The Biography of Casimiro Barela

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    • Abstract:
      First published in Spanish in 1911, this little-known biography of Casimiro Barela (1847-1920) is a rare account of an accomplished politician's career whose life was shaped by issues of race and class. Barela was a member of Colorado's Constitutional Convention in 1875 and represented Las Animas County in the state senate for forty years. He was instrumental in ensuring Colorado legislation was printed in both English and Spanish, to help his large Spanish-speaking constituency better understand the state's laws. Included in José Fernández's chronicle is the senator's defense of Mexicano land grants, his membership in Anglo-dominated civic associations, and his work in establishing Baca County in recognition of Hispanic pioneers in southern Colorado. Barela fought for better relations between the United States-his homeland, and Mexico-the land of his heritage. He publicly called for the return of war trophies taken from Mexico, and he was sympathetic to Mexico's Díaz regime. Thanks largely to Barela's efforts, Colorado was the first state to declare Columbus Day a legal holiday. He was a supporter of the women's suffrage movement in Colorado and helped pass legislation to use Colorado's state prisoners in the building of state roads. Fernández doesn't ignore Barela's personal life. He includes Barela's penchant for raising racehorses and his preoccupation with not having a male heir. Part of the Recovery of U.S. Hispanic Literary Heritage Project, this edition carries an analytic introduction by translator A. Gabriel Meléndez.
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