The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 105, July 2001 - April, 2002 Page: 544
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
the events that took place during this period. Hence, Vigil's approach in narrat-
ing the rise and fall of the CFJ is mainly from an eyewitness point of view.
Using primary and secondary sources, and taped interviews, the story of
Gonziles and the CFJ is chronologically presented in seventeen chapters.
Perhaps what keeps the narrative from being totally biased, subjective, and one-
sided, is the author's use of FBI documents, Denver police files, and intelligence
reports obtained through the Freedom of Information and Privacy Acts. The
police and federal agents infiltrated the CFJ and other Chicano organizations to
monitor their activities. FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover perceived the actions of
Vigil, Gonziles, and the CFJ as a threat to national security. The author's own
FBI personal file was not released in time for inclusion in the book.
The CFJ was founded in 1966 as a militant mechanism to bring about
changes in the area of civil rights. Gonziles was no stranger to liberal activist
movements: a former staunch Democrat who ran as an independent for mayor
of Denver in 1967, he also got involved in organizing the Colorado GI Forum
and the Viva Kennedy Club. Gonziles's platform focused on protests against
the Vietnam War, police brutality, and discrimination of Hispanics in schools
and public places.
In its ten years of existence, the CFJ did accomplish some major changes in
Denver's Hispanic barrios. More minority teachers and administrators, sensitive
to Chicano culture and history, were recruited. Public facilities, located in low-
income areas, received funding for considerable improvements. Hispanics were
now allowed into neighboring public places, parks, and swimming pools. By the
late 197os, however, the CFJ had lost its power in the community due to loss of
members, resources, and "the changing political environment" (p. 364). During
election time, Denver's barrios produced more educated politicians, whose
political outlook was more mainstream and less militant.
Chapter Nine-"La Raza Unida Party: Fights About Ideology and Structure"-
is the only chapter that discusses the Texas Chicano leadership, from the stand-
point of the La Raza Unida Party (LRUP), headed byJos6 Angel Gutierrez, and
how it clashed with the CFJ. According to the author, Gutierrez, a pragmatist,
wanted to negotiate with the Democratic and Republican parties for the best
deal for Chicanos or else vote a straight LRUP ticket. The CFJ, on the contrary,
operated on an idealistic vision on how to run the national La Raza Unida Party
convention. A bitter rivalry developed between Gonziles and Gutidrrez due to
"differing ideologies and strategies" (p. 189). The Colorado LRUP had no plan
of action while the Texas delegation "had a clear vision of what LRUP could do
in South Texas; it could win political power in elections" (p. 191).
At a later meeting in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the conflict between
Colorado's LRUP and Gutierrez continued mainly because the agenda for the
first day of business was prepared by the Texas LRUP and did not include
Gonziles or his followers. Consequently, the "Colorado LRUP delegates resent-
ed and distrusted Gutierrez" (p. 195). An anti-Texas bloc, manipulated by
Gonziles, voted Gutidrrez out of controlling the meeting and proposed estab-
lishing the LRUP national headquarters in New Mexico rather than in Texas.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 105, July 2001 - April, 2002, periodical, 2001; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101222/m1/588/: accessed June 18, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.