THE TEJANO MONUMENT ON TX CAPITOL GROUNDS: A TESTIMONY OF SPANISH-MEXICAN HERITAGE INFLUENCED IN PRESENT DAY TEXAS CULTURE

THE HISPANIC BLOG IS THE LATEST HISPANIC NEWS BY JESSICA MARIE GUTIERREZ

photo by: Marjorie Kamys Cotera

The Tejano Monument was created to emplace a monument on the Texas Capitol grounds to establish an enduring legacy that acknowledges and pays tribute to the contributions by Tejanos as permanent testimony of the Spanish-Mexican heritage that has influenced and is inherent in present-day Texas culture. For more on history http://www.tejanomonument.com/history/.

Tejano Monument unveiling
Sculptor Armando Hinojosa took 11 years to create the Tejano masterpiece
Credit: Erin Cargile/KXAN

The long overdue and much anticipated official unveiling of the Tejano Monument at the State Capitol in Austin.  Gov. Rick Perry attended the dedication of a new monument on the Texas State Capitol grounds honoring Hispanic contributions to Texas History. The Tejano Monument is located on the south lawn.

“This important monument reflects a larger truth about the origins of Texas, about the contributions of so many Hispanic citizens to the creation of the state we love and the lives we share,” Gov. Perry said. “These contributions are ongoing with Latinos providing political, business and spiritual leadership in communities throughout Texas. The future of our state is tied directly to the future of our Hispanic population, and I believe we have a glorious future ahead of us.”
The Tejano Monument was created by Laredo artist Armando Hinojosa and consists of 11 life-size sculptures commemorating the 500-year role of Tejanos in Texas and the Spanish-Mexican legacy in the state from 1500 to 1800.

Sculptor Armando Hinojosa took 11 years to create the Tejano masterpiece
Credit: Erin Cargile/KXAN

Work on placing a Tejano Monument at the State Capitol began in 2001, when legislators passed and Gov. Perry signed legislation establishing it. In 2007, the Legislature approved $1.087 million for completion of the monument and an additional $1 million was raised through private donations.

State Rep. Richard Peña Raymond (from left), Gov. Rick Perry, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, State Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman and State Sen. Judith Zaffirini join in prayer during the dedication of the Tejano Monument at the Texas Capitol in Austin, on Thursday, Mar. 29, 2012.
Photo: Kin Man Hui, San Antonio Express-News / ©2012 San Antonio Express-News

Early Spanish and Mexican pioneers and their descendants have helped shape the way of life in Texas, dating back to the 1500s. Today, some of our state’s top Hispanic leaders include Secretary of State Hope Andrade; Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Justice Elsa Alcala; Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman; Chancellor of the UT System Francisco Cigarroa; Austin Diocese Bishop Joe Vasquez; and Presiding Officer at the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission Jose Cuevas, just to name a few.

Sculptor Armando Hinojosa took 11 years to create the Tejano masterpiece
Credit: Erin Cargile/KXAN

Among the state lawmakers, official dignitaries, business leaders, school children, and thousands of Texans from across the state taking part in today’s official unveiling were also Texas State Representative Roberto R. Alonzo of Dallas and his wife Sylvana.

“It was an honor indeed to take part in today’s history-making event showcasing the official unveiling of the Tejano Monument at the State Capitol grounds,” said Rep. Alonzo.

State Representative Roberto Alonzo, D-Dallas. (File photo: RGG/Steve Taylor)

“Witnessing come to fruition the over decade-long effort that began with talks close to 12 years ago  to emplace a monument on the grounds of our State Capitol was truly inspirational, historical, and thought-provoking at the same time.  Furthermore, witnessing Tejanos of all ages from all geographic corners of the state, particularly our school children and young college students, convene in Austin for this event was historical in itself.  The monument acknowledges and pays tribute to the contributions by Tejanos on present-day Texas culture and history, and to see so many people from across the state converge at our State Capitol was testament to that,” continued Rep. Alonzo.

With the official ceremonial unveiling of the majestic Tejano Monument, an enduring legacy has been established to serve as a permanent testimony of the Spanish-Mexican heritage that has influenced and shaped the history of Texas.

For more information about the festivities and other related events, you may contact:  Lino Garcia Jr  via  e-mail at : drlinogarcia@SBCGLOBAL.NET or visit the website at www.nosostroslostejanos.com.

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HOW IMMIGRATION GOT OUT OF CONTROL

THE HISPANIC BLOG IS THE LATEST HISPANIC NEWS BY JESSICA MARIE GUTIERREZ

Prior to 1965 a thriving Bracero Program was in place in which roughly 450,000 persons entered the U.S. from Mexico each year on temporary work visas.  These workers returned to Mexico regularly rather than staying in the U.S., thereby creating a circular flow of legal Mexican migrants.  The program had a lot of problems, however, so immigration reformers with a civil rights agenda successfully shut it down.  But while the program ended in 1965, the business need for this type of labor did not. The result was that Mexican workers continued to enter the country, although now without documentation.  Also in 1965, quantitative limits on immigration from the Western Hemisphere were established. Thus illegal immigration rose after 1965 not because there was a surge in Mexican migration, but because these immigration reforms rebranded legal migrants as undocumented workers and capped the number who could try to enter the country legally.

”]No longer legal guest workers but illegal immigrants, the number apprehended at the U.S.-Mexican borderincreased.  This allowed a new narrative to develop: illegal immigration was a crisis and new policies were desperately needed to stem the flow of the “alien invasion.”  The more this narrative was repeated by politicians, the more the populace supported increasingly stringent immigration and enforcement policies, setting off a chain reaction:  increased apprehensions led to increased calls and better tools for enforcement; increased enforcement led to more apprehensions; and increased apprehensions solidified in the public’s mind that illegal immigration was a growing problem that needed drastic reform.  Moreover, increased enforcement did not really deter people from entering the U.S. from Mexico, but it certainly encouraged them to stay; the conversion from legal migrant to illegal immigrant was complete.

President Kennedy and Secretary of Defense McNamara in an EXCOMM meeting, October 1962.

Second, the U.S. was involved in several Central American countries during the Cold War, which lead to further destabilization in the region and large scale migration north.  While Nicaraguan émigrés were welcome as refugees (since the U.S. disagreed with the leftist government they were fleeing), others from Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras encountered the same restrictions for legal entry as Mexicans. After the 1990s, the threat of terrorism intensified border enforcement and brought about a sharp rise in deportations from the U.S.  Deportations replaced border apprehensions as “proof” that a Latino threat loomed.

November 6, 1986: President Reagan in the Roosevelt Room signing S. 1200 Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 with Dan Lungren Strom Thurmond George Bush Romano Mazzoli and Alan Simpson looking on.

Third, Latin American legal immigration – led by Mexico—was also on the rise after 1965, and particularly after 1986.  Again, this was not a result of a conscious policy effort, but rather an unintended consequence of the various immigration reforms. Due to concerns about terrorism and a growing xenophobia, Congress began in the 1980s to strip civil, social, and economic rights away from legal immigrants.  As it became increasingly problematic to be in the U.S. but not a citizen, the numbers seeking to naturalize increased.  This happened just as millions of former undocumented migrants became eligible to naturalize after receiving permanent residence under the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) of 1986. Adding to the numbers was a separate policy that exempted family members (spouses, minor children and parents) of U.S. citizens from country quotas as part of a family reunification effort.

The authors end the article noting the massive demographic transformation that has resulted from these unintended consequences – a rise in the Hispanic population from 9.6 million to 50.5 million.  They offer a counterfactual scenario, in which the Bracero Program was improved, not abolished, and the U.S. stayed out of Central America; the result might have been a smaller illegal population and a less divided country when the terrorists attacked.  More might have continued to cross the border legally and for temporary stays, resulting in fewer permanent immigrants, less undocumented migration, and slower population growth.  Amazingly – almost despite ourselves—we may actually be headed that way as both illegal and legal entries have fallen while temporary guest worker entry has risen.

The next step is for the U.S. to find a way to deal with the remaining legacy of failed policies – undocumented residents who number 11 million.  Of those, 3 million entered as children.  The authors argue that they should receive amnesty – such as that would have been granted in the Dream Act—while the adults should be able to participate in an earned legalization program.  As the Massey/Pren paper shows, a large number of permanent undocumented people is not a good situation for the country—and the next policy solution should aim to solve not create more problems.

Article by Douglas S. Massey, the Wilson School’s Henry G. Bryant Professor of Sociology and Public Affairs, and Karen A. Pren, Project Manager, Mexican Migration Project at Princeton’s Office of Population Research, argues that the post-1965 surge in Mexican, Central American, and to a lesser extent South American immigration was not a direct result of policy reforms enacted in the mid-1960s but rather the unintended consequences that unfolded afterward.

READ MORE: Hispanically Speaking News

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IN MEMORY OF THE COURAGEOUS ARCHBISHOP OSCAR ARNULFO ROMERO: THE BLOODBATH THAT LED EL SALVADOR TO A CIVIL WAR

THE HISPANIC BLOG BY JESSICA MARIE GUTIERREZ

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photo by: http://www.marypages.com/RomeroEng.htm

The powerful biography of the Latino Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero y Galdamez who spent his life helping the poor. People so poor that children died because their parents could not afford penicillin; people who were paid less than legal minimum wage; people who had been savagely beaten for “insolence” after they asked for long overdue pay.

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photo from http://satucket.com/lectionary/Oscar_Romero.htm

Romero began using resources of the diocese-and his own personal resources to help the poor, but he knew that simple charity was not enough.

He said, “The world of the poor teaches us that liberation will arrive only when the poor are not simply on the receiving end of handouts from government, but when they themselves are the masters and protagonists of their own struggle for liberation.”

After the brutal murder of two campesinos – one being his friend and trusted aide – Romero deeply saddened demanded the President look into it. The government’s failure to offer more than lip service reinforced the archbishop’s growing conviction that the right-wing government was in collusion with the aristocrats who killed for personal gain. He then notified the president that representatives of the archdiocese would no longer appear with government leaders at public ceremonies.

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photo by http://www.americanrhetoric.com/MovieSpeeches/moviespeechromero1.html

Archbishop Romero presented the Pope with seven detailed reports of institutionalized murder, torture and kidnapping throughout El Salvador. He also wrote President Jimmy Carter, appealing to him as a fellow Christian, to stop sending military aid to the Salvadoran government. His letter went unheeded. President Carter finally suspended aid in 1980, after the murders of four churchwomen, but President Reagan resumed and greatly increased aid to the Salvadoran government. In all, the U.S. aid averaged $1.5 million/day for 12 years.

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photo from http://onlineministries.creighton.edu/CollaborativeMinistry/romero.html

There was so much persecution that in 1979 four priests were assassinated, along with many hundreds of catechists and delegates of the Word. The peasant toll exceeded 3,000/month.

In all, at least 75-80,000 Salvadorans would be slaughtered, 300,000 would disappear and never be seen again; a million would flee their homeland and an additional million would become homeless fugitives, constantly fleeing the military and police. All of this occurred in a nation of only 5.5 million people.

Romero had nothing left to offer his people but faith and hope. On March 23, 1980 Romero used his nationally broadcast sermons to speak directly to the soldiers and policemen:

“Brothers, you are from the same people; you kill your fellow peasants…No soldier is obliged to obey an order that is contrary to the will of God…In the name of God, in the name of suffering people, I ask you-I command you in the name of Jesus: stop the repression!”

The following evening while performing a funeral mass, Archbishop Romero was shot to death by a paid assassin. Although, only moments before he was shot, he reminded the mourners of the parable of wheat:

“Those who surrender to the service of the poor through the love of Christ will live like grain of wheat that dies…The harvest comes because of the grain that dies…We know that every effort to improve society, above all when society is so full of injustice and sin is an effort that God blesses, that God wants, that God demands of us.”

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photo from http://www.bridgebuilding.com/narr/norom.html

An estimated 500,000 people attended his funeral when small bombs were hurled into the ground and 40 mourners died while hundreds were seriously wounded.

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Salvadorans rally in honor of Archbishop Oscar Romero in the capital on the 30th anniversary of his assassin and when El Savador asks forgiveness in 2010 for his slaying (Jose Cabezas / AFP/Getty Images) (to read more of what happened on 30th anniversary http://articles.latimes.com/2010/mar/24/world/la-fg-salvador-romero25-2010mar25).

Soon after his death El Salvador was plunged into a full blown civil war that would last 12 years.

Read More: The Full Biography of Archbishop Oscar Romero (1917-1980)

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L.U.L.A.C. WAS FOUNDED THIS DAY ON FEBRUARY 17TH: HAPPY BIRTHDAY

THE HISPANIC BLOG BY JESSICA MARIE GUTIERREZ

LEAGUE OF UNITED LATIN AMERICAN CITIZENS FOUNDED ON

FEBRUARY 17TH: HAPPY BIRTHDAY LULAC

LULAC History – All for One and One for All

First LULAC Convention - Corpus Christi, TX - 5/17/1929The founding of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) on a cold, rainy day at Salon Obreros y Obreras, Corpus Christi, Texas, on February 17, 1929, marked an important milestone in the history of Hispanic American people in the United States, as LULAC has since evolved into one of the premiere organizations representing the civil rights of Hispanic Americans.

The League sprung from the rise of a Texan-Mexican middle class and resistance to racial discrimination. The strength of the organization has historically been in Texas, although it now enjoys widespread support across the country.

LULAC is a multi-issue organization because its founders were confronted with a plethora of the challenges: addressing political disfranchisement, racial segregation, and racial discrimination that plagued Latinos through the early twentieth century. Since its inception, LULAC has responded to deepening issues in American society affecting Hispanic Americans, including racism, lack of political representation and the growing Hispanic vote, the exclusion of Hispanics from juries, and the segregation of public schools, housing, and public accommodations. And though the organization would criticize American society for discriminating against Hispanic Americans, in particular, it encouraged reform rather than an attempt to restructure the political and economic construct of the country.

LULAC Outing - 4/21/1929LULAC is set apart from its peer organizations in the Hispanic community by its political ideology. The founders of LULAC respected the precepts on which the United States was established, including the writings of the country’s founding fathers, and in an effort to imbue LULAC with the same spirit of purpose and opportunity that is the foundation of American democracy and free enterprise, they praised the nation in well-crafted written statements and speeches. This deference toward the American way of life was done largely, in the beginning, to placate the American public’s suspicion of the organization’s motives and to satisfy the personal beliefs and political preferences of the League’s membership. Officers and members of LULAC were required to take an oath swearing their loyalty to the government of the United States and their support of its Constitution and laws. The organization would adopt “America” as its official song, English as its official language, and “George Washington’s Prayer” as its official prayer. The League’s constitution was modeled after the U.S. Constitution.

LULAC’s early activists fought racism in a country that clearly rejected Mexican American people and culture. But the League’s members held on to their pride and sought to retain their Latino heritage while also advocating a grasp of the English language, loyalty to the United States, and participation in American civic and social activities, becoming advocates of bilingualism and biculturalism, as long as it was understood that Hispanic Americans’ primary loyalty was to the United States and its institutions.

First LULAC Convention ArticleThe founders of LULAC were economic conservatives who viewed racial discrimination, not class domination, as the primary cause of Mexican Americans’ problems.

At the beginning of World War II, many of the League’s councils ceased to exist because their members volunteered or were drafted into the armed services. By the end of the war, LULAC councils were revived with the return of Hispanic veterans who had constituted the core of activists destined to renew the fight for equal civil rights. For a period of fifteen years post–World War II, the organization conducted a series of lawsuits, petitioned local governments, and mobilized the Latino vote to challenge discriminatory practices in America’s Southwest. Along with another organization, the American GI Forum, LULAC was at the forefront of civil rights for Hispanic Americans in the post–World War II years.

The League remains, to this day, unique from an organizational perspective, largely because it had two notable mobilization phases, the first in 1929 when LULAC was established, and the second in 1945 after World War II. While World War II decidedly interrupted the group’s work, and most of its councils disbanded, by war’s end Hispanic veterans saw the vast opportunities in a booming United States economy and wanted to participate in the American dream. The period from the end of the war through the late 1950s was a long period of political activism. LULAC’s crusade for civil rights moved forward in concert with a libertarian ethic and a strident antisocialist stand, arguing that discrimination provided an opportunity for propaganda to divide and decimate the country.7 Beginning in the late 1950s LULAC created a series of landmark programs for the Latino community that have themselves become important institutions for the advancement of Hispanics. These include the LULAC’s Little Schools of the 400 created in 1957 to teach basic English words to Hispanic preschoolers. This innovating program was the model used by President Johnson in the creation of the federal Headstart program.

DiscriminationIn the 1960s LULAC councils built more than two dozen housing projects to provide affordable housing to low income families. LULAC and the American GI Forum created SER-Jobs for Progress, the premiere Hispanic employment training program in 1966. Today SER provides employment and training services through more than forty-three employment centers located throughout the United States and Puerto Rico. In 1968 LULAC created the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund to provide legal services to the Hispanic community. LULAC’s flag ship educational program, the LULAC National Educational Service Centers, was created in 1973 and now provides counseling services to more than 20,000 Hispanic students each year at seventeen regional centers located throughout the United States and Puerto Rico.

In the last decade, LULAC created the LULAC Corporate Alliance, an advisory board of Fortune 500 companies, to foster stronger partnerships between Corporate America and the Hispanic community and the LULAC Institute to develop and support community-service programs for its volunteer councils.

LULAC has grown dramatically from the small, tightly associated band of South Texas individuals who joined together in 1929 to form the organization. Now a nationwide organization headquartered in Washington, D.C., with more than 700 LULAC councils operating throughout the United States and Puerto Rico, LULAC represents and serves Latinos from all nationalities and backgrounds. LULAC councils award millions of dollars in scholarships to Hispanic students each year, organize citizenship and voter registration drives, conduct thousands of volunteer-based service programs for disadvantaged Latinos, and actively empower the Hispanic community at the local, state and national levels. LULAC, and the family of organizations it helped create, is a tremendous force for advancing the education, employment, housing, health, political empowerment, and civil rights of Hispanic Americans. With a vibrant and growing membership, unparalleled grassroots outreach, innovative model programs, and dynamic leadership, LULAC’s best days are still to come.

Read More: http://www.lulac.net/about/history.html

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THIS DAY IN LATINO AMERICAN HISTORY FEBRUARY 6TH – 17TH

THE HISPANIC BLOG CREATOR JESSICA MARIE GUTIERREZ

THIS DAY IN LATINO AMERICAN HISTORY FEBRUARY 17TH

LULAC founded

On this day in 1929, the League of United Latin American Citizens, originally called the United Latin American Citizens, was founded at Salón Obreros y Obreras in Corpus Christi, Texas. LULAC is the oldest and largest continually active Latino political association in the United States and was the first nationwide Mexican-American civil-rights organization. It grew out of the rising Texas-Mexican middle class and resistance to racial discrimination. The strength of the organization has historically been in Texas. Over the years LULAC has been a multi-issue organization. It was organized in response to political disfranchisement, racial segregation, and racial discrimination. It responded to bossism, the lack of political representation, the lack of a sizable independent Mexican-American vote, jury exclusion of Mexican-Americans, and white primaries. It also dealt with the segregation of public schools, housing, and public accommodations. The organization has attempted to solve the problems of poverty among Mexican Americans and has sought to build a substantial Mexican-American middle class.

1756 — Lt. Gov. Bernardo de Miranda y Flores of Spanish Texas set out from San Antonio to search for mineral deposits and discovered the Los Almagres silver mine in Llano.

THIS DAY IN LATINO AMERICAN HISTORY FEBRUARY 16TH

Longoria given hero’s burial

On this day in 1949, the body of Private Felix Longoria of Three Rivers, Texas, was buried in Arlington National Cemetery. Longoria had died in the Philippines near the end of World War II. When his recovered remains were sent to Three Rivers for burial, the funeral director refused the use of his chapel for a “Mexican.” After action by the American G.I. Forum and Lyndon Johnson, Longoria was buried in Arlington. The affair provided a model case in the Mexican-American struggle for civil rights.

Lone survivor of Bonilla expedition found

On this day in 1599, Jusepe Guitiérrez, the lone survivor of the Bonilla expedition, was found by Spanish explorer Juan de Oñate. Francisco Leyva de Bonilla, a Portuguese captain in the service of Spain, was dispatched in 1594 by Governor Diego de Velasco of Nueva Vizcaya to pursue beyond the frontiers of that state a rebellious band of Indians that had committed acts of theft. Once across the border, Bonilla and his party determined to explore New Mexico and the plains beyond and to search for the fabled treasure of Quivira. They spent about a year at the upper Rio Grande pueblos, making Bove (San Ildefonso) their principal headquarters. They then explored into Arkansas and Nebraska. According to the statement of Gutiérrez, a Mexican Indian who was with the party, Bonilla was stabbed to death after a quarrel with his lieutenant, Antonio Gutiérrez de Humaña, who then assumed command. Sometime after the murder, Jusepe and five other Indians deserted the party and retraced their steps toward New Mexico. On the way, four were lost and a fifth was killed. Jusepe was taken captive by Apache and Vaquero Indians and kept for a year. At the end of that period, he made his way to Cicuyé and in 1599 was found at Picuris by Oñate, who secured his services as a guide and interpreter. When Oñate arrived at Quivira in the summer of 1601, he learned that hostile Indians had attacked and wiped out Humaña and nearly all his followers on their return journey, by setting fire to the grass at a place on the High Plains subsequently called La Matanza.

GUTIÉRREZ, JUSEPE (ca. 1572-?). Jusepe Gutiérrez (Jusephe, José, Joseph), a native of Culhuacan, a short distance north of Mexico City, was a Mexican Indian servant of Antonio Gutiérrez de Humaña,qv a lieutenant in the illegal expedition of Francisco Leyva de Bonilla.qv Following the murder of Bonilla by Humaña, Jusepe, along with five other Mexican Indians deserted the expedition somewhere on the high plains. Jusepe was captured by a wandering band of Apache Indians and held prisoner for a year. On hearing of the Spaniards in New Mexico he escaped to the Pecos pueblos, where he was found by Juan de Oñateqv at Picuries on February 16, 1599. He guided Oñate to Quiviraqv in 1601. Jusepe was the only known survivor of the Bonilla expedition.

1959: Fidel Castro became the president of Cuba.

THIS DAY IN LATINO AMERICAN HISTORY FEBRUARY 15TH

Texas adopts constitution

On this day in 1876, citizens of Texas adopted the Constitution of 1876. They ratified it by a vote of 136,606 to 56,652. The document is the sixth constitution by which Texas has been governed since declaring independence from Mexico. Among the longest of U.S. state constitutions, the Constitution of 1876 reflects the earlier influences of Spanish and Mexican rule, the state’s predominantly agrarian nature in the late nineteenth century, and a resurgent Democratic party determined to undo many of the measures implemented by Republican administrations during Reconstruction. Despite having been amended more than 230 times, it remains the basic law of Texas today.

Texas has had six constitutions: the 1836 Constitution of the Republic of Texas, and the state constitutions of 1845, 1861, 1866, 1869, and 1876.

The 1876 constitution, which took effect on February 15, is the current constitution of Texas. Texas’ Constitution is the one of the longest state constitutions in the United States, and one of the oldest still in effect.

Texas (Hispanic) rancher murdered by Mexican troops

Slater, H. D., editor. El Paso Herald (El Paso, Tex.), Ed. 1, Wednesday, February 25, 1914, Newspaper, February 25, 1914; digital images, (http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth138070/ : accessed February 17, 2012), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, http://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries, Denton, Texas.

On this day in 1914, the body of South Texas rancher Clemente Vergara was found hanging from a tree. Vergara owned a ranch near Palafox. He allowed his horses to graze on an island in the Rio Grande, land that was disputed by the United States and Mexico. Vergara suspected that Mexican soldiers had stolen eleven of his horses from the island. He and a nephew crossed the Rio Grande to meet with several soldiers who called the two men over. Vergara was struck on the head and carried to the Hidalgo garrison, while his nephew escaped and returned to the United States. Vergara’s wife and daughter crossed into Mexico on February 14 and found him severely beaten and jailed in the Hidalgo garrison. The following morning soldiers told the women that he had been taken to Piedras Negras. Texas governor Oscar B. Colquitt and President Woodrow Wilson‘s administration disagreed on how to deal with the situation, with the former advocating the use of Texas Rangers to extradite Vergara’s kidnappers if necessary. On February 16 the commander at Piedras Negras reported that he had ordered Vergara’s release and the return of his horses; however, on February 25 witnesses told American officials that they had seen Vergara’s body hanging from a tree near Hidalgo, and that it had been there since February 15. Vergara’s body was finally “delivered” to his relatives in Texas on March 7. Vergara’s murder outraged Texans and increased tension between Mexico and the United States.

THIS DAY IN LATINO AMERICAN HISTORY FEBRUARY 14TH

Arizona’s Federico José María Ronstadt Big Businessman

George Wiley Paul Hunt walked from his Phoenix hotel to the Capitol on Feb. 14, 1912 to be sworn in as Arizona’s first governor. The F. Ronstadt Co., Tucson’s leading wagon maker, was so buoyed by the economic prosperity it expected to follow statehood that it announced plans that February to build a new 4,000-square-foot shop. The company’s namesake, Federico José María Ronstadt, had arrived 30 years earlier. His father brought the 14-year old from Mexico to apprentice at a blacksmith shop. Hunt and Ronstadt were among the 200,000 people living in Arizona on that Valentine’s Day 1912 when it became the 48th state. It was a prize Arizonans had hoped for since shortly after President Abraham Lincoln declared Arizona a territory, separate from New Mexico, in 1863. Arizona celebrated its centennial on Feb. 14, 2012. Ronstadt remained both a business and community leader until his death in 1954, and descendants continue that tradition to this day.

Spanish nobleman calls for settlement of Texas

On this day in 1729, the Marqués de Aguayo proposed to the king of Spain that 400 families be transported from the Canary Islands, Galicia, or Havana to populate the province of Texas. Eventually some fifteen families from the Canary Islands came to Texas. The first of the Canary Islanders arrived at Presidio San Antonio de Béxar on March 9, 1731. The immigrants formed the nucleus of the villa of San Fernando de Béxar, the first regularly organized civil government in Texas. Several of the old families of San Antonio trace their descent from the Canary Island colonists.

THIS DAY IN LATINO AMERICAN HISTORY FEBRUARY 13TH

Spanish language newspaper debuts in San Antonio

On this day in 1913, Ignacio E. Lozano founded La Prensa, a Spanish-language daily newspaper published in San Antonio to address the needs of Mexicans residing temporarily in the United States who wished to follow events in Mexico, which was engulfed in the Mexican Revolution. As the voice of “el Mexico de Afuera” (“Mexico Abroad”), La Prensa linked that community of Mexicans on the outside with the homeland. It provided coverage of Mexican national political events an well as analysis and criticism; it announced activities of Mexican and Mexican-American organizations; and it always reflected admiration and even reverence for Mexico and its people. It sometimes defended Mexicans and Mexican Americans from abuse. Above all, La Prensa promoted and expressed patriotic fervor for the homeland.The paper was sold all over South Texas and in communities of Mexican emigrés elsewhere in the United States and Central and South America.The last issue of La Prensa, by now a bilingual tabloid, was published on January 31, 1963, just two weeks short of the paper’s fiftieth anniversary. 

THIS DAY IN LATINO AMERICAN HISTORY FEBRUARY 10TH

“Madam Candelaria” dies at age 113

On this day in 1899, Andrea Castañón Villanueva (Madam Candelaria), who claimed to be a survivor of the battle of the Alamo, died at age 113 in San Antonio. She said she had been born in Laredo in 1785, though other sources say she was born at Presidio del Río Grande. She came to San Antonio when she was about twenty-five and married Candelario Villanueva, who she said was her second husband; thereafter she became known as Madam or Señora Candelaria. She was the mother of four children and raised twenty-two orphans. She nursed the sick and aided the poor. She claimed to have been in the Alamo during the 1836 battle and to have nursed the ailing Jim Bowie. Since evidence of survivors is sparse, her claims may never be confirmed, but in 1891 the Texas legislature granted her a pension of twelve dollars a month for being an Alamo survivor and for her work with smallpox victims in San Antonio. Madam Candelaria is buried in San Fernando Cemetery.

Legislature confirms South Texas land grants

On this day in 1852, the Texas legislature confirmed the work of the Bourland Commission, a group of three officials appointed to investigate land claims after the Mexican War. The war’s outcome had brought into question the validity of numerous Spanish and Mexican land grants north of the Rio Grande. Against a complex backdrop that included agitation for making trans-Nueces Texas a separate country, Governor Peter Bell recommended that the legislature appoint a commission to investigate claims. The commission began its business in Laredo in mid-1850 and in February 1852 confirmed 234 grants in five South Texas counties to the original Spanish and Mexican grantees.

THIS DAY IN LATINO AMERICAN HISTORY FEBRUARY 8TH

Cleveland signs the Dawes Severalty Act

On this day in 1887, in a well-meaning but ultimately flawed attempt to assimilate Native Americans, President Grover Cleveland signs an act to end tribal control of reservations and divide their land into individual holdings.

Named for its chief author, Senator Henry Laurens Dawes from Massachusetts, the Dawes Severalty Act reversed the long-standing American policy of allowing Indian tribes to maintain their traditional practice of communal use and control of their lands.  Instead, the Dawes Act gave the president the power to divide Indian reservations into individual, privately owned plots.  The act dictated that men with families would receive 160 acres, single adult men were given 80 acres, and boys received 40 acres.  Women received no land.

photo of Senator Henry Laurens Dawes

The most important motivation for the Dawes Act was Anglo-American hunger for Indian lands.  The act provided that after the government had doled out land allotments to the Indians, the sizeable remainder of the reservation properties would be opened for sale to whites.  Consequently, Indians eventually lost 86 million acres of land, or 62 percent of their total pre-1887 holdings.

Still, the Dawes Act was not solely a product of greed.  Many religious and humanitarian “friends of the Indian” supported the act as a necessary step toward fully assimilating the Indians into American culture.  Reformers believed that Indians would never bridge the chasm between “barbarism and civilization” if they maintained their tribal cohesion and traditional ways. J.D.C. Atkins, commissioner of Indian affairs, argued that the Dawes Act was the first step toward transforming, “Idleness, improvidence, ignorance, and superstition… into industry, thrift, intelligence, and Christianity.”

In reality, the Dawes Severalty Act proved a very effective tool for taking lands from Indians and giving it to Anglos, but the promised benefits to the Indians never materialized.  Racism, bureaucratic bungling, and inherent weaknesses in the law deprived the Indians of the strengths of tribal ownership, while severely limiting the economic viability of individual ownership.  Many tribes also deeply resented and resisted the government’s heavy-handed attempt to destroy their traditional cultures.

Despite these flaws, the Dawes Severalty Act remained in force for more than four decades.  In 1934, the Wheeler-Howard Act repudiated the policy and attempted to revive the centrality of tribal control and cultural autonomy on the reservations.  The Wheeler-Howard Act ended further transfer of Indian lands to Anglos and provided for a return to voluntary communal Indian ownership, but considerable damage had already been done.

THIS DAY IN LATINO AMERICAN HISTORY FEBRUARY 7TH

Seguin Incorporates

On this day in 1853, the town of Seguin was officially incorporated. This South Texas seat of Guadalupe County saw settlement as early as the 1830s, and founders originally called the site Walnut Springs before changing the name to Seguin in honor of Tejano revolutionary and Texas Republic senator Juan Nepomuceno Seguín in 1839. The town enjoyed a rich agricultural landscape and ample water resources thanks to the nearby Guadalupe and San Marcos rivers and Cibolo and Geronimo creeks. Its original schoolhouse, built in 1850, was still used for educational purposes well over 100 years later, when the state recognized the structure as the oldest continuously used school building in Texas. Texas Lutheran College relocated to Seguin in 1912, and the town’s economy experienced a major upswing with the discovery of oil in the nearby Darst Creek fields in the late 1920s. Throughout the twentieth century the community supported agricultural, oil-based, and manufacturing interests. In 2000 Seguin had a population of 22,011.

1883 — Birthday of Jessie Marion Koogler McNay, whose willed her estate and Spanish colonial mansion to found the first modern art museum in San Antonio.

1959: The United States recognizes Fidel Castro as head of Cuba

THIS DAY IN LATINO AMERICAN HISTORY FEBRUARY 6TH

Frenchman, considered a troublemaker by the Spanish, dies in prison

On this day in 1756, Joseph Blancpain, a French trader whose activities in Texas heightened bad feeling between France and Spain in the middle of the eighteenth century, died in prison in Mexico City. Blancpain had been arrested in 1754 by Spanish army lieutenant Marcos Ruiz for unauthorized trading with Indians, to whom he was evidently furnishing firearms. The Spanish authorities believed him to be an agent for the French government. As a result of Blancpain’s activities the king of Spain ordered that any Frenchman found in Spanish territory would be imprisoned.

1899: US Congress ratified the treaty that ended the Spanish-American War

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