Seventies La Raza Unida Political Leader Muniz Released from Prison

Ramsey Muniz, one of the most transformational and controversial figures in Twentieth Century Texas politics, has been released from a maximum security federal prison after serving more than twenty years for multiple drug convictions, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

In 1974, Muniz, who was a San Antonio attorney and political activist, became the first Hispanic to appear on the ballot for Governor of Texas, shaking up the state's staid politics of the time, running at the nominee of the hard left La Raza Unida party.

"He got about thirty percent of the vote," recalled attorney Dick DeGuerin, who represented Muniz in his attempt to be released from prison.  "It awoke the sleeping giant, and showed Hispanics in Texas who had been basically disenfranchised, that they could have political power."

But in 1976, Muniz was arrested for attempting to smuggle a truck load of marijuana into the U.S. from Mexico, an action which essentially killed La Raza Unida as an effective political force.

He was arrested again in 1982 and 1994 on drug charges, and was sentenced to life in prison in the super maximum security Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary.

DeGuerin says federal prosecutors initiated the effort to have him released."And so they filed a motion with the court asking that he be sentenced to time served out of 'compassion'," he said.  "I'm a little cynical about them saying it was out of 'compassion'."

DeGuerin says he thinks the federal prison officials simply got tired of paying his medical bills.

Muniz, now 76, lost his law license following his first arrest.

IMAGE; GETTY

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