The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 103, July 1999 - April, 2000

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

The second electoral revolt of 1970 gave rise to the Ciudadnos Unidos (CU),
a community-based political group, and the Raza Unida Party (RUP), both creat-
ed by Jose Angel Guti6rrez. For five years, Guti6rrez controlled the city, county,
and school board offices. Being in a propitious position, he initiated and imple-
mented major changes in the political, educational, economic, and social pro-
grams of Cristal. By 1975, however, severe schisms emerged within the RUP and
CU power structure that eventually led to what the author calls the political rup-
ture, or the internal struggle between those who opposed Guti6rrez and the
Gutidrristas (those loyal to Guti6rrez). The two political groups now fighting for
power were the traditional Democrats and the reborn Democrats or former RUP
members. Jose Angel Guti6rrez had lost all his political clout and the new
Hispanic leaders wanted his resignation. Gutidrrez's departure, Navarro notes,
marked the end of the Cristal experiment in community control.
Was the Cristal experiment successful form the standpoint of empowering
Hispanic people to become active agents of change within their own communi-
ties? Navarro successfully demonstrates by the facts presented that Guti6rrez
accomplished major changes in the educational, political, economic, and social
policies and programs. For example, more Hispanic teachers and administrators
were hired, and Chicanos sat on school boards and city and county public
offices. The high school dropout rate among Hispanics decreased significantly.
Segregation of public and private facilities was no longer an issue.
In the epilogue (pp. 352-372), the author presents twelve lessons to be
learned from the Chicano experiences in Cristal for community control. For
future generations of Chicanos and Hispanic leaders who may want to become
agents of change in helping communities take control of their own destinies,
these lessons offer valuable advice.
This book is highly recommended as a supplemental reader for those who are
involved in Chicana/o Studies and Mexican American history. For those inter-
ested in reading a good non-fiction story of how a small south Texas town
achieved community control, this book is a must read.
San Antonio GILBERTO QUEZADA
Guerrero Viejo. By Elena Poniatowska and Richard Payne. (Houston: Anchorage
Press, 1997, distributed by the University of Chicago Press. Pp. vii+92.
Preface, illustrations, credentials. ISBN o-9655268-0-1. $45.00, cloth.)
A few years ago I heard a prominent historian of the Mexican Revolution say:
"If it happened after 1930, its not history; it's journalism!" I thought he was
right. My reading of Guerrero Viejo, however, proved that both he and I were actu-
ally quite wrong. History need not be just the past, especially the distant past, it
can be the present as well, and perhaps even the future. This is no better
demonstrated than in the prose of Poniatowska and the photographs of Payne.
Guerrero Viejo is an intriguing town. Its history was thought to have come to
an end in the 195os, but recently it has been showing signs of revival. Founded
on the right bank of the Rio Grande in 1750, the town originally known as
Revilla was one of the more remote places on northern frontier of the Spanish
world. For three centuries, one change of government and one change of name,

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 103, July 1999 - April, 2000. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101220/. Accessed April 16, 2014.