Saturday, August 18, 2012

Liga Protectora Latina

Last month, a very helpful curator at the Tempe History Museum replied to my inquiry about Vicente and Antonio Campuzano, opening up a series of new leads on my Granny's Campuzano family from their early days in Arizona.

I'd like to send my thanks to Jared Smith at the Tempe History Museum and Professor F. Arturo Rosales at Arizona State University for providing invaluable pointers to information on the Campuzanos and Liga Protectora Latina. I now have a great appreciation for a small chapter in the life of my second-great-grandfather, Vicente Plutarco Campuzano.

Liga Protectora Latina
Vicente Campuzano lived in Arizona between 1913-1916. He came to Tempe at the age of 51, joined family relation Antonio Campuzano, who was already established in town as a barber.  Vicente connected with other immigrants from Sonora, and joined in the Mexican mutual aid community that was active in the Tempe and Phoenix area.

Vicente's arrival in Tempe overlaps with the time that an influential Mexican mutual aid society was being formed in Phoenix. The Liga Protectora Latina was founded in 1914 to provide financial support to unemployed and ill members, funeral costs, education and social assistance, and the group also supported labor and civil rights for Mexican immigrants. Initially their focus was in Arizona but this expanded to other parts of the Southwest.
Source: Arizona State University
The following is a translation of the articles of the Liga Protectora Latina from F. Arturo Rosales' book Testimonio: A Documentary History of the Mexican American Struggle for Civil Rights:

Arizona became a state on 14 February 1912. With statehood brought a new constitution, and also efforts to limit non-citizens or non-English speakers from a variety of jobs. In November 1914, the Claypool-Kinney Bill passed in Arizona, stating that no firm employing more than five people could hire fewer than 80 percent citizens. A similar law had previously been ruled unconstitutional. Opposition to the bill and other efforts to limit Mexicans from working in Arizona generated huge interest in the Liga Protectora Latina.

James McBride's article on the Liga Protectora Latina in Journal of the West in 1975. That article remains one of the best sources for basic information on Liga Protectora Latina. McBride used source material from El Tucsonense, a Spanish-language newspaper from Tucson, as well as the Tempe News, as well as other regional newspapers and interviews.
McBride, page 83
McBride, page 84
In 1915, Vicente Campuzano was living in Tempe.  He was elected as sergeant at arms for Liga Protectora Latina's Lodge #1 on 2 July 1915. (Quite a lot occurred between 1915-1916, and I continue to look for copies of original news articles from Arizona papers of the time period).

In 1917, the Liga Protectora worked to unite Mexican miners in the Bisbee copper mine in opposition to the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), which attempted to disrupt copper production in World War I.
McBride, page 85

Tempe News articles on Liga Protectora

21 May 1915   3:1

At a meeting of the Tempe branch of the Liga Protectora Latina, a Spanish-American society held yesterday afternoon a resolution protesting against the execution of the five murderers sentenced to be executed at Florence a week from next Thursday was adopted. The organization at this place has about 80 members.
21 May 1915    3:2

A free employment agency has been opened at the Toggery, J. A. Valenzuela’s store.  Any one deserving help should leave his order there stating the kind of service he requires, and his wants will be speedily supplied, and all who are looking for work should go there and file an application.  The establishment of the agency is the work of the local Liga Protectora Latina, an organization for the improvement and betterment of the condition of the Mexican people in this section.

2 July 1915   3:1

Latin Protective League elects officers: Chris Sigala, pres.; Jose Soza, v-p.; Miguel Rubio, sec.; Fernando Benites, tres.; Vincente Campuzano, sgt. at arms; Henry Lopez, Ramon Mazon, and Ramon Estrada, trustees; A.A. Celaya and J.A. Valenzuela, lodge delegates.  115 members.  [Description of meetings and purpose.]

9 July 1915   3:1

The Liga Protectora Latina of this place installed its newly elected officers Sunday.  After the ceremonies of installation were over, ice cream, cake, and lemonade were served by the new officers.  50 new members were taken into the organization at a session held for that purpose.
6 August 1915   3:2

“New Officers of Latin League”
The Convention of the Liga Protectora Latina in session at Phoenix adjourned last night to meet at Tempe the first Sunday in 1917.
Officers elected were:
Supreme president, A. A. Celaya; supreme vice president, Doroteo Valle; supreme secretary, Teodoro Olea; supreme treasurer, Ignacio Espinoza; members of the executive committee: J. H. Martinez, J. A. Valenzuela, J. M. Melendez, Jose Soza, Pedro M. Salinas.
Pedro G. de la Lama was elected supreme organizer and Dr. Lorenzo Boido, supreme medical advisor, J. M. Quihuis, sergeant at arms and Pedro Varela, door keeper.

16 October 1915      3:1

Margarita Palomina, age 20, died in the home of her parents in East Tempe last night.  The family is in very straightened circumstances being almost destitute.  The Liga Protectora saw that the remains were given a proper burial.
22 September 1916     3:2

The Liga Protectora of this place is planning to give a series of Sunday night dances at the large platform in Sotelo Addition, starting next Sunday and continuing each Sunday night thereafter until cold weather.

12 January 1917    3:1

The Liga Protectora, Lodge No. 1 of Tempe, at its meeting held Sunday afternoon, installed the following officers for the ensuing year: Chris Segala, president; Francisco Orduno [sp?], ex-president; M. G. Rubio, secretary; F. Benites, treasurer; M. Soza, M. Romero, S. Mendoza, trustees; Frank Caravaja, sergeant at arms; Louis Garcia, door keeper.  This lodge has in the neighborhood of two hundred members. 
12 January 1917    4:1  (same day as above –also about Lodge No. 1)

La Liga Protectora de Latina closing annual convention.
It appears that Vicente was only in Tempe, Phoenix and Tucson for a few years, but those were the peak years of the Liga Protectora Latina. It is fascinating to think that my second-great-grandfather was involved in supporting Mexican labor and civil rights during this time, and I have a better perspective on the role that immigrants from Sonora and other Mexican states played in shaping Arizona's history.

Update, Sunday 19 August: I failed to mention in this post how I came across the idea to pursue the Campuzano connection in Phoenix and Tempe in the first place. In July, I found Vicente Campuzano in the 1915 City Directory for Tempe. I used that small hint to email the Tempe History Museum and ask if on the outside chance they had references to Vicente and Antonio Campuzano in their records. And they replied (see

After receiving the reference to Liga Protectora Latina from the History Museum, I emailed Professor Rosales, who has written several books on the Mexican immigrant experience in the US. And he replied to my email as well, and sending me information which showed Vicente Campuzano Jr. in the 1st Arizona Infantry and led me to the Arizona Military Museum. They in turn provided me with a copy of Vicente Jr.'s service record.

So there you go. It never hurts to ask, and sometimes you're really surprised by what you might find.

McBride, James B. "The Liga Protectora Latina: A Mexican-American Benevolent Society in Arizona," Journal of the West, 14 (October 1975): 82-90.

Rosales, F. Arturo. A Dictionary of Latino Civil Rights History (Houston: Arte Público Press, 2006), p. 168.

Rosales, F. Arturo. ¡Chicano! The History of Mexican American Civil Rights. (Houston: Arte Público Press, 1996), p. 63.

Rosales, F. Arturo. "Pobre Raza!": Violence, Crime, Justice and Mobilization Among Mexico Lindo Immigrants, 1900-1936 (Austin, University of Texas Press,1999), pp. 138-129.

Rosales, F. Arturo. "Testimonio: A Documentary History of the Mexican American Struggle for Civil Rights." (Houston: Arte Público Press, 2000) pp. 114-115.

Tempe News, articles between 1915-1917 (text copies provided by the Tempe History Museum)

The Chicana/Chicano Experience in Arizona, Arizona State University,


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