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Jose Angel Gutierrez at the Capitol, circa 1971 believe this that he, along with a few others whom he would call “Chicanos” are now proposing that the Mexican Congress delegate seats to representatives of the Mexican American people. The ultimate term in the Gutierrez lexicon is, of course, “Chicano.” “To be Chicano,” he says in his memoir, “is to be a militant nationalist and have a plan to build Aztlan.” To understand what “Aztlan” means to Gutierrez, one must look at the differences between Anglo and Mexican culture. Culture. Gutierrez nowhere attempts to define Anglo culture and Mexican-American culture in contrasting or exclusionary terms, and that’s probably impossible. But he presumes that the difference is known to the reader, and is evident even in what seem to be casual observations and reminiscences. For example, he writes that when his father, a Crystal City physician, died, “the Anglo social doors in Cristal [as “Crystal” is spelled in Spanish] shut tightly on us.” The evidence of his claim is that, “The annual Christmas baskets of fruit from Anglo employers whose laborers my Dad had cured stopped coming; the occasional boxes of chocolate from the local pharmacist and the pharmaceutical salesmen stopped altogether.” From an Anglo reading my initial reading his evidence falls short. Holiday gifts to business associates, in both Mexico and the United States, are a form of kickback, as the wags would say. We commonly treat them as business expenses, because they are tax-deductible in the United States. Our reasoning implies that when a business associate dies, the justification for tax-deductible gifts die, too. In Mexico, business gifts perhaps once had a different meaning, as the protocol for their refusal still shows. No American recipient will offend a donor by declining to accept a business gift. There can be legitimate reasons for refusal, company or government policy or such, we believe. But in gift is to give insult. By tradition, it is also not good form to respect an individual, like Dr. Gutierrez, while remaining indifferent to his kin even if one doesn’t know the family. Business gifts may be kickbacks, but in Mexico they are more nearly kickbacks to a family, than to an individual. What Gutierrez is saying, in mentioning this autobiographical detail, is that we gringos are money-mad destroyers of the family tie. The creation of Aztlan is needed, at the very least, in order to shield Mexican culture from American extinction, Gutierrez believes. Aztlan was the name given by the ancient Aztecs to the land north of Mexico City from which legend said they had come. Agitators like Gutierrez turned Aztlan into a slogan, a cause, a goal. In his memoir, he defends General Santa Anna and the murderous former President Luis Echeverria alike. Whatever their political errors, they headed the government that was the safe house of Mexican culture, while American presidents, however politically legitimate, were culturally hostile, he says. Gutierrez has never repudiated a nationalist goal: either independence for the geographic region in which “Mexican Americans” are a majority a larger share of Texas with every passing day or the return of Aztlan to Mexican sovereignty. Tactics: Gutierrez and Raza did not merely win elections in the party’s base in Zavala County: they took power. As Raza’s leader, he was a strategist who believed that winning was everything, and his book is filled with tips for grassroots organizing. Perhaps its most useful sections are excerpts from an organizer’s diary that he kept during the 1969 school walkout at Crystal City, the action which inspired the takeover of Zavala County and the rise of Raza. devotion to victory can be disconcerting. During the walkout, the school board at Cristal issued a statement asking students to return to class. Its statement also called for a meeting with parents. Gutierrez says 28 THE TEXAS OBSERVER DECEMBER 10, 1999