Anarchism in Mexico

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Anarchists in Mexico with a desecrated Mexican flag.

Anarchism in Mexico, the anarchist movement in Mexico, extends from Plotino Rhodakanaty's organization of peasant workers in the 1890s, to Ricardo Flores Magón's activism prior to the Mexican Revolution, to the punk subcultures of the 1990s.[1]

Origins and early movement[edit]

The Mexican anarchist movement originated in the mid-19th century, a product of both Mexico's unique historical development and European influences.[2] Utopian ideas and movements went back further. Vasco de Quiroga attempted in the 1530s to create Thomas More's Utopia in two communities, while the priest and senator José María Alpudre tried to start another socialist community of Freemasons in 1825. In 1828, the English socialist Robert Owen requested permission from the Mexican government to start a utopian colony in Texas. Melchor Ocampo, a Mexican radical, while in exile in New Orleans read Charles Fourier and Pierre-Joseph Proudhon and translated a chapter of the latter's Philosophy of Poverty.[3]

The Greek-born philosopher Plotino Rhodakanaty, like the famed anarchist Mikhail Bakunin of aristocratic descent, arrived in Mexico in February 1861 and was the first advocate for anarchist ideas in the country. He had participated in the failed Hungarian Revolution of 1848 and then in Berlin come into contact with Hegel, Fourier, and Proudhon's ideas. Upon arriving in Mexico, he concluded that traditional Mexican peasant villages were already implementing Fourier and Proudhon's ideals. These communities, however, were under threat from hacendados and the government and Rhodakanaty sought to organize them and build a network of socialist agrarian colonies.[4] He wrote the pamphlet Cartilla Socialista, the first socialist publication in Mexico, to gain supporters in this struggle. It argued that humankind was essentially good, but was corrupted by private property, social inequality, and exploitation. He failed to gain adherents for his agrarian colonies.[5] He took on a teaching post and started the Group of Socialist Students (Grupo de Estudiantes Socialistas), which followed Bakunin's teachings. It included Francisco Zalasota and Santiago Villanueva who would be leaders in agrarian and urban labor struggles, respectively.[6] After the 1871 Paris Commune, Rhodakanaty's group turned its focus to urban workers and founding a proletarian anarchist movement. While Rhodakanaty's moral outreach did not reach beyond young artisans and peasants, he inspired Julio López Chávez to lead a peasant rebellion in the late 1860s.[7]

In the mid-19th century, workers' organizations confronted inadequate working conditions. Mutualist groups offered members compensation for unemployment, medical leave, and old age, and focused on providing equal social provisions to workers rather than critiquing capitalism. Separately, anarchist groups, who blamed capitalism and the state for workers' ills, encouraged worker protest, as influenced by the European anarchist movement. Anarchists organized the country's first industrial strikes. Mutualist groups were hesitant to strike, but eventually joined. The strikes, mostly for wages and working conditions, were primarily in textile and mining industries.[8]

Mexican Revolution[edit]

Ricardo Flores Magón was the preeminent figure in early 20th-century Mexican anarchism[9] and a progenitor of the 1910 Mexican Revolution.[10] He wrote the newspaper Regeneración with his brother Enrique.[11] Their movement of followers were known as the Magonistas.[12]

Anselmo L. Figueroa was a Mexican-American anarchist political figure, journalist and member of the Organizing Council of the Mexican Liberal Party (MLP). He was imprisoned in the United States between 1911 and 1914 due to violations of U.S. neutrality laws. He published Regeneración, the official newspaper of the MLP, before and after his imprisonment. At the time of the uprisings, Regeneración generated about US$1,000 per week in subscription fees. Even after covering its publication costs, several hundred dollars per week were made available for MLP revolutionary causes. Smaller sums of money were received from outside donors to the organization.[13] Regeneración was published until 1918. It was distributed in Mexican communities in the United States and used in literacy lessons there, as books were often scarce.[14]

Juana Belén Gutiérrez de Mendoza was an anarchist and feminist activist, typographer, journalist and poet born in San Juan del Río, Durango, Mexico. While many women contributed in the Mexican Revolution 1910-1920 by fighting alongside their husbands, others wrote against the injustices of the Díaz regime. In May 1901 she found an anti-Díaz newspaper called Vésper. She attacked the clergy in Guanajuato and wrote against foreign domination in Mexico. She also wrote against the Díaz regime and criticized Díaz for not carrying out the requests and needs of the people. As a result, her newspaper was confiscated and she was also put in jail several times by Díaz between 1904 and 1920. She established a new newspaper called El Desmonte (1900–1919) and continued her writings. She translated the works of Peter Kropotkin, Mikhail Bakunin, and Pierre Joseph Proudhon to Spanish.[15] She was also a Caxcan Indian from the state of Durango.[16]

The Mexican Anarchist Federation[edit]

The Mexican Anarchist Federation (sp: Federación Anarquista Mexicana) was a Mexican anarchist organization that existed from December 28, 1945, until the 1970s.[17] It appeared as the Anarchist Federation of the Center joined with the Anarchist Federation of the Federal District.[17] It published the periodical Regeneración.[17] It received the energy of recent Spanish anarchists who sought refuge in Mexico escaping from Francisco Franco's dictatorship.[17]

Shortly after its establishment it gained the attention of the Mexican police forces and the Mexican government after some Spanish exiled anarchists along with members of the Mexican Anarchist Federation were arrested after trying to rob a truck that carried large amounts of money from a beer industry.[17] Also linked to the Mexican Anarchist Federation was the Libertarian Youth (sp:Juventudes Libertarias)[17] and the publication Tierra y Libertad.[17]

Present day[edit]

Formed in 1997, the Popular Indigenous Council of Oaxaca "Ricardo Flores Magón" (CIPO-RFM) is a grassroots organization based on the philosophy of Ricardo Magón.[18]

Anarcopunk In Mexico[edit]

Anarco-punk is a subsect of the larger punk scene primarily associated with political activism and anarchist beliefs. Anarcopunk is a well-entrenched part of the punk scene, but their presence has been most heavily felt in Mexico City and Oaxaca in recent years. The political climate in these cities means that protests and political activism have been near-constant, and anarcho-punks have significantly participated in these movements. The most notable of these events was the Oaxaca protests of 2006.[19] During these protests, anarcho-punks made a name for themselves due to their willingness to engage directly with police forces, often becoming the targets of police brutality.[19] Despite their political activism supporting many marginalized groups, these punks still have a tenuous and occasionally contentious relationship with other activists.


Anarcho-punks are known for being the most politically active and motivated subsect of the punk scene, and these politics are a core part of their identity[1]. The specific politics of any self-identifying anarcho-punk are likely to vary, but they all share common traits. They are profoundly anti-authoritarian and anti-capitalist and view the Mexican government’s tactics of control to be particularly repressive. With these antiauthoritarian politics comes a belief in the concept of Autogestión or self-determination[1]. The political activism of the anarcho-punk movement has led them to be significant participants in several activism groups. These groups include Autonomy, Autogestión, Self-Determination Collective (AAA), and the Autonomous Block of Liberationist Resistance (BARL).[19]


Notable Bands[edit]

Desobediencia Civil

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Morse, Chuck (2009). "Anarchism, Mexico". In Ness, Immanuel (ed.). The International Encyclopedia of Revolution and Protest. Wiley-Blackwell. pp. 1–4. doi:10.1002/9781405198073.wbierp0064. ISBN 978-1-4051-9807-3.
  2. ^ Hart 1978, p. 3.
  3. ^ Cappelletti 2017, pp. 291–292.
  4. ^ Cappelletti 2017, pp. 280–284, Hart 1978, pp. 19–20.
  5. ^ Hart 1978, p. 20, Valadés 1970, p. 9.
  6. ^ Hart 1978, pp. 20–21.
  7. ^ Chacón, Justin Akers (2018). Radicals in the Barrio: Magonistas, Socialists, Wobblies, and Communists in the Mexican-American Working Class. Haymarket Books. p. 38. ISBN 978-1-60846-776-1.
  8. ^ Kirkwood, J. Burton (2009). The History of Mexico (2nd ed.). ABC-CLIO. p. 125. ISBN 978-0-313-36602-4.
  9. ^ Coerver, Don M.; Pasztor, Suzanne B.; Buffington, Robert (2004). "Anarchism". Mexico: An Encyclopedia of Contemporary Culture and History. ABC-CLIO. p. 14. ISBN 978-1-57607-132-8.
  10. ^ Anderson, Gary L.; Herr, Kathryn G. (2007). Encyclopedia of Activism and Social Justice. SAGE Publications. p. 655. ISBN 978-1-4522-6565-0.
  11. ^ Hart, John Mason (1997). Revolutionary Mexico: The Coming and Process of the Mexican Revolution, Tenth Anniversary Edition. University of California Press. p. 91. ISBN 978-0-520-21531-3.
  12. ^ John, Rachel St. (2011). Line in the Sand: A History of the Western U.S.-Mexico Border. Princeton University Press. p. 124. ISBN 978-1-4008-3863-9.
  13. ^ Crawford, Richard W., ed. (Winter 1999). "The Magonista Revolt in Baja California". Journal of San Diego History. 45 (1). Archived from the original on October 16, 2015. Retrieved June 22, 2013.
  14. ^ "A History of Mexican Americans in California: Historic Sites". Five Views: An Ethnic Historic Site Survey for California. National Park Service. Archived from the original on April 2, 2015. Retrieved June 22, 2013.
  15. ^ Lucas, Jeffrey Kent (2010). The Rightward Drift of Mexico's Former Revolutionaries: The Case of Antonio Díaz Soto y Gama. Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen Press. pp. 40–62. ISBN 978-0-7734-3665-7.
  16. ^ Pouwels, Joel Bollinger. Political Journalism by Mexican Women During the Age of Revolution 1876-1940. New York: Edwin Mellen Press, 2006]
  17. ^ a b c d e f g "Regeneración y la Federación Anarquista Mexicana (1952–1960)" by Ulises Ortega Aguilar Archived 2011-07-26 at the Wayback Machine
  18. ^ An Interview with Raúl Gatica Archived 2007-11-09 at the Wayback Machine, Z Magazine (December 2005)
  19. ^ a b c Magaña, Maurice Rafael (2020). Cartographies of youth resistance hip-hop, punk, and urban autonomy in Mexico. Oakland, California. ISBN 978-0-520-97558-3. OCLC 1158507213.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)


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