Batos, Bolillos, Pochos, and Pelados: Class and Culture on the South Texas Border

Batos, Bolillos, Pochos, and Pelados: Class and Culture on the South Texas Border

Batos, Bolillos, Pochos, and Pelados: Class and Culture on the South Texas Border

Batos, Bolillos, Pochos, and Pelados: Class and Culture on the South Texas Border

Excerpt

Just north of Brownsville, a few miles from the Gulf of Mexico, are two historic battlefields. One is the site of the first battle of the war with Mexico. The other is the location of the last battle of the Civil War.

In1846 war with Mexico began here when President James Polk, apparently to provoke a war, sent U.S. troops into this disputed territory, which Mexico also claimed. Mexico's response to the decision made in faraway Washington had its most direct impact on the border. And in 1865 the last battle of the Civil War was fought here six weeks after the war had officially ended at Appomattox. The commanders were simply so far removed from decision makers that they had not gotten the news.

Today, residents of the Texas-Mexico border are still the first affected and the last consulted when decisions are made in Washington, D.C., or Mexico, D.F. The NAFTA agreement, for example, has had its greatest impact on the border, though neither Washington nor Mexico City has paid much attention to sentiments and opinions of border residents. Similarly, the maquiladora industry produces strategic benefits for far-off economic and political centers. Border residents are left to manage the resulting stresses on their infrastructure with a small fraction of the economic resources created.

The same pattern was revealed when refugees from violence in Central America poured into the Lower Rio Grande Valley during the 1980s. U.S. involvement in Central America helped produce the flow of refugees, and federal decisions forced the refugees to remain in the Valley. Still, Washington showed litde concern for the strain on scarce local resources that these decisions created. In a similar way, Supreme Court decisions have forced border schools to . . .

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