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The Struggle for P.A.S.O. San Antonio The potency of Latin-American voters in Texas politics was taken for granted during the convention of the political association of Spanish-speaking organizations here over the weekend. The deepest issue of the convention was whether P.A.S.O. would continue the militance it manifested in the Crystal City operation or would back off amid charges of teamster collaboration and become another Mexican civic organization, mildly in politics and run by mid . dle-class Latinos. For 1964, the issue may but also may nothave been whether P.A.S.O. would be prepared to endorse Don Yarborough if he ran against Gov. John Connally. In the end the delegates, rejecting the anti-teamster oratory and moderate policies of Dr. Hector Garcia of Corpus Christi and delegates associated with him, re-elected Albert Pena, Bexar County commissioner, their state chairman by a delegate vote of 41-20. Even to simplify the issues, personalities, and debates of the convention to this extent leaves out much too much, however. It appeared to the Observer that a majority of the delegates were concerned that the P.A.S.O.-teamster liaison at Crystal City, based as it was in the teamsters’. local there, not be permitted to solidify into an interdependent partnership. Resolutions adopted by the delegates unmistakably implied this consensus. Furthermore, it was obvious that the continuation of Albert Fuentes of San Antonio as P.A.S.O.’s executive secretary would have been in serious doubt had Fuentes had to face re-election either with or without Pena’s protection. Hostility toward Fuentes has been gathering for some time within P.A.S.O., and Pena’s unswerving pledge to back Fuentes against this hostility accounted to some extent for the strength of the candidacy of William Bonilla of Corpus Christi against Pena. In the end friends of the Pena-Fuentes combination averted a floor draft constitution, that the executive secretary will be appointed by the chairman, the postponement of action on Fuentes’ re-election until a later state meeting at which the new constitution will be considered. Fuentes was not re-elected; he continues in his post by Pena’s decision and the convention’s tacit consent. The most important politician present at the convention was U.S. Senator Ralph Yarborough, who addressed a large dance crowd one night during the convention and a rally at a county park the afternoon after its adjournment. Yarborough was delighted with Pena’s re-election, and therein hangs the major tale. By Saturday night the night before the showdown between Pena and Dr. Garciaone of those impalpable but explicit understandings that decide conventions had taken hold of the P.A.S.O. delegates. To phrase the matter in personalities, this understanding placed Vice President Lyndon Johnson and Gov. Connally on the side of the Bonilla candidacy, and Senator Yarborough and Don Yarborough on the side of the Pena candidacy. In the context of Texas three-party politics, the same idea could be put a different way: if Pena lost, P.A.S.O. could be expected to become a part, more or less, of the conservative Democratic establishmentat least to the extent of alliance with Johnson and Connally in Texas affairs. One of the most helpful moments, for one trying to test this idea against the sloshing tides of feeling in the convention, was Tony Bonilla’s label for himself. Tony Bonilla placed his brother in nomination for chairman against Pena and was a member of the resolutions committee. His influence in that committee was frequently out of tune with the liberal resolutions that prevailed there. At one point Tony Bonilla said that in Texas, a man can be one of three kinds of liberal, a conservative, moderate, or liberal liberal, and that he was a “conservative liberal.” When the Observer asked William Bonilla if he was more conservative than Pena, he answered with alacrity, “Oh, I wouldn’t take any exception to that.” The Bonilla program for P.A.S.O. would have required prior approval of the group’s executive board before the state officers could proceed with operations such as the one at Crystal City. William Bonilla, who is a lawyer and state chairman of the L.U.L.A.C.S. \(the league of united Latinhis time to organizing new P.A.S.O. chapters and to starting scholarship programs for worthy young Latinos. Now, it was the sense of the majority of the delegates that, whether or not mistakes were made at Crystal City, the election of the Cornejo city council there was an event of historic, apocalyptic importance for Latin-Americans in Texas, and even in the United States, and that the adoption of an apologetic stance about it or the repudiation of Pena in the face of press criticism of the teamsters’ role would betray this new tide in political affairs, on which they were to the contrary proud passengers. In addition, some of the delegates can be described, in Bonilla’s nomenclature, as “liberal liberals,” who wanted no part of the chamber of commerce-type civics that would turn this new-found Latin-American militance into the milder forms of social uplift and the search for respectability which have prevailed, for instance, in the L.U.L.A.C.S. Had Dr. Ramiro Casso of McAllen chosen to side with Bonilla against Pena, what was a bona fide but not close election contest would have become much more nearly a split. Pena had intended to step down, and Fuentes wanted the chairmanship, but Fuentes ran into implacable oppcisition in south Texasin Laredo, Corpus Christi, and the Valleyand gave up in advance. In Hidalgo county, the P.A.S.O. people pledged to Casso. This man runs a medical clinic in McAllen. He is widely respected among Texas mexicanos as an unselfish idealist in substance and method and an utterly Uncompromising friend of the downtrodden people whom he daily doctors. While the Hidalgo delegation was known to be ready to take on Fuentes if the matter came to that, Casso told the convention during the Pena-Bonilla debate that he had personally investigated the June 14, 1963 3