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Batallon Matamoros Texas State Library & Archives Commission Batallon Guerrero Texas State Library & Archives Commission embassy officer Alan Smiley had contacts throughout the Mexican bureaucracy and he was eventually able to locate the flag itself. It was being housed in the basement of the National Institute of Archaeology and History \(INAH, as it is known Smiley’s “operatives” was even able to get in to see the flag and to assess its condition, which was not good. At the same time a plan of sorts was being developed about how best to approach the Mexican bureaucracy. Early on the decision was made to cut a wide detour around the foreign ministry, on the theory that the Mexican diplomatic service would not be helpful at the best of times: the foreign ministry was apparently under a new, American-bashing management. “Rosario Green, the new Secretary of Foreign Relations,” Smiley wrote to librarian Martin in early 1998, “is very nationalistic and at least a little ‘anti-gringo’ \(although I see this project coming to a dead standstill when it hits SRE [the Secretariat of Foreign Relations] unless it already has a lot of forward momentum behind it.” The decision was made, then, to restrict Texas’ approaches to officials of the Mexican national archives. Smiley found, however, that the response even at this level was not warm. A series of letters was written, composed at the Capitol in Austin and reviewed for Spanish grammar and Latin sensibilities by Smiley at the Embassy in Mexico City. The result was nada. The lack of response was particularly troubling, because Alan Smiley’s tour of duty in Mexico was coming to an end, and he would no longer be able to assist in regaining the flag that his famed ancestor had died for. As Smiley’s time in Mexico approached an end, the Embassy official wrote to Martin in Austin: “I will draft another letter to INAH for your review. We may want to say that you are perplexed for not having received a response to your offer, especially since you had understood that there was a definite interest in preserving these artifacts of the past. I would then suggest that we give INAH only about two more weeks to respond. If no answer is forthcoming at that time, I propose that personally to find out how HE would like to see this issue advance. There is a tremendous risk in this latter approach. A visit from an Embassy official is very likely to get an all-or-nothing response; the door could close and stay closed for years to come. “On the other hand, as it now appears that I’ll be concluding my tour in Mexico as early as the end of April, now may be the time to push the issue. Since we are no longer receiving Congressional inquiries on this issue and since you are unlikely to find another Embassy officer with as great a personal interest in these artifacts, support from the Embassy will probably dwindle significantly after my departure. For this reason, I think we should consider ‘going for broke’ if there is no response to your next letter.” There was no response, and the Texans began to pressure their Mexican counterparts for a face-to-face meeting. “Most of the appointments that I was able to set up,” according to Smiley, “were cancelled at the last moment due to any number of excuses.” But eventually the Mexicans were tied down to an exact date, in February 1998, and Martin, together with Carolyn Palmer, a prominent San Antonio Republican and a former museum administrator, who serves as chairwoman of the State of Texas’ board of historical archives, flew south. “We have pursued the matter very quietly, working with the Secretary of State’s office. We [had] conferred with the governor’s office, who encouraged us to pursue [the effort],” Martin said in later, unpublicized testimony before a committee of the Texas Senate. “We went down for two days in Mexico City. We met with the national archivists. We met with the deputy director of the Instituto Nacional [of Anthropology and History]. They were very gracious and very polite but the net bottom result was that I came away with the distinct message that they are completely uninterested in even discussing any trade or sale or repatriation or anything else.” Ms. Palmer was of the same opinion. “We got the idea,” she testified, “that they felt like they were taking quite good enough care of the flag and they intended to keep it.” Alan Smiley, more experienced in Mexican affairs and customs than either Martin or Ms. Palmer, described the Texans’ reception by Mexican officials as “rude by Latino standards.” “Latin Americans in general, I have learned,” Smiley \(who before joining the State Department was an Army intelligence officer serving south of the to highjack the flag, “are suspicious of conspiracies. Mexicans in .particular are gravely suspicious of anything and everything the United States says or does, no matter how slight the perceived impact on the interests of Mexico.” 10 THE TEXAS OBSERVER JULY 21, 2000