Lorenzo Torres

I recieved an e-mail today informing me of the passing of Lorenzo Torres.

Torres made several runs for office, beginning with a tilt at a South Side senate seat in 1978 (he placed last out of four candidates). The following election, he made a run for US Senate against Barry Goldwater. He followed on with two runs against liberal icon Mo Udall. In 1990, he finished off his electoral career pretty close to where he started: a run for a South Side seat in the legislature.

Aside from quixotic runs for office, he was a fixture in far left circles in our community for decades. So, what gave this guy cred among the radicals? You ever seen the movie Salt of the Earth? Torres was a participant in the 1950 strike that that movie was based on.

After the strike, he came to Arizona and became one of those “community organizers” so derided on the right.

Oh yeah. He was also a Communist. Card carrying and everything.

I’ve never figured out if it’s true or just an urban legend that you can’t actually run as a Communist in Arizona. In any case, Torres never appeared on the ballot as one: he used a variety of ballot lines including People Before Profit and Martin Luther King Party.

His politics were notably to the left of mine, but his passion for equality was admirable.

2 thoughts on “Lorenzo Torres

  1. Yes, it is true you can’t run for office as a Communist in Arizona. The Arizona Revised Statute has several other restrictions against Communism… including you can’t teach it and your employer can fire you for being one. All of this seems sort of unconstitutional, but, hey, this is Arizona.

  2. ARS 16-805. Findings of fact and statement of public policy by the legislature of the state of Arizona concerning steps which must be taken to protect the fundamental rights of the citizens of this state and the safety of this state from international Communistic conspiracy

    A. Upon evidence and proof which has been presented before this legislature, other state legislatures, the Congress of the United States and in the courts of the United States and in the courts of the several states; and although recognizing that the federal constitution vests the conduct of foreign relations in the federal government and the federal constitution guarantees to the several states a republican form of government and protection against foreign invasion and domestic violence, this state has the duty of self-preservation and the taking of necessary measures to cooperate with the federal government in the preservation of the peace and safety of the state of Arizona and in order to carry out article II, section 21 of the Arizona Constitution relating to free and equal elections and article VII, section 12 of the Arizona Constitution relating to the enactment of laws to secure the purity of elections; and in order to guard against the abuse of the elective franchise by the Communist Party of the United States which from time to time has qualified as a purported legitimate political party in the state of Arizona; and in order to secure to the citizens of this state their unalienable personal rights and liberty of conscience secured by the provisions of the Constitution of Arizona and in order to protect the peace and safety of the state of Arizona from the overthrow of its constitutional government by force or violence, and of its political subdivisions, the legislature of the state of Arizona finds and declares that, unlike other political parties which have evolved their policy and programs through public means, by the reconciliation of a wide variety of individual views, and submit those policies and programs to the electorate at large for approval or disapproval, the policies and programs of the Communist Party are prescribed for it by the foreign leaders of the world Communist movement.
    B. The Communist Party members have no part in determining its goals and are not permitted to voice dissent to party objectives. Unlike members of political parties, members of the Communist Party are recruited for indoctrination with respect to its objectives and methods, and are organized, instructed and disciplined to carry into action slavishly the assignments given them by their hierarchical chieftains. Unlike legitimate political parties, the Communist Party acknowledges no constitutional or statutory limitations upon its conduct or upon that of its members. The Communist Party is relatively small numerically and gives scant indication of capacity ever to attain its ends by lawful political means. The peril inherent in its operation arises not from its numbers, but from its failure to acknowledge any limitation as to the nature of its activities, and its dedication to the proposition that the present constitutional government of the United States, the governments of the several states, and the government of the state of Arizona and its political subdivisions ultimately must be brought to ruin by any available means, including resort to force and violence.
    C. The establishment of a totalitarian dictatorship in any country results in the suppression of all opposition to the party in power, the subordination of the rights of individuals to the state, the denial of fundamental rights and liberties which are characteristic of a representative form of government, such as freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly, and of religious worship, and said totalitarian dictatorship ruthlessly suppresses academic freedom and inquiry into any human knowledge except the official doctrines of the dictatorship. This results in the maintenance of control over the people through fear, terrorism and brutality.
    D. It is the public policy of this state to protect the safety of the constitutional government of the state of Arizona by constitutional means and at the same time protect the rights of the members of our free society to speak, to assemble and to inquire, including the principle of academic freedom which by fostering healthy self-criticism is especially vital in the progress of man’s moral values and in man’s exploration of the secrets of the atom on this planet and in outer space. To protect the safety of this state and the right of free citizens in a free society to inquire and to understand totalitarianism, it is essential that the schools, colleges and universities teach objectively and critically the governmental and social forms of past and present totalitarian slave states, including the foreign languages spoken therein. The rights set forth in this subsection do not include the right to embrace Communism or to attempt to persuade others to embrace Communism.
    E. The direction and control of the world Communist movement is vested in and exercised by the Communist dictatorship of a foreign country.
    F. The Communist dictatorship of such foreign country, in exercising such direction and control and in furthering the purposes of the world Communist movement, establishes or causes the establishment of, and utilizes, in various countries, action organizations which are not free and independent organizations, but are sections of a worldwide Communist organization and are controlled, directed and subject to the discipline of the Communist dictatorship of such foreign country.
    G. The Communist action organizations so established and utilized in various countries, acting under such control, direction and discipline, endeavor to carry out the objectives of the world Communist movement by bringing about the overthrow of existing governments by any available means, including force or violence if necessary, and setting up Communist totalitarian dictatorships which will be subservient to the most powerful existing Communist totalitarian dictatorship. Although such organizations usually designate themselves as political parties, they are in fact constituent elements of the worldwide Communist movement and promote the objectives of such movement by conspiratorial and coercive tactics, instead of through the democratic processes of a free elective system or through the freedom-preserving means employed by a legitimate political party which operates as an agency by which people govern themselves.
    H. In the United States and in this state those individuals who knowingly and wilfully participate in the world Communist movement, when they so participate, in effect repudiate their allegiance to the United States and this state, and in effect transfer their allegiance to the foreign country in which is vested the direction and control of the world Communist movement.
    I. The Communist movement in the several states is an organization numbering thousands of adherents, rigidly and ruthlessly disciplined. Awaiting and seeking to advance at a moment when the several states may be so far extended by foreign engagements, so far divided in counsel, or so far in industrial or financial straits, that overthrow of the government of the United States and of the several states by force or violence may seem possible of achievement, it seeks converts far and wide by an extensive system of schooling and indoctrination. Such preparations by Communist organizations in other countries, including the recent events in the neighboring country of Cuba, have aided in supplanting existing governments. The Communist organization in the United States and in the several states, pursuing its stated objectives, the recent successes of Communist methods in other countries and the nature and control of the world Communist movement itself, present a clear and present danger to the security of the government of the United States, the governments of the several states and the government of the state of Arizona, including its political subdivisions, that make it necessary that the state of Arizona enact appropriate legislation, recognizing the existence of such worldwide Communist conspiracy, and designed to prevent it from accomplishing its purposes in this state and its political subdivisions. Therefore, the Communist Party should not be permitted to avail itself of the privileges, rights and immunities conferred by law upon legitimate political parties.

    ARS 16-806. Proscription of Communist Party of United States, its successors, and subsidiary organizations

    The Communist Party of the United States, or any successors of such party regardless of the assumed name, the object of which is to overthrow by force or violence the government of the United States, or the government of the state of Arizona, or its political subdivisions shall not be entitled to be recognized or certified as a political party under the laws of the state of Arizona and shall not be entitled to any of the privileges, rights or immunities attendant upon legal political bodies recognized under the laws of the state of Arizona, or any political subdivision thereof; whatever rights, privileges or immunities shall have heretofore been granted to said Communist Party of the United States as defined in this section, or to any of its subsidiary organizations, by reason of the laws of the state of Arizona, or of any political subdivision thereof, are hereby terminated and shall be void.

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