The Corrido and the Emergence of Texas-Mexican Social Identity

Author(s): Richard R. Flores
Source: The Journal of American Folklore, Vol. 105, No. 416 (Spring, 1992), pp. 166-182
Published by: American Folklore Society
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RICHARD R. FLORES
The Corrido and the
Emergence
of Texas-Mexican Social
Identity
The
scholarship
on the Lower-Border corrido
of
South Texas reveals how this
genre
is
itself
related to the cultural tension that has existed
along
the Texas-
Mexico border since the
early
1800s. This article shows how "Los
Sediciosos,"
a corrido that
appeared
sometime
after 1915,
shifts
the boundaries
of
the classic
narrative
form of
the corrido in
ways
that
anticipate future
Mexican-American
and
Chicano/Chicana
narrative
practices.
In
essence,
folklore performance
in
South Texas is the vehicle
through
which the
identity of
an
emerging group of
people,
the
mexicotejano,
or
Texas-Mexican,
is
expressed.
THE SCHOLARSHIP ON THE
LOWER-BORDER
"CORRIDO"
[folk ballad]
of South
Texas shows how the social world that
produced
this narrative form
posited
the notion of a unified and collective Mexican hero
fighting against
the Texas
Rangers.
As
such,
this
genre
is
deeply
related to the cultural and national con-
flict that has existed
along
the Texas-Mexico border since the
early
1800s. The
purpose
of this article is to show that soon after the events
surrounding
the
Plan de San
Diego
in
1915,
the narrative form of the corrido
gave way,
if
only
momentarily,
to the
emergent
consciousness of Texas-Mexican social iden-
tity,
a consciousness different from that
expressed by
the
poetics
of the Mex-
ican hero. That
is,
the text of the corrido "Los
Sediciosos,"
which is the focus
of this
article,
begins
to
distinguish
between two
types
of Mexicans: the
puro
mexicano
[true-born Mexican],
whose
identity
and consciousness is related
more to the
politics
of
Mexico;
and the
mexicotejano [Texas-Mexican],
whose
identity
is
shaped by
issues of ethnic
identity
in the United States. Further-
more,
although
it has been said that the cohesiveness of the corrido is that it
speaks
in a
singular
voice,
and that it
represents
the communal and
integrated
character of the
community
from which the corrido's authors and audience
descend
(Saldivar 1990),
I
wish to show that it is
precisely
in the narrativization
of the actions of the Seditionists in
1915,
in the text of "Los
Sediciosos,"
that
a new social
experience
and
identity,
however uneven and
incomplete,
shifts
the formal boundaries of the corrido
by adding
a second voice to its mono-
vocal
form.'
In
essence,
the folk
performance
of the corrido "Los Sediciosos"
Richard R. Flores is assistant
professor, Department ofAnthropology
and Chicano Studies
Program, University of
Wisconsin,
Madison
Flores,
The Corrido and the
Emergence of
Texas-Mexican Social
Identity
167
becomes the vehicle for
signaling
the
emergent
consciousness of the mexico-
tejano,
or
Texas-Mexican, and,
as
such,
is a
precursor
of future
"Mexican-
American,"
"Chicano" and "Chicana" narrative formations.2
The
Anglo-Mexican
World: 1800-1915
The
history
of Texas-Mexico border clashes between 1850 and 1910 is dom-
inated
by
crisis, tension,
and conflict between
Anglos
and
Mexicans.3
How-
ever,
of all the
issues,
those
involving
national
boundaries,
property,
and the
use of land in
general
were the most
significant. Beginning
in the
early
1800s,
the movement of
Anglo-American
settlers into Mexican
territory
caused the
first
major
confrontation between these two
groups.
Border
disputes
contin-
ued
throughout
the first three decades of the
century
and culminated in the
war for Texas
independence
that ended in 1836 and the U.S. declaration of
war
against
Mexico in 1846.
Expansion
of U.S.
territory
and the
development
of American economic interest served as
major
causes of this war.
The defeat of the Mexicans ended with the
signing
of the
"Treaty
of Gua-
dalupe-Hidalgo"
on 2
February
1848. The
key
elements of the
treaty
were the
establishment of the Rio Grande River as the border between the two countries
and the
ceding
of the lands to the United States. This
territory
included the
current states of
California,
New
Mexico, Texas, Nevada,
and
parts
of Col-
orado, Arizona,
and Utah. The Mexican
people living
in these areas had a
choice of
remaining
and
becoming
citizens of the United States or
returning
to Mexico. For those who
stayed,
land
grants
and
property
were to be re-
spected
as well as the Mexican culture and
language.
The
signing
of the
treaty
put
a formal end to the
hostilities, but,
in
effect,
it was the
beginning
of a new
era of conflicts and
struggles
between Mexicans in the U.S. and their
Anglo
neighbors.
The
rights guaranteed by
the
Treaty
of
Guadalupe-Hidalgo
to the Mexican
people-ownership
of the
land,
due
process
of
law,
maintenance of the cul-
ture,
and others-were
quickly
undermined
by
the
Anglo community (Acufia
1981).
As could be
expected,
control and
ownership
of land was a
key
factor
in
establishing Anglo-Texan authority
in the
territory. "Immediately
after the
war with
Mexico,"
Richmond
claims,
a
greedy
land
grab
ensued which alienated the Mexican
community
in Texas for
good.
....
The
authorities declared "vacant" all communal and
municipal
lands distributed earlier. The General
Law of 1852 validated some
original Spanish
land
grants
but
many
claims were lost
simply
for
the lack of
representation
before the commission as
required by
law. The "vacant" lands were
then sold to
Anglos
at
very
low
prices. [Richmond 1980:3]
These and similar
practices
of the
growing Anglo community
did not find
passive
victims in the Mexican
people.
In
July 1859Juan Cortina, a U.S. citi-
zen under the
Treaty
of
Guadalupe-Hidalgo,
shot Marshall Bob
Spears
of
Brownsville after
seeing
him
pistol whip
a Mexican. After
shooting Spears,
168
Journal of
American Folklore 105
(1992)
Cortina enlisted the
support
of several landowners in the area and wrote a
manifesto
against
the
Anglo-Texans.
In an effort to strike back at those who
had
persecuted
Mexicans as well as stolen their
land,
Cortina attacked
Brownsville,
defeated the local Brownsville and Matamoros militias
(as
well
as the Texas
Rangers),
and raised the Mexican
flag
over the
city.
In
February
of
1860,
Robert E. Lee was sent after Cortina. Cortina
eventually
fled
to the
Mexican side of the
border,
turning
his interest to Mexico's war with the
French.
Although
the
conflict
ceased with Cortina on the Mexican side of the
border,
the backlash from his raids would be felt for some time.
Perhaps
the best known incident of the border
conflict
years
occurred in
1901 when
Gregorio
Cortez shot and killed Sheriff W. T. Morris in self de-
fense after the two had an
argument
and
linguistic
miscommunication over the
trading
of a mare. Morris's death resulted in a massive search for Cortez
by
the Texas
Rangers.
As
they
followed him to the Mexican
border,
the
Rangers
thought
little of
shooting
innocent Mexicans whom
they
considered to be
part
of a nonexistent Cortez
gang.
In a show of
solidarity,
the Mexican
community
organized
to raise
money
and social awareness about the Cortez affair
(Paredes
1958).
One of the least known instances of border conflict occurred in 1915 and
concerns a
revolutionary plan
known as the Plan de San
Diego. Although
the
circumstances
surrounding
the
writing
of the Plan are debated
by
historians,
the Plan is believed to have been
partially
written
by
six or seven
Mexicans,
who have come to be known as the
Seditionists,
while
they
were
imprisoned
in
Monterrey,
Mexico,
in
January
1915. It was finalized
by
Basilio Ramos and
other
signatories
later that
year (Cumberland
1954;
Gomez-Quifiones
1970;
Harris and Sadler
1978;
Richmond
1980).
The Texas authorities
acquired
the
Plan when a
copy
was found in the
possession
of one of its
authors,
Basilio
Ramos,
when he was arrested in
McAllen, Texas,
in
lateJanuary
1915. Ramos
was
charged
with treason for
possession
of a
revolutionary
document,
but
when the
revolt,
as outlined in the
Plan,
failed to
materialize,
the
charges
were
dismissed and Ramos was released on 13
May
1915
(Longoria 1982:214).
The details of the Plan call for a
general uprising
of all Texas-Mexicans liv-
ing
on the border at 2:00
P.M.
on 20
February
1915. The
objective
of the
up-
rising
was to retake the territories lost to the United States in the wars of 1836
and 1846-48. This
territory, consisting
of the states of
Texas,
New
Mexico,
Arizona, Colorado,
and
California,
was to become a new
independent
Mexi-
can
republic
from which land would be
granted
to
Blacks, Indians,
and Asians
so that
they
could form their own autonomous states
(Gomez-Quifiones
1970;
Hager 1963).
With the incarceration of Ramos, 20
February passed uneventfully.
How-
ever, in late
May
and
continuing
until late fall of that
year,
border raids led
by
Aniceto
Pizafia
and Luis de la Rosa, two local Texas-Mexican Seditionists,
were carried out, almost
weekly, against
the
Anglo-Texan community.
These
raids consisted of attacks on individuals, stores, post offices, bridges,
and rail-
Flores,
The Corrido and the
Emergence of
Texas-Mexican Social
Identity
169
roads.
Also,
as noted from the text of "Los
Sediciosos,"
the Seditionists di-
rected
special aggression against
the Texas
Rangers.
Pizafia and de la Rosa car-
ried out their attacks with no more than a hundred men-the numbers were
often fewer-and
they
raided as far north as the
King
Ranch in
Kleberg
County.
The United States
government responded by increasing
its
military
force on the border with
troops
from the U.S.
Army
and the Texas
Rangers
(Cumberland 1954;
Hager 1963).
On 21 October 1915 the last raid
by
the Se-
ditionists took
place
at
Ojo
de
Agua, putting
an end to the
revolutionary
effort
connected with the Plan de San
Diego.4
The Lower-Border Corrido Tradition:
The Social Content
of
Aesthetic Form
The work of Americo Paredes has set the standard for corrido
scholarship,
and his
book,
With His Pistol in His Hand: A Border Ballad and its Hero
(1958),
is a classic text on the
subject. According
to
Paredes,
the corrido of border
conflict
originated
in 1859 with the Cortina incident and reached its
height
in
1915 with the border raids conducted
by
the Seditionists. This
genre
is rec-
ognized through
its
highly
formalized narrative
style, exemplified by
its oc-
tosyllabic
lines and
regulated
use of
rhyme
and
assonance,
and built
upon
the
use of its
key metaphors
of "rinche"
(the
name
given
to the Texas
Rangers
that
makes use of the
negative Spanish language
suffix
-inche)
and the Mexican hero
"con
su
pistola
en la mano"
[with
his
pistol
in his
hand]. Relatedly,
the corrido
speaks
of the Mexican hero
standing up
to U.S.
authorities,
usually repre-
sented
by
the
rinches,
and
boasting
about his
bravery.
In most
cases,
descrip-
tions of horses can be
found,
as well as the "clown"
who,
on the
verge
of
tears,
exists in
sharp
contrast to the honor of the Mexican hero
(Paredes 1974).
Therefore,
the corrido
strategically adapts
various
aspects
of
conflict
so that
they
become battles between the "rinches" and the Mexican "heroes." And to
the extent that
conflict
between
Anglos
and Mexicans on the Texas-Mexico
border is due to cultural and national
difference,
the border corrido functions
as an
expression
of resistance.
Although
the
majority
of corridos of border conflict are based on historical
fact and
depict
the actions and events of actual
characters,
the corrido is also a
vehicle for
interpreting
historical events. Paredes states that a ballad tradition
"crystallize[s]
at one
particular
time and
place
into a whole ballad
corpus,
which
by its
very weight impresses itself on the consciousness of the people"
(1963:231-235).
This
crystallization
is critical in
understanding
the narrative
(and
semic)
cohesiveness of the
corrido, because the corrido form is not
just
a
vehicle for
representing day-to-day
events
(like
the classic corridos of
Juan
Cortina, Gregorio Cortez, and
others),
but one that
expresses
the collective
ideas and social discourse of Mexicans in South Texas. In a case
study
on this
point,
Paredes
analyzes
the account
ofJos6 Mosqueda,
an outlaw who robbed
a train
carrying approximately $75,000 in
gold
and silver from
Brownsville,
170
Journal ofAmerican
Folklore 105
(1992)
Texas,
to Point Isabel. The "Corrido
ofJos6 Mosqueda,"
however,
denies the
events of the
robbery,
and instead fabricates a new
sequence
of events in which
Mosqueda
becomes a hero of border conflict. In this
example,
actual events
are
changed
to fit the
culturally
mediated narrative form of the border-conflict
corrido. Paredes
anticipates,
in a
perhaps
unconscious
way,
the later work of
critical theorist Fredric
Jameson by showing
how narratives are
reshaped
in
ways
that
signal
their social and class formations
(Jameson 1981).
At this
point,
the social content of the corrido of border conflict becomes
the focus of
my inquiry.
For,
if
history
has been excised for the
purpose
of
constructing
a cohesive
(and ideological)
narrative,
those that fit the classic
characteristics of the corrido
form,
the task of
recovering
this lost
history
calls
for a
rereading
and
rewriting through
the narrative discourse
itself.
Of Heroes and Rinches
The classic form of the corrido is not confined to
Cortina, Cortez,
or the
Seditionists,
but is found in most corridos of border conflict. In his
book,
A
Texas-Mexican
Cancionero,
Paredes mentions 33
songs
in the
chapter "Songs
of Border Conflict"
(1976).
Of these
songs,
18 concern the mexicano commu-
nity,
and 12
specifically
mention the Mexican hero armed with a
pistol
or rifle.
In these
texts,
the hero is the idealized and
symbolic
Mexican "who defends
his
right
with his
pistol
in his
hand,
and who either
escapes
at the end or
goes
down before
superior
odds in a sense victor even in defeat"
(Paredes 1958:124).
But at the level of
form,
the Mexican hero is not the individual historical
figure
(as
was evidenced in the "Corrido of
Jose Mosqueda"),
but embodies the
larger,
collective
figuration
of the local
community.
The extent to which the
Mexican hero is
synonymous
with the fate of the local
community
has led
Ram6n Saldivar to conclude that a distinction between the Mexican hero and
the
community
as a whole cannot be
maintained,
and that the Mexican hero
stands "not as an individual" but as a
poetically
constructed
figure represent-
ing
the
community
that constitutes him
(1990:36). Considering
this,
the Mex-
ican heroes of the
corrido,
like the narrative
figures
of
Cortez, Cortina,
and
others,
are no
longer
individual
personas,
but discursive
figures
who are de-
rived from the social and cultural world of the corrido's authors and audience.
The narrative and collective constructions of the corridos are not limited to
the Mexican
hero,
but also
provide
for their narrative
antagonist
in the
"rinche."
Through
this
poetic
form, the mexicano
community objectified
its
mistrust of the
Anglo-Texans
who assumed social, cultural, and economic
dominance in the area
through
the brutal activities of the Texas
Rangers.
As
Paredes states,
The Texas
Ranger always
carries a
rusty
old
gun
in his
saddlebags.
This is for when he kills an
unarmed Mexican. He
drops
the
gun
beside the
body
and then claims he killed the Mexican in
self-defense and after a furious battle.
[Paredes 1958:24]
Flores,
The Corrido and the
Emergence of
Texas-Mexican Social
Identity
171
The term "rinche" not
only signifies
mistrust or
deceit,
but also the violence
and
exploitation
inflicted
upon
the mexicano
community by
the Texas
Rang-
ers. It was not uncommon for
Rangers, acting
as
judge, jury,
and execution-
ers,
to
summarily lynch
Mexicans
suspected
of
thievery
or
banditry.
Nor was
it unknown for the
Rangers
to seize the land of Mexicans so that it could be
sold
cheaply
to
incoming Anglo-Texan entrepreneurs (Montejano 1987).
In
sum,
the Lower-Border corrido stemmed from the
political
and cultural
po-
etics of the mexicano
community
and was a means of
responding
to and re-
sisting
the encroachment and
exploitation
of the
Anglo-Texan.
Of
Rangers
and Bandits
The
binary opposition
of Mexican "heroes" and
Anglo
"rinches" found in
border corridos is not
only
a textual construction but also
dialogically
related
to the
accepted Anglo-Texan
view of the
relationship
between Mexicans and
the Texas
Rangers.
This is
perhaps
best summarized
by Lyndon Johnson
in
his foreword to the second edition of Walter Prescott Webb's The Texas
Rang-
ers
(1965:x),
where he characterizes the Texas
Rangers
as men
engaged
in a
"never-ending quest
for an
orderly,
secure,
but
open
and free
society.
. .
."
And,
whereas Webb
perpetuates,
even
celebrates,
the Texas
Rangers
as
knights pursuing
a chivalrous
quest
for
order,
he cannot
entirely
overlook the
suffering
and
"orgy
of bloodshed"
they
inflicted on the Mexican
population
of Texas
(Webb 1965:478).
As
such,
the Texas
Rangers signified
the kind of
power
and blind ambition that was
necessary
for
gaining
land and commercial
dominance in this once Mexican
territory.
Anglo-Texans
also created their own
generally agreed upon
notion of the
Mexican
character,
as seen in the
way
the
exploits
of the Seditionists were dis-
cussed in the local
Anglo-Texas press. Although
the
Plan,
from the
perspec-
tive of the Mexicans who wrote
it,
was based
upon
the reclamation of lost or
stolen
land,
the
Anglo-Texan
discourse
concerning
the raids of the Seditionists
was
quite
different. The headline of a San Antonio
paper
of 9
August
1915
reads: "Border Outlaws
Engage Rangers
on
Norias
Ranch"
(San
Antonio Ex-
press:1);
the Brownsville
paper
of 27
August
1915 claims:
"Alleged Norias
Bandit Killed-An Encounter North of
Edinburg
between
Rangers
and
sup-
posed
Bandits"
(Brownsville Herald:1);
and in Del
Rio, Texas,
the events take
on heightened proportions as reported in a San Antonio paper on 27 August
1915: "Del Rio Ask for more Protection-A
Heavy
Increase in Mexican
Pop-
ulation alarms citizens of Val Verde
County" (San
Antonio
Express:2).
In these
accounts, the
political
and social
exploits
of a few Mexican revolutionaries are
presented
as the activities of
"bandits," generalized
to the entire
population,
and are
responsible
for
promoting
an
image
of Mexicans as
"lazy, dirty,
thiev-
ing, devious, conspiratorial, sexually hyperactive
and
overly
fond of alcohol"
(Lim6n 1983:217).
172
Journal of
American Folklore 105
(1992)
The Lower-Border corrido
dialogically responds
to the
Anglo
discourse
represented by
the Texas
Rangers through
its own construction of
Anglos
as
rinches
and,
more
important,
the Mexican as a "hero with his
pistol
in his
hand."
Corrido Form and
Emergent Identity
In his
analysis
of the narrative form of the
corrido,
John
McDowell
(1981)
articulates several
key
features that are
significant
for
my analysis
of "Los Sed-
iciosos." Lower-Border
corridos,
according
to
McDowell,
consist of narra-
tive
elements,
interspersed by dialogue
or
reported speech,
that function as
icons of the
experiential
substratum and lead to a sense of identification for the
corrido
community.
This is achieved
through
the use of an
impersonal
and
distancing
authorial voice that
separates
the narrator from the events
depicted,
allowing
the narrative material to "move from
iconicity
to identification"
(1981:49). Essentially,
the authorial voice of the
corrido,
through impersonal
narrative and
reported speech, expresses
the values and sentiments located in
the mexicano
community (see Fig. 1).5
As
diagramed,
the authorial voice in the
corrido,
although
it
gives
rise to
dialogic
elements
through reported speech,
frames the narrative as a
cohesive,
unified,
and monolithic
representation
of the collective corrido
community.
Against
this
backdrop,
the
significance
of a text that alters this
form,
such as
"Los
Sediciosos,"
is
significant.
The
striking
difference between the text of "Los Sediciosos" and the earlier
corridos of
Cortina, Cortez,
and other heroic
figures
is the
presence
of two
authorial voices. This is detected in the tension between the
"puro
mexicano"
and the
"mexicotejano.
"6 The social world of earlier corridos
posited
a collec-
tive and unified
(homogeneous)
Mexican
hero(es) against
the
Anglo
rinches.
In "Los
Sediciosos,"
this has
changed;
the notion of a
homogeneous
border
AUTHORIAL VOICE L NARRATIVE
REPORTED SPEECH
l DIALOGUE
Mexican Hero
Rinche/Americano
AUTHORIAL VOICE '
NARRATIVE
Figure
1.
Diagram
of the classic corrido form.
Flores,
The Corrido and the
Emergence of
Texas-Mexican Social
Identity 173
Mexican has
given way
to two voices: the
pure
Mexican and the Texas-Mex-
ican,
or
mexicotejano,
as the text of "Los Sediciosos" states.
Ya la mecha estai encendida Now the fuse is lit
por
los
puros mexicanos, by
the true-born
Mexicans,
y
los
que
van a
pagarla
and it will be the Texas-Mexicans
son los
mexicotejanos.
who will have to
pay
the
price.
Although
the
phrase "mexicotejano" appears only
once in this literal for-
mat,
the distinction is carried out in the next two stanzas.
Ya la mecha estai encendida Now the fuse is
lit,
con azul
y
colorado,
in blue and
red,
y
los
que
van a
pagarla
and it will be those on this
side,
van a ser los de este lado. who will have to
pay
the
price.
Ya la mecha estai
encendida,
Now the fuse is
lit,
muy
bonita
y
colorada,
very
nice and
red,
y
la vamos a
pagar
and it will be those of us who are
blameless,
los
que
no debemos nada. who will have to
pay
the
price.
Breaking
from its traditional
form,
the corrido of "Los
Sediciosos" exhibits
the
following
characteristics
(see Fig. 2).
Stanzas 1-3
(see Appendix)
constitute
authorial voice 1
(AVI),
but the narrative
changes
in stanzas 4-6 create another
voice,
that of authorial voice 2
(AV2). Whereas
Avl
is,
as McDowell
suggests,
impersonal
in
tone,
that is not the case with
AV2,
which
begins
to bemoan the
wrath the
mexicotejano community
will encounter as a result of the
exploits
of the Seditionists
("los que
van a
pagarla
van a ser los de este
lado").
This shift in
tone
signifies
a crucial
change
in the classical form of the Lower-Border cor-
rido. Because if it is true that "deeds do not have
clearly
distinct
public
and
private reasons, motivations,
or
consequences,
but
only collectively symbolic
dimensions,"
as Saldivar
says (1990:37),
the concern over the
consequences
of
heroic deeds
signals
a variation in the classic corrido form. I will
explore
the
meaning
of this
change
below.
The
dialogic
element of the text follows the corrido form outlined
by
McDowell with
only slight
variation. Instead of more direct and numerous
AUTORIAL VOICETHAL
VoICE'--- 4 AUTHORIAL
VOICE-•
NARRATIVE
I
REPORTED SPEECH
DIALOGUE
Los Sediciosos Los Sediciosos Americano
I
AUTHORIAL
VOICE'&2 NARRATIVE
Figure
2.
Diagram
of the form of the corrido "Los
Sediciosos."
174
Journal ofAmerican
Folklore 105
(1992)
exchanges
between the Mexican
hero(es)
and the rinches or
americanos,
most
of the
dialogue
takes
place
between the Seditionists themselves. The one
place
where the americano does
speak,
in stanza
11,
he does so
parodically,
"con su
sombrero en las manos"
[with
his hat in his
hand].
Like the
introductory
narrative,
the
concluding
narrative also
diverges
from
the classic corrido form. Instead of the
impersonal retelling
of
information,
as
in stanzas
13, 14,
and
20,
a
personal
narrative voice
again expresses
concern
over the
consequences
of the deeds of the
Seditionists,
as seen in the
phrase
"nos
dejaron
una veta colorada"
[they
have left us a red swath to remember them
by].
This leads to a fusion of authorial voices
(AV1-Av2),
as found in stanzas
21-23.
At this
point
I would like to introduce Bakhtin's discussion of "authorita-
tive" and
"internally persuasive"
discourse as a means of
untangling
these di-
vergent
voices in "Los
Sediciosos."
Authoritative
discourse,
for
Bakhtin,
is a
narrative that is
preeminent, powerful,
and
cohesive,
forming
the
singular
voice of
political
and moral
authority
that
shapes
and
incorporates
other dis-
cursive forms to itself
(here
the
significance
of the outlaw-made-hero
rings
with
special acuity) (1981:343). Subsequently,
for
Bakhtin,
as well as for the
classic
corrido,
this discourse cannot be
"divided,"
or for the
purposes
of this
text,
hyphenated (1981:343).
From
my reading,
authoritative discourse is the
impersonal
voice found in the Lower-Border
corrido,
one that
coheres,
uni-
fies,
and binds "without internal contradiction"
(1981:342).
Whereas Bakhtin
sees it as the "word of fathers"
(1981:344),
I
take it as the "word of
heroes";
and whereas he sees it as the "voice of tradition" and
"acknowledged
truths"
(1981:344),
I
read it as the demand of form.
But,
as noted
above,
"Los Sediciosos"
encompasses
more than one authorial
voice. This second
voice,
I
suggest,
that of the
mexicotejano (Av2), is,
follow-
ing
Bakhtin,
an
"internally persuasive"
discourse that is not backed
by
au-
thority,
tradition,
or
form,
but one "born in a zone of contact"
(1981:346).
This voice
signals
a new set of
emergent meanings
that stem from the
geo-
graphical
and cultural border zone where the U.S. and Mexico
meet;
it is a
voice that can no
longer
be contained
by
the
unifying
discourse of the Mexican
hero,
but
gives
rise to a
new,
yet incomplete,
voice in the
mexicotejano.
The
uniqueness
of this discourse for "Los Sediciosos" cannot be understated. No-
where in Paredes's collection of
songs
from the Lower Border does the
phrase
"mexicotejano"
exist until this
text;
and such "narrativization" works
against
the
weight
of a "whole ballad
corpus"
that has
posited
the notion of a unified
Mexican hero. I
suggest,
therefore, that the addition of this narrative voice
signals
a different kind of awareness and
identity
for South Texas Mexicans. I
would add to Bakhtin that not
only
is an "individual's
becoming"
marked
by
a
"gap"
between authoritative and
internally persuasive
discourse, but so is
that of a
"group" (1981:342).
The
"becoming"
witnessed in this text is that of
an
emergent identity trying
to
speak
in an
expressive,
formal voice, over and
above the voice of the authoritative "Mexican" hero. And
although
this voice
Flores,
The Corrido and the
Emergence of
Texas-Mexican Social
Identity
175
does not
yet represent
that of an autonomous
"group,"
we have the
begin-
nings
of a
differentiated,
neither Mexican nor
American,
community.
Accordingly,
references to los de este lado
[those
on this
side]
and los
que
no
debemos nada
[those
of us who are
blameless], synonyms
for the
mexicotejano,
stem from the
dialogic
interaction between this
emergent, internally persua-
sive discourse of ethnic consciousness and the authoritative and formal voice
expressed
in the Mexican hero. One
major
event to substantiate this occurred
in
1911, just prior
to the
peak
of the corrido
period.
This is the
primer
con-
greso
mexicanista de 1911
[First
Mexican
Congress
of
1911],
which took
place
in
Laredo,
Texas. This
congreso, organized by
Nacasio Idar and his
family,
met to discuss five issues:
(1) deteriorating
Texas-Mexican economic condi-
tions;
(2)
the
already perceptible
loss of Mexican culture and the
Spanish
lan-
guage among
border
inhabitants;
(3) general
social
discrimination;
(4)
educa-
tion
discrimination;
and
(5)
the
officially
tolerated
lynchings
of Texas-Mexi-
cans
(Lim6n 1974:87-88).
The
primer congreso
mexicanista is
important
in
that it
represents
the mexicano
community's emerging recognition
of its
rights
and
place
in American
society.
These were not international or cross-border
grievances,
but the
grievances
of a
community
that,
although experiencing
social
discrimination,
was
just beginning
to see itself as
part
of U.S.
society.
Although
Lim6n's
article on the
primer congreso
mexicanista refers to
many
of the
people
with the referent
"Texas-Mexican,"
the
majority
of those
he
quotes
refer to themselves as "mexicanos."
Only
one
person
uses the
phrase
"Texas-Mexican"
representing
the
new,
and
many
times
uneven,
qualities
of
emergent identity (Williams 1977).
However,
it
goes
without
saying
that the
entire
agenda
of the
congreso signaled
a
growing
distinction between those
who saw themselves as Mexican in the national and
geographic
sense,
like the
Seditionists,
and the new
mexicotejanos.
The text of "Los Sediciosos" contains other evidence of this new and
emerg-
ing
social
identity.
In the same stanzas
quoted
above there is reference to the
colors blue and red: "Ya la mecha esta encendida con azul
y
colorado. Ya la mecha
esta encendida
muy
bonita
y
colorada." Reference to blue and red has a
very spe-
cific
political meaning
at this historical moment
(Gonzalez 1930:89).
The
"pu-
ros
mexicanos"
light
their fires in blue and
red,
colors associated with the dem-
ocratic
and
republican parties
in South
Texas,
because these
parties
do not
rep-
resent their interests. The
political process,
American
by design
and
jurisdic-
tion,
is of no
significance
to the
puros
mexicanos since
they
are
culturally
and
ideologically Mexican.
A
recruiting
handbill for the Plan de San
Diego
refers
to them as "los buenos
mexicanos, lospatriotas" [the good Mexicans, the
patriots]
(Montejano 1987:154).
The
puro
mexicano is a
patriot,
not of the United
States, but of Mexico. It is
precisely here, in the difference between the
puros
mexicanos and
mexicotejanos,
that the
unity
of the corrido form shifts
by
in-
corporating
a second authorial voice
(AV2).
Although
at one
point Paredes,
writing
about
Gregorio Cortez, could claim that "the
point
of view is local
rather than national"
(1958:183),
I would
suggest that, 15
years later, the view-
176
Journal of
American Folklore 105
(1992)
point
is neither local nor national but "remains on that
precarious utopian
mar-
gin
between the two"
(Saldivar 1990:174).
The text of "Los Sediciosos"
speaks
in two distinct voices. Those who
speak
as
puros
mexicanos see
Mexico,
like their Mexican
identity,
as a haven to
which
they
return
(it
is no coincidence that the heroic
figures
of
Cortina,
Cor-
tez,
and the Seditionists cross the border into
Mexico).
As
such,
the Lower-
Border corrido is the collective
expression
of national and
geo-cultural
con-
flict. But the text of "Los Sediciosos" is
quite
different. The
communal,
col-
lective voice is
split,
no
longer
Mexican,
but
mexicotejano, reflexively signal-
ing
the
mexicotejano community
as the source and
place
of its construction.
When the Lower-Border corrido has the Mexican "hero" and the
Anglo
"rinche" as its
primary
characters,
issues of national and cultural conflict are
represented,
never
moving beyond
the "Mexicanness" of the mexicano hero
or the "Americanness" of the
Anglo
rinche.
However,
as in the case of the
mexicotejanos,
"los de este
lado,"
once
identity
is constructed from the social
borders of socioeconomic and historical conditions of
marginalization
be-
tween two cultures, the
expressive,
discursive form of that
identity
also
changes.7
The
personal
narrative voice of "Los Sediciosos" is not that of the
hero "with his
pistol
in his
hand, " but of "los de este lado"
[those
on this
side],
who must face the
consequences
of an
increasingly marginalized identity.
Therefore,
the authorial tension between the
puro
mexicano and mexicote-
jano,
between those who flee to Mexico and those who
stay
and
"pay
the
price," signals
an
emergent
social
identity evolving
from that
"unstable
bor-
derline of
difference,"
as Saldivar refers to it
(1990:174),
that
distinguishes
the
mexicotejano
from both Mexicans and Americans. As
such,
the narrative
voice of the
mexicotejano,
and the
emergent identity
it
represents,
shift the
formal boundaries of the Lower-Border corrido.
Essentially,
once border conflict ceases to be the
primary
issue,
and the nar-
rative terrain is the
marginalized space
between U.S. and Mexican
culture,
and
not the
U.S.-Mexico border,
new narrative forms
emerge, changing
the role
of the corrido and its
"interpretations
of the historical world"
(Saldivar
1990:48).'
However,
future narratives do not
appear
sui
generis,
but
emerge
from,
and draw
upon,
earlier
expressive
forms. Here lies the
significance
of
"Los Sediciosos": it
symbolically
and
formally begins
to
anticipate
a con-
sciousness found in future Chicano/Chicana narrative forms. As
such,
"Los
Sediciosos" sets the narrative
stage
and enacts
particular expressive precondi-
tions of
political
consciousness that, a few
years later, are
realized.9
As Mario
Garcia claims,
The Mexican-American Generation, as a
political entity, began
to come of
age
in the 1930s, but
its
embryo
can be detected in the
Roaring
Twenties. In this decade Mexican Americans
already
stressed the need for a new
political
direction for themselves based on two basic needs: the im-
portance
of
instilling
a new consiousness
among
Mexican Americans-to
develop
a "new Mex-
ican" in the United States-and the need to
organize
new forms of
political
and civic
organiza-
Flores,
The Corrido and the
Emergence of
Texas-Mexican Social
Identity
177
tions-a "new
politics"-that
would best serve their interests
separate
from those of Mexican
immigrants. [1989:26]
Likewise,
in an article on the
League
of United Latin American Citizens
(LULAC),
an
early
Mexican-American
political organization
that
appeared
in
the late
1920s,
O. Douglas
Weeks refers to this
group
as a "Texas-Mexican"
organization (1929).
The reference to "Texas-Mexican" is
quite
salient,
be-
cause it
represents
the extent to which this
emergent identity
had
developed
by
1929.
And,
more
important,
it reveals how narrative formations
signal
changes
in social
practice,
since
LULAC,
according
to
Garcia,
is one of the
early political organizations attempting
to
rectify
the
marginal
conditions of
mexicanos in the U. S.
(Garcia 1989).
I
contend that the
presence
of the
mexicotejano
voice in the text of "Los
Sediciosos"
anticipates, through
formal
change
and reflexive
self-reference,
the ethnic consciousness of later
generations.
At the same
time,
I do not
sug-
gest
that this
text,
and its formal
changes, signal
the
presence
of a
fully
devel-
oped
Mexican-American
identity,
or that one text constitutes an entire tradi-
tion. Nor do I
suggest
that future Mexican-American or Chicano/Chicana
narrative forms are based
directly
or
entirely
on the corrido.
Yet,
Saldivar's
claim that the corrido's collective character leaves no
space
for the
idiosyn-
cratic voice must be reconsidered. In "Los
Sediciosos,"
the
mexicotejano
ex-
presses
a collective
consciousness,
however
fleeting
and
unformed,
of the cor-
rido
community's emerging
ethnic
identity,
an
identity incapable
of
being
ex-
pressed by
the authoritative discourse of the Mexican hero. That "Los Sedi-
ciosos"
begins
to subvert the notion of a unified Mexican hero
by displacing
and
decentering
such an
identity
in favor of a
split
and
multiple
one character-
istic of Chicano/Chicana narratives of future
generations points
to the discur-
sive consonance this text
anticipates."' Although
in
many ways
the corrido
"Los
Sediciosos"
maintains elements of the classic
form-boasts,
description
of
horses,
the fearful clown
(de
la
Rosa),
and
farewell-primary
elements,
such as the sense of a unified Mexican hero and the use of authoritative dis-
course,
are no
longer present.
Instead,
the text
distinguishes
between two
types
of Mexicans: the
"puro
mexicano,"
whose
identity
stems from his Mex-
ican
allegiance,
and the
"mexicotejano,"
a cultural form born from the ethnic
margins
of Mexican and American
society.
Notes
This article is an
expanded
and revised version of a
paper
read at the American
Ethnological Society
Meet-
ing
and the Mexican Americans in Texas
History Conference, both held in the
spring
of 1991. I wish to thank
Jos6
Lim6n,
Richard
Bauman,
Olga Naijera
Ramirez, Steve
Lee,
Ram6n
Saldivar,
Lourdes
Giordani, and,
as
always,
Christine Flores for
reading
and
commenting
on earlier drafts of this article. This research has been
made
possible by support
from the Graduate School of the
University
of
Wisconsin,
Madison. I would like
to dedicate this article to Am6rico
Paredes,
whose
scholarship
and humanism have served as a model to em-
ulate,
and
Jos6
Lim6n, whose critical
insights
and
friendship
have
challenged
me to think
beyond my
own
personal
borders.
178
Journal of
American Folklore 105
(1992)
'For the sake of
clarity,
references to the Seditionists
(in English)
refer to the
people
who formulated and
executed the Plan de San
Diego,
a small but
significant revolutionary
movement on the Texas-Mexico border
in 1915
spoken
about later in this article. References to "Los Sediciosos"
(in Spanish)
refer to the corrido
describing
the events.
2My
distinction between Mexican-American and Chicano is
quite specific.
Mexican-Americans are
gen-
erally
members of the Mexican
origin population
who were born in the U.S. and differentiate themselves
from recent
immigrants
from Mexico on the basis of distinctions such as
higher
class
ranking
and social status.
Such an effort has been characterized
by
Mario Garcia as the
development
of a "new Mexican"
alongside
a
"new politics" (1989:26). I
follow
Jos6
Lim6n's
usage
of the term Chicano and use it "to
identify
an
ethnic,
nationalist individual or
position,
one
opposed
to accommodation and assimilation with United States culture
and
society" (1981:200).
For an overview of Chicano and Chicana narrative see
Saldivar (1990).
3This history
has been the
subject
of
recent,
and not so
recent, historiography.
Historical
surveys
on this
issue can be found in Acufia
(1981),
De Leon
(1983), Montejano (1987),
and Weber
(1973).
Works that are
more focused
along geographical
or
disciplinary
lines include Barrera
(1979), Foley
et al.
(1988),
Garcia
(1981),
and
Hinojosa (1983).
Several of these historical events have been
interpreted
with their own corridos. The
corridos
ofJuan Cortina, Jacinto Trevifio,
and
Gregorio
Cortez and the events
surrounding
them are
espe-
cially interesting.
For a brief
summary
of these and other historical and narrative
figures,
see Paredes
(1976,
1979).
4For
a detailed
study
of the Mexican
history
of this
period
see Alba
(1967)
and Cockcroft
(1968).
5The diagram
I have outlined is
my
own variation of McDowell's schema
(1981:48).
6In
an earlier version of this article I alluded to this second voice less
directly.
I want to thank Richard
Bauman for
encouraging
me to
develop
this idea further.
7Historical accounts of this
marginalization
can be found in Barrera
(1979), Foley
et al.
(1988),
and Mon-
tejano (1987).
8Manuel
PNna (1985)
has
suggested
that the
conjunto
music of South Texas
replaces
the corrido in
popu-
larity
after 1930 because its
expressiveness
allows it to more
effectively interpret
the class
experience
of South
Texas Mexicans. On the
changing
function of the corrido see Pefia
(1982).
9A classic
example
of how aesthetic forms
begin
to
anticipate
and set the
preconditions
of future
political
enactments and consciousness is
Raymond
Williams's discussion of how
Jacobean
dramatic form
anticipated
the
subsequent
enactment of Hobbesian
political philosophy (1981:159).
.0Lim6n
(1992)
considers the corrido as a "master
poem,"
in Harold Bloom's terms, against
which future
generations
of Chicano
poets attempt
to write their own
"strong" poems.
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Rodolfo. 1981
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180
Journal of
American Folklore 105
(1992)
Appendix
"Los Sediciosos"
1. En
mil
novecientos
quince,
iqu6
dias tan calurosos!
voy
a cantar estos
versos,
versos de los sediciosos.
2. Ya con 6sta van tres veces
que
sucede
lo bonito,
la
primera
fue en
Mercedes,
en Br6nsvil
y
en San Benito.
3. En ese
punto
de
Norias
ya
merito les
ardia,
a
esos rinches
desgraciados
muchas balas les
llovia.
4. Ya la mecha est-i encendida
por
los
puros
mexicanos,
y
los
que
van a
pagarla
son los
mexicotejanos.
5. Ya la mecha estai encendida
con azul
y
colorado,
y
los
que
van a
pagarla
van a ser los de este lado.
6. Ya la mecha
esti
encendida,
muy
bonita
y
colorada,
y
la vamos a
pagar
los
que
no debemos
nada.
7. Decia Aniceto
Pizafia,
en su caballo cantando:
-?D6nde
estain
por
ahi
los rinches?
que
los
vengo
visitando.
8. -Esos rinches de la
Kinefia,
dicen
que
son
muy
valientes,
hacen
ilorar
las
mujeres,
hacen correr a las
gentes.-
9. Decia Teodoro
Fuentes,
abrochlindose
un
zapato:
-A esos rinches de Kinefia
les daremos un mal rato.-
10. Decia Vicente el Giro
In nineteen hundred
fifteen,
Oh but the
days
were hot!
I am
going
to
sing
these
stanzas,
stanzas about the seditionists.
With this it will be three times
that remarkable
things
have
happened,
the first time was in
Mercedes,
then
in Brownsville and San Benito.
In that well-known
place
called
Norias,
it
really got
hot for
them;
a
great many
bullets rained down
on those cursed rinches.
Now the fuse is lit
by
the true-born
Mexicans,
and it will be the Texas-Mexicans
who will have to
pay
the
price.
Now the fuse is
lit,
in blue and
red,
and it will be those on this side who
will have to
pay
the
price.
Now the fuse is
lit,
very
nice and
red,
and it will be those of us who are
blameless who will have to
pay
the
price.
Aniceto Pizafio
said,
singing
as he rode
along,
"Where can I find
the rinches?
I'm here to
pay
them a visit.
"Those rinches from
King
Ranch
say
that
they
are
very
brave;
they
make the women
cry,
and
they
make the
people run."
Then said Teodoro
Fuentes,
as he was
tying
his
shoe,
"We are
going
to
give
a hard time to
those rinches from
King
Ranch."
Then said Vicente el
Giro,
Flores,
The Corrido and the
Emergence of
Texas-Mexican Social
Identity
181
en su chico caballazo:
-Echenme ese
gringo grande,
pa'llevairmelo
de brazo.-
11. Contesta el
americano,
con su sombrero en las manos:
-Yo sf me
voy
con
ustedes,
son
muy
buenos maxacanos.-
12. Decia
Miguel
Salinas
en su
yegiiita
almendrada:
-iAy, qu6 gringos
tan
ingratos!
que
no nos
hagan parada.-
13. En ese
punto
de
Norias
se ofa la
peloteria,
del sefior Luis de la Rosa
nomis el llanto se oia.
14. El Sefior Luis de la Rosa
se tenia
por
hombrecito,
a la hora de los balazos
Iloraba como un
chiquito.
15.
Decia Teodoro
Fuentes,
decia con su risita:
-Echen
balazos, muchachos,
iqu6
trifulca
tan bonita!
16.
-Tiren,
tiren
muchachitos,
tiren,
tiren de a
mont6n,
que
el Sefior Luis de la Rosa
ha manchado el
pabell6n.-
17. Gritaba Teodoro Fuentes:
-Hay que pasar por
Mercedes,
para
ensefiarle a los rinches
que
con nosotros no
pueden.--
18. Les dice Luis de la Rosa:
-Muchachos
qu6
van a hacer?
Por Mercedes no
pasamos,
y
si no lo van a
ver.--
19. Contesta Teodoro Fuentes
con su voz
muy
natural:
-Vale mis
que
usted no
vaya
porque
nomis va a llorar.-
20. Pues
pasaron por Mercedes,
sitting
on his
great big
horse,
"Let me at that
big Gringo,
so we can amble arm-in-arm."
The American
replies,
holding
his hat in his
hands,
"I will be
glad
to
go
with
you;
you
are
very good
Maxacans."
Then said
Miguel
Salinas,
on his almond-colored
mare,
"Ah,
how
disagreeable
are these
Gringos!
Why
don't
they
wait for us?"
In that well-known
place
called
Norias,
you
could hear the sound of
firing,
but from Sefior Luis de la
Rosa,
all
you
could hear was his
weeping.
Sefior Luis de la Rosa
considered himself a brave
man,
but at the hour of the
shooting,
he cried like a
baby.
Then said Teodoro
Fuentes,
smiling
his little
smile,
"Pour on the
bullets,
boys;
what a beautiful fracas!
"Fire,
fire
away, my boys;
fire,
fire all at
once,
for Sefior Luis de la Rosa
has besmirched his colors."
Teodoro Fuentes
shouted,
"We
have to
go through
Mercedes,
so we can show the rinches
that we are too
much for them."
Luis de la Rosa tells
them,
"Boys,
what are
you going
to do?
We cannot
go through
Mercedes,
and
if
you
doubt
it,
you
soon will
see."
Teodoro Fuentes
replies,
in a
very
natural voice,
"It's best that
you
not
go
with us,
because all
you
will do is
cry."
So
they
did
go through Mercedes,
182
Journal of
American Folklore 105
(1992)
y
tambidn
por
San
Benito,
iban a tumbar el tren
a ese
dipo
del Olmito.
21. Ya se van los
sediciosos,
ya
se van de
retirada,
de recuerdos nos
dejaron
una veta colorada.
22. Ya se van los sediciosos
y quedaron
de
volver,
pero
no
dijeron
cuando
porque
no
podian
saber.
23.
Despedida
no la
doy
porque
no la
traigo aqui,
se la llev6 Luis de la Rosa
para
San Luis Potosi.
and also
through
San
Benito;
they
went to derail the train
at the station of Olmito.
The seditionists are
leaving,
they
have
gone
into
retreat;
they
have left us a red swath
to remember them
by.
The seditionists are
leaving,
they
said that
they
would
return;
but
they
didn't tell us when
because
they
had no
way
of
knowing.
I will not
give you my
farewell,
because I did not
bring
it with
me;
Luis de la Rosa took it with him
to San Luis Potosi.
[as quoted
in Paredes
1976:71-73]