Born in Mexico in January 1951, Teresa Gutierrez has been a Communist political organizer in the United States throughout her adult life. She proudly identifies herself as a “Marxist,” an immigrant-rights activist, and a foot soldier in “the Chicano liberation struggle.” “It was the Communist Manifesto that gave me the tools to understand that the oppression of Chicanos was part of the oppression of all workers,” she states, and “it was Lenin who explained that even within class oppression there was the special oppression of certain people … that required the most utmost thought in order to build solidarity.” A member of the Secretariat of the Marxist-Leninist Workers World Party (WWP), Gutierrez has also served variously as chair of the U.S. Out-of-Columbia Committee, deputy secretary-general of the International Migrant Alliance, and co-director of the International Action Center and International ANSWER.
In 1994 Gutierrez was an initiator of the International Peace for Cuba Appeal, which opposed America’s economic embargo against Communist Cuba. Other prominent initiators and endorsers of this Appeal included Philip Agee, Ed Asner, Brian Becker, Harry Belafonte, Noam Chomsky, Ramsey Clark, John Conyers, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, Richard Falk, Thomas Gumbleton, Woody Harrelson, Corliss Lamont, Mario Obledo, Charles Rangel, Pete Seeger, Martin Sheen, Paul Sweezy, Alice Walker, Lucius Walker Jr., Maxine Waters, Quentin Young, and Howard Zinn.
Over the years, Gutierrez has made numerous trips to Cuba, Haiti, and Venezuela to publicly denounce American “imperialism” and express “solidarity” with Marxist elements in those places.
Gutierrez has characterized the Iraq War, which began with America’s invasion of Iraq in 2003, as a “genocidal and criminal U.S. war.”
In 2004 Gutierrez was the U.S. vice-presidential nominee on the Workers World Party ticket. Her presidential running mate was WWP comrade John Parker.
In 2006 Gutierrez worked to prevent the passage of the so-called “Sensenbrenner bill,” legislation that would have: (a) mandated that the driver’s licenses issued to illegal aliens were clearly distinguishable from those of citizens and legal residents and thus could not be used as federal identification documents, and (b) lowered the standards for deporting anyone deemed to be a potential national-security threat. While Gutierrez was glad that the “heinous” Sensenbrenner bill was not signed into law, she complained about the Bush administration’s efforts to impose “further repression through raids, deportation, [and] the empowerment of local law-enforcements to hunt down immigrants, [engage in] racial profiling and so forth.”
Gutierrez contends that America has long been waging “a war” against “oppressed” Mexican immigrants through such measures as “mass incarcerations and mass deportations,” “untold dehumanization and degradation,” “racial profiling,” and “militarization of the border.” Reasoning from the premise that the Southwestern United States was wrongly stolen from Mexico, Gutierrez commonly refers to Mexicans residing illegally in the U.S. as “migrants” who are entitled to move about freely in a region that rightfully belongs to them, rather than as “immigrants,” a term which connotes outsiders. In the same vein, Gutierrez references American citizens as “so-called” citizens. Viewing all restrictions and regulations on immigration across national lines as manifestations of oppression, she favors “a world with no borders.”
Gutierrez identifies capitalism as the cause of many of humanity’s most intractable problems. For example, she characterizes business owners as “capitalist pigs,” and describes the free-market economic system as “bloodsucking, murderous imperialism.” By Gutierrez’s telling, for decades Mexican laborers in the U.S. have been “vilified,” “demonized,” and subjected to incessant “capitalist exploitation” typified by “abominable working conditions” and “racist attacks.”
Aiming to help “accelerate” the ultimate “destruction” of capitalism, Gutierrez would prefer for workers to “seize” the reins of political power through armed uprising if necessary. “We have a duty,” she says, “to turn this—the headquarters of imperialism—into the center of revolutionary gravity.”
Gutierrez celebrates the fact that the immigrant-rights movement has “revived the class struggle in the U.S.”—what she terms the “irreconcilable struggle between the ruling class and the working class,” the “exploiters and exploited.” “Workers World Party could ask for no greater development,” she says, “short of the revolution. Because history shows that an upsurge of oppressed people can impact every other struggle.”
In 2009 Gutierrez was a coordinator of the the New York May 1st Coalition, an alliance of more than 40 immigrant- and worker-rights organizations in the New York area. This coalition held a rally at Union Square to celebrate International Workers’ Day (May Day) and urge President Barack Obama to authorize “comprehensive immigration reform” that would result in “an end to [immigration] raids and deportations, and the legalization of the more than 12 million estimated undocumented immigrants in the United States.”
In 2010 Gutierrez condemned Arizona Law SB 1070 — which authorized state police to check the immigration status of criminals suspected of being in the U.S. illegally — as a “repressive” statute that represented “a threat to all immigrants, an insult to every Latino and Latina person, an assault on every person of color, and an attack on all workers.” Gutierrez also denounced “arch-racist Sheriff Joe Arpaio” and other “reactionaries” who “falsely blame all problems of U.S. society on immigrants.”
In the June 18, 2014 edition of the WWP publication Workers World, Gutierrez lamented that “working-class children, especially children of color, are not priorities under the capitalist system, no matter where they are born.” She also accused agents of the Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency of brutally mistreating people who had been apprehended for illegally crossing the border from Mexico into the United States. Gutierrez claimed, for instance, that it was not uncommon for U.S. border agents to rape females who were in their custody. Moreover, she accused border authorities of racism, writing: “ICE agents told a young girl, ‘You’re the garbage that contaminates this country.'”
Just as Gutierrez views capitalism, with its allegedly amoral and greed-driven agendas, as a scourge upon the lives of poor people and immigrants, so does she deem it inherently destructive to the natural environment. In a November 2013 speech, for instance, she declared that the “climate crisis” could only be solved by a “worldwide socialist revolution” leading to “the abolishment of the capitalist system.”
Similarly, in an April 2017 article, Gutierrez identified revolutionary socialism as “the only answer to climate change.” Some noteworthy excerpts:
In August 2018 Gutierrez called for “the abolition of ICE.” Moreover, she described President Donald Trump, who sought to thwart unlawful immigration into the U.S., as “an unreconstructed, blatant white supremacist” whose “views and policies” on immigration “are fortified by the white supremacists he has brought into government.” She argued that Trump’s “racist” and “repressive, fascist-like tactics” were centered around “the blatant targeting of Black and Brown immigrants” in order to “create a white-majority nation through a kind of ‘ethnic cleansing by deportation.'” But “impeachment is no solution,” Gutierrez explained, because even if Trump were to be be removed from office, “he would simply be replaced by Vice President Mike Pence, another rabid white supremacist and anti-LGBTQ bigot.” Adding that America’s “rabidly racist immigration policies didn’t start with the Trump administration,” Gutierrez claimed that “U.S. immigration policies have been racist and exploitative for over 250 years.” And while acknowledging that “a victory to abolish ICE would be a boost to the movement,” she emphasized that “abolishing one arm of the capitalist state is never enough.” Thus, Gutierrez reasoned, “the demand to abolish ICE” should be “taken further by linking it to the demand to abolish the polICE” all across the United State. “If the movement for migrant rights is to succeed,” she explained, “… it would gain power by linking to … the struggle of the Black community against police terror. By extension, the issue of mass incarceration is as heinous as caged children at the border. But centuries of racist ideology in the U.S. have prevented a mass multinational outcry on the imprisonment of Black and Brown people.” Again Gutierrez emphasized the urgency of replacing capitalism with socialism, because “capitalist society can’t exist without a repressive apparatus.”
In the April 23, 2019 edition of Workers World, Gutierrez wrote that the many “white supremacists” in the Trump White House were “attempting to destroy every gain the working class has ever made.” The Trump administration “cares nothing about the destruction of the planet,” she elaborated. “It is reckless, neofascist and dangerous.” To address this problem, said Gutierrez, “communists and socialists must … raise class consciousness and talk about revolutionary, not democratic, socialism in a winning and thoughtful way.”
In May 2019 Gutierrez reprised her contention that “the capitalist class and their system … are entirely at fault for creating” the environmental “crisis” allegedly facing America and the rest of the planet. “What is needed are revolutionary changes,” she continued. “What is needed is an end to capitalism and building socialism. This is needed now, not tomorrow…. It is capitalism that created climate change. It is socialism that will resolve it. Only a planned economy based on solidarity and human need, not avaricious profit, can adequately and genuinely deal with the effects of climate change.”
In August 2019 Gutierrez excoriated President Trump for his “fascist war on migrants.”