Commentary – Memory of The Massacre At El Porvenir

29 Jan

Picture having to live with the memory of loved ones – sons, fathers and husbands shot to death, in the middle of the night, for no apparent reason.  Widows, mothers and wives of the Porvenir Massacre murder victims did not grieve or go through the currently popular notion of “closure”.  They went on to relive the horror daily.

Images of the bullet-riddled bodies of sons, husbands and fathers haunted them to the end of their days.  The mother of Juan Flores, whose husband Longino was killed, is a prime example.  She had to be watched night and day because she would sometimes take off running and knocking on doors, screaming “They’re coming. They’re coming”.  As her condition worsened, the family was very careful to keep arms from her.  Sadly she did find a rifle under the house one day, and she shot herself through the heart!

Juan Flores was ten years old on that fateful night.  He recalled everything that happened clearly.  It was a bitterly cold night with a moon that lit the area like daytime.  He did not see a single Texas Ranger.  What he did see were about ten “ARMY SOLDIERS” who went into the jacales, dragging boys and men out.  Two men who Juan clearly could identify, despite kerchiefs that hid their faces, were part of the group.  One of them entered the Flores Jacal and took a rifle from the wall.  It was a rifle that Texas Ranger River Guard Joe Sitter had given his father, and one that the “taker” had always wanted.  When Juan asked why he was taking the rifle, the individual (who spoke Spanish) said: “Tu callate”, you shut up!

These men had visited the Flores home often. They, along with Ranger Joe Sitter, often camped there and were fed beans and tortillas by Juan’s mother. Juan Flores: The child and man suffered horrible nightmares that left his children doubtful of his sanity.  Never having told them about the massacre, it was impossible for them to make sense of the raving screams that went on nightly.  Eventually Juan was taken to a State Hospital where electric shock was performed.  He was to remain silent for years until I came along.

The above facts are part of hours of recorded conversations with Juan Flores and his daughter Benita and her husband Buddy.  It is the family’s hope that this article and subsequent publicity will spur action in regard to establishing a Memorial for the victims of El Porvenir.  Not so much as a condemnation of those responsible, but  rather, that they, the victims, NEVER BE FORGOTTEN.

9 Responses to “Commentary – Memory of The Massacre At El Porvenir”

  1. Jerry Lujan January 30, 2012 at 5:15 AM #

    I agree. The victims shall never be forgotten. The Porvenir Massacre was not the only one that occurred along the Texas/Mexico border during the Mexican Revolution. According to New York Times articles on “The Bandit War,” there was an “open season” on Mexicans, whether they were U.S. citizens or not. Apparently there were some 22,000 Mexicans and Mexican Americans that were butchered by Texas law enforcement, mostly Texas Rangers, with some logistical support by the U.S Army.

    Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar wants to create national parks and monuments with Hispanic themes. What an opportunity! I think that one national monument that encompasses all of the atrocities committed during that period is in order, hopefully, in a high traffic area, such as the Lyndon B Johnson Library or some other highly visited federal, property in Texas. A plaque of each massacre and the story behind it, and where it lies on the map are things that might be considered to be included. Also, that this part of Texas history that has been omitted from any curriculum of Texas History classes, be included in such curriculum. It is time for all the people to know the WHOLE story, however ugly and repulsive.

    • oscar January 31, 2012 at 6:38 AM #

      A couple of thoughts on the issue. As someone who can trace his roots to La Junta to times before the Spanish arrived, I would not want the sole monument about my folks´ place in US history to be that of the hapless victim. No question that we were victimized countless times by Spaniards, Anglos, Buffalo Soldiers, and even Comanches. Very sadly, this means that real people suffered bitterly. And we should never forget them. BUT our presence was much bigger than that and it still is. We kept the Spanish empire from expanding into what today is the Midwest. One of our own, Militon Favre (a Ramirez from Meoqui) started ranching in West Texas, winning a steady truce with the Mescaleros. And we set the pattern for the enduring culture and aesthetic for the region, despite great resistance and even violence by the Anglos. That is, ultimately we held our ground. Those who perished lived on through the persistence and success of their kin who lived on. Ask Indians throughout the US today about the many monuments the massacres they suffered. Not all of them see them as the solemn memorials they are supposed to signify. Many of them see these monuments as remembrances of the invaders and that they continue to be winning. I prefer to think of El Porvenir to be one of those many communities in La Junta that have been continuously inhabited for centuries despite the many adversities it faced, including violent incursions the Anglos, and that today counts many successful citizens who have roots there.
      Atentamente.

  2. Theresa Lujan Clark March 23, 2012 at 7:24 AM #

    We have won in a small way by interbreeding with the anglos. We have names like Clark, Hughs, and many others. Our children have our culture in their minds. May they remembers them. May they not forget their past ancestors and come to protect what is right fully theirs. Theresa Lujan Ortega Clark.

  3. Rosanne Flores April 22, 2012 at 11:22 AM #

    Juan Flores is my grandpa he died at 103, crazy story cause he never spoke of it to me. Miss my grandpa so much he was a good man.

    • Elisa Lujan Perez April 25, 2012 at 7:38 AM #

      Hola Rosanne

      If you read prior stories you will learn how the entire matter became known to the family. Did you scroll down to ‘OLDER ENTRIES” ?
      Elisa

    • Lisa Torres January 14, 2014 at 9:27 AM #

      Rosanne, he never spoke to you about those hororable nightmares because he didn’t live with you. Mija you should have spent more time with him. Grampa (Apa) died at the age of 102.

  4. deeperrin July 21, 2013 at 5:41 PM #

    Is there anyway I can contact you about some research I’m doing for a documentary on the area around Porvenir? Thanks
    Derrick Perrin

  5. deeperrin November 27, 2013 at 11:28 PM #

    I’m back to work on a script for a movie involving Porvenir. I hope this page continues to spark discussion and keep the story alive. https://www.facebook.com/42orphans is where I’m updating my screenplay and scouting work for the film. Anyone who wishes to contribute is very welcome to do so.

  6. Debbie Rede Lopez-Pimentel January 14, 2014 at 12:16 AM #

    I am missing you my dear Friend and beloved Prima, I am missing our conversations, and email messages, I so looked forward to receiving. They were such a joy to open, brought a smile to my heart, always in search of other connection we might follow connecting the dots in our families history. I have lost a mentor in you, but so much more than that it was a shock and tremendous blow to my heart, I grieved in silence , not wanting to read the details of your passing not wanting to believe you were gone, after all this time I had finally found someone who like myself had the passion of our families history, you helped me along gave me a path to follow in finding our ancestors. I still search daily and as I do I think of our conversations and story’s you have given us all. I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for all that you did for the branches of this tree you helped us bring together, slowly, slowly coming together, it is a wonderful site. And I wish you could see all that you did for us. God Bless you Elisa, God Bless you. Debbie Pimentel

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