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Funded in part by a grant from TexTreasures and by the UT Arlington Library.

David Riojas

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(55 pages)

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David Riojas is a first generation Mexican American born in 1953 and raised in Eagle Pass, Texas. He was first involved with the Chicano Movement as a senior in high school when Ramsey Muñiz made his election bid for governor of Texas. David Riojas earned his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Ethnic Studies and Political Science from the University of Texas at Austin (UT) where he was a member of the Mexican American Youth Organization (MAYO). He received his Doctor of Jurisprudence from Texas Tech University in 1984 and made several bids for public office in Maverick County, including that of mayor of Eagle Pass, prior to his election to the city council in 1993. At the time of the interview, he was an attorney for Texas Rural Legal Aid (now Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid) and still serving on the city council of Eagle Pass. In 2004, he was elected to the board of trustees of the Eagle Pass Independent School District.

Interview Summary:

David Riojas begins with his family background and recalls his early political interest in the Chicano Movement during his high school and college years when he was involved in the election campaign of Ramsey Muñiz and in the Mexican American Youth Organization (MAYO). He explains his decision to return to Eagle Pass as an attorney and his entry into Maverick County politics. He describes the political set up which began under Judge Robert Bibb and gives details about the political corruption operated through 'las trabajadoras' (female government employees who worked the system to buy votes) in Maverick County, and was later controlled by Frank Chisum. He tells about the Raza Unida Party's election ventures, including Riojas' 1993 election to the city council of Eagle Pass. He refers to the election of Enriqueta Diaz Lane over incumbent Rudy Bowles for county judge and her ensuing scandal, and reviews the finances of various campaigns. He notes the changes he effected to the city charter to gain control of the city's boards and points to the interests of Mexico's Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI) in the construction of a second international bridge over the Rio Grande connecting Piedras Negras to Eagle Pass. He expresses his concerns for the local economy and the competition between local laborers and Mexican nationals for limited job opportunities in Eagle Pass. He addresses the problems of colonias (poorly planned communities in unincorporated areas) created by unscrupulous developers and discusses the need for economic development in Maverick County. He touches on the efforts of the Kickapoo Indians to bring gambling opportunities to the area and talks about his work for Texas Rural Legal Aid (now Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid) on cases involving school attendance, wages, disability, and jail standards. He mentions the potential for natural gas and coal mining in the area involving financial backing by Carlos Salinas de Gotari (a former president of Mexico) and debates the conflicting interests of Piedras Negras and Eagle Pass.

Locations of residence or activity:

Eagle Pass

Interview Date: