Marina Ortiz Explains Why She Resigned from the NAPMarina Ortiz was a leading organizer for the New Alliance Party and served as a publicist for NAP's 1988 presidential candidate, Lenora Fulani. Ortiz left the organization in 1990.
Ortiz, a young Puerto Rican women with a working class background, was once singled out for praise in NAP's <New Alliance> newspaper by NAP strategist Fred Newman. Newman called Ortiz brilliant and passionate, and wrote, "There is an honesty about this woman that is shockingly pure; an uncompromising honesty that sniffs out even a hint of disingenuousness." Newman also wrote:
"We have built our love within...the struggle to re-organize her anger on behalf of her people rather than against herself. I love our love affair, Marina Ortiz."
Two years after the article appeared Ortiz sat in a Manhattan coffee shop discussing NAP.
There was no "love affair" she snorts. The article was Newman's attempt to manipulate her sexually, a form of sexual blackmail, they never had a relationship, Newman was her therapist and her political leader, not her lover. Newman did try to tear apart her family, says Ortiz, but she was stronger than Fred, and walked away from NAP to rebuild her life. She is devoted to helping the Puerto Rican community gain equality and justice, but she now knows that NAP was not the way that's going to happen. NAP lied to her. Marina Ortiz is indeed brilliant and passionate...and now she was angry. Fred Newman had struck a rock.
Marina Ortiz decided to go public with her criticisms of NAP in 1992. According to Ortiz, NAP did not live up to its claims of promoting democracy, and championing the rights of women, persons of color, and gay men and lesbians. Instead, Ortiz says NAP "perfected the art of psychopolitical cultism and deception under the auspices of Lyndon LaRouche" and uses these manipulative techniques to engage in the "obstruction of minority empowerment."
While NAP calls itself "progressive," Ortiz points to a "two-decade history of cooptation and infiltration efforts, legal suits, and sectarian smear campaigns and petition challenges against progressives and insurgents such as Edward Wallace in 1983, Jesse Jackson in 1984, David Dinkins in 1989, Jitu Weusi and Timothy Evans in 1990, and Ron Daniels and Jerry Brown in 1992."
Ortiz also is troubled that "Gerald Horne, chair of the Black Studies Department at the University of California and a Peace and Freedom Party Senate Candidate [and] independent presidential candidate Ron Daniels" failed NAP's "litmus test" for being real progressives after they and others on the left questioned NAP's embrace of H. Ross Perot's brief 1992 presidential bid. Ortiz felt NAP's promotion of Perot was opportunistic and highly troubling, and indicated a willingness by NAP to abandon gay men and lesbians as allies in order to suggest a Perot/Fulani ticket. Ortiz says that rather than honestly dealing with its critics, NAP frequently resorts to nasty attacks, and has "viciously vilified" other former NAP leaders who have resigned such as former NAP presidential candidate Dennis Serrette and former NAP Georgia state chair Alvin Munson. Ortiz charges that while she was in the New Alliance Party she was inducted into the secret International Workers Party where she learned that she was expected to follow the orders of party chairman Fred Newman, as were other members of IWP including NAP presidential candidate Fulani. Ortiz says that as an IWP member she was told to attend therapy sessions run by persons trained in the "Social Therapy" technique invented by Newman.
The net result of these overlapping affiliations and commitments, according to Ortiz, was the creation of an organizational control mechanism that derailed criticism and enforced obedience. Ortiz finally decided that NAP's pronouncements championing democracy were a sham given the way the internal NAP hierarchy actually functioned. After resigning, Ortiz spent many months putting her energies into rebuilding her family which had been torn apart during her time within NAP. She eventually decided to write a book about her experiences in what she now calls a cult run by Newman.
Ortiz decided to break her self-imposed silence when in 1992 NAP sued two African-American women in Maryland who were "challenging the party's internal hierarchy." That incident involves an NAP lawsuit against a Baltimore African-American environmentalist and community organizer named Morning Sunday and another former NAP activist, Annie Chambers. Ms. Sunday became active in NAP in 1988 and originally chaired NAP's 1992 Maryland campaign organization for Lenora Fulani's presidential race.
Sunday became disillusioned after NAP ignored her requests that NAP support local campaigns, increase local participation and responsibility, and provide a mechanism for input into decisions. Instead NAP repeatedly demanded more money be raised in fundraising for NAP headquarters. "The bottom line was always signatures and money for national," Sunday told Ortiz in an interview Ortiz conducted for her book on NAP. Ortiz quickly became a supporter of Sunday and
Chambers for their attempts to make NAP live up to the democratic values it claimed to promote. Sunday told Ortiz she believed NAP's local Maryland operations were in fact part of a "dictatorial hierarchy" controlled by NAP's New York office staff, characterized by Sunday as "mostly white elitists." After a series of frustrating and alienating experiences, which Sunday alleged included a local art-gallery fundraiser where all $3,000 was whisked away to NAP in New York, and an episode where NAP sent her a volunteer who trashed her house and took her husband's car, Sunday contacted the two former NAP Maryland State chairs, Doug Ross and Annie Chambers. Both shared similar sentiments regarding NAP's lack of internal democratic procedures.
In March 1992 Chambers contacted New York NAP headquarters and suggested a meeting between the Maryland NAP committee and Fulani to iron out a dispute arising from NAP's contention that Sunday was refusing to file Fulani's nominating petitions, even though the petitions were not due for over five months. Instead of seeking to resolve the matter internally, NAP threatend a civil lawsuit, and then had an NAP staffer file criminal charges against Sunday and Chambers.
In an April 21, <Baltimore Sun> article on the dispute, Sunday revealed she had been threatened by NAP, and said the same treatment had been accorded others "who have bucked the national leadership" of NAP. Sunday said NAP had a "distinct class system" and was "no different than the Democrats and Republicans." NAP would send "marching orders" with no input from local activists, according to Sunday, and "when we tried to question their authority, all hell broke loose. They went into severe attack phase."
A judge found Sunday and Chambers guilty of theft on June 9, 1992. Even though Sunday turned over the petitions to NAP through a neutral mediator from the community, both Sunday and Chambers were punished with suspended jail sentences, placed on probation, and ordered to perform community service. Ortiz was moved by Sunday's argument prior to sentencing. Sunday told the judge her actions had been dictated by her conscience, that she had been seeking to prevent the maltreatment of Baltimore's Black community by a flim-flam campaign, that NAP was motivated strictly by greed, that NAP engaged in the political process for the sole purpose of raising money. Ortiz said when she heard those statements she recognized them as true, and she decided as a matter of conscience to speak out before waiting to complete her book.
Ortiz had cautiously granted several background interviews and provided a written statement to be included in this revised study of NAP. Ortiz agreed to be interviewed on the condition that any discussion of her charges include the fact that she believes there are many sincere people who have been pulled into NAP, and that her criticisms not be used to hurt serious efforts to fight for social change and equal rights. Ortiz thought that this would allow her to focus on her book yet still assist in exposing the real nature of NAP.
But Ortiz became convinced that she had an obligation to air her charges in a way that would encourage a thorough public debate in the Latino and African-American communities where NAP candidates were running for public office in the late summer of 1992. So Ortiz wrote an article about the experiences of Sunday and Chambers, but for a variety of reasons she could find no publisher.
So on August 9, 1992 Ortiz appeared on the Latino Journal program on New York's progressive radio station WBAI to make her charges public. She knew she risked the type of vicious personal attack for which NAP has become infamous, but she also knew that it was time for her to speak out. It was something her people needed to hear. It was something Marina Ortiz could no longer hold inside. And Ortiz said what she had to say with the spirit and intellect that Fred Newman could recognize, but could never control.
Since her first radio appearance, Ortiz has published several articles critical of the Newmanites, and appeared on other radio programs where she and other former members have challenged Newman and Fulani to reveal the inner workings of the IWP and the secret Steering Committee.