Wednesday, December 21, 2011

VIVA Emma Tenayucca 'La Pasionaria de San Antonio'

Marker to honor labor leader

Celebration is today at Milam Park.
Updated 01:35 a.m., Wednesday, December 21, 2011
  • Emma Tenayuca led a strike by pecan shellers in 1938, when she was 21. The strike lasted three months, and the number of strikers and supporters reached 12,000. Photo: Institute Of Texan Cultures
    Emma Tenayuca led a strike by pecan shellers in 1938, when she was 21. The strike lasted three months, and the number of strikers and supporters reached 12,000.
     Photo: Institute Of Texan Cultures

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What: A Texas historic marker honoring San Antonio labor leader Emma Tenayuca will be dedicated.
When: Father Eddie Bernal will celebrate a Mass at 11:15 a.m., followed at noon by the dedication, hosted by the Bexar County Historical Commission and Tenayuca's relatives.
Where: Milam Park, 500 W. Houston St.
San Antonio activist Emma Tenayuca, who endured death threats and blacklisting for her central role in the city's largest-ever strike, will be honored with a Texas historic marker at Milam Park today.
The celebration, beginning at 11:15 a.m. with an open-air Mass, falls on what would have been Tenayuca's 95th birthday and almost 74 years since the historic pecan shellers strike of 1938.
Tenayuca died in 1999.
“We're very proud of the courage she had and that there is now recognition of the personal stands she took at such a young age,” said Sharyll Teneyuca, a San Antonio attorney and niece of the labor leader. She spells her surname differently than her aunt's. “She was 21 when she led the pecan shellers strike, and she was organizing long before that.”
State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte will take part in the dedication of the 23- by 42-inch cast-aluminum marker, the state's largest size. It's in the southwestern section of the park facing Christus Santa Rosa Hospital.
It's one of more than 15,000 Texas historic markers commemorating lasting contributions to state history and is among 250 to 300 erected this year, said Bob Brinkman, coordinator of the Texas Historical Commission's Historical Markers Program.
Tenayuca's marker credits her with leading “a movement that fought deplorable working conditions, discrimination and unfair wages on behalf of the city's working poor.”
It does not note that the number of strikers and their supporters reached 12,000 and lasted for three months.
It also doesn't note that while the strike helped lead to passage of a minimum wage law, it ultimately was unsuccessful because the Southern Pecan Shelling Co. mechanized its operations, leading to thousands of layoffs.
“The strike was one of the first successful actions in the Mexican American struggle for political and social justice,” the marker says.
Most of the strikers were Mexican American women.
Tenayuca, unable to find work after the strike, left San Antonio and rebuilt her life in California, where she earned an undergraduate degree.
Her departure followed a 1939 riot against a Texas Communist Party meeting at Municipal Auditorium that she attended.
According to accounts, angry protesters — among them leaders and members of the Ku Klux Klan, veterans groups and the Catholic Church — rioted after hearing those inside sing “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
Tenayuca returned to San Antonio in the 1960s, earned a master's degree and taught in the Harlandale Independent School District until retiring in 1982.
Brinkman credited a staff historian who read an entry in the Handbook of Texas Online for suggesting a tribute to Tenayuca as part of the commission's Undertold Markers Program, an effort that identifies subjects “that aren't well represented in the marker program,” he said.
Brinkman said the commission already had designated as “undertold” the rise of the Texas labor movement in early-20th-century Texas.
So far, more than 70 subjects have been recognized in the Undertold Markers Program, he said.
The site of Tenayuca's marker at Milam Park bears significance to her life and work.
Historian Felix Almaraz of the University of Texas at San Antonio and the Bexar County Historical Commission said that during Tenayuca's early life, the park was known as La Plaza del Zacate.
“That was the original ‘West Side' of the city,” he said. As travelers made their way into town along Buena Vista Street with their horses and livestock, they'd tether and feed them there, he said.
Zacate is the Spanish word for grass or hay.
Over time, the plaza grew into a marketplace of both products and ideas and blossomed during the Mexican Revolution, when refugees poured into the city. Speeches were made there, stories from La Prensa were read aloud, and discussion and debate ensued, Almaraz said.
The seeds of Tenayuca's political activism were sown there, too. In 1933, at just 16, she was arrested as part of a strike against the Finck Cigar Co. in San Antonio.
Her life has been the subject of articles, tributes, portraits, murals and a play. Sharyll Teneyuca and San Antonio writer Carmen Tafolla wrote a children's book, “That's Not Fair: Emma Tenayuca's Struggle for Justice/ No Es Justo: La Lucha de Emma Tenayuca por la Justicia,” in 2008.
Teneyuca said she and Tafolla are working on a biography and screenplay of the labor leader's life.

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Friday, December 16, 2011

1st Independence of Texas

Las Casas Insurrection--Bexareños Reinstate Gov. Salcedo--Capture and Execution of Hidalgo and Associates. On 21 Jan 1811, former militia captain from Nuevo Santander, Juan Bautista de Las Casas and enlisted men from the Quartel barracks in La Villita marched on Casa Reales and arrested Gov. Salcedo and Lt. Col. Herrara and staff. Las Casas appointed himself head of a provisional government, confiscated loyalist property and announced his association with the Hidalgo forces. Las Casas put Gov. Salcedo and associates in chains and marched them to Monclova where insurrectionist Pedro de Aranda held them at the hacienda of former royalist turned rebel, Lt. Col. Ignacio Elizondo. The Las Casas movement spread to Nacogdoches and other East Texas outposts under Lt. Antonio Saenz. However, Las Casas’ arrogance and actions began to appear no different than the royalists that he had overturned. This was amplified by the arrogance of Hidalgo associates Ignacio Aldama and Juan Salazar when they visited San Antonio and Las Casas on their way to appeal for aid in the USA. Las Casas’ also made the mistake of ignoring isleño aristocrats and former army officers who were Texans first and royalists second. He also alienated his chief associate Antonio Saenz. Opposition to Las Casas began to organize around Juan Manuel Zambrano, a subdeacon in the Church of San Fernando. With the support of San Antonio notables Ignacio Perez, José Erasmo Seguin, Juan Veramendi and Francisco Ruiz, Zambrano seized back control of Casa Reales without a fight, pledged fidelity to King Ferdinand VII, arrested rebels and sent riders to inform Provincias Commandant Nemecio Salacedo of his actions. The messengers from Zambrano rode south and encountered royalist sympathizers near San Fernando, Coahuila who led them to Hacienda Elizondo where Gov. Salcedo was confined. Apparently association with and the persuasion of his captors and arrival of the messengers caused Elizondo to return to the royalist fold.
On 21 Mar, Elizondo, Salcedo, Herrera, the riders from San Antonio and José Menchaca and other royalists surprised and apprehended Father Hidalgo, Mariano Jimenéz, Juan Aldama, Ignacio Allende and other leaders of the insurrectionist Army of the Americas at the Wells of Baján. Gov. Salcedo hurriedly escorted 27 prisoners from Montclova to Commandant Salcedo’s headquarters at Chihuahua. A seven-member tribunal headed by Gov. Salcedo found the group guilty of high treason and sentenced them to death by firing squad with shots to the back. Ecclesiastical inquisitors prior to sentencing by the tribunal defrocked Hidalgo who was shot in the chest privately because of his service to the church. Las Casas of San Antonio suffered the same fate (see Proceedings of Trial and Execution of Juan Bautista de las Casas). The heads of all were severed and, except that of Las Casas, were displayed in a cage at the Alhondiga for ten years in Guanajuato, while that of Las Casas was salted and displayed in military plaza in San Antonio as warning to those who would oppose the King of Spain. Simon de Herrera returned to receive control of San Antonio from Zambrano, royalist Cristobal Dominguez assumed control of Nacogdoches, all instrumental in re-establishment of royal rule received reward and promotion except Gov. Salcedo. Gov. Salcedo had lost face in mostly his own eyes by the ease of loss of Casa Reales and San Antonio to the rebels, he craved official exoneration, but reluctantly returned to his post as Governor of Texas. His troubles were only beginning and the futility of his cause increasing.

2nd independence of Texas 1813


GUTIÉRREZ DE LARA, JOSÉ BERNARDO MAXIMILIANO (1774–1841). José Bernardo Maximiliano Gutiérrez de Lara, Mexican revolutionary and diplomat, son of Santiago Gutiérrez de Lara and Maria Uribe, was born at Revilla (present Guerrero), Tamaulipas, Mexico, on August 20, 1774. He married his cousin María Josefa Uribe and became a merchant, blacksmith, and property owner at Revilla. During the Mexican War of Independence, led by Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, Gutiérrez and his brother were successful in fomenting revolution in Nuevo Santander, and Gutiérrez was sent by Hidalgo to recruit along the Rio Grande. After the Casas Revolt, Gutiérrez was commissioned by the rebels to solicit aid in the United States. He left Saltillo for the United States on March 17, 1811, going by way of Revilla to collect supplies. After the capture of Hidalgo, he resolved to continue his mission and in August 1811 went to Natchitoches, Louisiana. In October he left for Washington, D.C., with letters of introduction from John Sibley and arrived on December 11, 1811. He was received by Secretary of State James Monroe, who listened to the plans for establishment of a republican government in Texas and use of Texas as a base for effecting the liberation of Mexico. During his stay in Washington the Mexican leader met the ministers of Britain, Denmark, and Russia, and visited the representative from revolutionary Venezuela. Also in Washington, Gutiérrez met José Álvarez de Toledo, and with Álvarez in Philadelphia in January 1812 made plans for the liberation of Texas and Mexico. Back in Louisiana in March 1812, Gutiérrez was introduced to William Shaler, special agent from the United States, who helped Gutiérrez to return to Texas. In April 1812 the two men were in Natchitoches, where theGutiérrez-Magee expedition assembled and set out for Texas.
Early in April 1813, after the expedition had advanced across Texas, Gutiérrez became president protector of the provisional government set up for the state, but after the arrival of Toledo, Gutiérrez was asked by the junta at Bexar to resign the presidency; he resigned on August 4, 1813, and on August 6 left with his family for Natchitoches. In April 1814, after Toledo's defeat in Texas, Gutiérrez went to New Orleans to attempt a new liberation movement. He fought in the battle of New Orleans in 1815 and while in Louisiana refused the proposal of a group known as the New Orleans Associates to lead troops against Pensacola. Late in 1816 he was in Natchitoches as an agent of Louis Michel Aury. Gutiérrez cooperated with Francisco Xavier Mina's expedition in 1817, accompanied James Longqv on expeditions into Texas in 1819 and 1820, and in 1820 was vice president of the council of the Long expedition at Bolivar Point. Governor Agustín de Iturbide recognized the Gutiérrez independence efforts, and in 1824 Gutiérrez returned to Revilla, where he was elected governor of Tamaulipas in July, 1824 and commandant general of Tamaulipas in March 1825. He resigned the governorship in June 1825 but in December became commandant general of the eastern division of the Provincias Internas and held the office until his resignation late in 1826. Gutiérrez opposed efforts of Antonio Canales Rosillo to set up the Republic of the Rio Grande in 1839 and was protected from Canales's violence by the intervention of Reuben Rossqv. Early in 1840 Gutiérrez went to Linares to live with his son, José Ángel. He became ill on a trip to Santiago and died at his daughter's home there on May 13, 1841. He was buried in the parish church at Santiago.
Vito Alessio Robles, Coahuila y Texas en la época colonial (Mexico City: Editorial Cultura, 1938; 2d ed., Mexico City: Editorial Porrúa, 1978). Hubert Howe Bancroft, History of the North Mexican States and Texas (2 vols., San Francisco: History Company, 1886, 1889). Julia Kathryn Garrett, Green Flag Over Texas: A Story of the Last Years of Spain in Texas (Austin: Pemberton Press, 1939). Rie Jarratt, Gutiérrez de Lara: The Mexican Experience in Texas (New York: Arno Press, 1976).