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How The West Was Stolen

On February 2, 1848, representatives of the United States and Mexico signed the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, ending what the US called the “Mexican-American War,” known in Mexico as the “War of United States Intervention.”

Overnight, more than a hundred thousand Mexican citizens became foreigners in their own country. Although the TGH included safeguards protecting land rights, respecting the culture and language of Mexicans, this was never honored.

164 years later, many families are still fighting for their land. This fight is especially strong in New Mexico and Texas, states that saw extended land disputes well into the twentieth century.

The justification for this war was based on the notion of “Manifest Destiny,” or the divine right to continental expansion. Essentially, religion used to excuse a racist land grab.

As we’ve seen recently in Arizona, there’s a concerted effort to keep our youth from studying the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo and other important parts of Mexican history in the United States. It illustrates how  after 164 years the Mexican-American war is still being fought, albeit more so with legislation than with invading armies.

For Mexicans living in the United States, especially those in the Southwest, February 2 is a day to remember that “we didn’t cross the border, the border crossed us.” Let us never forget this.