Nativo Lopez, immigrant-rights activist and cockfighting advocate who headed the National Mexican American Political Association since 2003 has announced in a three-page e-mail that he is resigning from public political life effective May 1, 2012. Hopefully this also signals his retirement as a vocal proponent the brutal blood sport he claims is "one of the social realities of Mexican-American and Latino communities.”
One of the most polarizing and inflammatory contemporary Latino political figures. Nativo Lopez is now 60 and states that with 44 years of activism behind him he has decided to focus solely on his personal life.
On June 22, 2011, Lopez pled guilty to one count of voter-registration fraud in Los Angeles Superior Court, related to charges that he lived in Santa Ana when he registered to vote in Los Angeles in 2008. His public defender agreed to dismissal of the remaining seven felony counts against him. The terms of his sentence were 10 days in County Jail, three years probation, and 400 hours of community service.
In reality, it is questionable whether the divisive East-LA-born Larry Lopez (aka Nativo Vigil Lopez), really has ever spoken for Mexican Americans in general, and, more specifically, whether he has represented the views of MAPA, a historic, respected Latino political organization that advanced such notable Mexican Americans as former Los Angeles Councilman and later Congressman Edward R. Roybal, into important political and leadership positions. A 2010 Los Angeles Daily News story, “MAPA’s success leads to its decline,” quotes Jose Sandvoal, president of Young Latino Democrats of San Fernando Valley, describing MAPA as…such an old school Chicano organization…which isn’t very relevant to my generation today.”
Nativo Lopez has maintained a significant media image as the National President of MAPA and also as National Director of Hermandad Mexicana Latinoamericana, “…a community service and advocacy organization for Mexican and Latin American immigrants throughout the United States.” But the CA Secretary of State’s site indicates both Lopez’s Los Angeles-based MAPA Mexican American Political Association National and the Santa Ana Hermandad Mexicana Nacional corporations are suspended. http://kepler.sos.ca.gov/cbs.aspx
"THE DON KING OF COCKFIGHTS:
In a 2004 SocialistWorker.org interview, Sarah Knopp asked Nativo Lopez why he thought the Democratic Party decided not to seek the endorsement of MAPA. He explained that the Democratic Party “…is driven by white male millionaires and their political consultants.” He stated he agrees with the Green Party platform “99 percent” and then made a surprising admission, “I still covertly like cockfighting—an old Mexican tradition.”
That was not a slip of the tongue. On June 10, 2005, Nativo Lopez wrote to Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez in opposition to an anti-cockfighting bill introduced by Senator Nell Soto: “On behalf of the State/National Office of the Mexican-American Political Association, I want to…express our formal opposition to SB 156.” Lopez continued, “The author and the sponsor, The Humane Society of the United States, are ...completely oblivious to the cultural, economic, and social realities of the Mexican-American and Latino communities.”
Senator Soto responded in a news release, “I was very disappointed to learn of MAPA’s opposition to my bill, SB 156. I have worked with the Mexican American Political Association for many years. In fact, my husband Phillip Soto was a founding member of the first MAPA chapter in the San Gabriel Valley….But with all due respect, for you to imply that cockfighting is part of cultural, economic and social realities of our community is an insult to law-abiding Mexican-Americans and Latinos who are repulsed by such barbaric – and illegal – activities. In addition to being against the law, cockfighting is both brutal and inhumane – and it helps reinforce negative stereotypes of Mexican-Americans and Latinos.”
Nativo Lopez was undaunted in his quest to maintain legal rights to engage roosters with knives tied to their legs in brutal battles to death—an activity fraught with gambling by bloodthirsty spectators. According to a major cockfighting website (Sabong.net) on July 16, 2005, the Association for the Preservation of Gamefowl (APG) and MAPA formed a special chapter, called the California APG/MAPA, announcing, “We will have more political clout with MAPA behind us, and we think this is a smart political move for the APG.” The announcement advised that membership is $20 a year, with $12 sent to Nativo Lopez at MAPA and $8 deposited in the California APG/MAPA account.
As recently as March 15, 2010, a bulletin on GameRooster.com announced the Southern California APG/MAPA Poultry Show in Riverside on March 28, and stated, “You must be a So/Cal APG/MAPA member to participate.”
OC Weekly writer Steve Lowery called Nativo “The Don King of Cockfights” and analyzed various cultural and other reasons why Lopez might champion this brutal blood sport. Michael Rodriguez, former Stanislaus County Animal Services Director summarized, “Cockfighting has only one culture—the almighty green culture.” http://www.opposingviews.com/i/nativo-lopez-does-he-speak-for-mapa-and-mexican-americans
PUBLIC CONTROVERSIES AND INVESTIGATIONS
Nativo Lopez has been the center of many public controversies and investigations. Among the most notable were claims that he misused funds granted by the CA Department of Education for English classes for immigrant students. As a result, he was recalled from the Santa Ana School Board by an overwhelming 71% of the mainly Latino voters of the district. Critics accused Lopez of caring only about his own political interests and trying to skirt California English-only instruction laws by promoting bilingual education.
Born Larry Lopez, former MEChA organizer Nativo Lopez was accused in 1996 of registering voters before their citizenship was finalized for the Orange County race in which Democrat Loretta Sanchez defeated conservative incumbent Robert Dornan by 984 votes.
Lopez also ran into difficulties in 2002 over federal funding received by Hermandad Mexicana Nacional alleged to have been used to pay the mortgage on his headquarters in Santa Ana. The Orange County Register wrote, “’A Santa Ana nonprofit has agreed to pay more than $600,000 to the U.S. Government to settle a case in which prosecutors alleged that Hermandad Mexicana Nacional leader Nativo Lopez wrongly diverted grant money meant for English classes for immigrants.”
Nativo has promoted a significant media image as the National President of MAPA and as National Director of Hermandad Mexicana Latinoamericana, “…a community service and advocacy organization for Mexican and Latin American immigrants throughout the United States.” But the CA Secretary of State’s site indicates both Lopez’s Los Angeles-based MAPA Mexican American Political Association National and the Santa Ana Hermandad Mexicana Nacional corporations are suspended. http://kepler.sos.ca.gov/cbs.aspx
Not surprisingly, he is exiting from public life with the same vitriol that has been his hallmark since his first activism in East Los Angeles when he joined picket lines at age 13 to protest a cut in funding for a community center and then graduated to protests against alleged police abuse and became a leader of MeCHA, along with now-Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, with whom he has often been photographed at public rallies in Los Angeles in recent years.
GLOBAL JUSTICE AND ANTI-CAPITALISM
Nativo Lopez leaves us with this summation on Global Justice and Anti-Capitalism: “What I have learned over close to half a century is that the capacity of capitalism to re-invent itself, to absorb its losses and re-adapt, but most importantly, to beguile, co-opt, and corrupt its opponents and the general citizenry, is truly astonishing.”
“It utilizes its political parties (of differing persuasions), private foundations, tax code, public institutions, corporations of all categories, churches – traditional, new age, and evangelical, – its monopolized media, public and private education, its regulatory agencies, statutes and codes, lawyers, judges, and courts, and the public administrative bureaucracy, etc. to induce consent of the citizenry.”
More Nativo Lopez…