Discussion on the massacre of Porvenir, Texas held at YISD HQ


Photo courtesy of University of North Texas

Texas Rangers at the Brite Ranch in Presidio County, 1918.

Daniel Rey Perez, Contributor

The community convened to watch the film “Porvenir, Texas and engage in a fruitful discussion Friday, Oct. 4 at the Ysleta Independent School District Headquarters.  

After the 52-minute screening, a discussion panel was held where viewers had the opportunity to pose their questions to professionals on the subject. 

The plot of the film is based on the true story of the 1918 massacre in Porvenir, Texas 

In the reallife scenario, Texas Rangers were hired to combat a band of armed Mexicans. In an act of brutality, the Rangers rounded up 15 men of Mexican heritage in the village of Porvenir, whom they alexecuted 

The speculated reasoning for this was to send a message to the Mexican Americans in the area not to resist the expansion of the U.S., thus the state of Texas allowed the massacre and even aided in covering it up throughout the subsequent years.  

A memorial service was held at the event to honor those men who were killed that night in Porvenir by the Texas Rangers. Each victim had a candle lit in the auditorium in their honor. 

Many of the descendants of the victims attended the service as well.  

The service opened up with the moderator and a descendant of one of the victims, Seth Van Matre, who explained the importance of the film and of discussing such atrocities committed against Mexican American people.  

This film is a living document for us, as descendants, as Tejanos, and Fronterizos, surpassing this ignorant hate and having our story heard,” Van Matre said.  

The film itself is a documentary investigating the crime committed by the state of Texas and the federal governmentA marker was set near Porvenir so that the tragedy does not get lost in history. The marker was established during the making of the film.  

The director of the movie, Andrew Shapter, passed away from cancer before the film could be finished. His wife, Christina Shapter, stepped in to finish the film for the tragedy to be better known by the public. 

My husband was an amazing human being with a huge heart, passionate and an honorary Mexican, my dad made him one,” Christina said. He loved Texas history and he loved that he had something to do with uncovering this.”  

After the film, the audience had to opportunity to ask questions to a panel which consisted of Georginna PerezTexas Board of Education District OnRepresentative; Yolanda Leyva, UTEP history professor; Jose RodriguezTexas state senator; Christina Shapter, producer of the movie; and Arlinda Valencia, a descendant of one of the victims 

Leyva expressed the importance of learning the dark sides of history and how it often shapes cultures and how other people treat each other 

“When I was (in) grad school, I had a professor who was born in south Texas,” Leyva said. “One time he told me ‘Did you know that all Texas Rangers have Mexican blood on their boots?”  

There are still unanswered questions to this day on what really occurred that night in Porvenir. 

Daniel Rey Perez may be reached at [email protected].