A Plan to Kill All Anglos, the Texas Rangers and Vigilante Justice
January 6th 1915 the Plan of San Diego was discovered in the possession of Basillio Ramos when he was captured in by the Texas Rangers. The manifesto, written in San Diego Texas, called for the formation of a Liberating Army of Races and Peoples to murder all white males over the age of 16. The army would be made of Mexican Americans, African Americans and Japanese who would rise up and take control of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado. The rebellion was scheduled to start on February 20th, 1915.
Although Ramos signed the plan the real mystery is–who wrote it?
Ramos was a known follower of Victoriano Huerta, the recently disposed president of Mexico. His followers supposedly believed Huerta would take over the Southwest US and use it as a base to recapture Mexico.
The current present of Mexico, Carranza had pushed out Huerta by creating a loose coalition with many local revolutionary leader; Pancho Villa, Emiliano Zapata, and Alvaro Obregón. Pancho Villa used his military might to destroy Huertas federal military and Carranza attempted to secure the presidency in 1914. However, the coalition descended to infighting and Carranza took up arms against Pancho Villa. He sought the help of the United States to secure his legitimacy as president and his power over Pancho Villa.
February came and went without the massive racial insurrection called for in the Plan de San Diego.
The disposed president Huerta never claimed responsibility for the Plan de San Diego and it seemed unlikely he would be able to pull off a coup while in exile. Another suspect was Ricardo Flores Magón. He was a writer with anarchist, communist and pacifist beliefs whose writings were influential in starting the Mexican Revolution. He fled to the United States in 1904 and spent most of his years on the run. His writings promoted a government based on direct democracy, support of indigenous people and the rational use of natural resources. He was often critical of the United States’ influence in Mexican politics.
While Magóns ideas may have seeded the anarchist roots for the Plan de San Diego, he most certainly had nothing to do with it’s creation and considered the plan a bourgeois invention. He did not believe that there was any real Texas-Mexican conspiracy to start a race war and distanced himself completely.
The summer came without racial insurrection and it seemed the ensuing race war would not materialize. Then, another draft of the plan was uncovered and in July which called for Texas to become independent. De la Rosa, a revolutionary leader and an adherent to Magóns anarchist ideas, raised an army of 500 men and intended to begin guerilla warfare in South Texas. Another leader in South Texas, Aniceto Pizaña had little enthusiasm for the Plan de San Diego until the Texas Rangers investigating a raid near Brownsville Texas on August 3, 1915 attacked his family, shot his brother in the leg and captured his wife and son. Pizaña changed his mind about the Plan de San Diego and joined De la Rosa and began raids in south Texas targeting logistics and communication centers.
The US sent General Pershing to Northern Mexico to suppress the raids and to pursue Poncho Villa whose armies had come north of the border in their conflict with Carranza. Carranza, still attempting to solidify his power in Mexico and gain recognition from the United States, promised to use his military to stop the raids. In October, when the US recognized Carranza as president the raids stopped.
All told, after 30 raids, 21 Americans were killed. A far cry from the all encompassing race war that the US feared.
However, the 21 Americans were not the only causalities. Whipped up by fear, the Texas Rangers and local vigilante groups intending to protect themselves began a reign of terror and murder of Mexicans and Mexican Americans in border communities. There were no trials or accountability for these groups and while the Federal register indicates that 300 Mexicans and Mexican Americans were executed, the real death toll is estimated to be much higher.
On September 27th, Jesus Bazán and his son-in-law, Antonio Longoria–well known and prominent Mexican Americans–traveled to the Texas Ranger camp to report a horse theft. While they were riding their horses out of the camp the Texas Ranger drove up to them, shot them, and left them to die on the side of the road.
Murders and intimidation became so frequent they were not even regularly published in the news.
The reign of terror continued beyond 1916 targeting ethnic Mexicans. In 1918 in Porvenir Texas, the Texas Rangers had been sent to investigate a murder. Without any evidence–and finding only one weapon in the entire town–the rangers round up 15 boys and men and executed them. These incidents became commonplace.
It wasn’t until 1919 that an investigation was opened against the Texas Rangers and their vigilante partners. The Massacare in Porvenir and other atrocities were brought infront of the Texas house of representatives by the only Hispanic representative at the time, José Canales. Further research found that from 1914 to 1919 an estimated 5,000 ethnic Mexicans died in this violence at the hands of local vigilantes and the Texas Rangers. Many more were intimidated to flee their homelands in Texas and seek shelter in Mexico. Many land owning Mexicans sold their land at a loss in the face of intimidation as they sought safety and security outside of Texas.
So who wrote the Plan of San Diego?
Basilio Ramos–who the original plan was discovered on–was eventually released on a bond payment of $100. The judge remarked He “ought to be tried for lunacy, not conspiring against the United States.” Whoever wrote the plan clearly used Ramos as a pawn.
Now days most people suspect Carranza. If he didn’t write the plan himself, there is strong evidence he supported the raids. It was also great publicity to blame the plan on Huerta–the presidential rival who you just disposed. It was also a fairly obvious coincidence that the raids stopped when the US recognized Carranza as president. Carranza used the plan to get exactly what he wanted. Racism in the US isn’t simply a social problem, it’s a matter of National Security when foreign actors are able to manipulate American foreign policy by playing upon it’s internal racial tensions.
Magón and his brother, though frustrated with the US and their involvement in Mexico, would have understood the stupidity of supporting indigenous rights while targeting another group based on their race.
Mexicans and Mexican Americans in the Southwest surely wanted to reclaim land and autonomy from the United States. There was a lot of resentment built up over the years but they provided no real tangible support for the Plan aside from the few who joined De La Rosa’s raids. The raids focused on stealing goods and disrupting transportation and communication–not summarily executing Anglos. The raiders gave up fairly easily and made no attempt to form a government or seize territory.
Further still the plan could have been written by the Texas Rangers and local vigilante groups seeking to create the justification to attack and push ethnic Mexicans off of their land. This frequently held theory is unsubstantiated but they did seem to benefit directly from the plan. Through targeting and intimidation of Mexicans they were able to purchase massive amounts of land and they gained military support from the US Army and Calvary throughout the ensuing years. The Mexicans targeted and killed were in most all cases, completely unrelated to the imagined violence they were aiming to stop.
This story of the Southwest is 100 years old but vigilante terror on ethnic Mexicans is not something of the past. On August 3rd, 2019, a white male posted an anti-immigration, anti-Hispanic manifesto online echoing Trump’s language toward Mexican Americans and immigrants and went to a Walmart with a semi-automatic rifle to kill as many Mexicans as he could. He killed 23 people.
The FBI and the CIA have both identified White Nationalism as the most lethal domestic terrorist threat. And the FBI warned that many white nationalists and vigilante groups have ties to law enforcement.