Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush.
Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush says he's seriously considering challenging Ken Paxton for the attorney general's job in 2022. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush responded to rumors that he plans to place a statue of Mexican general Santa Anna outside the Alamo, calling the statement an “outright lie” and “flat-out racist.” 

Bush posted his response on Twitter Wednesday with a screenshot of a Facebook post by Save The Alamo, a group founded by Rick Range, a former land commissioner candidate who ran against Bush in the 2018 Republican primary. Range wrote that Bush and the Texas General Land Office intend to erect a statue of the dictator Santa Anna outside the Alamo, and a memorial honoring the Mexican Army. 

“I am not making this up,” Range wrote. 

Bush responded in strong terms, calling the statement “patently false” and suggesting that the accusation stems from his heritage. Bush is the son of former Florida governor and presidential candidate Jeb Bush and grandson of former President George H.W. Bush. 

“One must ask themselves, why am I being accused of honoring the murderous dictator Santa Anna?” Bush tweeted.  “Is it because my mother (now a naturalized citizen) is from Mexico? I was born in Houston, my wife is from San Angelo, and my boys were born – you guessed it – here in Texas.” 

Even 143 years after the death of Antonio López de Santa Anna, the former Mexican president remains a villainous tyrant for many Texans. Santa Anna led the Mexican forces during the 13-day siege of the Alamo that preceded a decisive Texas victory over Mexico at the Battle of San Jacinto. 

Social media posts about a statue of Santa Anna at the Alamo popped up as the first phase of a $450 million Alamo redevelopment gets underway. The phase includes plans to move the Cenotaph, a memorial to the Texas revolutionaries who died at the site in the historic 1836 battle. People who opposed moving the Cenotaph packed a recent meeting of the City’s Historic and Design Review Commission, which is reviewing the Cenotaph’s proposed new location 500 feet south. 

On Tuesday, This Is Texas Freedom Force, another group opposed to moving the Cenotaph, also posted on Facebook that the City “will build a monument/statue to Santa Anna.” The post includes a photoshopped image of San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg as Santa Anna, along with a quote from Nirenberg about the intent of the redevelopment during an interview with local radio station KTSA. 

“I think everyone who shed blood in the defense of liberty and the things that they believe in, on both sides, ought to be honored, and that’s exactly what the intent of this redevelopment plan is,” Nirenberg said. 

In a phone interview Wednesday, Brandon Burkhart, president of This Is Texas Freedom Force, told the Rivard Report that the Santa Anna statue or monument is “a possibility.” He pointed to the Nirenberg quote and to statements from architects and designers working on the Alamo redesign about including the stories of both sides that fought in the Texas Revolution. 

“It seemed like that was exactly what they were going to do, was erect a statue, a monument, a bust, whatever you want to call it, of Santa Anna,” Burkhart said. “They were talking about how they want to include everybody, including the Mexican Army.” 

Councilman Roberto Trevino (D1), one of the tri-chairs overseeing the Alamo redesign, called the claims of a Santa Anna statue “baseless, and downright ridiculous.” No one involved with the redesign has ever proposed such a thing, he said.

“To the best of my knowledge, there is no statue of Santa Anna in Mexico, and there will surely not be one in San Antonio,” Trevino continued. “Among the information and rumors being spread about he plan for the Alamo, this might be one of the most obscene. We are honoring our history; we are honoring the truth; we are honoring freedom. Erecting a statue of Santa Anna does none of these things.”

Brendan Gibbons is a former senior reporter at the San Antonio Report. He is an environmental journalist for Oil & Gas Watch.