American Latino Theme Study: Intellectual Traditions

Envisioning and Re-visioning the Nation: Latino Intellectual Traditions

Leonor Villegas de Magnon, Recovering the U.S. Hispanic Literary Heritage Project


This American Latino Theme Study essay discusses 19th and 20th century Latino intellectuals and their thoughts and writings about nationality, citizenship, disenfranchisement of women, nation building, and democracy.

by Nicolás Kanellos

Latinos have resided in North America since before the arrival of northern Europeans at Jamestown and Plymouth. They already lived in lands that became English colonies and later the states of the early American Republic. Of course, their largest populations dwelled in what became the southern and western U.S., Mexico, and the Caribbean, most of which would be conquered and/or bought by the expanding U.S. during the second half of the 19th century. Whether before or after their incorporation into U.S. territory, the people that would in the future be called "Latinos" or "Hispanics" had a rich intellectual history, having introduced the first written European language, book culture, and universities to the hemisphere. They pondered and wrote about all of the cultural and scientific themes that we think of as part of the occidental tradition. They continued this rich intellectual tradition in the lands that became part of the U.S.

Over the course of U.S. history, Latinos thought about, struggled with, and wrote about the major philosophic and political themes of 19th and early 20th centuries nation building: 1) the meaning and implementation of democracy, especially through establishment of a liberal republic; 2) their democratic and cultural rights under U.S. dominion; 3) their growing sense of nationhood; and 4) the particular challenges of slavery and disenfranchisement of women in a democratic republic that had yet to realize its ideals.

From the very outset, Latinos thought about and expressed their opinions, penned and published philosophical, humanistic, scientific, and political discussions on all of the major topics that today we consider as part of the national intellectual heritage of the U.S. They did so through speeches in the public arena, books and periodicals, and in the classroom; in fact, the earliest schools on the continent were missionary schools run by the Spanish friars, and the earliest presses and newspapers in the West and Southwest were Spanish-language publications. While below we mention only a few individuals who made an impact on the spread of intellectual thought, these thinkers and activists were not alone in developing, articulating, and publishing the important ideas; rather, they were members of communities of thinkers, writers, and political activists who helped them hone their ideas. Indeed, it would take volumes to chart adequately the full development of Latino thought; thus, this essay is just an initial foray into a rich and complex intellectual history. The traditional Anglo- or Euro-centric history of the U.S. has consistently ignored Latino intellectual history; however, today, this intellectual tradition, like that of other ethnic and minority groups and women, is integral to achieving a full understanding of our development as a nation.

The contributions of Latinos to the civilization of the Americas, including what later would become U.S. life and culture, begins during the period of exploration and colonization and includes such legacies of American life as technologies of farming, ranching, mining, natural resource management, etc., most of which can be attributed to the mestizo culture (mixed European, African, and Native American) that arose not only south of today's border but also in the lands that would become the U.S. The starting point for this essay, however, will properly be the U.S. shortly after winning its independence from the British Empire and its establishment of a new form of government.

Since the days of the early American Republic, Latino intellectuals have struggled to: 1) export to their countries of origin the democratic ideas learned from the speeches of the U.S. "founding fathers" and the texts of the Declaration of Independence, the Federalist Papers, and the American Constitution; and 2) demand the implementation of these lofty concepts among minorities and the disenfranchised within the boundaries of the American Republic. At first, these intellectuals from throughout the Americas, from as far away as the Rio de la Plata and Peru idealistically flocked to Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Boston to acquire this knowledge, translate it, and smuggle it in to the various regions of New Spain in order to prepare for their independence from "the mother country" and create an ideological foundation on which to establish their own republics. The largest number of these political thinkers were drawn to Philadelphia at the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th centuries, not only because it was, at that time, the capital of the U.S., but also because numerous printers were available who, for competitive fees, made "freedom of the press" a reality for the Spaniards and Spanish American creoles (criollos) whose mission it was to adapt U.S. democratic and republican principles to political texts that would be smuggled into the Caribbean and as far south as the Rio de la Plata.

The Struggle for Independence and Democracy

The first of the Spanish colonies to proclaim (1810) and later gain (1821) its independence was Mexico, and numerous Mexican founding revolutionaries studied the ideas emanating from the young U.S. More importantly for our essay, the seeds of an independent Texas and the first cradle of a "Latino" culture were broadcast from Philadelphia and sown in Texas soil precisely by one of those translators and disseminators of liberal democratic ideals: José Alvarez de Toledo (1779-1858). A creole born in Cuba and educated for a career as an officer in the Spanish navy, Alvarez de Toledo was named to the Spanish Congress in Exile (Cortes) to represent Santo Domingo during the Napoleonic occupation of Spain. Associating with the other liberal representatives from the Americas and participating in underground societies that discussed the new ideas and forms of government emanating from the U.S., Alvarez de Toledo conspired with revolutionaries and went into exile in Philadelphia, where he plotted with many other such co-conspirators who had migrated there from as far away as Peru. Through newspaper articles, political pamphlets, and fiery speeches, Alvarez de Toledo voiced such ideas as: "Sixteen million inhabitants occupying this delicious Continent are never represented in the eyes of the Government and Rulers in Europe, except as a horde of miserable slaves who must blindly obey whatever they are ordered to, and in profound silence kiss those same chains that they have dragged since the time of Cortez and Pizarro. [1]

Alvarez de Toledo's particular contribution to the liberation of the Americas was to help organize an invasion of Texas and undergird it with the ideology of liberal democracy. In 1811, he published a fiery broadside, Mexicanos, llegado es el tiempo señalado por la Providencia para que sacudáis el yugo bárbaro..., calling for Mexican Independence, basing it not only on the rights of man and language similar to the U.S. Declaration of Independence, but also presciently postulating an indigenous identity for Mexicans, and by extension all Spanish Americans:

Mexicans: the time signaled by Providence has arrived for you to shuck off the barbarous and insulting yoke that the most insolent of despotisms has ignominiously forced upon you for some three hundred years. Now that the Cadiz government has obliged you to continue dragging the same chains used by the kings of Spain to imprison you, those kings who had no authority over you except what you allowed them in governing you [...]I advise you, oh illustrious children of the famous Montezuma, do not sheath your swords until you have established order and gained complete freedom for your country.[2]

It may seem unlikely that Alvarez de Toledo, or anyone else, for that matter, would be issuing manifestos to Mexicans, on the rights of the governed to select their governors, from as far away as Philadelphia at that time. However, this was precisely when Alvarez de Toledo was conspiring with José Bernardo Gutiérrez de Lara (1774-1841), a blacksmith from Revilla on the Rio Grande River, to get support from American government and business interests for the invasion of Texas. Gutiérrez actually took copies of the manifesto with him to distribute during the invasion of his force, made up mainly of Anglo-American mercenaries and adventurers. In addition, Alvarez penned another pamphlet, El Amigo de los hombres (The Friend of Man), that was distributed by Gutiérrez and his forces. Subsequently, Alvarez recruited a printer and a U.S. government filibuster, and went down to Nacogdoches, Texas, where he wrote and typeset Texas' first newspaper, La Gaceta de Texas (1813) in La Casa Piedra (Old Stone House). The Alvarez/Gutiérrez de Lara mission succeeded in overcoming the royalist forces for about a year, during which time a constitution was written for Texas, but the bloody counterattack of the Spanish effectively ended that first Texas republic.

Texican (Anglo-Texan) and Tejano (Mexican-Texan) citizens finally won their independence, not from Spain, but from a newly independent Mexico in 1836. In fact, it was a Mexican intellectual, who had participated earlier in writing Mexico's constitution and served in its congress, who became the lead writer of the constitution and first laws of the Texas Republic: Lorenzo de Zavala (1788-1836), the first vice president of Texas. Years of turmoil between liberals and conservatives followed Mexican independence, and the liberal Zavala was forced into exile in 1830. He subsequently took the opportunity to travel throughout the American Republic and examine firsthand U.S. life, laws, and culture. In 1834, he published his book Viaje a los Estados Unidos del Norte América (Journey to the United States of North America), not only preceding Alexis de Tocqueville's celebrated Democracy in America (1835), but offering a differing and often more insightful view of American democracy.

Zavala was ambivalent, nevertheless, about what he saw and how it applied to Mexico; he wrote that the Mexicans had followed too closely ("serviley") the U.S. example. In essence, Zavala, as an early transnational figure, had the vantage point of comparing both the American and Mexican cultures, and their systems of laws and governance as part of his mission to promote Mexican nationhood. He wanted to bring to the fore the best of both worlds; at the end of his book, he exhorts the Mexicans to create their own nationhood precisely by choosing from both traditions. I would argue that Zavala would play out this particular role in his contribution to the Texas constitution. Further, I would argue, that this incipient biculturalism–after all, the Texas constitution was bilingual, as were the constitutions of the other southwestern states to be founded after 1848–was of particular benefit to the life and culture not only of Texas but, eventually, of the U.S. as a whole.

In writing the Mexican constitution, Zavala had advocated a liberal, federalist government as opposed to a centralist government, one of the main issues that would later drive the Tejanos and Texicans to rebel against Santa Anna's centralized, despotic rule. He also not only advocated for property rights for the indigenous peoples and for the rights of mestizos in Mexico, but also led the effort to abolish slavery.[3] Zavala moved to the northern Mexican province of Texas in hopes of fashioning a utopia,[4] one where biculturation (a 21st-century term) would help mediate the culture and politics of both Mexico and the U.S. What Zavala and his fellow drafters of the Texas constitution did, in fact, was select what was most convenient and comfortable for them from the laws of both Mexico and the U.S.

Latino Contributions to American Law

Spanish/Mexican laws, thus, passed into the Texas Republic and, subsequently into the State of Texas in 1850; they include many laws dealing with water usage, protection of the homestead, a single court system, and the definition of families and their members' rights; specifically covering areas where Anglo-American law was seen as deficient. Aside from the many laws that govern property and water rights; the most taken for granted but far-reaching are the laws regarding families. The Spanish legal concept of community property was codified in the Texas Republic and later in its state laws, but eventually came to be a basic tenet for all of the U.S.; under Anglo-American law, property belonged exclusively to the husband and, upon his death, the wife only had life interest in one-third of his property. Furthermore, the Latino concept of common-law marriage also passed into Texas law. Some scholars believe that even the right to file a joint tax return derives from the community property concept.[5]

Numerous other concepts of Spanish/Mexican family law were incorporated into the legal code of Texas, and eventually made their way into the State of Texas and other states. Children issuing from common-law marriage had to be treated as legitimate and could inherit the property of either or both parents. Adopted children, likewise, would have all the rights of biological children, but they could still claim rights from their biological parents. Entire books have now been written on the Hispanic legal concepts that today inform U.S. laws, but few of these treatises have recognized the intellectuals like Zavala who foresaw and began pioneering the concept of a bicultural American nation that would facilitate this type of legal mestizaje.

From U. S. Shores, Latinos Lead Caribbean Independence Movements

While Zavala was working on a constitution for a newly independent Mexico, in the northeast U.S., Latinos from the Caribbean were still struggling for their independence from Spain. The longest lasting independence movement in the hemisphere was that of Spain's Caribbean colonies, Cuba, and Puerto Rico, and much of their independence struggle and nation-building was to be plotted, funded, and written about from U.S. shores. Like their Spanish American predecessors in Philadelphia, the Cubans and Puerto Ricans were learning all they could from their American hosts while, like Gutiérrez de Lara and Alvarez de Toledo before them, they too would seek the sponsorship and finances of American government officials and commercial backers.

One of Cuba's first and most illustrious exiles was the philosopher-priest Félix Varela (1788-1853), who founded El Habanero newspaper in Philadelphia in 1824 and moved it to New York in 1825. Subtitled "political, scientific and literary paper," El Habanero openly militated for Cuban independence from Spain. Varela set the precedent for Cubans and Puerto Ricans of printing and publishing in exile and having their works circulating in their home islands. Varela was also among the expatriates who were actively translating American liberalism and government organization, as in his 1826 translation and annotation of Thomas Jefferson's Manual de práctica parlamentaria: para el uso del Senado de los Estados Unidos (Manuel of Parlamentary Practice: for Use in the United States Senate). Varela's own writings on philosophy and education, most of which were published in the U.S., were said to be the only "best sellers" in Cuba, and Varela himself the most popular author there, despite the existence of a "conspiracy of silence" in which his name could never even be brought up in public on the island.[6] That Varela would launch El Habanero and other Cubans and Puerto Ricans would continue the exile press in New York, Philadelphia, New Orleans, Key West, and Tampa is remarkable, given the scant tradition of newspaper publishing on these islands under Spanish government control and censorship.

Despite his revolutionary writing, his plotting with filibusters, and political organizing; Varela never lived to see Cuba liberated and independent. He became Americanized, doing social work among Irish immigrants in New York, and contributing his theological and philosophical thought to the American Catholic Church and beyond. Varela was raised in St. Augustine, the Spanish colony of East Florida, before it was purchased by the U.S. He received his advanced education and was ordained as a priest in Havana and, by 1822, was considered Cuba's foremost philosopher. Varela promoted in speeches and publications his concept of liberal democracy as God-given rights of man, which led him to become a target of the Spanish authorities. Like Alvarez, he also was elected to the Spanish Cortes, where he advocated freedom of the Spanish colonies and the abolition of slavery. When King Ferdinand VII returned to the throne on the withdrawal of the French from Spain, Varela was prohibited from returning to Cuba and went into exile in the U.S. in 1823. From Philadelphia and New York, he continued militating for independence and the abolition of slavery. Varela worked at various churches in the city, becoming a leading ecumenist and, notably, heading up campaigns against alcoholism at least a decade before Father Theobald Mathew began to administer "the pledge" to American congregations in 1849. From the 1830s onward, Varela edited magazines for Catholic children and adults, of which the works for children became the textbooks for a Catholic education within the U.S. Varela dedicated himself to preparing the infrastructure as well as social and political legitimacy of the Catholic Church in the U.S.; he sought to ground the faith in the American virtues of freedom and democracy. Varela retired in St. Augustine in 1850 and died there in 1853.

The Struggle for Human and Civil Rights

Varela's mid-century death coincides more or less with the waning of Latin American idealism regarding the practice of liberal democracy in the U.S. From the beginning of the 19th century, the young American Republic had engaged in an expansionist program that resulted in the often-forced incorporation of formerly Hispanic lands into what was obviously becoming an American empire. From Florida to Louisiana to Texas and culminating with the Mexican War that wrenched away and incorporated into the U.S. the northern half of Mexico's sovereign territory, American expansionism was undergirded by the colonialist superiority of the Monroe Doctrine and the messianic racism of Manifest Destiny. Now Latinos both inside and outside the U.S. feared for their rights and sovereignty while still struggling to make democracy a reality for themselves as newly declared American citizens in the South and Southwest, and as newly independent republics south of the border.

Spanish-language newspapers from New York to Los Angeles became the sounding board for grievances against racial and religious discrimination against the Hispanics, who were now American citizens, while at the same time railing against the filibustering and imperialistic gaze that Uncle Sam was focusing on other parts of Mexico and Central America. That gaze would eventually lead to incorporating Cuba, Panama, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands as American colonies and repeated military intervention in the Dominican Republic. American economic expansion and foreign policy continuously produced the migration of more and more people from these areas to work in the fields and factories of the U.S. Latino labor was to become just another commodity imported, like the agricultural products and raw materials being exploited and imported by American companies. After the Civil War and the abolition of slavery in the U.S., American agribusiness and railroad construction firms intensified their importation of cheap labor while at the same time converting the resident Mexican population of the Southwest into a proletariat.

One of the first Latino intellectuals to link the internal and external effects of American expansionism and ideologies of racial superiority was Francisco P. Ramírez (1837-1908), born in Los Angeles when it was still part of Mexico. Like many other Latinos on the East Coast and in the Southwest, he was proud to become an American and looked forward to the blessings bestowed by the Constitution and Bill of Rights. In 1855, when he was still a teenager, he founded El Clamor Público (The Public Outcry). As the editorialist for the newspaper, he encouraged Spanish-speakers to learn English, study the American Constitution, and exercise their franchise. He repeatedly demanded that the authorities honor the Bill of Rights, as well as the safeguards for property and cultural rights codified in the 1848 peace treaty with Mexico, but his indignation grew as the civil and property rights of Californios were not being protected. Instead, he observed widespread discrimination and the Californios being despoiled of their lands and subjected to vigilante justice in what he called a "lynchocracy." He challenged the ideology of Manifest Destiny and its link to American imperialism with its genocidal tendencies; unlike Anglo-American editors in the West, he never called for the control and extermination of Native Americans. He was also disillusioned that slavery continued to exist in the U.S., despite the lofty ideals espoused in the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights.

Over the course of the five years he published El Clamor Público, Ramírez achieved a level of social and political analysis that one would think well beyond his age and experience and even beyond what Latino intellectuals in Texas, the eastern seaboard, and much of Spanish America were concluding at this time. He became one of the first Latinos in history to analyze U.S. imperial expansion and the threat it represented to all of Latin America–and he linked this external threat to the Latin America to the oppression he and his people faced as a new minority within the U.S. This he achieved by reading some 50 newspapers a week in three languages as he was trilingual–Spanish, English, and French–delivered by steam ship to Los Angeles from throughout South and Central America, as well as coming west via stage coach. In this analysis, he anticipated by decades José Martí's concept of living "in the belly of the beast" and Martí's call for identifying and solidifying "Nuestra América" (Our America). Ramírez came to consider his community in the Southwest a part of "Hispano-América"; whereas when he started his newspaper his mission had been to defend the native Californios, over time he realized that his mission was to defend all hispanoamericanos. By the time he shuttered the paper, he had developed a transnational consciousness even to the extent of promoting Pan Hispanism. Ramírez continually crossed borders, territorially as well as culturally and politically, in his search for community and nation. It was an odyssey that led him to embrace the broadest Latin American constituency.

In his June 6, 1858 masterly essay, Ramírez passionately integrated his vision of hispanos within and outside the borders of the U.S.: the land of Washington and Franklin, where at every juncture human rights as well as the natural way people live are violated, and the sovereignty of nations is invaded. The recent conquests effected in Mexico, dismembering half of the national territory, the scandalous events in Central America, the unjust initiatives against the natives of Panama in New Granada (Colombia), the protests from Las Aves Island in Venezuela, the Galapagos in Ecuador and Lobris in Peru, the initiatives against the Antilles, be they through force of arms or through separatist movements, which in the language of morality spoken by nations is the ultimate expression of ignominy, etc. is a compendium of maps outlined in the over-abundant imagination of the Great Federal Republic, which will extend down to Buenos Aires if its course of conquest is not blocked. Is that fusion of peoples and languages, customs and religions a practical base on which to establish one lone people made up of one hundred different nations, absorbing the Latin states and broadening continental democracy to the detriment of its neighbors' interests? No, a thousand times, no is the people's cry and, no, a thousand times no is the echo repeated by all the descendants of Gonzalo de Córdoba and El Cid against this pernicious tendency protected by its laws and principles; each hispano-americano, like an eternal Hannibal everywhere, will fight to avenge the rapine and usurpation of their fatherland ...[7]

Similar sentiments to Ramírez's print-journalism were consistently expressed in the fiction written by the first Mexican American to write novels in the English language: María Amparo Ruiz de Burton. A well-to-do southern California landholder, married to as U.S. Army officer, Ruiz de Burton wrote under a pseudonym, "C. Loyal," that revealed neither her ethnicity nor her gender–her correspondence reveals her life-long opprobrium of societal limits on women. Her romance, Who Would Have Thought It? (1872) deconstructed racial and gender relations in the northeast U.S. during the era of the Civil War and her novel, The Squatter and the Don (1885), documents how the railroad monopolies and the banks colluded to deprive the Californios of their lands. Like Ramírez, she was able to relate the U.S. westward expansion to its imperialist designs on Latin America. As Rosaura Sánchez states, "the space of fiction allowed the writer to address the rhetoric of liberal democracy and denounce not only imperialist practices abroad but colonialist, classist, racist, and nativist policies at home."[8]

In perception that seems contemporary to us today, Ruiz de Burton indicted monopolies and corporations for the power they held over legislatures and Congress. She also criticized racial and cultural discrimination, even among the abolitionists of the North. In Who Would Have Thought It?, Ruiz de Burton subtly allegorized "the fall of a romantic conception of politics and the unmasking of liberal/democratic ideologies."[9] Thus while attacking the real-life perversion of the nation's democratic ideals, Ruiz de Burton was already reflecting the disenchantment that was becoming widespread among Latino and Latin American intellectuals who had first wholeheartedly embraced the exceptionalism and leadership of the U.S. as a true liberal democracy.

Obviously, Ramírez and Ruiz de Burton were able to achieve a bicultural perspective not only because of their cultural and linguistic experiences, but also because they were living on the frontier where two world views were clashing, revealing to them the betrayal of the "American" ideals and protections written into the nation's founding documents. Another longtime resident, who benefited from the perspectives gained from living inside and outside of the American Republic was José Martí, who came to be the most revered thinker in the Spanish-speaking world.

Through tireless organizational efforts in New York, Tampa, Key West, and New Orleans, through fund-raising and lobbying of tobacco workers, and through penning and delivering eloquent political speeches, and publishing a variety of essays in Spanish and English, José Martí was the Latin American quintessential intellectual "man of action," simultaneously becoming a leading figure in Spanish American literary Modernism.

Born on January 28, 1853, in Havana, Cuba, and inheritor of the example of Varela, Martí lived for more than 14 years in exile in the U.S. and invested his life in the cause of Cuban independence from Spain, as well as attempting to create a basis for Spanish American solidarity and identity and present a united front against the threat of the U.S., most eloquently represented in his essay, "Nuestra América." In New York, Martí published a newspaper, Patria (Fatherland), as a forum for the Cuban revolutionary movement and for his warnings against American expansionism, capitalism, unmasking monopoly, and demystifying liberal democracy,[10]among many other topics. "Far from the melting pot," he explains, "the U.S. is a divided nation, a place of conflict and hatred on the basis of region, class and race/ethnicity; here freedom is not equally shared," and democracy is corrupted and weakened.[11]

It was Martí's extensive travels throughout the U.S., observing its inner dynamics and its Native American and Afro-American minority cultures, as well as his trips through the southern hemisphere, that led him to create an overall vision of life in the New World and the need for hispanos both within and outside "the belly of the beast," the term that he coined for the U.S. empire, to stand firm and preserve their continental identity and sovereignty. Like all of his predecessors mentioned above, Martí was incensed by racism in both Latin America and the U.S. He traveled extensively in the Jim Crow South and reported on segregation and lynchings of blacks. His influential essays, "Mi Raza"[12] and "Nuestra América," envision a future without the separation of races and the vestiges of slavery.

It was Martí's close associate, the Afro-Puerto Rican Arturo Alfonso Schomburg (1874-1938), however, who contributed the most depth and understanding of the African racial heritage, not only in the Americas, but also in the world. With only a high school education obtained after moving to New York in 1891, Schomburg became the secretary of the Cuban and Puerto Rican revolutionary organization, Las Dos Antillas (The Two Antilles); he was also the secretary for Latino Masonic lodges. After the war with Spain, he became heavily involved in the African American community of New York. Schomburg soon became the greatest bibliographer of the African diaspora to that point, wrote books and articles, and amassed the world's largest, multilingual library dealing with African culture in the U.S., the hemisphere, and the world. The knowledge he collected, analyzed, and disseminated has been seen as one of the catalytic elements of the Harlem Renaissance cultural movement before World War II. Many Afro-Caribbeans had been stigmatized by race in both the islands and on U.S. soil, but Schomburg proudly identified himself as a Negro and was accepted as a leader among African American artists and intellectuals. In 1920, he became president of the prestigious American Negro Academy, and today, his extensive collection of African diaspora materials form the core of the New York Public Library's Division of Negro Literature, History, and Prints. Schomburg once wrote that, "History must restore what slavery took away from the Negro, his glorious past to act as stimulation for inspiration for him. Pride of race is the antidote for prejudice."

Defining Modern Colonialism and Imperialism

Once Cuba and Puerto Rico became colonies of the U.S., the struggle for democratic rights by Cubans and Puerto Ricans both on the islands and on the continent continued, now focused against racial oppression on the continent and freedom and independence on the islands. In the 20th century, it was an Afro-Puerto Rican who brought the nationalist struggle to the forefront of American consciousness: Pedro Albizu Campos (1891-1965). In the tradition of the passionate and eloquent orators, such as Martí, Albizu Campos through his speeches,[13] writings, and organizational leadership became one of the most influential Puerto Rican political figures in the 20th century. He reinvigorated the independence movement and became an outspoken critic of racial discrimination both in Puerto Rico and on the continent. A Harvard-educated lawyer who had served in the U.S. Army during World War I, he became a member of the Nationalist Party in Puerto Rico and, in 1930, he assumed the presidency of the party. Under his direction, the party supported labor organizing and helped win various strikes, but official suppression intensified even to the extent of a massacre by police in 1935, and, in 1936, the killing of various leaders and the arrest of Albizu Campos for breaking U.S. sedition laws. He was imprisoned at the federal penitentiary in Atlanta until 1943, and his U.S. citizenship was revoked; nevertheless, when released he returned to leadership of the party. He was arrested once again, in 1950, when the nationalists attacked the residence of President Harry S Truman, but his sentence was suspended in 1953, only to be renewed in 1954 when the nationalists shot up the House of Representatives; he remained a prisoner, although one who had suffered a massive stroke and was hospitalized, until his death in 1965.

In such essays and speeches as "Observations on the Brookings Institute Report,"[14] Albizu Campos indicted the despotism of the U.S. and its puppets within the colony's ruling class, he protested absentee landlords and the lack of self determination of the Puerto Ricans; he indicted the military presence on the island, the imposition of a foreign language and its exclusive use in education, as well as a betrayal of American democratic ideals in its imperial relationship with Puerto Rico. Albizu Campos equated the status of Puerto Rico to enslavement by the U.S., echoing his personal heritage of being a descendant of slaves, which led to him being an outspoken enemy of racism. His speech in Lares, September 1950, eloquently stated this concept:

One cannot give a speech while the newborn of our country are dying of hunger, while the adolescents of our country are being poisoned with the worst virus, slavery. While the adults of our homeland must leave Lares (their hometown) and don't even have exit to foreign countries different from the enemy power that binds us. They must go to the U.S. to be slaves of economic powers, of the tyrants of our country, they are the slaves who go to Michigan out of need, to be scorned and outraged and kicked. One cannot give a speech easily while this tyrant has the power to tear sons out of the hearts of Puerto Rican mothers to go to Korea, into hell to be killed, to be the murderers of innocent Koreans ...[15]

In "Concept of Race,"[16] Albizu Campos negated the biological and phenotype definition of race to embrace the Spanish meaning of the term raza as a cultural uniting of the peoples of the world, as when through the discovery of America the bloodlines of the peoples of Europe, Africa, and the Western Hemisphere were blended into a cultural unity; this represented his hope that Latinos would be the example and harbinger of the elimination of racial distinctions and superiority. Albizu Campos added an extra step in the evolution of Martí's dream of racial understanding and integration.

Latinos Fight for Their Country and Return Home to Demand Their Civil Rights

While Albizu Campos was doing everything possible to break away from the U.S., another World War I veteran was struggling for integration and the implementation of civil rights for his people: Alonso S. Perales (1898-1960), in San Antonio, Texas. Perales was among the veterans returning from both world wars, where they had received the most casualties and earned the most medlas for valor, to demand the rights they were netitled to as American citizens. A grassroots activist and lawyer, Perales and other veterans such as José Luz Saenz founded and led various civil rights organizations, but both are best remembered for being co-founders in 1929 of the League of United Latin American Citizens, the civil rights organization that is still active today and counts numerous chapters throughout the U.S. and Puerto Rico. An indefatigable orator and writer for more than 50 years, Perales published newspaper columns, had a radio broadcast, and published three volumes of essays and speeches, besides maintaining an active life as an unpaid lobbyist for the advancement of Mexican Americans through fighting for their constitutional rights and education. Perales insisted that Mexican Americans should retain their culture while maintaining their American citizenship.[17] Perales led activists to participate in party politics and worked for the passage of bills in the Texas Legislature and Congress to outlaw discrimination based on race. He wrote demanding respect for Mexican American civil rights, an end to segregation and such abuses as lynchings–a plea that harkens back to Ramírez:

What we long for is the respect of our unalienable rights and privileges. We would like equality of opportunity in the various battlegrounds of life as well as before courts of justice. We would like for persons of Mexican descent in violation of the laws that govern the country to be tried before a competent Court of Justice and not to be lynched [...]We would like to go to a theater, a restaurant, dance hall, or any other establishment whose doors are wide open to the general public, whenever we feel like it. We do not want to be ousted, as is frequently done, with the mere excuse of our racial origin. In one word, we ask for justice and the opportunity to prosper.[18]

Perales' groundbreaking work as an activist and thinker, who largely influenced Mexican American thought through his Spanish-language columns, editorials, and letters in San Antonio's La Prensa and other periodicals, influenced academic thought through his frequent correspondence with Professor Carlos Castañeda, a historian credited with creating groundwork for the recovery of history, the opening up of educational opportunity for Latinos, and creating an intellectual basis for the Chicano Movement of the 1960s. Many of the leaders of the movement, such as José Angel Gutiérrez, first encountered the research of Castañeda, as well as that of Américo Paredes, in their university classes. Of the four most recognized movement leaders–Gutiérrez, Reies López Tijerina, Rodolfo "Corky" Gonzales, and César Chávez–only Gutiérrez disseminated his thought on a wide scale through print. It was another movement leader, often unheralded because of the male-oriented politics of Chicano nationalism, who in reality became both a spokesperson and critic of the nationalist politics of the Mexican American civil rights movement of the 1960s and early '70s: Enriqueta Vásquez (1930-). Vásquez was one of the first of a strong cohort of Latina feminists who for the next few decades would define and articulate women's rights as being just as important as the larger Latino community's overall struggle for legal, economic, educational, and cultural rights.

With the deep and varied experience of farm-worker poverty, spousal abuse, and eventually a few community college courses, Enriqueta Vásquez became one of the most influential voices to arise out of the Chicano Movement, precisely because of the passion and clarity of thought that characterized her weekly columns in the widely disseminated newspaper, El Grito del Norte (Shout from the North), that was published in Española, New Mexico, from 1968 to 1973. The widely read Vásquez was in the vanguard of developing a Chicano cultural nationalism that sought to reclaim the indigenous past while countering the overwhelming pressure for conformity exercised by the Anglo-American mainstream. She was a tireless enemy of discrimination, racism, and sexism, while seeking to mediate feminism within a nationalist ideology. "Vásquez...funda-mentally accepted Chicano nationalism as a strategy of struggle for raza liberation and self-determination. She was convinced that cultural nationalism did not have to be a restrictive and constraining ideology for women. Rather, she criticized how the male construction of cultural nationalism equated tradition with women's subordination.[19]

Through denunciation and humor, nevertheless, Vás-quez crafted what scholar Lorena Oropeza has called "a unique pedagogy of hope."[20] Vásquez's perspective, like that of Ramírez, Ruiz de Burton, Martí, and Albizu Campos before her, was international, linking the Chicano struggle to nationalist movements around the world and among ethnic groups in the U.S., most importantly that of Native Americans. This was related to her promoting the myth of the Chicano homeland of Aztlán, dating back to the Aztecs. Aztlán "brought us back to our beginnings.... It gave us a myth.... This made us a tribe," she has stated.[21]

Democracy and Women's Suffrage

Enriqueta Vásquez's struggle to accord women their due place in the Mexican American civil rights movement was not unique. If the struggle to realize the promises of democracy and republican statehood was long and gave rise to much of the intellectual thought of Latinos in the U.S., the struggle for the rights of women was no less protracted nor intense, although for most of Latino history the struggle for women's suffrage and, after the vote was won, for enjoying all of the fruits of citizenship was often treated as subordinate to achieving political and civil rights in the movements headed by men. Even in the 19th century, the strong women who helped organize the Cuban and Puerto Rican independence movements, such as Emilia Casanova de Villaverde (1832-1897) and Lola Rodríguez de Tió (1843-1924), both of whom were conveners of revolutionaries and wrote for newspapers in New York, devoted most of their energies and writings in support of their countries' revolutions, often subordinating their desires for gender equity to the political necessities of the moment. Even Ruiz de Burton used a pseudonym and only openly addressed gender discrimination in her private correspondence.

Nevertheless, there were Latinas who assumed intellectual, creative, and activist roles at first within the areas assigned to women in publications and later in their own newspapers, magazines, and books. They were never as numerous as the thousands of males who wrote and were published, taking for granted their access to and domination of the means of intellectual and artistic production. Many of the women's names are lost to history because of the anonymity or pseudonymity that was part of their strategy for access; other names are only now being recovered, even though these women published side by side, on the same pages, or in the same periodicals, with males.

In the last two decades, the extensive English-language works of such native authors as María Amparo Ruiz de Burton, Jovita González, Cleofas Jaramillo, Adelina "Nina" Otero-Warren, among others all writing in English, have shown how each in her own way sought to preserve what they thought of as a "Spanish" past in the Southwest and even challenge the imposition of American culture and its political hegemony, if not directly contesting the American national myths, at least constructing equally valid–and equally fantastic and/or flawed–Latino myths of priority, civilized European roots and racial background. In the 20th century, Jaramillo, González, and Otero Warren attempted to salvage the remnants of Latino culture while often opposing the overwhelming cultural obliteration that attended Anglo-American migration to and domination of the Southwest. Through their cultivation at times of unconventional writing genres, such as cookbooks, personal narratives, and the re-telling of folklore, they offered a counter history to Manifest Destiny and proved that a worthy and legitimate civilization existed in the Southwest before Anglo-American expansion.

Among the most militant women to have graced American soil were the anarcho-syndicalists who participated in laying the foundations for the Mexican Revolution of 1910. Accompanying the male leaders of the insurrection into exile and participating in the founding and promoting of the Partido Liberal Mexicano (Mexican Liberal Party or PLM), Andrea and Teresa Villarreal, Sara Estela Ramírez, Blanca de Moncaleano, and Leonor Villegas de Magnón, just to name a few, created a space–what Emma Pérez calls, third-space feminism–for women in the articulation of the nation they were attempting to create through militant, revolutionary action.[22] These women were not just camp followers for the better-known revolutionaries that Mexico celebrates today as its founding fathers, but thinkers, speechmakers, and even frontline gun-wielding fighters. More importantly, each of those mentioned above accompanied their activism with a powerful record of journalism and, in the case of Villegas de Magnón, detailed memoirs of women's revolutionary activities. While their primary mission was the freeing of Mexico from an iron-fisted dictatorship and the creation of a just and open society in Mexico, their leadership on American soil influenced the existing labor movements and created a model of women's activism in the U.S.

Sisters Andrea (1881-1963) and Teresa Villarreal (1883-?) organized protests in the Southwest and published newspapers in support of the working people of the world and the overthrow of the Porfirio Díaz regime in Mexico. They wrote for the primary forum for the PLM, Regeneración (Regeneration) in Los Angeles, but also established and operated their own newspapers in San Antonio: Andrea's La Mujer Moderna (1909, The Modern Woman) and Teresa's El Obrero (The Worker), continuing to espouse anarchism in support of labor organizing. In the essay signed by both sisters, "¿Qué hacéis aquí hombres? Volad, volad al campo de batalla" (What are you doing here, men? Fly off, fly off to the battlefield), published in Regeneración on January 21, 1911, they base their call to arms for men in both the U.S. and Mexico on their mettle as women who fear not violence and death.

Another practitioner of this third-space feminism who, as a fervent anarchist, did not subscribe to nationalist projects and did not believe in social classes or borders, but nevertheless joined the PLM, was Colombian Blanca de Moncaleano (-1928). After years of activism in Bogotá, Colombia, where she and her anarchist-leader husband Juan Francisco Moncaleano ran the Casa del Obrero (Worker's House), she suffered political persecution and moved to Mexico during the first phase of the Mexican Revolution in 1911, but eventually made her way to Los Angeles with other anarchist ideologues. By 1913, Blanca de Moncaleano and her husband opened up and ran the Casa del Obrero Internacional (The International Workers' House) in Los Angeles, where she edited the women's anarchist newspaper Pluma Roja (Red Pen), which was known for its virile writing style, figuratively donning men's pants.[23] Pluma Roja was printed at the Casa on the same press as Regenración.

Beyond attacking patriarchal society, state, and the Church, Moncaleano was severely critical of revolutionary men not conscious of their own suppression and enslavement of women.[24]As would be expected, Moncaleano sought to break down the nationalist ideological linkage of woman to home, family, and to procreating the nation. In the June 13, 1914 edition of Regeneración, she wrote: "Do not forget that a woman has rights equal to those of a man. She is not on this earth only to procreate, to wash dishes, and to wash clothes."[25]

By the end of the 19th century, Laredo was a border crossing and rail terminus for Mexico and had become an important center for revolutionary and feminist organizing. Another PLM member who articulated gender and labor issues in her speeches and writing was Sara Estela Ramírez (1881-1910), who had immigrated to Laredo from Saltillo in 1898 at the age of 17 to teach school. She soon became an intellectual leader in the border town. Through her performance of her own poetry and her eloquently moving speeches, Ramírez promoted labor unions and addressed political issues in community meetings and labor rallies. She published articles in Laredo's La Crónica (The Chronicle) and El Demócrata Fronterizo (The Border Democrat) and, in 1910, began publishing her own newspaper, La Corregidora, named in honor of a heroine of Mexican independence. In 1910, she founded a short-lived literary magazine, Aurora; she died that same year, probably of tuberculosis.

It was another PLM co-conspirator in Laredo, however, who became the personification of writing and militancy, the women's version of the "pen and the sword": Leonor Villegas de Magnón (1876-1955). Villegas was born in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, but since the age of five had lived in Laredo, where her father administered his ranching, import-export, and other businesses. The bilingual Villegas obtained a college education in New York in 1895, moved back to Laredo, and in 1901 married Adolfo Magnón and lived for nine years in a turbulent Mexico City, where she, too, became associated with Ricardo Flores Magón and the PLM. When the revolution broke out in 1910, Villegas was back in Laredo, teaching school and organizing revolutionary groups, founding and running an organization, Unión, Progreso y Caridad (Unity, Progress and Charity), giving refuge to political exiles, and proselytizing through articles she published in La Crónica, El Progreso (Progress) and El Radical (The Radical). Within a couple of years, she recruited Texas Anglo and Mexican women for her nursing corps, the Cruz Blanca (White Cross), which worked on the battlefields as part of Venustiano Carranza's Constitutionalist Army. Serving often at Carranza's side, she was like a general to her nurses, and often as well to the female spies and fighters (soldaderas) who rendered service.

When the major hostilities were over and men began taking account of and writing the history of the revolution, Villegas became aware that the important role women had played was soon being forgotten. She, therefore, wrote her memoir, La rebelde, to correct the record and celebrate the leadership and contributions of women. Despite all of her and her families' connections in the political and business spheres in Mexico, no house would publish her story. She then decided to re-write, not translate, the story in English as The Rebel and met a similar fate with publishers in the U.S. Only recently have these memoirs been published, under the editorship of scholar Clara Lomas, who has stated, "These narratives stand as one of the few perspectives written by women in the early 1900s on the Mexican Revolution. They document the pivotal role of border activism that in effect erases geopolitical boundaries."[26] More importantly, they serve as a sterling example of women working from the interstices, the third spaces assigned to their gender, such as nursing, to expand their assigned role in public life. Even though her books were not published in her lifetime, they serve as an example today of a feminism that transcended borders, both of gender and geo-politics.

By far, the most productive anarchist writer was not university-educated, not a political exile, nor involved in armed insurrection but a transmigrant who worked as a labor organizer in the islands of the Caribbean, Tampa, Florida, and Long Island, New York:  Puerto Rican Luisa Capetillo (1879-1922). Unlike Villegas, Capetillo was largely self-educated and belonged to the working class that the aforementioned women intellectuals aspired to liberate. Perhaps this partially explains her more radical embrace of anarchism's anti-nationalist program and its goal for a classless society in which there was absolute equality of the sexes. Born in Puerto Rico and raised by autodidact, unwed working-class parents, Capetillo was politicized from a young age, especially by her mother who participated in literary and study groups often as the only female in attendance.[27] After Puerto Rico came under U.S. dominance, Capetillo became active in the island's major labor union and began publishing articles in newspapers such as Unión Obrera (Worker Unity).[28] Capetillo herself became a purveyor of working-class ideologies when she joined the ranks of the most important institution for worker self-education as a lector. An almost exclusively male profession in cigar factories on the island and the continent, the lector would spend half the day reading newspapers to the workers and the other half reading a variety of matter, including the works of Kropotkin and Bakunin and other theorists of anarchism and socialism.

Her mission to educate workers as to their human rights and as to participation in the social revolution that would remake world culture was not limited to the factory readings but eventually extended to her newspaper articles, her plays, and her books, including the following: Ensayos libertarios (Libertarian Essays, 1909), La humanidad en el futuro (Humanity in the Future, 1910), Mi opinión sobre las libertades, derechos y deberes de la mujer (My Opinion on the Liberties, Rights and Duties of Women, 1911), and Influencia de las ideas modernas (The Influence of Modern Ideas, 1916). She also founded and edited a magazine entitled La Mujer (Woman). In her personal life as in her writing, Capetillo was iconoclastic, refusing the authority of males, the Church, and the state; deconstructing and criticizing patriotism; working for women's suffrage; and advocating free love.

Puerto Rican writer Clotilde Betances de Jaeger (1880-197?) enjoyed a middle-class upbringing with enough family resources to pay for and receive an education at Cornell University, receiving her degree in natural sciences in 1916 and later going on to earn a masters degree in religious studies at Butler College in Indianapolis in 1949. After receiving her B.S. and returning to Puerto Rico, Betances began her career as a schoolteacher and columnist for periodicals in San Juan and moved to New York City in 1923, where she wrote for Spanish-language newspapers and magazines in the city. She would spend the rest of her life in New York, teaching and producing an important body of feminist thought, as well as religious writing, in a broad range of periodicals not only published in the city but also in Spanish America and Spain.

Betances took the women's fashion and beauty beat as a foothold into the male-dominated media, a foothold that she subsequently transformed into a space for the exploration of feminist issues. In Grafico, which became her primary forum for more than 50 columns she penned in 1929 and 1930, she took on such issues as the new role of women in society, especially exploring the implications of her having won the vote in the U.S.; the growth and importance of the number of women in the work place; the importance of her receiving professional training; the need to free women from the bonds of marriage and towards economic independence and even free love; a woman's control over her body, even to the extent of family planning, using contraceptives and abortion; as well as such political topics as the poor quality of the schools, racism in the U.S. and Puerto Rico, the Church, American imperialism, and the colonial status of Puerto Rico and other Latin American countries.[29]

In her construction of a "mujer nueva" (new woman), Betances encouraged women to participate in the economy and in politics both nationally and internationally. In her columns, she would comment on city and national politics, presidential campaigns, international affairs, and war, which she denounced repeatedly. In her June 15, 1929 column, she analyzed how women's liberation was intimately linked to the economy and that in a time of crisis, like the onset of the Depression, it was incumbent on women to educate themselves and become consciously involved in the economy:

"Mujer de corazón, mujer de mentalidad, mujer nueva, la economía es tu problema inminente y tienes que resolverlo. La economía del hogar entra en tu jurisdicción, la economía del mundo es tu herencia" (Woman of the heart, woman of the mind, new woman, the economy is your imminent problem and you have to solve it. The economy of the home is part of your jurisdiction; the economy of the world is your heritage).

Rather than look for foremothers in the past, as other Latina feminists had in the 17th-century Mexican poet/scholar Sor Juan Inés de la Cruz, Betances sought out contemporary role models of women who were seeking to free their sisters from economic subjugation and the fiction of the nation, writing about Spanish, Cuban, Puerto Rican authors, among others, and reviewing their books as points of departure for her own essays. While she advocated Puerto Rican independence from the U.S., in the main she considered the question of women beyond the constraints of national projects and, thus, chose her models from throughout the Spanish-speaking world.

From the 1970s, when the first large cohorts of Latinos were admitted to universities, to the present, numerous scholars have resuscitated and studied the ideas of these diverse Latino thinkers who explored the dimensions of nationhood, who sought to understand their particular Latino identity and its relationship to the imagined community that American institutions, media and popular culture have canonized. Scholars such as Rodolfo Acuña (Chicano), Frank Bonilla (Puerto Rican), Américo Paredes (Chicano), Lisandro Pérez (Cuban American), Silvio Torres-Saillant (Dominican American), and Virginia Sánchez Korrol (Puerto Rican) were pioneers in establishing ethnic studies and bilingual education programs and produced generations of historians, lawyers, political scientists, sociologists, and cultural theorists and critics who have succeeded in democratizing the curriculum and greatly advancing Latino thought. More importantly, they and their students have taken their knowledge into the community at the same time they opened the doors to academia wider so that low-income Latinos could achieve an education. Working with such organizations as the Aspira Association, National Council of La Raza, and the Tomás Rivera Center, to name just three, the scholars are continuing to translate their research and teaching into social change for the betterment of Latinos and the nation at large. In addition, such theorists of Latina liberation and feminism as Gloria Anzaldúa, Aurora Levins Morales, Emma Pérez, and many others have blazed paths towards the gender equity that Latino culture and a democratic society should make real. Latinas have been in the vanguard of defining and advancing queer and subaltern studies, fields that are further democratizing academia in the 21st century. Latinos and other people of color have expanded American intellectual canons, from the academy to the social, cultural, and political realms. Not only in revising the history of the U.S., but also in developing such frameworks as critical race and gender theories, they have revolutionized "American Studies," have been the base for Cultural Studies, and have irrevocably changed the U.S. intellectual landscape

Today, after some three decades of increased immigration, not just from Mexico and the Caribbean, but also from Central and South America, the Latino community is much larger and much more diverse. In all truth, the intellectual thought and writing by Latinos in the U.S. has been much more diverse than can be comprehended from the above essay. Not all intellectuals were or are considering questions of nationalism, gender, race, civil rights, etc. The late 20th and early 21st centuries also saw, for example, the development of scientists, engineers, economists, and others with different concerns who have had an impact on various fields, such as space exploration, medicine, physics, environmental science, and biology, fields in which Latinos have won Nobel Prizes. By the mid-21st century, Latinos are projected to make up as much as one-third of the U.S. population. Latino intellectuals will continue to envision and re-vision the nation within the context of this new demographic and cultural reality. They will continue to contribute to knowledge in all fields of endeavor, especially as there is more access to education and more opportunity to develop intellectual pursuits.

Nicolás Kanellos, Ph.D., is the Brown Foundation Professor of Hispanic Literature at the University of Houston. He is the founder and director of the nation's oldest and largest non-profit publisher of Hispanic literature in the United States, Arte Público Press. He is also director of the major national research program, Recovering the U.S. Hispanic Literary Heritage of the United States, which aims to identify, preserve, study, and make accessible tens of thousands of Latino literary documents written from the colonial period to 1960 in the area that has become the United States. His major works include A History of Hispanic Theater in the United States: Origins to 1940 and Hispanic Literature of the United States: A Comprehensive Reference. He received his Ph.D. in Spanish and Portuguese from the University of Texas.


[1]   Diez y seis millones de habitantes que ocupan este delicioso Continente, no se representan jamás á los ojos del Gobierno y Mandatarios de Europa, sino como una horda de esclavos miserables que deben obedecer ciegamente á todo lo que se les mande, y besar en profundo silencio las duras cadenas que arrastran desde los tiempos de Cortés y Pizarro.

[2]   "MEXICANOS: llegado es el tiempo señalado por la Providencia para que sacudáis el yugo bárbaro, y afrentoso, con que por el espacio de casi 300 años os oprimió ignominiosamente el despotismo insolente. Ahora quiere el Gobierno de Cádiz obligaros a que continuéis arrastrando las mismas cadenas, con que is aprisionaron los Reyes de España, los cuales no tenían sobre vosotros más autoridad, que la que vosotros mismos les prestasteis para ser por ella gobernados [...]Yo os consejo, ilustres hijos de Moctesuma, que no envainéis vuestras espadas hasta no haber reestablecido el orden, y dado entera libertad a vuestro país."

[3]  W. S. Cleaves, "The Political Life of Lorenzo de Zavala" (University of Texas Thesis, 1931), 32-69.

[4]   John Michael Rivera, "Introduction," in Journey to the United States of North America, by Lorenzo de Zavala (Houston: Arte Público Press, 2005), xxvii.

[5]   See Donald E. Chipman, Spanish Texas, 1519-1821 (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1992), 253, and Joseph McKnight, The Spanish Elements in Modern Texas Law (Dallas: J. W. McKnight, 1979).

[6]   Ambrosio Fornet, El libro en Cuba (Havana: Editorial Letras Cubanas, 1994), 73-4.

[7]  "... en la tierra de Washington y Franklin, donde se ven a cada instante violados los derechos de la humanidad, la forma natural y viviente de cada pueblo, o invadida la soberanía de las naciones. Las conquistas efectuadas receintemente en México, desmembrando la mitad del territorio nacional, los escandalosos sucesos de la América Central, las pretenciones injustas sobre los naturales de Panamá en Nueva Granada, las reclamaciones de la Isla de las Aves en Venezuela, Galápagos en el Ecuador y Lobris en el Perú, las pretensiones sobre las Antillas, sea por la fuerza de las armas o por razón de la enajenación, que en el lenguaje de la moral de las naciones es la última expresión de la ignominia, etc. etc. ... aquí en compendio el mapa delineado en la imaginación desmesurada de la gran República Federal, que se extenderá hasta Buenos Aires si no se la detiene en la carrera de las conquistas. ¿Será factible esa fusión de razas y de lenguas, de costumbres y religiones, para fundar un pueblo único de cien naciones diferentes absorbiendo los estados latinos y ensanchando la democracia continental con detrimento de los intereses vecinos? No, mil veces, no, es el grito de la opinión popular y no, mil veces, no es el eco que repiten todos los miembros descendientes de la raza de Gonzalo de Córdoba y del Cid contra esta tendencia perniciosa que protegen sus leyes y principios: cada hispano-americano cual otro Aníbal en todas partes enemigos sempiternos que venguen las rapiñas y usurpaciones de su patria ..."

[8]   Rosaura Sánchez, "Dismantling the Colossus: Martí and Ruiz de Burton on the Formulation of Anglo America," in José Martí's "Our América": From National to Hemispheric Cultural Studies, eds. Jeffrey Belnap and Raúl Fernández, (Durham: Duke University Press, 1998), 117.

[9]  Ibid, 123.

[10]  Ibid, 116.

[11]   Ibid, 118.

[12]   José Martí, Obras completas, (Havana: s.d., 1975), II: 298.

[13]   Excerpts of his speeches are available online at, accessed June 12, 2012.

[14]   Pedro Albizu Campos, "Observations on the Brookings Institute Report," in The Intellectual Roots of Independence: An Anthology of Puerto Rican Political Essays, eds. Iris M. Zavala and Rafael Rodríguez (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1980), 173-180.

[15]   "Pedro Albizu Campos Speech in Lares" (September 23, 1950) online at, accessed June 12, 2012.

[16]   Pedro Albizu Campos, "Concept of Race," in Zavala, 181-182.

[17]  F. Arturo Roslaes, Dictionary of Latino Civil Rights History (Houston: Arte Público Press, 2006), 347.

[18]   Alonso S. Perales, "Alonso S. Perales on the Ideals of Mexican Americans," in Testimonio: A Documentary History of the Mexican American Civil Rights Struggle, ed. F. Arturo Rosales (Houston: Arte Público Press, 2000), 167.

[19]   Dionne Espinoza, "Re-Thinking Cultural Nationalism and La Familia throughWomen's Communities: Enriqueta Vásquez and Chicana Feminist Thought," in Enriqueta Vásquez and the Chicano Movement: Writings from El Grito del Norte, eds. Lorena Oropeza and Dionne Espinoza (Houston: Arte Público Press, 2006), 208.

[20]  Lorena Oropeza, "Viviendo y luchando: The Life and Times of Enriqueta Vásquez," in Enriqueta Vásquez and the Chicano Movement: Writings from El Grito del Norte, eds. Lorena Oropeza and Dionne Espinoza (Houston: Arte Público Press, 2006),   xxi.

[21]   Ibid, xxxviii.

[22]   Emma Pérez, The Decolonial Imaginary: Writing Chicanas into History (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1999), 33.

[23]  Ibid, 33.

[24]   Lomas, "Articulation," 306.

[25]   Cited in Pérez, 69.

[26]   Clara Lomas, "Villegas de Magnón, Leonor," in Greenwood Encyclopedia of Latino Literature, ed. Nicolás Kanellos (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2008), III: 1235-36.

[27]   Norma Valle-Ferrer, Luisa Capetillo. Pioneer Puerto Rican Feminist (Nuestra Voz) (New York: Peter Lang Publishing, 2006), 44-45.

[28]   Félix V. Matos, "Introduction," A Nation of Women: An Early Feminist Speaks Out/Mi opinión sobre las libertades, derechos y deberes de la mujer, by Luisa Capetillo (Houston: Arte Público Press, 2004), xv.

[29]   María TeresaVera-Rojas, "Betances Jaeger, Clotilde." In Kanellos, Greenwood Encyclopedia of Latino Literature, I: 48.


The views and conclusions contained in this document are those of the authors and should not be interpreted as representing the opinions or policies of the U.S. Government. Mention of trade names or commercial products does not constitute their endorsement by the U.S. Government.

Part of a series of articles titled American Latino/a Heritage Theme Study.

Last updated: July 10, 2020