defense Committee’s Class-Struggle Defense Notes masthead in the print version of this issue of Workers Vanguard. The PDC is a class-struggle, non-sectarian legal and social defense organization which champions cases and causes in the interest of the whole of the working people. This purpose is in accordance with the political views of the Spartacist League.
(Class-Struggle Defense Notes)
Alvaro Luna Hernandez, who prefers to be called Xinachtli, is the newest recipient of the PDC class-war prisoner stipend program. Xinachtli is currently serving a 50-year prison sentence, framed up in 1996 after he disarmed a Texas sheriff who was trying to shoot him. Targeted for his political convictions, Xinachtli is a Chicano activist who has fought tenaciously against the oppression of Mexican Americans and the wretched conditions of prisoners in U.S. dungeons.
Xinachtli grew up in the poor, rural area of Alpine, Texas, a state with a history of segregation and murderous violence against the Mexican-derived population. In his youth, he experienced the racist oppression and police brutality characteristic of the Southwest border region.
In 1976, he was wrongfully convicted of murder and sentenced to life. While behind bars, Xinachtli studied history, politics, law and the prison system. He was one of the plaintiffs in a victorious class-action lawsuit against the abuse of inmates by the Texas Department of Corrections, earning him the hatred of the prison guards. He spent most of the 1980s in solitary confinement. Xinachtli was finally released in 1991 after his frame-up was exposed by the Houston Post.
Following his release, he founded the National Movement of La Raza and organized a campaign that stopped the execution of Ricardo Aldape Guerra, a Mexican man framed for the killing of a Houston cop in 1982. Guerra’s conviction was overturned and he was freed in 1997. Xinachtli also worked as a paralegal in Alpine, defending victims of cop terror. For his defiance against injustice, he was singled out by the authorities and subjected to repeated harassment and surveillance.
In 1996, Sheriff Jack McDaniel went to Xinachtli’s house to arrest him on a bogus claim of robbery. When Xinachtli challenged the sheriff for not having a warrant, McDaniel pointed a gun at him. Fearing for his life, Xinachtli disarmed McDaniel and fled. After a massive cop manhunt, he was captured, tried and convicted of aggravated police assault for allegedly pointing a gun at the sheriff, a charge he vehemently denies to this day. At the time of the arrest, Xinachtli was investigating the activities of Sheriff McDaniel for corruption, and had also named him years before in a successful civil rights lawsuit against Alpine police.
Xinachtli is the victim of a witchhunt and a police-orchestrated vendetta. Having served over two decades of his sentence already, Xinachtli won’t be eligible for parole until 2021. He remains unbowed and said in 2010: “I will never surrender my pride and dignity nor allow the system to ‘cut my tongue’ and I will always, without fear, speak out against these war crimes and crimes against humanity, no matter if I spend the rest of my life in a prison cage” (cited in “The Ballad of Alvaro Luna Hernandez,” counterpunch.org, 16 May 2011).
It is in the interest of the entire working class to fight the special oppression of Mexican Americans, who suffered “Juan Crow” segregation and continue to face racist discrimination in jobs, housing and education. While we do not share the political outlook of Chicano nationalism, we unequivocally defend Xinachtli and other fighters who have been victimized by the capitalist state for standing up to the rulers’ system of repression.
Mexican Americans are not an oppressed “colony” or a “Chicano nation” within the U.S., as Chicano nationalists uphold. For the overwhelming majority of Mexican Americans, the struggle posed is for equality and integration, i.e., a fight for necessities like low-cost, integrated housing, free bilingual education and quality medical care. In the immediate border regions, much of the Spanish-speaking population remains Mexican though residing in what is formally the U.S. We are for the right of self-determination in those contiguous border regions. It is up to the population there to decide whether they should be part of the U.S. or Mexico.
Ending racial oppression and achieving genuine social equality requires workers revolution to uproot the racist capitalist order. A workers government in the U.S. would redress the historic injustice of the Mexican-American War by returning certain border regions that were seized from Mexico, such as the strip between the Nueces River and the Río Bravo/Rio Grande.
We send Xinachtli our solidarity and invite others to do so as well. Send letters to: Alvaro Luna Hernandez (#255735), James V. Allred Unit, 2101 FM 369 North, Iowa Park, Texas 76367-6568.