Magazine article Humanities

Life on the Border the Work of Ramon Eduardo Ruiz

Magazine article Humanities

Life on the Border the Work of Ramon Eduardo Ruiz

Article excerpt

Ramon Eduardo Ruiz, professor emeritus of history at the University of California, San Diego, has spent all of his seventy-seven years living "within hailing distance of the Mexican border, at one time or another calling Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California home."

"You could call me a Mexicanist," Ruiz says. He was born to Mexican parents, living and working in the U.S., but who never became U.S. citizens because they "were very proud of their heritage and instilled this pride in their children." As a historian and scholar of Mexico and Latin America, Ruiz may indeed have been born to his work. Ruiz said his birthplace and experiences inspired him to concentrate his studies on the Mexican border. The border is described in his latest book, On the Rim of Mexico, Where the Rich and Poor Rendezvous, "as one of the longest international boundaries in the world, setting apart two entirely different countries for more than two thousand miles. Nowhere else does a poor, Third World country like Mexico share a common border with a wealthy, powerful neighbor."

"The Mexican border," he writes, "brings back memories of my youth and forebears. My mother, her father and mother, and her grandparents, as well as patriarchs before them, were born and matured on the outskirts of Parral, a mining town in the border province of Chihuahua that dates from the early seventeenth century.... My mother and two of her sisters were the exceptions; they married, migrated north, and then succumbed on this side of the border."

Ruiz was born September 9, 1921, just a few miles from San Diego where his father worked for the legendary landowner Kate Sessions, one of the pioneers in the development of San Diego. Sessions was an expert on plants and horticulture, and Ruiz's father, Ramon, worked for her, learning the business and then opening his own nursery. His mother, Delores Urueta, worked alongside his father in their own nursery. "My mother was intent on reminding us of our heritage and we always spoke Spanish at home, even though we all also spoke English," he says.

As the author of fifteen books and numerous articles about Mexico and Latin America, Ruiz's work is used as standard reference for Hispanic scholars. In addition, he has avidly studied Cuba and, in 1968, his book, Cuba: The Making of a Revolution, was named one of the twenty-one best history books that year by the Washington Post Book World.

His 1980 book on the Mexican Revolution broke new scholarly ground and further enhanced Ruiz's standing as a historian. …

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