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Sunday, November 21, 2004
The Robinhood of the Rio Grande
November 21, 2004
THE BROWNSVILLE HERALD
Juan Cortina seen as hero
In celebration of Chicano history, here is a story of a great hero from the past. He was a valiant soldier and fearless warrior. He came to the scene before Emiliano Zapata and Pancho Villa.
Sadly, he was not seen as a hero by some. Especially the English-speaking media, the Texas Rangers and most of the sons and daughters of the Mayflower illegal alien family immigrants. They saw him as a scoundrel and a bandit. But to us locals, he was a true hero. He was a freedom fighter. Always fighting for social justice for our people.
Like many of us, he came from the great Empire of the Aztecas and the Mayas. He was well recognized for his blue eyes and bright red hair. In fact, when the sun’s rays touched his hair his head appeared to be on fire.
He was fast with the gun. He was also an expert marksman with his 30-30 rifle. He was a peace-loving, nonviolent individual until the oppressors and occupiers came. These thieves and war criminals were the scum of the earth. They killed innocent men, women and children. They stole their land, cattle and horses and destroyed their homes. Our people had no protection from the law. This is when our hero decided to fight back.
But to understand the actions of our hero you have to appreciate his cultural values, his mores and his past. As a child, he was raised to respect the dignity and integrity of all. No matter the race, color or how poor the individual was. He was also taught to stand his ground and to protect his self-respect.
“When you become a man never allow anyone to treat you like a boy.” he was told. He was always encouraged to question authority, fight unjust laws, unjust wars and injustice. Even at the expense of being labeled un-American, unpatriotic or a bandit.
Our hero was a very young man when he, his family and a few other friends survived the Great Massacre of 1846-1848. Of course, the English-speaking historians called it the Mexican-American War. Our people described it as an abomination, a purely violent act of criminal carnage.
During this dark time in our history, a young U.S. congressman was yelling at the top of his lungs at President Polk, demanding to know why Polk was having our people murdered, maimed and slaughtered.
“Why are you killing these innocent God-fearing people? They are not soldiers. They are mainly farmers,” he asked.
Of course, our people knew the answer. It was because of the inhumane policy called manifest destiny. Polk wanted our land, natural resources — iron ore, oil, gas, silver and gold — at any cost. The congressman’s name was Abraham Lincoln.
Similarly, in New Orleans a very famous American writer was jailed for failure to pay taxes. He vowed to Polk and his regime that he would not allow his tax dollars to be used for killing innocent victims in South Texas.
“I’d rather stay in jail,” he stated. The writer’s name was Ralph Waldo Emerson.
At the same time, a well-known U.S general described the massacre as a gigantic human horror.
“I should have resigned from the military. But I lacked the moral courage.” His name was General Ulysses S. Grant.
“The savagery, debauchery, the killing of innocent people made me feel ashamed to be a human being,” writes a reporter for a New England newspaper when he was describing the Great Massacre of 1846-1848. He went on to say, “I witnessed a killing field, dead people everywhere. Their limbs were cut out, including their nose, ears and tongues. Among the dead, I saw the body of a beautiful young girl with long shiny black hair. She was about 18 years old. I was surprised to see that her limbs were not cut. She did not have a single bullet wound in her body. Yet she was dead. She had a wooden stake driven through her heart. She was apparently alive when this atrocious act was committed,” he claimed.
As late as the 1960s, a U.S. presidential candidate told his colleagues in the U.S. Congress, “The 1846-1848 dreadful event was not a war, it was a human massacre.” His name was Robert F. Kennedy.
At one point, the Europeans brought in General Robert E. Lee, a well-respected soldier, to kill our leader. But when he realized the military might and prowess of our hero, he refused to engage him in battle. He also learned that our hero had defeated the French, the Confederates, the Union soldiers, the Texas Rangers, and the racist robber barons in various battles.
Such was the horrid past of our beloved hero. He was our king, a prophet, a true hero to our people. His name was General Juan Nepomesemo Cortina.
Viva la Raza.
Juan J. Martinez
Via the Internet
It is such a sad event when our current written history hardly does any justice to the actual reality of what happened. I am not one to throw myself at wind to one person's passioned commentary, but I have done my homework and I know and am fully aware that current history as it is taught and portrayed is incredibly biased and I agree with Mr. Martinez by saying that Juan Cortina gets a bad rap that he may not deserve (I have to do more reseach before I make a definite opinion on that). Instead we get Chuck Norris and anti-commie karate chop moves.
What makes me even more sad is the memories that this article brings me: I remember being in the 3rd grade telling my teacher that President Polk was my favorite president. "Why so?", she would ask. "Because he is the president that made sure that Texas became part of the US and not of Mexico"..I mean at that age I found pride in that and I know it was because I didn't get the whole picture...I mean I can even recall looking forward to learning about Manifest Destiny because it meant more land for the US...but the reality of the event was that Manifest Destiny came at the price of many innocent lives and with the help of many uncivilized atrocities (by a civilization that belived itself to be the superior). It's very unnerving! History needs to be retold!
Any thoughts on this?
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