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an equal partner in the planning of the economic growth and prosperity of South Texas. In that regard, Hispanics will make doubly certain that our community receives its proportionate share of the international dollars that will be passing across the U.S.-Mexico border. Yes, the next 25 years, though challenging, will prove to be very exciting for all Texans. Patrons will be gone from the scene, the politicos will have to be dealing with people who will not sell out to the highest bidder, and as a very promi nent commercial says, “When Hispanics speak, politicians listen.” Ruben Bonilla is national president of the League of United Latin American Citizens. An ‘historical’ fragment By Leonel J. Castillo Houston In the Pisces part of the year 2005, the governor of Texas, Carlos Garcia Watson, decreed that the state would no longer prohibit Mexican nationals from voting in local elections. The decision had been the result of years of intensive local, national, and international lobbying. Governor Garcia Watson admitted that the decision would have little practical effect. For over a decade most statewide slots had been held by Spanish-speaking persons or persons who had the support of the Spanishspeaking community of Texas. In fact, some observers felt that this step would strengthen the conservatives and Republicans in the state. Mexican businessmen were especially eager to win the right to vote. For years they had been contributing money to political campaigns and electing friendly officials. This latest move was, in their view, but belated recognition of a political fact of life. Governor Garcia Watson also acknowledged the political power of the Asian-Americans in Texas. The almost forgotten Vietnam War had resulted in a steady influx of Indochinese into Texas. After the first wave of naturalizations of Indochinese in 1980, they had moved quickly to consolidate their position in the state. This latest change would not have a significant effect on their strength, but would enhance their status. It would also strengthen the already strong Latino-Asian political alliance, known as LAPA. As Mexico had exploited its oil and coal resources, the social and political status of Mexicans and MexicanAmericans in Texas had changed radically. Now, complaints from non-Mexicans had multiplied over the years. The numerical and economic growth of the Spanish-surnamed population of Texas had so radically altered the state’s politics in the 1980s that younger politicians had difficulty understanding how governors like Clements had ever been elected. The burning national issue was the question of splitting Texas into five states, a move that would settle the Frostbelt versus Sunbelt issue and greatly enhance Latino power in the Congress and in presidential electoral politics. Opponents of the split argued that the gains were illusory, that most Mexican-Americans were so gringoized that the new states would make no real difference in the lives of the citizens. Governor Garcia Watson did not want to reduce his power, but he did understand the possibilities of increased national strengh for all Texans, whether together and unequal, or separate and equal. Leonel J. Castillo has been controller of the city of Houston, head of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, and last month ran unsuccessfully for mayor of Houston. Se habla espariol By Vernon M. Briggs Jr. Ithaca, New York To anyone living in Texas, the increasing usage of Spanish in everyday life is obvious, yet still there is a tendency for most people to believe that the gradual encroachment of Spanish is but a fleeting development. Nothing could be further from the truth. A movement is under way that portends the distinct possibility of a bilingual future for the United States. The momentum provided in Texas is but one strong prod to what promises to be an emerging issue of national consequence. As has often been the case in the past, public education is the initial battlefield of controversies that ultimately involve the entire society. In recent years, debates over such major issues as racial balancing, restrictions upon public expressions of religious beliefs, and initiatives to limit local taxing powers all began as “local school issues.” Before long, they all mushroomed into national concerns. Currently, bilingual education is being debated by many local school districts in widely separated areas of the country. It is destined soon to become a national debate on the desirability of a bilingual society. In its evolving context, bilingualism does not refer to a person’s ability to understand any two languages. Rather, it refers to a specific language in addition to English: namely, Spanish. For of all the non-English-speaking ethnic groups who have populated the United States, it is a virtual certainty that only those of Hispanic heritage will have the legacy of contributing their language as the second language of the nation. For other non-English-speaking ethnic groups, reliance upon their own languages gradually gave way to sole reliance upon English. For these ethnic groups, the rate of their group assimila THE TEXAS OBSERVER 23