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On Sunday, August 24, 2008, 02:32 AM, Domingo Garcia Cano wrote:

Chico Cano was my great grandfather and he was who the Rangers were looking for when they got to Porvenir,Texas. I visited the masscare site during a family reunion in Van Horn, and all the bodies of the victims were buried in one big pit. Their should be a Texas historical memorial marker at this site. Su Familia, Su Tierra, Su Hogar: Chico Cano fought for family, land, home
Publish Date: February 1, 2006 | Permanent Link
by Sam Richardson

You won't see many people wearing Chico Cano T-Shirts. The Mexican revolutionary figure is not as well known as Pancho Villa and Emiliano Zapata, two of his early 20th century contemporaries. Villa and Zapata have become not only icons but big business as well. Their likenesses are sold and seen on T-Shirts, post cards, calendars, and in many other applications. Even street gangs use them as emblems of power.

But Chico Cano, in his own way, lived up to the revolutionary image of fighter, hero _ even bandit _ as much or mores than other more celebrated figures. And because he occasionally redistributed the wealth of the more fortunate, Cano has also been described as a Mexican Robin Hood.

Chico Cano was not perfect but he was an honorable man, according to authors Tony Cano and Janet Sochat. In their book, Bandido. The True Story of Chico Cano, the Last Western Bandit (Canutillo: Reata Press, 1997), the writers portray him as a man who was driven by the motto: Su familia, su tierra, su hogar. He used the remote reaches of the Rio Grande border as his own Sherwood Forest and its argued that his rustling, gun battles, and banditry, regardless of how others perceived them, were done in the name of family, land, home.

Chico very obviously wore a black hat in his actions against the Americans and some Mexicans but was known to wear a white hat as well in the aid and protection he brought to many people in the areas he controlled,_ the authors write. And they make an important distinction between Cano and other leaders of the revolutionary period. Whereas many revolutionary groups indulged themselves in the spoils of war, Cano drew the line at abusing innocent people, especially women.

Chico admonished those, Anglo or Mexican, who would not respect and care for the Mexican people, but rather raped, pillaged, and intimidated them,_ according to his biographers. And in contrast to Pancho Villa, who had 25 wives, Cano was devoted to one woman all his life. His beloved Teresa.

During the Mexican Revolution, Chico Cano was as enigmatic as the political situation in Mexico. Even though he is portrayed by the authors as a man loyal to his wife and family, and a man who had his own loyal following of armed men, his political loyalties shifted frequently.

He was first allied with Orozco, then with Carranza, both of whom were rivals of Villa. Then he lined up with Villa, then with Carranza again. Eventually he became totally independent. To use an old cowboy expression, He changed horses in midstream a lot. And he wound up being hunted not only by all of his former associates in Mexico but by the U.S. government as well.

None, it should be noted, ever put him out of business.

Authors Cano and Sochat portray Chico Cano on the one hand as a survivor, on the other as a victim. Since his loyalties were negotiable, and since he was constantly changing sides, all his former associates were eager to blame him for whatever banditry and violence occurred anywhere he might have been. Some tried to blame him for the Brite Ranch raid where a ranch south of Marfa was attacked in 1917. Others tacked his name onto every stolen horse or cow that crossed the Rio Grande during those turbulent times.

With one exception, the authors never admit Cano ever killed anybody or was directly responsible for any killing. In a drunken accident, Cano killed a young boy while trying to shoot a bottle off his head. In other instances, including the killing of Ranger Joe Sitter in a famous border gun battle, all possible alibis are entertained by the authors as to why Chico Cano was more than likely innocent.

When he was elderly and on his deathbed, Cano was asked if he was afraid to meet his maker. He said, My Father was my maker. Poverty was my maker. Distrust was my maker. I have met them all my life.

Cano died in 1943 of natural causes, still a hero to his people.

For further consideration is the question how many of the problems between the U.S. and Mexico in the early 20th century were created by the United States? Some would argue that one of the leading causes of the Mexican Revolution was U.S. investment in Mexico which helped create the one-sided economy of the Dictator Porfirio Diaz. His thirty-year reign created abject poverty and great suffering for most of the country while his small ruling elite and foreign investors made millions.

It was into that world that Chico Cano was born. The events resulting from the Diaz dictatorship and the revolution it caused shaped his life and the lives of thousands of others along the U.S./Mexico border defined by the Rio Grande.

Bandido is a must read for students and aficionados of Big Bend history.

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