Sunday, December 2, 2012


Rio Rancho fotos
Esta foto de Rio Rancho es cortesía de TripAdvisor (Courtyard of Casa San Ysidro in Corrales)

An issue that pops up in New Mexico from time to time is that of the historical and present role of los ricos --  patrons -- in the affairs of the state and its people. There is a strong libertarian streak here that claims to reject the historic role that patrons have played in the Spanish and later Anglo societies in New Mexico, but it's pretty obvious that what these libertarians are really rejecting is the social responsibility patrons  have and have had over the centuries. They would like to hold on to the "rule" or authority patrons are able to exercise over the common people, they just don't want to have to bother with all the responsibility for the well being of others that goes with that authority.

It's as I've said many times, the libertarian motto is: "I demand the liberty to impose my authority on you." Without -- let it be said -- any reciprocal responsibility toward your welfare or the well-being of the community as a whole.

We went to Casa San Ysidro in Corrales last night and got a sense of how a patron might have lived in rural New Mexico in the 1700's or early 1800's.

It was simple to say the least. So simple that the Anglos who flooded in after the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo considered this traditional lifestyle both primitive and barbaric. And yet the role of the patron is still an essential factor in New Mexico's society and culture.

A traditional patron in New Mexico has extensive community responsibilities that go well beyond his own personal needs. This tradition of responsibility is very strong even today, and it is one of the factors that keeps New Mexico from sliding into the abyss of the kind of irresponsible nonsense that afflicts both Arizona and Texas.

The main responsibility of the patron is for the community's functioning and survival over an extended period of time -- often under very difficult circumstances.

That is how many of New Mexico's public officials see their roles today. Even Libertarians like ex-Governor Gary Johnson and Republicans like current Governor Susana Martinez see the necessity of social and community responsibility, something that seems to be missing from the perspectives of Governors Jan Brewer in Arizona and Rick Perry in Texas. The concept of responsibility -- as opposed to "authority" for its own sake or in concert with it -- seems to be alien to them.

American ricos by and large have abandoned social and community responsibility. They see no reason to be concerned with the well-being of others, especially others outside their class -- who they seem to believe are not even human. This is, I suppose, a natural consequence of granting god-like powers or appellations like "Masters of the Universe" to a cadre of not-too-bright but highly predatory individuals whose primary interest appears to be exploitation for its own sake -- without renewal or consideration for the future.

We went out to Casa San Ysidro last night because it was a Christmas Season open house, and we'd never been there, though we'd contemplated it many times.

We were able to stop by a place we call "Hazel's" -- El Bruno's in Albuquerque -- for an early dinner, where Hazel's great-grandson was introduced to us as "our future boss." That sense of continuity -- and responsibility -- is a fundamental part of society here. When "Hazel's" -- El Bruno's -- in Cuba burned several years ago, Hazel and Bruno set to work immediately to try to recoup and recover and rebuild, not so much for themselves, as for all the people who were relying on them and their restaurant -- their family, friends and employees, and the town of Cuba itself, along with their customers from all over New Mexico and the Southwest (like us) who had made their place a destination for many years. In return, the community pitched in to ensure that El Bruno's reopened and even became better than before.

That's how it goes. Or rather, that's how it should go.

 As we left Casa San Ysidro, we got caught up in the tail end of the Christmas Starlight Parade through the Village of Corrales, attended by thousands of residents and visitors who lined the main street -- it seemed for miles. Where did all these people come from?  we wondered. There are fewer than 10,000 residents in Corrales, and I'm sure there were more than that lining the street. We had thought of attending the Twinkle Light Parade in Albuquerque last night, but getting caught up in the Christmas cheer and parade in Corrales made the idea more than a little redundant.


  1. This post is both fascinating and informative. I always considered the remnants of Spanish colonial rule as something of a predecessor to the ridiculous politics of San Diego today and for most of my lifetime.

    It is gratifying to think of the rule of the Alcalde as something benificent.

  2. I'm intrigued with the very real differences between Spanish settlement in California and New Mexico.

    Maybe some of the difference has to do with the fact that Spanish settlement started in New Mexico far earlier than it did in California, and it was led from the beginning by (minor) Spanish aristocrats -- whose influence lingers to this day. As high handed as they often were with one another and with the Natives, those who founded the Spanish settlements always seemed to act upon their social responsibility to their communities and to believe those responsibilities were paramount.

    The relationship between the Spanish and the Native Peoples was quite different as well. There was a level of mutual suspicion -- and eventually respect -- that never occurred in California in part because the Pueblo peoples of New Mexico were considered "civilized" by the Spanish from the outset (though they were infidels, of course). In some respects, the Indians of the Rio Grande Valley had a higher level of "civilization" than the Spanish themselves, and after the Pueblo Revolt and the Spanish re-entrada, the Spanish and Pueblo peoples came to a rough but surprisingly serviceable accommodation with one another. All that still exists.

    The overlay of Anglo culture and society is regarded as new and not particularly welcome by many old timers. The old ways endure and adapt to new realities, and they are still highly relevant.

    I've long considered Southern California to be culturally part of (contemporary) Mexico, but socially and politically it pretends to be something unique -- self-created, and re-invented periodically. It's as if the basics are ignored or suppressed or laughed at in order to pretend to be something else, and it leads to some... well, peculiarities...

    The basics are still very strong in New Mexico. There are plenty of local variations and peculiarities to be sure....;-)