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Special Collections & University Archives: Eligio "Kika" de la Garza

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Kika de la Garza Research Guide

Kika de la Garza Research Guide

Summary: Kika de la Garza

This research guide aims to provide a general overview for students interested in the late congressman, Eligio “Kika” de la Garza from Mission, Texas. Having served 32 years as a House Representative for the 15th district of Texas, he actively worked to uplift agriculturalists, make international political connections, protect RGV businesses and livelihoods, and find solutions to food insecurity in the United States. This guide highlights the Eligio (Kika) de la Garza Congressional Papers, including newsletters, photographs, related external readings, and sponsored bills that reflect de la Garza’s life and political values.

Background: Kika de la Garza

Eligio (Kika) de la Garza II was born September 22, 1927, in Mercedes, Texas. His parents were Dario de la Garza, a maintenance crew worker, and Elisa Villarreal. Descended from Spanish land grantees, his family had lived in South Texas since the early 18th century. He married Lucille Alamia and they raised three children together, Jorge, Michael, and Angela.

Kika grew up in Mission, TX and attended school at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic School and Mission High School. He served in the U.S. Navy from 1945 to 1946. Kika continued his education at Edinburg Junior College and the U.S. Army Field Artillery School in Fort Sill, OK. From 1950 to 1952 he served in the Korean War as a second lieutenant with the U.S. Army 37th Division Artillery. Upon his discharge from the Army, Kika earned a law degree from St. Mary’s University (1952), which also awarded him an honorary Doctor of Law. 

He first ran for public office in 1951, representing South Texas in the Texas State Legislature from 1952-1964. In 1964, de la Garza was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, serving from 1965-1996. He became a member of the Committee on Agriculture, serving as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Department Operations and Foreign Agriculture in 1967. From 1981 to 1994, de la Garza was Chairman of the Committee on Agriculture, and led the way for passage of three omnibus farm bills (1981, 1985, and 1990), a major overhaul of the agricultural lending system, Federal crop insurance reform, a major reorganization of the USDA, reforms in Federal pesticide laws, and numerous other measures to assist U.S. agriculture, encourage rural economic development, and improve human nutrition.

De la Garza was one of the founding members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus in 1976, which he chaired from 1989 to 1991. He successfully fought for improved access to health care for the elderly and veterans, better living conditions for low-income individuals and the impoverished, and access to educational opportunities for all Americans. A proponent of free trade, he was instrumental in the passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and expansion of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). A leading expert on U.S.-Mexican relations, de la Garza worked to improve relations and trade between the two countries throughout his career. In 1966, he became the first congressman from the Texas-Mexico border area to serve on the Mexico-United States Inter-Parliamentary Group, which promotes dialogue between legislators from the two countries. Upon retiring from public office in 1997, Kika resided in McAllen, with his wife Lucille until his death on March 13, 2017.

Sources
Hispanic Americans in Congress, http://www.loc.gov/rr/hispanic/congress/
New York Times Obituary, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/15/us/politics/kika-de-la-garza-dead.html
Office of the Historian. United States House of Representatives, https://history.house.gov/People/Detail/12083

Kika de la Garza Noteworthy Bills

H.R. 4059 (102nd): Enterprise for the Americas Initiative Act of 1992 H.R. 2046 (100th): Rio Grande Pollution Correction Act of 1987 H.R. 3789 (96th): Amendment to Section 16(b) of the Soil Conservation and Domestic Allotment Act
  • Expansion of NAFTA by expanding funds
  • Signed into action by President George H.W. Bush in October 1992
  • Learn more about HR 4059
  • Initiated an agreement with a Mexican government official to clean up the Rio Grande
  • Signed into action by President Ronald Reagan in October 1988
  • Learn more about HR 2046
  • Amendment allowed for new and more expansive funds to create the Great Plains Conservation Program
  • Signed into action by President Jimmy Carter in June 1980
  • Learn more about HR 3789

Eligio (Kika) de la Garza Congressional Papers

Eligio (Kika) de la Garza Congressional Papers

The Congressional Papers of Eligio "Kika" de la Garza consist of approximately 425 linear feet of materials dating from 1965 - 1996. The bulk of the papers date from 1965-1980 and 1989-1996. The papers were created during Kika de la Garza's time as an elected official in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1965 - 1996, representing the 15th Congressional District in South Texas. Funding for processing the papers was provided through a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.

The collection is arranged into series and subseries, chronologically and alphabetically:

Series I: Departmental Files, 1965-1996

Contains correspondence, notes, reports, publications, constituent correspondence and other communications, etc. This series has been divided into 7 subseries: Subseries 1.1 - Department Files (Health, Education & Welfare; Housing & Urban Development, etc.); Subseries 1.2 - Independent Agencies (Small Business Administrations, NASA, etc.); Subseries 1.3 - Agriculture (USDA files); Subseries 1.4 - Mexico/Border Files (mostly State Department files); Subseries 1.5 - Army Corps of Engineers; Subseries 1.6 - Base Closures Texas; and Subseries 1.7 - Executive Office. See individual subseries descriptions and folder lists for detailed information.

Series II: Personal & Political Files, 1965-1996

Contains personal and political files and information, including Scrapbooks (Subseries 2.1), Phone logs, daily calendars, appointments (Subseries 2.2), Photographs (Subseries 2.3), Campaign Materials (Subseries 2.4), Speeches (Subseries 2.5), miscellaneous personal files (Subseries 2.6), foreign dignitaries and trip files (Subseries 2.7) and Newsletters and News Releases (Subseries 2.8).

Series III: General Files, 1965-1996

Contains files and materials pertaining to general matters (Subseries 3.1), correspondence/pinks & Western Union (Subseries 3.2), miscellaneous (Subseries 3.3), general Texas materials (Subseries 3.4), materials that deal specifically with Hispanic issues in 'Spanish Surnames' (Subseries 3.5), and visitors & invitations (Subseries 3.6). See individual subseries descriptions and folder lists for detailed information.

Series IV: Legislative Files, 1965-1996

Contains materials on legislation and bills that were introduced (Subseries 4.1), general committee work (Subseries 4.2), files on specific issues (Subseries 4.3), binders with Congressional Record Excerpts and Voting Records (Subseries 4.4), Democratic Study Group - Record Votes (Subseries 4.5). See individual subseries descriptions and folder lists for detailed information.

Series V: Case Files (Restricted Until 2045), 1965-1996

Series VI: Oral History Interviews, 2009

See section below on oral histories.

Series VII: Publications

Series II: Personal & Political Files, 1965-1996

Photograph of Kika de la Garza seated

Photograph of Kika de la Garza at the United Nations World Food Conference

Color photograph (cropped from original). Kika de la Garza at the United Nations World Food Conference held in Rome regarding the worldwide shortage of fertilizer.

Black and white photo of Kika de la Garza and Donnel Brown, standing.

Photograph of Kika de la Garza with National FFA President, Donnell Brown

Black and white photograph. Kika de la Garza standing with Donnell Brown, National FFA President in 1990.

Black and white photograph. Kika de la Garza shaking hands with President Lyndon B. Johnson

Photograph of Kika de la Garza with President Lyndon B. Johnson

Black and white photograph. Kika de la Garza shaking hands with President Lyndon B. Johnson, c. 1967.

Black and white photo of President Lyndon B. Johnson and Kika de la Garza.

President Lyndon B. Johnson and Kika de la Garza in Harlingen, Texas (1967).

President Lyndon B. Johnson and Kika de la Garza in Harlingen, Texas. President Johnson was in South Texas to survey damage from Hurricane Beulah in 1967.

Learn more about this presidential visit from the LBJ Presidential Library.

Photograph of Kika de la Garza with President Ronald Reagan and United States Senators

Color photograph, 1998. Kika de la Garza with President Ronald Reagan and United States Senators (left to right - Unidentified man, Patrick Leahy, Bob Dole, President Ronald Reagan, Richard Lugar, Kika de la Garza, and unidentified man).

Color photograph. Kika de la Garza beside Mike Espy

Photograph of Kika de la Garza beside United States Secretary of Agriculture, Mike Espy

Color photograph. Kika de la Garza beside Mike Espy, United States Secretary of Agriculture, at a round table. Inscription on corner reads" Mr. Chaiman, thanks for your consistent support, best wishes! Mike"

Page from Kika De La Garza Scrapbook, 1968-1976

Scrapbook, 1968-1976, p. 10

Page 15 from Kika de la Garza Scrapbook, 1968-1976

Scrapbook, 1968-1976, p. 15

Page 18 from Kika de la Garza Scrapbook, 1968-1976

Scrapbook, 1968-1976, p. 18

Page 20 from Kika de la Garza Scrapbook, 1968-1976

Scrapbook, 1968-1976, p. 20

Sub-Series 2.8: Newsletters & News Releases, 1965-1996

Series 2: Personal & Political Files, 1965-1996

Sub-Series 8: Newsletters & News Releases, 1965-1996

Miscellaneous correspondence, memos, notes and drafts of newsletters (Box 1-2). Box 3 contains newsletters and news releases from 1965-1996 organized by Congress. Box 3 also includes some news releases from the Agriculture Committee. Many of these newsletters and releases have been digitized and are available via our institutional repository. Digitized materials are accessible via ScholarWorks.

Newsletters, 15th District of Texas

Agriculture Committee News Releases, U.S. House of Representatives

  • March 11, 1975: Announcement for a House Agriculture Subcommittee public hearing led by de la Garza to discuss how the energy shortages affected the agricultural and textile industries, and therefore food and clothing supplies for the country.
  • June 4, 1980: Announcement for the approval of the extension of the 1970 Plant Variation Act, sponsored by de la Garza, which allowed for more autonomy for small-scale farmers.
  • February 3, 1994: “Community Empowerment Workshop Scheduled for McAllen, Announces Rep. de la Garza.” This newsletter encouraged local politicians in the RGV to apply for the 1994 federal program Empowerment Zone and Enterprise Community to decrease poverty in the area.

General News Releases

  • September 28, 1967: Explains how de la Garza worked to ensure the RGV received the federal assistance it needed in the wake of Hurricane Beulah.
  • July 23, 1975: de la Garza defending small cities in the 15th Congressional District to make sure they receive the same financial help from various federal programs as larger, urban areas because he argued they faced the same socioeconomic issues.
  • September 3, 1996: Released list of aid recipients in de la Garza’s district from the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Comprehensive Improvement Assistance Program.

Series 6: Oral History Interviews, 2009

Series VI: Oral History Interviews, 2009

Oral history interviews were conducted with Kika de la Garza by University of Texas-Pan American University Library staff from July to October 2009. These interviews are available via Internet Archive.

Research Compiled by Leslie Torres

Leslie Torres is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in History with a minor in Anthropology, and a certification in Gender & Women's Studies. Leslie is also an anthropology course intern with the Special Collections and Archives for Summer 2021. Leslie plans to attend graduate school to work in higher education and study the histories of Texas and its borderlands.

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