Catarino Erasmo Garza and El Chicano.

Catarino Erasmo Garza and El Chicano.

Catarino Garza’s life and endeavors have been the subject of several historical and academic works. We do not intend to go into that. This short article is only about his connection to El Chicano paper, which arguably is the first instance of the term Chicano appearing in print.

This information was found while doing research for a new book to be published by  the Agrasánchez Archive.

Catarino Erasmo Garza.

Catarino Erasmo Garza Rodríguez (1859-1895) was “a man of splendid physique, six feet three in height, and of fine military carriage”[1]; his character well corresponded to his impressive figure.

He was born in Tamaulipas. After serving for some time in the Mexican National Guard, he became a journalist and social advocate.

Garza vigorously defended Mexicans’ rights in Texas, and fought General Porfirio Díaz’s regime from both sides of the border. In fact, he became a forerunner of the Mexican Revolution.

He co-founded three radical publications in Texas: El Bien Público (Brownsville, 1779); El Comercio Mexicano (Eagle Pass, 1886), and El Libre Pensador (Laredo, 1890).

In all probability, Garza was also responsible for the creation of El Chicano, another revolutionary paper which first –and possibly only- issue was published in San Antonio in 1892. Its vanishing coincides with Garza’s fleeing from Texas, after “a reward of $600,000 has been offered for his head.”[2]

On its morning edition of February 10, 1892, The Riverside Enterprise, of Riverside, California, published a note on the first page that reads:

“Garza Heard From.

San Antonio, Tex., Feb. 9.-Garza is still in the field. The latest reliable news of the revolutionist was obtained in El Chicano, the first number of a local Spanish paper which has just appeared as the avowed organ of the revolutionists. El Chicano publishes a copy of what purported to be a lengthy letter sent by Garza to President Harrison. It is written under date of January 11, at La Stroeta[3], State of Tamaulipas, Mexico. It explains the patriotic purpose of the revolutionists to secure a republican form of government in Mexico, and condemns the press for having placed him in the light of a bandit and violator of the neutrality laws. He says his only offense is a desire to throw off the tyranny of Díaz, and begs the President will not be misled into further cooperation against him. The letter is in diplomatic form, full of high-sounding phrases, and concludes with the statement that he (Garza) will grow old in the field with his troops before he will make or accept any proposition compromising the principle of his cause.”

After clashing with Mexican and United States military for several years, Garza finally gave up his Texan wars and took part in revolutionary movements in other countries, leaving behind a significant legacy.

Sources:

Dallas Morning News, Dallas, TX, 1892

Riverside Enterpriser, Riverside, CA, 1892

Tacoma Daily News, Tacoma, WA, 1892

Gilbert M. Cuthbertson, “GARZA, CATARINO ERASMO,” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fga38), accessed October 01, 2012. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.


[1] “The Border Trouble: Catarino Garza, the Mexican Revolutionist”, Tacoma Daily News, Tacoma, WA; January 29, 1892

[2].Íbid.

[3] Possibly ‘Las Tortillas’ ranch. The property was Garza’s headquarters. By the time this note was published, some sources –listed at the end of the text- affirm he was hiding there.

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