Announcement: Protest of Renaming RA Building After Emilio Naranjo


A group of norteño activists, some of whom personally suffered under the reign of Rio Arriba County patrón Emilio Naranjo, are headed to Tierra Amarilla to protest the renaming of the Rio Arriba County Annex Building the Emilio Naranjo Building. The group will request that the County Commission, which approved the renaming last year when Alex Naranjo, Emilio’s nephew, was a commissioner, rescind that decision. The commission meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, August 27, at the Tierra Amarilla County Complex and we’ve been told to be there at 3:00 p.m. as an agenda item.

This meeting comes only a few days after norteño activists travel to La Clinica del Pueblo de Rio Arriba in TA to celebrate the 50th anniversary of this community-based medical center, founded by Tierra Armarilla Land Grant Heirs. Activists who worked there or supported the clinic—Ike DeVargas, Maria Varela, Carol Miller and Moises Morales—will likely be there to celebrate, but then have to turn around several days later to travel back to TA to protest before the county commission. During Naranjo’s tenure as Rio Arriba County sheriff, he began a campaign against members of La Raza Unida Party, who were challenging his authority and corrupt administration. In 1975 his deputies raided La Clinica, claiming that the basement was full of weapons. When they came up empty handed they went next door to La Oficina de Ley, a community-based law office (where longtime norteño lawyer Richard Rosenstock worked) and ransacked legal files.

Photo by John Nichols for The New Mexico Review, October 1972 at the Española rally for McGovern.

Everyone is encouraged to attend the county commission meeting to protest this travesty of naming a county building after a politician who used his patronage to control just about every facet of county government, from hiring to school boards (he also served as Chairman of the Democratic Party, was a U.S. Marshall and a state senator). Anyone who opposed his political machine was targeted and harassed with arrests, lawsuits, and police violence. It’s time to stand up.

If you need any additional information you can contact La Jicarita ( and I’ll put you in touch with the organizers.






    • I was on the Espanola Hospital Board for twelve years and Emilio helped us keep open by agreeing to pass the quarter percent tax. Sadly this was not enough from keeping from going 3 million dollars in the hole (30 million in today’s money). Presbyterian took over the hospital. As to Ike De Vargas when he ran against Emilio I was at the San Pedro precinct when his parents came to campaign for him. One of Emilio’s daughters confronted them by asking how they could be against Emilio when he provided food over a long period of time for them and their family. Ike’s parents left the precinct and apologized to Emilios daughter.

      • Alfonso, in my previous article about Emilio Naranjo ( I interviewed Ike, who said “My beef with Emilio at first wasn’t personal, it was political.” He acknowledges his personal relationship with the Naranjo family. But when Naranjo used his power against those who didn’t do as he bid, that’s when it became political and those who were not part of the Naranjo “family” were retaliated against. It’s similar to what’s playing out today with Trump and the Republican party: if you are the “other” then you are demonized and targeted by any means necessary.

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