Alianza por Tierra Libre leader Reies Lopez Tijerina addresses Texas heirs Los herederos: cash for their lost lands? By E. D. Yoes Jr. San Antonio The heirs of the dispossessedMexican-American descendants of landowners driven off their Texas property fifty or more years agogathered in San Antonio April 16 to consider an unexpected offer. After generations of delay, the Mexican government reportedly is willing to settle claims against it for Texas property taken from its nationals in the years between 1848 and 1923. Claims to be reviewed The man who brought this news was Texas-born Reies Lopez Tijerina, leader of the Alianza por Tierra Libre. Tijerina has devoted himself to righting the wrongs done the original civilized inhabitants of the Southwest and to alerting their present-day descendants to actions that could help them reclaim their patrimony in cash form. Tijerina’s message to Texas herederos was that, after a personal meeting this January with Mexico’s President Lopez Portillo and other officials, he had won a commitment for a re-examination of reparation claims presented to Mexico under provisions of the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo and subsequent U.S.-Mexican agreements. \(The Hidalgo accord, which ended the Mexican War, fixed the Rio Grande as the permanent The sum allegedly owed, but unpaid since 1923: $400 million. Las raices Fifteen hundred peoplethree times what Tijerina expectedfilled the tiny Mexican-American Cultural Center auditorium on San Antonio’s west side. Tijerina invited them to join the Alianza and advised that all who wanted to could register their land-grant claims with the Alianza and be represented by it in negotiations with the Mexican and U.S. governments. Tijerina reminded the claimants that their ancestors civilized the Southwest first, and evoked images of Spanish and Mexican sovereignity that once extended from Florida to San Francisco Bay. He alluded to the stirring of black consciousness in “Roots” and pleaded for a similar awareness of las raices among Hispanic-Indians. Tijerina has a visionHispanic-Indian brotherhood, unity and la harmonia. Later he introduced two young Mexican-American lawyers, who, taking Green also made a big to-do about the narcotics arrests of two other American employees, a man in the circulation department and his wife, a switchboard operator. In a letter to DeBolt about the arrests, Green said, “Again, I want to emphasize that whether an employee of yours is a dope dealer, a gambler, or commits any other crime against the people of Ector County, he will be prosecuted by this office.” `Raise hell’ Green, though officially the accuser, seems on the defensive. “I have never done anything illegal,” he said. “I think I’m one of the more effective officers in the state. I have the backing of the people who elected me, not The Odessa American. My record speaks for itself.” Says Ashley: “Mr. Green has started something he can’t win. If we were in Nazi Germany, in Russia, or in some other dictatorship, I wouldn’t be too optimistic of our chances. But this is America, thank God, and I have complete faith in our system. I think the people in this country are sold on the concept of a free pressa concept which Mr. Green has dared to abuse. It is only a matter of time until this matter will be resolved, once and for all, in a manner that will be satisfactory to this newspaper and to the good people we serve.” A poster on Ashley’s office wall proclaims, “It’s a newspaper’s duty to report the news and raise hell.” During an interview, the phone rings. It’s one of Ashley’s ‘snitches, the one he calls “Juaii.” He communicates with Juan through the classifieds, much in the manner of Bob Woodward and Deep Throat. Hanging up the phone, Ashley says, “I’m still investigating Green. And I’ll continue to investigate him.” Of Green’s allegation that Sliney tried to bribe Edwards, Ashley said his city editor only called the candidate to ask about reports of a bribe offer. Ashley said if he had had any reason to believe a bribe had been offered, he would have fired Sliney straightaway. As for trying to influence the grand jury, Ashley said the paper had merely contacted a grand jury commissioner to request the appointment of jurors who would let the newspaper have indictment information as quickly as other newsgathering organizations. Finally, Ashley said if any gambling occurred at the American, he didn’t know about it at the time. “I never want to be guilty of abusing the columns of The Odessa American,” he said. “Green should do like any other politician: sit back and take his lumps and it will all blow over. I’m frustrated because it’s impossible to get along with him.” John Moulder is on the staff of The Odessa American.
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