When my wife talks about him,
she says, ‘‘He’s a communist. He
should have stayed at home and
taken care of his family.’’
—Carlos Pérez
In July 1999, I met with Catarino Garza’s grandson, Carlos Pérez, on his
ranch outside of Alice, Texas. The tall (6%6&), gaunt, seventy-seven-year-
old rancher had kept alive the memory of his grandfather, preserving
letters, photographs, and most important, the stories of the revolution. At
first he was reluctant to be interviewed, but after encouragement from his
nephew he held forth for the rest of the day, regaling me with stories about
his family’s roots in Texas and about Catarino’s insurrection. At the end of
the interview, he reached for a framed map of Spanish land grants that
hung on the wall of his trailer, and proudly pointed out his ancestor’s
parcels. Over the years, the family’s large grant has steadily dwindled in
size, being subdivided among relatives and sold in hard times, as was done
after Catarino’s revolt failed. The family is not poor by any means, but
neither are they rich, especially in comparison to the immense wealth of
the nearby King ranch. More than a claim to property once held and now
lost, however, the map symbolizes the family’s deep roots in South Texas
and their connection to the land. These are the roots that gave rise to
Garza’s revolution. Although the revolt was crushed before it could bloom
the roots are still intact, preserved and nurtured all of these years in the
memories of border Mexicans.
As the sun was about to set I visited the cemetery at Palito Blanco, the
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