Who was Tiburcio Vasquez and Why was the Bandido considered a hero to Californios?

Tiburcio Vasquez was born in 1835 in Monterey, California, Mexico.

In 1848, when he was twelve, his part of Mexico became part of the United States. As he grew older, he realized that Anglo Americans did not respect him or his people.

When he went to parties hosted by Californios (Californians of Mexican descent), Anglos would push their way through the gates, shoving him and his friends aside and forcing Chicana women to dance. He wrote that by the age of sixteen or seventeen, “a spirit of hatred and revenge took possession of me.”

Defending his people’s honor in fights, he was always being chased by the police, until in 1852 he shot a constable. From then on he was an outlaw, a desperado.

He robbed stores and stagecoaches. He stole horses and cattle. Authorities launched a massive manhunt, with the cooperation of rich Californios. But the Chicano peasants who sheltered him refused to betray him. He was their hero. Like Robin Hood, Vasquez was said to share his stolen goods with the poor.

In the 1870s, Vasquez was finally captured at the ranch of a man called Greek George. A jury of Anglos found him guilty, and he was hanged.

Two weeks later, a supporter of Vasquez killed two Anglos who had helped capture the desperado. The war went on.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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