All of Orange County engaged in a simultaneous shrug of indifference when longtime Aztlanista Nativo Lopez announced earlier this week he was retiring from public life and becoming a mere private citizen...where he would continue to agitate for the hot Mexican cause of the month. Huh? It was a fitting sorta-end for someone who once was a titan of Latino rights in Orange County, who helped to organize apartment renters around a tenant's strike that brought slumlords to their knees, who helped defeat Bob "B-1 Baboso" Dornan, who successfully advocated for immigrant parents as a trustee at the Santa Ana Unified School District...only to see his legacy largely erased by corruption, bad choices, and the stupidest political mouth this side of Dana Rohrabacher.
5. Nativo Determines Who's a Latino and Who's Not
Rosemarie Avila was an evil woman, a longtime SAUSD trustee whose politics came from the Calvary Chapel school of crazy, namely because she went to Calvary (who can ever forget her asking Papa Chuck to send over 400 wackos to invade a board meeting just because SanTana Unified was going to offer domestic partner benefits?). But leave it to Nativo to make us have sympathy for the woman, if only for a bit, back in 2000 when Lopez--fresh from consolidating power on the school board--decided to ridicule Avila for being a fake Latina. Avila, born to German missionaries in Guatemala, was suddenly not Latina because...why again? Nativo never exactly said, but all roads lead to the idea that because Avila didn't have any indigenous blood (nothing but evil European sangre), she therefore wasn't real. "It's only of late that she's had an epiphany, a conversion if you will, of scouring the earth to find her Latino roots," Lopez told the Los Angeles Times back then, sarcasm dripping from his thick mustache like so much Brylcreem. "God bless her if she wants to be one of us."
4. Nativo Compares Himself to the Virgin of Guadalupe, Calls Himself a Prophet
One of my favorite stories to this day was a 2002 Nativo Lopez fundraiser from the days when he was facing an ultimately successful recall campaign. He held it on the feast day of the Virgin of Guadalupe, and Lopez and his supporters didn't try to hide the blatant attempt to connect him to the Empress of the Americas and all godly things. "The Orange County Register has called me a prophet in his own land, and in many ways I feel that way," he proclaimed that day. Of course, God doesn't like people messing with his woman, so Nativo god the holy pimp hand and became the wanderer in the desert he's been ever since.
3. Nativo Compares Himself to Gandhi
This one dates back to 2010, when Lopez was stupidly trying to convince Latinos not to allow the 2010 Census to document them. That's a dumb-enough move, but then Lopez had the temerity to tie his ultimately foolish campaign to the campaign to end British rule in India, by Lopez comparing himself to Gandhi. "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 at all nexus of social connection," he said. Um, okay...
2. Nativo's Group Calls Gray Davis a "Pinche Güerito" for a Radio Campaign
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This blast from the past is AWESOME, and one of the first news stories I ever did: in 2001, Nativo's group, Hermandad Mexicana Nacional, put out ads on Spanish-language radio station KKHJ-AM 930 which called then-California governor Gray Davis a "pinche güerito"--a "fucking little white man." Lopez quickly tried to spin his way out of it after the Weekly contacted him. "That particular version of our ad is not in line with the philosophy of Hermandad, and we do not approve of it," he told me. "It distracts from the main message and is racially offensive to Anglo-Americans." He then tried to claim that it was the radio station that put in the "pinche," an assertion quickly refuted by station management--and not only that, when the "cleaner" version came back, it still called Davis a "güerito," and Lopez stood by it, despite it still had the part he deemed "racially offensive to Anglo-Americans."
1. Nativo Calls the Refusal to Grant a Multi-Billion-Dollar Grocery Chain a Liquor License "Market Ethnic Cleansing"
This is the story that should show any defenders of Nativo what a vendido he is, and how easily he'll sell himself out for a buck. In 2002, the Mexican supermarket chain Gigante made international headlines when it claimed the city of Anaheim didn't want to grant it a liquor license because it was Mexican, a line the media ate as quickly as a Mexican does a torta--except for your favorite infernal rag. Gigante was smart, though, and contracted Nativo to shill for them in the form of a donation to his recall campaign by the company's PR firm, Waters & Faubel. And Nativo delivered, calling the rejection "market ethnic cleansing" by making the bizarre argument that Latinos in Anaheim were under-served in the supermarket department--this despite the fact that Latinos have been served by mom-and-pop for decades, and by the Northgate Gonzalez chain for the years.
It didn't matter. "Market ethnic cleansing" now stands as the only legacy of that move, because Gigante closed shop long ago, beaten down by consumers. Instead, we now remember Nativo's hyperbolic, offensive, and plain-laughable characterization--when he uttered that line, everyone should've known it was the beginning of his pathetic end. Funny!