THE DEVIL IN TEXAS/EL DIABLO EN TEXAS, originally published in 1976, was subsequently revised by the author and translated by David William Foster for the bilingual English-Spanish edition.
In Spanish, Presidio means prison. For the Mexicans who lived there when the town became part of Texas and for subsequent generations of Mexican-Americans and Mexicans on both sides of the Rio Grande border, Presidio lived up to its name. The dry and barren land combined with rivalries and prejudice to imprison the workers in poverty and hopelessness. Brito’s fragmented vignettes evoke the brutality of life in three periods of the area’s history: 1883, 1942, and 1970.
The first section focuses on Ben Lynch, an Anglo landowner who makes his fortune from land stolen from Mexicans. He massacres twenty-six of his own workers and exploits the rest. Francisco Uranga starts a newspaper of protest against such injustices, but he is scorned as a troublemaker even by his own people.
By 1942, the United States Border Patrol has replaced the Texas Rangers as enforcers of Anglo interests and the Mexican-American workers have been displaced by the even more exploited Mexican illegals. Much of this section is narrated by the unborn son of Francisco Uranga, speaking from his mother’s womb. He has been waiting more than a century to be born, to be the poet/chronicler who leads his people out of sorrow.
In the short section set in 1970, the...
(The entire section is 541 words.)