Raza Unida Party

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National United Peoples Party
Partido Nacional de La Raza Unida
Chairman Xenaro Ayala
Founder José Ángel Gutiérrez
Mario Compean
Founded 17 January 1970
Preceded by Workmen of the World
Ideology Chicano nationalism
Mexican American interests
Party flag
Aztlan flag rb.jpg
Politics of United States
Political parties

Partido Nacional de La Raza Unida (National United Peoples Party[1] or United Race Party[2]) was an American political party centered on Chicano nationalism. During the 1970s the Party campaigned for better housing, work, and educational opportunities for Mexican-Americans.


The La Raza Unida Party started with simultaneous efforts throughout the U.S. Southwest. The most widely known and accepted story is that the La Raza Unida Party was established on January 17, 1970 at a meeting of 300 Mexican-Americans in Crystal City, Texas by José Ángel Gutiérrez and Mario Compean, who had also helped in the foundation of the Mexican American Youth Organization (MAYO) in 1967. In Lubbock, the youth organization was headed by journalist Bidal Aguero, who later worked in the Raza Unida Party. The party originated from a group called WOW, or Workmen of the World. Its original thirteen members included Alfredo Zamora, Jr., the first Chicano Mayor of Cotulla, Texas, who unseated a member of the Cotulla family. Also part of this group was the 2nd Hispanic Mayor of Cotulla, Arcenio A. Garcia. He was the youngest mayor of the State of Texas (24) at that time. Zamora left LaSalle county within 2 years and the next election in 1972 was won by Garcia under the Raza Unida party. Previously in December 1969, at the only national MAYO meeting, Chicano activists decided on the formation of that third party Raza Unida. This new party would focus on improving the economic, social and political aspects of the Chicano community throughout Texas. This party resulted in the election of the first 2 Mexican American Mayors of LaSalle County, Texas.[3]

Following the victory of the RUP in municipal elections in Crystal City and Cotulla, the party grew and expanded to other states, especially California and Colorado. In Colorado the RUP worked closely with Rodolfo "Corky" Gonzales and the Crusade For Justice based out of Denver. In California the RUP spread throughout the state and held strong ground in the County of Los Angeles at one point with as many as 20 different chapters.

The novice city council was not very effective in implementing their goals, which damaged the party's reputation in the short-term. Despite this the RUP continued to be active, however, and ran candidates for Governor of Texas, Ramsey Muniz in 1972 and Mario Compean in 1974. They petitioned Dr. Hector P. Garcia to run on the RUP ticket, but the conservative doctor refused. In 1972, they ran a candidate in a competitive US Senate race in Colorado, Secundion Salazar, who received 1.4% of the vote.

During the late 1970s the La Raza Unida Party decided to change tactic from a "get out the vote" organization to a more community based, grassroots, revolutionary nationalist formation seeking the unity of all Chicano, Latino and Native American peoples of the Southwestern United States which is commonly referred to as Aztlan. During the same time Xenaro Ayala was voted in as National Chairman. In 1978 Mario Compean ran for governor of Texas but received only 15,000 votes, or 0.6%. The party held a second national convention in which Juan Jose Pena was elected chairman in 1980. However, the party was effectively eliminated from electoral politics after the 1978 showing.

A reunion conference commemorating the 40th anniversary of the party was held from July 6 to 7, 2012, in Austin, Texas. According to an organizer, the aging former members of the party wanted to get together for "el utimo adios," or "one final goodbye". Attendees included Mario Compean and José Ángel Gutiérrez.[4]

Notable members[edit]


  1. ^ Armando Navarro (2000) La Raza Unida Party, p. 20
  2. ^ Van Gosse (2005) Rethinking the New Left, p. 145
  3. ^ "TSHA Online - RAZA UNIDA PARTY". tshaonline.org. Retrieved 2009-09-18. 
  4. ^ "Aging La Raza Unida members unite for el ultimo adios". Austin Statesman. 2012-06-30. Retrieved 2012-12-27. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Marquez, Benjamin; Espino, Rodolfo. "Mexican American support for third parties: the case of La Raza Unida," Ethnic & Racial Studies (Feb 2010) 33#2 pp 290–312. (online)
  • Navarro, Armando. Mexican American Youth Organization: Avant-Garde of the Movement in Texas (University of Texas Press, 1995)
  • Navarro, Armando. The Cristal Experiment: A Chicano Struggle for Community Control (University of Wisconsin Press, 1998)
  • Navarro, Armando. La Raza Unida Party: A Chicano Challenge to the U.S. Two Party Dictatorship (Temple University Press, 2000)

External links[edit]