Munguia Torres, José Rómulo (1885–1975)

By: Cynthia E. Orozco

Type: Biography

Published: May 1, 1995

Updated: August 2, 2020

Rómulo Munguía, Mexican revolutionary, journalist, and printer, was born on January 11, 1885, in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, to Rómulo Franquilino Munguía and Inés Torres y Méndez. He married Carolina Malpica (see MUNGUÍA, CAROLINA MALPICA) in 1916, and they had seven children. His grandson Henry Cisneros was mayor of San Antonio and subsequently secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. As a boy Munguía worked in printing shops in Guadalajara, Mexico City, and Puebla, where he learned about Socialism and became familiar with the concerns of workers. After the death of his father in 1893 forced him to quit school, he educated himself. In 1900, following the death of his mother, he moved to Mexico City to live with his sister Elvira. There he worked at a printing shop that sympathized with anarcho-syndicalist Ricardo Flores Magón. The association lead to Munguía's being sentenced to death, but he was pardoned because of his youth. In the early 1900s he served as sergeant in the Second Reserve, a citizen's militia group lead by Gen. Bernardo Reyes. In 1907 Munguía helped organize the first Mexican union of typographers, and in 1911 he and his friends formed La Cámara Nacional del Trabajo, a federation for organized labor. In the teens he supported the government of Venustiano Carranza and worked as a labor organizer, revolutionary journalist, and educational reformer. To increase literacy, improve vocational training, and reduce the number of United States citizens employed in managerial and skilled positions in Mexican industry were among his primary concerns. Under the Socialist mayor of Puebla he headed the Office of Revolutionary Propaganda and instituted popular civic measures aimed at educating and politicizing the working class. He edited four newspapers: El Demócrata in Villahermosa, Tabasco, and Nueva Patria, El Liberal, and Nuestra Diario, all in Puebla. He served as council member of the first municipal government of Puebla and was an alternate to the Mexican Constitutional Congress in Querétaro in 1917. In 1918 he secretly infiltrated an army garrison and was placed before a firing squad.

In the 1920s Munguía broke ties with President Álvaro Obregón and immigrated to Texas. He moved with his family in 1926 to San Antonio, where he worked as mechanical supervisor for La Prensa until 1932. From 1927 to 1930 he took printing and advertising classes from a school in Pennsylvania. He took over his wife's program, "La Estrella," on radio station KONO in 1932 and managed it until the family set up La Imprenta Estrella, a printing business, the next year. In 1936 they changed their business name to Munguía Printers. They printed for most of San Antonio's Chinese grocers, who were denied service by Caucasian printers, and for 150 stores in ten other Texas towns and cities. Twenty-one full-time employees worked for Munguía in 1941, but World War II reduced the staff to family members. The business was reportedly the first unionized plant owned by Mexican-origin persons in Texas. Munguía printed Father Carmelo Tranchese's La Voz de la Parroquia from 1935 to 1938, the bulletin of the Comisión Honorífico Mexicana , and the official bulletin of the Mexican Chamber of Commerce. An activist publisher as well as a printer, Munguía produced the newspapers El Pueblo and La Voz de México and the magazine Mosaicos.

He was president of Agrupación Ciudadanos Mexicanos en el Extranjero, an organization of Mexicans dedicated to gaining the right to vote for Mexicans outside of Mexico. He served as secretary of the Mexican Chamber of Commerce for eight years. He helped found and presided over El Patronato, which established the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México in San Antonio. He was also a member of the Mexican-American Friendship Committee, served as president of the Comité Patriótico Mexicano, and was treasurer for the Asociación de la Biblioteca Mexicana. In 1958 the Mexican government appointed him honorary consul. He was also a Mason. Munguía refused to become a United States citizen. Though he valued the Spanish language and spoke little English, he recognized the need to publish such bilingual periodicals as El Pueblo, Mosaicos, and Prospect Hill Inquirer. He was active in the electoral campaigns of Mexican-American candidates and Anglo liberals like F. Maury Maverick. Munguía and his work were recognized in South Texas, in the Southwest, and in Mexico. He was an eloquent speaker; in 1939 he spoke at the Congreso de Unificación de la Raza, one of the first national meetings of Mexican Americans in the United States. He died of natural causes on March 3, 1975, in San Antonio and is buried in San Fernando Archdiocesan Cemetery in San Antonio. His papers are in the Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection at the University of Texas at Austin.

Rómulo Munguía, ¡Salvemos a la raza! Recuerdos de la lucha para la libertad (San Antonio: Ediciones Munguía, 1960).

  • Journalism
  • Radio and Television
  • Peoples
  • Mexican Americans
  • Military
  • Mexican Revolution

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

Cynthia E. Orozco, “Munguia Torres, José Rómulo,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 11, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

May 1, 1995
August 2, 2020

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