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Texas Matters: Refusing To Forget Texas Rangers Border Violence

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It was one hundred years ago that South Texas was the scene of an outbreak of violence that targeted Mexican Americans who lived in the region. Some historians say there was an undeclared war against Mexico and the Texas Rangers were given free reign to fight the bandits. Any Ranger was a mounted judge, jury and executioner for anyone they suspected of sympathizing with Mexico. Others say the Ranger attacks on Mexican Americans were designed to drive Hispanic families off their land, stop any organized effort by Mexican Americans to exercise their civil rights and pave the way for big agribusiness development.

But the facts are clear that the Texas Rangers were acting with no regard to the rights of the Mexican American residents of the area and were killing with impunity and without fear of legal consequence.      

University of Texas English professor John Moran Gonzalez is one of six scholars in a group called Refusing to Forget. They are drawing attention to a violent chapter of Texas history known as “La Matanza” or “The Massacre.” During the early 1900s, Texas Rangers, law officers and vigilantes are thought to have killed hundreds, possibly thousands, of Mexicans and Mexican Americans along the Texas Mexico border.

David Martin Davies can be reached at dmdavies@tpr.org and on Twitter at @DavidMartinDavi