The Plan of San Diego—Then…And Now?

The Mainstream Media has

finally noticed
  what has been reporting
for years: the constant incursions by Mexican military
units into American territory, typically while

guarding drug and immigrant smugglers
. By one
estimate, the

Mexican military

violated our largely unfenced border
231 times in
the last decade. [Reports
Cite Incursions on U.S. Border,
By Richard
Marosi, Robert J. Lopez and Rich Connell, LA Times,
January 26, 2006]

This has reminded Americans with
good memories of

Pancho Villa`s murderous raid
on Columbus, New
Mexico in 1916 and of the

Zimmerman Telegram
of 1917, in which Imperial
Germany offered to help Mexico retake

,  New
,  and




Mexican President

Venustiano Carranza
rejected the Zimmerman proposal
– but only after

studying the feasibility
of a reconquista for
several months.

Yet, almost nobody in America other



has heard of the sinister

Plan of San Diego
of 1915.

It`s not a pretty story, so it`s
not surprising that few want to remember it.

I`d never known of it until 2004,
when the Dallas Morning News tried to put a
politically correct slant on it by running a front-page
story by David McLemore entitled "89
years ago, Rangers singled out Hispanics, and thousands
It promoted young SMU history professor
Benjamin Heber Johnson`s


Revolution in Texas
: How a Forgotten Rebellion and
Its Bloody Suppression Turned Mexicans into Americans.

The article was rattling along on
predictable tracks:

1915, as the chaos of the Mexican Revolution raged
across the river, the [Lower Rio Grande] Valley [of

underwent its own turmoil.
For more than a decade,
Anglo land speculators and Midwestern farmers flooded
the Valley… The newcomers brought their racial
prejudices with them. Foreigners and dark-skinned people
were not to be trusted. "American" became a synonym for
"white" and any brown-skinned person was a "Mexican"
regardless of origin."

When suddenly it veered into new

January 1915, authorities arrested a man near the border
who carried a copy of a revolutionary manifesto. It
called for a Tejano armed uprising to reclaim much of
the Southwest for Mexico. It also called for Anglo males
over age 16 to be killed.

"What?" I thought.
"Mexican-Americans started a genocidal race war in
Texas? Why hadn`t anyone ever mentioned this?"

I started doing more research and
soon found that this article gave a highly distorted
account of an

extraordinary episode
in American history.

The second half of 1915 and first
half of 1916 witnessed 30 terrorist invasions of Texas
sponsored by the government of Mexico, and, in response,
of Texas Ranger counter-terrorist excesses. Hundreds
died and half the population of the Rio Grande Valley in
Texas temporarily fled the

guerrilla fighting.

By far, the

and most insightful history of the Plan of
San Diego violence available on the Web is a

series of articles
for the alternative newspaper of
Laredo, TX,

LareDos: A Journal of the Borderlands
, by
local historian Robert Mendoza. He is heavily influenced
by the 1978 article "The Plan of San Diego and the
Mexican-United States War Crisis of 1916: A
by historians

Charles Harris III and Louis R. Sadler
of New Mexico
St. (The Texas State Historical Association provides a

short summary
of the Plan of San Diego.)

Blame for starting the border war
rested not, as the Dallas Morning News implied,
with Mexican-Americans, who, indeed, paid much of the
price, but with the President of Mexico, who reaped the

"Los Sediciosos
," a Tex-Mex song of 1915,
presciently noted:

Now the
fuse has been lit

By the

Mexican nationalists

But the
price will be paid

By the

Texas Mexicans.

From the summer of 1915 through the
summer of 1916, there were

30 cross-border terrorist raids
by Carranza`s
soldiers and allied anti-American extremists, who killed
six civilians and 17 U.S. soldiers.

In response, the

Texas Rangers
stained their proud tradition. Needing
to expand rapidly, they deputized many untrained
civilians who often turned out to be trigger-happy
yahoos. In the nasty tradition of

anti-guerilla warfare
, the Rangers, along with local
sheriffs and

, summarily executed about 300 people of
Mexican descent, most of them probably utterly innocent
of insurrection. (Johnson`s estimate of thousands of
killings, though, is inflated by an order of magnitude,
according to the

2004 book by Harris and Sadler,

The Texas Rangers and The Mexican Revolution
: The
Bloodiest Decade, 1910-1920.

Yet, in the beginning, few Texans
had been alarmed when a Mexican revolutionary named
Basilio Ramos was arrested in McAllen on January 24,
1915 carrying a document, supposedly written in the
south Texas town of San Diego, that called for a Latino,
black, and

uprising in the border states to reunite
them with Mexico. Paragraph seven of the


Norteamericano over sixteen years of age shall be
put to death; and only the aged men, the women, and the
children shall be respected…"

In May 1915, a federal judge
laughed that Ramos

"ought to be tried for lunacy, not conspiracy against
the United States,"
and reduced his bail from
$5,000 to $100. He promptly jumped bail and headed back
to Mexico, where he had been working for the
self-proclaimed President Carranza.

Squeezed between

Emiliano Zapata
`s army in the south of Mexico and
Pancho Villa`s in the northwest, Carranza desperately
needed President Woodrow Wilson`s diplomatic recognition
as the legitimate President of Mexico to be eligible to
obtain arms from America and Europe. According to

, Carranza`s strategy consisted of four

Carranza`s armed and funded “bandits” would raid Texas
border communities;

"2) The
US State Department would demand Carranza subdue the

Carranza would reply that the `bandits` were only able
to operate because Carranza lacked US recognition and
sufficient arms to combat them; and

Carranza, having received recognition and arms,
`arrests` the raiders.

scheme to achieve diplomatic recognition and munitions
was disguised as a Texas mexicano irredentist uprising."


first sighting of the Plan de San Diego raiders was on
July 2, 1915. Forty heavily armed horsemen were reported
maneuvering near Sebastian, Texas north of Harlingen.
Two days later, at an isolated ranchhouse near Lyford,
two Anglo men were murdered. The raiders proceeded north
through the brushlands to Raymondville, where they
killed an 18-year-old Anglo boy."

More attacks ensued on government
property and whites (although, interestingly, Germans
were spared). In October 1915, Wilson recognized
Carranza as the rightful President of Mexico and the
assaults stopped within a week.

Terrorism often works.

President Carranza, however, wasn`t
purely cynical in his use of anti-American

. In 1916, Pancho Villa attacked Columbus, NM,
so Wilson sent

General John Pershing`s expeditionary force into Mexico
In almost a year of wandering around Mexico, Pershing
failed to find Villa. (But at least he and his troops
received some rigorous outdoor training that later paid
off fighting the Germans on the Western Front.)

Although Villa was his enemy,
Carranza`s patriotism was affronted by the American
incursion, so he relaunched the Plan of San Diego`s
violent incursions into Texas. Carranza`s anger climaxed
with his order for a brigade of 450 of his troops to

invade America
at Laredo in June 1916. Fortunately,
one of his generals called it off at the last moment.

Many lessons can be drawn from the
forgotten history of the Plan of San Diego.

But an obvious one is that Mexico
was, and remains, a foreign country—with interests very
different from ours.

him] is the founder of the Human Biodiversity Institute

movie critic

The American Conservative
His website
features his
daily blog.
Postscript: In

National Review
`s The
Corner [with added links] on January 22, 2005:

(Is it still OK to use "call your office"?)

The continuing incursions
across the southern border
by Mexican soldiers are

adding to the tensions
in U.S.-Mexico relations and
even prompting

a second look at Pancho Villa`s 1916 raid in New Mexico

and Gen. Pershing`s punitive expedition. Clearly things
aren`t that bad yet, but the governability of Mexico is
becoming a real question. It`s increasingly apparent
that the Mexico City government isn`t really in control
of what happens in much of the country —

Nuevo Laredo
is essentially a

free-fire zone
for drug gangs, heavily armed Mexican
soldiers are

as escorts for smugglers, and there is
open talk of the

"Colombianization" of Mexico
. How can anyone think
that the Mexican government can be an effective partner
in controlling immigration and enforcing the border?
Posted at

02:44 PM


From a
reader: "I read your post on The Corner and I thought
you should know that not only was General Pershing
involved in the expedition but it also launched the
career of future general

George S. Patton,
Jr., who killed 3 of [Pancho]
Villa`s bandits in a

gunfight at the Rubio Ranch
and then strapped their
bodies to the hood of his Dodge."

border enforcement!

Posted at

05:48 PM

Jean Lopez
For the record: Mark is not endorsing the Rubio Ranch
approach in that post.
Posted at

05:49 PM

query: Is

National Review


on the border?

[Steve Sailer [email
him] is founder of the Human Biodiversity Institute and

movie critic

The American Conservative
His website
features his daily