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Cold War in the Countryside: Conflict in Guerrero, Mexico

Author(s): O'Neill Blacker


Source: The Americas, Vol. 66, No. 2 (Oct., 2009), pp. 181-210
Published by: Academy of American Franciscan History
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The
Americas
66:2/October
2009/181-210
COPYRIGHTBY THE ACADEMYOF
AMERICANFRANCISCAN
HISTORY

Cold

War

in the Countryside:

Conflict inGuerrero,Mexico
"Our struggle has its inspirational roots in [our] national history and reality:our flag
... is the same raised
byHidalgo, Morelos and Guerrero, Ju?rez, Zapata and Villa."
Genaro V?zquez

Rojas, La Asociaci?n C?vica Nacional Revolucionaria,

1968l

Introduction
Scholarship
ence

on the Cold War


of the Cuban

in Latin America

revolution

on

has concentrated

governments
It has often presumed

and

on the influ

radical movements

its appeal lay in the strate


throughout the hemisphere.
success
warfare
and
the
of
of
its
international
socialism, and
gic
guerrilla
language
that its influence extended beyond urban centers to rural enclaves.2 What influence,

revolutionary experience have on popular protest in theMexican


countryside? Alternatively, was popular resistance in Mexico's
peripheral states
more readily organized around the language of nationalism and citizenship than
ifany, did Cuba's

that of international socialism? This article will argue that, in the southwest state of
Guerrero, people were mobilized
by articulation of the democratic hopes of both
economic

and political inclusion?expectations


intimately associated with theMex
ican revolution of 1910. Cuban revolutionaries' nationalist, anti-imperialist senti

My special thanks toWilliam Beezley, Allen Wells, Tanal?s Padilla, and Susan Smith for their close reading and con
structive critique of earlier drafts of this article, as well as the two anonymous Americas readers.My appreciation also to
Eric Zolov, who encouraged me to pursue this article as an outgrowth of an AHA panel he organized. I also want to
acknowledge funding support fromBowdoin College for additional research for this article.Thanks also tomy colleagues
atValparaiso University who participated in a workshop critique of an earlier draft.As always,my special thanks to the
activists of Guerrero who have shared their experiences, homes, and resources with me.
1. Genaro V?zquez Rojas, "La Asociaci?n C?vica Nacional Revolucionaria acerca de la liberaci?n de Genaro, 22
de abril de 1968 de la c?rcel de Iguala, Gro.," undated, very short?yafterApril 22, inAntonio Aranda Flores, Los c?vi
cosguerrerenses (Mexico: privately published, 1979), pp. 123-126. This same rhetoricwould reappear with the
uprising
inChiapas in 1994, as typifiedby spokesperson Marcos' statement, "My main influenceswere Villa, Zapata, Morelos,
... I grew up with these heroes." Subcomandante
Hidalgo, Guerrero.
Marcos, "Interview with Medea Benjamin," in
Elaine Katzenberger, ed., First World, Ha Ha Hal The Zapatista Challenge (San Francisco: City Lights, 1995), p. 60.
2. For an excellent review of the historiographie trends, see Greg Grandin, "Off the Beach: The United States,
Latin America, and the Cold War," in Jean-Christophe Agnew and Roy Rosenzweig, eds., A Companion toPost-1945
America (Maiden, MA: Blackwell Publishing, 2002), pp. 426-445.

181

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182 Cold

ments

War

in the Countryside

but their more radical lan


the popular classes inMexico,
guage did not.3 Despite evidence that suggests this allegiance to the principles of
their own revolution, theMexican government manipulated Cold War concerns to
resonated with

its recent revolution and discourse of interna


argue that the proximity of Cuba,
concurrent
tional socialism, and the
political instability rocking much of the hemi
to
serious
threats
the
nation. By exaggerating the internationalist
sphere posed
of
activists, government officials invoked the state's prerogative to
predilections
assure national

security and stability,with particular attention to internal threats.

scholars have begun to move beyond a narrow analysis that links pop
ular protest exclusively or primarily to economic demands, recognizing the broader
analysis of
political expectations of such efforts.A decade ago, Thomas Klubock's

Numerous

the Chilean workers' movement

asserted

its creation of "radical nationalism

and

[an] ideology of citizenship."4 Greg Grandin, in his assessment of Cold War poli
tics, argues that programs implemented (or at the least, proposed)
during the
revolution (1944-54)?expansion
of the franchise, land redistribution
Guatemalan

to demands for
and increased access to credit, and labor's right to organize?speak
economic and political inclusion.5 He further suggests that the process of political
as "the felt experi
activism in Guatemala
encouraged a redefinition of democracy
ence of individual

Jean
sovereignty and social solidarity."6 Likewise, Elisabeth
Wood
argues that El Salvador's civil war insurgents were motivated by more than
material demands: "emotional and moral motives were essential" and contributed
to a reformation of the nation's political culture in the process.7 Democratic
aspi
rations were not unique to Latin America or to thirdworld struggles: in theUnited
States, Marxism's Cold War attraction lay both in itsworking-class component and
its explanation of national liberation struggles inAsia and Africa.8

3. On the early development ofMexican nationalism, see, among many, David A. Brading, The Origins ofMexi
can Nationalism (Cambridge: Centre of Latin American Studies, University of Cambridge, 1985). Of the Cuban revo
lution, theMovimiento Liberaci?n Nacional (MLN) (founded inAugust 1961 by former President L?zaro C?rdenas,
among others) stated: "Because the Cuban Revolution's realizations accord with the aspirations and struggles of the
Mexican people in favor of agrarian reform,of the diversification offoreign commerce,of literacy and of education, in
defense of the national culture, against imperialism, theanti-national forces and of the reactionary forces, it interestsall
to identify
with and defend the Cuban Revolution." National Liberation Movement, Programa y llamamiento
a
(Mexico City: Rep?blica del Salvador, 1961), p. 20 inChristopher M. White, Creating Third World:Mexico, Cuba and
theUnited Status during theCastro Era (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2007), p. 65 (italics added).
4. Thomas Klubock, Contested Communities: Class, Gender, and Politics in Chile's El Teniente Copper Mine
(Durham: Duke University Press, 1998), p. 289.
5. Greg Grandin, "Off the Beach," p. 435. He also argues that a long history of rural insurgency resulted in elite
arose elsewhere inLatin America
cooperation on land reform inMexico, thereby avoiding the kinds of insurgencies that
same
during the Cold War. While the level of protest did not rise to that of insurgencies elsewhere, I argue it is these
aforementioned issues that generated discontent and violence inGuerrero.
6. Greg Grandin, The Last Colonial Massacre: Latin America in theCold War (Chicago: University of Chicago
Press, 2004), p. 4.
7. Elisabeth JeanWood, Insurgent Collective Action and Civil War in El Salvador (Cambridge: Cambridge Uni

Mexicans

versityPress, 2003), pp. 2-5, 213.


8. Max Elbaum, Revolution
p. 42.

in theAir: Sixties Radicals

Turn to Lenin, Mao

and Che (London: Verso, 2002),

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O'Neill

Blacker

183

Mexico,
however, was
was widely portrayed

a different case, "less easily categorized."9 Following what


as a successful revolution (1910-1920),
the government
established a corporate structure that,while inefficient and largely protected from
external pressures, provided a framework to channel both rural and urban workers'

social welfare programs were implemented; itwas the


State-sponsored
to
fulfill
their potential, rather than demands for their cre
failure
government's
led to a struggle over com
ation, that led to popular discontent. Dissatisfaction

grievances.

peting claims to the nationalist mantle, one the state had asserted since it consoli
dated power
in the decades
the revolution. The government's
following
a
to
ambiguous character led
progressive public stance on the international front,
including support of Castro's revolution, breaking relations with Chile and wel

coming Chilean exiles after the military coup of September 11, 1973, and expres
sions of "solidarity and support for the just causes and liberties of the peoples of
the world."10 Government commitment to human rights abroad was a fa?ade that
internal policies: Mexico's
dirty war raged on in Guerrero. While both
rural and urban populations suffered from regime-sponsored
repression,
the national government conducted its dirty war more intensely in Guerrero than

masked

Mexico's

any other location.


diplomatic

balancing

It was

a contortion

described

by Eric Zolov

as an "intricate

act."11

Joseph expressed surprise at the paucity of scholarship on Mexico


the
Cold
War;12 it is, perhaps, these contradictions at both the governmen
during
tal level and that of the popular classes that defy easy analysis.

Gilbert M.

9. Daniela Spenser, "Standing Conventional Cold War History on ItsHead," pp. 381-395, inGilbert M. Joseph
and Daniela Spenser, eds., Infrom theCold: Latin America's New Encounter with theCold War (Durham: Duke Univer
sityPress, 2008), p. 383.
10. Octaviano Santiago Dionicio, Testimonio, interviewed in C?rcel P?blica de Acapulco, January 1, 1979
(Chilpancingo: Cuadernos de la Federaci?n Estudiantil Universitaria Guerrerense, Coordinaci?n de Publicaciones, Uni
versidad Aut?noma de Guerrero, 1979), p. 1.Angeles Magdaleno, investigatorwith the Fiscal?a Especial paraMovimien
tos Sociales y Pol?ticos del Pasado (FEMOSPP), charges that documents in theAGN confirm that
despite his public per
, sona, Luis Echeverr?a "was a hypocrite who spoke of democracy" but maintained tieswith Augusto Pinochet. Gustavo
Castillo Garc?a, "'Vulgar Estado policiaco,' el que rigi? enM?xico durante la guerra sucia," La Jornada, December 22,
2003.
11. Eric Zolov, "?Cuba s?,Yanquis no! The Sacking of the Instituto Cultural M?xico-Norteamericano
inMorelia,

Michoac?n," pp. 214-252, in Joseph and Spenser, eds., In from theCold, p. 215. Certainly, a wide range of issues led to
Mexico's stance on theCuban revolution. Its proximity toMexico, itsanti-imperialist agenda, behind-the-scenes alliances
with theUnited States, and the state's need to contain leftistelements, including formerPresident L?zaro C?rdenas, con
tributed to these contradictions. See, in addition to Zolov, Jefferson
Morley, Our Man inMexico: Winston Scott and the
Hidden History of theCIA (Lawrence: University of Kansas, 2008); White,
Creating a Third World; and Thomas C.
Wright, Latin America in theEra of theCuban Revolution (New York: Praeger, 1999). Despite acknowledging "crack
downs" on protesters, the creation by C?rdenas of a pro-Castro organization, and a peasant organization outside the
state's corporate structure,
Wright somehow concludes thatMexico "was onlymildly affected by theCuban Revolution."
Wright, p. 45.
12. Gilbert M. Joseph, "WhatWe Now Know and Should Know," pp. 3-46, in
Joseph and Spenser, eds., In From
theCold, p. 8.

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184 Cold War

Commercial

in the Countryside

Expansion,

Political

Contraction

Mexican

society underwent rapid economic and political changes in the aftermath


ofWorld War II. Government practices of co-optation and repression faced chal
lenges, particularly as independent coalitions emerged.13 During the 1950s, well

labor struggles became


often nationwide,
documented,
increasingly disruptive.
These included a series of worker actions by electrical, petroleum, telegraph and
telephone workers, and most dramatically, strikes by railroad workers and teachers

government was explicitly challenged in the political arena as


the relationship between these urban movements and those in periph
eral states has yet to be fully examined, Guerrero represents an important link.
in 1958-59.

The

well.14 While

Many of the future activists in Guerrero received their political baptism during
in
these strikes; additionally, an influential leader of the teachers' movement
Mexico City was Oth?n Salazar of Guerrero. While these connections played a role
in shaping the popular movement
local qualities.

in Guerrero,

that effort also reflected distinct

offers other particulars thatmake it an excellent case study of popular dis


content and government response, and permit us to address the neglect of "local
or regional patterns . . . the differences between national and local politics, and
. . . the
popular classes, from any significant influence on
[general exclusion of]

Guerrero

the impact
political decisions," decried by Arthur Schmidt.15 Citizens questioned
of government policies on land usage, employment, and environmental preserva
confidence in the
tion, making Guerrero a classic example of citizens' weakened
serve their needs.16 Future teacher-activist Ser
state's ability?or willingness?to
a
in
the region of Ixtla and son of teachers at the Ayotzi
then
child
af?nNunez,
napa normal school, attributes much of his disillusionment to bitter memories of
lumber
government failure to mediate disruption caused by the arrival of U.S.
interests in 1947.17 Political activism by the state's rural and urban laborers and

13. Guillermo de la Pe?a, "Civil Society and Popular Resistance: Mexico at the End of the Twentieth Century,"
in Elisa Serv?n, Leticia Reina, and JohnTutino, eds., Cycles ofConflict, Centuries ofChange: Crisis, Reform and Revolu
tion inMexico (Durham: Duke University Press, 2007), p. 308.
14. The most conspicuous example of this is that of the henriquistas. See Elisa Serv?n, Ruptura y oposici?n: el

movimiento henriquista, 1945-1954 (M?xico: Cal yArena, 2001).


15. Arthur Schmidt, "Making itReal Compared toWhat? Reconceptualizing Mexican History Since 1940," pp.
23-67, inGilbert M. Joseph,Anne Rubenstien, and Eric Zolov, eds., Fragments ofa Golden Age: The Politics ofCulture
inMexico Since 1940 (Durham: Duke University, 2001), pp. 29-30. See also Alan Knight's concerns on the paucity of
historic study of caciquismo and his urging of "'local knowledge'" obtained through oral history and archival research.
Alan Knight, "Introduction," pp. 3-48, inAlan Knight andWil Pansters, eds., Caciquismo in Twentieth-CenturyMexico

(London: University of London Institute for the Study of theAmericas, 2005), p. 5.


16. Zahra F. Arat, Democracy and Human Rights inDeveloping Countries (Boulder: Lynne Rienner, 1991 ), p. 82.
17. Seraf?nNunez, interviewwith the author, Chilpancingo, July2003. For more on commercial expansion, see
of
Enrique Cienfuegos and Laura Carlsen, "Human Rights, Ecology and Economic Integration: The Peasant Ecologists
Guerrero," inHilda Salazar, Laura Carlsen, and Timothy A. Wise, eds., Confronting Globalization: Economic Integration
and Popular Resistance inM?xico (Bloomfield, CT: Kumarian Press, Inc., 2003); Armando Bartra, Guerrero bronco:

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O'Neill

Blacker

185

arose in the context of endemic poverty,


groups in mid-century
expanding commercial agriculture and foreign capital investment, and a history of
extreme institutional instability and political corruption that characterized the
community

same conditions and the perception of government collusion had


the
and contributed to the revolu
regime of Porfirio D?az (1876-1911)
plagued
tion that unseated him; the nationalist, anti-imperialist critique that arose a half
state.18 These

century later recalls that popular

response.

cooperative relationship between powerful federal and state forces navigated


in the aftermath of the revolution of 1910 permitted the domination of Guerrero's

The

one and the


by regional political and economic
populace
elites?increasingly
same?unless
their policies threatened the pax priista.19 These caciques closed off
avenues of democratic political participation, thereby
channeling the nature of
activism and government response in the latter half of the century.20 Although a
largely rural state, itsorganized protests were not agrarian actions per se;most were
conducted not in the outlying rural zones, but in the small provincial towns that
dotted the landscape. They brought together diverse popular interests, including
those for land, but also for education,
and greater political access.

labor rights, small business opportunities,

Two major economic projects demonstrate the consequences of government-spon


sored modernization:
as an
the Rio Balsas Dam and the development of Acapulco
international tourist destination. The massive construction project of the Comisi?n
del Balsas,

by presidential decree in 1960, encouraged


expansion of
Commercial
of
coffee
and
large-scale export agriculture.
copra (the
production
highly valued oil of coconuts), for example, rapidly expanded.21 Government pub
established

Campesinos, ciudadanos yguerrilleros en la Costa Grande (Mexico: Ediciones Era, Colecci?n Problemas de M?xico,
2000), pp. 149-150; and Francisco Gomezjara, Bonapartismo y lucha campesina en La Costa Grande de Guerrero
(M?xico: Colecci?n Ideas Pol?ticas, Editorial Posada, 1979).
18. Since the revolution the state has experienced 55 uncompleted gubernatorial terms and only 27
completed.
This gives the 'Free and Sovereign State of Guerrero' (as itsmotto asserts) the "national record." Rafael Catal?n Valdes,
"Guerrero, Estado ingobernable ... El fin de un mito?" inLa transici?n democr?tica enGuerrero, Tomo 1 (M?xico: Edi
torialDiana, 1992), pp. 21-32; Baloy Mayo, La guerrilla de Genero y Lucio: an?lisis y resultados (M?xico: Editorial Dio

genes, 1980; reprint,M?xico: Grupo Jaguar Impresiones, 2001), pp. 16-17; Mar?a de la Luz Gama Santill?n, "Guerrero
durante los ?ltimos 30 a?os," in La transici?n democr?tica, p. 92.
19. This relationship furtherundermines previous depictions of a presumed
hegemony of the federal government.
For more on the establishment of this relationship, see Blacker-Hanson, "La Lucha
Sigue! Teacher Activism inGuerrero
and the Continuum of Democratic Struggle inMexico," Ph.D. dissertation,
University ofWashington, 2005.
20. A useful definition of caciquismo is provided by Jos? Eduardo Zarate Hern?dez:
"[exploiting personal rela
tions to implement social programmes, 'looking for political solutions' outside institutional channels, or
using legal
mechanisms to help one's associates." Zarate Hern?dez, "Caciques and Leaders in the Era of Democracy," pp. 272-295,
inKnight and Pansters, eds., Caciquismo, p. 272.
21. Lorena Paz Paredes and Rosario Cobo, "Caf? Caliente," inArmando Bartra, ed., Cr?nicas del Sur:
Utopias
campesinas en Guerrero (M?xico: Ediciones Era, 2000); Arturo Miranda Ram?rez, El otro rostrode laguerrilla: Genaro,
Lucio y Carmelo, experiencias de laguerrilla (M?xico: Editorial 'ElMachete,'
Andrea
Radilla Mart?nez,
1996), p. 20;

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186 Cold War

in the Countryside

licity reveals both a pattern of efforts to pacify local discontent with the largesse of
federal funds, and that the Balsas project was explicitly designed to bring the region
into the national economic fold.22 Secondly, government efforts to expand tourism
its collaboration with national and international corporate
starkly demonstrate
interests, taking the form of legislative and financial support for the industry, and
the involvement of influential government officials as individual investors.23 Con

struction associated with both projects changed the landscape of the region, dislo
cated small landholders, increased land-ownership concentration, and dispersed
entire communities, which in turn generated a labor pool for urban development

in succeeding
that grew increasingly contentious
decades.24 Not surprisingly, the communities most affected by these transforma
tions became the sites of labor conflicts and popular protests in the 1960s and
and

created

labor friction

1970s.25 Local historian Andrea Radilla Martinez


points to cafeticultores* experi
ences of labor organizing in the 1950s as having taught strategies employed in the
the native son
1960s.26 The coffee region was the birthplace of Lucio Cabanas,
who gained prominence as an opposition leader and guerrilla militant. Even today,
the conflicts continue: Zihuatanejo
Pacheco argues that "[a]griculture

munities

environmentalist

and political analyst Silvestre


in this zone. The com
has almost disappeared

that were previously self-sufficient became


is still not resolved."27

this problem

dependent

on the cities, and

Poderes, saberesy sabores:Una historia de resistenciade los cafeticultores,


Atoyac, 1940-1974 (Chilpancingo: self-published,
1998); F?lix Arana Hoyo and Olga C?rdenas Trueba, "Desarrollo del capitalismo agrario y lucha de clases en la Costa y
Sierra de Guerrero." Paper presented at theWissenschaftliche Jahrestagung 1980 Sektion-Pfanzenproduktion, Hum
boldt Universit?t, R.D.A. Berlin, November 1980, p. 16.
22. Angel P?rez Palacios, "Los cambios pol?ticos y de gobierno en Guerrero durante el periodo 1960-1990," in
La transici?n democr?tica, pp. 69-75, p. 74; Evelyn P. Stevens, Protest and Response inMexico (Cambridge: MIT Press,

1974), pp. 30-31.


23. On the economic development of Acapulco and government involvement, see Dina Berger, The Development
ofMexico's Tourism Industry: Pyramids byDay, Martinis byNight (New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2006). See also Alba
Teresa Estrada Casta??n, Guerrero: Sociedad, econom?a,pol?tica y cultura (M?xico: Biblioteca de las Entidades Federati
vas, UNAM, 1994), p. 36; Gomezjara, Bonapartismo, p. 191; and Stephen R. Niblo, Mexico in the 1940s:Modernity, Pol
itics,and Corruption (Wilmington: Scholarly Resources Press, 1999), pp. 274-275.
24. See, for example, Actualidades de Guerrero (May 1972) for numerous articles on state-wide construction.
Carlos Durand Alc?ntara, La lucha campesina en Oaxaca y Guerrero (1978-1987) (M?xico: Universidad Aut?noma

Chapingo, Costa Amic Editores, SA, 1989), p. 70; Mayo, La guerrilla de Genero y Lucio; and Berger, The Development
ofMexico's Tourism; Antonio Sotelo P?rez, Breve historia de laAsociaci?n C?vica Guerrerense,Jefaturada por Genaro
V?zquez Rojas, conpr?logo por Pablo Sandoval Cruz. (Chilpancingo: Testimonios, Universidad Aut?noma de Guerrero,
1991), pp. 125-127; Tom?s Bustamante ?lvarez, Las transformacionesde la agricultura o las paradojas del desarrollo

regional: Tierra Caliente, Guerrero (M?xico: Juan Pablos Editor Procuradur?a Agraria, 1996).
25. I disagree with Guillermo de la Pe?a's assessment that inmost regions, "rural povertywas not extreme," and
thatgovernment projects for education, health services, and infrastructurecreated conditions wherein "the expanding state
machine [and] economy" were not "critically threatened]." Indeed, itwas the paucity of social services and the intrusion
of the state that generated opposition whose failure to critically threaten the statewas a result of significantpower differ
entials, often exercisedwith extraordinaryviolence. See de la Pe?a, "Civil Society and Popular Resistance," p. 311.
26. Radilla Mart?nez, Poderes, saberesy sabores,p. 213.
27. Silvestre Pacheco inKent Paterson, "U.S. Recession, Drug War Violence Cause Crisis inMexico Tourism,"
Americas Policy Program Report, Americas Policy Program, Center for International Policy, July29, 2008, http://
americas.irc-online.org/am/5421. Paterson notes, "Even inGuerrero, governed by the center-leftPRD party,which

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O'Neill

Blacker

187

failure of the government to adequately respond to worsening socioeconomic


disparities and community concerns about land use and public services, including

The

schools, hospitals, and women's


clinics, provided the impetus for concerted chal
to
state
the
lenges
government.28 Two distinct but overlapping phases of the pop
ular movements
emerged in Guerrero, each led by teachers. The firstwave was a
statewide campaign in 1960 to oust Governor Ra?l Caballero Aburto. It achieved
ambiguous political success with his removal, but ultimately retreated to clandes
tine guerrilla warfare in the face of overwhelming government aggression. The
political education of its leaders, native-born sons Genaro V?zquez
(1933
Rojas

was initially rooted in the


and Lucio Cabanas
1972)
(1938-1974),
study of
national history and heroes such as Hidalgo
and Zapata.29 It was only later, under
the influence of urban militants, that each man became immersed in the study of

Marx,

Lenin,

and Guevara.

second upsurge in activism sought to rekindle public protest in the wake of


the government's repression of the 1960s. Many, although not all, of its leaders
came from outside the state, having experienced their
political awakening in the

The

infamous government assaults on protesters in 1968 and 1971 inMexico City and,
in a few cases, by study inMoscow.30
These latter activists were more explicitly

billed itselfas an alternative to the long-dominant PRI, development plans still center on expanding tourism, just as in
the PRI years."

28. Despite government efforts to placate Guerrero's discontent, socioeconomic indicators place Guerrero at the
bottom or near-bottom of virtually every national index, confirming a high level of poverty throughout the state (only

Chiapas consistently ranked lower). In 1950, Guerrero's poverty rate stood at 56.4%. JamesWilkie, TheMexican Revo
lution: Federal Expenditure and Social Change since 1910. 2nd ed. (Berkeley:University of California, 1970), pp. 205,
236, Table 9-10. For a re-evaluation ofWilkie's analysis,which concludes "Wilkie andWilkins's [projected estimates]
were flawed because the latterused debatable criteria (e.g., language usage)," see
Stephanie Granato and A?da Mostkoff,
"The Class Structure ofMexico, 1895-1980," in JamesW. Wilkie, ed., StatisticalAbstract of Latin America Supplement
Series, Supplement 10, JamesW. Wilkie, Series Editor (Los Angeles: University of California, 1990), pp. 103-115. High
rates of illiteracy,poor health and widespread poverty went unabated. In 1970, over 65% of the population inGuerrero
continued to earn income below that considered subsistence. Other social indicators included a hospital bed rate of 0.16%
that of United Nations recommended rates, and the highest illiteracy in the country (44.6% of the population over 15,
compared to a national average of 23.8%). Miranda Ram?rez, El otro rostro,pp. 19-21. See also JamesWilkie, "Compar
ative Government Budgets," Table 4, in Statistics and National Policy, p. 108.
29. Miguel Hidalgo y Castillo initiated theWar of Independence; Emiliano Zapata, of the neighboring state of
Morelos, was the agrarian leader of theArmy of the South during theRevolution of 1910.
30. The assault inTlatelolco Plaza on October 2,1968 has generated an enormous
historiography, including both
primary and secondary sources. Among themore recent, see Ren? Rivas O., La izquierda estudiantil en la UN AM: orga
nizaciones, movilizaciones y liderazgos (1958-1972) (M?xico: Universidad Nacional Aut?noma de M?xico, Facultad de
Estudios Superiores Arag?n, Miguel ?ngel Porr?a, 2007); Julia Preston and Sam Dillon, Opening Mexico: The
Making
ofa Democracy (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2004); Elaine Carey, Plaza ofSacrifices:Gender, Power and Terror
1968
in
Mexico (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2005); and Garardo Estrada Rodr?guez, 1968, estado y
universidad: or?genesde la transici?n pol?tica enM?xico (M?xico, D.F.: Plaza Janes, 2004). Among the classics, see Elena
Poniatowska, Massacre inMexico (Columbia: University ofMissouri Press, 1991, 1975). Of those based on released doc
uments, see Julio Scherer Garcia and Marcelino Garc?a Barrag?n, Parte deguerra, Tlatelolco 1968: documentos delgen
eralMarcelino Garc?a Barrag?n: loshechosy la historia (M?xico, D.F.: Nuevo Siglo/Aguilar, 1999); Julio Scherer Garc?a
and Carlos Monsiv?is, Parte deguerra II: los rostrosdel 68 (M?xico, D.F.: Aguilar, UNAM, 2002); Ra?l Jard?n, El
espi
onaje contra elmovimiento estudiantil: losdocumentos de laDirecci?n Federal de Seguridad y las agencias de "inteligencia"
estadounidenses en 1968 (M?xico, D.F.: Itaca, 2003). See also extensive postings at National SecurityArchives, http://
www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/ on this and the government attack of June 10, 1971.

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188 Cold War

in the Countryside

inspired by the success of the Cuban revolution but, as I argue herein, failed to rally
the populace under its revolutionary banner. Rather, by the mid-1970s,
this latter
effort concentrated on demands for democratic accountability for political prison
ers and desaparecidos. Both movements
elicited a common government response:

violent repression at home complemented


by international policies that publicly
with
accommodation
Fidel
Castro's
pursued
revolutionary government.
Like those engaged in labor disruptions
to reform the political regime. Disparate

elsewhere, activists in Guerrero organized


interests united to confront economic and

political exclusion, and like Porfirio D?az, Guerrero's governor would fall. Unlike
in 1910, however, the national government successfully intervened to contain pop
ular discontent.

To Fulfill

The First Wave:

the Promises

of the Revolution

Frustration at the government's failure to adequately mediate


ests transformed popular demands from a focus on economic

their perceived

inter

justice to democratic
accountability. Like their compatriots during previous decades of popular activism,
these forces found allies in their struggles: teacher-activists.31 Labor actions in
sons and daughters
Mexico City in the 1950s attracted and politicized Guerrero's
who were students in the capital's normal school, and while those strikes initially
focused on union
ical rights.32 The

issues, government repression had pushed the discourse to polit


contingent of teachers returning home from Mexico City at the

joined the labor conflicts already underway in Guerrero.33


immersed themselves
future
Teachers, including
guerrilla leader Genaro V?zquez,
in labor organizing. Their education, experiences in the capital, and the commu
nity's respect for them facilitated teachers' assumptions of leadership positions in
close of the 1950s

workers'

organizations.

31. On the long history of teacher activism, seeMary Kay Vaughan, Cultural Politics inRevolution: Teachers, Peas
ants, and Schools inMexico, 1930-1940 (Tucson: University ofArizona Press, 1997); Vaughan, The State, Education, and
Social Class inM?xico, 1880-1928 (DeKalb, II: Northern Illinois University Press, 1982); David Raby, Educaci?n y rev
oluci?n social enMexico (1921-1940). Transi, by Roberto G?mez Ciriza, Sepsetentas 141. M?xico: SEP, 1974; JamesD.
Cockcroft, "El maestro de primaria en laRevoluci?n mexicana." Historia Mexicana 16:4 (abril/junio 1967), pp. 565
Hearts and Minds: Education, Communication and Social Change inLatin Amer
587; JohnA. Britton, ed.,Molding the

ica (Wilmington: Scholarly Resources, 1994).


32. For furtherdiscussion on the normal school education and politicization of these activists, particularly their
involvement in labor organizations, see Blacker-Hanson, La Lucha Sigue!
33. Jaime L?pez, 10 a?os de guerrillas enM?xico, 1964-1975 (M?xico: Colecci?n Duda Semanal de Editorial
Posada, SA, 1974); Guillermo Andrade Greesler, "Violaci?n de derechos humanos;" iPorQu?? "Untitled interviewwith

Genaro V?zquez Rojas by Agusto Villardo" (22 de julio, 29 de julio y 5 de agosto de 1971); Archivo General de la
Naci?n, Direcci?n General de Investigaciones Pol?ticas y Sociales (hereinafterAGN DGIPS) Caja 2946a, 2946b, 1966
1968; AGN, DGIPS Caja 1488, 1968-1982; Student records, Escuela Nacional de Maestros, Mexico City; Sotelo P?rez,
Breve historia, p. 124; Consuelo Sol?sMorales, interviewwith A. Andrade, Exc?lsior, 2 de febrero 1971, inOrlando Ortiz,
Genaro V?zquez: Pr?logo y Selecci?n de Orlando Ortiz (M?xico: Editorial Di?genes, 1972), p. 31.

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O'Neill

Among

these teacher-activists were

those who

led theUni?n

Blacker

189

Libre de Asociaciones

Copreras (ULAC).34 Over the course of the next several years, ULAC
organizers,
brothers Ishmael and Jos? Bracho Campos, were joined by many others with links
to the normal schools, including activists in the Asociaci?n
de Cafecultores
Inde
a
pendientes.35 Teachers were also among the signatories of widely distributed
statement of support forworkers' right to organize against the undemocratic prac
tices of a local cacique;36 another statement represented the Liga Agraria Revolu
cionaria del Sur "Emiliano Zapata,"
formed among textile workers in El Ticui.37

Its stated purpose was to "struggle for land, against exploitation, misery, injustice,
poor health and cultural conditions, and the practical absence of political rights."38
These declarations are among numerous indicators that these teacher-activists were
to a broader challenge for government account
encouraging the labor movement
as a generation shrugged off wistful recol
ability. This would bear consequences

lections, as articulated by one teacher, of the days of "prosperity," "abundance,"


and "self-sufficiency,"39 to challenge the encroachment of international capital and
the closing of doors to full economic and political citizenship.

of labor and civic rights had become


increasingly linked under the
His family and colleagues
governorship of Ra?l Caballero Aburto
(1957-1961).
controlled much of the state's commerce and as governor he adopted strong anti

Repression

labor policies.40

In mid-October

1960,

the governor

refused to recognize

a strike

34. AGN DGIPS, Caja 2946a, 2946B, 1966-1968; AGN, DGIPS Caja 1488, 1968-1982; Student records,
Escuela Nacional de Maestros, Mexico City. On Jos? Bracho Campos, Student records, Escuela Normal, Mexico City;
Consuelo Sol?s Morales, wife of Genaro V?zquez Rojas, confirms that she and her husband knew Ishmael and Jos?
Bracho at the Escuela Normal inMexico City. Sol?sMorales, Excelsior, p. 31.
35. Student records, Escuela Nacional de Maestros, Mexico City; "Manifesto en la heroica Iguala la tierra se
mueve bajo las botas del cacicazgo Abarca-Mirandista," Iguala, 21 de diciembre de 1965, inAranda Flores, Los c?vicos
guerrerenses, pp. 78-80.
36. Informe de Iguala, Consejo de Autodefensa del Pueblo de Guerrero, signed by Fausto ?vila (ACG), Antonio
Sotelo (Liga Agraria Revolucionario 'Emiliano Zapata'), Ishmael Bracho (ULAC), Pedro Contreras (Asociaci?n de Cafi
cultores Independientes), Elpidio Ocampo (Consejo de Autodefensa, Iguala), Jos?Mart?nez, Asociaci?n de Productores
Independientes de Ajonjol?, inAGN, Caja/1488, File 1967-1969, 8 de enero de 1967.
37. Activist Antonio Sotelo P?rez was also among those freed to Cuba in 1971. He later joined the faculty at the
Universidad Aut?noma de Guerrero. He served on the Iguala Comit? de Auto Defensa del Pueblo de Guerrero. Escuela
Nacional de Maestros, Mexico City, student records of Antonio Sotelo; AGN, DGIPS Caja 2946a, 2946B, 1966-1968;
AGN, DGIPS Caja 1488, 1968-1982; Francisco Gomezjara, "El proceso pol?tico de Jenaro [sic]V?zquez hacia la guer
rilla campesina." Revista Mexicana de Ciencias Pol?ticas y Sociales (abril-junio 1977) p. 87-127; Andrade Greesler, "Vio
laci?n de derechos humanos," p. 13; and L?pez, 10 a?os, p. 92.
38. "Declaraci?n de principios y programa," in Sotelo P?rez, Breve historia, pp. 112-119. Government Informe
de Iguala, January 8,1967 andMarch 1967, El Sol deM?xico (31 de julio de 1967); Novedades (31 de julio 1967) p. 12;
Universal (31 de julio 1967): 1; La Verdad (undated), in Excelsior (12 de septiembre de 1967) p. 23; all, AGN,
Caja
1488, Ficha 196, 1967-1976.
39. Seraf?nN??ez,
interview.
40. Caballero Aburto had extensive political connections. He had risen to the rank of
Brigadier General in the
army and was serving as commander of themilitary zone inXalapa, Veracruz when he initiated his gubernatorial candi
dacy. Perhaps his most notorious rolewas his service in leading the assault on supporters of presidential opposition can
didate Miguel Henrique Guzman inMexico City in July 1952. Some scholars suggest his
governorship was the reward
from President Ruiz Cortines (1952-58) for such service. Leopoldo Ayala Guevara, La guerra sucia en Guerrero:
Impunidad, terrorismoy abuso de poder (M?xico: Editorial Ayalacenter, 2005), p. 3. On family holdings, see Pablo

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190 Cold War

in the Countryside

by truck drivers against a family-owned company, using his authority to appoint a


board that declared the strike "nonexistent,"
mediation
and allegedly making
In
death threats against the workers' leader.
response, 15 other unions, including
electricians, telephone workers, stevedores, merchant marines, and service work
ers in hotels and restaurants, threatened a walk-out.41 To coordinate a state-wide
now led by
response, a coalition of workers in the state's agro-industries?many
teacher-activists and normal school colleagues
of Genaro V?zquez?merged

under

a single umbrella,
C?vica Guerrerense
the Asociaci?n
democratic transparency, community decision-making,

demanded

(ACG).42 They
and an end to

violence. The ACG


ultimately brought together rural
government-sponsored
workers, small landholders, owners of small commercial ventures (most promi
(shortly
nently, market vendors), and teachers. Students at the State College
thereafter renamed
participants,

as were

the Universidad

de Guerrero, UAG)43 were active


schools, including Lucio Cabanas.
By

Aut?noma

those at the normal

linked over 35 community


largely instigated by V?zquez
Like
made
teachers
based on their experi
other
contributions
by
organizations.44
ences in the capital, the strategy of cross-class alliances was not unknown in their

November,

alliances

state's politics. Receptivity was based on familiarity. Peter Guardino demonstrates


that at least as early as the period of post-colonial nation-building, peasants forged
the more remarkable
alliances among other groups of the population.45 Among

of this movement was securing support from the


inclusionary accomplishments
Padres de Familia, the parent support group affiliated with each school. Histori
cally, teacher strikes had been the source of intense conflict between parents'
access for their children, and teacher demands for
expectations of educational
improved

salaries and working

conditions.46 This

realignment was

a progressive

Sandoval Cruz, El movimiento social de 1960 en Guerrero.With photographs by Jes?s Salmer?n. 2nd ed. (Chilpancingo,
see Sotelo P?rez,
self-published, 1999), p. 24. For a sample listingof familyproperties acquired during his governorship,
Breve historia, pp. 36-37.
41. Sandoval Cruz, El movimiento social de 1960, p. 24.
42. Baloy Mayo, La guerrilla de Genaro y Lucio, p. 33; Gama Santill?n, "Guerrero durante los ?ltimos 30 a?os,"
p. 93; Bartra, Guerrero bronco,p. 90. This organization, under different names and configurations (Asociaci?n C?vica
Nacional Guerrerense, ACNG, and Asociaci?n C?vica Nacional Revolucionaria, ACNR), continued to play a conspicu

ous role in the political lifeof Guerrero throughout the next three decades.
43. "Ley Org?nica de laUniversidad de Guerrero N?mero 9," Peri?dico Oficial del Gobierno del Estado de Guer
rero,A?o XLI, N?. 25, junio 22 de 1960, pp. 2-7.
44. Sandoval Ram?rez, "Testimonio," inPablo Sandoval Cruz, El movimiento social de 1960, p. 95; Sandoval Cruz,
El movimiento social en 1960, pp. 60, 74-75; Mayo, La guerrilla de Genero y Lucio, p. 35.
45. Peter Guardino, Peasants, Politics and theFormation ofMexico's National State: Guerrero, 1800-1857 (Stan
ford: Stanford University Press, 1996), pp. 147, 159. Guardino presents no distinction within ethnic communities and
presents the popular class only in their role as peasants. His only overt recognition of the heterogeneity of this popula

tion ishis discussion of language barriers.


46. Other tensions existed as well, including community resistance to secular education. See Vaughan, The State,
Education, and Social Class; Marjorie Becker, Setting theVirgin on Fire: L?zaro C?rdenas, Michoac?n Peasants, and the
Redemption of theMexican Revolution (Berkeley: University of California, 1995); andMaria Lorena Cook, Organizing
Dissent: Unions, the State, and theDemocratic Teachers'Movement inMexico (University Park: Pennsylvania State Uni
versityPress, 1996).

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O'Neill

Blacker

I9i

step from experiences during the teachers' union strike inMexico


City in 1958,
when the school administration organized newly formed Padres de Familia explic

nature of this strike, pre


itly to foment discord.47 The broad community-based
in
the language of nationalism and democratic participation, overcame the
sented
more narrowly focused parental identities that had
previously clashed with bread
and-butter union interests. UAG
instructor Sa?l L?pez L?pez
recalls that differ
ences among these diverse interests were subsumed to create a broad, "almost
monolithic"
unity among distinct social forces that came together "like one big
tendencies among the
family,"48 representing a broad spectrum of democratic
state's polity. It would
gles of the next decade

be an alliance maintained
as well.

throughout

the political

strug

formal set of complaints drawn up against the governor addressed political


processes, the dearth of Constitutional
guarantees, and paralegal repression exer
cised by the governor and his relatives.49 Demands
for an end to forest exploita

The

tion, recognition of the right to unionize, attention to the educational needs of the
community, and a renewal of the university and state education systems' dedication
to the socioeconomic
needs of the popular classes further reflect the grassroots

expectations nurtured in the revolution of 1910 and the socialist education pro
and L?zaro C?rdenas
grams of Presidents Plutarco Elias Calles (1924-28)
(1934
Both
and
rhetoric
demands
40).50
implicitly challenged government credentials to
the mantle

Cuban

of democratic

the recent success of the


revolutionary regime. Despite
the promises of their own revolution resonated with the com

revolution,
munity to a degree later proclamations and attempts to portray the struggle as one
in solidaritywith the Cubans did not. Both the claiming of nationalist
language and
to
on
to
the
federal
intervene
behalf of the community con
government
appeals
firm an acceptance of the dominant discourse that depicted the national govern
ment as the embodiment of the revolution of 1910 and protector of the demo
cratic rights of the people, while simultaneously
challenging it to uphold that claim.

47. Aurora Loyo Brambila, El movimiento magisterial de 1958 deM?xico (M?xico: Ediciones Era,
1979), p. 50.
Indeed, he suggests that theywere among those charging "communists" with trying to stirup agitation in the country.
48. Saul L?pez L?pez, "Testimonio," in Sandoval Cruz, El movimiento social de 1960, pp. 106-107.
49. The formal charges brought by theACG were (1) general discontent and absence of
political guarantees; (2)
dislocation of campesinos; (3) constant repression on the part of the police and pistoleros on the governor's
payroll; (4)
irregularities inmunicipal elections; and (5) illicitenrichment of the governor and his relatives.Andres Rubio Zaldivar,
El movimiento social Guerrerense y la lucha armada de Genaro V?zquez Rojas. (Serie: Movimientos y
Protagonistas
Sociales, Equipo Profesional Multidisciplinario de Apoyo T?cnico, A.C. [Epmat], Convergencia Democr?tica Universi
taria [UAG], Peri?dico Pueblo de Chilpancingo. Chilpancingo: EPMAT, Universidad Aut?noma de Guerrero,
1994), p.
17; Rodr?guez Salda?a, La desaparici?n de poderes en elEstado de Guerrero (Chilpancingo: Universidad Aut?noma de
Guerrero, 1992), pp. 146-161; Pablo Sandoval Cruz, El movimiento social de 1960, pp. 74-75. A complete discussion of
the initial charges, dated October 17, 1960, in Jos? C. Guti?rrez Galindo, T el
pueblo sepuso de pie: La verdad sobre el
casoGuerrero (M?xico: self-published, 1961), pp. 197-207. Also included are numerous other
legal documents and an
excellent collection of political cartoons of the period. The author attended both theNational Teachers School and the
normal school at Ayotzinapa.
50. Codified inArticle 123 and Article 3, respectively,of theConstitution of 1917.

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192 Cold War

in the Countryside

protesters were demanding


Cuban-style revolution.

The

implementation

of revolutionary promises, not a

two most prominent leaders to emerge from this period, Genaro V?zquez
and
a
Lucio Cabanas,
the latter then
student at the rural normal school of Ayotzinapa,
with
of
their
many
along
colleagues, reflected the effervescence of political partic

The

ipation thatwould soon pour forth on the streets of theUnited States, Europe, and
Latin America. Their ideological views represented a synthesis of their experiences
as sons of campesinos and their politicization at the normal schools. This combi
nation facilitated and legitimated their leadership. Despite
later socialist tendencies,
their projects for social justice began as a rejection of the worst abuses of capitalist
economic exploitation and a response to the closure of democratic political chan

nels, particularly on the state level. In a conversation with teacher F?lix Hoyo,
Cabanas
later recalled his earliest political indoctrination, witnessing the "repres
. . . the
the
robberies, torture,
sion,
caciques, the poverty and misery of the people
disappearances, and incarcerations the army had done to the people."51 Thus, pop
by a convergence of repressive conditions, a commit
progressive legacy, the inspiration of a successful revolution

ular resistance was mobilized

ment

to the nation's

close at hand, and seasoned leadership carrying the trust accrued by earlier gener
ations of their profession. Its limited success was both advanced and constrained by
the people's

retention of faith in the regime.

were demonstrated in numerous ways.


popular classes' nationalist proclivities
land redistribution, and
such as "absolute respect for the Constitution,"
Demands
of
of
the
autonomy
libres,
municipios
explicitly reproduced the lan
recognition
The

state officials announced a prohibition on gather


guage of the Revolution. When
a permanent sit-in symbolically
more
of
than
five
people, participants set up
ings
a
la Bandera.52 On November
located at theMonumento
20, 1960, the anniver

sary of the revolution, students presented themselves before President Adolfo


dressed in mourning, wearing black armbands, and
(1958-64)
L?pez Mateos
decked their doors and windows in black ribbons to indicate their sorrow that "the
[spirit of the] Revolution
20,000

people

gathered

has died."53 At another rally that same historic day, over


one of the main
in the Alameda "Granados Maldonado,"

interviewwith the author, Mexico City, May 5, 2002. In a 1971 interviewwith (Por Qu??,
as a
Rojas spoke of having been born in the small community of San Luis Acatl?n and identifiedhis father
as did
on
a
state
as
a
to
He
school
attended
him
who
had
leader
taken
young
scholarship,
meetings.
boy
ejido
campesino
most of the futuremilitants who attended either the teacher-training school in the capital or that inAyotzinapa.
a
laBandera in recognition of its stature as the citywhere the national
52. Iguala, Guerrero is the siteof theMuseo
flagwas raised in theWar of Independence.
53. Eulalio Alfaro, student leader,November 9, 1960, "Anecdotarios," in Sandoval Cruz, El movimiento social, p.
132. L?pez Mateos had previously acknowledged the legitimacy of agrarian demands more generally, and had offered
agrarista Rub?n Jaramillo. Although he was initially unresponsive to popular demands, L?pez
amnesty toMorelos'
51. F?lix Hoyo,

V?zquez

Mateos

ultimately engineered Caballero Aburto's removal from office.

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O'Neill

Blacker

193

demanding Caballero Aburto's resignation.54 Echoing the


plazas of Chilpancingo,
state's motto, participant Pablo Sandoval Ram?rez portrayed their aspirations for "a

nation, free, sovereign and just."55 Pablo Sandoval Cruz later nostalgi
cally recalled demonstrations where placards, music, and "unforgettable moments
of joy" were based on the panoply of national heroes, while also suggesting a wide
democratic

diversity of participants:

This spiritof solidarity transcended social spheres, religions, political parties and eco
nomic

fortunes

of the men

and women

...

itwas

the same

we
spirit that

had

inherited

fromVicente Guerrero, with his bravery and faith in the independence of our country;
thatwe had inherited from Jos?Mar?a Morelos, with his heroism and his great patri
otism;

that of the Galeneas,

los Bravos.56

In the tradition of popular songwriting in times of struggle, new corridos were


in the streets of Chilpancingo, Atoyac, and elsewhere. Many
incorporated
to rally bystanders and buoy the spirits of
the language of the Revolution

heard

marchers:

"Viva

la Revoluci?n!"

and

"Viva

la Constituci?n!"

were

common

refrains.57 Speaking at a rally,V?zquez


urged continuing respect for the Consti
tution as a source of legal guarantees.58 At yet another rally, the crowd of over
500 people heard a professor from the Ayotzinapa
normal school link their cur
rent struggle to the Revolution's
assassinated martyrs: "We will fight for sover

and Emiliano Zapata


eignty and for liberty, for that which Francisco I. Madero
In
Lucio
Cabanas
the
government with violating
fought."59
Atoyac,
charged
"the highest and most sacred principles of the Constitution."60
Sandoval Cruz

asserted that the "struggle was framed within the context of the state and federal
. . .
laws" and that "[the movement
is] for democratization
[and] in defense of
the people's rights."61

The popular classes were not alone in drawing on nationalist rhetoric. In the con
text of the Cold War and the government's interest in
combating challenges from
the leftwhile seeking to secure status as a leader of the "third world
independent
bloc," charges of communist infiltration provided a potent weapon to isolate oppo
54. Sandoval Cruz, El movimiento social de 1960, pp. 27-49. At the time, the population of the state capital was
about 15,000.
55. Pablo Sandoval Ram?rez, "Testimonio," in Jes?s Salmer?n, Pablo Sandoval Ram?rez, et al., eds., 1960: histo
riagr?fica de un movimiento social (Chilpancingo: Universidad Aut?noma de Guerrero, 1991), p. 25. The state'smotto
is the 'Free and Sovereign State of Guerrero.'
56. Sandoval Cruz, El movimiento social de 1960, pp. 38-39.
57. Teacher Domingo Adame Vega, "Testimonio," in Sandoval Cruz, El movimiento social, p. 103; Radilla
Mart?nez,
58.
59.
60.
61.

Poderes, saboresy saberes,pp. 195-196, 208-209.


"Anecdotario," in Sandoval Cruz, El movimiento social, p. 130.
"Anecdotarios," in Sandoval Cruz, El movimiento social, p. 140.
"Anecdotarios," in Sandoval Cruz, El movimiento social, p. 140.
El movimiento social, pp. 59, 33, 27.

V?zquez Rojas,
Sandoval Cruz,
Lucio Cabanas,
Sandoval Cruz,

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194 Cold War

in the Countryside

nents. In depictions of the opposition inGuerrero, Caballero Aburto replicated the


In an
inMexico City in 1958-1959.62
language used against the union movements
effort to position his beleaguered
administration as a bulwark against foreign

threats, the governor labeled those demanding his resignation "[cjommunists."63


Heavily drawing on the federal government's assertion that national sovereignty
was threatened more by international communism
than the "colossus of the

con
north," he later claimed that the opposition formed "part of the Communist
as
a
use
to
to
He
nation
base
the
encircle
the
United
States.64
depicted the
spiracy"
an
as
of
and
the
States
international
of
Mexico
United
targets
governments
plot
that justified a vigorous defense of national sovereignty. The most damning con
of the teachers' strike inMexico City had been the suggestion that par
or
were
"manipulating par
ticipants
"quasi-professionals,"
"professional agitators"
ticipants and their families" for the purpose of forming "assault brigades to
demnation

their 'wicked' goals."65 The allegation of external influences is poten


tially devastating in light of the acute nationalism harnessed to expel foreign influ
ences (both cultural and financial) during and after the revolution of 1910.66 While
accomplish

limited oppositional organizing was tolerated, charges of foreign influence hinted


at manipulation
beyond the pale of acceptable citizen participation. The govern
ment used such allegations to expel a large contingent of student activists at the
UAG,
Charges

as they later did from campuses


of communist

inMexico

City.

increasingly wielded by national and state


and the international tensions of the Cold War

infiltrationwere

officials, as both internal opposition


school teacher
increased. The opposition vigorously rejected the label. Normal
in Diario
de Acapulco
Inocencio Castro, for example, countered accusations
were
a
officials
that
the
relative
of
and
governor) by arguing
(owned
operated by
commu
of
is
that
and
convenient,"
despite allegations
"always saying whatever
later be
nism, "we only represent the Frente C?vico."67 Similar allegations would
and fellow teachers inAtoyac and were honed still further
raised against Cabanas
esca
events
in
Mexico
City in 1968; theywould increase in frequency and
during
in Guerrero persisted
late in intensity as the support for the guerrilla movements
in the 1970s.
62. See, for example, Aurora Loyo Brambila, El movimiento magisterial on such effortsduring the teachers strike.
Like its language, government military tactics reflected itsown lessons from the labor conflicts inMexico City. The gov
ernment employed these tools in Guerrero, and again in the capital in 1968 when protesters challenged government
en
legitimacy there. See Sergio Aguayo, La Charola: Una historia de los serviciosde inteligencia M?xico (M?xico: Grijalbo,
2001).

63. Mario Garc?a Cerros, in Salmer?n et al., eds., 1960: historiagr?fica, pp. 27-35.
64. Sandoval Cruz, El movimiento social, p. 82.
65. Loyo Brambila, El movimiento magisterial, p. 48.
66. Numerous historians have analyzed the role of nationalism and anti-imperialism in the revolution of 1910. Its
most overt expression isArticle 33 of theConstitution of 1917. "Foreigners may not in anyway participate in the polit
ical affairsof the country." Also emblematic was the nationalization of oil by then-President C?rdenas in 1938.
67. Inocencio Castro, as reported by Sandoval Cruz, "Anecdotario," inEl movimiento social, p. 131.

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O'Neill

Blacker

195

The broad-based,
state-wide coalition threatened government
authority. On
were
to
state
in
called
the
December
30, government troops
capital, and protest
ers maintaining
a peaceful sit-in in the government plaza were attacked; seven
people died. The federal government finally intervened, and Caballero Aburto was
deposed by the Senate the following week.68 The assault inChilpancingo was repli
cated in Iguala on December
30, 1962, when popular forces gathered to protest
fraudulent elections.69

The violence

in the plazas of Chilpancingo


and Iguala, the administration's increas
on
the
violent
crackdowns
and
protests,
ingly
widespread devastation of the state's
communities all fed Vazquez's
disillusionment
with the possibility of
growing
reform.He

that the implementation of democratic aspirations could not


recast itself as
the violent destruction of the regime. The ACG

concluded

be made without
the Asociaci?n

C?vica Nacional

tactics and issuing a nationwide


to armed resistance mirrored

Revolucionaria
(ACNR),
adopting more militant
call for revolution.70 The move from public protest

that of other opposition


leaders, notably Rub?n
ofMorelos.
Jaramillo (1914-1962)
Jaramillo's movement was rooted in Emiliano
Zapata's earlier agrarian vision and itspopulist implementation by President L?zaro
C?rdenas
The radicalization of Jaramillo's movement,
rather than
(1934-1940).
the more distant Cuban experience, served as an important model close to home
for militants

undermined

in neighboring Guerrero;
Jaramillo's 1962
the credibility of L?pez Mateos'
government.71

assassination

further

and his armed colleagues continued to use potent nationalist language


this
radical shift, revering la patria and declaring commitment to the "rev
despite

V?zquez

68. The authorizing article of the Constitution of 1917, Article 76, part V, reads, "To declare, whenever the con
stitutional powers of a State have disappeared, that the condition has arisen for appointing a provisional governor, who
shall call elections in accordance with the constitutional laws of the said State. The appointment of a governor shall be
made by the Senate from a listof three proposed by the President of theRepublic, with the approval of two thirdsof the

members present, and during adjournments, by the Permanent Committee, according to the same rules. The official thus
appointed cannot be elected constitutional governor in the elections held pursuant to the callwhich he issues. This pro
vision shall govern whenever the constitution of a State does not make provision for such cases." Slight modifications
have been made since but do not withdraw the powers of the President and Senate noted herein.
69. The military attack in Iguala resulted in seven deaths, 23 people injured, and 280 arrests.Additional attacks
followed, inOmetepec, San Luis, and throughout the Costa Chica and Costa Grande. Twenty thousand soldiersmain
tained order as the official government candidates assumed theirposts. Pol?tica (September 15,1963); see also Armando
Bartra, Los herederosde Zapata: Movimientos campesinosposrevolucionarios enM?xico, 1920-1980 (M?xico: Ediciones Era,
1985), p. 84. For an interestingU.S. government description and analysis, see Robert W. Adams, Counselor of Embassy,
Department of State Airgram, 712.00/1-363, No. A-876, "Communist Inspired Armed Attack on Local Authority in
Iguala, Guerrero," January3,1963, available atNational SecurityArchive Electronic Briefing Book No. 124. On Atoyac,
see below.
70. V?zquz Rojas, "Lincamientos program?ticos de laACG," inAranda Flores, Los c?vicosguerrerenses,pp. 107

122. Manifestos and other pronouncements continued to frequently appear from theACG, despite its reformation as the
ACNR
71. On Jaramillo, see Tanal?s Padilla, Rural Resistance in theLand ofZapata: The Jaramillista Movement and the
Myth of thePax Priista (1940-1962) (Durham: Duke University Press, 2008).

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196 Cold War

in the Countryside

Suffrage.'" This manifesto, issued on Janu


a line his audience
ary 19, 1963, closed with the banner, "Mi Patria esPrimero"
no doubt recognized as echoing Independence hero Vicente Guerrero. In a man
ifesto issued inApril 1964, the ACG challenged the "bad administration of justice
ideal of 1910 of'Effective

olutionary

liberties granted by statute in the national


In response to a state decree of May
1965, which authorized
for
the
and
fines
behaviors
that
challenged
regime, the ACG called
imprisonment
for the replacement of the "government of the caciques [to reassert] democratic
and the annulment of the democratic

Constitution."72

liberties." The ACG

appealed for implementation of the laws of Agrarian Reform,


of
forest
resources, education, and the "cultural development of the
preservation
A
del Sur (allied
issued by the Liga Agraria Revolucionaria
communiqu?
people."73
demanded "democratic liberties" as guaranteed in
with the ACG) on July4,1965
land redistribution, and national sovereignty.74 Each of these
the Constitution,
demands reflects the expectations aroused by the revolution of 1910 and embod
ied in the constitution itproduced.

and col
Following his 1966 arrest and dramatic prison escape in 1968, V?zquez
from
skirmished
in
school
and
the
ACG
with
from
the
normal
his
years
leagues
to
resist
Costa
the
armed
Chica.
transition
the
Despite
military forces throughout
ance, the language of broad-based nationalism and constitutional guarantees con
tinued to color critiques of the government's betrayal. After nearly seven years of

resistance, in a January 29, 1967 speech in Iguala, Vazquez's


colleague, teacher
failure to
with
"anti-constitutional"
the
still
government
charged
Roque
Salgado,
as
with
main
in
and
the Reforma Agraria
mandated
provide land redistribution
mem
taining a cacigazgo of violent reprisals against c?vicos (members of theACG),
bers of the Liga Agraria, campesinos, and workers in the copra, coffee, and sesame
industries.75 In another, undated manifesto (likely August 1967), the Consejo de

Auto-Defensa
president

and

called on the people to send telegrams and letters to the


Such tactics revealed a lingering pre
secretar?a de gobernaci?n.

del Pueblo

72. ACG manifesto of April 1964, in Gomezjara, Bonapartismo, pp. 306-307. This document represents the
fusion of reliance on the language of revolutionary nationalism (demands grounded in theConstitution of 1917) and the
desirability of a more radical revolutionary socialist agenda (the rescue of resources from the hands of imperialists, scien

tificeconomic planning, etc.).


73. "anyone who spreads or propagates an idea, program or plan or other method with the intentof altering the
order and public peace of the State, or to subvert the judicial and social institutions [of the State]." Government Decree
29, May 8, 1965, inAroche Parra, "El decree 29, engendro fascistoide," Revista Pol?tica (15 de abril de 1965), in
inGomezjara, Bona
Gomezjara, Bonapartismo, p. 304. Manifesto published inRevista Pol?tica (lo. de junio de 1966),
partismo, pp. 306-307.
74. El Comit? Estatal de laACG, "Manifesto a Guerrero, a laNaci?n," 19 de enero de 1963, and "Declaraci?n
en alianza realizaron La Liga Agraria Revolucionaria del Sur "Emiliano
aprobada por el Congreso Extraordinario, que
con los c?vicos, el 4 de julio de 1965," both inAranda Flores, Los
Zapata," y la Central Campesina Independiente junto
c?vicosguerrerenses,pp. 54-57, 66-71.
75. Roque Salgado, "Discurso: Nuestra protesta publica y la lucha general que en Guerrero se ha venido manife
stando tiene como motives la falta de soluci?n a los problemas fundamentales y graves que pesan sobre nuestra entidad,"
29 de enero de 1967, Iguala, inAranda Flores, Los c?vicos
guerrerenses, pp. 44-48.

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O'Neill

Blacker

197

sumption of receptivity at the national level, indicating a degree of government


and colleagues had taken up armed resistance.76
legitimacy, even afterV?zquez
In yet another communiqu?, V?zquez
rhetorically linked their struggles to those
of national heroes: "Our struggle has its inspirational roots in national history and
... is the same raised
and Guerrero, Ju?rez,
reality: our flag
by Hidalgo, Morelos
and
From
the
he
Villa."77
issued
Sierras,
Zapata
communiqu?s from their "Cam

and signed them the "Comit?


'Jos? Mar?a Morelos,'"
or 'Juan
'Gral Vicente Guerrero,'"
'Emiliano Zapata'
Alvarez.'78 In autumn 1970, he explained that he had selected the region of his
origin for his armed struggle for its historic symbolism: "Here in these lands and
the giant strategist of
among these people the history of our country produced
pamento
Armado

Revolucionario
de Liberaci?n

of Mexico
in the figure of Jos? Ma. Morelos."79
revolutionary independence
a
retained
for
icons and history despite an increas
national
strong affinity
V?zquez
to
dedication
international
socialism.
ing
Ultimately, however, his more radical lan
guage and tactics further isolated the guerrillas from the broad-based
popular
movement from which they emerged, the an?-caballerista movement
having been

the high point of Vazquez's


broad-based popular support. The ideological contra
dictions evident inVazquez's
remain unresolved. He died in a car
pronouncements
on
accident
the highway outside Mexico City on February 2,1972. His colleagues
in-arms dispersed,

some

of

them

joining

the guerrilla movement

of Lucio

Cabanas.80

After the 1960 massacre

in Chilpancingo,
Cabanas had returned to complete his
studies at Ayotzinapa, where he maintained
leadership in student organizations.
He traveled to outlying communities and developed political alliances,
including
ties with

students at normal

later became

involved,

schools

throughout the country, many of whom


either as combatants or supporters, with his guerrilla

76. Consejo de Auto-Defensa de Iguala, undated, inAranda Flores, Los c?vicosguerrerenses,pp. 49-50. Grandin
notes the contradiction that "an ever greater number [of rural and urban workers] turned to the government,
including
its rhetoric of democratic equality and justice, for help inmeliorating the often brutal effectsof capitalism, even
though
paradoxically the coercive labor and loss of access to subsistence production were in factmade possible only by govern
ment intervention." Grandin, The Last Colonial Massacre, p. 179. While
writing about Latin America more generally,his
observation applies to the increasing political and economic marginalization of workers inGuerrero.
77. Genaro V?zquez Rojas, "La Asociaci?n C?vica Nacional Revolucionaria acerca de la liberaci?n de Genaro, 22
de abril de 1968 de la c?rcel de Iguala, Gro.," undated, very shortly afterApril 22, inAranda Flores, Los c?vicosguer
rerenses,pp. 123-126.
78. See numerous ACNR communiqu?s, Aranda Flores, Los c?vicos
guerrerenses.

79. Genaro V?zquez, "Entrevista a Genaro V?zquez Rojas en el Oto?o de 1970," inAranda Flores, Los c?vicos
guerrerenses, pp. 178-187; Genaro V?zquez, "Entrevista al comandante en jefe de laACNR, Genaro V?zquez Rojas en
1971," inAranda Flores, Los c?vicos
guerrerenses, pp. 188-196.
80. Fausto ?vila insists thatwhile some individuals transferredfrom one organization to another, and from urban
to rural, therewere no significantorganizational links between either the Partido de los Pobres
(PDLP) or Asociaci?n
C?vica Nacional Revolucionaria (ACNR) with urban guerrillamovements. Fausto ?vila, interviewwith the author, Feb
ruary 21, 2003, Chilpancingo, Guerrero.

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198 Cold War

in the Countryside

Cabanas
actively proselytized among campesinos, whose participa
tion he sought and whose protection he needed. These activities partially explain
the ideol
the support he retained during his last years.82 Like that of V?zquez,

movement.81

ogy of Lucio

was

transformed by government repression. Although he,


he continued to articulate his goals?
too, gradually adopted Marxism-Leninism,
the lens of national
and political
economic
experiences.
justice?through
Cabanas

steeped in a revolutionary heritage that included a grandfather


in the revolution of 1910, as well as a
had fought as Zapatistas
an
as
in the
active agrarista alongside President C?rdenas
father assassinated

Cabanas

was well

and uncle who


1930s.83

took up a teaching post in his hometown of Atoyac, where he became


immersed in local challenges to economic development
policies and increasing
demands for democratic processes. Community concerns focused on the denuding
of the forests under a contract issued to a timber company in 1963 and on the

Cabanas

impact of the proposed closure of a textile cooperative. Cabanas par


access to and quality of education, arguing that
ticularly urged demands involving
its role was to serve the needs of the poorest of the community. Projects to change
academic institutions came only when "los pobres," the people, demanded
it,
anticipated

argued, noting recent cases inMonterrey, Puebla, and Guerrero.84 As had


in 1960, government rhetoric sought to isolate these
in Chilpancingo
happened
a
In
leaders.
during labor conflicts
community meeting on June 14,1964,
popular
made
at El Ticu?, Cabanas
by the municipal
allegations
rejected "deprecating"
were
of
the
"enemies
state," attempting to
president that he and his colleagues
.
.
.
and
build a "swarm of communist apprentices.
[t]hat we are enemies ofMexico

Cabanas

activism, and that of


[in effect, foreign] ideas."85 Cabanas'
The charges
to
officials.
education
harassment
led
Seraf?n
N??ez,
by
colleague
with
became
volatile,
community supporters raising allegations
against the teachers
of state interference inmunicipal autonomy. In November
1965, authorities sus
from their teaching assignments and sent them to
and N??ez
pended Cabanas
alternative posts inDurango. They returned toAtoyac shortly thereafter and joined
introducers of exotic

81. Miranda Ram?rez, El otro rostro,pp. 53. See also Blacker-Hanson, La Lucha Sigue! See also Alfonso Aguado
interview,below.
82. Such support isdifficult to document or quantify.Kate Doyle notes, for example, theU.S. government's pre
inGuerrero supported Cabanas,
sumption of extensive support. "The armywas not succeeding because the campesinos
. . . theUnited States embassy cabled, 'It is apparent thatCabanas and his group operate freely inGuer
analysts believed.
rero. Implications are that local populace, forwhatever reasons, continues to affordCabanas cover.'" Doyle, "The Dawn
of Mexico's Dirty War," posted December 5, 2002, National Security Archive, http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/
Likenesses of both Cabanas and V?zquez are still displayed at Ayotzinapa
NSAEBB/NSAEBB105/index.htm#article.
and in public fora throughout the state.
83. Hoyo, interview.
84. N??ez,
interview; and Lucio Cabanas, 8 marzo 1974, "Diario de combate (notas sobre actividades del
Lucio Cabanas: El guerrillero sin esperanza, pol?ticaMexicana (M?xico: Grijalbo, 1984), p. 205.
Luis
in
Su?rez,
grupo),"
85. Wilfredo Fierro Armenta, Monograf?a de Atoyac (Self-published, undated), pp. 316-317.

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O'Neill

Blacker

199

in demanding
reinstatement of a
parents, students, and members of the ACNR
teacher suspended for charging the school director with malfeasance.86 Marches,
rallies, and denunciations punctuated sporadic discussions with government offi
in 1960, the demonstrators demanded
their counterparts at the UAG
on
the removal of all teachers and administra
greater accountability and insisted
tors affiliated with the corrupt administration. Although rumors hinted at a gov
cials. Like

ernment plan to remove the protesters from their planton in front of the Palacio
de Gobierno, no one anticipated what Seraf?n N??ez, with understatement, called
"a disproportional response."87 The main plaza was filledwith demonstrators when
the police opened fire,killing seven people and wounding many others.
It was May 18, 1967. Activists in Guerrero still cite the date as the turning point
in their struggle for democracy. Cabanas was present but N??ez,
by chance, was
not. Three months later, on August 20, the government let loose an assault against
in response to efforts to regain grassroots con
striking copra workers inAcapulco
trol of the union. This confrontation leftover 40 strikers dead and a reported 500
injured. The incident led to the disintegration of the grassroots coprero organiza

tions, to the apprehension and persecution


ment of new mobilizations.88
Following the attacks in his hometown
many before and after him, abandoned

of the leadership, and the discourage

of Atoyac

and inAcapulco, Cabanas,


like
public protest and went to the Sierras to
wage armed opposition to the regime. Under the weight of government persecu
tion, violent crackdowns on anti-government protests, and continued economic
encroachment on the communities' well-being, calls tomilitancy resulted from the
paucity of legitimate paths to secure democratic processes. As with many progres
sives of this generation, the Cuban revolution offered Cabanas and his cohorts but
one paradigm of a successful strategy to secure
San
political inclusion. Octaviano
and
credited
tiago Dionisio,
long-time political prisoner
self-proclaimed Marxist,
his early political proclivities to three decisive influences: the "brutal repression to

the people of Guerrero were subjected in the years 1960-61,"


disillusion
ment with the electoral process, and the Cuban
revolution. He
joined Cabanas'
Partido de los Pobres (PDLP)
inMay 1971.89 In a round-table discussion in 2003,
which

86. N??ez,
87. N??ez,

interview.

interview.Like his colleagues who had witnessed the government violence unleashed against peaceful
protesters,N??ez grew disillusioned with the prospects for reforming theMexican state; personally unwilling to take up
arms, he eventuallymade his way toMoscow.
88. Hoyo and C?rdenas, Desarrollo del capitalismo agrario, p. 9. Armando Bartra cites 30 dead in the "fiesta de
las balas," but says "some speak of eighty dead." Armando Bartra, "Donde los sismos nacen," in Tom?s Bustamante
Alvarez and Sergio Sarmiento Silva, eds., El Sur enMovimiento: La Reinvenci?n de Guerrero del SigloXXI. (M?xico: Edi
torialLaguna, 2001), p. 48. On the build-up to that confrontation, see also El Sol deM?xico, Novedades, La Verdad, and
El Universal (July-August 1967).
89. Octaviano Santiago Dionicio, Testimonio, pp. 9, 14. Santiago Dionisio's
case was taken up by Amnesty
International.

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200 Cold War

in the Countryside

former militant Jos? Luis Moreno


Borbolla attributed his radicalizaron to the lead
ership of Guerrero's Oth?n Salazar, the railroad workers' strike of 1958, and the
Cuban revolution.90 At the same conference, former urban militant Rosario D?vila
revolution had affirmed her hopes that a small guerrilla band
to participant
could ultimately triumph against an oppressive regime.91 According
to
F?lix Hoyo
and scholar Luis Su?rez, Cabanas
adapt interna
explicitly sought
recalled how Cuba's

to local conditions; both his programs and his organizing


style
his
belief
that the life experiences of the people had much to contribute.92
reflected
tional

lessons

inAtoyac,
and Seraf?n N??ez
had struggled alongside Lucio Cabanas
led a community-based movement
like their compatriots elsewhere in Guerrero,
of
rooted in grassroots perceptions of their rights granted in the Constitution

Those who

of community resources, democratic accountability, and local


autonomy, notably in community involvement in the schools. This latter expecta
inArticle 3 of the
tion was rooted in the promise of public education embodied
of
called
for
the
formation
Constitution.93 Cabanas
preparatorias populares and a
1917:

protection

normal popular?A calls thatwere later answered by the next generation of teacher
activists who arrived in Guerrero after events in the nation's capital discouraged
radical organizing

there.

two guerrilla fronts now operating across the Sierras, the federal government
strategy
using a two-pronged
stepped up efforts to eliminate the opposition,
services
while aggressively isolating and eliminating the
wherein it provided visible
guerrillas and their presumed supporters. It conflated itsmilitary presence with its

With

largesse: the army itselfwas the visible hand distributing benefits (a


as palo y pan?the
stick and the bread). In an Excelsior interview,
known
policy
Cuenca D?az explained army partic
of
Defense
General
Hermenegildo
Secretary
"to
the
in
civil
negative attitude of the civil popula
dispel
projects (pan),
ipation
as
a
of the investigations and
tion which has inevitably originated
consequence
...
detentions.
[Itwill] reaffirm the noble image of the soldier and increase public
towards
sentiments of admiration, respect and sympathy . . .This [will
opinion
in actions immediately beneficial [to the social welfare] such as
be accomplished]
economic

construction

of

schools,

electrification,

[and]

establishment

of

community

90. "En busca de lamemoria: Testimonios sobre losmovimientos armadas de la d?cada de los setenta," presenta
tion at UNAM, October 25 and November 6, 2003, recorded and prepared by Jos? Luis Moreno Borbolla (in posses
sion of author), p. 5.
91. Rosario Davila, "En busca de lamemoria," pp. 30-35.
92. F?lix Hoyo, interview; and Su?rez, Lucio Cabanas, pp. 17-18.
93. As Guerrero activist Oth?n Salazar notes, "La Revoluci?n Mexicana cre? la escuela p?blica precisamente
to serve a liberating func
asign?ndole un papel liberador." (The Mexican Revolution created the public schools precisely
a la buena de Dios," an interviewwith Salazar,
tion."). Rubicela Morelos Cruz, "Oth?n Salazar: en Guerrero se gobierna

La Jornada Guerrero, April 13, 2007.


94. Lucio Cabanas, "Diario de combate," p. 205.

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O'Neill

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201

a government report recommended


clandestine actions
shops."95 Concurrently,
observed that such
"to break morale"96 (palo). U.S. Ambassador Robert McBride
combined efforts had the explicit goal of "reducing support for Genaro V?zquez
. . . and Lucio Cabanas."97
Rojas
Despite an overall strategy of palo y pan until the deaths of both guerrilla leaders,
the government most aggressively implemented repressive tactics aimed at isolat
ing and defeating the guerrilla resistance. If an individual were suspected of radical
inde
activities, he or she was seized, tortured, disappeared, or murdered.98 No

campesino, worker, or student organizations remained overtly active. The


populace was subjected to military incursions and to the tactic known as "tierra
arrasada," a "razed earth" practice that left entire communities bereft of shelter and
pendent

crops. In the Costa Grande region, over 400 homes were destroyed and over 2,000
families lefthomeless. The market booths of those who had supported the c?vicos
were destroyed. Campesinos
fled to the mountains.
Cabanas'
surviving half

(his nom de guerre) later reported that over 126 members of the
Cabanas Barrientos family disappeared in the years after 1967. He himself escaped
the watchful eye of state police when he was smuggled out of Guerrero dressed as
brother "David"

a woman.99

and jails filled. In a scathing report issued by the


on
Human Rights, most of the reported cases of dis
United Nations Commission
appearances in the country were "in the context of the rural guerrilla warfare that
was waged
in . . . the state of Guerrero."100 The report by Dr. Ignacio Carrillo
Arrests continued

95. Cuenca D?az, interviewwith Jes?sM. Lozano, Excelsior, no date provided, in Jos?Natividad Rosales, ?Qui?n
fu? Lucio Cabanas? ?Qu? pasa con laguerrilla enM?xico? (M?xico: Colecci?n Duda Semenal, Editorial Posada, undated),
p. 86. See also DFS, Order fromCuenca D?az of September 23, 1972, Informe de Acapulco, 23 de septiembre de 1972,
inGustavo Castillo and Misael Habana de los Santos, "Descubren pruebas de que Cuenca D?az orden? 'exterminar' a
Lucio Cabanas,"La Jornada, November 27, 2003.
96. AGN/DFS,
Expediente 100-10-16/4 Ll & L3, and July 7, 1972, inMarco Bellingeri, Del agrarismo
armado a la Guerra de lospobres: Ensayos deguerrilla rural en elM?xico contempor?neo (M?xico: Ediciones Casa Juan
Pablos, Secretaria de cultura de la Ciudad de M?xico, 2003), p. 13. On such tactics, see also Durand Alcantara, La lucha
campesina, p. 76; Wilfred Fierro Armenta, Monograf?a deAtoyac, p. 360. Fierro records one such visit on May 16,1969.
This text is an excellent resource in support of the contention thatEcheverr?a balanced guns and butter, as it is largely a
daily journal of civic events inAtoyac, including numerous listingsofmilitary actions and seemingly-minor civic improve
ments; ?PorQu?? August 12, 1971, pp. 8-9; and Juan Fernando Reyes Pel?ez, "El largo brazo del Estado: La estrategia
contrainsurgente del gobierno mexicano," presentation at La Guerrilla en las regiones de M?xico Siglo XX Conference,
Zamora, Michoac?n, July2002, pp. 5-6.
97. Robert H. McBride, Department of State Telegram to Secretary of State, Confidential 949, Mexico 2882,
May 27, 1971. Obtained through theNSA, identified as POL 23-9 Mexico 2882.
98. F?lix Hoyo, interview;Alejandra C?rdenas, interviewwith the author, Chilpancingo, Guerrero, August 19,
2002 and other dates; ?vila, interview.See also United Nations and Amnesty International reports on the government's
dirtywar inGuerrero.
99. Teacher-activists F?lix Hoyo and Alejandra C?rdenas were instrumental in smuggling "David" and other
Cabanas relatives out of the state. Interviews,Hoyo, C?rdenas and "David" Cabanas, interviewwith the author,Mexico
City,Mexico City, February 17, 2003.
100. United Nations Economic and Social Council, Commission on Human Rights, Question of the Human
Rights of All Persons Subjected to any Form of Detention or Imprisonment: Question of Enforced or InvoluntaryDis
13
appearances, "Report of theWorking Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances," E/CN.4/1997/34
December 1996, pp. 43-44. An attached graph indicates a surge of disappearances in 1974 and again in 1977. See also

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202 Cold War

in the Countryside

Special Prosecutor for Social and Political Move


Sociales y Pol?ticos del
(Fiscal?a Especial para Movimientos
confirmed a history of torture, assassinations, bombings of

Prieto of the office ofMexico's


ments

of the Past

Pasado

[FEMOSPP])
rural communities, and the disappearance of hundreds of campesinos.101 The pop
ular movement, while suppressed, was not entirely crushed: two campus strikes
to the newly appointed rector at the UAG,
and
occurred, one in opposition
in support of those at the UAG.102
another at the normal school inAyotzinapa

government efforts to "win the hearts and minds" of Guerrero's popular


classes, a major military response of over 24,000 soldiers was deployed in the Sier
ras; Cabanas died in a confrontation in 1974. The first branch of popular protest
withered under the weight of government repression.
Despite

The Second Wave:


Message

Carrying

a Different

Revolution's

became the destination of urban radicals seeking to spark a socialist rev


in
the aftermath of government assaults on protesters inMexico City in
olution
1968 (Tlatelolco Plaza) and 1971 (San Cosme).103 Their ideology reflected their
(several had attended
experiences in the capital, practical links to the Soviet Union

Guerrero

and economic and educational dif


University inMoscow),
in
classes
Guerrero.
ferences from the popular
Beyond the obvious distinction
the Patrice Lumumba

and provincial cultures, their strong identification with interna


limited their effectiveness. Strongly influenced by the Cuban
likemuch of Latin America, the Revolu
that inMexico,
believed
revolution, they
tion would be advanced by the rural populace. Guerrero's native-born activists,
Lucio Cabanas and Genaro V?zquez
among them, did not initiate their struggle in
to a Soviet-, Chinese-, or
dedicated
these terms, nor were they unequivocally
Cuban-style revolution. As elsewhere in Latin America, urban radicals learned that
around its own "concrete and even
the rural populace was more readily mobilized
led
late
the
local demands."104 By
1970s, they
popular efforts largely redirected
from revolutionary advocacy to reactive demands for the release of political pris
between

urban

tionalist movements

oners and accountability

for desaparecidos.

It was ultimately through demands

for

07/05/1998;
Amnesty International's concerns in
Amnesty International Report, Al-index: AMR 41/005/1998,
Mexico, AI Index: AMR 41/13/86, July 1986; the postings of theNational SecurityArchives, particularly http://www.
La Jornada; and Blacker-Hanson, Epilogue, "La Lucha Siguer
gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB180/index.htm;
"Informe Especial Sobre lasQuejas en Materia de
101. Comisi?n Nacional de Derechos Humanos
(CNDH),
los 80," posted at http://www.gwu.edu/
Desapariciones Forzadas Ocurridas en la D?cada de los 70 y Principios de
180/index.htm.
-nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB
102. ?vila interview;Hoyo interview;Alejandra C?rdenas, interviews.
103. Hoyo, interview;C?rdenas, interview.
104. H?ctor B?jar, "Some Final Notes," inPeru 1965: Notes on a Guerrilla Experience, trans.William Rose
Monthly Review Press, 1969), p. 116.

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(NY:

O'Neill

Blacker

203

government responsiveness and democratic rights that they spurred a reawakening


of public engagement inGuerrero.
second wave

task of reinvigorating a move


ment that had been crushed by theweight of government violence. Typical among
them, F?lix Hoyo Arana leftMexico City for Guerrero in 1972 with the explicit
This

of activists faced the immediate

intention of revitalizing the popular movement at the UAG.105 Hoyo had initially
studied with the Jesuits, but following the government assaults in 1968 and 1971,
he turned to the study ofMarxism and considered himself a "Christian for Social
ism." His was not an uncommon

began

trajectory among radicals; a significant number


their student careers under the influence of Catholic organizations.106

At the Universidad

Aut?noma
de Guerrero, Hoyo offered seminars, lectures, and
an effort to rebuild a core of student
in
Marxism
in
readings
leadership after its sup
courses he taught, Hoyo
asked what
pression the previous decade. When

teach "anything and everything" that provided him


responded that he would
access to students. His overtly political work concentrated on
building alliances
on
the
diverse
among
campus, that is, supporting academic concerns
populations
of students and faculty, and union struggles of staff and faculty.107He formed a
core of leadership faculty that included
Alejandra C?rdenas, Antonio Hern?ndez,
Pablo Sandoval, and Fernando Pineda.

Alejandra C?rdenas
From 1965-1972,

Santana's politicization differed from that of colleague Hoyo.


she attended the Patrice Lumumba University inMoscow.108
the Cold War, that institution provided education and training to a cadre

During
of militants from throughout the thirdworld, including those seeking to replicate
the "Cuban
in Latin America.
In Moscow,
elsewhere
C?rdenas
experience"
befriended students from among the 80 countries represented, including 120
other Mexicans.

She cites her strongest influences at the time as the Cuban

revo

105. All personal details, F?lix Hoyo, interview.Hoyo left theUniversidad Aut?noma de Guerrero for a faculty
position at Chapingo inAugust 1973, after a series of escalating threats against his life.He continued towork with the
Guerrero movement.
106. Like Hoyo, former guerrilla Rosario D?vila describes herself as having been involvedwith a student group
affiliatedwith the Jesuits, and those from religious colleges (Maristas and Guadalupanas) who were moved to
political
action "thatwas intimately relatedwith our religious sentiments," including the concept of martyrdom. She also credits
the influence of both October 2 and June 10 on her radicalization. Rosario D?vila, "En busca de lamemoria," p. 6; and
Jos? Luis Alonso, "En busca de lamemoria," pp. 35-40. My thanks to Susan Smith for noting a similar radicalization
that had occurred inRussian seminaries.
107. These same strategieswere evident elsewhere, as radical intellectuals sought alliances, particularlywith campus
workers; for example, theWorker-Student Alliance Caucus within the Students for a Democratic Society in theU.S.
108. All personal details, Alejandra C?rdenas, interview.On the university, see Alexander Fradkin, The Patrice
Lumumba Friendship University inMoscow (Moscow: Novosti Press Agency Publishing House, 1973). Timothy Wick
ham-Crowley asserts that a number of "left-wing studentswho together attended Moscow's Patrice Lumumba Univer
sity" joined the leadership ofNicaragua's FSLN. Timothy Wickham-Crowley, Guerrillas and Revolution in Latin Amer
ica (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1992), p. 222. It would be
interesting to track any links between the
Nicaraguans andMexicans, who undoubtedly met inMoscow.

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204 Cold War

in the Countryside

as well as such readings as Herbert


lution and the resulting "?poca de Guevarisrno"
and Robert Taber.109 She returned toMexico
City in 1972 and sought
out friends from the Soviet Union. Among
them was Luis Sandoval Ram?rez,

Marcuse

Sandoval of Guerrero. In September of that year she joined the


at
the
where her self-defined role was "to propagandize
and prosely
UAG,
faculty
tize."110 She worked to strengthen university-community political networks and,
brother of Pablo

before his death, acted as a link between the university and Lucio Cabanas. Perhaps
the most influential and enduring strategy employed by thiswave of activist teach
ers was their role in founding and staffingprepas populares as Cabanas had urged.

and Alfonso Aguario, C?rdenas was co


faculty colleagues Hoyo, Hern?ndez,
in Chilpancingo.
founder of "Prepa Comit? Ernesto 'Che' Guevara"
The school
encouraged student activism throughout the 1970s and beyond.111

With

The most

explicit link between


occurred when Lucio Cabanas

these educators

and the first generation of militants

that UAG

faculty provide study sessions


requested
to
In
his
1974, UAG faculty joined
guerrilla
fighters.
February
thought
on
a group of perhaps 20 to 30 young combatants in the mountains. Hoyo
spoke
on
alienation and exploitation; C?rdenas on socialism; and Antonio Hern?ndez
'the state,' academic language that itself is indicative of the chasm between these

on Marxist

young campesinos and university-educated faculty.112The presumption that these


intellectuals could provide a more genuinely radical indoctrination is expressed by
formermilitant Ricardo Rodr?guez G., who believed that "the presence of students
a more revolu
conferred on the PDLP
and sympathizers of Marxism-Leninism
tionary

character."113

strain of activists, those native to the state of Guerrero, became politically


and professionally engaged during this second wave of popular mobilization. They

Another

109. Herbert Marcuse was a German-born scholar ofMarxism. His most influentialworks include Reason and
Revolution (1941), Eros and Civilization (1955), SovietMarxism: A Critical Analysis (1958), and Counter-Revolution
and Revolt (1972). Marcuse taught at Columbia, Harvard and Brandeis and was a close intellectual colleague of sociol
ogist BarringtonMoore, Jr.Robert Taber wrote thewidely-read The War of theFlea: A Study ofGuerrilla Warfare Theory
and Practice (1965), available inMexico as La guerra de pulga.
110. C?rdenas, interview; "D?nde est?n Antonio yAlejandra?" Proceso, July 1978; AGN DGIPS file on Alejandra
C?rdenas, Expediente 100-10-16/4 Hl, 24-1-75; AGN DGIPS File on C?rdenas, Expediente 100-10-1-78 H51-L-71,
September 3, 1978, alleged statement of C?rdenas, July27, 1978.
111. Initially a "prepa popular," itwas fullyincorporated into theUAG system,when?still retaining itsoriginal
name?it was designated Preparatory #9 in 1973.
112. C?rdenas and Hoyo, interviews.According to government files, the visit came about as the resultof a request
"to implement study circles and conferences among the participants of the armed movement." The session covered
"socialism, customs of socialist countries, economics, and 'systemsof life.'" AGN DGIPS File on C?rdenas, Expediente

100-10-1-78- H51-L-77. The source for this government assessment of the sessions is unidentified, but its specificity
and rhetorical ring suggest it is the result of statementsmade by participants under police questioning, most likelyC?r
denas and Hern?ndez. See also Mario Arturo Acosta Chaparro, "Movimiento subversivo enM?xico." (No publication
information: January 1990) (in possession of author), pp. 11-12.
113. Ricardo Rodr?guez G., "Testimonio," 27 de octubre de 2001, unpublished, p. 3, inpossession of the author.
Rodriguez G was a member of the Partido de los Pobres (PDLP), founded by Cabanas.

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O'Neill

Blacker

205

represent a synthesis of the earlier militants, with a strong grounding in national his
tory, and the internationalism of their colleagues from outside the state. The route

Alfonso Aguario took to the forefront of Guerrero's political movement was typical
in the
of many of his colleagues.114 Aguario was raised in Coyuca de Catal?n
Tierra
like
Cabanas'
Amuzco
of
the
Caliente
Seraf?n
and,
N??ez,
territory
colleague
recalls the impact on his community of the abrupt transition to large-scale com
mercial

agriculture. And
career with the Church

normal
and one
Nacional

like F?lix Hoyo and others, he might well have pursued a


had he not attended a conference of directors of rural

schools in 1962. He was

impressed by the progressive teachers-in-training,


Cabanas. Aguario became a leader of the Federaci?n
Socialistas de M?xico.115 When a schism arose among the

in particular: Lucio
de Estudiantes

rural normal school administrators, Aguario threw in his lotwith Cabanas. In 1972,
he joined the faculty at theUAG, where he immediately became involved in campus
issues, including the formation of theUni?n Sindicato de Catedr?ticos de UAG. He

in the creation of preparatorias and the


joined colleagues C?rdenas and Hern?ndez
consolidation of links between the university and the guerrillas.

Aguario defines his ideology as Utopian, and notes his support of the popular strug
assertion of the
gles of the landless in Guatemala,
affirming historian Grandin's
to
influence
of
those
efforts.
Closer
also
home,
widespread
Aguario
points to the
lessons of the railroad workers' strike inMexico.
Like so many teachers of the
Salazar and the
period, Aguario attributes much of his radicalization to Oth?n
was
Movimiento
not large in Guer
Revolucionario Magisterial; while theMRM
rero, he believes its presence significantly shaped the opposition movement and a

in both national and Marxist


literature?the
generation of activists.Well-steeped
latter through a reading group that also facilitated cultural exchanges between
Mexicans
and Russians?he
found Mao
"very sensible" and also read Trotsky,
Russian novels, and literature on the Mexican
revolution, including work by
Adolfo Gilly, JohnWomack,
and the novels of Mariano Azuela
and Martin Luis
Guzman. After 1968, his reading included work by Elena Poniatowska,
Luis
Gonz?lez

de Alba,

and Jos? Revueltas.116

range of influences on these participants iswell represented by Eloy Cisneros,


a primary school teacher and Guerrero native. Like his
colleagues on the left,Cis

The

114. All personal data herein, Alfonso Aguario interviewwith the author, Chilpancingo, February 21, 2003 and
subsequent discussions; AGN DGIPS File on Alfonso Aguario, 012-037-121, L-l, 64, undated. Aguario continues
on the facultyof the Prepa "Che Guevara."
115. Murals touting this student organization still enliven the campus of the normal school inAyotzinapa.
116. Adolfo Gilly's La revoluci?n interrumpida, published in 1971, was a major contribution to the post-'68 revi
sionist scholarship on theMexican Revolution. JohnWomack's Zapata and theMexican Revolution appeared in 1969
and remains a standard work on the subject. Both Azuela and Guzman wrote novels depicting the conditions of the
period preceding the revolution. Gonz?lez de Alba emerged as a prolific leftistleader of theMovement of'68; Revueltas
(1914-1976) was a prominent poet and novelist of the left.His M?xico 68: Juventud y revoluci?n (M?xico: Ediciones Era,
1978) was an influentialanalysis of events surrounding theTlatelolco assault.

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206 Cold War

in the Countryside

neros

recalled reading Marx, and Castro's


but also
"History Will Absolve Me,"
on
classics
theMexican
revolution. He particularly recalled Womack's Zapata
and
a
was
text
theMexican
C?rdenas
He
also
read
Cabanas.117
Revolution,
says
by

strove to integrate the school and community, worked closely with the Padres de
Familia, and placed an emphasis on local social and cultural studies. Like Aguario,
he worked with Oth?n Salazar and his MRM.118
Later arrested and tortured for
his alleged role in the kidnapping
amnestied November
27, 1978.119

and death of a local politician, Cisneros

was

native, Fausto ?vila, believes he fought for a


he returned to Chilpancingo
democratic Mexico.120 A close colleague of V?zquez,
after the latter's death and, with the support of C?rdenas and others, joined the

Another ACG

militant and Guerrero

relatively well versed inMarxist literature, when asked about


rev
his primary ideological influences, he unhesitatingly responded, "the Mexican
olution." Unlike many of the urban activists who comprised Guerrero's
second

UAG

faculty.While

wave, that project was more integral to his political vision than was the Cuban rev
that some, although not all, of his colleagues had been
olution. He acknowledged
socialists, but believed they were so essentially "by default," that is, because the

regime had proven its unwillingness to fulfill the promises of the revolution of
1910. Influential readings he cited included Marxist theory and, parenthetically,
(but not Lenin, Mao, Guevara or Castro), as well as novels of the
Regis Debray

Mexican

revolution, notably Mariano

Azuela's

Los de abajo.111

this second generation of militants, those with roots in the earlier strug
Among
to cite theMexican
revolution as their primary inspiration; those
continued
gles
Poniatowska continues to be among themost prominent intellectuals ofMexico City. Among her relevant texts is La
noche de Tlatelolco (1971).
117. Eloy Cisneros, interviewwith the author, Chilpancingo, Guerrero, July2, 2003; C?rdenas, presentation,
"Testimonio," University ofWashington, November 14, 2002.
118. Oth?n Salazar's influenceon the popular struggle inGuerrero cannot be over-stated. Seraf?nN??ez suggests
that although Salazar's MRM had put down significant roots in the state's efforts to democratize the teachers' union
(SNTE) since the early 1960s, after 1968, "this teachers' group was associated almost completelywith the guerrillamove
ment of Cabanas." Seraf?nN??ez Ramos, "Ra?ces hist?ricas de la transici?n democr?tica en Guerrero," inLa transici?n,
p. 182.
119. AGN DFS Caja 1766, Folder 2, Expediente 2701, December 22, 1976, Informe de Acapulco, identifieshim
as Director of Preparatory #5 inOmetepec, and notes three others were picked up at the same time; Cisneros, "Testi
monio que rindo ante las autoridades correspondientes, demandando castigo para los autores materiales e intelectuales,
en la violaci?n de mis derechos humanos y constitucionales," presented to the PGR (Undated, in possession of author);

Cisneros, interview.
120. ?vila isfrom the community of El Ticui, in themunicipio ofAtoyac, site of extensive popular discontent and
mobilization. He was arrested following theMay 1967 government attack inAtoyac; served on theN?cleo de Direcci?n
de laAsociaci?n C?vica Nacional Revolucionaria (ACNR); and he spearheaded the successful escape of V?zquez Rojas
from prison in 1968. After several years imprisonment,?vila is currently on faculty at the Universidad Aut?noma de
Guerrero (UAG). Personal details, ?vila, interview;Student Records, Escuela Nacional de Maestros, Mexico City; AGN,
DGIPS, Caja 2946a, 2946B, 1966-1968; AGN, DGIPS Caja 1488, 1968-1982.
121. ?vila, interview.Cabanas' brother reports that he, too, read Los de abajo, as well as thework of B. Traven.
"David" Cabanas, interview.

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O'Neill

who went

to Guerrero
and Marxist

revolution

from the capital were more


intellectual
thought. The

Blacker

207

likely to identify the Cuban


tensions between the two,

however, receded in the presence of a shared short-term goal: demands for dem
in response to the government's
ocratic accountability
dirty war. It was these
that rallied the popular classes to again fill the
"concrete and local demands"
streets of Guerrero's

ernment

capital and outlying

communities

despite

continued

gov

repression.122

Conclusion
article began by asking ifCuba's
revolutionary rhetoric and Utopian vision
influenced popular resistance in theMexican
countryside. The Cuban example of
a successful guerrilla war in Latin America was not lost on the discontented
in

This

Mexico,
yet despite strong evidence suggesting a later socialist agenda on the part
of prominent leaders, I have argued that their projects were rather demands for
revolution.
implementation of the democratic inclusion at the heart of theMexican
belief in the government's failure to do so encouraged
the pursuit of
alternative processes to secure land redistribution, urban employment, access to
democratic processes, and educational opportunities.
Influenced by readings of
Pervasive

the recent examples of the Guatemalan


agrarian reforms under
in
and
the
Cuban
activists
Guerrero
Jacobo Arbenz,
later,
revolution,
picked up the
their ability to juggle
language of anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist struggle. However,

Marx

and Lenin,

the names of Revolutionary


rhetoric, imagery, and icons?including
more
the
internationalist
heroes?alongside
language of class struggle suggests
that in Guerrero, a surviving faith in the renovation of their own Revolution
took
nationalist

precedence

and impeded

the embrace of international socialism.

In providing covert support to the guerrillas, the campesinos of Guerrero's Sierras


were modeling
themselves less on their counterparts of Cuba's Sierra Maestra, and
more on the legacy of the guerrilla struggles of Emiliano
and Rub?n
Zapata
on
own Rev
of
the
of
Guerrero's
Jaramillo
indeed,
neighboring Morelos;
struggles
Pablo
and
Pedro
Cabanas.123 The deep com
olutionary heroes, including Zapatistas

munity roots of this generation were evident in the longevity of the guerrilla move

122. For more on the resurgence of popular protest, see Blacker-Hanson, La Luche Sigue!
123. Indeed, Christopher White makes a compelling argument for the extent to which theMexican Revolution
was a model for the Cubans. See especially, pp. 42-44. He quotes Castro, "I credit [formerPresident L?zaro] C?rdenas
with [our] freedom," and "I creditMexico with [our] inspiration." Fidel Castro, "A C?rdenas debo la libertad; aMexico
la inspiraci?n, dice Fidel a laRevista Siempre!" Siempre!August 12, 1959, p. 32, inWhite, Creating a Third World, p.
59. Nor do I mean to suggest thatCuba's influence inMexico be dismissed. In their testimonialwritten in 1987, former
members of the Partido de los Pobres, as well as activists at theUniversidad Aut?noma de Guerrero, in their recollec
tions, and others cited herein, affirmed the importance of the Cuban success as an inspiration. Jos?Orbe Diego,
Lucio Cabanas y elPartido de losPobres (M?xico: Editorial Nuestra America, 1987).

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et al.,

208 Cold War

in the Countryside

ments

in the Sierras, despite their small numbers and inadequate arms.124When the
returned to the public arena, the second generation of militants could
to family and community to motivate demands for account
commitment
this
rally
for
those
had
been disappeared. Alternatively, urban militants such as
who
ability

movement

F?lix Hoyo and Alejandra C?rdenas carried the government assaults inMexico City
as their defining experiences with the national government. They became politically
engaged by events of the Cuban revolution, the rural paradigm ofMaoist China and

in the Soviet Union.


the tensions of the Cold War, as well as?for some?study
Theirs was both an urban experience and an urban culture, which, in addition to
their university educations, distinguished them from the largely rural and less-edu

cated popular classes inGuerrero. This class distinction was not unique toMexico;
in Peru to the geo
H?ctor B?jar attributes the failures of his guerrilla movement
graphic, historic, and cultural isolation of the countryside from the city.125 Indeed,

in a series of interviews in 2000, several ex-militants attributed the ultimate failure


armed movement to an inability of diverse organizations to find accom
modation among distinct social groups.126 Former urban militant Jos? Luis Moreno
ofMexico's

Cabanas
failed to bring unification
insistence on the primary role of the campesino rather than
to the leadership of the proletariat.127

claims that theoretical discussion with Lucio

because

of Cabanas'

their submission

Scholars have until recently lagged behind the popular classes in recognizing the
importance of "claims to citizenship and national inclusion."128 Alfonso Aguario
describes the popular struggles of the 1960s and 1970s as a "grand democratic
movement"
necessary to achieve greater citizen participation. He concludes that
while the movement may have been "romantic . . .Utopian," itwas "the only road
to follow" for those who believed they had "an obligation to participate in the

a
process of change."129 Aguario was not alone in positioning their effortswithin
arrest
and
and
her
with
after
her
involvement
of
Decades
vision
guerrillas
utopia.
torture, Alejandra C?rdenas also speaks about her belief in the possibility of life
"without misery and with democracy."130

Both C?rdenas

and Aguario

argue that

124. An uncle of Lucio Cabanas attributed themovement's durability to itsgrounding in familynetworks, assert
a
core
base of over 300 armed campesinos whose loyaltywas based on family tiesmore strongly than political ideol
ing
ogy. F?lix Hoyo, interview.Timothy Wickham-Crowley demonstrates the importance of family and friendship networks
to recruit others as well as to sustain a clandestine movement. Wickham-Crowley, Guerrillas and Revolution in Latin
America: A Comparative Study of Insurgents and Regimes Since 1956 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1992), p.
138. The study is on South America, notMexico.
125. B?jar, "Some Final Notes," pp. 114-118.
126. Jos?Gil Olmos, "Entrevistas a ex-militantes del movimiento armado de los 70s: Dudan ex combatientes del
fin de la guerrilla con Vicente Fox" (unpublished, October 23, 2000), recorded and transcribed by Jos? Luis Moreno
Borbolla, transcript in possession of the author, pp. 4-5.
127. Moreno Borbolla, "En busca de lamemoria," pp. 51-52.

128. Grandin, The Last Colonial Massacre, p. 178.


129. Aguario, interview and discussions with the author.
130. Alejandra C?rdenas, presentation, University ofWashington, and in numerous discussions with the author.
See also Max Elbaum's discussion of the Utopian attraction ofMarxism toU.S. students and workers by "targeting the

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O'Neill

Blacker

209

their generation was attracted toMarxism because it provided an explanation for


the conditions theywitnessed and a vision of a more egalitarian society. Like them,
coffee worker Gregoria Nario of Atoyac had asserted at a meeting to organize sup

"Socialism assures our children food, edu


port for the anti-caballerista movement:
cation, health and recreation; the road is clearly marked for us."131

The debate continues among scholars and activists on whether activism contributes
to a "process of change," ultimately overcoming the increased repression it engen
ders. Charles Tilly acknowledges
the risk, however unintended,
of inciting
increased

repression and "de-democratization"132?as


popular resistance did in
In a remarkably prescient analysis, journalist Robert Taber predicted
that, in the face of escalating opposition "in the form of petitions, demonstrations,
itwill be a remarkable government that will not be driven to stern
strikes ...

Guerrero.

the suspension of civil liberties, a ban on popular


repressive measures?curfews,
can
acts
that
assembly, illegal
only deepen the popular opposition, creating a vicious
circle of rebellion and repression."133 Indeed, "given the choice between repression

and negotiation, political stasis or change, the [Mexican] regime predictably, inex
orably chose violence to preserve the status quo."134 Thus, it is not surprising that

government violence progressed from initially targeting meetings,


rallies, and
more
to
on
the
less
discriminate
far
and
assault
citizens
parades
public
gathered in
the plazas. This escalation is evident in Chilpancingo,
Iguala, Atoyac, and Aca

pulco. As the conflicts continued, the numbers of political prisoners and charges of
torture and governmental abuse, like the initial government response, escalated.
Ultimately, government repression took the form of seizing an uncounted number
of political prisoners, many of whom remain disappeared. Despite democratic aspi
rations and visions of utopia, movements for radical change are a product of "accel
erating rhythms of frustration, fear, and extremism."135 Surely, the popular classes
of Guerrero were subject to such acceleration.

The

reassertion of civic activism inGuerrero

pushed demands for social justice and


the
national
government accountability
stage, where they continue to be
out
arena
in the electoral
and popular mobilizations.
The legitimization of
played
these demands emerged from the efforts of committed citizens in the face of the
onto

interconnection between class exploitation and racial oppression." Elbaum also links this appeal to self-identificationas
revolutionary nationalists. Elbaum, Revolution in theAir, pp. 42-46.
131. Gregoria Nario de Atoyac, interviewwith Radilla Mart?nez, 1989, in Radilla Mart?nez, Poderes, saberesy
sabores,p. 195
132. Charles Tilly, "When Do (and Don't) Social Movements Promote Democratization?"
in Pedro Ibarra, ed.,
Social Movements and Democracy (New York: Palgrave/McMillan, 2003), pp. 21, 37.
133. Robert Taber, The War of theFlea: A Study ofGuerrilla Warfare Theory and Practice (New York:
Lyle Stuart,
1965), p. 29.
134. Doyle, "The Dawn ofMexico's Dirty War."
135. Grandin, The Last Colonial Massacre, p. 173.

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210 Cold War

in the Countryside

in Guerrero
government's dirty war. The leaders of these popular movements
as well as
to
events
their
and
international
rhetoric,
strategies,
leadership
adapted
to local conditions. This flexibility facilitated the blurring of ideological dogma,
a return to
resulting in cyclical calls for democracy and nationalism, socialism, and
the language of democratic nationalism and justice. In its portrayal of these popu
larmovements,
the historiography has, perhaps inadvertently, replicated the gov
ernment's emphasis on socialist proclamations and guerrilla activities. In so doing,

efforts to democratize
the political
segregated them from mainstream
to
state
It
is
these
efforts
in
the
and
nation.
time
within the
processes
reposition
and
that
for
social
democracy, goals
inspired participants in these
justice
struggle
it has

movements

just as they did their heroes of theMexican

University
Valparaiso, Indiana
Valparaiso

revolution.

O'Neill

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Blacker