Melinda Paras

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Melinda Paras

Melinda Paras runs the Translation Network, a company that works with healthcare providers.

Philippines connection

Filipino American demonstrator Melinda Paras was imprisoned and then deported by the Marcos government. She was a student member of Kabataang Makabayan who went into hiding “because everyone was being rounded up.”

Her grandfather was Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Ricardo Paras. “I visited my grandfather’s house in Paco, Manila, which turned out to be a mistake for they were waiting for me there, operatives from the Philippine Constabulary and Armed Forces of the Philippines. They took me to Camp Aguinaldo then to Camp Crame. I was in jail for about two months and with the intervention of some American senators I was deported back to the United States.”

Paras grew up in Wisconsin with a Filipino father. “Marcos did horrible crimes to eliminate opposition and democracy. I know that democracy is somewhat flawed but still when you had no opposition, no newspapers and no one can oppose you, it was horrible dictatorship and he should rot in hell.”

Melinda Paras, traveled to the Philippines in the late ‘60s to find out more about her father’s native country When martial law was declared, she quickly joined the resistance.

She was later captured in Manila and detained. As the granddaughter of a former Philippine supreme court chief justice, and a US citizen, she was spared the harsh forms of torture the military used against dissidents jailed under martial law.

“If I had been arrested in Zambales, I’m not sure I would have lived” . “Back then, if you are arrested in the province, they don’t care who you are related to, and they don’t care if you’re an American.”

After being deported, Paras helped found Katipunan ng Mga Demokratikong Pilipino or KDP (Union of Democratic Filipinos). “I was a leader for many years. When we deposed him, we thought we are going to have democracy again. But it is looking very shaky now. I would like to say that I won’t forget and I hope the Filipino people won’t forget either,” she said.

Paras came to the protest with her daughter, Lorena, 16, who said, “It was really empowering to learn that my mom was such a strong woman having been through all of these and survived. I was actually named after Lorena Barros who was her friend. Lorena was the head of MAKIBAKA [Malayang Kilusan ng Bagong Kababaihan) who joined the New People’s Army and died fighting.”[1]

KDP leaders

For the first four years of its existence, the KDP struggled with developing its revolutionary identity. A more prevailing problem, however, was the inexperience among its ranks. Although many had already been activists prior to joining the KDP, membership in a highly structured organization was a relatively new experience. The process of instilling revolutionary standards was guided by an experienced core of leaders in the NEB which included Cynthia Maglaya, Bruce Occena and Melinda Paras. Occefia and Paras were both American-raised Filipinos. Occena was a veteran of the Third World Strike at UC Berkeley and a leading member in the Kulayaan Collective; Paras was a activist in both the US. and the Philippines where she was active in the KM. They established a system of review and summation, organized studies, and initiated the publication of the Ang Aktibista (AA) as an internal bulletin for activists. The AA, first published in November 1973, became a valuable source for studies on a wide variety of theoretical, political, and organizational topics from democratic-centralism to international developments such as Vietnam's incursion into Kampuchea in 1979.

1978 KDP protest

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Members of Union of Democratic Filipinos sang at an anti-Marcos rally in Union Square circa 1978. They were Melinda Paras, Nora de Leon, Sorcy Rocamora, Christine Araneta, Cynthia Maglaya, Ruby Howing, Marcela Pabros, Terri Bautista, Nena Hernandez, Anatess Araneta, photograph Rick Rocamora.

National Committee to Overturn the Bakke Decision

In 1978 Melinda Paras was staff coordinator for the National Committee to Overturn the Bakke Decision.[2]

Origins of Line of March

Leading the initial effort to found the rectification network in December 1976 were Union of Democratic Filipinos leaders Bruce Occena and Melinda Paras and Max Elbaum, then a leader of the Northern California Alliance. Soon thereafter, Third World Women’s Alliance leader (TWWA) Linda Burnham joined the group. Believing that the organizational side of party building needed to be conducted mainly in secret, the network was initially clandestine and had no formal name, its members and supporters becoming known loosely as “rectificationists.”

In 1978, rectification leaders built close ties with two members of the Guardian staff – Executive Editor Irwin Silber and former Third World Women’s Alliance leader Fran Beal who were subsequently recruited into the rectification network. At their urging, other network members joined the just-being-formed Guardian Clubs. And Silber – who had authored many of the Guardian’s ideological polemics – began to propound key elements of the rectification perspective in his Guardian columns and in debates in the Club Network.

By late 1978 differences over the Clubs’ direction and the party-building line of the Guardian led to a split, with the Guardian Club membership – supported by Silber and Beal – breaking away to form the National Network of Marxist-Leninist Clubs (NNMLC) in March 1979. This new group enabled the rectificationists to go public and publish the first comprehensive statements of the rectification line. But as Max Elbaum notes, the NNMLC’s “public attacks on the Guardian were extremely harsh, as were its broad-stroke criticisms of the OCIC. This did not auger well for the Rectificationists’ capacity to establish friendly relations with communists who held differing views.”.[3]

Line of March

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In the 1980s Melinda Paras was a leader of the Oakland California based revolutionary organization Line of March.

The main leaders of Line of March were Max Elbaum, Dale Borgeson, Linda Burnham, Bruce Occena, Melinda Paras, Bob Wing[4].

The Line of March theoretical journal was simply named - Line of March:A journal of Marxist-Leninist Theory and Politics. It was published by the Institute for Social and Economic Studies, PO Box 2809, Oakland California.

In 1980 the Line of March editorial board consisted of co-editors Bruce Occena and Irwin Silber, managing editor Margery Rosnick and Linda Burnham, Max Elbaum, Melinda Paras and Bob Wing. [5].

In 1987 the Line of March editorial board consisted of Linda Burnham, Max Elbaum, Bruce Occena, Melinda Paras, Irwin Silber and Cathi Tactaquin.[6]

LOM Gay and Lesbian Conference

The invitation list for a mid '80s Line of March gay and lesbian conference included these names;

LOM Peace and Solidarity Committee

Frontline June 8, 1987

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In 1987 Melinda Paras was chair of the Line of March Peace and Solidarity Committee.

Gay March on Washington

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Assisting Rose Appleman's coverage of the March for Lesbian and Gay Rights, were Judy Berelsen, Melinda Paras, Linda Kahn, Ellen Kaiser Photographers were John Jackson, Barbara Maggiani, Totoy Rocamora, Janette Ripley.

NCC candidate

At the Committees of Correspondence Conference, July 19,1992, Paras was a candidate for the CoC NCC.[7]

Gay and Lesbian Task Force

In 1994 Melinda Paras, was the the new executive director at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force[8].

References

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  1. [1]
  2. [Ang Katipunan, April 1978]
  3. The Rectification Network – Line of March
  4. Far Left of Center: The American Radical Left Today page 103 by Harvey Klehr
  5. LOM, Vol 1, No 1, May-June 1980
  6. LOM, No 20, Winter 1987/88
  7. [http://www.nathannewman.org/EDIN/.left/CoC/.conference/.election.html, Committees of Correspondence Conference, July 19,1992 Final Corrections to the Balloting Committee Report by Steve Willett]
  8. http://www.qrd.org/qrd/orgs/NGLTF/1994/paras.answers.racism.charges-12.20.94