the question? An alternative proposal for improving the lot of the farm worker in South Texas has been suggested by a banker who is familiar with the region’s economics. He fels the only way that labor could achieve a victory there is to work on the shippers, instead of the growers. The banker says that his experience with shippers has shown that sheds operated by Teamster-backed firms have been the most efficiently run, from a business standpoint. He believes that some sort of cooperative or union-backed packing sheds will be the solution in Texas. This banker’s beliefs, backed by figures, are based on the fact that even greater profits are made by shippers than by growers. He says a ship per would be more vulnerable to organizing activities than the grower. The strike in Starr County may never succeed as a strike, but it may have laid the groundwork for a state minimum than this, however, it has awakened a dormant political power in Texas. With further development this power can become formidable. Movement Behind the Cactus Curtain Pfeifer, the writer of the preceding article, is a member of the Action Party in Mathis, where he’s city secretary. He wrote the following piece at the Observer’s request, with the understanding that readers would be advised of his role in some of the events he here describes. Mathis This city, in the headlines in the past year, particularly during efforts to oust a police chief from office, has to outward appearances become a quiet spot in San Patricio County. But Mathis, inspected from inside, is anything but quiet. Its energies have been turned in other directions, and appear to be gaining some results. And its pattern of action is being copied in other parts of South Texas. State attention was focused on Mathis last February, when 560 citizens of the community, all Latin-Americans, petitioned the city council to fire their LatinAmerican police chief. This same chief of police had been welcomed to Mathis as a conquering hero only nine months before. He was the first Latin to be named to the post, and had been selected only after being carefully introduced to leaders of the Action Party of Mathis, the organization responsible for the election of a predominately Latin-American slate to city The hearings which followed openly split the council. Mayor Winston Bott sided with the police chief. Manuel Chavez, mayor pro-tern, and Joe Ramirez, the other commissioner, sided with the Action Party leadership against Bott and the Chief. Soon after this Mayor Bott actively began circulating a petition to change the form of government from mayor-commission to aldermanic, with three additional officials to be elected. The election was called and the Action Party succeeded in beating Bott’s efforts. Three more Latins were elected to govern the city, meaning that Mathis now has five Latin-American aldermen and Mayor Winston Bott, who has no vote. THE ACTION PARTY has by no means stood still. It has begun working with forces in Beeville, not in the same county, but still near enough to work with Mathis. Mathis Action Party members have attended and spoken before several rallies in Beeville, and Beeville party 20 The Texas Observer members report that they are already receiving pressure to break away from this outside influence. The Mathis Party leaders, who were officially invited to attend a meeting of South Texas political leaders in Duval County before the last election, decided not to attend. When the sheriff from San Patricio County came through Mathis to get his carload of party members, he left alone. But a Mathis delegation did attend a Tower breakfast in Corpus Christi the day before election. Bott headed the ‘delegation. Afterwards, there was a little-noticed meeting with a politically active Republican from Portland, Texas. Portland is just across the bay from Corpus Christi, but is in San Patricio County, as is Mathis. The Mathis Action Party is eyeing countylevel offices, and is striving to form a coalition with liberals and Latins in other Coastal Bend cities. In Alice, just 30 miles from Mathis, in adjoining Jim Wells County \(the home of nueva has kept her running battle up The Caravan at Corpus Christi. Photo by Gary Morris against county judge T. L. Harville, who was successful in abolishing her Justice of the Peace post after she fought him in a recent election. The Republican Party of Texas has backed Tina in her bid to be reinstated. Her case is being handled by Hector Gonzalez, an attorney from Beeville. Gonzalez says he came to Beeville only recently to open a law office after being advised by Erasmo Andrade and the Rev. Henry Casso, both of the Bishop’s Committee for the SpanishSpeaking, that he was needed there. Gonzalez, who also intends to open an office in Mathis, is now seen frequently throughout the area. He says that he is not a Republican, but his associates include many not at all friendly to the conservative Democratic Establishment. WHAT WILL DEVELOP throughout the Coastal Bend is still in doubt. But the strength of the Mathis Action Party is unquestioned in that community, and even if the party is able to extend its strength throughout the county, whether in its own name or by a coalition, the pattern may well be set for surrounding counties with aspiring Latin-American leadership to follow. Beeville is almost 50% Latin-American; the problems to be faced there may well have to be dealt with by a coalition. Jim Wells County has long known that Tina Villanueva was a strong vote getter, and should she be successful in her bid for reinstatement or damages, it could be the turning point in elections in that county. She has long spoken of running for county commissioner. Publicity from this case may give her the job. And she may have the last laugh, even if she loses. Her case was filed against individual county commissioners, and only those who voted for abolition of her post. Should the county judge, T. L. Harville, and the county commissioners attempt to use county money to fight the case, a group of Jim Wells County citizens has already vowed to seek an injunction stopping such an expenditure. Even if Harville and the others win the case, they could well spend a year’s salary of their own money fighting it. The skirmishes have just been begun behind the Cactus Curtain. Who conies out with a united voting bloc is yet to be seen. A coalition probably will develop, but whom will the Latins pick to join with? F.P.