Hundreds rally and march in opposition to maritime industry pollution
By Brent E. Beltrán
The Mexican community of San Diego and their supporters came together on Saturday in Barrio Logan’s Chicano Park to commemorate the 95th anniversary of the assassination of Mexican revolutionary leader Emiliano Zapata and to rally and march in opposition to maritime industry’s continued poisoning of this proud and defiant neighborhood.
The 10th annual Zapata March was organized by Mexican and Chicano activist groups Unión del Barrio, M.E.Ch.A. and Colectivo Zapatista with support from other radical organizations. The action was organized under the theme of “The Solution to Pollution is Revolution.”
Organizers “felt it was important to draw attention to the racist attempt by powerful ship building companies to overturn the Barrio Logan Community Plan and keep polluting our neighborhoods as they have done for decades.”
After five years of meetings the Barrio Logan Community Plan Update was finally approved by the San Diego City Council in late 2013 only to have maritime industry make do on their threats to force a public referendum to nullify the plan. Maritime industry chose not to compromise with the residents and prefers to continue doing business as usual. They have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to maintain their status quo as Barrio Logan residents suffer from some of the highest asthma rates in the state.
The route of the march, lead by Calpulli Mexihca Aztec dancers in full regalia, took protestors down Harbor Dr. and past the three main corporate opponents of the community plan: Continental Maritime, BAE Systems and General Dynamics NASSCO.
Marchers chanted continuously along the route:
“Zapata vive! La lucha sigue!” (Zapata lives! The struggle continues!)
“El pueblo unido jamás será vencido!” (The people united will never be defeated!)
“¡La solución no es polución!” (The solution is not pollution!)
“No, no, no, NASSCO, no, no!”
A short rally was held in front of NASSCO as police and security guards looked on. A representative of Calpulli Mexihca read a statement in Spanish condemning NASSCO and other maritime industry polluters for their intransigence towards Barrio Logan residents and the community plan.
After the mini NASSCO rally the march moved back towards Chicano Park for a larger rally featuring speakers and entertainment.
“We believe we must organize ourselves to defend our community, not only to win the June 3, 2014 votes in favor of Prop. B & C, but to defend our community from the many other urgent issues we face including the lack of affordable housing, lack of quality healthcare, too much Police-Migra attacks, bad schools, and barrio violence. To address these issues we will continue to organize our community to defend and uphold our democratic and human rights,” stated organizers of the Zapata March.
The Zapata March is but one action that will take place between now and the June 3 primary election. More are in the works. And some will take the fight directly to the doorsteps of those that have been most vocal in opposition to the Barrio Logan Community Plan, including the Port of San Diego Ship Repair Association, The Lincoln Club, San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce and Southwest Strategies among others.
In June, the entire city of San Diego will get to vote on Propositions B & C. A yes vote on B & C will help ensure a healthy future for Barrio Logan’s children and residents. The passage of Props B & C won’t be an end all to the pollution issues faced by Barrio Logan denizens. It will take many years and many more fights. This vote is just one more step in the right direction. Vote yes for Barrio Logan! Vote yes for healthy neighborhoods! Vote yes on B & C!