It seems that no matter how hard the taxpayer funded Public Broadcasting System (PBS) tries, it misses the Hispanic story and does so by ignoring the true Hispanic story stream in USA history.
It did it again in this week’s Latino/Hispanic study broadcast after much promotion. It presented a slanted view and omitted critical facts that could have benefited viewers. This is not the first time.
When famed PBS contributor Ken Burns did his acclaimed “Civil War” series, there wasn’t a mention of Hispanics who fought on both sides of the war and were key players in stopping Confederate forces in the west, in New Mexico battles.
When Ken Burns produced a multi-part series about World War II by in-depth interviews with veterans he included segregated Blacks while ignoring the hundreds of thousands of Mexican Americans and Puerto Ricans who saw combat in all theaters and, in fact, produced the second most awarded fighting man of the entire war (Cleto Rodriguez) as well as a Naval fighter pilot ace with 23 kills (Gene Valencia), 13 Medal of Honor awardees and a U.S. Marine Division commander (Lt. General Pedro del Valle).
National protests by Hispanics forced Burns and PBS to make some alterations but the original sin of ignoring Mexican American, Mexican and other Hispanic fighting soldiers, sailors and Marines is burned into the Hispanic mind. Time would heal that wound but then PBS does it again this week with their look at Hispanic/Latinos today and in American history.
Puerto Rican writers have declared that they were bored with the early parts of the broadcast. That was all Spanish and Mexican. Puerto Rico and Cuba weren’t mentioned until well into the program.
California and Texas were concentrated on and there nothing but negative stories and facts were presented. Worthwhile was experiences Mexicans suffered that Puerto Ricans and Cubans have never suffered. We saw ubiquitous lynching, murder and political repression of the Mexicans who predated Americans by decades in the two key parts of Mexico Americans desired above as part of the Yankee “Manifest Destiny.”
California was hell for Mexicans according to PBS. It was during and after the Gold Rush that new White Gold Rushers exercised a combined passion of bigotry and elimination of competition that saw the murder of Mexicans by hanging.
The new American state of California passed laws in the state that complimented federal laws that made it impossible for Californians with Mexican or Spanish land grants to hold on to their lands. American squatters simply took what land they wanted; lawyers made sure that judges refused to accept Mexican documentation for land grants.
Not discussed by PBS at all was the Mexican/Californian political contributions that managed to influence the new state’s Constitution or the ballot-box victories by former Mexican and new American citizen Romualdo Pacheco.
Captured by American forces in 1846 on a California trading vessel during the Mexican War, Pacheco was released after he swore allegiance to the United States. A rancher by trade, he was elected as a Democrat to the California State Senate in 1857, served two terms. He then became an Abraham Lincoln Republican.
When the American Civil War broke out, Governor Leland Stanford appointed Pacheco Brigadier General, Commanding Officer of the California Native Cavalry (a segregated brigade of former Mexican citizens) who delighted in rounding up Confederate sympathizers and disarming them.
Elected State Treasurer in 1863 Brigadier General Pacheco served his four-year term and returned to the State Senate.
He became Lt. Governor in 1875 and rose to Governor when Governor Newton Booth was elected to the U.S. Senate.
He served for a year until a newly elected governor took over. Pacheco ran for Congress against an incumbent and defeated him by one vote. He was sworn into Congress as the first ever elected Hispanic to the U.S. Congress. Pacheco’s one vote victory was challenged and the House of Representatives decided against Pacheco. He returned to California.
He ran for Congress again, won and served two terms. In 1890, the President of the United States appointed Pacheco the first ever Hispanic Ambassador. He served for three years as Ambassador to Central America, to each individual country as United States Minister.
While PBS presented pictures of lynched California Mexicans, of poor California Mexicans we saw or heard nothing of Romualdo Pacheco, former Mexican, Governor of California, State Senator, California State Treasurer, Civil War General; Congressman and Ambassador.
The Honorable Romualdo Pacheco was not mentioned by PBS. Why did PBS ignore the California Mexican when he pioneered a path in politics unmatched by anyone in the United States today?
Name one Hispanic who has served as state governor, Army general, federal congressman and Ambassador of the United States other than California Mexican American Romualdo Pacheco. Better yet, name any non-Hispanic politician who has achieved what this California Mexican did over a hundred years ago. PBS?
Contreras’ books are available at amazon.com <http://amazon.com>