Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Communist League

Regional Autonomy for the Southwest

Chapter II: Mexican National Minority in the Southwest

Today the Southwest border region is a source of super profits for the USNA imperialists and is, along with the Negro Nation, Puerto Rico and Latin America, an important reserve for them.

Mexico borders the Southwest for over 1,500 miles and is a neo-colony of the USNA imperialists. It has a population of 54 million people and by 1980 should have 68 million. Beginning in 1878, the USNA flooded Mexico with investments. Most of Mexico’s three billion pesos of foreign investment in that year came from the USNA, much of it sent into the development of gold, silver, copper mining, and oil. Today Mexico has a 40% unemployment rate as a result of imperialist investment; thus the Mexican workers are forced to leave their country in search of employment, and this means migration to the Southwest border area. These workers are then exploited by the USNA imperialists’ “runaway” shops that have settled in the Southwest and northern Mexico.

Dry farming, irrigation, oil, burgeoning rail and highway nets, have been instrumental in filling the previously unattractive border zones. This change has occurred both on the United States and the Mexican sides...the Mexican economy is welded into that of the U.S. at most key points; roads, railroads, and airlines have obliterated space between the two countries. The thousands of tourists pouring into Mexico from one side, the thousands of migrant laborers coming from the other, are a constant socio-economic feature that has tied the neighbors together.[1]

Today machinery, wire, pipe, cement, steel, farm implements, glass, crockery, paint, and plumbing fixtures are moving south across the border and Mexican minerals, shoes, fish, flax, bamboo, guano, tomatoes, chickpeas and other products are moving north. Furthermore, the imbalance between imports and exports changed from $7,000 in favor of the USNA to somewhat less than $1,000,00 in the space of one year and even this margin may soon disappear. These statistics show how the imperialists will machine and assemble parts in northern Mexico for $.30 or $.40 an hour, then ship the commodities across the border to a sister plant where they are processed and shipped to their final destination, thus escaping import duties.

Just as Arizona is discovering that Nogales is the logical gateway to the west coast of Mexico, so Texas is discovering that its border towns are the logical gateway to eastern Mexico. In Texas, the Rio Grande is the border, and here it brings people together into twin cities with El Paso the key and important gateway. Coming westward the border towns are also twin cities like Nogales, Mexico and Nogales, Arizona, or Mexicali, Mexico, and Calexico, California.

The center of the Southwest region is El Paso, Texas. The nearest centers are Fort Worth and San Antonio, both six hundred miles away, beyond the Sierra and the arid plains of west Texas. Denver is seven hundred miles north in the Rockies; Mexico City is the same distance south in the Sierra Madre. Los Angeles is eight hundred miles farther west, over loftier mountains and lonelier deserts. El Paso has become a business and industrial center for all the vast reach of barren land around it. It is the market place for New Mexico. Through Juarez, El Paso, the largest city anywhere along the southern border of the USNA, dominates the trade of northern Mexico. It is a major railway terminal and a port of entry for trade with Mexico. Two roads that run from coast to coast–the Santa Fe and the Southern Pacific–ride in on their own rails. Two more–The Rock Island and the Texas and Pacific–come in on the tracks of the S.P. The National Railways of Mexico link Juarez with all of Central America. These five converging lines haul machinery, ore and tourists into El Paso, haul produce and textiles and the same tourists away.

The main business of the town is smelting. The Phelps-Dodge plant is one of the largest copper refiners in the world. The American Smelting and Refining Company in the Canon cut by the river through the hills, handles silver and copper ores from the mines of New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona, and northern Mexico. Cotton mills and canneries process farm products of the Valley. El Paso ships cattle from the dry pastures around it. Juarez has two big distilleries, a brewery, shoe manufacturers, and tile and pottery works. Other cities of importance in the Southwest (but not located on the border) are Los Angeles, California; Denver, Colorado; and San Antonio, Texas.[2]

The Southwest Region, as a reserve for the imperialists, cannot be looked at in separation from its oppressed national minorities and oppressed peoples, the two largest groupings of which are the Mexican National Minority and the Indian peoples. In this paper we will deal only with the Mexican National Minority.

The Mexican National Minority in the Southwest

The Mexican National Minority is concentrated in certain pockets or areas in the Southwest. They are areas where they have historical and economic roots for centuries. They also happen to be areas that are agricultural or mineral extracting. These areas are Southwest Texas, northern New Mexico-southern Colorado, southern Arizona and Southern California. In North from Mexico, the author describes the phenomena as follows:

...imagine a fan thrust north from Mexico with its tip resting on Santa Fe. Gradually the fan unfolds eastward to Texas, westward to California, with the ribs of the fan extending northward from the base in Mexico.[3]


Not only is the Mexican population overwhelmingly concentrated in the Southwest, but it is highly concentrated within the belt of territory of the fan. In each of twenty-four counties extending from Santa Cruz in Arizona to Willacy in Texas, more than fifty per cent of the population is of Mexican origin... there are ten counties in southern Texas (where Mexican National Minorities constitute) seventy per cent (or more of the population).”[4]

In northern New Mexico the Mexican National Minority is concentrated in the upper valley of the Rio Grande. In each of fifteen out of thirty-one counties in the state, the Mexican National Minority are more than fifty per cent of the population. In seven counties Mexican National Minorities are eight per cent or more. In southern Colorado the San Luis valley is the main area of concentration along with Denver. The Mexican National Minority in Arizona reside in the southern tier of counties along the border. In California, the Mexican National Minority are to be found in southern California.

In 1960, about eighty-seven per cent of the estimated Mexican National Minority population resided in this region, which held only 16 per cent of the entire USNA population. The majority of the Mexican National Minority as we can see are to be found in the larger urban centers like Los Angeles and San Antonio, in areas of intensive truck-crop agriculture, mining, and in areas of older Spanish-Mexican colonization.

The four counties having the highest concentration of Mexican National Minorities are Los Angeles, El Paso, Bexar County (San Antonio) and Hidalgo (Lower Rio Grande Valley in Texas) which is agricultural, the other three being large urban centers. Other large cities having a large concentration of Mexican National Minorities is Corpus Christie, Houston, Laredo, Albuquerque, Phoenix, San Diego, and San Francisco.

There are three areas of intensive, irrigated agriculture which have high concentrations of Mexican National Minorities. The Lower Rio Grande Valley in Texas, the Salt and Gila River Valleys of Arizona, and the San Joaquin Valley in California.

There are three general characteristics that distinguish the Mexican National Minority and the Southwest from the rest of the USNA. One is the importance of agriculture and mining in the early economic growth of the region. Because of this the Mexican National Minority workers were placed in areas and locales that were separated from the larger community. Second is the constant flow and influx of the Mexican people across the border. Thirdly, the historical patterns of work and settlements of the Mexican people tended to be isolated, seasonal and migratory.

Since the advent of imperialism in the Southwest, the Mexican National Minorities have been channeled into exclusive employment in a few large-scale industries in the lowest brackets of employment, their employers have set them apart from other employees in segregated colonies. They also work in industries that are highly competitive, are non-union, and are small firms. With this combination the Mexican National Minority are paid lower wages and have less security of employment.

According to Moore, Gebler, and Guzman:

The labor force participation rate for Mexican-American males in the urban Southwest was somewhat lower than for Anglos, but their unemployment in 1960 was nearly twice the Anglo rate.[5]


In 1960, only 19 per cent of the Spanish-surname males in urban areas were in white-collar occupations as against 47 per cent for Anglos. On the other hand, 57 per cent of the Mexican-Americans and only 26 per cent of the Anglos were employed in low-skill manual work.[6]

Mexican National Minority workers suffer not only the same exploitation as that suffered by Anglo-American workers, but they are victims of super exploitation as a national minority. Along with other national minorities they get the hardest work in the factories and the fields and are paid extremely low-wages. Many capitalists get away with paying less than the minimum wage because they can keep Mexican National Minority workers quiet with the threat of turning them in to the immigration authorities. In 1966, some farmworkers were making only $.40 to $.60 an hour in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas.

The situation for the majority of the Mexican National Minority in the Southwest is one of poverty, unemployment, poor housing and health conditions.

For instance, in education, the Mexican National Minority lags far behind the vast majority of the population. In 1960, Mexican National Minority in the region completed an average of 7.1 years of school, while Anglo-Americans in this region completed 12.1 years of school. Of 22,000 graduates from five major universities in the Southwest in 1969, only 600 were Mexican National Minority.

The Spanish-surname people in the Southwest rank low in formal education by comparison not only with non-whites. Mexican-Americans fourteen years and over in 1960 averaged about four years less schooling than Anglos and one and a half years less than non-whites. The incidence of functional illiteracy (0-4 years of school) was seven times the Anglo and nearly twice the non-white rate. Only 13 per cent of the Spanish-surname persons had four years of high school as against twenty-eight per cent of Anglos and nineteen per cent of non-whites.[7]

In regards to health conditions, many Mexican National Minorities suffer from malnutrition. According to Matthieson in Sal Si Puedes, the Mexican National Minority migrant worker infant and maternal mortality are each 125 per cent higher than the national rate; influenza and pneumonia death rates are 200 per cent higher; and the accident rate, 300 per cent higher. In 1960, Mexican National Minority life expectancy was 56.7 years, as compared with 67.5 years for other groups of Anglo-Americans. In 1967 life expectancy for Mexican National Minority migrant workers was 49 years.

The same shameful conditions exist in housing; these areas “of concentrated Mexican National Minority population (barrios in cities and colonias in rural areas) are characterized by dilapidated and deteriorating housing, overcrowding, and lack of such municipal services as street lighting, paved roads and sidewalks, gutters and sewers. In East Los Angeles, one of the county’s largest areas of high population density, about 35 per cent of the housing is substandard and is occupied by Mexican National Minority.

The Mexican National Minority also share a great deal of the poverty in the Southwest. “In 1960, about 35 per cent of the Spanish-surname families fell below the poverty line of $3,000, as against less than 16 per cent of the Anglo and almost 42 per cent of the non-white families.”[8]

As we can see, in general, Mexican National Minority family incomes are lower than those of non-Spanish speaking Anglos but higher than those of Negroes. Median family incomes in the Southwest in 1960 were $4,164 for the Mexican National Minority as compared with $4,448 for Anglo-Americans and $3,644 for Negroes.

From the time of the annexation USNA imperialism has deprived the Mexican National Minority of all their political and democratic rights in direct violation of the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo which guaranteed that these former Mexican citizens would receive the protection of the USNA government 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.

One of the main instruments the imperialists use to terrorize the Mexican National Minority is the Border Patrol and the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service. Through them, the imperialists are ready to roundup millions of Mexicans into concentration camps, deport them to Mexico, or do with them as they please. Today deportations are increasing; 420,000 Mexicans were deported in 1972; that is over 1,000 per day, and an increase of 22 per cent over 1970. At the same time, the police and extra legal forces terrorize the population. For instance, the police riot that broke up the Chicano Moratorium (the largest anti-imperialist demonstration that national minority workers participated in) in 1970, the murder of the Sanchez cousins in Los Angeles in 1972, the slaying of Ruben Salazar and the brutal bombing of six Mexican National Minority activists in Denver, Colorado, in May of 1974.

On the other hand the imperialists use the ideological weapon of great nation chauvinism against the Mexican National Minority. Chauvinism is the term applied to those theories and practices which are based on the false premise that a nation or a people is superior to another nation or people, and therefore has the right to dominate and oppress other nations or peoples.

The specific role of white supremacy in the history of the USNA makes it inevitable that white chauvinism be the leading and specific form of Anglo-American national chauvinism, which the USNA imperialists take to the Anglo-American people in order to prevent the unity of the working class.

However, white chauvinism is not the only form that great nation chauvinism takes against the Mexican National Minority. Great nation chauvinism also takes the form of language and religious discrimination. This can clearly be seen by the forcible imposition of the Anglo-American culture on the Mexican National Minority and the refusal of the use of the Spanish language in all public life and in education. Along with this, the USNA imperialists have propagandized the life that “Mexicans are lazy, irresponsible, and incapable of learning.”

The only reason that the Mexican National Minority has been able to retain its language and culture is that certain characteristics make their situation more than just one of a national minority. These characteristics includes the facts that the Mexican National Minority in the Southwest is a historically evolved people living in an area that has been historically and culturally tied to it; and that with the particularities involved in the annexation of the Southwest from Mexico, the flow back and forth across the politically imposed border has never ceased. The Mexican National Minority easily can be compared to the French Canadians in Quebec. Like the Mexican National Minority, the French Canadians were there first and their culture is indigenous to their respective region as well. The main difference of course being the proximity to Mexico and the fact that the Southwest was annexed.

The Mexican National Minority, as an objective part of the Anglo-American proletariat, is the key to the unity of the working class in the Southwest region. Also, because of the objective circumstances in regards to their relationship to Mexico they can unite the Anglo-American proletariat with the Mexican proletariat and peasantry thus furthering the unity of the revolutionary movement for socialism in the Americas.


The period that followed from 1877-1900 was a period of rapid development in the Southwest. By 1900, the railroad mileage of the USNA was greater than that of all of the countries of Europe. 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. It was during this period of imperialist growth and also as a result of the Mexican Revolution (1910) and WWI (1914-1918) that thousands of Mexicans came to the USNA; some as a result of the Revolution in Mexico and most of them as contract laborers. As we have seen the Mexican people worked the cotton fields of Texas, Arizona, and California; the beet fields of Colorado, the mines of New Mexico, and the railroads of the entire West. It was during this period that the Anglo-American nation was consolidated, that the Southwest region became an integral part of the Anglo-American nation, and Mexico became a neo-colony of USNA imperialism.


[1] Cline, Howard F. United States and Mexico, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1953, pg. 12.

[2] Peyton Green, America’s Heartland, Univ. of Oklahoma Press, Norman, 1948, pg. 181.

[3] Op. Cit., McWilliams, North from Mexico, pg. 54.

[4] Ibid., pg. 56.

[5] Op. Cit., Grebbler, pg. 20.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid., pg. 18

[8] Ibid., pg. 20.