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* Chicanos (or Mexican-Americans) think they are the only Hispanics in the US. * Puerto Ricans speak Spanish too fast and eat their's's.'

* Cubans are rich.

These are stereotypes current among Hispanics about themselves. They may be unfair or misleading. But the one about Mexican-Americans is at least understandable: They outnumber by far every other Hispanic group in the US.

According to Bureau of the Census figures for March 1978, Chicanos constituted 59.4 percent of all Hispanics in the country. In the five Southwestern states where most of them live (Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona, and California), 85.2 percent of Hispanics were Chicanos. If the 'illegals' or 'undocumenteds' were included, the proportion of Mexican-Americans would be much higher.

Henry Cisneros, a member of the San Antonio City Council and expected by some to be his city's first Chicano mayor, said Mexican-Americans are set to become a dominant political force in these five states -- all of them, be it noted, in the Sunbelt. Consequently, Mexican-Americans are already concentrated in an area to which, in a national context, both economic and political power is shifting.

This historic city, with 53 percent of its population Chicano and with the Alamo and the Roman Catholic missions reminding a visitor of its Mexican past, is a microcosm of the Mexican-American awakening. Jan Jarboe, dynamic and youthful assistant managing editor of the San Antonio Light, described her city as a laboratory for all five Southwestern states. One of the key figures in this awakening, the self-effacing but intensely committed Ernesto Cortes, said power in San Antonio was being shifted from Anglos to Chicanos, just as in Atlanta it has been shifted from white to blacks.


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