have placed around the perimeter of the slab. Garcia and Fuentes are in the building. “I’m a little nervous about the size of the crowd,” Garcia says. “We may have peaked too soon. This whole thing is psychologicala battle of nerves. They’re trying to keep our people frightened and afraid to vote.” People, filing down the unpaved street leading to the plaza, kick up little eddies of dust. “They’re comin’,” Fuentes says. “Either pride will triumph, and they will vote, or fear will, and they won’t vote,” Garcia says. “They need to look around and see that everyone else is with them. Ten days ago I would have said fear had the upper hand. Now, maybe not. I think maybe the gringos are a little scared now. Our people have their signs upon their cars. They drive around town with them. That’s an encouraging sign, don’t you think?” They lean out the door, worried, appraising the crowd, then go outside and head for the speakers’ stand. Carlos Moore and another teamster official, Herman Lloyd, are standing by their car a block away. They, too, are busy crowd counting. Abruptly a big sedan bounces up, braking to a halt not three feet away from the teamster car. The driver sports a large stetson and a long cigar. He removes the cigar and focuses his gaze on me. “How long you been in town?” “About two hours,” I say. “You a teamster?” “No, I’m a reporter. From Austin. The Texas Observer.” There are three other men in the sedan, big men who seem to fill it up well. All wear stetsons. “Allee’s the name,” says the driver. “Captain Allee?” He nods. The cigar goes back in his mouth, apparently terminating his part of the conversation. Moore steps forward and introduces himself to the other Rangers. There follows a complicated round of handshaking. “Any trouble yet?” I ask. Allee shakes his head. The two teamsters and four Rangers look at each other, glance away, appraise each other again. It’s 8 o’clock. THE CIRCULAR SLAB was rimmed with people arranged around its edges. The middle of the slab was vacant, emphasizing the solitary pole that rose from the center, supporting the plaza’s one light. Beyond the throng, cars and trucks were pulled up on all sides, filled with people. It was a shirt-sleeved crowd, estimated at between 1,500 and \(in the 3,000. Garcia, in a two-minute address, set the tone of the tumultuous meeting. His remarks, all in Spanish, sent reporters scurrying for an interpreter. Angel Gutierrez, a chemistry major at nearby Uvalde Junior College, offered his services. Garcia told the crowd, “We’re here tonight because deep in our hearts, we’re all Mexicans, and tomorrow we’re going to vote for our people.” Fuentes opened in English: “I want to tell our out-of-town guests that tonight, they are seeing a people setting themselves free through the ballot box.” Then in Spanish he said, “The Anglos want to know why P.A.S.O. is interested in who Crystal City elects to run this town. They want to know why I would drive 120 miles down here. You know what I tell them? I tell them I have three children, their skin is dark and their name is Fuentes. Some day they may come to Crystal City and if they do, I want them to have equal opportunities. . . . “The gringos say they are not afraid of this election. They say they never worry until the day before the election, then they go out and buy the vote. ‘Give a Mexican a dollar and he will sell himself,’ they say. But this is no longer true. The mexicanos’ eyes are open, and the price is higher now. The man who wants to buy a vote must pay liberty, respect, dignity, education for the children, a higher standard of living for all, and progressive governmentthat is the new price. “We’re going to have people there in the polling booth tomorrow to help you. Do not be afraid. . . . The victory we win tomorrow is here tonight. The Anglos know this now. More important, we know it too.” Fuentes moved away from the microphone to thunderous applause that rolled over the platform in waves. The candidates were introduced to the crowd. Each wore a small baby’s huarache pinned to his lapel. The leader, Cornejo, was applauded five times in his two minute talk. The one remark the interpreter had time to pass along: “I am not scared of anything they might do. My life is for the people of Crystal City.” Hernandez was introduced by Gar cia as a man with whom he had been kicked out of a restaurant the day before. Hernandez challenged the mayor to show him one paved street on the Mexican side of town. \(That night, on the eve of the election, the city council awarded a $250,000 contract calling for the paving of three streets in Maldonado, nervously adjusting the huaraches on their lapels, spoke only a few words each, but both received the roar from the crowd. Cardenas, the fifth candidate, was working that night, driving his truck. Out-of-tov,Vners were Introduced; Roberto Canino, a University of Texas studera, said, “I am a Puerto Rican, but tonight my heart belongs to the Mexicanos of Texas.” The roar again. Copies of a letter, signed by Pena, were in evidence, urging people to vote for the ticket because they were “the only true mexicanos.” Gutierrez, our interpreter, made his way to the speakers’ stand. He told the crowd, “They say there is no discrimination, but we have only to look around us to know the truth. We look at the schools . . . the houses we live in . . . the few opportunities . .. the dirt in the streets . . . and we know.” The shock waves again, the strongest of the night, perhaps, for Angel. One of his classmates explained: they are proud of him. He is an honor graduate of Crystal City, and he is with them, not like the middle-class Mexicans supporting the five incumbents. As the night wore on the wind and dust blew into the faces of the people, making eyelids heavy with sand. The wind blotted out the public address system from time to time. San Antonio attorney Charles Albidress explained the mechanics of voting: illiterate voters have been coached that “our candidates are listed 1, 2, 4, 10, and 11.” \(The five incumbents include three Anglos, one Latin-American, and one man who said he is halfApril 18, 1963
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