Plight of post-war Mexicans chronicled
Hispanics in the American West say it often: “We didn’t cross the border. The border crossed us.”
That actually happened, and generations of Hispanic families have had to live with it.
In the mid-1800s, when Mexico won its independence from Spain and Texas tried to go it alone, the United States was pulled into the Mexican-American War.
By 1848 it was over, and the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed. That treaty not only set the Rio Grande as the official border between Mexico and the United States, but it resulted in the entrance of Colorado and the rest of the Southwest into the United States.
But while those facts are historical, little is known about the Hispanic people who lived north of the river and had nothing to do with any of those events, yet endured the aftermath. At least until now.
Grand Junction resident Terri Ragsdale tells their story in her self-published book, “Roots of Indifference.”
More history book than novel, Ragsdale picks up the story years after the war and treaty. Starting in 1910, she tells of families who lived along this side of the Rio Grande and tracks them through decades.
She tells how today’s issues with immigrants aren’t new. Immigrants from the south began coming in great numbers from 1910–1920, when Mexico fought a revolution and the United States was pulled into “the war to end all wars” in Europe. It was a time that saw many Mexicans crossing the border to flee the revolution against the country’s dictator, President Porfirio Diaz.
For those Hispanics living in the United States, particularly those living along the lower Rio Grande in Texas, the times were fraught with corruption, discrimination and atrocities of all kinds, leaving the Mexican-Americans being treated as second-class citizens, Ragsdale says in the book.
Before retiring to the Grand Valley, Ragsdale spent two decades researching the book, including interviewing numerous families in the Rio Grande region.
Though her work is fiction and intended as a suspense novel, it reads more like a history text for those who want to know — almost too much detail — what life was like for those living through the times.