Thursday, May 25, 2017


By Juan Montoya
Herminia Becerra's introduction to politics began in 1969, when a young Georgetown graduate in charge of the Cameron County Anti-Poverty Agency decided to take on the powers that be and challenge the political structure.
To Becerra, who had seen poverty in all its miserable aspects, he was a champion of the poor, a voice for the dispossessed, and a representative of the people against the entrenched Anglo power structure. Becerra remembers that she had left the migrant stream with her daughters when she started working with Ramon to get him elected.

"The school kids didn't have buses," she recalled today in Spanish. "They had to walk to school in all kinds of weather. People went hungry and no one helped them. There were no clinics for the disadvantaged and women had no Planned Parenthood."

She has kept a weathered copy of the corrido that Ramon's supporters put together for that first run for county judge as a heirloom. The verses speak of the humble people's champion who "has no riches, no inheritance, and offers no liquor or beer to the people of Cameron."

She wasn't the only one to join in and politick to help Ramon become the first Hispanic county judge in the county. Others, like Blanca Vela, also walked the barrio streets chanting "Con Ray Ramon hay Corazon," the slogan that Ramon kept throughout his political career. In an interview she gave to an oral historian she stated that Ramon was "a graduate from Georgetown and young, energetic. And we walked those streets and we would say, at that time, "Con Rey Ramon, Hay Corazon." (There is Heart with Rey Ramon) We knocked on doors left and right, comadres," etc...

Vela – as did others over time – eventually became disenchanted with Ramon, but recognized that he had led Hispanics to political power in the county.
The sudden rise to power of the upstart Hispanic to the top of the political heap didn't come without blowback from the entrenched political elite in the county, both Anglo and the Mexican-American elite.

Moises Vela, her brother-in-law, ran against Ramon and won. After that, others took over the county's helm, including Tony Garza, another Ramon foe who dealt him the final political blow because he became the first Republican since Reconstruction to win that post. Most saw it as an anti-Ramon vote. But that didn't explain Garza's reelection for two more consecutive terms.

Becerra eventually branched out and participated in other state and national elections, always with the Democrats. Her activities eventually earned her the title of Queen of the Politiqueras, a name that not always conotes admiration in political circles. Yet, throughout her political activities and experiences, she still recalls the first Ramon run at the county judgeship wistfully.

"Era muy gueno, ayudaba mucho a la gente..."


Anonymous said...

This is so Mexican, Juan. What the fuck is "gueno," guey? god damn you!

Anonymous said...

Hopefully the state will do away with the "palanca" or "Party Vote" on the ballot. Loyalty to the party especially the Democratic Party in the RGV has not produced effective governing over the years. Voters should learn about all the candidates and vote based on their ability and the issues. The Democratic Party embraces the poor and ignorant.....but little have been done by Democrats to improve their lives. Today we have more poor and more ignorant people....most loyal to the Democratic Party. Its a vicious circle and now illegals are a part of the Democratic Party cycle.

Anonymous said...

Needs to be a verse in there about Loyd Benson.

Anonymous said...

Re 1st comment: what if somebody wrote something stupid and nobody cared?

Anonymous said...


thatramongirl said...

Thank you for honoring Ms. Becerra. This piece was published the day my father passed away.

Anonymous said...

So what?