De La Rosa, Luis (ca. 1865–ca. 1930)

By: Carlos M. Larralde

Type: Biography

Published: September 1, 1995

Updated: July 15, 2020

Luis De la Rosa, revolutionary and follower of the Mexican anarchist Ricardo Flores Magón, was born around 1865. He believed in direct action to correct injustices done to Hispanics on both sides of the Rio Grande. One of his notices called for Mexicans to "unite with our Texas...and take the same chances they are taking, for this is the solemn moment of the vindication of right and justice lost to us for so long a time." At various times he was a Cameron County deputy sheriff, a successful butcher in a small grocery store that he owned in Rio Hondo, and a cattleman east of San Benito. He suffered from consumption and had a deformed left arm and hand, with one or two fingers missing due to accidents. Confined to a bed most of the time, he read political ideology, especially Marxism and other revolutionary theory. He enjoyed reading Regeneración, which embodied Flores Magón's anarchist ideas. While writing his political reflections, now lost, De la Rosa fused his ideas with Flores Magón's views. As one newspaper noted in 1916, "De la Rosa, a large man in size, is said to have been the brains of what was known among Mexicans as the revolution of Mexicans in Texas." With Aniceto Pizaña he formed the Floresmagonista movement, which lasted from 1904 to 1919. By 1915 De la Rosa had split it into two groups, the combative Sediciosos and Pizaña's moderates. Shortly after Pizaña joined him, the two conducted raids from the Mexican side into South Texas. De la Rosa was in command of a force that took part in the Norias Ranch Raid, in which he was said to have "visited death and destruction upon the oppressors and left behind a bitter legacy." On October 18, 1915, he caused a train crash at Tandy's Station, eight miles north of Brownsville. He raised an army of 500 men whose raids and guerrilla fighting on the Mexican border of Texas became known as the Plan of San Diego, an effort to return the American Southwest to Mexico. In 1916 De la Rosa was known as the military commander of the PSD. Gen. Frederick Funston requested United States forces to respond, and army and federal investigators declared that the raids were part of PSD. Venustiano Carranza and his aids cooperated with American troops to stop the guerrilla raids along the lower Rio Grande by 1919. By June 1916 De la Rosa set out with a bodyguard for Monterrey to confirm his Mexican authority. En route a Mexican officer, Alfredo Ricaut, arrested him. Shortly after, he disappeared in Mexico, where he died of consumption about 1930.

Brownsville Herald, September 23, 1915. Charles C. Cumberland, "Border Raids in the Lower Rio Grande Valley-1915," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 57 (January 1954). James Sandos, Rebellion in the Borderlands: Anarchism and the Plan of San Diego, 1904–1923 (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1992).

  • Peoples
  • Mexican Americans
  • Military
  • Mexican Revolution
Time Periods:
  • Progressive Era

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

Carlos M. Larralde, “De La Rosa, Luis,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 15, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

September 1, 1995
July 15, 2020

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