Gino Perente

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Eugenio Mario Perente-Ramos (Gino Perente) (21 November 1937[1] - 18 March 1995) was the founder of the National Labor Federation (NATLFED), a collection of anti-poverty organizations in the United States. The NATLFED's organizations conduct door-to-door canvassing and operate assistance programs for the poor, but it has also been described by critics as a left-wing "political cult." [2][3][4] Some reporters, cult-watchers, and the FBI inferred in the early 1980s that he was born Gerald William Doeden, a disc jockey and con artist from California.[1][5][6][7][8][9]

Biography[edit]

As Gerald Doeden[edit]

Gerald Doeden was born in Crookston, Minnesota and grew up in Idaho and Yuba City/Marysville, California. He was an amateur actor who performed in plays at Yuba College.[1]

While in college, Doeden was injured in a car accident and walked with a limp for the rest of his life. He was known in Marysville as a small-scale con artist.[4][9]

Doeden married Ruth Mikkelsen in 1960, and had a daughter. Doeden, however, reportedly also fathered a child outside of his marriage. He and Mikkelsen were divorced in 1962, and he later spent some time in jail for non-payment of child support. Some observers have suggested that he may have left California to avoid child support payments.[2][9]

Early activism[edit]

After working in Yuba City as a DJ for the radio station KAGR for about five years, Doeden began working at the Little Red Bookstore in San Francisco, where he went by aliases such as "Claude" and "Gino Savo."[9][10]

A number of individuals associated with the store reportedly formed a short-lived group called Liberation Army Revolutionary Group Organization. The group sent letters to government offices "announcing that armed guerrilla groups were about to attack public buildings" in March 1970.[4] its only published statement, LARGO issued a proclamation of its intention to overthrow the government starting on March 15, 1970. While this quickly attracted the attention of the authorities, the group was described as quixotic by the media and dismissed by law enforcement.[10]

Involvement with United Farm Workers Organizing Committee and foundation of EFWA[edit]

Around 1970 Doeden left California and resurfaced in New York City as "Gino Parenti". There he worked briefly in 1971 for the United Farm Workers Organizing Committee, the predecessor of United Farm Workers of America (UFW) in its New York office. After taking charge during a power vacuum, he was fired when UFW sent Jose Gomez to head the office.[11] About 20 years later, he was remembered by Dolores Huerta as a "colorful biker type who played a small role in the boycott for about nine months or a year.... He created a lot of problems for the union, attacking us in the press. Then he went off and formed his own group.".[12] After leaving UFW, Perente founded the Eastern Farm Workers Association (EFWA) in Suffolk County, New York, an agricultural region on Long Island.

As head of EFWA and NATLFED[edit]

Within a few years, Perente's followers had started similar organizations patterned on EFWA in California and elsewhere on the east coast, and eventually one farm worker organizing drive had spawned a network of twenty such drives, called the National Labor Federation (NATLFED).[citation needed]

By the late 1970s, Perente's activities were increasingly limited to giving lectures to volunteers interpreting the writings of Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin, and Joseph Stalin and directing the daily activities of his volunteers.[2] Perente also co-authored a number of tracts, including The Essential Organizer, the training manual of the EFWA,[13] and "The Genesis," a story of the origins of NATLFED claiming that the party was part of a secret International including the Communist Party of Cuba, the Sandinistas and revolutionaries in Chile and El Salvador,[2] and that members of the Venceremos were among its founders.[6]

Perente retreated from public view in the mid- to late-1970s. Individuals associated with Perente purchased 1107-1115 Carrol St, an apartment building in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn, and he lived there, surrounded by volunteers for his organizations, for the rest of his life. Some ex-full-time volunteers have alleged that Perente was a drug addict, sexually harassed female volunteers, and regularly physically abused some volunteer organizers during this period.[14]

Death[edit]

Perente died March 18, 1995 in the Crown Heights apartment of congestive heart failure. He was buried at Oak Hill Cemetery in Stony Brook, NY by the organization he founded. The New York Times printed his obituary,[13] and then a correction.[8] The initial obituary relied primarily on information from two close associates, Daniel Fiske and Christopher Day. The Times was then contacted by his former wife, former colleagues, and longtime critics of Perente, including Chip Berlet, and, after fact-checking the initial obituary, the Times issued a corrected obituary the next day.[8]

Publications[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c FBI file 100-459234 on Gerald Doeden
  2. ^ a b c d Tourish, Dennis and Wohlforth, Tim (2000). On the Edge: Political Cults Right and Left. M. E. Sharpe. ISBN 0-7656-0639-9. ,ISBN 0-7656-0639-9 Chapter 12, "The Many Faces of Gino Perente"
  3. ^ Moran, Kevin and Carrie Saldo. "Past cult link dogs aid-for-poor group". North Adams Transcript January 10, 2003.
  4. ^ a b c Kifner, John. "Its leader dead, fringe group lives on for its own sake". The New York Times. November 18, 1996.
  5. ^ Rauber, Paul Shadow Politics East Bay Express May 18, 1984.
  6. ^ a b Whitnack, Jeff (1984). "Cadre or Cult? Gino Perente, NATLFED & the Provisional Party". Public Eye 4. 
  7. ^ Affidavit of FBI Agent Neil Hermann February 16, 1984
  8. ^ a b c (No byline) (1995-03-21). "Correction:Obituary omitted key facts on labor organizer". New York Times. 
  9. ^ a b c d Wiedner, David (1995-04-11). "Man's Death Rekindles Memories of a Colorful Life". Appeal-Democrat (Marysville/Yuba City CA). 
  10. ^ a b Ed Montgomery (1970-03-20). "Terrorist 'Paper Tiger'". San Francisco Examiner. 
  11. ^ Gomez, Jose, in (Farmworker Movement Documentation Project, September 2004 Discussion Archive
  12. ^ Russakoff, Joe (1987-06-26–1987-07-03). "Doorway to a Cult?". City Paper (Philadelphia, PA). 
  13. ^ a b McFadden, Robert (1995-03-20). "Eugenio Perente-Ramos is dead: Farm Labor Organizer was 59". New York Times. 
  14. ^ Lengthy online discussion on NATLFED at Portland indymedia