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Mártires de Texas

Stefan Cavazos General Entry

Los Mártires de Texas were a group of armed men from Central Texas who had a shootout with law enforcement officials at Carrizo Springs in 1913. In this specific incident, Los Mártires were on their way to cross the Rio Grande into Mexico to join the forces of Emiliano Zapata in the Mexican Revolution. Dimmit County Sheriff Eugene Buck and Deputy Sheriff Candelario Ortiz trailed Los Mártires but were captured by the group and subsequently forced to travel along and tote heavy items on the route. In the course of this forced march, one or more of the armed men shot and killed Ortiz. Ultimately, a Dimmit County posse pursued and caught up with Los Mártires, and a gun battle ensued. Two of the insurrectionists, Juan Rincón and Silvestre Loma, died in the confrontation.

The insurrectionists who survived were not unlike many other groups that sought the relatively safe haven of places like Texas to prepare military incursions into Mexico. Los Mártires, however, stood out because of their armed confrontation, and they claimed ties with Emiliano Zapata and two radical groups in the United States—the Partido Liberal Mexicano (PLM) and the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). The PLM leadership used their popular paper Regeneración (founded by Ricardo Flores Magón and published out of Los Angeles at that time) to bring national and international attention to them as a martyred group of Mexicans who were seeking to reconstruct Mexico with anarcho-syndicalist ideas.

Los Mártires were led by José María Rangel, a PLM military officer who recruited mostly Mexicans from Central Texas. The recruits had dual membership in PLM clubs and unions of agricultural workers affiliated with the Land League of America, the economic arm of the Socialist party of Texas. The fourteen survivors of the shootout included Rangel, Leandro R. Rosas, Domingo R. Rosas, Luis Mendoza, Luis González, Miguel P. Martínez, L. R. Ortiz, Jesús González, Pedro Perales, Bernardino Alzate, José Angel Serrato, and Abraham Cisneros. A non-Mexican and IWW member named Charles Cline was also part of the group, but he may have joined late and did not claim long membership in the group. They were sentenced to long prison terms for murder and the violation of neutrality laws. Rangel and another officer were sentenced to life. PLM and IWW members and Magonistas (followers of Ricardo Flores Magón) rallied around the group and protested their imprisonment. After much political pressure, Governor Miriam Ferguson freed them in 1926 when Mexican government officials negotiated for their release.

The case of the Mártires assumed major importance in the public discourse over the Mexican border, the Mexican Revolution, and the resident Mexican population in Texas. The intelligence arm of the U. S. Justice Department, for instance, kept a watchful eye on Mexicans of varied political persuasions and was always fearful that the Mexican Revolution would overflow into Texas and radicalize the local Mexican communities. The case of the Mártires seemed to confirm these fears, especially when the editors of Regeneración began to accuse U.S. officials of being as authoritarian as their Mexican counterparts by interfering with revolutionary efforts to build a more democratic Mexican nation. Moderate Mexicans like Ignacio Lozano, the editor of La Prensa, on the other hand, expressed concern about the continuing political instability in Mexico and Texas, and the PLM’s call to arms and were more apt to agree with authorities that insurrectionists like the Mártires were mostly criminals and not the freedom-loving Mexicans that they claimed to be.

El Regidor, September 27, 1913. Regeneración, September 27, 1913; July 8, 1916. F. Arturo Rosales, ¡Pobre Raza!: Violence, Justice, and Mobilization Among México Lindo Immigrants, 1900–1936 (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1999). Emilio Zamora, The World of the Mexican Worker in Texas (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1993).

Categories:

  • Peoples
  • Mexican Americans
  • Military
  • Boundary Disputes and Ethnic Conflict
  • Organizations
  • Associations

Time Periods:

  • Progressive Era

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

Stefan Cavazos, “Mártires de Texas,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed March 06, 2021, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/martires-de-texas.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects:

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