Courageous Resister: José Palacios

Revolutionary Worker #956, May 10, 1998

On the evening of April 17, José Palacios was honored with a Courageous Resister Award from the National Council of Refuse & Resist! José received the award for his bold stand in refusing to comply with the government in repressing immigrants.

Macario Ramírez, owner of a Mexican folkart shop, presented José with the Courageous Resister plaque and talked of his own experience as a farmworker--picking fruit from Texas to Wisconsin to Michigan and back to Texas again. Though he has moved on in life, Macario identifies with the poor; he said that he was honored to present José with the award because of the stand he took with the farmworkers in California.

The crowd rose to a standing ovation and José himself was deeply moved by the award. José said that he and his family have gone through difficult times throughout this period. The press has concocted lies about him and labelled him a criminal. He said while he came to Houston alone, he has been overwhelmed by the amount of support he has gotten, and that when he leaves, he will not be leaving alone.

Drawing a connection between the experience of the Irish people under British rule with immigrants in the U.S. today, Billy Duncan read from her poem, "Potatoes."

"First, they tried
to legislate us out of existence,
With constant persistence,
unrelenting progression,
they built four hundred years
of slow, steady oppression.
An Englishman
could be hung
for killing one
of his own kind.
But you will find
the law approved
of killing `the mere Irish.'
The English gentleman
could have pleasure
of any Irish woman he pleased,
taking her on her back
or on her knees,
without fear of recrimination.
But laws forbade one drop
of Irish blood
to invade the English --
the pureness of their nation."

People roared with laughter as Nephtalí de León, a popular poet from San Antonio, performed several of his poems, including "Bandidos in the Night," written for José Palacios:

"Oye, qué buen tocayo tienes...
¿Cómo se llama?
¡José Palacios!

Pos cántale ese corrido americano tan popular...
Pos el que cantan los yanquis en el fútbol y en el box..
Aaaa, la de José y los bandidos...
esa mera...

Bueno, ahí va oficialmente pa' José Palacios...
(aunque yo no sé cantar)
No le hace compadre, aviéntesela...

José can you see...
bandidos in the night...
con Elena y el PRI
Indio Juan antifreeze...

Ya ve compadre,
Ya somos ciudadanos,
¡Viva José Palacios!"

As Quino from the reggae band Big Mountain electrified the audience with an emotional rendition of "Bordertown," everyone in the crowd embraced or shook José's hand. And a deep sense of commitment to stop the war on immigrants filled the room.

This article is posted in English and Spanish on Revolutionary Worker Online
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