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The Milmo Vidaurris did not allow a little thing like rain to deter them from arriving at their ancestral home – La Mesa de Cartujanos. The tenacity of will that is so inherent in our family was stronger then the bad weather that raged through Northern Mexico. 

laCuesta

Other guests and I including the twins sit next to the rocks that overlook Northern Mexico.

The weekend proved to be an adventure it started with a plane ride to La Mesa de Cartujanos charted by Alberto Daniel Milmo Jr. Beto.  “Chico” as he is known to his family is an avid flyer.He flew four times to La Mesa from Monterrey that Friday morning – dropping off various passengers arriving from Mexico City, New York and San Francisco.
Arriving at La Mesa, Patricia Milmo and I took a casual walk from la pista to the main house. Our casual walk turned into a brisk walk in the pouring rain. Not being acclimated with the gate leading to the house – we were unable to open it. We were soaking wet and laughing hysterically as the rain continued. I can’t remember the last time I had that much fun.La Mesa de Cartujanos is located in Candela, Coahuila. The view is breath-taking at one thousand six hundred and forty – two feet above sea level. La Mesa was originally owned by Jose Geronimo Cacho in 1697. It was acquired by my 3rd great uncle Don Santiago Vidaurri in the mid 1800’s; the property became a hiding place for his cattle and horses, and that of his army “Los Vidaurristas.” Most importantly it was his refuge, his haven away from what was modern society.

LaPista

The driveway for guests that fly to La Mesa, we often walk around in the evenings with only the stars to guide us.

 

Other highlights of my weekend included playing parlor games with the Milmo Garza twins – Elena y Mateo. The twins love scary ghost stories – and a particular game called “Murderer”, the game consists of a chosen henchman “winking” other players into pretend death. The game never got underway as we were unable to look into each others eyes – especially after laughing so much.

A game of “Truth or Dare” had the adults in suspense. We knew choosing dare, the twins would have us do something dangerous or embarrassing.

Beto Chico became Elena y Mateo’s hero the moment he dared me to kiss the mounted bears tongue- the twins were in rapture. Another treat was Beto Chico’s guitar rendition of Stairway to Heaven, Highway to Hell, Hotel California and La Bamba. The evenings ended with a sing along of La Bamba – all these special moments made me wish I had brought along a video camera.

matty

10 year Old M.Milmo ringing the bell for mass to commence.

 

Saturday morning, the day of the Misa turned into an intimate gathering of historians and genealogists. All the scholars mingled with the different branches of my families’ tree. We were all there to pay tribute not only to a great General and Governor, but to a remarkable man – Santiago Vidaurri.

Don Santiago Vidaurri was a powerful governor – who was able to negotiate with Juarez and other foreign relations. He was not only influential in the political and military aspect of things, but also in the national sense of things. During 1855 – 1864 he exercised complete authority over Northern Mexico, which he ran practically independent.

My uncle and Juarez shared a tenuous relationship, never Seeing Eye to eye – although they were both liberals. Juarez betrayed my uncle in the same manner that he betrayed Mexico. History is written by men, who document lies and deceit for personal gain.

Inside lacapilla

My cousin, Alberto Milmo giving a few words.

 

Juarez assumed control of a broken country – a country that asked him to resign the very moment he entered the Presidency. Juarez suspended payments to all foreign creditors – July 17, 1861. The French dreamed of expansion and used that as a reason for intervention. Vidaurri was confused between all opposing sides. Vidaurri did not want to commit to Juarez – whose ethics he did not idealize or submit to French domination.

He with Comonfort and Doblado came up with an idea of a new government, placing Doblado as Mexico’s new President. Miguel Miramon and Benavides proposed a “National” party – placing Vidaurri as their leader but he declined – he felt he was too old and sickly. This action is contrary to the portrayal historian’s paint of a power-hungry northerner.

The purpose of creating a new government was to neutralize the French by coming up with reasonable terms – without further disruption of an already broken Mexico. This never took place, but it clarifies Don Santiago Vidaurri’s true intentions.

Before Vidaurri could choose between Juarez and the French – Juarez declared him a traitor. Vidaurri was not given a choice, within three years he became Maximilians direct advisor.H

Since Cortez landed on the beaches of Veracruz in 1519 Mexico has been in a state of corruption. My Uncle – Santiago Vidaurri tried to change that. He was the only Mexican Government official that did not allow the exploitation of Mexico. He saw advantage in the Taxation of King Cotton, and quickly set up rules and guidelines – The money was used to create jobs in textile mills, purchase provisions for his army and their families – for the general flow of the economics in Northern Mexico.

History does not give Don Santiago Vidaurri the justice he deserves. My Uncle never betrayed his country, community, or family. I have read letters written to and from my uncle- WE understand what was in his heart and mind the fateful day the decision was made to enter the society of the Hapsburg Prince, their letters reveal a formidable friendship between two men caught in intrigues created by the governments they championed.

Don Santiago Vidaurri is considered the greatest General to emerge from Mexico. All of the great Generals that followed were under his tutelage. Because of Vidaurri, Mexico avoided foreign invasion from enemy forces in the North. Governor Vidaurri never aided the French in warfare against his country- he never committed crimes against humanity. The Mexico my uncle left is identical to the Mexico I find today. Mexico is continuously exploited by foreign countries and by its own officials. His murder is a stain on his country. Mexico is in perpetual mourning – caught in a cycle unceasingly seeking atonement.

He is one of the most complex and misunderstood historical figures of Northern Mexico – He is survived by his integrity, and reputation. He never wavered from his convictions even when the end was evitable. He was a man who left order and peace in his wake –a humanitarian that fought for the rights of people less fortunate. My uncles last words were “Let my blood be the last, let Mexico be happy.”

“Que mi sangre sea la ultima y que Mexico sea felize”

I want to thank my cousin and his family for opening up their home to me, and for allowing me to take part in such a wonderful occasion. The Vidaurri Borrego’s of Coahuila, Nuevo Leon, Tamaulipas y Texas came together, setting aside differences to honor a great man – to our mutual ancestor Don Santiago Vidaurri.

Bibliography

“Santiago Vidaurri and the Southern Confederacy” By Ronnie C. Tyler

“Don Jose Santiago Vidaurri Borrego y Valdez.” By Anita Rivas Medellin

“Los Vidaurri de Coahuila, Nuevo Leon, Tamualipas y Texas.” By Jose Felipe dela Pena Vidaurri- revised edition.

Part 1 La Mesa de Cartujanos, “La Isla en el Ceilo.” By Anita Rivas Medellin