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The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 96, July 1992 - April, 1993

Book Reviews

in the workings of U.S. foreign policy. Interestingly, Gonzalez believes that
educational equity will be seen in the Southwest when Mexico emerges as a de-
veloped nation. Given the nature of global relationships, we may be the under-
developed one.
Gonzales does an excellent job in discussing the Mendez v. Westmnster case,
based on complaints of Mexican Americans against several southern California
schools that placed their children in separate facilities. As a landmark decision,
this first federal application of the Fourteenth Amendment to overturn segre-
gation based on the "separate but equal" doctrine, had far-reaching implica-
tions. In Texas, the Delgado v. Bastrop (1948) case reaffirmed Mendez and repre-
sented a major victory against segregation in Texas schools. Still, as Gonzalez
notes, schooling for Mexican children continued to come under the influence
of pseudoscientific intelligence testing, tracking, vocational education, and
Americanization programs.
An oversight in the bibliography weakens Gonzalez's work. It is incomplete.
Various titles and dates do not conform to those cited in the endnotes. It ap-
pears that revisions were made to the text, but the bibliography was not revised.
Also, the overall thesis is much too rigid. Gonzalez himself is forced to make
Unzverszty of Texas-Pan American ROBERTO M. SALMON
Poorest of Americans: The Mexican Americans of the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas.
By Robert Lee Maril. (Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press,
1989. Pp. xi+228. Preface, introduction, map, tables, notes, bibliography,
index. $21.95, cloth; $10.95, paper.)
This is an important book about a largely ignored subregion of the U.S.-
Mexico border. The author presents a description of living conditions of the
Mexican American population of the Lower Rio Grande Valley in Texas. Maril
begins with a detailed look at statistics that leaves little doubt as to the extreme
poverty prevalent in this region. He goes on to examine the origins of this state
of affairs. He describes first the initial settlement of the area by the conquista-
dores and the hybrid class, race, caste system that resulted. In the twentieth
century the economy of the area took off, based mostly on agriculture. But to-
gether with this growth there was considerable growth in poverty. The valley is
rich in resources. The poverty is a consequence of a set of political and social
structures, including bossism and racism, that perpetuates the prosperity of the
few at the expense of the many. This situation Maril synthesizes via the concept
of the valley as an internal colony. The structural nature of the poverty implies
that it is not limited to wages and income. It includes abysmally low levels of
education, poor health, substandard housing. Because of that Maril suggests
the solution cannot be limited to pouring money into the area. Rather, the po-
litical and social structure would have to change. Factors such as the role of un-
documented workers in the region's economy need to be reexamined.
This book makes a welcome contribution to the study of a subregion within
the U.S.-Mexico border. Maril sifts through a large body of useful data, for ex-


Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 96, July 1992 - April, 1993. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. Accessed April 29, 2016.

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