26. The Hour of Blood
During La Matanza, the Texas Rangers spearheaded a wave of extra judicial killings, lynchings, and massacres amidst operations against cross border raids known as the Bandit Wars. The raids were carried out by rebels from south of the border, amidst the chaos of the Mexican Revolution that was taking place at the time. Coupled with ever-present anti-Mexican racism, the raids triggered a violent backlash that extended to all Mexican-Americans in Texas, and especially those living along the border. Those suspected of harboring any sympathy for the rebels were blacklisted by the Texas Rangers, and often “disappeared”.
In a campaign led by the Rangers and joined by vigilantes and local law enforcement, thousands of Mexican-Americans were murdered, and thousands more fled across the border into Mexico. The violence peaked between August, 1915 to June, 1916, a period that came to be named Hora de Sangre (“Time of Blood”). As a contemporary recalled: “all the Rangers had to was get a suspicion on somebody, any little thing, and they would take ’em out and shoot ’em down“. Hundreds of Mexicans were indiscriminately murdered in South Texas, which triggered a flight to Mexico so severe that ranchers and farmers complained that all their field hands had left. Even Mexican-American landowners fled, some with such urgency that they abandoned thousands of cattle behind.