The Fighting Padre of Zapata :
Father Edward Bastien and the Falcon Dam Project.
By Edward Bastien; edited by María F Rollin. El Paso: Texas Western Press, 2003. Southwestern Studies Series No. 110. ISBN 0-87404-285-2 Paper $18.00. 6 x 9, 265 pp., b&w photos, appendices, notes, biblio. http://www.utep.edu/twp/
Father Bastien was a good priest. When he arrived in Zapata on the Rio Grande, poor folks were being rather cavalierly, if properly according to the bureaucrats, displaced and poorly compensated by a giant engineering project to create the Falcon Dam Reservoir. He took pen in hand and began mailing or nailing letters and newspaper articles in protest and supplication. From President Eisenhower and Senator Johnson on down, he wrote. He invented a pen name “I. Poz” (that is, Irate People of Zapata) to use in his writings to the Laredo Times.
With wit and persistence, Father Bastien respected the community’s needs and brought some needed change to the affair. Father Bastien eventually grew ill and was transferred to another charge from where he covertly continued his efforts. He eventually created an additional manuscript, a portion of this volume, and left it in the care of the editor’s family. The letters and articles are remarkable to read. The book is more than just its own story. If you or others wish to learn how to write letters in support for a cause, it is an excellent laboratory and inspiration. Maybe the folks trying to save Caddo Lake could use the good Father’s model.
In that case the Eagle would follow the Dove. The reviewer would have liked to see some photographic reproductions of the letters in the Father’s own hand and typescript. Editor Maria Rollin earned degrees in Spain and Texas and has taught in both. He current teaches ESL in the Laredo Community College. She is congratulated for her insight and loyalty. The Flores Magon brothers would be proud.
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