Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Communist League

Regional Autonomy for the Southwest

Chapter I: The Evolution of a People

The history of the Mexican National Minority can be divided into three periods. First is the Indo-Hispanic, which was the period of the colonization of the Southwest and the blending of Indian and Spanish cultures. Second is the Mexican period, 1810-1846; this period is one of encroachment by the United States of North America (USNA) and culminates in war and the annexation of half of the territory of the United States of Mexico. Third is the Consolidation of the Southwest, 1848 to the present; this period is marked by the rising rate of migration, the emergence of capitalist relations of production with the subsequent consolidation of the Southwest as part of the Anglo-American nation, the beginning of the reversed migration because of forced repatriations during the depression, the period when migration again intensified, and the revival of the struggle against national oppression.

The Indo-Hispanic Period

The exploration and colonization of the Southwest was a direct result of Spain’s quest for mineral wealth such as gold and silver. Not being satisfied with the pillage of central Mexico and Peru, the Spanish Conquistadores pushed northwards in search of the Seven Cities of Gold. Charles C. Cumberland in Mexico–The Struggle for Modernity, comments on Spain’s lust for mineral wealth:

Gold and silver have ever been twin sirens, luring men to false values and blinding them to reality. The silver cascade pouring from the land of the conquered American natives made Mexico the gem of the Spanish crown, but it diverted energies from potentially more solid achievements and created an economic and social order revolving around extractive and exploitative enterprises which took much and gave little. At no time during the colonial period did the Spaniards use their massive silver deposits as a base for general economic development in Mexico or in Spain, but rather focused on precious mineral production to the degree that any economic benefits which accrued from nature’s bounty came incidentally rather than deliberately.[1]

Thus it was this very striving for the “precious” gold and silver that would be the main determining factor in the history of Mexico and its northern provinces (which today is the Southwest Region).

An extremely important development in the second half of the 16th century was the immense increase in the extraction of silver from the mines of Mexico and Peru. The discovery of immensely rich silver deposits at Potosi in Peru; Zacatecas, Guanajuato, and Pachuca in Mexico; and the revolutionizing of the extraction of silver with the introduction of the patio process in 1556 led to silver becoming the most important source of wealth for Spain and it immensely increased the importance of the colonies. Simultaneously silver deposits were discovered at San Bartolome and Santa Barbara in Chihuahua and in the mountains of Sonora. As a result, the frontier of Mexico was steadily advanced from central into northern Mexico. The development of the mines and of the towns and ranchos which grew up around them created an immense demand for labor. The intense exploitation of the Indian population by the early conquistadores, the constant warring, and the introduction of diseases had reduced the Indian population of central Mexico by the end of the 16th century to such an extent that they could not meet that demand. New sources of labor had to be found. The Indians of northern Mexico which included what later was to be the Southwest became that source; as evidenced by the rise of slaving expeditions against them, and the development of plans for expeditions and missions into their areas. In addition, in the 1580’s rich veins of mineral wealth were discovered in what is present day Arizona.

Faced with the danger of losing its claims to the Southwest to other European nations, the Spaniards had to consolidate their hold on these lands. In the early 18th century its only well established settlements were in the upper Rio Grande Valley, the western corner of Texas, in Louisiana, and on the eastern coast of Florida. This meant that Spain had to defend an area that extended almost entirely across the southern half of the present-day USNA with only a few settlements. In doing so, it was faced with a number of contradictions which resulted from the feudal relations that predominated throughout the Spanish Empire. Historically the Spanish boundaries had been extended through the system of granting feudal rights, privileges and duties to Spanish noblemen in return for conquering the said borderlands. Because New Spain (Mexico) lacked a sufficient population to provide the necessary settlers for the formation of the base for this feudal system, it was necessary that the indigenous population be brought into feudal relations of production, i.e., that they pledge loyalty to the lord and that they furnish labor and tribute in return for protection and Christianization. This system was known by the Spaniards as the encomienda system. This system required that the native population be brought into these production relations through bribery, missionary efforts, slaving expeditions designed to intimidate them, through the ago-old tactic of divide and conquer, and through the introduction of alcohol to break down their social structure. Although the Pueblo Indians were brought into the “encomienda” system without too much difficulty, the vast majority of the tribes in the northern provinces resisted Spanish attempts to subjugate them. The result of this was that the encomienda system broke down in the northern provinces by 1720. The encomienda system functioned well in the central Mesa region of Mexico where sedentary Indians could be exploited but in the northern provinces the only place that it worked was in the northern section of what today we call New Mexico where there was a large population of sedentary Indians. As a result of their brutal subjugation which began with the robbery of their lands, the Pueblo Indian population was reduced from 72,000 to 12,000 by 1742.

To enslave the Indians the Spanish used the policy of setting tribe against tribe which was successful in terms of keeping Indians divided and worn down from constant warfare. It kept slaves flowing into New Mexico and New Spain, and enriched the aristocracy. It also served to intimidate many Indians into acquiesing to Spanish rule, and finally by driving the Indian tribes ever westward and northward it opened up new lands to exploit. However, to the majority of Indians and to the Spanish peasants it brought ruin. As Comanches became more adept and more accustomed to selling plunder to the Spaniards, they carried their raids all the way to Mexico, modern Arizona, Texas, and the Mississippi Valley, carrying away both Indians and poor Spaniards. Navajo and Apache resistance to the Spanish soon hardened and their retaliation was difficult to contain. The victims of these Indian raids were rarely the Spanish aristocrats who were profiting from the policies of Spain–it was the peasants, muleteers, miners, etc., who themselves were exploited by the aristocracy that received the brunt of Indian raids.

The revolution of 1821 resulted in the expulsion of Spain from Mexico, and the feudal state gave way to a republican form of government. However, the old feudal landed aristocracy, the military, and the church held great power and a great struggle between these elements and the republican minded rising capitalist elements rapidly developed which continued until 1910. This resulted in great instability in Mexico during this period. Aside from the first elected president, not one president was able to finish out his term due to forced abdications as different factions seized state power whenever they were strong enough to do so.

During this period the northern provinces underwent great changes under the Mexican government. As the Spanish garrisons were withdrawn and not replaced, the security of the nothern states and provinces declined greatly. The Indian population, which by and large had been subjugated by the Spaniards by 1821, took note of the weakened security and increasingly arose in revenge and rebellion. The most devastating Indian warfare in the entire history of northern Mexico was unleashed by the long-oppressed Indians against the Mexican settlements. Arizona, Sonora, and , Chihuahua were so hard hit that they 1846 these areas were experiencing a sharp declined.

Colonization of New Mexico

The first 150 years of Spanish occupation of the northern part of New Mexico was devastating to the Pueblos. Their numbers were drastically reduced, their lands were expropriated, their superstructure was greatly weakened, and they were reduced to feudal slaves on the Spanish encomiendas. This allowed for the transformation of the colony from one characterized by “mission fields,” whose products were largely for internal consumption, to an ever-increasing mercantile colony, where more and more surplus goods were extracted from the Indians and the peasants.

The expansion of the colony in northern New Mexico southward and westwards, was made possible only after the original colony was secure and self sufficient, and after the land was cleared of Indians occupying it. This latter expansion was accomplished largely through the issuing of land grants, which were a modification of the old feudal “entrada” and which retained feudal relations of production. There were three types of land grants. The first type of land grant was the community grant and charter made to a group of persons who promised to lay out a village site with a plaza, a church site, and delineated residential lots. Home sites and land for irrigation were distributed by lots. Each family received title to its residential site and irrigated land and the right to graze stock and cut timber in the village common. Most of the grantees were poor and were the “Shock troops” of Spanish expansion during this period.

These types of communities were usually given land in the rugged mountains of northern New Mexico and only the as-yet unsecured frontiers of the colony. They frequently bore the brunt of Indian hostilies resulting from Spanish-Indian policy. Their presence provided the first line of defense against Indian attacks. These communities tended to be the most isolated in the colony and produced little of the surplus goods for trade. The second type of grant was made to an individual of the aristocracy who promised to secure settlers, distribute residential sites and irrigated land, secure a priest, build a church, and provide for the building of dams, canals, and other necessary workers. This individual became the patron or feudal lord and had the right of appropriating the agricultural produce or labor power of the settler on his grant. The settler was also subject to the call for military service as the need arose. This type of grant tended to be located in the interior and more secure area of the colony, and was especially concentrated in Rio Abajo. These grants were also larger, used more Indian slave labor, and provided most of the surplus goods for trade. It was out of these grantees that most of the aristocratic class arose. The third type of grant was called a Sitio Grant and was usually given in reward for some type of service given to the Spanish crown. All that was required was to settle the land, the other requirements of establishing a town, church, etc., being dispensed with. In other respects, it was almost identical to the second type.

Another development in the 18th century was the increasing economic exploitation of the encomiendas attached to governmental and military offices. During the previous century, these offices had encomiendas attached to them in order to support them. They were originally few in number and extent, and exploitation of the Indians assigned to these encomiendas was checked by the priests who held the upper hand in the government and who were careful to limit the civil power. However, with the decline of the Church’s power, these encomiendas became the source of surplus goods for the governors, military officials, and others of the royal administration, with the result that the number of encomiendas of this type grew and the exploitation of the Indians assigned to them was brutally intensified.

These developments in the economic basis were reflected in the superstructure. The decrease in the number of Pueblos and the failure of the Church to convert the nomadic tribes and reduce them to feudal relations led to a decline in the power of the Church. The use of military might to reduce the nomadic Indians and the resulting slave trade increased the power of the military and especially of the military officials who were the aristocracy. This shift in power resulted in an intensification of the struggle for control of New Mexico, or more specifically for control of the labor power of the Indians and Spanish settlers.

The aristocracy and the government officials slowly gained ascendency over the Church. The mission supply services was transformed from a supply line for the missions to a conduit for disposal for surplus goods extracted from the Indians and Spanish settlers and of slaves captured in “just” wars. The number of missions and missionaries were reduced. The tribute exacted by the state came to exceed the tithes collected by the Church. The number of Indians working on government and private encomiendas came to exceed the number working on mission property. However, it should not be inferred that the ascendency of the aristocrats over the Church meant that the power of the latter, both materially and ideologically was not great.

The rise of trade was central to these changes, it was the main motive force for change. Trade furnished the motivation for the extraction of surplus goods in ever increasing amounts, whereas before the subsistence economy had required the exploitation of Indians in order to survive, now the mercantile economy required the exploitation of Indians and Spanish peasants alike in order to become rich. Slaving expeditions, originally meant to punish rebellious, heathen tribes and carried out following prevalent “legal” and “moral” norms were more and more carried out illegally, wantonly, without regard to distinction of heathen or christian Indian, peaceful or hostile, with the sole purpose of filling the pockets of military officials and feudal lords. The introduction of money, which was very slow, accelerated this process, gave it more impetus. A powerful “rico” class of feudal lords emerged, working hand in hand with the governmental officials, allowing each other to enrich themselves through the exploitation of Indian and peasant labor. This “rico” class was relatively small, comprising 20-30 families, and was concentrated in the Rio Abajo area of northern New Mexico.

The commodities used in trade were those of a feudal society with limited means of production. Sheep and their products were the main commodities for export along with slaves who were sold to the miners and merchants of Chihuahua. The manner in which the trade was organized was detrimental to New Mexico as a whole, but especially to the peasants and Indians. The commodities for export were first gathered in trade fairs and in trading expeditions to the Indian tribes. At this stage, worthless cheap money, alcohol, plus guns, knives, powder, etc., were used to acquire an unequal exchange favorable to the Spanish traders. Great caravans numbering up to 500 men were organized yearly to take these commodities to Chihuahua. In Chihuahua, the merchants there turned the tables of the New Mexico traders. Since they had access to goods produced by more advanced methods, the Chihuahua merchants acquired more products than were returned, thus styming the economic development of the province. The ruling class of New Mexico was well aware that the greatest percent of the wealth they extracted ended up in the hands of Chihuahua merchants and a great hatred developed toward them. For the Indians and peasants of New Mexico, this drain on the wealth they produced simply made the conditions of their existence worse and drove them deeper into poverty.

Along with the rise of the landed and mercantile “rico” class, there arose a people which were neither Mexicans, Indian, American Indian, Spanish, Mestizo, or Negro, but who were a composite of all. In terms of language, religion, and political beliefs the Spanish predominated, but in terms of blood, the Spanish was minimal. The Spanish peasants imported into New Mexico, both in the 17th and 18th century, were a heterogeneous group. They were frequently recruited from the impoverished masses of New Spain and included Mestizos, Mexican-Indian, and Negroes, few of them were Criollos (Spaniards born in Mexico) or Gachupines (Spaniards born in Spain). In New Mexico, these peasants were roughly of the same class as the Pueblos and enslaved Indians. Much intermarriage occurred between them, whereas the aristocratic class never intermarried or mixed with either Indian or Spanish peasant; the increasing exploitation of the Spanish peasant and Indian alike by the rising aristocracy further differentiated the Indians and peasants from the aristocracy. The ouster of the Spanish by the Mexicans in 1821 led to the expulsion of a significant number of Spanish aristocrats. The result of these factors was that by and large the majority of the non-Indian people of New Mexico up until 1848 were descendants of the mixed Spanish peasants-Indian culture, the same as in Mexico proper.

By the late 18th century, the transformation of New Mexico into a mercantile colony was complete, and the hold of the feudal aristocracy was unassailable. The Indian campaigns against the Comanches of the last quarter of the 18th century had finally established the clear superiority of the Spanish military, although bands of the Comanches continued to raise havoc in south Texas. By 1806, the Navahos were firmly controlled, although a revolt had to be suppressed in 1819-1820. By 1800 the Pueblos numbered between 8,000 to 10,000. The Spaniards numbered about 19,000, the majority of these being peasants.

Having now finally secured the province after two hundred years of effort, the province was expanded rapidly. By 1822, the number of Spaniards had increased to 30,000. Rich copper deposits were being mined and the ore shipped to New Spain in mule caravans. The population of Santa Fe grew to 6,000. Thus in its closing years as a Spanish province, New Mexico’s economic and political structure was being rapidly consolidated and expanded.

Colonization of Texas

In order to contain the French in Louisiana, expeditions were sent out to establish missions in East Texas, in 1718, and a halfway base was established at San Antonio in 1718.

Cary McWilliams states in North from Mexico that:

While a few missions were established in eastern Texas in 1716, they were soon abandoned and the principal settlements remained those at San Antonio, a combination presidio-mission and pueblo; Goliad or LaBahia, and Nacogadoches. Exposed to Indian raids on all sides, none of these settlements prospered. The great rolling plains, stretching in all directions, made it impossible for the Spaniards to subdue the Comanches, who showed a marked disinclination to be enrolled as neophytes in the missions. Between 1722 and 1744, the Spanish spent three million pesos in an effort to colonize Texas but the number of colonists was less at the end than at the beginning of the period. By 1791, most of the Indians had fled from the missions and the few who remained were dispersed some years later.[2]

Its distance from northern Mexico, its geography (many forests) and its proximity to Louisiana and to the USNA, combined with the withdrawal of the Spanish garrisons made Spanish control of the area a reality in name only.

Texas was comprised of what is now the Northeast corner of Texas. The Mexican provinces of Tamaulipas, Coahuiula and Chihuahua all came up to the Nueces river. At no time in its history did Texas ever border on the Rio Grande River.

In contrast to Texas the settlements along the Rio Grande, in the states of Tamaulipas and Coahuila were much more successfully developed by the Spanish and Mexicans. In 1699 the Spaniards established the presidios de San Juan Bautista, on the south or right bank of the Rio Grande, a few miles down the river of the present-day cities of Piedras Negras-Eagle Pass. The outpost served as the starting point for all the future expeditions into Texas, and was one of Spain’s more important outposts. But by the mid-1700’s the Rio Grande area served to protect the interior of Mexico from Indian attacks as well as to serve as a third line of defense (after Nacodadoches and San Antonio), against the encroaching French.

Beginning in 1748, the rancheros of Santander (Tamaulipas) had been encouraged to settle along the Rio Grande in an effort to build a line of defense against the Indians. Most of these settlers came from such Mexican communities as Guerrero, Camargo, and Miero.... Over a period of some years a few towns began to appear on the Texas side of the river [of present day Texas. In this period of time, Texas was bounded by the Nueces river–Ed.] , Dolores in 1767, Rio Grande City in 1757, Roma in 1768. Once Mexico had achieved its independence, the government parcelled out most of the land lying between the Rio Grande and the Nueces in the form of large grants to favorites of the new regimes and the movement of settlers into the region became rapid.[3]

In Texas the initial activity of the settlers was subsistence agriculture. However, agriculture soon gave way to cattle raising. A market was created for the cattle in Louisiana by the encroaching Anglo settlers. Also, with the increased demand for cattle there was a rising demand for cotton. Thus, the economy of Mexican Texas from 1821 to 1836 focused on cattle and cotton; American cotton growers were attracted to the area, increasing the Anglo intrusion into Texas.

The area between the Nueces and the Rio Grande was an integral part of the states of Santander and Coahuila and of course were economically tied to the lower Rio Grande settlements. Most of the land was occupied by ranchos. Here in the settlements of the Lower Rio Grande Valley, the Spaniards set up the same feudal production relations that they set up in California and New Mexico with the feudal lords living an idle and lordly existence based on a system of peonage. The poor peasants were always in debt and very often inherited the debts of their fathers. As in most feudal societies the peasants were barely able to scratch out an existence from the land that they cultivated for the aristocracy.

From 1836 to 1846, the Anglo-Americans set foot in this part of Mexico only once, in retaliation for a successful Mexican raid which captured San Antonio, Golia (La Bahia and Refugio). The claim of the “Republic of Texas”, that its borders extended to the Rio Grande were completely unfounded and were put forth to force Mexico into war with the USNA and thereby furnish the excuse to dismember the Mexican territory.

The original boundaries of Texas were extended around 1750 to the San Antoni-Median Rivers. The western and northern boundaries remained undefined because the area was not settled, but were not more than 250 miles inland. By 1815 the boundaries were readjusted southward to the Nueces river running along that river to a point south of San Antonio, then continuing north to San Antonio, then westward along the Medina river, then diagonally to the Red River, then along the Red River to the Sabine, then southward along the Sabine. Thus Texas did not include legally, historically, economically, or in anyway, the area between the Nueces and the Rio Grande, the area west of the Pecos, the area of the Big Bend, the panhandle, El Paso and West Texas, or the northern New Mexico settlements. While some of these areas were as yet unoccupied by any Europeans, the areas of the lower Rio Grande Valley were well developed Mexican settlements and states. These areas were far more advanced economically than Texas. The latter was a frontier colony, small in extent, and somewhat unevenly developed with its Anglo-American population of 25,000 and its Mexican population of 5,000 in 1836. By contrast the lower Rio Grande settlements had a population of 25,000, the El Paso area had a population of 10,000 and the upper Rio Grande settlements had a Mexican population of 40,000 to 50,000. The preposterous claims that the Republic of Texas encompassed these older highly developed Mexican areas and the attempts to occupy them militarily were unquestionably aggressive acts meant to provoke war. When the Texans attempted to “claim” their territory in New Mexico in 1841, they were defeated. Five years later the USNA. annexed Texas and invaded the states of Tamaulipas (Nuevo Santander) and Coahuila and precipitated the Mexican-American war. The completely unfounded claims of the slavocracy were asserted and maintained only by the USNA’s military invasion of Mexico.

Colonization of California

California’s discovery came relatively late in history as a result of its remoteness from civilization and the great physical barriers that blocked the approaches to the area. It was discovered in 1542 by Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo while searching for the northwest passage. In 1769, four presidios were established: San Diego, Santa Barbara, Monterey, and San Francisco. Later the pueblos of San Jose (1777) and Los Angeles (1781) were added. Simultaneously a mission system was begun by the Franciscans under Junipero Serra. By 1823, twenty-one missions had been established along the coast, each one separated by a day’s ride.

As in early New Mexico, the colony was originally a mission colony under the Franciscans, and until the Mid-Mexican period when the missions were secularized, the Church dominated the colony’s political and economic life. The ostensible purpose of the missions was to save the souls of the Indians, but their objective role was to cement Spanish feudal society in California by bringing the Indians into feudal relations of production and securing California from foreign powers. The original missionaries arrived in California supplied with provisions and could expect some support from New Spain until they became self sufficient by getting the Indians to work for them. The Indians who did not die were Christianized and taught skills in agriculture and domestic manufacturing. The rich soil and favorable climate, plus the efficient management by the Franciscans combined to make the missions of California the most productive of Mexico. Surpluses of grains, wine, oil, hemp, hides, and tallow were shipped to Acapulco in exchange for furniture, cloth, iron and tools. By 1784, there were nine missions worked by 5,8000 Indians. At their peak in the early 1830’s there were twenty-one missions valued at $78,000,000, with 10,000 acres under cultivation and millions of acres under range. The mission of San Gabriel encompassed seventeen ranchos, 1.05,000 cattle, 40,000 sheep, and 20,000 horses. It was worked by 3,000 Indians.[4]

The most important institutions in feudal California were the missions, the presidios, the pueblo and the rancho. The presidios originally were forts located near missions and served to protect the colony against foreign powers and hostile Indians, and to track down runaway Indians. They were generally located at strategic positions at the entrances to the best ports. Small groups of settlers (many of them ex-soldiers granted lands as an inducement to stay), soldiers’ families and traders grew up around these presidios and transformed these military posts into towns. Included in these were San Diego, San Francisco, Monterey, and Santa Barbara. As they grew into towns military rule was transformed into civil rule. Much of the work necessary to maintain these presidios, such as the erection of buildings, the care of the herds, and the growing of the food supply for the soldiers was done by Indians who were practically enslaved.

As to the pueblos, they were towns more or less established by edict. Each pueblo was granted four leagues of land, and each settler was granted a residential lot, a plot of land, rights to use the common pasture land, tools, supplies, and animals, and was exempt from taxes for five years. In return the settler could not sell his land, had to sell his surplus agricultural goods to the presidios, and was liable for military service when the need arose. San Jose and Los Angeles were pueblos of this type.

During the Spanish period there were never more than thirty ranchos. These ranchos were developed mostly from sitio grants awarded usually to members of the aristocracy for some service given to the crown. The usual patron (feudal lord) ruled the rancho and mestizos and Indians worked it. These ranchos were largely self-sufficient, but produced little surplus for trade. They were like ranchos throughout the Spanish Empire.

The ruling class of California was composed of the Church officials, the military officials, the government officials, and the patrones of the ranchos. Occupying a middle position were the mestizos, who were the vaqueros, settlers, soldiers, herders and’artisanos [artisans–Ed.] The Indians comprised the lowest class.

The revolution of 1810-1821 brought little change to the class structure of California, as California remained relatively aloof. During this period USNA, British, and Russian ships became more active in trading with California and plotting its take-over. After 1821, this trade increased more; the trade of tallow and hides opened up new markets for these items and as a result gave the trade itself added impetus.


The northern provinces were settled by the Spanish because of three factors; one, the drive for gold; two, the provinces were useful as frontier posts and could be used as buffers against the other expansionist powers; and third, to satisfy the need for slaves to work the mines of Central Mexico. As a rule, these settlements were isolated and scattered and had no communication with each other. If we can imagine a wheel, with Chihuahua in the center and the spokes of the wheel reaching out to these sparse settlements, this wheel would be a fairly accurate description of how these settlements were connected with Mexico.

The production relations during this period were feudal with the peasants being mere serfs. A fairly accurate description of the typical peasant in some of these northern provinces can easily fit the definition of Engels: ”The serf has the possession and use of an instrument of production, a strip of land, in return for which he hands over a portion of the yield or performs work.”[5] Further, Engels states:

Thus the chief form of property during the feudal epoch consisted on the one hand of landed property with serf labour chained to it, and on the other of the labour of the individual with small capital commanding the labour of journeymen. The organisation of both was determined by the restricted conditions of production--the small-scale and primitive cultivation of the land, and the craft type of industry.[6]

Along side of this feudal system existed some slave labor. At no time was slavery the dominant production relation.

The small rising merchant class that did exist was not indigenous but was from Chihuahua. The trade was totally controlled and subservient to Chihuahua. This aroused antagonisms towards Chihuahua on the part of the New Mexicans, an effect that would bring about disastrous consequences later.

The Mexican Period

During the period of Mexican Independence, 1821 to 1846, the economic and class structure of New Mexico changed more in degree than in kind. The feudal exploitation of the Indian and Mexican peasantry was intensified; agricultural, mineral and animal production was increased; and this gave rise to a greatly increased trade between New Mexico and Chihuahua. The Santa Fe Trail–the trade between the USNA and Mexico–was begun. The germ of a rising merchant class definitely existed within the context of this accelerated commercial activity. But the merchants began to come into their own only in the period after the annexation of New Mexico by the USNA state. During the Mexican period, feudal relations of production were still the main aspect in the mode of production and trade increased between the USNA and New Mexico at a rapid rate.

In California the Mexican government issued several hundred grants during this period. The result of increased immigration, increase in the number of ranchos, and increase in trade led to a tremendous increase in cattle raising. The rancheros as a class became the dominant class and engineered secularization of the missions. The result was that between 1834 and 1845, the missions were broken up and their lands and the Indians that worked them came under the control of the rancheros. During this period, 8,000,000 acres of land passed into the hands of eight hundred individuals. The hegemony of the rancheros was short lived. Shortly after they consolidated their power, the struggle between the USNA and Mexico erupted in the Mexican-American War and California was annexed to the USNA.

By 1803, with the Louisiana Purchase, the expansionist movement of the USNA had reached the borders of the Spanish provinces. Having pushed the French and English into the background, the USNA bourgeoisie envisioned an empire extending from the Atlantic to the Pacific, including all the islands of the Caribbean and the Mexican nation. The most rabid aggressive and militaristic of the bourgeoisie was the slaveocracy, and it was mainly the forces of the slave South that were behind these plans of empire.

The reasons behind the expansion of the South lay in its farming methods and in the necessity to maintain its political supremacy over the free states. The farming methods of the plantation owners tended to exhaust the soil and thereby necessitated a constant opening of new lands. In addition, if the free states were to gain hegemony over the slave states, the former would undoubtedly abolish slavery. During the ante-bellum period the South was firmly in control of the Supreme Court, the Presidency, and the Senate. But since the North was more populous and increased its population at a faster rate, the House was generally controlled by the North. The slave South therefore saw that in order to maintain and consolidate its hold on the Union, it would have to maintain control of the Senate. In order to do this it became necessary to insure not only expansion, but expansion predominantly of slave states. That is why Texas was coveted by the slaveocracy, not only for its immensely rich and fertile lands, but also because they planned to divide it into a number of slave states and thus increase their votes in the Senate. With Texas in their pocket they planned to use it as a springboard to invade and conquer all of Mexico. Yet we should not underplay the complicity of the Northern financiers and industrialists. For them, westward expansion provided both an escape valve for the impoverished farmers and workers, and thus for social unrest; further, many Northern financiers were heavily involved in land speculation on the frontier especially in Texas. These designs which were obvious to the other capitalist countries of the world, forced the French Journal, the Journel des Debats, to comment that the United States had ambitious plans for conquering all the American continent; it went further to give voice to its fear of American power: “The conquest of Mexico would be a wide step towards the enslavement of the world by the United States.”[7]

After a number of unsuccessful attempts to seize Texas, in the 1820’s, Anglo-American colonists began settling on large grants in the Mexican province of Texas. By 1830, the slavers were in a position to act. The Mexican province of Texas was almost totally in the hands of slavers; only Bexar was economically, politically, and culturally Mexican (this part of Texas was around San Antonio). Andrew Jackson, arch-expansionist and slaver, intensified attempts to acquire Texas. Agents were sent to Texas to agitate for the grabbing of Texas and the dismemberment of as much of northern Mexico as possible; the most famous and influential of these was Sam Houston. Propaganda for the venture was unleashed in the Congress, in State Legislatures, in newspapers, and in rallies. New York land companies bought up large tracts of Texas lands and lobbied for the support of annexationist plans. When it became clear that Mexico would not “sell” Texas and instead attempted to abolish slavery, prohibit further USNA immigration and enforce laws flagrantly violated by the Anglo-American colonists, the slavers and their agents, with Houston at their head, organized and carried out their “rebellion.” Men, money, and arms poured into Texas from the USNA, although the USNA proclaimed official “neutrality.” By 1836, the Mexican army had been defeated and Texas was declared independent.

Texas agents and Southern politicians lobbied vigorously for immediate annexation, but failed to accomplish their goal and annexation was to wait ten more years. In March of 1845, the USNA annexed Texas, an event that Mexico warned could lead to war. When Mexico refused to sell California and New Mexico to the United States, President Polk sent General Zachary Taylor to cross the Rio Grande River and thus provoke war with Mexico and lead to the acquisition of the entire northern portion of Mexico.

In the ensuing bloody war that followed the USNA troops became notorious for their cruelty. Even General Winfield Scott readily admitted that they had “committed atrocities to make Heaven weep and every American of Christian morals blush for his country. Murder, robbery and rape of mothers and daughters in the presence of tied-up males of the families have been common all along the Rio Grande.” Lieutenant George C. Meade, of later Civil War fame, said that the volunteers were “driving husbands out of houses and raping their wives. They will fight as gallantly as any man, but they are a set of Goths and Vandals without discipline, making us a terror to innocent people.”[8]

How bitter the Mexican people were can be seen by the following passage from one of the leading Mexican newspapers of the period: “The horde of banditti, of drunkards, of fornicators...vandals vomited from hell, monsters who bid defiance to the laws of nature...shameless, daring, ignorant, ragged, bad smelling, long-bearded men with hats turned up at the brim, thirsty with the desire to appropriate our riches and our beautiful damsels.”[9]

Throughout Mexico there was resistance to USNA troops except in the northern state of New Mexico, which was an exception. The ease with which New Mexico was conquered was due to a number of reasons. The conflicts between the Mexican central government and New Mexico weakened the Mexican state as a whole. The commerce with the USNA had given rise to a section within the ruling class of New Mexico whose interest was more closely tied to the USNA than to Mexico. The peasant and Indians did not support the New Mexican ruling class in resisting the Anglo-Americans except as duty bound them. The Anglo-Americans had a “Fifth Column” [Internal group allied with external enemies–Ed.] in New Mexico which was able to effectively assist the USNA in the take-over.

An agreement was reached ending the war and a treaty was signed (the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo) on February 2, 1848. Through this treaty the USNA acquired the territory that now forms the states of Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and half of Colorado, and received clear title to Texas with the southern boundary that had been previously claimed by Texas to the Rio Grande. Mexico lost more than one million square miles and was paid $15 million in partial compensation. Although Mexico lost approximately fifty percent of her national territory, she lost less than one per cent of her population. Nearly all 80,000 Mexican citizens living in the ceded territory eventually became citizens with about 2,000 moving southwest across the new political border in order to retain their Mexican citizenship.

Article IX of the treaty guaranteed that these former Mexican citizens would receive the protection of the USNA in the exercise of their civil and political rights. It also specifically provided that they would have the right to worship freely and their property rights would be protected.

It is to the greater credit of the Mexican negotiators that the treaty contained the most explicit guarantees to protect the rights of these people, provisions for which they were more deeply concerned than they were boundaries or indemnities. It should never be forgotten that, with the exception of the Indians, Mexicans are the only minority, Indians again excepted, whose rights were specifically safeguarded by treaty provisions.[10]

However, none of the Mexican signers of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo were aware of the fact that nine days before the signing of the treaty, gold had been discovered in California. That not only had half of the national territory of Mexico been outright stolen at the point of a gun, but that these territories were unbelievably rich in gold and silver, the very product that had lured the Spanish into the Southwest in the first place.


After Mexico had attained independence from Spain she did not maintain strict contact with its settlements in the north. It was during this period that trade between St. Louis, Santa Fe and Chihuahua was established. It was only in this period when it broke out of isolation, in New Mexico at least, that the rising merchant class began to develop. Also, New Mexico began to have much better relations with St. Louis than with Chihuahua because of the bitter resentment that they had for the latter.

Even though there was trade during this period, the main distinguishing feature however was the feudal relations of production and the isolation of the settlements.

For decades the ruling class in the USNA had desired to expand westward, all the way to the coast of California. These expansionists called this Manifest Destiny. From the beginning the slaveocracy had laid covetous eyes on Mexico, for it viewed her as future slave states, or as the Negro National Colonial Question pamphlet has pointed out: “...the economics of slavery demand the constant expansion of slavery into fresh and fertile soils–that meant the westward motion of the slave system.” On the other hand the industrial North was opposed to any annexations, mainly because it feared that it would strength the slaveocracy’s hand. Within a decade after the annexation of the Southwest from Mexico, war broke out between the North and the South.

The dismemberment of the Mexican Nation was a direct result of the expansive nature of capitalism itself.

As Lenin states:

Developing capitalism knows two historical tendencies in the national question. The first is the awakening of national life and national movements, the struggle against all national oppression, and the creation of national states. The second is the development and growing frequency of international intercourse in every form, the break-down of national barriers, the creation of the international unity of capital, of economic life in general, of politics, science, etc.[11]


Capitalism’s broad and rapid development of the productive forces calls for large, politically compact, and united territories, since only here can the bourgeois class–together with its inevitable antipode, the proletarian class–unite and sweep away all the old, medieval, cast, parochial, petty-national, religious and other barriers.[12]

Thus while the expanding Anglo-American nation was consolidating ever larger and larger territories under its national boundaries, it was also creating the conditions for its own destruction.

The Consolidation of the Southwest Region

The USNA moved quickly in Texas and California using force wherever necessary. The northern part of California was quickly over-run because of the discovery of gold in 1849. Here there was immediate contention as the Anglo-Americans seized the mines while lynching and murdering Mexicans, especially the Mexicans from Sonora (who gave the Anglos competition; they were expert miners who introduced such innovative mining techniques as panning and the dry-wash separation of gold).

After the gold rush, the history of land in California was a story of greed, corruption, and robbery. The courts, being an instrument of class rule, were used to expropriate the Mexican people of their land holdings. Here the large land holdings were not broken up but kept intact. In regards to this phenomena Carey McWilliams in Factories in the Fields writes:

These vast feudal holdings, which should have been purchased by the government and held as part of the public domain, were never disrupted. Some of them are intact to this day. The ownership changed from Mexican grantee to American capitalist....[13]

With the increase of expropriations of land holdings, the resistance on the part of the Mexican people also increased. The most famous figures were Joaquin Murrietta and Three Fingered Jack Garcia who were the Robin Hoods of California.

In southern California the Mexican population remained in the majority because of the increase of Sonorans; also because of the lack of mining activity which did not attract settlers from the East.

However, in Texas, the period 1846-1877 was one characterized by bloodshed and murder. Here there was real animosity on the part of the Mexican people toward the aggressive and white chauvinist Anglo-Americans. Here the capitalists seized the land by using the legal system. “For Texas, Taylor’s data show that in 1835 all of the land in Nueces country was granted to Mexicans, yet by 1883 every one of these grants had been purchased by non-Mexicans.”[14]

The area between the Nueces and the Rio Grande was a war area. Eighty percent of the Mexicans resided here and the Anglo-American expansionists were not able to pacify things here until 1877. The first area of contention was around the ox-cart freighting business which transported goods from San Antonio to Chihuahua to the Gulf coast. The Anglo-Americans began to ambush the freight trains and what ensued is known as the Cart War. There was also what is known as the Salt War. This struggle resulted when some Anglos seized a mine in El Paso in 1877. During this period the Mexican people fought back. The most famous of the resistance fighters was Juan Cortina who terrorized the Anglo-Americans in Southwest Texas for a decade and a half with a small guerrilla army of followers.

The economic result of these land seizures (which was nothing more than primitive accumulation) would result in large-scale capitalist agriculture along with the creation of an impoverished and dependent Mexican national minority rural proletariat. Or as Karl Marx states in Capital:

The process, that clears the way for the capitalist system, can be none other than the process which takes away from the labourer the possession of his means of production; a process that transforms, on the one hand, the social means of subsistence and of production into capital, on the other, the immediate producers into wage-labourers.[15]

Also, during this period, there were elements in Texas who tried to instigate this disorder in an attempt to provide another war with Mexico and annex even more territory.

The USNA moved quickly in Texas and California using force wherever necessary. In New Mexico the process was “indirect and subtle and took the form of a gradual assertion of dominance through manipulation rather than by outright expropriation.”[16]

At the time of the annexation, the population of New Mexico was 61,525; by 1860 it had increased to 87,034 (79,249 native-born); and then to 91,784 in 1870 (83,175 native born).

Contrary to what occurred in Texas and California the influx of Anglo-Americans was very slow, The first Anglo-American settlers were federal officials, territorial officials, lawyers, and merchants. Because there wasn’t a large immigration of farm families, active competition for the resources was kept at a minimum until 1880.

The Anglo finance capitalists took over New Mexico by buying the rich landlords-using the savage events in Texas as a threat to any who might oppose them. It was the Anglo finance capitalists who formed what was known as the “Sante Fe Ring.” It was they who “manipulated the Indian Bureau, controlled the allocation of contracts to supply the army posts, dictated territorial appointments and exercised great influence over the courts” (McWilliams). The masses of Mexicans and Mexican-Americans had no semblance of democratic rights as the dons, who ran the haciendas, voted their sheep as well as their peons in electing legislative representatives. The USNA capitalists used the feudal relationship to their own advantage, much like the current policy of using “Asians to rule Asians”; yet even with these methods, New Mexico was kept as a territory while the overwhelming majority in the area was Spanish speaking and was not allowed statehood until 1912, until the finance capitalists were in complete control.

After 1870, the situation in the Southwest changed. With the completion of the transcontinental railroad, capitalism spread west, which meant the development of industries and urban centers.

The use of Mexican labor was indispensible in this task. The rail lines and highways that were built in this period were the old trails of the Spanish and Mexicans who had organized an elaborate system of pack-trains which were the principal means of transportation as late as the 1880’s.

Since 1880 Mexicans have made up seventy per cent of the section crews and ninety per cent of the extra gangs on the principal western lines which regularly employ between 35,000 and 50,000 workmen in these categories. [Chinese helped to build the railroads up to 1882; then the Chinese Exclusion Act was passed.–Ed.][17]

So we see that the railroads were built mainly by Mexican labor and have been maintained, since 1880, by Mexicans. In the economic development of the Southwest, the railroads were key, because all of the products of the Southwest—copper, cotton, lettuce, produce, wool, beef, and dairy products—are transported by these railroads. We should note the importance of Mexican labor in the production of these goods in the Southwest.


Carey McWilliams writes:

Western mining developed, of course, by a series of ’waves,’ first gold, then silver, and finally copper. At first only the high-grade copper ores–those that ranged from five to twenty per cent copper–were exploited; but a new process was perfected around 1892 for smelting the low-grade ores (the disseminating or porphry ores). The smelting of these ores involved an enormous capital outlay and brought about a rapid consolidation in ownership. Simultaneously new processes were developed for extracting ores in the underground mines.[18]

Between 1858 and 1940, the Arizona mines produced three billion dollars’ worth of metal. Copper production increased from 800,000 pounds in 1874 to 830,628,411 pounds in 1929. It was the vast expansion in the electrical industry which enabled copper...to dethrone its ’white rival,’ silver. One might say, therefore, that Mexican miners in the copper mines of Arizona, Utah, and Nevada, have played an important role in making possible the illumination of America by electricity. The census of 1930 listed 16,668 Mexicans engaged in the extraction of minerals; 3,880 as ’coal-miners,’ principally in Colorado and New Mexico; and 12,623 ’other operators,’ mostly in the copper mines of the Southwest.[19]

We must note here how from the very beginnings of mining in the Southwest the mine owners used the Mexican labor in an effort to prevent unionization and pitted Mexicans against non-Mexicans in order to divide the working class.

Sheep Raising and Cattle

In regards to sheep raising, Ientworth and Towne state that, “sheep husbandry in the United States owes more to Spain than to any other nation on earth.”

All the Anglo-Americans did was adopt the already functioning pattern of sheep raising that had been developed in Spain and transferred to the Southwest by the Spanish. By 1870 the center of the sheep industry had shifted to the Southwest and became a specialized business, conducted on a large scale, “...by men whose sole vocation was sheep-raising.”[20] This Spanish system that was adopted showed amazing results; in 1850 there was 32,000 pounds of wool; in 1860, 498,000 pounds; and in 1880, 4,000,000 pounds of wool.

Sheep raising quickly spread to Idaho, Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, Nevada, Arizona, Montana, and California. In California, the Mexican Churro was crossed with the Merino to produce the present range stock of the Western states.

With this development, USNA wool production soared from five million pounds in 1862 to twenty-two million pounds in 1880. The increase in wool production stimulated factory employment in the East and also helped the establishment of the sugarbeet industry. With sugarbeet factories, the modern era of lamb-feeding came into prominence.

The cattle industry also was completely adapted from the Spanish system that prevailed in the Southwest at the time of the annexation.

With the exception of the capital provided to expand the industry, there seems to have been nothing the American rancher or cowboy contributed to the development of cattle-raising in the Southwest.[21]

Frank Dobie also writes in regard to this subject: “The very language of the range is Spanish.”[22] Terms such as: bronco, mesquite, chapparral, lariat from la riata, vamoose from vamonos, lasso from lazo, burro, stampede from estampida, calaboose from calabozo, mesa, canyon, rodeo, corral, sombrero, loco, hoosegow from juzgado are examples of their Spanish origins.

The American cowboy’s elaborate lore about the rope and roping techniques was acquired directly from the Mexican vaquero. Roping by the forefeet was based on the mangana technique, while to rope by the hindfeet or “to peal” was a feat also learned from the Mexicans. The Mexican was an artist with knife and rope, both of which he used as weapons. It was only when the Texans got the Colt revolver, about 1838, that they became a terror.

Thus it becomes apparent how influential the various techniques of the original Spanish-Mexican inhabitants of the Southwest had on the economic development of this region in the fields of railroads, mining, cattle and sheep raising.


Beginning in 1890 and culminating in 1930, cotton began to expand to middle Texas and later to West Texas. Mexican labor was substituted for Negro and Anglo-American sharecroppers and tenant farmers. This expansion of cotton coincided with the Mexican Revolution in 1910. Thus there was a great influx of Mexicans into the Southwest.

In 1902 the Southwest had a population the size of Chicago in the same year. The magic key that unlocked the resources of this region was irrigation. Irrigated farming being intensive, it brought into being the following: high yields per acre, heavy labor requirements, year-round production, and crop specialization. The development of the Southwest Region as an economic empire can be directly traced to the passage of the reclamation Act of 1902, which granted federal funds for the construction of large-scale irrigation and reclamation projects. More than any single factor it has been irrigation that has allowed for the economic growth of this region.

In order to supply the new capitalist enterprises with a cheap labor force, one that could be exploited to the fullest, the USNA imperialists turned to Mexico.

Deeply rooted in the Mexican past, Mexican immigration to the United States between 1890 to the present is one of the great population movements in the history of the Americas.[23]

Carey McWilliams points out how ten per cent of the population of Mexico came to the Southwest in this period and that it was concentrated in the old Spanish borderlands. He also stresses that:

...in point of time it coincided with the birth of the Southwest as an economic empire; and, each instance, Mexican immigrants labored in the building of industries in which there had been an earlier Spanish-Mexican cultural contribution. The industries in which Mexicans were concentrated, moreover, were those vital to the economic development of the Southwest. In all essentials, therefore, the story of the invasion of the borderlands can be told in terms of railroads, cotton, sugarbeets, and track or produce farming.[24]


Prior to 1900 there had been a trickle of Mexican immigration to the Southwest. Texas had an immigrant population of 71,062 in 1900; Arizona 14,172; California 8,096; New Mexico 6,649. Most of the immigration was restricted to the area near the border or the old Spanish borderlands. At first the immigration was limited to Texas; but after 1900 there was a rapid increase of Mexican immigrants to the border states, as can be seen in the following table:

New Mexico......6,649.....11,918....20,272.....59,340

As is inevitable under capitalism, the period of expansion in the USNA was followed by the severe depression of the 1930’s. It was at this time that the special apparatus of the state, known as the Immigration Authorities emerged as a special weapon to threaten the Mexican National Minority workers. The advantage of securing Mexican labor over other immigrant labor was not only in the relative ease with which the laborers could be rounded up, brought over and put into colonies, but also with the ease with which they could be disbanded and shipped back to Mexico when they were no longer employable. As the depression hit, relief roles swelled and labor struggles intensified, the government rounded up the Mexican National Minorities and sent them in special trains to Mexico. Half a million Mexican National Minorities returned to Mexico and over half of these were USNA citizens. Much of the special character of the Southwest has been due to the periodic herding of Mexican labor in waves back and forth without regard to rights of families, with regard only to the profits of the bourgeoisie.


At the end of World War II two new factors worked together to increase greatly the number of migrants moving illegally from Mexico into the Southwest; l) Widespread expansion of irrigated cultivation in northern Mexico brought large numbers of Mexican workers to the border cities in the 1940’s. 2) Irrigated agriculture was being expanded in the Southwest. The addition of 7,500,000 acres to the agricultural lands of the seventeen western states between 1945 and 1955 rapidly increased the need for stoop labor.[25]

Since 1945 the greatest number of Mexican immigrants has entered the USNA. During this contemporary period literally millions of Mexican border crossings have been recorded. According to the latest statistics as reported in the Christian Science Monitor July 18,1974, “...the number of illegal aliens entering the U.S. each year is known to exceed 700,000 and is estimated to be over 1,000,000.”

Labor Struggles

We must always keep in mind the conditions of life for the Mexican National Minority workers throughout the Southwest. In the mining camps they were segregated into “Jim Towns” where they lived in miserable shacks. They were often paid in the form of credit at the company store and were forced to work until they paid off their debt which often meant a lifetime of servitude to the company until they died. The railroad towns were also miserable settlement where there were no health facilities or proper housing. Hundreds of Mexican families spent their lives bouncing around the Southwest in boxcar homes. As late as 1928 the boxcar labor camps of the railroads housed 469 Mexican men, 155 women and 372 children in Chicago.

Wages on the railroads were $1 a day for years. But the conditions of the agricultural workers were and still are worse then they were at the worst times of the Industrial Revolution in England. Men, women, and children labor 12-14 hours a day and still do not make enough to feed the whole family. There are no health facilities, no schools, no decent housing in the concentration camps which the migratory workers live in. The conditions are not any better in the small towns of permanent settlement throughout the agricultural areas of the Southwest. Mexican National Minority workers have always been paid less than Anglo-American workers. In 1930, the annual family wage of the average Mexican National Minority was $600. In 1944 copper companies regularly paid an inexperienced Anglo-American worker $6.36 per shift and a Mexican National Minority laborer over a dollar less. Even later it was brought out that Standard Oil refiners in Texas paid $.10 an hour more for Anglo-American labor than for ’non-whites’ including Mexican and Negro National Minority workers. And what did the Anglo American labor unions do? They championed the bourgeois line that wherever Anglo-American labor was employed, Mexican National Minority labor should be prohibited.

The first strike in the copper mines occurred in 1896 when the Western Federation of Labor struck at the Old Dominion Mine against the employment of Mexican National Minority labor. The A.F. of L. and other reactionary labor unions have always opposed the importation of Mexican National Minority labor and have never attempted to organize the mass of Mexican National Minority workers. Facing the fascist oppression and deportations that followed all attempts of the Mexican National Minority to organize, the Mexican National Minority workers have also faced the staunchest opposition from the imperialist lackeys, the trade union leaders. Despite these odds, the history of the struggles of the Mexican National Minority have been characterized by militancy and courage. From the outset, the Southwest was not conquered easily. At every point the Mexican National Minority organized to try and defeat the aggressors. The chauvinist myth of the Mexican “bandito” comes from the fact that there were always Mexican National Minorities who refused to be conquered and formed outlaw bands to try and recapture the land which was stolen from them. But even more important is the long history of labor struggles. Here is but a partial list of some of the events. Carey McWilliams, in North from Mexico, gives a more complete story (p.189-205).

1883–The first attempt to organize agricultural workers in the USNA was begun in Texas by Mexican National Minority workers.
1903–Mexican National Minority and Japanese sugar beet workers go on strike in Ventura, California.
1910–The wave of strikes culminating in the dynamiting of the L.A. Times was initiated by Mexican National Minority railway workers.
1915–Three unions of Mexican miners struck copper mines of Clifton, Morenci and Metcalf. The National Guard broke up the 19 week strike.
1917–Arizona copper miners, Anglo and Mexican National Minorities together struck for a month before a vigilante mob rounded up over 1,000 Mexican National Minority strikers and left them in the desert to die.
1927–The first stable organization of Mexican National Minority workers was established. It was called the Confederacion de Uniones Mexicanas and they called their first strike in 1928. It was broken by wholesale arrests and deportations.
1933–7,000 Mexican National Minority field workers struck in LA county. Cannery and Agricultural Workers Industrial Union called a series of strikes.
Middle Thirties–Liga Obrera de Habla Espanola was organized in Gallup, New Mexico and reached a membership of 8,000.
1936–Strikes and pitched battles between 2,000 Mexican National Minority agricultural and 1500 police took place near San Pedro, California.

The Mexican National Minority workers have been staunch fighters against imperialism and for this they have faced the wrath of the state. All labor leaders and potential revolutionaries have been deported when possible or jailed and shot without hesitation. The deportation of labor leaders and revolutionaries has increased the unity of the revolutionary struggles in the Southwest and Mexico and much of the labor struggles going on in Mexico were a direct result of the work of deported Mexican National Minority labor leaders.

The famous zoot-suit riots of 1943 in which sailors, soldiers, and marines stormed through East Los Angles shooting young Mexican National Minorities at will, demonstrate the lengths the imperialists will go to in order to keep the Mexican National Minority super-exploited. As the anti-imperialist struggles of the Mexican National Minority intensify today, we have seen a new bur^ of fascism from the USNA state. The shooting of Ruben Salazar, the Sanchez cousins and the incidences in Albuquerque, New Mexico and Pharr Texas in the last couple of years show that the situation for the Mexican national minority has not improved and can never improve while the Southwest remains under the I thumb of USNA imperialism.

Resurgence of Mexican People’s Movement

The impact of the Negro People’s Liberation Movement in the 1960’s was significant not only for the millions of oppressed toilers throughout the world, but also for the Mexican National Minority in the USNA.

In 1965 the Farmworkers (rural proletariat) in the San Joaquin Valley in California who were mainly Mexican National Minority began to stir. From this impetus the spark quickly spread and in 1967 armed peasants seized the courthouse in Tierra Amarilla in northern New Mexico. By the early part of 1968 high school students were walking out of the high schools of East Los Angeles with the support of their parents.

Finally on August 29, 1970, twenty-five thousand people, mainly consisting of Mexican National Minority held a large march and rally protesting the war in Vietnam. This show of force was too much for the bourgeois state to swallow and the police attacked the demonstration. East Los Angeles was quickly engulfed in flames as angry workers fought back against the brutality of the East Los Angeles sheriff’s department which is hated by everyone.

This event more than anything showed the righteous anger that had been accumulated over the years by the Mexican National Minority. With no Communist Party to give the USNA working class correct leadership there was no recourse except spontaneity.

Presently the Mexican National Minority workers have been engaged in militant strike actions such as the Farah strike, the current Farmworkers struggle, and countless others in mining, garment, plastics, and steel.

More than ever what is needed by the Anglo-American proletariat is a Communist Party that can unite all of these separate struggles into one class struggle against capital.


[1] Cumberland, Charles C. Mexico – The Struggle for Modernity, Oxford University Press, New York, 1968, pg. 84.

[2] McWilliams, Carey, North from Mexico, Greenwood Press Publishers, New York, 1968, pg. 84.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid., pg. 88.

[5] Marx, Karl and Engels, Frederich, Selected Works, Vol. I, “Principles of Communism,” Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1969, pg. 84.

[6] Marx, Karl and Engels, Frederich, The German Ideology, International Publishers, New York, 1939, pp. 12-13.

[7] Price, Glenn V., Origins of the War with Mexico, Univ. of Texas Press, Austin and London, 1967, pg. 4.

[8] Op. Cit., McWilliams, pg» 102.

[9] Ibid., pg. 103.

[10] Ibid., pg. 102.

[11] Lenin, V.I., Questions of National Policy and Proletarian Internationalism, “Critical Remarks on the National Question,” Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1967, pg. 20.

[12] Ibid., pg. 38.

[13] McWilliams, Carey. Factories in the Fields, Peregrine Publishers, Inc., Santa Barbara and Salt Lake City, 1971, pg. 15.

[14] Grebler, Leo, Moore, Joan W., Guzman, Ralph C. The Mexican-American People, The Free Press, New York, 1970, pg. 50.

[15] Marx, Karl. Capital, Swan Sonnenschein and Co., London, 1903, pg. 738.

[16] Op. Cit., McWilliams, North from Mexico, pg. 117.

[17] Ibid., pg. 168.

[18] Ibid., pg. 144.

[19] Rippy, Fred J. The United States and Mexico, New York, 1926, pg. 47.

[20] Op. Cit., McWilliams, North from Mexico, pg. 146.

[21] Ibid., pg. 151.

[22] Ibid., pg. 154.

[23] Meier, Matt S. and Rivera, Feliciano. The Chicanos, Hill and Wang, New York, 1972, pg. 130.

[24] Op. Cit., McWilliams, North from Mexico, pg. 163.

[25] Op. Cit., Meir, pg. 221.