Perhaps it is fitting that the American military most prized leader Jim Mattis, the Secretary of Defense, resigned his post in the Trump administration as 2018 lays in its deathbed. Without Mattis, the only “adult” left that could have continued to help manage the “child and his friends and his toys and his playground” there is little hope for a remedy other than the drastic process of impeachment or defeat in 2020.
My nephew Joey Cabral fought under General James Norman Mattis in the 1st Marine Division that invaded Iraq in 2003. Joey survived and came home to an alien world made so by the reality of combat.
Joey died 2 years later on I-25. He carried the challenges and burdens of war to the end.
The pain of his passing that still remains despite the years that have gone by remind me of a passage in Gonzalez’ poem: I Am Joaquin. “I am the eyes of woman, sheltered beneath her shawl of black, that bear the pain of sons long buried or dying, dead on the battlefield or on the barbed wire of social strife.” The words encapsulate the challenges and sacrifices that are part of the Latino experience in America as the community navigates the difficulties of establishing its leadership in the country and overcome the “Gestapo” tactics of those that seek to conserve what they had and are what could be called “the Tyrant Holdfast.”
The poem however finishes with a flurry of words that encapsulate the Latino community drive to leadership as it states: “Like a sleeping giant it slowly Rears its head To the Sound of Tramping feet, Clamoring voices, Mariachi strains, Fiery Tequila explosions, The smell of chile verde and Soft brown eyes of expectations for a Better life.”
2019 represents represents a new intensity of this movement to “make America whole again” under the leadership of a new generation and new players. The country is divided because the “changing of the guard going on.”
The country has also oscillated between majority-minority extremes as African Americans realized their political dream of having a Black president followed by racist Whites realizing theirs of having their bigotry blessed. Unfortunately, both have singled out Latinos for kind words and no action or made them the brunt of their campaign for political dominance.
As I Am Joaquin says however, the turn of the Latino community is coming and will not be part of that back and forth reality. Rather, there is permanency in that change as the future of America rest with the destiny of the Latino community in whatever form it takes.
2019 will the launching of major Latinos faces for President of the United States. Julian Castro, the former Mayor of San Antonio, former Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development and twin-brother of Congressman Joaquin Castro has organized an exploratory committee with the intent of launching a run for president.
2019 will also see the emergence other established Latino political leaders that can bring America together again. Among them is our own Colorado native son, Ken Salazar that has been a very effective Colorado Attorney General, Unites States Senator and Secretary of the Interior.
The point is that although the dark days for Latinos are far from over, 2019 represents a light at the end of the tunnel for political change. The community has endured and continues to endure a lot.
That experience however, will make Latinos much better leaders. Happy New Year.