Sunday, August 3, 2014
Coahuila's Historic Ties to San Antonio
Bienvenidos a los Latinos.
This recent local story in San Antonio shows how crime and corruption in Mexico bleeds over the south Texas border. Latinos migrating to the US cannot escape the effects; it often follows them over the border.
By Jason Buch
August 2, 2014
San Antonio and Saltillo, Coahuila's capital, long have had close ties.
From the late 1600s until the early 1700s, the two cities were under Spanish colonial rule. And for a decade in the 19th century, the cities were part of Coahuila y Tejas , one state with officials in San Antonio answering to a governor in the capital.
“There's always been a connection there, sort of a corridor there between the two areas,” said Lino Garcia Jr., a professor emeritus of Spanish literature at the University of Texas-Pan American.
San Antonio was the destination for a wave of Coahuilan dissidents who were opposed to the rule of Mexican President Porfirio Díaz in the late 1800s and early 1900s. One of the wealthy intellectuals from Coahuila who came here was Francisco Madero, In 1910, he published the Plan San Luis Potosí, his blueprint for a new Mexico, in San Antonio.
Madero returned to Mexico and was elected president in 1911.
As the dissidents returned and the revolution grew, a new group of wealthy refugees, landed gentry who were being targeted by left-wing revolutionaries and peasants fleeing the violence and instability settled in San Antonio.
These refugee groups formed new bonds between Texas and Coahuila, said Andrés Tijerina, a history professor at Austin Community College.
The Coahuilan expats maintained family and business ties back home, even as they settled down in San Antonio. Through the 1970s, highly skilled workers such as railroad engineers and architects from San Antonio moved to Coahuila for work, Tijerina said. Those connections continue today.
“Coahuila merchants see San Antonio the way the rest of us see Dallas or New York,” he said. “If the merchants want to buy their merchandise, they come to San Antonio. If they want business loans and contacts, they come to San Antonio.”
The current movement of Coahuila's middle and upper classes to San Antonio is similar to the immigration 100 years ago, during the revolution, Garcia said.
“It's a parallel,” he said. “Every time there's a crisis like the 1910 revolution and the violence in Mexico, every time there's unrest, people come across seeking refuge.”
Those connections also draw money launderers, said Ed Rodriguez, a former IRS agent.
People washing dirty money take a significant risk doing so here because they open themselves to the scrutiny of U.S. investigators. Despite that, there's a certain degree of safety in the U.S. banking system not afforded in countries with more lax controls. Money launderers don't have to worry about currency devaluations or the prospect of losing their assets in national upheaval.
But there's a more basic reason someone from Coahuila might try to launder their dirty money in San Antonio, Rodriguez said.
“They tend to gravitate to individuals who they've grown up with, and they trust them and they can rely on them,” he said.
(ps...for Anglos: "Coahuila" is pronounced Co-ah-WE-la.)