MARCHERS IN DEL RIOUpwards of 3,000 persons gathered in Del Rio last Sunday to demonstrate their support of the VISTA and Minority Mobilization programs and for La Raza. Here the line ,01, Photo by Shel Hershorn of marchers cross a bridge leading from downtown to the civic center, where a rally was conducted. stretches north and northwest of the city far enough to make the county three times the size of Rhode Island. Across the Rio Grande is Ciudad Acuna, where the Mexican Revolution of 1910 was born. Del Rio has about 25,000 residents, once roughly divided about equally between Anglos and Mexican Americans. But now the chicanos are growing faster than the Anglos and as a result the Anglo political domination that characterizes most South Texas towns, even those of substantial chicano population, is crumbling here. The city last year elected its first brown mayor and a city council dominated by chicanos, and the first Mexican-American now serves on the county commissioner’s court. There is brown progress in the business community, as well. A number of the businessmen here are Mexican-Americans and they are having a voice in more of the decision making process. The elected officials, business leaders, and a substantial number of the MexicanAmerican population believe there has been in recent years social progress here to an extent heretofore unprecedented. The election of chicanos to public office, improved schools and treatment in schools for Mexican-American children, the increase in brown businessmen, an easing of decades-long prejudice all are manifest in Del Rio as in other parts of Texas where there is a substantial Mexican-American population. This progress has made a great body of people here extremely apprehensive about the new brown militancy, the fear being that the thrust of that movement will reinstate the now-crumbling racial barriers. The arguments against the militantsadvan ced by Anglos and MexicanAmericans bothare quite similar to the demurrers entered against student power, against black power, against the new radical left: social progress at last is coming at a satisfactory rate; do not jeopardize that by extremism. Probably the progress itself has engendered this serious threat to its own continuance; the new demand in America and the world for equality and full freedom sharply increases the perception of existing, long persistent injustice, causing acute dissatisfaction in some with more orderlyand therefore slowerways to reform. Particularly does such impatience at the world’s and society’s injustices manifest itself in the young who, taught that this is a just society of equals, and noting the lies to this all around, yearn to set things right in shorter order than older persons believe possible in this flawed world. NEARLY A year ago the local war on poverty agency agreed to take on several workers of VISTA, Volunteers in Service to America, otherwise known as the domestic Peace Corps. A while later the county was made one of five sites in Texas where the MM program would be tried experimentally. MMs are local people who are trained to work with VISTAs, the idea being that VISTAs would be able to help residents of poor neighborhoods if people of those neighborhoods were available to work with them. In time as many as eight VISTAs from out of Del Rio, most if not all of them from out of state, were here; ten MMs were trained and at work under a local supervisor. Discontent with these workers began to grow as they involved themselves with the militant young and the militants’ allies among the older members of the. MexicanAmerican community. The militants’ most important organization is MAYO, the Mexican-American Youth Organization, a local chapter of which was formed here a few months ago after being conceived in March, 1967, in San Antonio. The involvement of VISTA and MM people with MAYO became more apparent here late last year and early this year. Arthur Gonzalez, a local attorney who has been instrumental in leading opposition to continuance in Del Rio of the two federal programs, contends that Office of Economic Opportunity directives preclude participation of VISTA and MM people in MAYO activities, which Gonzalez and many others here regard as partisan political work. In late January, Gonzalez says, 32 MAYO members met at the MM center in Del Rio supervisor, present. The week before, Gonzalez says, Rodriguez and Dr. Fermin Calderon, the head of the local poverty war, attended a MAYO meeting in nearby Uvalde. The agenda for the meeting had been mimeographed in the Del Rio poverty war headquarters, Gonzalez charges. About the first of February, he goes on, VISTA worker Richard Kashanski, 22, of. Boston, attended a meeting that Gonzalez describes as a MAYO planning session. “Our money is paying for such activities,” Gonzalez complains, referring to the April 11, 1969 3
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