Skip to comments.Asian slaves in Mexico’s history
Posted on 02/04/2005 12:53:23 PM PST by nickcarraway
MEXICO CITY About 100,000 Asian slaves were brought to Mexico by the Manila galleons through the centuries, a dark side of the trade that has not been explored by historians. The slaves were captured by Spanish and Portuguese traders in India, Burma, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Mindanao, loaded on the galleons in Manila and transported to Acapulco.
One such slave was a Filipino by the name of Nicolas Tolentino, who ended up in Chihuahua in northern Mexico, birthplace of the revolutionary hero Pancho Villa.
Because the Spanish king had orders that Filipinos were not to be enslaved, Tolentino petitioned the authorities to free him from slavery. When the authorities examined his background, they found that Tolentinos parents were Indians from India who had lived in Pampanga.
Tolentinos petition was denied. A talented man, he left behind writings in Pampango and Spanish which are preserved in a museum in Chihuahua. His story was pieced together by American historian William Mason.
Another slave who left a legacy in Mexico was Catarina de San Juan. She was a chef and religious mystic who was said to have invented the famous dish mole, a mixture of chocolate and chili favored by Mexicans as ingredient for cooking chicken or turkey.
Catarina lived in the 1600s and is the proto-type of a long line of magic chefs in Mexican folk stories, such as the tale in the film "Like Water for Chocolate."
Catarina arrived in Mexico as a slave but converted to Christianity and became a nun in Puebla. She designed Mexicos distinctive national dress called the China Poblana. Historians say she was from Vietnam or Cambodia. But others say it was more likely that she came from Muslim royalty in Mindanao.
About half a million African blacks were also brought by the Spanish to Mexico from the 16th century onward. Following the conquest, the Mexican Indians were decimated by diseases brought by the Europeans, their population dwindling from 20 million to less than 5 million in a century.
Slaves had to be imported from Asia and Africa to work the great silver mines, the cloth mills, and the farmlands.
There were many intermarriages between Filipinos and their descendants with African blacks and their descendants. To get around the law that Filipinos were not to be enslaved, they were often classified as Africans, one of them Catarina San Juan mentioned above.
The union of Africans and Filipinos produced heirs who made their names in Mexican history. Among the notable Mexicans of African (Filipino?) heritage are Juan Alvarez, Lazaro Cardenas, writer and novelist Vicente Riva Palacio, Gaspar Yanga, Emiliano Zapata , Vicente Guerrero, Luis Pinzon, Venustiano Carranza, and the great composer Agustin Lara.
Three of them Alvarez, Cardenas, and Carranza became president of Mexico.
The notable Mexicans of definite Filipino roots are Isidoro Montes de Oca, Francisco Mongoy, Faustina Benitez, and Jose Santiago Garcia. Montes de Oca and Mongoy served as brigade commanders under General Vicente Guerrero during the struggle for independence in 1810.
Montes de Oca became a general. A grandson of Mongoy named Arturo fought in the Philippines as a fighter pilot in World War II as part of a contingent sent by President Manual Camacho of Mexico.
Faustina Benitez gained fame as an activist in the town of Coyuca, north of Acapulco which is known as Filipino town. Another Filipino who fought in the war for independence was Felipe Mayo but little is known about his fate.
this is rich!
I'll say. Have you ever had mole?
The things I learn reading Free Republic!
Mole taste nasty to me... They call it Chocolate Chicken...
If you ever get the chance, try it. A friend of mine from Mexico got marrued, and her Mother came up and made the authentic sauce (it is traditional for weddings). It is a very unique sauce. Who knew a Fillipina invented it!
I'm sure I can get it already made. I remember it from that same movie 'Like Water for Chocolate'. That was a really good movie.
Such a New Yorker!
What's amazing in Latin America is how quickly the Filipinos and Chinese assimilated into the dominant culture. The same cannot be said of the Japanese.
I was never quite clear about chiles. Whether they were of Central American or SouthEast Asian origin. So mole is not of Aztec origin?
Ten years ago, I brought a Filopina slave here to the US. Now she works 3 jobs and keeps me up all night long. Has a great smile too.
Don't talk about your wife that way! ;-)
Meanwhile she probably bosses him around and calls the shots!
A grandson of Mongoy named Arturo fought in the Philippines as a fighter pilot in World War II as part of a contingent sent by President Manual Camacho of Mexico.
World War II was a turning point for America and the world. America realized its potential as an industrialized nation and the world recognized that international alliances were essential for the progress of humanity. Two nations that experienced this at a closer level were the United States and Mexico.
Under the leadership of President Manuel Avila Camacho, Mexico defined its position in the war and broadened its relationship with the United States. Ill sentiments left by President Cardenasâ nationalization of U.S. owned companies in 1938 were set aside, the U.S. now saw Mexico as an essential trading partner and ally.
This relationship culminated in the formation of the Mexican Fighter Squadron 201 or as it is recognized by many, "El Escuadron 201." The service of these 300 Mexican soldiers forever changed how Mexico was perceived by the world.
Mexico's participation in World War II grew to much more than just that of a trading partner to the United States during the latter half of the war. With the sinking of two oil tankers, Portero de Llano and Faja de Oro,by German forces in May of 1942. Mexico entered the war on May 30, 1942 and more actively joined the Allied effort. Relations between the United States and Mexico strengthened with the formation of agreements such as the U.S. & Mexico Defense Commission and the Bracero Program. From 1943 to 1945 the Bracero Program brought over 100,000 Mexican laborers to work the fields and railways in order to alleviate Americaâs manual labor shortage.Agreements that would allow these countries to use each other's resources as efficiently as possible during this time of need. Another 1942 agreement allowed the conscription of Mexican citizens living in the United States. World War II marked the first time that these countries had combined both their industrial and armed forces to conquer a common threat.
With great encouragement from President Camacho, the Mexican government evaluated a plan to provide troops for the war. After realizing that Mexico lacked the resources to do this, President Camacho turned to the United States for help to prepare soldiers for combat. With an effort to have these men ready by 1943, President Camacho presented his proposal to President Roosevelt in a meeting held in Monterrey, Nuevo Leo, Mexico in April 1943.
Although both nations evaluated the idea extensively and held numerous negotiations, Mexico accepted Rooseveltâs proposal on March 14, 1944. President Roosevelt agreed to accept the participation of one or two Mexican air squadrons. Chosen by Mexican officials from numerous volunteers, this event marked the first time that Mexican troops were trained for overseas combat.
Among the 300 men were 38 experienced pilots and 250 ground crewmen. Measures for the development of the Mexican Fighter Squadron 201 were soon taken by both nations. After meetings between President Camacho, General William E. Hall, U.S. Deputy Chief of Air Staff, and Mexican Air Force chief, General Salinas, specifications were the participation of the squadron were established. The Mexican Fighter Squadron 201 would receive training in an American air base for a minimum of five months. After completing training on the P-47, they would be assigned to the Pacific Theater.
After a modest fairwell in Mexico, the Mexican Fighter Squadron 201 left Mexico to receive training in the United States on July 24, 1944. The men arrived at Laredo, Texas on July 25, 1944. They soon arrived at Randolph Filed in San Antonio, Texas, where they received medical examinations as well as weapons and flight proficiency tests. The men went on to Pocatello Army Air Base in Pocatello, Idaho.
In Pocatello, the men were given extensive training in their area of specialty such as armament, communication, or engineering. They arrived at Majors Field in Greenville, Texas on November 30, 1944. Here, the pilots received further aviation instructions and training. Training included combat air tactics, formation flying and gunnery. The men were honored with grduation ceremonies on February 20, 1945 where they were presented with their battle flag.
Before leaving to the Philippines, the men received further instructions and physical examinations in Camp Stoneman in Pittsburgh, California in March 1945. The men left for the Philippines on the Liberty Ship Fairisle on March 27, 1945.
Also known as the "Aztec Eagles," the squadron arrived in Manila Bay on April 30, 1945. The men were greeted by General C. Kenney, the commanding officer of the Far East Air Force as well as by the Philippine General Consul, Alfredo Carmelo. Consul Carmelo welcomed the men with a small celebration that included Mexican music, and custumes. The Mexican Fighter Squadron 201 received pre-combat training from the pilots of the 58th. After this instruction period, the men were ready to particptae in combat. Although only in the Philippines for six months, the squadron actively participated in 59 combat missions, totaling over 1, 290 hours of flight. They successfully participated in the Allied effort to bomb Luzon and Formosa in an attempt to push the Japanese out of the islands. Assigned to the 58th Fighter group pf the U.S. 5th Air Force, the "Aztec Eagles" were also used as ground support after the aerial threat from Japan weakend. During these ground assignments, the men of the squadron saw first hand the fearlessness and war mentality of the Japanese soldiers. Japanese soldiers were often captured after trying to come into U.S. military campsites for food.
The war came to an end with the surrender of Japan on Aug. 10, 1945. After a year of training and six months of active duty, the "Aztec Eagles" were able to return home. Mexico greeted them with a heroâs welcome on November 18, 1945.
The surrender of the Japanese came earlier than expected and this left a great impression on the Mexican squadron. Although advised that news of the Atomic bomb attack by the United States may be Japanese ploy, the men saw the destruction of these bombs first hand. Many were overwhelmed by the severity of the damage and were left with a lifelong impression. They returned home with a true sense of achievement and with the constant remembrance of the seven men that lost their lives.
Twenty men of the Mexican Fighter Squadron 201 received U.S. Air Medals as well as the Philippine Presidential Unit Citation from the president of the Philippines in 1952. Other medals awarded were the Mexican Medal of Valor, World War II Victory Medals, and the Mexican Medal of Valor. Veterans have recently been honorned by the American GI Forum and have participated in several oral histroy projects. Monuments honoring "El Escuadron 201" can be found throughout Mexico and its members are still honored and respected today.
Today, squadron members reminisce about their experince and the friendships they made. They feel undeserving of heroic admiration but rather feel that they were simply completing their responsibility to serve their country. The men of the "Escuadron 201" give praise to the united efforts of the Allied Nations during World War II and feel that it was a common desire for democracy that won the war. They express their sentiments with hopes that future generations realize that fighting a war is useless.
So you think I'm a wimp! Well, I can pick my own side of the bed and I also get to take care of 2 1/2 kids all day long. There I showed you!!!!
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