Monday, March 27, 2023

Civil RIghts, Land Rights, Water RIghts. RIGHTS. Fifty years after courthouse confrontation, emotions remain raw (test copy)

 Contributed by 

Rudy Arredondo, President/CEO/Founder Latino Farmers & Ranchers International, Inc (LFR-Int)


Fifty years after courthouse confrontation, emotions remain raw (test copy)

  •  Updated 
TIERRA AMARILLA — On the side of the highway just a few miles south of this tiny mountain village in rural Northern New Mexico is an ominous handmade billboard with the image of Mexican revolutionary Emiliano Zapata.

Painted in big, bold letters are the words “Tierra o Muerte,” Spanish for “land or death.”

The timeworn marker serves as a reminder of a century-old dispute over the ownership of the 600,000-acre Tierra Amarilla Land Grant and efforts by descendants of pioneer families to reclaim the land under the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which ended the Mexican War in 1848 and promised that the property of Mexican citizens would be “inviolably respected.”

The battle over land grants in New Mexico exploded in a hail of bullets 50 years ago this week when angry followers of the now late activist and Chicano rights leader Reies López Tijerina stormed the Tierra Amarilla courthouse in a confrontation that generated national attention and resulted in the largest manhunt in New Mexico history.

The group set out to free fellow members of Tijerina’s La Alianza Federal de Mercedes (Federal Alliance of Land Grants), who had been arrested days earlier, as well as to make a citizen’s arrest of then-District Attorney Alfonso Sanchez, who they later discovered wasn’t at the courthouse. The raid left two law enforcement officers wounded, one of whom was killed before testifying in a case against Tijerina, who always maintained he had nothing to do with the still unsolved murder.

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Washington, DC 20020

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