Mexican Revolution Essay

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Discuss the Mexican Revolution (1910-1930). What challenges did Francisco Madero pose? What happened after Madero? What were the various armies? What did each faction want, for themselves and Mexico? Who won? Why? Discuss the Constitution of 1917. Did anything change in Mexico? How and why did the fighting end and political stability start? Explain in detail.

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The Urban Working Class and the Mexican Revolution: The Case of the Casa del Obrero Mundial Author(s): John M. Hart Source: The Hispanic American Historical Review, Vol. 58, No. 1, (Feb., 1978), pp. 1-20 Published by: Duke University Press Stable URL: Accessed: 08/06/2008 17:25 Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of JSTOR’s Terms and Conditions of Use, available at JSTOR’s Terms and Conditions of Use provides, in part, that unless you have obtained prior permission, you may not download an entire issue of a journal or multiple copies of articles, and you may use content in the JSTOR archive only for your personal, non-commercial use. Please contact the publisher regarding any further use of this work. Publisher contact information may be obtained at Each copy of any part of a JSTOR transmission must contain the same copyright notice that appears on the screen or printed page of such transmission. JSTOR is a not-for-profit organization founded in 1995 to build trusted digital archives for scholarship. We enable the scholarly community to preserve their work and the materials they rely upon, and to build a common research platform that promotes the discovery and use of these resources. For more information about JSTOR, please contact Hispanic AmnericanHistor ical Reviewv Volume 58, No. 1 ( 1978 by Duke University Press The Urban Working Class and the Mexican Revolution: The Case of the Casa del Obrero Mundial JOHN THE M. HART * creationand rapid growth of a nationalurbanwork- ing-class organization, the Casa del Obrero Mundial, and its ensuing conflicts with the Zapatistas, Villistas and leadership of the Constitutionalist movement, was crucial to the outcome of the Mexican Revolution. The Casa advocated far-reaching programs of political, economic and cultural changes that were incompatible with the aspirations of other revolutionary groups. Based upon contemporary essays written by the leaders of the labor movement, this study is a historical reassessment of the plincipal Mexican urban working-class organization during the Revolution, its development between 1909 and 1916, and its role in the revolutionary process. The urban working-class experience in the Mexican Revolution, as analyzed in this essay, can be divided into three stages. The first phase, the organizational period, began in 1909 and terminated in the fall of 1914. The second stage, that of alliance with the Constitutionalists in armed struggle against the Villistas and peasant-based Zapatistas, began in the fall of 1914 and ended in mid-1915. The third and climactic stage, the urban labor-Casa confrontation with the new government and allied factory owners and businessmen, extended from mid-1915 until August 2, 1916.1 * The author, Associate Professor of History at the University of Houston, wishes to express his gratitude to the University of Houston Faculty Research Committeefor a grant which aided the completion of this study. 1. A fourth phase, of socioeconomic and political reorganization,which began after August 2, 1916, and ended with the creation of the government-supported Mexican Confederationof Workers (CTM) is outside the purview of this analysis. Recent studies which have contributed to a better understanding of the workingclass role in the revolutionary process are Ramon Eduardo Ruiz, Labor and the Ambivalent Revolutionaries:Mexico, 1911-1923 (Baltimore,1976); Jacinto Huitr6n, Origenes e historia del movimiento obrero en Mexico (Mexico, 1975); Barry Carr, El movimiento obrero y la pol’tica en Mexico, 1910-1929, 2 vols. (Mexico, 1976); and R. Th. J. Buve, “Protesta de obreros y campesinos durante el Porfiriato: 2 HAHR | FEBRUARY I JOHN M. HART The Casa del Obrero Mundial was a product of revolutionary turmoil, economic crisis, political instability and a long tradition of urban lower-class unrest extending back to the pre-industrial, preideological Mexico City tumultos of the Spanish colonial period which were sometimes led by alienated artisans. Between 1865 and the Revolution of 1910 the principal ideological expression of Mexican working-class radicalism was anarchism. During the nineteenth centuly the Mexican anarchist movement was responsible for the formation of countless mutualist societies, cooperatives, industrial unions and the emergence of regional and national workers’ councils. In 1880 the 50,000 member Mexican National Congress of Workers joined the Black International. Following government suppression in the early 1880s, the anarchists constituted an underground within a conservative-dominated labor movement whose leaders frequently held government positions with the ancien regime. During the late 1880s and 1890s their presence was evident in wildcat textile and railroad strikes and during the National University student protest demonstrations in Mexico City in the 1890s.2 Radical elements within the Mexican working-class movement were given new life shortly before the Revolution by the exile Ricardo Flores Magon and the Partido Liberal Mexicano (PLM) which operated in the United States. His newspapers, Regeneracio’n and Revolucio’n, were smuggled into Mexico during the years before the outbreak of the Revolution. PLM organizers had a considerable effect upon the Mexican working class, especially among the miners of Sonora and Coahuila and the textile workers in Orizaba who staged violent strikes. The strikes in Sonora and Orizaba turned into small insurrections requiring the use of troops to quell. Those events had a disquieting effect upon both urban labor and the nation in general.3 Unas consideraciones sobre su desarrollo e interrelaciones en el este de Mexico central,” Bolettn de Estudios Latinoamericanos, 13 (1972), 1-25. For a useful and comprehensive assessment of working-class conditions in the late Porfiriato see Rodney Anderson, Outcasts in Their Own Land: Mexican Industrial Workers, 1906-1911 (DeKalb, Ill., 1976). The most comprehensive of the traditional histories of the Mexican working class during the Revolution is Luis Aralza, Historia del movimientoobreromexicano, 5 vols. (Me6xico,1966). 2. For an extended analysis see John M. Hart, Los anarquistas mexicanos, 1860-1900 (Me6xico, 1974). Anderson, in Mexican Industrial Workers, p. 301, describes the “ineptness”of the government’slabor policy. For an analysis of the increasingly sophisticated government manipulation of the labor movement over a thirty-five-year period see David Walker, “The Mexican Industrial Revolution and its Problems: Porfilian Labor Policy and Economic Dependency, 1876-1910” (M.A. Thesis, University of Houston, 1976). 3. For the essential aspects of the Flores Magon movement and the revolutionary strikesat Cananea and Rio Blanco see Juan GomnezQuifiones, Sembrador-es: CASE OF THE CASA DEL OBRERO MUNDIAL 3 In 1909 the urban workers in the great cities of central Mexico began to reorganize in the crucible of growing government weakness. An enfeebled ancien regime, shaken by economic and political crises, allowed underground workers’ groups to operate; five years earlier this would have been unthinkable. The revival of working-class radicalism in Mexico City was initiated by Amadeo Ferres, a Catalan anarchist e6migre. Ferres was an emissary from the Barcelona libertarian socialist movement who came to Mexico to bring the doctrines of anarcho-syndicalism to the urban working class. Ferres contributed greatly to the later crisis between the revolutionary urban working class and the government through his early insistence that the independence of labor organizations from government was essential to defend working-class interests and to bring about the ultimate workers’ social revolution. He saw the separation of organized labor and government as the crucial beginning in ending “bourgeois” control of society.4 A primary issue in the coming clash between the urban workers and the Constitutionalist leadership would be the choice of independent workers’ syndicates or government controlled unions. In 1911, just one week before President Porfirio Diaz resigned, the typographic workers of Mexico City, led by Ferres and a nucleus of anarchists, organized the Confederaci6n Tipografica de Mexico. A short time later the tipo’grafos voted to act as a sociedad de resistencia in order for the Confederation to take the lead in the organization of the Mexican working class. The best educated men among the tipo’grafos became the directorate or control group known as the Obreros Intelectuales. These Ricardo Flores Mago’n y el Partido Liberal Mexicano (Los Angeles, 1973), pp. 23-25; James D. Cockcroft, Intellectual Precursors of the Mexican Revolution, 1900-1913 (Austin, 1970), pp. 117-137; Armando Bartra, “RicardoFlores Magon en el cincuentenariode su muerte,” Supplemento de Siempre, No. 1015, December 6, 1972; Carr, Movimiento obrero, I, 71-72; Isidro Fabela, Documentos historicos de la Revolucio’n Mexicana: X, Actividades poltticas y revolucionarias de los hermanos Flores Mago’n (Mexico, 1966), 36-40, 78, 89-90, 99; and XI, Precursores de la Revolucion Mexicana, 1906-1910, 53; Manuel Gonz’alez Ramirez, Fuentes para la historia de la Revolucion Mexicana, III, La huelga de Cananea (Mexico, 1956); Buve, “Protestade obreros,”1-15; and Moises Gonzalez Navarro, Las huelgas textiles en el Porfiriato (Puebla, 1971) and “La Huelga de Rio Blanco,” Historia Mexicana, 6 (abr.-jun., 1957), 510-533. For an interpretation which questions the significance of the PLM and radical tendencies in the prerevolutionarylabor movement see Anderson,Mexican IndustrialWorkers,pp. 312328. 4. Amadeo Ferres, “Hacia el polvenir,” El Tipo’grafoMexicano (Me6xico),July 1, 1912; Ferres, ” Compaiieros, Saludemos!” El Tipografo Mexicano, November 10, 1911; and Ferres, “El despertar del obrero mexicano,” El Tipografo Mexicano, December 27, 1911. 4 IHR I FEBRUARY I JOHN M. HART men, Jose L6pez D6niez, Rafael Quintero, Federico de la Colina and Enrique H. Arce, were recruited by Ferres and later assumed leadership roles in the Casa del Obrero Mundial. By late 1911 the Confederacion had a total of almost 500 members and during most of 1912 it had an average weekly increment of between 15 to 20 new enlistments. In a short time most of the publishing houses of Mexico City were organized, and affiliates had been formed in Monterrey, Tepic, Guadalajara and Oaxaca. The name of the organization was changed in July 1912 to the Confederacion Nacional de Artes GrAficas in order to reflect its new national status. The Artes Graficas was run by Ferres through the office of Secretario de Interior and by an elective board of directors dominated by the Obreros Intelectuales. They envisaged themselves as the harbingers of a nationwide workingmen’s revolutionary movement.5 In June 1912 Juan Francisco Moncaleano, an anarchist fugitive from Colombia, arrived in Mexico after a two-year stay in Havana. While in Cuba Moncaleano published a series of articles regarding the martyred Catalan anarchist Francisco Ferrer Guardia. Moncaleano was a devout believer in Ferrer Guardia’s idea of workers’ schools, Escuelas Racionalistas, which were adjuncts of workers’ organizing and cultural centers established by the syndicates. The schools were intended to proselytize and uplift the workers and to develop their sense of class consciousness. They were to be openly critical of both Church and state.6 Moncaleano was attracted to Mexico by news of the Madero revolution, the work of the tipografos, and the agrarian uprising in defense of village communal integrity led by Emiliano Zapata. He attended meetings of the Artes GrAficas for several weeks and then solicited support from that group in order to establish a combination 5. Ferres, “Hacia el porvenir,” El Tipo’grafo Mexicano, July 1, 1912; Anastasio D. Marln, “Nuestro Ilamnamiento en favor de la lucha reinvindicadora ha merecido la atencion de los tipografos,” El Tipo’grafo Mexicano, December 27, 1911; and Agustin Segura, “La influencia de Amadeo Ferres,” El Tipo’grafo Mexicano, December 27, 1911. These developments took place in the context of growing nationwide labor unrest; see Carr, Movimiento obrero, I, 66-67; and Ruiz, Labor and the Ambivalent Revolutionaries,pp. 28-30. It is noteworthy that the typographic and stone workers (canteros), the most most active and radical artisan groups at the time, were from industries that wN7ere feeling the impact of technological innovation: the advent of the linotype machine and modern cement processing. During the 1870s the most militant artisan groups, the tailors (sastres) and hat makers (sombrereros), were suffering the disastrous economic consequences of an emergent textile industry. 6. Jose Ortiz Petricioli, Cincuentenario de la Casa del Obrero, 1912-1962 (Me6xico, 1962), p. 7. CASE OF THE CASA DEL OBBERO MUNDIAL 5 workers’ central and Escuela Racionalista. The central was to recruit workers from all skill and income levels. Despite their sympathy, Ferres and the Obreros Intelectuales decided against committing their organization to Moncaleano’s venture because it was too risky and would prematurely precipitate open conflict with both Church and state. Moncaleano was turned down but Ferres and several Obreros Intelectuales joined him as individuals. During the summer of 1912 Moncaleano’s group, which numbered about twenty, held secret meetings at private residences. Precautions were necessary because he had been warned by the authorities to cease all such activities or face expulsion from Mexico.7 Taking the name Luz, meaning hope and enlightenment, Moncaleano’s group published a newspaper under the same name and used it to publicize the cause of Flores Mago6i, the Partido Liberal Mexicano, and anarcho-syndicalism for the Mexican working class. They also issued a “Manifiesto Anarquista del Grupo Luz” which declared their intentions: To enlighten an enslaved and ignorant people. To overthrow the tormentors of mankind, clergy, government and capital. To refuse to serve the ambitions of any political charlatan because no man has the right to govern another. To make known that all men are equal because we are all ruled by the same natural laws, not by arbitrary ones. To demiiandexplanations from the opulent rich regarding their wealth, from the government regarding its lying authority, and from the agents of the bandit god of the Bible for his celestial powers. To devastate the social institutions created by torturers and loafers. To gain freedom for the enslaved worker. To use truth as the ultimate weapon against inequity. To struggle against fear, the terrible tyrant of the people. To march forward toward redemption, toward the universal nation where everyone can live in mutual respect, in absolute freedom, without national political father figures, without gods in the sky nor the insolent rich.8 7. Fernando Cordova Perez, “El movimiento anarquista en Mexico, 19111921” (Licenciado Thesis, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, 1971), pp. 36-39. Ruiz, Labor and the Ambivalent Revolutionaries, pp. 27-28, cites Rosendo Salazar and Jose G. Escobedo, Las pugnas de la gleba, 2 vols. (Mexico, 1923), p. 9, in the incorrect claim that the tipografos entered tlhe Casa in 1912. 8. “Manifiesto anarquista del Grupo Luz,” Luz (Me6xico), July 15, 1912. Anderson, in his otherwise thorough and intelligent Mexican Industrial Woorkers, p. 313, while doubting the role of ideology in the formation of the Mexican labor movement omits Ferres and the Obreros Intelectuales from the text, describes Jacinto Huitron (Mexican) as a “Colombian anarchist,” and Moncaleano as a “socialist from Venezuela.” Earlier he inexplicably labels the nineteenth-century industrial worker experience as “mutualist.” 6 HAHR I FEBRUARY I JOHN M. HART Luz planned to open the first workers’ central and Escuela Racionalista on September 8, 1912, but was frustrated by a police raid resulting in the mass arrest of the membership and in Moncaleano’s immediate expulsion from the country.9 While inside Belem prison, the anarchists organized the inmates and on September 15 they led a tumultuous demonstration against prison conditions and in support of their own political freedom. They were released barely two weeks after their arrests by the embarrassed and relatively democratic Madero government. On September 22 the released prisoners, other Luz members, and their supporters held a meeting to commemorate the opening of the first center of the Casa del Obrero and Escuela Racionalista. The Casa was to serve as a workers’ central council for labor-organizing, educational, cultural and propaganda activities. Its leadership, comprised of Luz members, would plan, coordinate and implement these efforts. Outside volunteers would assist them in the conduct of various educational projects. The crowd of supporters in attendance was largely composed of stone workers, typesetters, other members of organized labor and some middle-class intellectuals. The speakers all paid tribute to Moncaleano and it was clear that the Casa had found a martyr. In the beginning the Casa held public meetings on Sundays, classes with open enrollments weekday nights, and even opened a small library of predominantly anarchist literature, the Biblioteca de la Casa del Obrero.’0 In the months that followed large numbers of workers affiliated with the Casa and became increasingly politicized. As a result, by Januaiy 1913, the Luz control group was enlarged and renamed Lucha in order to incorporate the new militants and to activate a plan to organize anarcho-syndicalist unions on a national scale. These syndicates had national representation in the Mexico City-based Casa and autonomous locals at the factory or provincial level. The change in name from Luz to Lucha paralleled the growing militancy of the Casa’s directors and their soaring confidence that they could rally the workers. The Casa was a sensation and its successes in the capital stirred an enthusiastic response in Monterrey. A group was formed there which adopted the name Luz and began publication of a newspaper of the same name on April 1, 1913. The Monterrey group claimed loyalty 9. Moncaleano eventually settled in Los Angeles, California, where he opened a Casa del Obrero Internacional. 10. Huitron, Origenes e historia, pp. 210-212; and C6rdova Perez, “Movimiento anarquista,”pp. 42-43. CASE OF THE CASA DEL OBRERO MUNDIAL 7 “to the teachings of Ferrer Guardia,” and was the first reflection of the growing influence of the Casa among workers in outlying industrial cities.'” From its inception, the Casa confronted government competition and opposition. Initially the Madero government, elected after the resignation of Porfirio Diaz, created a Department of Labor which supported the Gran Liga Obrera de la Repiiblica Mexicana, a union that would cooperate with and support the regime. The government was alarmed by large numbers of workers drifting toward the Casa, an organization that rejected government-sponsored labor activities. The government officials had little but scorn for the anarcho-syndicalist labor leaders, never bothered to determine the substance of their ideas, and as a result underestimated them. The Gran Liga’s well-known ties to the government gave it a dubious reputation. On one occasion it attempted to elect its officers during an open meeting. Its directorate was defeated by a rival slate of Casa radicals who then mockingly declared the organization dissolved. The Gran Liga lacked popular acceptance and failed in its effort to attract members. It remained a paper organization.12 In the winter of 1912-1913, with the collapse of the Madero government imminent, Lucha sensed the regime’s weakness and …

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