When I arrived at Thurgood Marshall Hall, located in the University of Maryland’s School of Public Policy, the school’s staff warmly welcomed me and the people who organized the DC events. They were eager to show off their brand new, state-of-the-art facilities.
This venue was a change of pace from the previous days' activities. I had given a talk to union leaders and community organizers in Lynn, Massachusetts, did a book presentation at the People’s Forum in New York City, and addressed a group of mostly Mexican newcomers organized by CASA in Maryland.
Mexico Solidarity Project (MSP) Bulletin’s founder Sam Pizzigati had arranged for us to meet with Robert Orr, Dean of the School of Public Policy, before my presentation. I felt somewhat uncomfortable with all this attention. After all, the MSP tour was planned as an opportunity to facilitate connections between people in Mexico and the US. My role was to serve as a conduit for those links, rather than being the focus, the individual “expert."
Of course, opportunities to sit down and talk with influential people like Dean Orr, who once served as a United Nations under secretary-general, should not be missed. I thought to myself that people like me don’t find themselves in spaces like this too often and wondered how forthright I should be about my political views. It occurred to me that precisely because people like me are not often here that I should represent exactly who I am.
At one point I told Dean Orr, “I am first and foremost an anti-imperialist, I wear that on my sleeve, and I’m here to advance Mexico Solidarity Project’s anti-imperialist and international mission.” Rather than write me off, Dean Orr joined with Sam, Juliana Barnet (another tour organizer), and me to brainstorm ways we could collaborate to defend Mexico’s national sovereignty.
The reception was followed by a talk for students and faculty organized by the student group La Gente. At the event’s end, several attendees excitedly came up to ask about how they could get involved in our work.
These sorts of encounters were repeated at every single stop on MSP’s tour — roughly a dozen of them, at universities, book stores, community halls, and living rooms — and it confirmed that, despite the busy schedule and long days, this outreach work is absolutely worth it. From Boston down the coast to Raleigh, North Carolina, people were eager to learn about Mexico’s Fourth Transformation, to be inspired by the significant advances made by working-class people in Mexico, to become involved in the work of the MSP, and to join the internationalist cause.
That last point was perhaps best illustrated by a comment from a local union president at a dinner in MSP member Jeff Crosby’s home. After hearing about the possibility of unilateral military action by the United States against Mexico as part of US efforts to halt Morena’s advancing political project, he declared loudly to everyone in the room: “If the motherf**kers invade Mexico, we got your back!”