Author of The Last Prince of the Mexican Empire, etc.
ON MEXICAN REVOLUTIONARY GENERAL PASCUAL OROZCO
AND FAR WEST TEXAS
(APPROX 55 MINUTES)
C.M. Mayo: The first paragraph of Raymond
Caballero's Lynching Pascual Orozco: Mexican Revolutionary
Hero and Paradox begins with this:
to Marfa Mondays. I'm your host, C.M. Mayo, and this is podcast
number 20 in the 24 podcast series exploring Marfa, Texas and
environs, apropos of my book in progress, World
Waiting for a Dream: A Turn in Southwest Texas.
The Mexican Revolution, rollercoastin' kaleidoscope of conflicts, alliances, personalities, was launched by Francisco I. Madero in 1910. A little ways into 1911 the dictator Porfirio Díaz was off to exile in Paris, and Madero elected President. In 1913, however, Madero was overthrown in a coup d'etat and murdered by order of General Victoriano Huerta. Victoriano Huerta in turn was soon overthrown. Then came President Venustiano Carranza, originally a Maderista, who went on to battle Emiliano Zapata and Pancho Villa, and in the endwhich came for Carranza in 1920 his own general, Alvaro Obregón. The Revolution ended in 1920 with Alvaro Obregón's Presidency, or as some historians argue, with the end of the Cristero Rebellion in 1929.
Trying to keep all the names, dates, and shifting alliances of the Mexican Revolution straight is a task that would require a bottle of Advil. No worries, in the show notes to this podcast you will find links to learn more about Francisco I. Madero, Emiliano Zapata, Pancho Villa, Victoriano Huerta, Venustiano Carranza, and others mentioned in this podcast, as well as a basic timeline. By the way, not a one of those links will be to Wikipedia. Down with Wikipedia.
will also find a map of Far West Texas which shows that most
of it borders on Mexico's State of Chihuahua. You will be hearing
a lot about Chihuahua in this podcast.
Raymond Caballero: Al contrario, gracias.
Lynching Pascual Orozco: Revolutionary Hero and Paradox
is a very original and vital contribution to the literature on
the Mexican Revolution, and also to that on the history of the
Trans-Pecos of Far West Texas.
Raymond Caballero: Yes. He was certainly the biggest hero, the most important hero the State of Chihuahua has ever produced. I can't think of any other on that scale. He was a national hero. If you take the pivotal defining battle of the Mexican Revolution you would have to say was the Battle of Ciudad Juárez, which was in the first part of the Revolution. It was that battle that caused the end of the Porfirio Díaz dictatorship. It would not have happened, in my opinion, without Pascual Orozco. First of all, he was the military leader of that effort.
He became such a large
hero that he at times eclipsed the hero worship for Madero or
for Abraham González certainly, the Governor of Chihuahua.
When the two would stand, whether it be Pascual Orozco and Madero
or Pascual Orozco and González whenever
Pascual Orozco was there, there were more cheers for Pascual
Orozco. That's documented by newspaper reports of that happening.
C.M. Mayo: He ended up allying with the very people the Revolution was trying to fight.
Raymond Caballero: Yes.
C.M. Mayo: the oligarchy.
First of all,
he betrayed if you want to use that word he turned
on Madero. And at that time when he turned on Madero, Madero
was very unpopular. Others had turned on Madero as well, Zapata,
certainly Flores Magon. There were any number of rebellions against
what I would call the political revolution, that is, the complaints
that they had were this interminable dictatorship, the lack of
free and honest elections, [lack of] normal cycles for elections,
[lack of] contested candidacy, corruption, and so forth. Those
were the political complaints. Those were the complaints that
Madero was interested in addressing.
C.M. Mayo: So Orozco is really, as you say in the subtitle of your book, he's a hero like a big movie star of his time and a paradox because he turns on the Revolution.
Raymond Caballero: Yes. The paradox in Pascual actually even occurred before Huerta, because during his own rebellion in 1912, his rebellion was financed by the very people they had been fighting during the Madero portion of the Revolution, during the Battle of Juárez, the oligarchy.
C.M. Mayo: Terrazas.
Raymond Caballero: Yes, he allied, he was financed by these very wealthy people. Today's analogy would be, [what] he did, that is, [what] Orozco did, [would as] if Bernie Sanders allied with the Koch brothers.
C.M. Mayo: [Laughs] That's a good analogy. It's just, that's unthinkable.
Raymond Caballero: Okay, that's the paradox. How can you say the things that Bernie Sanders says and be allied with the Koch brothers? Well, it's the same thing. Well, that's what Pascual Orozco did. He espoused ideas very much from the left, from the cries for land and labor reform, at the same time that he became an ally, he was financed by the people who wanted the opposite. That is the paradox of Pascual Orozco.
One of the things about Pascual Orozco that really intrigued
me is, when we go back and look at him in 1910 and he's helping
Madero and the Battle of Ciudad Juárez, for those
who aren't too familiar with their geography, is right on the
other side of El Paso, Texas. So in your book you have so many
wonderful photographs, and one of them is of tourists, people
just standing on the roof of a hotel in El Paso, Texas to watch
the Battle of Juárez.And of course the Battle of Juárez
was a key battle in the Revolution, because taking Juárez
enabled the revolutionaries then to start importing arms from
the United States. But where I'm going with this is that when
we look at Orozco, he comes from a background
was really... To put it into a larger context, the people of
the northwest part of Chihuahua, that is, those communities that
abut the Sierra, they service and provision the Sierra and they
did so, many of them, by being muleskinners. They were transporters
through very dangerous country. So these are people who are on
horseback all the time, all of them armed, and they knew how
to use arms. That's
what made them a very special force.They were a ready-made cavalry
for the Revolution.
And because they were the ones who took the battle to Díaz, they became the most important fighting force in the Revolution. And even though he had never served a day in the military, by virtue of being the leader of that group and the fact that they were the ones who took the fight, he became the military leader of the nation for the rebellion.
C.M. Mayo: And so he had this position, he had the status, and yet he was not particularly well-educated, he had no military experience, and yet he expected the reward of being made, say, minister of war a cabinet position which Madero wouldn't give him. So he was very angry, very disappointed.
Raymond Caballero: This is true. Pascual Orozco had a number of problems with Madero. I've already mentioned one, that is, that Madero did not sign on to undoing the socioeconomic harms of the Díaz dictatorship. So he was already kind of upset about that. But then Orozco and his father were both absolutely believers that to the victors go the spoils. And since he was the big military leader in Juárez and became the national military hero, he expected a national post.
Well, here's a man with a third- or fourth-grade education, and Madero was not about to give a national post to a person he considered to be an unlettered individual. And thus he didn't give it to him, he gave him the relatively minor post of being head of the military constabulary over here in Chihuahua, and that made both father and son quite bitter.
C.M. Mayo: There's another part of the bitterness that you talk about in the book that I think is very important, and my guess is that Madero understood that, like any revolution, it wouldn't be easy to govern coming in. Dealing with the army would be very tricky. And so I think Madero felt that he had to show the army that he would work with them and respect their hierarchy as much as possible. And I think that was one of the reasons my guess why Madero did not go after General Navarro, who was the general they were fighting in the Battle of Ciudad Juárez. And Pascual Orozco had very good reason, as you point out, to find that a betrayal to the core.
Ray Caballero: Yes. That was a very personal thing not only to Orozco, but don't forget that Orozco's group were basically a group of 20 to 40 individuals from a little tiny village who formed the core of his support group. In one of the initial battles of the Revolution, before the battle of Ciudad Juárez, you're referring to conduct on the part of General Juan Navarro.
General Juan Navarro defeated Pascual Orozco in this particular Battle of Cerro Prieto, and he captured about 20 individuals who were still alive. Some of them were wounded. Many of these people, two of them were Pascual Orozco's brothers-in-law, there was an uncle, relatives, lifelong friends, this little group from this village. And Navarro went ahead and executed them in a very brutal fashion. They either bayonetted them or they put them on fire.
C.M. Mayo: Burned them alive.
Ray Caballero: It was just extremely brutal.
And there was also a clause in the Plan of San Luis [Potosí],
which is the plan of Madero, that said that if the federal forces
executed anyone who was a captive, those people who had improperly
executed someone should themselves be executed within 24 hours.
Well, Orozco and all these people expected that if Juan Navarro
became a captive, since he had executed any number of people
improperly, he should himself be executed within 24 hours.
That was their expectation.
C.M. Mayo: Yeah, I can imagine. And at the same time, from a larger strategic point of view, it sent a message to the Mexican army, you can join us, we're safe. And I think that probably helped the Revolution triumph as it did.
Raymond Caballero: That plus the PR that Madero was trying to engender that they were not a bunch of brutal thugs, that this revolution was civilized, and they were going to comport with the norms of civilization. They weren't just going to be executing people right and left. And he was trying not only to and that's a very good point that you brought out, to message to the Mexican federal troops but this is a message to the United States, to others who were looking at their conduct.
C.M. Mayo: So we've got Pascual Orozco who plays this important role, this vital role, and yet he has good reason to be very confused and very angry. And he rises against President Madero, and then he ends up helping Huerta, and then Huerta falls and comes to live in exile under house arrest in El Paso. And that's where Orozco ends up, as well. And that brings us to your story of how Pascual Orozco died. And the story that we've always heard is really in two paragraphs in Michael Meyers' Mexican Rebel.
Raymond Caballero: Go ahead and read it if you want to, if you have it in front of you.
Okay. Yeah, I do.
Ray Caballero: That's correct. Meyers is a
very fine historian, and this is essentially the only English-language
biography that's been done, until my book came out. And Meyers,
what he did basically is, he took the story that appeared in
The New York Times, and it was the same general story
that the posse was putting out, that the ranch hands at the Dick
Love Ranch had been attacked, that these people had run away,
that they were armed, and then they had formed a posse to go
chase them, that they chased them into a box canyon, and they
went on both sides, the posse did, and in the fusillade the Mexicans
who were firing back, didn't want to surrender, were killed.
That is the story.
C.M. Mayo: So they were invited.
Ray Caballero: So that's what they did. Two of them went to the ranch house
C.M. Mayo: They were invited to the ranch.
Ray Caballero: And they were invited to the
ranch. They did not raid the ranch house.
C.M. Mayo: But the U.S. Government did not want anyone to start up a revolution in Mexico that they were not supporting
Ray Caballero: No. No, they certainly didn't want Huerta to win. The U.S. Government was not for what Pascual Orozco was doing for another good reason, that they were backed by the Germans.
and this was World War I.
C.M. Mayo: But he nevertheless managed to put the money together and escape from house arrest. So he's heading into the desert to start his revolution when the cook at the Dick Love Ranch says, "I'll fix you something to eat."
Ray Caballero: Yes. And so he ran away, they chased him for another day or so. They'd gone over the Eagle Mountains these are pretty high mountains, and they went over the Eagle Mountains at night on horseback. You can imagine how harrowing that was. So of course by the afternoon of the next day, no question, they were spent, and their horses were spent. And when they were found in this box canyon, more than likely all of the Mexicans were asleep at that point.
The point being that one individual grabbed his gun and ran up to the ridge before anyone had a chance, and before they knew it, either four of them or all five of them had been killed by this one individual lawman who had quite a reputation of being a killer. They were not killed in a fusillade, they were killed by one individual. They were not asked to surrender, there's no evidence that they were shooting back.
C.M. Mayo: William Davis Allison [head of the posse and Sierra Blanca Deputy Constable]. And you've got a picture of him in your book, and that's not anybody I'd want to tangle with!
Raymond Caballero: [Laughs] You're a smart person, Catherine! He had a fame for killing people. Now, a lot of Western magazine stories on him and the biography of him told about him as a big hero because he killed so many people, forgetting about the fact that it's not the job of lawmen to kill people unless they are under threat themselves. Their job is to bring somebody in and put them into the wheels of justice. Well, this guy didn't quite understand that part of it.
you write about him is that, "William Davis Allison was,
to say the least, the type of lawman popular frontier Western
stories love, a man who neither gave nor asked for quarter. He
was a gunslinger with a badge. He did not cut his corners square
when it came to the specific division of duties parceled out
by the criminal justice system."
Raymond Caballero: He admitted that. A little later on, as you know, it just so happened that the young George Patton, then a 2nd lieutenant, about a month later, they met, and this guy Allison confessed well, he didn't confess to him, he was bragging, I'm sure to other people. He bragged that, "Yes, I'm the one that killed all five of them at 60 yards, and I kill several Mexicans every month." That's what he said.
C.M. Mayo: You use the word "lynching" in the title, and I think it's important to talk for a moment about what I mean, I think most people have an image of lynching as burning someone alive or hanging them from a tree. But you write, "Lynching is a term" I'm quoting you "applied to the wanton killing of an individual by a mob. The definition includes the extrajudicial homicide by lawmen."
Yes. The term,
we typically think of it in terms of lynchings that happened
in the South. Those were mostly mob actions, and they often did
string oftentimes African Americans, and they just strung them
up, and they were called "lynched." Lynch doesn't come
from choking somebody, Lynch was the name of an individual, I
the history goes
back to English and Irish history where there was a gentleman
by the name of Lynch, okay? But anyway, a lynching for example
in today's terms, if a police officer's taking a suspect to the
station house in the back of a squad car and turns around and
shoots that individual in captivity, that is a lynching, okay?
C.M. Mayo: Let's talk a minute about the context of the time and place. This part of Far West Texas along the border with Chihuahua is very mountainous, it's very sparsely populated, it's desert, dry mountains. This was where the Apaches and some Comanches would come through until they were taken out in end of the 19th century. But at the time that Pascual Orozco ventures into this area... can you talk a little bit about what was going on and why it was so easy to get up a posse?
This area is
very remote, as you mentioned in your opening remarks.
Very remote. There's hardly anything around there, it's
very rugged country. And as a result, it has always been a country
where there's been a lot of smuggling. Most of it was stolen
Mexican cattle brought into the United States. Oftentimes there
was a nice relationship between the cattle people in the United
States, and they bought a lot of the stolen cattle. And some of the traffic went
in the other direction. There are also Mexican raiders stealing
U.S. cattle and selling them in Mexico. Smuggling has always
been a two-way street. So that was going on.
C.M. Mayo: And that had a lot to do with German agents.
Yes. The people
in this plan were inviting Mexicans, Mexican-Americans in the
United States, to revolt against the U.S. so they could later
on be reincorporated back into Mexico. Later on, the Germans
picked up on the same thing, trying to create mischief for the
United States on the Mexican border with the thought that by
keeping the United States occupied on the Mexican border, they
wouldn't want to go off into the adventure of Europe and World
War I. That was the theory. That went on, by the way, in Germany
deep into 1917 even. And
that's why the Germans backed Pascual Orozco and Victoriano Huerta
in this attempted revolt against Carranza. But anyway, so the
Texans because of this Plan of San Diego and looking at a lot
of Mexicans as raiders when most of them were not. They had killed
a lot of innocent Mexicans in the United States, and Mexican-Americans
in the United States, and it had become a great source of controversy,
especially for the Texas Rangers, such that the Texas Legislature
in 1919 had a big investigation over the Texas Rangers.
C.M. Mayo: That's an important thing to understand. But in the posse that went after Pascual Orozco and his men there weren't any Texas Rangers.
Raymond Caballero: There were two former Texas Rangers in the group
C.M. Mayo: Former.
Raymond Caballero: One of them was Allison, whom you've already mentioned, and one of them was named Herff Carnes, and he was then working as a customs officer. But both of them had been former Texas Rangers, and one of them, Allison, is the one who fired all the fatal shots.
C.M. Mayo: Well, let's talk now about how you uncovered the story.
Raymond Caballero: Well, we got the court records out of the Culberson County Courthouse actually a friend got them for me. The most important record there is the inquest record.
C.M. Mayo: And that's the courthouse in Van Horn?
Raymond Caballero: Yes, ma'am. That's the county seat of Culberson County. And in there there's two one is the legal file, but the inquest that the JP [Justice of the Peace] did of this whole event has a statement by an El Paso deputy sheriff where he sets out there's no statement by the two ranch hands who supposedly were held up, but in there this El Paso deputy sheriff, Schrock was his name, mentions what the two ranch hands told him. And those are the two ranch hands, as you already mentioned before, who told him that they had invited, or one of them had invited the Mexicans to come eat at the ranch house. That's how we know that there was no raid.
We also know from that inquest that they didn't know who they were chasing. What happened is, they became so concerned because the Dick Love ranch house was then in El Paso County. Where the people were shot and killed was in Culberson County. So what happened was that the posse was concerned that there were a lot of Mexicans that were very upset over the killing of Pascual Orozco in El Paso County.
C.M. Mayo: Yes, and he had family in El Paso. He does today.
Raymond Caballero: Yes, there's a huge controversy, Catherine, in San Antonio, in El Paso, in Mexico City. Even Carranza was asking for explanations as to how the man was killed, and they wanted an investigation. So what happened was, "whoa, we didn't kill just some ordinary Mexican horse thief, we killed General Pascual Orozco, the biggest military hero of the early part of the Revolution! And what happens if the Mexicans in El Paso are able to pressure officials and they start a grand jury investigation there?"
As a result of the concern that they had, Sheriff Morine of Culberson County did something very unusual. He went in to the Grand Jury of Culberson County and asked the Grand Jury to indict him and all of the posse for the murder of Pascual and his companions. There you go. The sheriff didn't want to be sent off to prison for these indictments. No, it was part of a cover-up.
And actually the inquest was also part of a cover-up, because they really didn't do anything to find out, did the Mexicans shoot back? Was there resistance? Had they really raided the ranch house? And had they done that, they may have been indicted properly right there in Culberson County. But anyway, they got indicted. Three days later they had a very quick trial in front of a district judge, and I'm not sure they presented any evidence. But within minutes, of course, as soon as they swore the jury in, the jury found them not guilty for no evidence, and the judge dismissed the case. Now that meant, by having gone through a trial, that meant they were then clothed with the immunity of the double jeopardy clause in the Constitution. They could not thereafter be held accountable for that murder.
C.M. Mayo: So kind of counterintuitively, indicting them was a way to cover it up. They indicted them, had the trial, closed the book.
Raymond Caballero: And it worked, because no jury or no community could thereafter investigate or attempt to charge them. And if that was their goal, which I think it was, it worked magnificently.
C.M. Mayo: That's really something to have uncovered.
Raymond Caballero: Well, it's been there for 100 years, and for reasons I can't explain. It's not that I went looking for something underneath that was not visible. And then there were also some very interesting one was an oral history done by one of the Loves, and a very interesting document that I sent you a copy of by a former sheriff of Hudspeth County by the name of, a very nice name, of Dogie Wright.
C.M. Mayo: D-o-g-i-e, Dogie Wright with a W.
Raymond Caballero: Dogie is a motherless calf, right?
C.M. Mayo: [Laughs] That's a nickname!
Raymond Caballero: That was his nickname, Dogie. And also he was the son-in-law of one of the Loves who owned a ranch there and who was one of the people who were indicted. So this guy was a lawman, former Texas Ranger also, and a sheriff of the area. And so he made a very credible, he typed it out himself, an eight-page statement where he says he interviewed all of the people involved in the posse, and this is what really happened.
He also backs up what this one fellow Allison said, that he killed them all, and Wright basically says the same thing. He did kill them all, but worse than that, he says he killed four of them right away. One of the Mexicans was running away, and he was brought to Allison for questioning, and Allison killed him, he said by accident, right there while he was being questioned.
C.M. Mayo: By accident?
Raymond Caballero: By accident, he said. I'm not sure I believe that.
C.M. Mayo: That sounds kind of bizarre. And remind me, where did you find the Dogie Wright document?
Raymond Caballero: That one, first of all, is deposited in the University of Texas Historical Archives, I forget the name, The American History Collection I believe it's called, and that's where it is. But it's a document that I remember I saw a lady who was in Sierra Blanca at their little historical museum very nice little museum and she had a copy. And so there are copies around. It's a very interesting document, and this Dogie Wright is a very engaging individual.
I read it I felt like I could almost hear his voice, kind of
vernacular, you know, Far West Texas from all those years ago.
Raymond Caballero: Well, that's a very, very good question. And the only answer I have for it from my memory is this. Of course I've been interested I am a recovering lawyer by profession, and I've been interested in the Mexican Revolution for much of my life. And with my friends, I pester them all the time because I'm talking about it all the time, and one or two of them I think in a state of exasperation said, "You know, you talk about it so much, why don't you write something about it?" Well, I just started, one time I decided, you know what, they may be right. I should do that, sit down and write something.
So I started writing
something. I did not start intending to write about Pascual Orozco,
but as I got to writing what I thought was going to be a historical
novel which by the way I finished and then I gave it to a historian friend
of mine who read it and said, "You know Ray, what you ought
to do is pull the history out of that and just write a straight
history of Pascual Orozco."
But let me say to the listening public that the story's not over. I'm just giving you some of the versions, and I tell you this is what I think happened, but for those reading the book, I hope they come to your own conclusions, and they may or may not be the same as mine, probably won't be. But you give people enough facts and then let them think about it. There are a lot of people who are very interested in this history. Some of them have records, family knowledge that has been passed down to other generations. Of course almost everybody who was alive in 1915 most likely is not around today. But the people the stories are passed down, the family, some of them may be accurate, some of them may not be. I am very interested in hearing from those who have some knowledge. They might think it's not important. It is important, and I'd like to hear from the public on that.
C.M. Mayo: What you just said is so important. I think oftentimes and I know many of the people who live in Marfa and the towns around there, their ancestors, just a couple generations back were refugees from the Revolution. So there are people who, their great-grandparents might've known Pancho Villa, and there might be a letter, there might be a photo, there might be a memory.
oftentimes when the older generation passes away, the younger
generation doesn't imagine that someone would care about the
details of these things, and they're tremendously valuable! I
would really encourage anyone who has documents, don't throw
them out! Consider bringing them to an archive where they can
be cared for. Marfa
Public Library has a very important collection of oral histories. El Paso has
a wonderful archive, the Border
Plus there's the universities.
Raymond Caballero: [Laughs] Yes!
C.M. Mayo: And you are now in Oregon, which is why we're doing this on Skype. And I see that your Skype photograph is of Pancho Villa.
Raymond Caballero: [Laughs] Yes! Well, they asked for a photograph of some sort. That's what I put up. I see yours is Pugs Not Drugs.
C.M. Mayo: Yeah, Pugs Not Drugs. So you're a long way away from El Paso now. Do you miss it? What do you miss about it?
Raymond Caballero: Of course, I miss my friends, family, I miss the food. But I also live in a wonderful community. Portland is quite a nice place to be in. And so a lot of my friends come up here. I have given a lot of people an opportunity to come spend time with me, which they do during the summer especially when it's so beautiful here and they want to get away from the heat a little bit.
So another loss of being up here is, you mentioned it already, that is that El Paso and that area, Juárez, Marfa, and all that, that's where the resources are, the archives, the photographs, everything else. Of course a lot of the families. There are many Orozco family members in El Paso still today. They remain there in Ciudad Juárez, prominent people in the community. And so the history of the Mexican Revolutionmy family, my mother's side, came across because of the Orozco rebellion. They were just trying to flee Mexico, and they did, just barely made it across the border to El Paso. So all of this history is not only in the Mexican community, but in the Anglo community as well. The border, El Paso, is absolutely part of the Mexican Revolution, as was the Marfa area, and Sierra Blanca, and all that.
C.M. Mayo: What brought you out to Oregon? What prompted you to leave El Paso?
Raymond Caballero: My wife decided she wanted to get a degree in public policy, so we went to Pittsburgh for two years when she went to Carnegie Mellon University. And she's originally from Oregon. And when we were through with that I told her, "I only have one move left in me, so it's either going to be El Paso, it's going to be New Mexico, or it's going to be Oregon." And we thought about that, and at that time her mom was in an assisted living home here in Oregon, and when we thought about it, that was good enough reason. And we've made a very nice life here. And my wife is now the elected City Auditor of the City of Portland. I'm very happy here. But I do miss my friends, and I do miss New Mexico and Juárez. I miss Mexico a lot too, by the way.
C.M. Mayo: You can go so easily from El Paso. Hop over the border.
Raymond Caballero: Yes. It's part of living in El Paso, and that was what made all the violence so bad, is that for me living on the border, Juárez was just right there, so accessible, you could go across all the time, you have friends, you eat, and so forth. And now I'm glad to see that it's getting back more toward normal. Of course [I am] very near flights to Mexico City, we go to Oaxaca, all these other places, driving around Chihuahua all the time, which I still do. I miss that part, the proximity.
C.M. Mayo: I'd like to also just take advantage of being able to ask you, since you know it so well, Far West Texas, Trans-Pecos Texas, how would you see that as different from Texas as a whole?
Raymond Caballero: It's very different. This is not just true in Texas. Places that are on the periphery, far away from the center of whatever place it is, for example here in Oregon the people of eastern Oregon think they're more part of Idaho than they are part of Oregon. They want to secede. El Paso tried to secede four times. [Laughs]
The nearest town in Texas is 300 miles away, it's basically Midland. Albuquerque is closer, and Tucson is about the same distance. And of course, Chihuahua is closer. So it's just so far away.
Really what El Paso is, is an island in a sea of desert. And on that island are three communities, New Mexico, Las Cruces, El Paso in Texas, and Ciudad Juárez in Mexico. That's what's on that island. And yes, it's three states, two nations, two languages. That's the way I look at that community is, it's one community, and that is always the way I've seen it. It just happens to be divided in multiple jurisdictions, making it very challenging to govern, making it very challenging to plan and to do things like pollution and so forth. You know, the air doesn't respect those boundaries. So anyway, it's just a very interesting and a wonderful area to live in.
C.M. Mayo: Do you see it changing?
Raymond Caballero: Well, yes, it's always changing. My hope is that, I have always believed that ultimately the most important thing in any community are your human resources, your people, and we have been blessed in El Paso in having tremendous amounts of talent. But the challenge that El Paso has had, Ciudad Juárez too has had, is that we don't provide enough opportunity for people who want to stay to be able to stay or people who want to return to be able to return. If you give someone a fine education, as I told a friend recently, it's tantamount to giving them a Greyhound bus ticket out of town. And that's the challenge. Yes, we should educate people, but what we need to do is really work a lot more to provide opportunities so people can stay.
C.M. Mayo: It's a surprisingly beautiful place.
Raymond Caballero: Yeah. And it is so interesting. And you're a historian, you would appreciate this. I don't know that there's any place in Texas that has the most wonderful multifaceted history of El Paso. I think El Paso has the most interesting labor history. No other city in Texas has the most interesting history of the Mexican Revolution that El Paso does. San Antonio has some, but none like El Paso. We also are the only part of Texas that is part of the reclamation part of the United States, 17 states where they have irrigation, and dams, and all that stuff. We're the only part of Texas that shares in that part of history.
El Paso really there was an error made, it never should have been part of Texas, it should have been part of New Mexico. Where you mentioned the Trans-Pecos, really that's where the boundary should be. And it's always been an odd fit. There was Comanche territory basically in the Trans-Pecos, and the people from Texas never could get to El Paso because there was Comanche land right in the middle of it! So the line of communication for El Paso was really from Santa Fe to Mexico City. It was a north/south line, and there was no communication from El Paso east, virtually none.
C.M. Mayo: I've read a few of the memoirs of people crossing in the 19th century on a stagecoach, and it's horrific. And they would come across people who were scalped, and body parts, and
You know, Catherine,
I think that in 1848 after they signed the Treaty of Guadalupe
Hidalgo and then El Paso by virtue of that map became part of
Texas, they had to send a couple of expeditions out to El Paso
to find El Paso. And only one of them succeeded, by the way.
like to come back to your book. Because when we look at the Trans-Pecos
we have El Paso way at that elbow of a corner out west. People
who live outside the region, a few have heard of Marfa, and of
course everyone's heard of El Paso, but of the general region,
very few people have heard of the places there. And when we look
at the story of Pascual Orozco, he's coming close to Sierra Blanca,
he's coming down the corridor with the Quitman Mountains to his
south, he's going through the Eagle Mountains, he's coming into
the Van Horn Mountains. We have his body getting taken to the
courthouse in Van Horn. And he's not too far from Marfa, he's
about eight miles from Lobo, which is a ghost town now. The story
in this very cinematic way comes into the region, it comes into
the Trans-Pecos and touches on so many parts of the Trans-Pecos.
It's really a wonderful map. It's on page 194.
The best thing they can do right now is that they can write me
at the following e-mail address. firstname.lastname@example.org. That is just
my initials, rcc, email@example.com. No caps, no periods, no nothing,
just that's what it is. But this e-mail address and thank
you for asking for it I would be happy to receive ideas
and information, particularly about Pascual Orozco, about events
in 1915, and any tips that someone might have. Even though I'm
largely through with that project, you never do lay something
C.M. Mayo: Well, thank you!
Raymond Caballero: I just love talking to you, and I wish you the best on your project. Let's see how it goes.
Yeah. Well, I'm learning a lot, and your book is a really fundamental
book for me in learning about the region. So I thank you. And
for people listening, go get this book!
If you're listening sometime after this was posted in November 2015, it's possible my book has been written and indeed published, so I invite you to find out all about it on my website, www.cmmayo.com, where you can also find out about my several other books, including The Last Prince of the Mexican Empire, Mexico: A Traveler's Literary Companion, and most recently, Metaphysical Odyssey into the Mexican Revolution: Francisco I. Madero and His Secret Book, Spiritist Manual. For all my books you will find excerpts, podcasts, interviews, reviews, and more.
I also invite you to
visit my website, again cmmayo.com,
to listen in any time to the many other Marfa Mondays podcasts.
To mention just a few, podcast number 17 is Under
Sleeping Lion: Lonn Taylor in Fort Davis. Lonn Taylor is
an historian, the author of many books on Texas and other subjects,
and as "The Rambling Boy," he contributes a delightful
and always surprising column for the Big Bend Sentinel.
And podcast number
7 is We Have Seen the Lights:
The Marfa Ghost Lights Phenomenon.