Skip to main content

Nativo Lopez: Does He Speak for MAPA and Mexican Americans?

On May 20, 2010, Nativo Lopez, President of the Mexican American Political Association (MAPA), former MEChA organizer, ousted Santa Ana School Board official, and open-borders advocate made one more in a series of appearances in Los Angeles Superior Court relative to felony charges by the Los Angeles District Attorney of voter fraud and other serious allegations related to registering and voting in Los Angeles while residing in Orange County.  

Conviction could result in up to three years in prison. His preliminary hearing, now set for July 12, was postponed by Lopez’s repeated refusal to identify himself to the court at each appearance and the decision by Commissioner Kristi Lousteau in March to assign him for mental-competency determination before continuing with criminal proceedings. (http://orangejuicelbog.c/2010/05/nativo-lopez-update/

Nativo did not have any problem identifying himself on May 18 as a leader of the protest at Staples Center against Lakers coach Phil Jackson’s comment that Arizona’s new immigration law is irrelevant to basketball. He was also named as an organizer of the huge May 1, 2010, Los Angeles Immigration March, mirroring a similar event in 2006 when he and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa stood shoulder to shoulder in televised news interviews.

On its website, the Boston Branch of the International Socialism Organization just announced that Nativo Lopez will speak at its upcoming 2010 conference in Chicago in June and Oakland on July 1, which should allow him time to return for his next appearance in Superior Court and, hopefully, remember his name. (

On her current re-election campaign site, Green Party Mayor Gayle McLaughlin of Richmond, CA, shows a photo of  Nativo Lopez  at her  kickoff, speaking not only as  the National President of MAPA, but 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.

This begs the question whether East-LA-born Larry Lopez (aka Nativo Vigil Lopez), really speaks for Mexican Americans in general, and, more specifically, whether he represents 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 recent 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.” (Daily News, April 19, 2010)

If that is true, Lopez is unaware of his irrelevance. He just commented as President of MAPA in support of “Alto Arizona!,” the March 29 National Day of Protest against SB 1070, which bussed thousands to Phoenix, and the “Dream Act 2010” demonstration, where prone protesters  blocked  egress from a major Los Angeles freeway to demand permanent residency and financial benefits for undocumented students. If Nativo’s customary inflammatory, divisive rhetoric does not represent MAPA and most Mexican Americans, it is time for other MAPA members--among them judges and educators—and other American Latinos to clarify this perception. A closer look at  Lopez’s activism and values can allow those for whom he purports to speak, and those he opposes, to make an informed decision regarding the power and influence Nativo Lopez should have on local and national issues.

In “License to Kill” (  on September 10, 2003, Lowell Ponte writes about the recall of Nativo Lopez from the Santa Ana School Board, stating, “Nativo Lopez believes that Spanish should be the language of California…and lobbied parents to sign waivers so that their children could continue to be taught in Spanish, not English.” Ponte quotes a Wall Street Journal article on September 3, 2003, entitled “Cruz Control”, which states that, despite efforts of Cruz Bustamante, “Families in this mostly Hispanic [Santa Ana] community launched a recall petition against Nativo Lopez, who…was recalled by a resounding 71% vote. He lost every precinct in this largely-Hispanic city.”  Ponte also cites the Orange County Register as reporting, “’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.”

In a 2004 interview, Sarah Knopp asked Lopez why he thought the Democratic Party decided not to seek the endorsement of MAPA. He responded, “They truly fear an unscripted appearance before the Latino community…This is an example of plasticity and falsehood that will eventually catch up with the centrists.”  When asked about his change to affiliation with the Green Party, 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 ( 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 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.”

Nativo also supported legislation in Oklahoma by Senator Frank Shurdon in 2004 to override a statewide referendum that made cockfighting a felony and to allow it on a county-by-county basis.  Shurdon stated, “…gamefowl breeding is a $100 million per year business in Oklahoma…” In October 2005, 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.” 5/articles/kranitz/kranitz.htm

Reviewing Nativo Lopez’s political advocacy is not complete without mentioning a 2009 OC Weekly  post, entitled, “Nativo Lopez Compares Himself to Gandhi,” which quoted  his comment on passive civil disobedience during his lecture at Princeton University: “"Refusing to cooperate with the U.S. census count is a political act of noncooperation and noncompliance in the best of Gandhian tradition, conducted for the purpose of pressuring the political regime that pursues the persecution of immigrants on a daily basis...”.  This might also provide insight into Lopez’s reason for refusing to identify himself to face current charges for voter fraud--frustrating court officials and wasting the resources of the Los Angeles criminal justice system. 

Considering his high visibility and philosophical stances diametrically opposed to  many current and aspiring Mexican American political leaders, it is crucial that MAPA clarify whether Nativo Lopez officially speaks for the national organization. There is also another perplexing question that hopefully will be answered in upcoming courtroom proceeding; that is, why would a 57-year-old public figure with the political savvy of Nativo Lopez  risk three years in prison merely to vote in Los Angeles?


Popular Video