SWOP has long been a powerful influence in Benavidez's life; he spent time with the organization as a young person, interned with SWOP in the early 2000s, was arrested for protesting the Iraq War with us, and served on our board for several terms.
Javier is a proud Native New Mexican son of a public school teacher from Albuquerque’s South Valley and a civil rights attorney from the Acequia Madre community in Santa Fe. Javier and his wife Ann Marie live in Albuquerque’s historic Barelas neighborhood, where they’ve also worked with neighbors to develop a non-profit focused on organizing and community development.
Javier comes to us from the Center for Civic Policy where he was the Communications and Leadership Development Director. He also worked as Speechwriter for then-Congressman Martin Heinrich and as Outreach Director for Conservation Voters New Mexico. Javier has served on the boards of many New Mexico non-profits and has two master’s degrees from the University of New Mexico (urban planning and public administration). He earned his bachelor degree in political science from Santa Clara University, a Jesuit school focused on social justice.
SouthWest Organizing Project has "long been a powerful influence in our new executive director’s life; he spent time with the organization as a young person, interned with SWOP in the early 2000s, was arrested for protesting the Iraq War with us, and served on our board for several terms."
A native of New Mexican, son of a public school teacher from Albuquerque’s South Valley and a civil rights attorney from the Acequia Madre community in Santa Fe. Javier and his wife Ann Marie live in Albuquerque’s historic Barelas neighborhood, where they’ve also worked with neighbors to develop a non-profit focused on organizing and community development.
- Javier comes to us from the Center for Civic Policy where he was the Communications and Leadership Development Director. He also worked as Speechwriter for then-Congressman Martin Heinrich and as Outreach Director for Conservation Voters New Mexico. Javier has served on the boards of many New Mexico non-profits and has two master’s degrees from the University of New Mexico (urban planning and public administration). He earned his bachelor degree in political science from Santa Clara University, a Jesuit school focused on social justice.
As recently as 2003, Martin Heinrich was still a graduate student—at the school of architecture and planning at the University of New Mexico—and was only just starting to ponder a run for District Six’s vacant city council seat.
Javier Benavidez, a fellow student and long-time political activist from the city, volunteered for his campaign. “Like a lot of us at that school, he was focused on smart growth and community development,” he remembers.
Heinrich won that election and spent the next few years working on labor issues, conservation politics—the mayor at the time was floating plans to build a road through a landscape of ancient petroglyphs—transport policy, and other themes that endeared him to local progressives. “He was seen as a real fighter for working people. Very active when it came to labor disputes, the minimum wage, helping neighborhoods with crime issues, and smart growth. He was taking on some tough fights with big real estate and the Chamber of Commerce,” says Benavidez, who Heinrich hired on as his policy analyst.
Working Families Party
At a late 2015 private dinner in Manhattan, a small group of leftists plotted to take over America.
The group, a dozen community organizers and activists from all over the country, had convened at a sushi restaurant in the Flatiron District with the leaders of the New York-based Working Families Party. They were heads of organizations from Boston to Albuquerque, and included National People’s Action and Washington Community Action Network.They were there to hear "why their states should form their own chapters of the insurgent party, in order to capitalize on the country’s rising liberal tide and push the national conversation leftward".
The party’s deputy director, Jon Green, made the pitch. “In 2010, we saw the Tea Party yank the entire political discourse way to the right,” he said. The Tea Party was powerful, he said, because it was boldly ideological; it recruited and groomed candidates; and it created a strong national brand. “Our view is that there isn’t anything analogous to that on the left, and there ought to be.”
Many of the activists in the dining room that night were there "because they thought their states’ liberals needed more edge". Javier Benavidez, the executive director of the SouthWest Organizing Project, a community group that will help to launch the New Mexico Working Families Party later this year.
Analilia Mejia, the crusading director of New Jersey Working Families, jumped in from across the table. “Here is what you say to them, verbatim: ‘Let us be the “crazy” left,’” she said. “‘Let us be the voice that creates the space that allows you to negotiate for more of what you want.’ You can’t be for raising taxes? Let us say, ‘Tax the rich,’ and then you can push harder.”
New Mexico/WFP connection
Maurice Moe Mitchell August 13 2018:
Excited to engage a packed house at OLE NewMexico, one of our Working Families Party affiliates to discuss how we organize a new sort of politics that inspires us to turn towards each other and win for the long term. — with JD Mathews, Rey Garduno, Javier Benavidez, Deb Haaland, Laurie Weahkee, Eric Shimamoto, Flora Lucero and Felice Garcia.
National Leading From the Inside Out Alum
Steering Ctte members
Louis Head February 21, 2015:
South X Southwest Experiment Steering Ctte members at the SxSWE/SouthWest Organizing Project mural. — with Dorian Angulo, Amanda Milagro Gallegos, Diana Lopez, Betty L. Petty, Brenda Hyde, Janelle Astorga-Ramos, Emma Jones, Curtis Hill, Javier Benavidez and Joaquin Muerte at Albuquerque Center for Peace & Justice.
"Building Bridges to Empower a true majority" conference
Louis Head October 24, 2015:
Leroy Johnson, Curtis Hill, Diana Lopez, Julian Mendez, Janelle Astorga-Ramos, Javier Benavidez and Brenda Hyde: Southern Echo, Inc., Southwest Workers Union and SouthWest Organizing Project discuss Accountable Governance and the relationship between organizing, electoral work, and the building of relationships of accountability between communities and public officials. — in Madison, Mississippi.
A demonstration outside of a Verizon shareholder’s meeting resulted in brief detainment and criminal citations for a group of union members and one New Mexico lawmaker.
Executive Director of the Southwest Organizing Project Javier Benavidez, New Mexico Federation of Labor President Jon Hendry and state Rep. Christine Trujillo, D-Albuquerque, were among those who received citations for blocking traffic near Old Town in Albuquerque.
Albuquerque police confirmed 15 protesters received citations, but said police made no arrests. These were just a portion of the hundreds of protesters who set up shop outside a Verizon shareholder’s meeting. Police also said there were no injuries at the peaceful protest.
The demonstrators, many of whom are members of the Communication Workers of America (CWA), were there to support Verizon workers on strike in the eastern part of the United States. The union criticized the company for outsourcing jobs and a reported attempt to force some technicians to work months away from home. The employees had reportedly been working without a contract since last August.
Tens of thousands of CWA members began striking against Verizon almost a month ago.
Bob Master, a CWA official from Manhattan, New York, was one of the demonstrators who was detained after effectively shutting Rio Grande Boulevard by sitting in the middle of the street with a banner that read “Verizon: Good Jobs No Greed.” Master told NM Political Report his goal was to raise awareness through a peaceful protest.
“There’s a long history of civil disobedience as a tactic to bring attention to injustice,” Master said. “That’s what we chose to do here today.”
Benavidez told NM Political Report he and others from SWOP took part in the protest because Verizon employees are “fighting a struggle” that he thinks “is emblematic of what’s going on with corporate America.” Benavidez said he finds it suspicious that Verizon would hold a shareholders meeting in New Mexico.
“It’s fascinating that Verizon chose Albuquerque to come to,” Benavidez said. “Far away from the east coast where they have 40,000 people striking.”
“We’re standing on the shoulders of those who went before us,” said Fitz Boyce, a CWA member from New York. “Now this is our fight.”
About a dozen police vehicles gathered at one end of the street and officers began warning protesters that they were violating the law. After giving the group of protesters a five minute warning, police took them one by one to issue citations. The whole situation was resolved by 9:00 a.m.
Local politicians also showed support on Thursday. Former City Councilor Rey Garduno along with his successor Pat Davis* showed support for union workers. New Mexico Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto, D-Albuquerque, and Deb Haaland, chairwoman of the Democratic Party of New Mexico also took part in the demonstration.