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Agustín Lorenzo: Beloved Bandit of History and Folklore  

Liliana Toledo Guzmán

Agustín Lorenzo was a prototypical social bandit, according to Eric Hobsbawm’s definition in his studies of that phenomenon. As a bandit from south central Mexico believed to have lived between the 18th and 19th centuries, the exploits of Agustín Lorenzo have been recounted in myriad ways: myths, legends, loas, corridos, films, carnival representations, among others. Lorenzo is said to have stolen from the rich to give to the poor, swearing to avenge his grandfather’s mistreatment at the hands of his employer, the local landowner. To achieve his mission, the story goes, Lorenzo made a pact with the devil, to obtain supernatural powers. The attributes of this bandit undoubtedly place him in the same category as the great body of stories about banditry that have survived for centuries around the world, particularly considering their shared essence: a desire for justice. In the case of Agustín Lorenzo, it is possible to disentangle the universal principles Hobsbawm established regarding the phenomenon of social banditry from the local context in which this particular myth lives on. Hence, to analyze the myth of Agustín Lorenzo, it is essential to explore the narratives and meanings of the cosmogony of the Nahua peoples of south-central Mexico.

Article

Anticommunism in 20th-Century Chile: From the “Social Question” to the Military Dictatorship  

Marcelo Casals

Anticommunism was a central force in the history of the Chilean political conflict in the 20th century. Not only did several political actors define their identities and actions by their opposition to Marxist-inspired revolutionary projects, but also the state in different moments excluded and persecuted everything identified as “communist.” To a great extent, anticommunism relied on three main “frameworks”: Catholicism, nationalism, and liberalism, all of which were crucial elements in the construction of the Republic since the 19th century. Different combinations and interpretations within each framework resulted in different anticommunist expressions, from pro-fascist movements and nationalist groups to the conservative-liberal right wing, the Social Christian center and even moderate socialists. Many of them, especially in the second half of the 20th century, understood anticommunism as a defense of different variations of capitalism. Of course, anticommunism was not a uniquely Chilean phenomenon. It was, in fact, an ideological trend worldwide. This conditioned the reception in Chile of global events and ideas, while it enabled the construction of transnational networks among related actors. The enactment of the Law of Permanent Defense of Democracy in 1948, which outlawed the Communist Party, symbolized the alignment of Chilean politics to Cold War bipolarity. However, the Marxist left was able to recover during the “long Sixties,” in a political and cultural environment marked by the Cuban Revolution. The Popular Unity government was the materialization of all anticommunist fears. The counter-revolutionary bloc created then paved the way to the 1973 coup and the subsequent military dictatorship, which used anticommunism as state ideology. Human rights violations were legitimated by the dictatorship from that ideological framework. Anticommunism decayed by the late 1980s alongside socialist experiences around the world.

Article

Digital Resources: Piedra Rodante (Mexico’s Rolling Stone Magazine)  

Luis González-Reimann and Eric Zolov

The short-lived Mexican countercultural magazine, Piedra Rodante (Rolling Stone), is a unique and invaluable primary source for researchers interested in the global sixties from a Latin American perspective. From December 1970 to January 1972, Piedra Rodante reproduced translated articles and interviews from Rolling Stone magazine, together with original reporting by Mexican music critics and writers on a vast array of topics relevant to youth in the context of late 1960s and early 1970s Mexico. Piedra Rodante was launched by a young advertising executive, Manuel Aceves, a follower of the US and British countercultural and rock scene. In 1971, Mexico’s own countercultural movement, known as La Onda, was bursting with artistic creativity as well as marketing potential, especially in the music industry. In the wake of the 1968 student movement, however, Mexico’s government was wary of the untethered political potential mobilized by La Onda (epitomized by the outdoor rock festival, Avándaro, held in September 1971). With little warning, the government shuttered Piedra Rodante as part of a broader suppression of La Onda throughout the culture industry. Absent a missing issue 0, this fully digitized collection of issues 1–8 is the only complete set available to the public.

Article

Digital Resources: En el Ojo del Huracán, Private Letters from the Caribbean to Spain  

Werner Stangl

The early 19th century was a period of intense turmoil and chaos in the Spanish-speaking world: The Napoleonic Wars and French occupation of the Peninsula in the 1800s, independence movements in the Americas, the liberal constitution of Cádiz, Napoleon’s defeat, and the reinstallation of the Bourbons in the 1810s, and finally, the second constitutional period, the iron fist of restoration, and the eventual loss of most American possessions between 1821 and 1825. The least affected areas in the midst of this turmoil were the loyalist islands of Cuba and Puerto Rico, metaphorically the “eye of the hurricane.” It is within this context that a corpus of some dozen letters, preserved in the Spanish National Archive, were written. They were produced in the circum-Caribbean region—most in Puerto Rico—and addressed mainly to relatives and business partners on the other side of the Atlantic. The letters in question were archived without accompanying documentation, probably seized by authorities loyal to the restoration of the Ancien Régime. As a central element, this digital resource—“En el Ojo del Huracán”—displays these primary sources in an online presentation. Beyond the historiographic value of the sources, the project explores the differences between traditional and digital edition standards (TEI) for digital letter editions with the aim of showcasing the benefits of implementing the digital paradigm and for different visualizations, functionalities, analysis and incorporation in larger infrastructures.

Article

Digital Resources: The Sandino Rebellion Digital Historical Archive, Nicaragua, 1927–1934  

Michael J. Schroeder

From May 1927 to December 1932, the Nicaraguan nationalist Augusto C. Sandino waged guerrilla war against the U.S. Marines and Guardia Nacional de Nicaragua to expel the “Yankee invaders” and achieve genuine national sovereignty. The war was centered in Las Segovias, the mountainous, sparsely populated northcentral region of Nicaragua bordering Honduras. The website is envisioned as a comprehensive, interpretive, open-access digital archive on this much-discussed but still dimly understood “small war” of the interwar years. Rigorous accuracy, judicious interpretation, and the democratization of knowledge rank among the website’s most important guiding principles. Before mid-1927 there is very little documentation on Las Segovias. Then, starting with the June 1927 Marine invasion and occupation, our documentary base explodes. For nearly six years, the US imperial spotlight—expressed in a dazzling variety of texts—illuminated the hidden corners of a society and history hitherto almost totally obscured. Alongside this explosion of imperial texts was the proliferation of texts and artifacts created by the Sandinista rebels. In January 1933 the spotlight vanished, and a month later Sandino's rebellion ended in a provisional peace treaty with the newly elected Sacasa government. The Marines went home, carting hundreds of boxes of records with them. What the U.S. imperial gaze spotlighted for those six or so years constitutes the bulk of this website’s focus. Smaller in scale but often punchier in impact are the textual fragments and social memories produced in Las Segovias that survived the brutal repression that followed Sandino’s assassination in 1934. Inspired by social and cultural history “from the bottom up,” this project conceives of the Sandino revolt as a social and cultural process, as a local response to foreign invasion and occupation. The documents presented here reflect this focus, selected because they speak in some fashion to the agency of Nicaraguans and Segovianos in shaping their own history—including campesinos and Indians, tenants and sharecroppers, smallholders and squatters, miners and migrant workers, seasonal and day laborers, as well as townsfolk and artisans, smugglers and bootleggers, peddlers and traders, boat-drivers and mule-drivers, ranchers and coffee growers, merchants and professionals, politicians and military leaders—individuals, families, and communities caught up in a whirlwind of foreign invasion and insurgency as complex and multifaceted as any in history. What manner of revolutionary movement was this? What were its origins, characteristics, and legacies? All the documents presented here speak to these broader questions and themes. A work in progress, the website currently houses nearly 5,000 primary documents from U.S., Nicaraguan, and other archives, including patrol and combat reports, intelligence reports, photographs, letters, diaries, maps, oral histories, propaganda fliers, and more. Comprised of 20 expansive, interlinked digital file cabinets organized by archival repository and theme, this noncommercial, easy-to-navigate website contains a goldmine of readily accessible information for students, teachers, and scholars on the period of the Sandino rebellion.

Article

The Mexican Student Movement of 1968  

Eugenia Allier-Montaño

At the end of July 1968, a skirmish between students from rival schools in central Mexico City led to police intervention. The repression of young people was so energetic that students organized to demonstrate against government violence. They were once again repressed: from the afternoon of July 26 to the early morning of July 30, the city center was the scene of multiple battles between students and police. In the following days, an unprecedented movement formed in the country and had strong support from the rector of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), Javier Barros Sierra, who, with his call to march on August 1, gave legitimacy to the movement. On August 7, the National Strike Council (CNH) was formed, which included representatives of all higher education institutions (public and private) participating in the movement. For more than two months, the students toured the city, obtained the support of different social sectors (housewives, workers, neighborhood groups, and young professionals), and used ingenious methods (brigades, lightning rallies, flyers) to face the intense government campaign (always supported by businessmen, the media, the anticommunist right, and the high clergy) against them. The students’ demands were specified in six points in the CNH petition: freedom for political prisoners, dismissal of the military considered responsible for the repression, disbanding of the Corps of Grenadiers, repeal of the crime of social dissolution, compensation to the families of the dead and wounded, as well as the delineation of responsibilities for acts of repression. However, the main point for the students was to demand that negotiations with the government take place within the framework of a “public dialogue.” The movement continued until December 6, 1968, when the CNH was dissolved, but its splendor occurred between August and September. It was in those months that the movement showed great strength, particularly in the impressive demonstrations that swept through the capital. But by September 18, the UNAM’s University City was militarily occupied, and on September 24, the army took Zacatenco and Santo Tomás, two educational precincts of the National Polytechnic Institute (IPN). On October 2, 1968, the students held a rally in the Plaza de las Tres Culturas in Tlatelolco. The government of Gustavo Díaz Ordaz implemented a massacre against them: hundreds of wounded, thousands of detainees, and around 40 dead were the results of the operation, whose main objectives were to scare the population with unleashed violence and to detain the members of the CNH. Ten days after October 2, President Díaz Ordaz inaugurated the XIX Olympics. However, state violence did not stop. At least until February 1969, the government sought out and arrested political and social activists linked to the mobilization. As a result, some 200 men and four women were kept in prison and sentenced to long sentences. With the new government of Luis Echeverría in 1970, the students were released. However, for a group of sixteen students and teachers, the only option for release was political exile.

Article

Mexico’s Political Laboratory: The Revolutionary and Postrevolutionary Southeast  

Sarah Osten

The history of the 20th century in the Southeast of Mexico is bookended by two revolutions: the Mexican Revolution as it played out in the region, along with its antecedents and aftermath, and a very different but related revolutionary movement that emerged in the state of Chiapas in the mid-1990s. The former has been little studied at the multistate regional level by historians but is critical for understanding the history of the states of the Southeast in the decades that followed. The latter has been intensively studied by scholars in numerous disciplines, but its long-term historical implications remain to be seen. Equally important but scarcely studied and relatively little known is the political history of the Southeast in between these periods of conflict and revolution. The Southeast is a region that is commonly regarded as distinct, and even marginal, within national histories of Mexico. In the 1980s, President Miguel de la Madrid suggested that the Mexican Revolution had never reached Chiapas. Yet decades earlier, President Lázaro Cárdenas (1934–1940) famously praised neighboring Tabasco as Mexico’s “laboratory of revolution.” Meanwhile, historian Ben Fallaw contends that Yucatán was one of the most important of Mexico’s political laboratories during the 1930s. Taken together, these seemingly conflicting assertions underscore that many of the things that made the Southeast unique within Mexico also made the region important and influential to the course of modern Mexican history. They also raise the question of the Southeast’s experience of the Revolution and the long-term legacies of the revolutionary political projects that unfolded there.

Article

Postrevolutionary Poster Art and Graphic Design in Cuba  

Claudio Sotolongo

The Cuban film posters produced by the Institute of Cinematic Art and Industry from 1964 to 1974 were the synthesis of an exploratory process that defined new subject matter established by the Revolution. This process created a canon that achieved its own visual language and was supported by specialized critics, followed a formal style, and adopted a variety of composition structures. Elements of that canon can be traced back from contemporary Cuban posters.

Article

Rock Nacional in Argentina during the Dictatorship  

Timothy Wilson and Mara Favoretto

In the 20th century Argentina experienced a series of dictatorial regimes of varying intensity, but the last dictatorship stands apart. The Process of National Reorganization or Proceso (1976–1983) was not only the most brutally repressive, “disappearing” 30,000 of its own citizens into concentration camps, but also the most ambitious in terms of ideological mission. Its campaign, officially called “the war against subversion,” was committed to the total eradication of leftist ideas from the political landscape of the country by any means necessary. This radical transformation was to be brought about not only in the torture chamber, but in the media as well. The regime planned an Orwellian redefinition of words: the systematic creation of a national vocabulary that would exclude certain ideas and parties. In order to achieve its overt project of the appropriation of language, the junta maintained obsessive control over the media, instituted strict censorship reinforced by terror, and bombarded the airwaves and newspapers with official communiqués. In the face of this repression, most journalists and writers and many artists could not express dissent of any kind. Yet singers of a new Argentine music genre that came to be known as rock nacional developed codified and oblique metaphorical expression in their lyrics that allowed them to evade censorship and to continue to criticize the military regime with relative impunity. Moreover, many Argentine youths found solace in the music and used it to create communities in which they could meet and express themselves. The regime had sought to deny young Argentines a forum for public speech; however, together artists and listeners created a rock nacional culture that provided community for the isolated and lent a voice to the silenced.