There is a new world along the range and across the ranches of northern Mexico.?
The land, a cattle ranch behind barbed wire fences; a windmill pumping water from underground; paracaidistas at Los Ojitos, warming themselves and cooking food at an open fire; and finally one of the wealthier ranches.
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Background: There is a new world along the range and across the ranches of northern Mexico. It is paracaidista. The paracaidistas, or parachutists..so-called because they seem to appear from nowhere... are a new breed of squatters. They come quietly to the vast cattle and farmlands of the state of Chihuahua...and then pack up and disappear as swiftly and silently as they have come. They hope their hit and run tactics will focus attention on and dramatize their cause.
The land on which they are squatting once belonged to Americans. With the political upheaval in Mexico earlier in this century, the land was taken by the Mexican government. It was destined to be returned to the peasants under agrarian reform. But instead, much of it...once owned by American newspaper publisher William Randolf Hearst...is now held by former political leaders of Mexico.
Some of the land is used to raise Black Angus cattle for American packing houses to the north. Water is scarce...what is found requires much deep drilling and windmills to bring it to the surface. The past year has been a poor one. Rain fell lightly and the corn crop was thin. There is unrest...and the landless peasants seem to be looking toward communists to help them in their battle to regain the land.
A group of more than fifty paracaidistas recently appeared at a ranch known as Los Ojitos..owned by Lee Moore, an American from El Paso, Texas. They are farmers from Chihuahua and Durango. They brought their food...mostly coffee and beans and their bedding. Their camp consisted of three tents and unprotected bedrolls. They said that there were more than 500 squatters scattered around 100 thousand acres of ranch land in the north-central part of Chihuahua. The paracaidistas say they are waiting word from Jacinto Lopez, a communist leader, who was conferring with government officials in Mexico City about the agrarian reform.
Meanwhile, the winter is cold. The temperature sometimes plunges to near zero. But the paracaidistas say they will remain on the ranch until the government gives them land.