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Hispanic Heritage

El corrido de Gregorio Cortez

This corrido was immortalized by Américo Paredes in his book With His Pistol in His Hand (which served as the basis for the film The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez, released in 1982). The corrido documents the odyssey of a Mexican Texan who fled for his life after he killed an Anglo sheriff in self-defense, because of a misunderstanding over some stolen horses. Cortez did not speak English.

"Gregorio Cortez" is the ideal example of the hero corrido. As a symbol of his people's hopes for deliverance, the hero achieves his revenge by reversing the roles of power, with Mexican Americans of the Southwest assuming — in vicarious fashion — a dominant position over their oppressors and in this way achieving a sense of deliverance.

The Americans came,
whiter than a dove,
from fear they had
of Cortez and his gun,
Gregorio Cortez left,
he left heading for Laredo;
they refused to follow him,
because they were afraid of him.

Source: Hispanic American Almanac, Gale, 1997; DISCovering Multicultural America, Gale, 1999.

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