While MAYO was able to use federal and private dollars to sustain itself and its foot soldiers, it also provided services to Mexican American communities, at the same time claiming that it did not receive or accept direct money from the federal government. Yet for all their economic successes, MAYO leaders knew that their good fortunes were only a one-time deal. They had been able to surprise the Anglo power establishment the first time, but eventually the funds would dry up. In the meantime, as VISTA volunteers, MAYO activists engaged in polarizing communities and in organizing study sessions and neighborhood advocacy groups. Polarization was, according to Gutierrez, the best way to organize people. We felt that it was necessary to polarize the community into Chicano versus gringos. . . . After the gringo was exposed publicly, the next step was to confront their security-status. Once the Chicano community recognized the enemy, then he [sic] had the power to eliminate gringo attitudes by not voting for the gringo and not buying from the gringo. MAYO organizers tried to get involved with neighborhood groups and agencies that worked with low-income people and disadvantaged children. Through these students and agencies they attempted to reach parents and other adults. This strategy did not prove successful at first. Most parents did not relate well to the militant talk, the revolutionary garb of some of the organizers, or their youthfulness. Consequently, many of the less ideologically oriented activists concentrated on the youth almost exclusively, a mistake that later haunted MAYO. Since many of the youths were best attracted through fiery speeches and confrontational politics, special effort was made to taunt the Anglo structures that had long governed without opposition in these communities. MAYO’s strategy sought to exasperate Anglos into overreacting or showing their “true colors.” Press conferences became a major way of keeping MAYO in the headlines, impressing the Mexican American youth with nationalistic rhetoric, and riling the Anglo community. MAYO’s press conferences were lively, name-calling affairs. On one such occasion Gutierrez said: MAYO has found that both federal and religious programs aimed at social change do not meet the needs of the Mexicans of this state. Further, we find that the vicious cultural genocide being inflicted upon La Raza by gringos and their institutions not only severely damages our human dignity, but also makes it impossible for La Raza to develop its right of self-determination. For these reasons, top priority is given to identifying and exposing the gringo. We also promote the social welfare of Mexicanos through education designed to enlarge the capabilities of indigenous leaders. We hone to secure our human and civil rights, to eliminate bigotry and racism, to lessen the tensions in our barrios and combat the deterioration of our communities. Our organization, largely comprised of youth, is committed to effecting meaningful social change. Social change that will enable La Raza to become masters of their own destiny, owners of their resources, both human and natural, and a culturally and spiritually separate people from the gringo. . . . We will not try to assimilate into this gringo society in Texas nor will we encourage anybody else to do so. . . . The Texas Rangers and their leader were forced to enter through the back door. Whenever MAYO members could confront an Anglo politician, a law enforcement agency, or any other representative of authority, they reveled in it. They wanted opportunities to prove to the Mexican American community that Anglo racists were vulnerable and could be confronted and beaten down. NEWSPAPERS became an effective medium for introducing MAYO’s philosophy to the people in the barrios. The first MAYO newspaper was El Deguello in San Antonio. Three others in circulation by 1969 were Hoy in the Rio Grande Valley, El Azteca in Kingsville, and La Revolucion in Uvalde. In naming the newspapers, the activists exhibited their ardent nationalism, which was vividly captured in an editorial explaining why MAYO had chosen the name El Deguello, which signified, in the old Mexican Army, that no quarter was to be given. Just as that bugle rang out [at the Alamo] that quiet morning, so, too, must it ring in every Chicano’s ears. As Chicanos we have given the gringo pleas, requests, and even demands. The gringo refuses to hear our voices just like Travis did. Obviously, gringos didn’t learn much in 120 years. So, El Deguello must again shout out its war cry to tell all Chicanos that we must rise up against the gringo again. He has had his last chance. Extemporaneous events proved to be beneficial to MAYO. Police harassment, indiscriminate firings of Mexican Americans, controversial school suspensions, electoral intimidations, and similar events brought immediate response from the MAYO activists, either through their own initiative or by invitation from community groups. Each incident brought organizing opportunities that often led to the formation of more MAYO chapters. One major media event occurred when the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights decided to hold hearings in San Antonio from December 9 to the 14, 1968. One of those subpoenaed was Captain Alfred Y. Allee, a thirty-six-year veteran of the Texas Rangers, the state’s most famous law enforcement agency. No commission hearing on the Mexican American community could end without looking into the area of police brutality, and no law enforcement agency had a more controversial and negative reputation among Mexican Americans than the Texas Rangers. Only a year earlier the Rangers had ruthlessly suppressed a strike in the Rio Grande Valley by arresting hundreds of farm workers, with no pretext other than the fact that the farm workers were being unionized by Chavez’s United Farm Workers. The Rangers’ reputation for intimidation, harassment, and violence, however, had not been acquired in contemporary times, but rather had been developing since the mid-1800s. When first summoned, Allee refused to attend. He claimed that his life had been threatened, and he blamed MAYO for those threats. Gutierrez responded by challenging Allee to come and face the commission and many of his former victims and other Chicanos who were not afraid of him. Allee replied that if they had any guts, “they would face me in my own home.” Gutierrez rebutted that MAYO would meet Allee “anywhere and on any terms” and then called him an animal. An infuriated Allee shot back that he would be there but with an escort of Texas Rangers. When Allee arrived in San Antonio, he was met by hundreds of young MAYO-led Chicanos from across the state who had surrounded the auditorium where the commission was meeting. The Texas Rangers and their leader were forced by the crowd to enter the proceedings through the back door, and once inside, Allee was grilled by commission members who knew of his past activities. MAYO came out of the confrontation looking like an organization of valiant youths willing to face danger for their Raza. The event signaled, they maintained, the end of subservience to the gringo. These confrontational tactics brought a stern reaction from both Anglo and mainstream Mexican American politicians, as well as editorial writers from the state’s newspapers. Said one newspaper [San Antonio Express and News] editorialist in describing MAYO members: “[they are] a handful of apparently frustrated young men who have yet to discover their goals… . Meantime racism gets a new fuel at a time when nearly everybody else is trying to move in another direction.” Texas Governor Preston Smith did more than talk. He ordered VISTA volunteers to leave Val Verde County after county commissioners there accused MAYO of creating racial tension. In ordering the program ended, Smith said: “The abdication 10 o SEPTEMBER 1, 1989 ,
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