Aristeo Brito (BREE-toh), a notable Chicano writer, poet, and educator, was born October 20, 1942, in Ojinaga, Chihuahua, Mexico. He grew up in Presidio, Texas, which is located across the Rio Grande from Ojinaga. The river, extending approximately two thousand miles from the West Coast to the Gulf Coast, forms a divisional line separating the United States from Mexico. More than just a border, the river is also an imaginary barrier between the ideas, hopes, and aspirations of the two cultures.
In the introduction to Brito’s poignant novel The Devil in Texas, Charles Tatum discusses Brito’s life and the conditions in Ojinaga-Presidio during his youth, which spurred the writing of The Devil in Texas. Brito was emotionally impacted by the plight of the Mexicans and Chicanos in Ojinaga-Presidio. These were poor people whose lack of education, lack of exposure outside their community, and domination by the white populace made only menial, low-paying, and backbreaking employment available to them: They worked in the irrigated fields that produced fruits, vegetables, and cotton.
After the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848—the treaty of peace, friendship, limits, and settlement between the United States of America and the Mexican Republic—the Anglo population appropriated much of Texas from the Mexicans. The enforcers of the class system separating the poor Mexicans and Chicanos from the Anglos were the Texas Rangers. The Rangers were organized to restrict undocumented Mexican workers from crossing the border and to monitor the behavior of the Chicano population. Ongoing hostility existed between the Rangers and the Chicanos....
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