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Mexican coat of armsMatamoros, Tamaulipas, Mexico

The Place of the Beautiful Marshes

Capitan Juan José de Hinojosa explores the region in 1706. He was amazed by the number and beauty of the marshes that characterized the area. As a result, the Capitan named the area "Paraje de los Esteros Hermosos" (Place of the Beautiful Marshes).

In 1749 don Matías de los Santos Coy established a cattle ranch called "San Juan de los Esteros Hermosos" (San Juan of the Beautiful Marshes). This ranch was located in an area currently occupied by the northeast corner of 5th and Matamoros streets. don Matias was forced to abandon his ranch due to the frequent Indian attacks he suffered.

The Thirteen Families

The area was plagued by frequent floods caused by the Rio Grande. In 1747 don José de e Escandón and Capitan Blas María de la Garza categorized the area as poor for future development. This act did not stop 13 enterprising families from establishing themselves there. In 1774 the 13 families founded a congregation also named "San Juan de los Esteros Hermosos". The site of the congregation was the same previously occupied by don Matías de los Santos Coy.

Capitan Ignacio Anastacio de Ayala, who was given authority over said congregation, procured the deeds to 113 mayor cattle sites in favor of the founding families. These families were the city of Matamoros' origins. To this day, their descendents are prominent families in the area.

La Villa del Refugio (Town of Shelter/Refuge)

In 1793 Franciscan friars from the Apostólico de Guadalupe Zacatecas college arrived to the congregation and proposed a new name for the community. Keeping in mind the patron saint of the missionaries, the area was renamed "Nuestra Señora del Refugio de los Esteros" (Our Lady of the Refuge of the Beautiful Marshes).

The inhabitants came to know the area as "El Refugio" (The Refuge) o "Villa del Refugio" (Town of Refuge). As a result of the frequent flooding, the original site of "Villa del Refugio" was changed. In 1814 it was relocated to the main plaza which was considered the highest area in the township.

Villa de Matamoros (Town of Matamoros)

In 1826 governor Lucas Fernández issues a decree assigning a new name to "Villa del Refugio". The governor baptized the city as "Villa de Matamoros" in honor of the independence hero don Mariano Matamoros.

The name has remained until modern times. In 1834 the area raised to city status.

In 1851 the city is heroically defended against aggressors who had recently signed the "Plan de la Loba". General Francisco Avalos' troops and civilians under local president Macedonio Capistrán's command fended off the enemy.

Thank to this victory, state congress grants the city the "Invicta" (undefeated) and "Heroica" (Heroic) titles. The federal government also grants the city the title of "Leal" (Loyal) thanks to its inhabitants protection. Hence, the "H" before the city's name refers to the title of "Heroica"

The Cotton Era

The so called Cotton Era took place between 1948 and 1962. During this time, Matamoros experienced an economic peak. The economy flourished and the quality of the cotton made in the city was recognized globally. However, with time cotton prices dropped as the popularity of synthetic fibers used in clothing increased. Currently, the area is a leading farm producer of zorghum.

The "Maquiladora" Industry

Currently, Matamoros' main economic activity is the maquiladora industry. This industry has steadily developed since the sixties. Currently, the city boasts of approximately 150 plants. The Maquiladora industry is a source of employment for many "Matamorenses" as well as many people from outside of the city who establish there. The industry has become a growth and development factor for the entire region.

The city is 1,779 miles from Washington D.C.

The U.S. Consulate

Matamoros is home to what some believe to be the oldest U.S. Consulate in continuous service, having opened in the 1850s. The only diplomatic mission in Matamoros, it has played an important and historic role in the region's development. The Consulate was slated for closure in 1995 after a round of Congressional budghet cuts identified several smaller U.S. diplomatic missions as likely candidates for termination; however, high demand for business and tourist visas to the United States in the wake of NAFTA led the U.S. Department of State to remove Matamoros from the "closure list." In 1999, the Consulate was actually expanded. In 1998, Consulate Matamoros was the first U.S. diplomatic post in the world to begin issuing "Laser Visas," new "high-tech" visas with digitally-recorded biometric information about the applicant. George Kopf, a career Foreign Service Officer, was the Consul-general at the time of the "Laser Visa" program's implementation; David Schlaefer, another career officer originally from nearby McAllen, Texas, was the Visa Chief that oversaw the implementation.