AQUI Y ALLA.
Some year ago I wrote about “Demography and Destiny: American Hispanics in the 21st Century” which was met with mixed reactions, more negatively than positively. The Texas demographer Stephen Murdock was the most incandescent in his reaction despite his projections about the growth of Tejanos in the state. It turns out that for American Hispanics demography may be destiny based principally on fertility and motility, though there are signs that the American Hispanic birth-rate may not hold as has been projected. Indeed Latino population growth is not a singularity of infinite density. In the meantime, a lot of work and responsibility attends that growth.
Recently, the Los Angeles Times reported that “Latinos to Surpass Whites for First Time since California Statehood” (2/1/13). And that by the year 2060 “Latinos will make up 48% of the state’s population, compared with 30% for whites.” In the 90’s Texas Demographers predicted that between the years 2020 and 2040 half of the Texas population would be Hispanic, principally Mexican American. One Census forecast indicates that by the year 2095 half the country will be Hispanic (hard to believe). What this augurs was not revealed through that glass darkly. We see now what it all means per the presidential election of this year. American Hispanics drove the winning election for Barack Obama.
The 2010 Census data for New Mexico indicates 46.3% Hispanic and 40.5% white. The other 13% are principally Native Americans (8.5%). The African American population of New Mexico is small (1.7%). From its earliest days as a Spanish colony, New Mexico has had proportionately larger Hispanic populations except at the beginning when Indians outnumbered Hispanics. In 1912 Anglos outnumbered Hispanics, a situation that made it possible for New Mexico statehood. Senator Albert Beveridge of Indiana was the principal gatekeeper in keeping New Mexico at bay from statehood until the Anglo population exceeded the Mexican population.
Despite numerical superiority, New Mexican Hispanos have not fared well in the state though they have maintained a modicum of political presence in state and federal governments. When the state was a territory, Miguel Antonio Otero (appointed by President McKinley) served as the first Hispanic governor of the Territory of New Mexico (1897-1906). “In 1853 the New Mexico territory elected Democrat José Manuel Gallegos as its Delegate to Congress” (Hispanic Americans in Congress, 1822-1995, http://www.loc.gov/rr/ hispanic/congress/introduction.html .
In 1928 Republican Octaviano Larrazolo, became the first Hispanic Senator from New Mexico. In 1936, Democrat Dennis Chávez became the first Hispanic to serve a full term in the U.S. Senate, following two terms as a Representative. He served until his death in 1962. In 1964 New Mexico elected Senator Joseph Montoya (D), who served until 1977. In 1969 Republican Manuel Lujan was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. In more recent times, Jerry Apodaca was governor from 1975-78, Tony Anaya from 1983-86, and Susanna Martinez since 2010.
At times, New Mexicans have been divided over identity—norteños as Hispanos; and “surteños” as Chicanos. But that’s of minor import in the larger scheme of Hispanicity. What is truly startling in the matrix of identity is the presence of “cryptojews” (mostly Sephardim) in New Mexico. New Mexico provided safer asylum for Spanish Jews escaping or evading the Spanish inquisition. New Mexico is replete with contradictions of identity. Therein lies the lure of the state.
What is little known and less bruited is information about the Singularity of the Latino population growth in the United States. It all started, of course, with the arrival of the Spaniards in the Americas—I’m loathe to use the word “New World.” The families of those Spaniards and their descendants built communities in the American lands they explored. In lands now the United States they built communities like San Antonio, El Paso (del Norte), Santa Fe, Tucson, San Diego, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Monterrey, San Luis Obispo, San Francisco, and hundreds of smaller settlements in between. The land of the Mexican Cession was not devoid of people as is commonly reported in American history books.
In the United States proper, the first Hispanics to become Americans were the Hispanic Jews of New Netherlands (New Amsterdam which later became New York). Ethnic cleansing and Jewish pogroms were commonplace in 17th century Europe, having started with the expulsion of Jews from Spain in 1492.The Jews in the Netherlands of the early 17th century were expelled English Sephardic Jews. When the Romans dispersed the Jews after destroying their temple in Jerusalem in 73 AD, the Jews were dispersed to Germany, Spain, and elsewhere. Eventually the German Jews became identified as Ashkenazi Jews and the Jews of Spain became known as Sephardic Jews. This was the beginning of the Jewish Diaspora. The Sephardic Jews of New York (formerly New Amsterdam) played significant roles in the American Revolution.
With purchase of the Louisiana Territory in 1803, the United States acquired its next population of Hispanics who had settled in New Orleans, followed in 1819 with the Hispanics of Florida purchased from Spain. The largest acquisition of Hispanics by the U.S. came with the victory over Mexico, 1846-1848, The Hispanic Southwest was larger than Spain, France, and Italy combined. The last group of Hispanics acquired by the U.S. a re the populations of Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam (and the Philippines). These Hispanics constitute the “core population” of U.S. Hispanics whose descendants are the major population of Hispanic growth in the nation.
This history bears importantly on the history of New Mexico and the United States. Paraphrasing Santayana, those who do not know the history of their country are condemned to repeat the mistakes of their history. Finally, the United States is not a nation of immigrants. Ask a native of Hawaii if he or she is an immigrant. Ask the Aleuts of Alaska. Ask the Native Americans. Ask the Puerto Ricans. Ask the Chicanos.
Copyright 2013 by Dr. Felipe de Ortgo y Gasca