La Agrupación Protectora Mexicana

By: Cristina Lizeth Urdiales

Type: General Entry

La Agrupación Protectora Mexicana was a federation of mutual aid societies (sociedades mutualistas) founded and headquartered in San Antonio, Texas, in June 1911. Like other such self-help organizations of the early 1900s, La Agrupación pursued a mutualist (or collectivist) orientation, offered basic insurance benefits and other social services for its members, and provided community leadership in civic and cultural affairs. La Agrupación reflected a highly politicized identity in that it was founded as an act of protest against the June 19, 1911, lynching of Antonio Gómez, a fourteen-year-old from Thorndale, Texas. According to Donaciano R. Dávila and Emilio Flores, the president and secretary, respectively, of La Agrupación, the organization would seek to “protect our racial brothers, regardless if they are Mexican or Mexican-Texan, from all kinds of offenses and assaults,” including “lynchings.” Within a two months after its establishment, the umbrella organization had twenty chapters in Central Texas. By 1914 the numbers had increased to thirty-five, with membership ranging between fifteen and one hundred mostly agricultural workers per organization. Chapters formed as far away as Brownville, in Louisiana, and Roswell (New Mexico). In Central Texas, La Agrupación became known for helping Mexicans understand their land rental and workers’ rights and for providing them assistance in legal disputes. In San Antonio the organization held educational seminars and opened a public library and recreation hall.

La Agrupación also stood out among fellow mutual aid societies and federations because of a public fight with the leaders of the Partido Liberal Mexicano (PLM), an exiled anarcho-syndicalist group with chapters in the Central Texas region. Regeneración, the publication of the PLM, broadcast the differences in ideological terms, although it was also true that the organizations were competing for the hearts and minds of fellow Mexican residents at a time when the Mexican Revolution of 1910 had begun to influence Mexicans in the United States and accentuated political differences and divisions among them. Newspapers such as La Prensa, a moderate daily from San Antonio, generally disregarded the dispute and continued to favor the work of the organization.

Internal conflict seriously weakened La Agrupación. Along with the criticism from the more radical PLM, unfavorable court rulings—many involving contractual arguments between Mexican agricultural laborers and Anglo landowners—discouraged La Agrupación members. Also, the drop in cotton prices in 1914 and subsequent slump in the agricultural economy led many members to leave the organization by 1915. Scholars have generally recognized the Mexican Protective League (La Liga Protectora Mexicana), which organized in 1917, as the successor to La Agrupación.

La Crónica, July 13, 1911. La Prensa, June 23, 1915. Julie Leininger Pycior, Democratic Renewal and the Mutual Aid Legacy of US Mexicans (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2014). Emilio Zamora, The World of the Mexican Worker in Texas (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1993).

Categories:

  • Peoples
  • Mexican Americans
  • Organizations
  • Associations

Time Periods:

  • Progressive Era

Places:

  • San Antonio
  • Central Texas

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

Cristina Lizeth Urdiales, “La Agrupación Protectora Mexicana,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed September 21, 2021, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/la-agrupacion-protectora-mexicana.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects:

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