Juan González (journalist)

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Juan González

Juan González (born October 15, 1947) is a Puerto Rican American progressive broadcast journalist and investigative reporter. He was also a columnist for the New York Daily News from 1987 to 2016. He frequently co-hosts the radio and television program Democracy Now! with Amy Goodman.

Quotes[edit]

  • Fidel Castro had trust in the people and their power, when united and organized, to change Cuba.
    • "History of Cuba Part 4" (December 1970)

"The Vote or the Gun" (1970)[edit]

From the newspaper Palante, 22 May 1970, volume 2, number 3), anthologized in Young Lords Reader

  • The Young Lords Organization is a revolutionary political party fighting for the liberation of Puerto Ricans and all oppressed people. We are the answer to the 400 year need of Latinos for a political party to lead our struggle for liberation. From the first invasion of Borinquen by christopher columbus in November 1493, our people have been resisting the foot on their back. The Tainos fought the Spanish adventurers and money-hungry pirates. The people of the Yoruba Nation, kidnapped from their African homeland, resisted the Spanish slave traders, and consistently rebelled for their freedom.
  • The biggest traitor in Puerto Rican history is this lackey, Luis Munoz Marin, who shipped our people by the hundreds of thousands to New York because he could not provide jobs for them; who taught our people to be white middle class americanos, when they were poor, oppressed boricuas; who destroyed the jibaro with operation bootstrap, moving thousands off the land into the slums of San Juan, and Ponce, and let all our money go to u.s. capitalists. He was the apostle of non-violence for profit.
  • Revolution is the most serious of jobs. It is not an ego-trip or a party. When the people join in revolutionary war, they do so because they have been convinced by both actual conditions and political education that there is no other way out, that their lives and those of their family, are threatened.
  • Revolution is a complete change, an overturning of dead soil, a new way of life, with new government, new laws.
  • Our motto is serve and protect. We serve the needs of our people and educate them that only through revolution will all our needs be met. Only through organized change will we end addiction, eliminate landlords, build new cooperative housing, provide jobs for all, assure decent health for everyone, end all wars, and achieve independence for Puerto Rico.
  • Freedom is taken, not given. That is why we organize.

"Armarse Para Defenderse" (1970)[edit]

October 1970 in Palante, anthologized in Young Lords Reader

  • For almost two years the YOUNG LORDS PARTY has been fighting all the institutions that oppress us-garbage conditions, hospital care, police brutality, the churches not serving the poor. And every time we marched, every time we seized a building, every time we sat in, nothing changed. Anthony Imperiale still runs Newark with a fascist fist. Philadelphia Police Commissioner Bozo Rizzo attacks the Puerto Rican and Black community at will. Lincoln Hospital continues to butcher our people with indecent healthcare. The garbage remains in our Brownsvilles, Lower East Sides, Kannecot Copper Company is preparing to steal more of our land and resources through its copper mining in Utuado. Ramey Air Force Base with its nuclear weapons and B-52's is destroying our town of Aguadilla. Culebra and Vieques are disappearing under a Navy bombing. We fight, we protest, we demonstrate. Nothing changes.
  • This government, instead of protecting us, kills us. We have no choice at this time, but to pick up those guns and say to all of our nation-ARM YOURSELVES TO DEFEND YOURSELVES. We were not born violent. We do not enjoy killing. We just want peace and freedom. But our daily lives are violent. This country is violent. The enemy leaves us no choice. Either we sit by, saying "ay bendito" as our nation dies, or we stand up, organize, prepare for the revolution we know is coming.
  • Education is the first step in revolution. And armed self-defense is the first step of education for armed revolution.
  • Hatred of oppression drives us.

"The Young Lords Party" speech (Nov. 1971)[edit]

anthologized in Young Lords Reader

  • We are building a political party to involve our people in political activities. Elections don't involve you in political activity. Like the government treats you like fool. They herd you into voting booths once every four years to elect one or another oppressor. And they tell you that is democracy. And every four years you elect one slate of lying politicians who came back the next four years to try to explain to you why they couldn't succeed the last four years and promise you they are going to succeed in the next four years if you'll vote for them. So the people play their game every four years. We say that the way people should be involved, the oppressed people should be involved in the political problem is on a constant basis-running the society, not voting for oppressors to run it for them.
  • Our position is that it is impossible to have [free] elections in Puerto Rico. You have 50,000 American troops who have never left since 1898. You have all the radio, t.v., and press controlled by American companies. So how is it possible to have a free election inside Puerto Rico? We maintain that we are for free election. We're for free election once the Americans are out of Puerto Rico. It's the same position that the Vietnamese people have, get out and then we will have our election to decide what our future is going to be.
  • we feel that we don't want abstract equality rights, we want material equality. That means the redistribution of the wealth in this society. And that means that people like Nelson Rockefeller and Henry Ford or the Bishop Estate or Dillingham or whatever, they have to redistribute the wealth that they have robbed from the poor working people of the world. I mean, they made if off our backs. Henry Ford, he made the first Model T. After that, who made all the other cars. So it wasn't him, it was the people who work in the automobile factories, who sweat in 100 degree temperatures; who risk industrial accidents for a lousy $150 a week. And he makes millions every year. And he ain't produced shit. I mean, he just sits behind his desk and writes papers, either that or signs checks. That's the reality of the way society functions. And what we say, we do want a redistribution of that wealth-spread it among the people it's been robbed from. Return it to the people it belongs to.
  • The factories belong to those who work them; the work places belong to those who work them. That's our slogan, that's how we're going to build a revolutionary workers' movement.
  • we study history and we check out that very rarely have people been ever able to achieve anything in social changes unless they were capable of defending themselves and backing it up. Because if we were able to go into Nelson Rockefeller's office and I was able to go in and say, "Nelson, you and your father and your grandfather have been seized, have been robbing from working people for years. How about redistributing your wealth?" And if Rockefeller said "Juan you are right. I have been a thief and a crook and Standard Oil has been oppressing the people to work for years. Take it back, redistribute it among the people." There will be no need for war; there will be no need for violence. But the capitalists won't do that; they will defend themselves; they will defend their right to maintain that oppression and that exploitation.
  • we see, essentially, the three ingredients necessary for the liberation of Puerto Rico. We see the necessity for a strong, disciplined, scientific party. We see the need for mass revolutionary movement of the people, and we see the need for a people's army to defend that party and that mass movement. Those are the three ingredients for Puerto Rican liberation and that's what we're trying to build.
  • Every one of the fifty states was named after a native American people that was wiped out in that particular area-Illinois, California, Nebraska, conquered lands. Every bit of that territory is conquered land.
  • When the Indochina war started, the United States was undoubtedly the leading power in the world. Now that the Indochinese war is ended, the United States has been dismantled as a world power. It has been unmasked. It has been shown how weak it is as a world power. It has been overextended.
  • the majority of the American people don't even know what the United States government and the businessmen do.
  • That's what imperialism is all about when one country controls the economic life of another country.
  • while the capitalists were fighting, 200 million people turned to socialism of the Soviet Union. After the second World War, when the fascists fought a capitalist society, 600 million people turned to socialism in China. So we think maybe after the third world war, the whole world might turn into socialism.
  • we look hopefully towards the future because we see that over the last century, even though in your schools and in your textbooks, people make preludes that Marxism and ideals of socialism have been bankrupt, the reality is that all around the world, the masses of people have turned to socialism over the last century.
  • Nixon's a fool and he comes out with this stuff so heavily. What happens? China was admitted to the United Nations. And what happens? Just because some delegates clapped and cheered in the United Nations, Nixon comes out with a statement and he says that every one of those countries who clapped and cheered, we're gonna cut off your economic aid. That's what he said, I read that, check it out. I mean, he's so blatant with this stuff. That's what makes the United States such a hated country in the world. Wherever you go among the people of the world, the United States government is hated. It's that kind of behavior that's caused so much misery and oppression in the world.
  • we wanna build a scientific revolution. One that involves the masses of the people and doesn't permit the possibility of other oppressors rising up again as they did in the Soviet Union; as they have in all the Eastern supposedly socialist countries to oppress the people once again.
  • that's our goal, national liberation of Puerto Rico and self-determination for Puerto Ricans inside the United States.
  • Inside the U.S., we see ourselves allied with all Third World people, poor white and working class people.
  • Check out Hitler, what did Hitler say to the German people in the middle of depression? What did he say were the causes of the problem in German? He said it was the Jews, he said it was the communists, and he said it was the people who sold out in the World War 1. Those were the three forces responsible for the downfall of Germany. What are Nixon and the other neo-fascists saying nowadays? What is the cause of the crisis that we have in our country and the United States and Puerto Rico and Hawaii? What are the causes? Well, it's the communists, it's the Third World people instead of the Jews this time, and it's the peace people. Same lines. Fascism always has the same lines. Fascism is a dictatorship, a capitalistic dictatorship. When things fall apart they started a dictatorship.
  • This happens under capitalism all the time, every thirty years they have a depression, or every twenty years. The system falls apart. The system's not made for working people, it's made for the rich. And so, what we have to do is transform the system, change it and take society to a higher level.
  • if we don't hurry and we don't get ourselves disciplined enough and we don't talk and we get out there among the masses of people, the forces of fascism will organize more.

"On Our Struggle" (August 1971)[edit]

From the newspaper Palante, 16-29 August 1971, volume 3, number 14, , anthologized in Young Lords Reader

  • The Nationalist Party of Puerto Rico was the first party to raise Guanica, to protest the invasion of the gringos as should be. In these as in many of the struggles for freedom of our people, the Nationalist Party was at the vanguard of its time. The Young Lords Party follows the example of Don Pedro Albizu Campos and the Nationalist Party and declares that for us Guanica is a day of national protest, and will be a day of national protest until we drive the Puerto Rican lombrices like ferre, the Cuban gusanos, and yankee amerikkkans into the sea.
  • it's time that people stop looking for speakers, for very prepared leaders-lawyers, professors, doctors, whatever. It's time that the poor look for [sic] ourselves as leaders. It's time that the universities take their place behind the poor in this struggle.
  • Slavery is the most disgusting reality in the history of Puerto Rico. From slavery, from the riches of free labor for centuries by African men and women, comes the money of what is left of the old rich families of Puerto Rico.
  • The Revolution of Lares, more than an uprising for independence, was a rebellion against slavery.
  • The new slavery arrived with the amerikkkans and the only ones in this century who truly confronted that empire was the Nationalist Party of Puerto Rico, and for a time, the Socialist Party. Don Pedro was the defender of our nationality. Don Pedro assured with his struggle that at a later time in the future, men and women, poor and humble, capable of liberating Puerto Rico, would arise.
  • Many independentistas who write or speak about Puerto Rico, fail to mention these two realities that are vital in order to understand our history-the period of slavery, during which one part of our nation treated another part as if they were not human; and the division of the nation when the yankees deceived us and forced us to go the u.s.
  • When we established the Party on the island, we were expecting to enter the struggle here in an atmosphere of comrades. Instead we found the rejection of the same independentistas who were supposedly companeros and companeras.

"YLP on Elections" (December 1971)[edit]

From the newspaper Palante, December 1971, volume 3, number 19, anthologized in Young Lords Reader

  • We in the Young Lords Party also follow the teachings of Don Pedro. We know that since the amerikkkan invasion of Puerto Rico in 1898, the united states has controlled the press, radio, television. They control the schools. Every day, our people are bombarded with more and more amerikkkan propaganda. More than 25,000 amerikkkan troops occupy our territory. With those forces of repression, it is impossible to talk of free elections. As the National Liberation Front of Vietnam says-first, the amerikkkans should get out, then we will be able to have free elections.
  • With the division in our nation between the rich who have millions to launch electoral campaigns, and the poor who hardly have enough money to live decently, we can't talk about free elections representative of the interests of the majority of the people.
  • Our people have experience with crooked politicians full of empty promises. In the 1940's, luis munoz marin and the slogan "Bread, Land, and Liberty." Where is the bread? Where is the land? Where is the liberty? munoz marin was for independence, until he got into office. Then he became a traitor, and a rich man.

New York Journalism Hall of Fame speech (2015)[edit]

  • I figured my modest contribution would be... not writing about outcast neighborhoods, but from them. Not simply to entertain but to change. Not after the fact, but before it, when coverage could still make a difference.... I have tried to use as many of my columns as possible to probe the injustices visited upon the powerless. Yes, the rich and famous are also victims on occasion. But they have so many politicians, lobbyists, lawyers, gossip columnists and even editorial writers ready to jump to their defense that they'll always do fine without my help. I prefer the desperate unknown reader who comes to me because he or she has gone everywhere else and no one will listen. More often than not I come across unexpected gems, human beings whose tragedies illuminate the landscape and whose courage hopefully inspires the reader to believe that there is indeed some greater good served by a free press than just chronicling or influencing the ouster of one group of politicians by another.
  • As some of you may know, mine has not been the typical journalism career these past 37 years. I’ve managed to work not only in mainstream journalism, but proudly in the alternative and dissident press, most notably for the past 20 years with Democracy Now!, with a terrific journalist and friend, Amy Goodman, but also at various times in the Spanish-language or ethnic press. In addition, I must be the only reporter in mainstream journalism with an extensive rap sheet, having been arrested about a dozen times over four decades, in the 1960s, '70s, ’80s and ’90s, on a variety of charges: criminal trespass, contempt of court, marijuana possession, inciting to riot, draft evasion—all, except for the marijuana bust, related to political protest.
  • Jimmy Breslin once wrote that the Lords produced more good journalism—journalists than Columbia J School. The Lords were a loud, brash, radical and talented group of Puerto Ricans. We became a thorn in the side of the establishment and the police in this town, and in cities throughout the East Coast for a brief time, and influenced a generation of young Latinos to demand more equitable treatment for our community. But of all the radical groups of the '60s—and there were many back then—we probably received the most sympathetic press coverage. Even as youngsters, we understood the power of the press, and we consciously cultivated good coverage. We were helped by the first brilliant crop of young black and Latino reporters in the city's media, to whom we fed exclusives and who in turn repaid us with more all-around and sound coverage—people like a young Ed Bradley at WCBS, Gil Noble at WABC, Gloria Rojas at WNBC, Rudy Garcia at the Daily News, and of course liberal white writers like Jack Newfield at The Village Voice. And we published our own newspaper, Palante, that I edited for a while. So it was no accident that when the Lords fell apart in the mid-1970s, several of us ended up going into journalism—Pablo Guzmán, Felipe Luciano, Geraldo Rivera, our first lawyer—everybody knows Geraldo—and myself, or that when we landed there, we were all drawn to uncovering injustices and digging deeper than some journalists were accustomed to.

Quotes about Juan González[edit]

  • Democracy Now, which I have cohosted since the beginning with the remarkable journalist Juan González, is the largest public media collaboration in the United States.
    • Amy Goodman Democracy Now!: Twenty Years Covering the Movements Changing America (2016)

External links[edit]

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