- Political science professor and Director of the Mexican-American Studies Center at the University of Texas
- Co-founder of the Mexican American Youth Organization
- Founder of the militant Chicano activist group La Raza Unida
- “We have got to eliminate the gringo, and what I mean by that is if the worst comes to the worst, we have got to kill him.”
- “Our devil has pale skin and blue eyes.”
Jose Angel Gutierrez was born on October 25, 1944 in Crystal City, Texas. He became politically active as a teenager, and in 1963 he worked as a door-to-door canvasser for five Mexican-American candidates who were running for his hometown’s city council.
Gutierrez earned a BA from Texas A&M University in 1966, and an MA in political science from St. Mary’s University (in San Antonio) in 1969. At St. Mary’s, he became friends with Mario Compeon, Willie Velásquez, Juan Patlán, and Nacho Pérez. In 1967 Gutierrez collaborated with these four to establish the Mexican American Youth Organization (MAYO), one of the Chicano movement’s first student activist groups.
In 1967 as well, Gutierrez founded the Mexican American Unity Council (MAUC) in San Antonio as the first local affiliate of the National Council of La Raza. MAUC’s initial priorities were to promote: “the right to speak Spanish on school grounds at a local school district”; “the inclusion of courses portraying the positive contributions made to society by Mexican Americans”; and “voter education and registration” among Latinos.
After leaving St. Mary’s University, Gutierrez returned to Crystal Rock to work on the “Winter Garden Project,” an initiative aimed at organizing Mexican Americans politically. Protesting such perceived educational inequities as the high dropout rate of Mexican-American high-school students, this Project featured mass walkouts by hundreds of such youngsters.
In a 1969 speech in San Antonio, Gutierrez stated: “We have got to eliminate the gringo [an American not of Hispanic descent], and what I mean by that is if the worst comes to the worst, we have got to kill him.”1
In an April 1969 press conference in San Antonio, Gutierrez again sounded this same theme while also charging that Latinos in America were the victims of widespread racism and “cultural genocide”:
“Further, we find that the vicious cultural genocide being inflicted upon La Raza by gringos and their institutions not only severely damage our human dignity but also make it impossible for La Raza to develop its right of self-determination. For these reasons, top priority is given to identifying and exposing the gringo. We also promote the social welfare of Mexicanos through education designed to enlarge the capabilities of indigenous leaders. We hope to secure our human and civil rights, to eliminate bigotry and racism, to lessen the tensions in our barrios and combat the deterioration of our communities….
“We will not try to assimilate into this gringo society in Texas, nor will we encourage anybody else to do so…. We realize that the effects of cultural genocide takes many forms—some Mexicanos will become psychologically castrated, others will become demagogues and gringos as well, and others will come together, resist and eliminate the gringo. We will be the latter.”
Gutierrez was subsequently asked, “What do you mean by ‘eliminate the gringo?’” He replied: “You can eliminate an individual in various ways. You can certainly kill him but that is not our intent at this moment. You can remove the base of support that he operates from be it economic, political, social. That is what we intend to do.”
On another occasion during the late Sixties/early Seventies, Gutierrez said: “Our devil has pale skin and blue eyes.” Gutierrez’s “plan” at this time was “to graduate a bunch of militant radicals” who would someday “come back and kick some ass!”
According to the Texas State Historical Association, in the late 1960s Gutierrez established a student organization at UT-Austin as an outgrowth of the radical Mexican American Student Association (MASA); MASA later evolved into MEChA (Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan).
In approximately 1969 or 1970, Gutierrez said: “It’s too late for the Gringo to make amends. Violence has got to come”
On January 24, 1970, Gutiérrez registered the militant La Raza Unida Party (“The Unified Race Party”) as a new political entity. In September 1972 he was elected as the organization’s national chairman.
Gutierrez served as Crystal City’s urban renewal commissioner from 1970-72, and as an elected trustee and president of the Crystal City Independent School District from 1970-73.
In late 1973/early 1974, Gutierrez was listed as a “sponsor” of the Political Rights Defense Fund, a Trotskyite communist front created and controlled by the Socialist Workers Party.
In February 1979 Gutierrez participated in the fourth national convention of the Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee.
In February 1981 Gutiérrez abruptly resigned from his job as County Judge and relocated to Oregon, from where he mailed his resignation letter. According to journalist Jaime Contreras, “media coverage implied that alleged judicial misconduct and subsequent investigations were the causes for his sudden departure.”
From 1981-85 Gutierrez worked as a teacher in Oregon, first at Colegio Cesar Chavez and then at Western Oregon University (where he also served as director of minority student services). From 1983-85 he was the commissioner of the Oregon Commission on International Trade, and in 1985 he founded the Oregon Council for Hispanic Advancement.
In 1994 Gutierrez received the “Chicano Hero Award” from the National Council of La Raza. That same year, he founded the Center for Mexican American Studies at the University of Texas at Arlington, serving as the Center’s director until December 1996. He thereafter spent two years as special advisor to the university’s president.
On January 14, 1995 at UC Riverside, Gutierrez spoke at a Latino conference regarding the effects of California’s recently-passed Proposition 187, a ballot measure barring the state’s illegal immigrants from accessing social services and welfare benefits. In the course of his remarks, Gutierrez delivered a tirade denouncing American racism and calling for Mexico’s reconquest of the Southwestern United States:
“The border remains a military zone. We remain a hunted people. Now you think you have a destiny to fulfill in the land that historically has been ours for forty thousand years. And we’re a new Mestizo nation. And they want us to discuss civil rights … law made by white men to oppress all of us of color, female and male. This is our homeland. We cannot—we will not—and we must not be made illegal in our own homeland. We are not immigrants that came from another country to another country. We are migrants, free to travel the length and breadth of the Americas because we belong here. We are millions. We just have to survive. We have an aging white America. They are not making babies. They are dying. It’s a matter of time. The explosion is in our population…. I love it. Se estan cagando cabrones de miedo [Spanish for “They are shi**ing in their pants with fear”]. I love it.”
In 1999 Gutierrez was the keynote speaker at a banquet for the League of United Latin American Citizens, where he again emphasized the importance of population growth as a means of acquiring power. “We have this bright future because we have the critical mass,” he said. “We have the means now to take government and to lead.”
In an August 8, 1999 interview, Gutierrez spoke of Mexican people’s “legacy of being dismembered as a homeland” when “the United States came to us.” Stating that “we never lost that hope and that search and that vision for putting back together our homeland,” also called “Aztlán,” he expounded: “Aztlán is one half of the one Mexico that we need to build … to put back together the original land where our ancestors came from … to return it to its original homeland size.”
“We didn’t migrate here or immigrate here voluntarily,” Gutierrez said in the same interview. “The United States came to us in succeeding waves of invasions. We are a captive people, in a sense, a hostage people. It is our political destiny and our right to self-determination to want to have our homeland [back]. Whether they like it or not is immaterial. If they call us radicals or subversives or separatists, that’s their problem. This is our home, and this is our homeland, and we are entitled to it. We are the host. Everyone else is a guest….”
Gutierrez then addressed the issue of population growth as a key to Mexican-American empowerment:
“Our numbers now are such that we are critical mass throughout the nation. Depending on what state you’re in, we’re on the verge of already being a majority minority. In some places, a majority, and in years to come, probably about one quarter of the entire United States population. We will exercise our rights, which include political sovereignty. So Aztlán will become a reality. It is not our fault that whites don’t make babies, and blacks are not growing in sufficient numbers, and there’s no other groups with such a goal to put their homeland back together again. We do. Those numbers will make it possible. I believe that in the next few years, we will see an irredentists’ movement, beyond assimilation, beyond integration, beyond separatism, to putting Mexico back together as one. That’s irridentism. One Mexico, one nation…. This whole region will become the new Meso-America once again.”
From 1999-2000, Gutierrez was a member of the Ethics Commission for the City of Dallas. From 2000-01, he was state treasurer for the Mexican American Democrats. And from 2000-03 he served as Texas chair of the National Association of Hispanic and Latino Studies, where he conducted more than 200 videotaped oral-history interviews—now archived at the University of Texas at Austin—with Chicano movement activists.
“Demanding amnesty” for all illegal immigrants currently residing in the U.S., Gutierrez in a 2001 interview proudly noted that Mexican newcomers to America “are keeping their Mexicanness”; “recreating Mexico here”; and striving to establish “political sovereignty over the Southwest and many parts of the Midwest.” Moreover, Gutierrez referred to these people as “migrants” rather than immigrants “because I think we are just moving within our own homeland.”
In April 2004 Gutierrez spoke at a “Latino Civil Rights Summit” in Kansas City, where he reaffirmed his frequent refrain: “We are the future of America. Unlike any prior generation, we now have the critical mass. We’re going to Latinize this country.”
At a 2014 immigration rally in favor of amnesty and open borders, Gutierrez held signs that read: “1st Illegal Alien in US: Pilgrim,” and “1st Illegal Alien in Texas: Sam Houston, Davey Crocket, Sam Bowie, etc.”
Today Gutierrez is a political science professor and the director of the Mexican-American Studies Center which he founded at the University of Texas’ Arlington campus. He also heads the Dallas-based Legal Center of Jose Angel Gutierrez.
For additional information on Jose Angel Gutierrez, click here.
1 The San Antonio Express and News reports that Gutierrez subsequently clarified that the term “gringo” referred to a bigoted and racist individual or institution, and that “kill” simply meant the elimination of the political, economic and social foundation of “the gringo.”