Downtown Albuquerque was the scene of a rally Tuesday evening for presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, as well as a protest against him. As Trump supporters gathered in the Albuquerque Convention Center, protesters outside chanted denunciations of his message of anti-immigrant bigotry, militarism, protectionism, authoritarianism and cuts to social programs.
New Mexico has one of the most abysmal of records of the 50 states in terms of poverty, hunger, education and other socioeconomic indicators. In addition, Trump’s reactionary nostrums are opposed by the large percentage of immigrant, second-generation and Latino workers in the state, to such an extent that Republican Governor Susana Martinez, often touted as the nation’s “first Latina governor,” has so far held back from endorsing Trump.
At the rally, Trump made a point of slamming the right-wing governor several times for supposedly not doing “a better job,” criticizing her, among other things, for permitting Syrian refugees to come to New Mexico.
The protest was called by a coalition of Hispanic and liberal groups, including the Southwest Organizing Project and Progress New Mexico, none of them affiliated with either the Sanders or Clinton campaigns.
A few protesters were able to enter the building, where they interrupted Trump’s rant, but they were quickly grabbed and removed. The protesters outside, though very loud, were peaceful. After Trump left the rally, however, confrontations between police and some protesters took place. A glass door was broken—though original reports of a gunshot were later disavowed—and damage to police cars were reported. Most of the protesters did not participate in the violence.
A World Socialist Web Site reporter talked to some of the protest participants.
Miguel is a New Mexico native, a veteran and a city worker. He came with two other people to protest Trump’s presence. When asked what could be done, he said, “I think we need to go back five decades, back to when the top 1 percent was actually being taxed enough to where they were paying their share. FDR had it right. Under FDR the country grew, people had jobs and everything.”
The reporter noted the Obama administration’s and the Democrats’ role in the growth of inequality. “Yeah,” Miguel replied. “The Democrats and the Republicans are both to blame. Neither party is right. Unfortunately money talks and that’s where we’re at in this country. There should not be career politicians. There should be term limits. I’m for that for sure. The president’s got term limits; why don’t the senators and the rest of the Congress?”
Mary Ellen, a retired teacher who lives in Española, 90 miles north of Albuquerque, came to the rally “with my friend Betsy, who’s off chanting somewhere.” She and her husband, a sustainable farmer, are “big supporters of Bernie Sanders. My worry is of course that if and when he does get in, it’ll be really hard for him to be effective.
“I think Trump is incredibly dangerous. This whole support of a fascist demagogue is very, very scary and we’re naïve in this country if we think we’re immune from the kind of thing that we’ve seen back in the ’30s, in the ’20s, with fascist dictators, because this would be one more step towards that, and we’ve really got to change.”
The reporter mentioned that there are fascist movements in Europe, so it is not a unique phenomenon. He pointed to the “left” parties and the role of their policies in assisting the extreme right. He added that under Obama, the rich have gotten richer, while Obama has deported more people than any other president. He also noted that Sanders has already said that he will support Clinton, the consensus candidate of the imperialist establishment.
“I’d love to see the truth come out,” Mary Ellen said. “I’d love to see the press really address the lies that Trump is telling, really address the agenda that Hillary Clinton has in place. I congratulate Bernie for maybe swaying her a little bit on some things, but I worry that it will just be like with Obama who said so many good things—and there are things about him I admire—but he didn’t do the job that I expected him to do, and deporting immigrants is just one of them. … I think that we’ve got a long way to go and socialism is eventually going to ameliorate those problems, but we’re in for the long haul.”
Patsy and Ross recently graduated from El Rancho High School in Rio Rancho, just northeast of Albuquerque. Both plan to go to Central New Mexico Community College (CNM). Patsy wants to get a degree in culinary arts. “I’m going to CNM to save money because UNM [University of New Mexico] is really expensive. If I go to a community college for two years, I’ll save a lot of money.”
Ross said, “I’m going for my EMT to be a fireman. I’m going to stay at CNM for my two years; that’s all I need to get my EMT basic. I want to get my intermediate and that’s going to take two years.”
Ross said they came “just to support the cause … we just need to make people aware of why we’re actually here, to get positivity, and I don’t think Trump’s going to do the best for our country right now.”
Patsy said, “I have family from Mexico and I completely disagree with Trump and I’m here to show my support for all of our workers here in the nation.” The reporter pointed out the record number of deportations carried out by the Obama administration. Neither had heard that statistic. Patsy replied, “That’s the first time I’m hearing it; I don’t know.”
Ross has already registered to vote and Patsy will be 18 by November, so she’ll be eligible to vote.
Sonora is a community coordinator at Atrisco Heritage Academy High School “up on the mesa, the biggest high school in the state, and I do a lot of community work, organizing.
“Our students face a lot of issues, like poverty is probably one of the biggest issues. We’re a Title 1 school, so that means that a majority of our students are low-income. So we see issues around drug abuse, hunger, graduation rates. Yeah, hunger’s a big issue; we’re actually doing a lot of work around food justice, food insecurity in our city really. There are a lot of issues that our students face but I think … young people are ready to learn, ready to learn about their social situation and why they’re in poverty and all these different issues and that their communities face.
“It’s my civic duty to be here. He’s the epitome of intolerance and I think our community doesn’t want him here. New Mexico is not a state where we want him.
“I would probably say that we really need to analyze capitalism as a driving force of what’s going on in our nation, and I’m a great fan of Bernie Sanders because he’s addressing a lot of the people who are getting wealthier off the backs of all different … the working class in general.” The reporter replied that Sanders’ program does not really address the fundamental issue, which is capitalism, and discussed his support for imperialist wars and his repeated promises to support Hillary Clinton.
Sonora mentioned other problems in New Mexico: “I definitely want to say education. We’re 50th in the nation, I believe, and I think that really speaks to what’s going on in Santa Fe [the state capital] and our students are inundated with testing and I mean we really have to address that. We’re teaching to the test and we’re not teaching them to learn.”
Kinya is “a 15-year-old Native American from Albuquerque. I guess I’m really someone trying to get involved, for social justice or activism in general.” She is going to be a junior next school year.
Asked whether Trump is an issue with native people, she answered, “He’s never said anything straight on but I think his past remarks, just anything racist or anything sexist, that comes through, as a Native American woman, or as a woman of color, you realize that no one should be saying that, especially a presidential candidate.”
She is in an organization called Generation Justice, which airs a weekly program on the local college/NPR station. Asked about her plans, she said, “I’m really into journalism right now. I just got an interview with them and they got sponsored by the YES program and I’m working on a side project with them, like a six-month project about surveillance.
“It’s basically an internship at KUNM. Basically we choose a topic for the weekend and we do research throughout the week on it, we interview people, and we build up what we can on it, to do it from a point of view in the media from voices that aren’t heard.”
Asked why Trump has gotten traction, she replied: “Honestly, I think that secretly everyone has their own views on it. There’s always going to be someone, say maybe an upper-class white male who views it as ‘get these immigrants out of our country’ or ‘I don’t want to see these Muslims here’ or ‘women shouldn’t have as much rights as they do now.’
“Everybody can have those views secretly—we have racism and sexism—but I think Trump has been the one who has been just out there and open about it.”
The reporter recounted the history of workers of different ethnicities breaking through racial barriers and uniting in the great 20th century union struggles. Kinya asked if the reporter’s view was Marxist and, when he said, “Yes,” said that hers was too.