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OCHOA, VICTOR L.

OCHOA, VÍCTOR L. (?–?). Víctor Ochoa, Texas Mexican activist and supporter of the Mexican Revolution, was born in Mexico and as a boy came to the United States, where he lived in El Paso and Las Vegas, New Mexico. He became a United States citizen in 1889. In 1891 he held a meeting that was attended by about 300 Texas Mexicans in El Paso. Ochoa's speech stressed the desirability of self-protection, of hiring local workers rather than cheap labor from Mexico, and of paying fair wages to building-trade workers as well as to city employees. Around the same time Ochoa also helped organize La Unión Occidental Mexicana to help Texas Mexicans preserve their Spanish language, safeguard their morality, and otherwise encourage fraternalism. This group, like many other sociedades mutualistas throughout the state, provided a community-based foundation to provide self-help and served as a social and political forum for Texas Mexicans.

Ochoa was also bitterly opposed to the dictatorship of President Porfirio Díaz and became involved in the fight by Mexican rebels in the early 1890s to overthrow him. Indeed, he was considered by some to be the originator of the revolt. Díaz issued a $50,000 reward for him, "dead or alive." Ochoa's participation in revolutionary activities led to his arrest in 1893 for supplying and hiring Mexican dissidents in El Paso, thus violating United States neutrality laws. He was acquitted of the charges and returned to the border, where he reportedly forced Mexican vaqueros to join his ranks. Ochoa's insurgent activities aroused the suspicions of the Mexican secret service, which sought him unsuccessfully at his home in Chihuahuita. In 1894 he announced in the press his intention to continue to fight for the rights of the Mexican people to overthrow Díaz. Later that year Ochoa's struggle ended when he was captured in Pecos County by Texas Rangersqv and federal officials, who charged him with organizing an army in the United States for the purpose of invading Mexico. His trial on this new charge resulted in a conviction in 1895 for violation of federal neutrality laws, and he served about two years in Kings County prison, Brooklyn, New York. Apparently, Ochoa also lost his citizenship as a result of his activities. After his release, his United States citizenship was restored through a special proclamation by President Theodore Roosevelt on February 15, 1906.

Six years later Ochoa revisited El Paso as the president of the International Airship Company, which was based in Paterson, New Jersey. In an interview with the El Paso Herald, he declared his continued support for the Mexican Revolution. He also claimed that after his release from prison, he spread a rumor that he had died in an asylum because the $50,000 reward for him was still in force.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Arnoldo De León, The Tejano Community, 1836–1900 (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1982). Mario T. García, Desert Immigrants: The Mexicans of El Paso, 1880–1920 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1981). Mario T. García, Obreros: The Mexican Workers of El Paso, 1900–1920 (Ph.D. dissertation, University of California at San Diego, 1975).

Teresa Palomo Acosta

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Teresa Palomo Acosta, "OCHOA, VICTOR L.," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/foc05), accessed October 24, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.