The Indestructible Bond of Blood: Foreign Perceptions, Caricatures, and Visual Culture in the Mexican Press, 1898-1921 By
Thesis Submitted to the Faculty of the Graduate School of Vanderbilt University in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of MASTER OF ARTS in History
August, 2015 Nashville, TN
Approved: Edward Wright-Rios, Ph.D. Paul A. Kramer, PhD.
Figure 1. El Hijo del Ahuizote, October 2, 1898
A depiction of Uncle Sam as a liberator of Spanish colonial subjects would have been a common sight in the United States media during the midst of the SpanishAmerican War. This anti-colonialist theme is evident in an 1898 full-page newspaper political caricature (Figure 1).1 The picture is set in the Filipino wilderness, with the United States Capitol just beyond the edge of the jungle. Uncle Sam, depicted as a gallant gentleman holding democratic messages and flanked by the Statue of Liberty, becomes a literally bigger than life figure to which miniscule Filipinos run for safety. The Filipinos are escaping two less dignified individuals on the edge of the caricature: a friar and a Spanish Prime Minister wearing a matador outfit. The backwardness of the Spaniards visà-vis Uncle Sam is emphasized not only by the folkloric garments worn by the Europeans, but also by the “despotic” whip and “inquisitorial” chains that they hold in their hands. Given the spatial relationships in this caricature we can deduce two things. 1
El Hijo del Ahuizote, Mexico City, no 649, Oct 2nd 1898, 632
First, the frantic exodus of Filipinos away from the Spanish characters towards Uncle Sam suggests that they are running away from colonial backwardness towards modernization. A second assumption is that Uncle Sam likely crossed the dangerous and savage jungle separating civilized Washington D.C. from the Philippines, literally becoming the virtuous messenger of democracy. One thing is certain: the caricature celebrated a facet of American exceptionalism, America’s innately democratic nature. The real remarkable feature about this caricature lay in its origins. It was published in liberal satirical newspaper El Hijo del Ahuizote on October 2nd 1898 under the headline “Mejor Yankees!”2 Mexican cartoonists produced it in Mexico City for a domestic audience. Contrary to any suspicions of cultural imperialism, the caricature was not a verbatim ideological import from the United States. Instead, the cartoon was representative of a Republican Inter-American sentiment held by Mexican liberals. The Mexican origins of the composition are evident through the use of Spanish, an intense anti-clerical tone often associated with Mexican liberalism, and the presence of a “Phrygian cap” that Latin American liberals appropriated from the French Revolution.3 4 The existence of this caricature and other similar ones found in Mexico City’s liberal
Meaning “Better [to have] Yankees [than Spaniards]!” The symbolism of the “liberty cap” apparently dates from at least Roman times. Although American Revolutionaries made use of the symbol, the cap was eventually displaced from the official symbolic arsenal of the American republic before the end of the 18th century. The “Phrygian cap” version of the cap became “the quintessential French liberty cap,” which is the version used by Latin American liberals. See Yvonne Korshak, “The Liberty Cap as a Revolutionary Symbol in America and France,” Smithsonian Studies in American Art 1.2 (1987): 53, 61, 64. 4 The issue of Mexican liberal anti-clericalism has been covered for different periods of the 19th century. Pamela Voekel has argues that early Mexican liberals were driven by a reformed piety, which encouraged them to limit the power of institutional Catholicism. David Brading has recognized the detestation of the Catholic Church as “the tap-root of [liberal] radicalism in Mexico” for the period of the Reforma. See David Brading, “Liberal Patriotism and the Mexican Reforma,” Journal of Latin American Studies 20.1 (1988): 30-1 and Pamela Voekel, Alone Before God: The Religious Origins of Modernity in Mexico (Durham: Duke University Press, 2002),222-3. 3
newspapers problematizes the understanding of an anti-Americanism often assumed to have permeated post-1848 Mexico Inspired by John J. Johnson’s Latin America in Caricature, this paper will draw from Mexican newspapers and other periodicals to examine the discursive changes in the depictions and valorization of foreigners in Mexico between 1898 and 1921. These changes transformed how the media depicted the United States and Spain, the two foreign nation-states most often present in Mexican history, and gradually paved the way for the nationalist cultural project of the 1920s and the “anti-Yankee” sentiment often associated with Mexico. This paper contends that the anti-Americanism present in revolutionary Mexico was not solely the result of the geopolitical events associated with the Mexican Revolution. It was the result of a discursive change caused by the decline of a version of orthodox Mexican liberalism with Inter-American tendencies and a re-appreciation of racial dynamics. A discursive re-appreciation of different foreign groups predated the political incidents that pitted Mexicans against agents of the United States. Secondarily, this paper will also address the role of political caricatures in the depiction of the discourse expressed by Mexican newspapers in the late Porfiriato and the Revolutionary years. The audience receptiveness to the messages of these newspapers is harder to gauge. As it will become clearer, exact messages regarding specific foreign communities were often contested among different political ideologies. This would have been unlikely to produce monolithic national positions of foreign groups. However, the increasingly uniform messages regarding Americans seen in the media were likely to have had an effect on the average newspaper reader.
In order to assess the different discourses of the time period, more than 25 newspaper titles were studied. These titles included papers associated with Mexican liberalism, “official” newspapers, the Catholic press, and journals intended for Mexico City’s embryonic urban working class. These serve as a small sample of a surprisingly sturdy print culture that flourished in the capital city of a country with staggeringly low literacy rates. As in the bulk of many cultural studies on Mexico, this paper will be heavily Mexico City-centric, if only by the sources that were available. A caveat of using many of the capital’s major newspapers is that these were distributed extensively outside the Federal District.
Affiliating Pro-Americanism with Liberalism (1895-1900) Considering the Spanish-American War’s seminal role in the construction of what some historians have considered an American empire, it is unsurprising that it had such a profound impact on Mexican conceptions of foreign communities.5 The dynamics of this process of re-configuration of views of the foreign, however, were not as clear-cut as it may otherwise be assumed. In a military struggle between a rising power and a declining colonial monarchy, victory in the battlefield was not the main factor driving Mexican reevaluations of Americans or Spaniards. Instead, the association of specific ideologies to pro-American and philo-Hispanic positions affected the subsequent fortune of discourses regarding the United States and Spain. Newspapers, at the time closely associated to different political factions, serve as a useful entryway to the ideological discursive battleground that existed during the war. 5
For a recent argument in favor of using “empire” as a metric to analyze post 1898-United States see, Paul Kramer, “Power and Connection: Imperial Histories of the United States in the World,” American Historical Review 116.5 (2011)
The Mexican press of the last decade of the 19th century had become increasingly defined in terms of its relationship with the government of Porfirio Diaz. A former liberal military hero in the war against the French, Díaz was president from 1877 to 1880 and again from 1884 to 1911. Studies about the press in the 1870s suggest that Mexican newspapers suffered a transformation from being personal vehicles for different liberal warlords to instruments to attack or support Diaz’s progressively authoritarian government.6
Some of the most ardent media opponents to Díaz were part of the
oppositional liberal press. Newspapers like El Diario del Hogar, El Monitor Repúblicano, and El Hijo del Ahuizote abandoned Diaz’s ranks after his reelection in 1885. For these papers, Diaz’s rule had become a betrayal to the liberal values of legendary President Benito Juarez.7 Another feature of the Mexican media of the time was a significant presence of émigré newspapers from the American, French, and Spanish communities. While it is true that the anti/pro Díaz dichotomy defined much of the impetus behind the editorial stances of late 19th century newspapers, these newspapers had important ideological stances that went beyond their feelings regarding the state. The ideological implications of the Spanish-American War would lead to editorial stances that belied the usual pro/anti Díaz dichotomy. One thing to consider is that the Spanish-American War did not necessarily change the natural sympathies of liberals or conservatives towards specific foreign states. The propensity of a political faction to support the United States or Spain was largely
Fausta Gantús, Caricatura y Poder Politico: Crítica, Censura y Represión en la Ciudad de México, 1876-1888 (Mexico City: El Colegio de México, 2009) 15,54. 7 Armando Bartra, ”El Periodismo Gráfico en las Dos Primeras Décadas del Siglo: de la Subversión a la Restauración con Intermedio Escapista,” in Las Publicaciones Periódicas y la Historia de México (Ciclo de Conferencias), ed. Aurora Cano Andaluz (Mexico City: Universidad Autónoma de México, 1995), 90.
based on how that faction felt regarding the appropriateness of Cuban independence and the role of Spaniards in Mexico. Historiography on 19th century Mexican politics has traditionally placed Conservatives as a philosophy complementary to Hispanist ideas.8 For example, the aftermath of the disastrous Mexican-American War provided an impetus for Conservative leaders like Lucas Alaman to wage a campaign against the liberal dominated historiography of the time. Alaman’s historical writing aimed to rediscover the Spanish heritage of independent Mexico.9 Liberals, however, had an aversion to many of the legacies of the Spanish period. Ignacio Ramirez, a noted Liberal, once dismissed colonial society as being a lazy and stupid one in which “the biggest achievement had been the production of friars and nuns.”10 This liberal distaste for the Spanish colonial legacy materialized into concrete policy. Not long after Alaman started writing about the glory of the Spanish colonial past, liberal puros escalated their efforts to dismantle the centuries old ecclesiastical control over the credit system and its presence in the mortgage market.11 Views on the United States, on the other hand, were more fluid. Conservatives emphasized the innate differences between the United States and Mexico. In fact, the Conservative media blamed the “disorganizing” American ideology for the defeat of 1847.12 Liberal attitudes towards the northern neighbor were somewhat more volatile than most superficial readings of Mexican liberalism often suggest. While moderate 8
Aimer Granados, Debates Sobre España: El Hispanoamericanismo en México a Fines del Siglo XIX (Mexico City: El Colegio de México, 2005),127 9 Charles Hale, “The War with the United States and the Crisis in Mexican thought,” The Americas 14.2 (1957): 165 10 Tomás Pérez Vejo, España en el Debate Público Mexicano, 1836-1867: Aportaciones Para una Historia de la Nación (Mexico City: El Colegio de México, 2008), 67 11 Margaret Chowning, Wealth and Power in Provincial Mexico: Michoacán from the Late Colony to the Revolution (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1999), 207, 235 12 Charles Hale, “The War with the United States and the Crisis in Mexican thought”, The Americas 14.2 (1957): 166
liberals found the terms of surrender to the United States palatable, the liberal puros were decisively on the side of a continued struggle.13 The rise of a notion of an exceptional “American Repúblicanism,” which placed Latin American republics as the ideal modern models to follow over monarchical Europe or the racist United States, further problematizes our usual understanding of Mexican liberalism as an ideology that sought to turn Mexico into a version of the United States.14 Yet, the liberal regenerators of the end at the 19th century saw it fit to discard any pretensions of a domestic modernizing path, announced the country’s openness to American and European investment, and finally accepted that Mexico needed “to reflect the large image reflected by Western modernity.”15 By 1898, it is safe to say that among liberals the United States had become a positive model of modernization to emulate.
Figure 2. El Hijo del Ahuizote, Jan 2, 1898
Ibid., 1957, 153, 160 James E. Sanders, “The Vanguard of the Atlantic World: Contesting Modernity in NineteenthCentury Latin America,” Latin American Research Review 46:2 (2011) :112, 113, 117 15 Ibid., 122 and Mauricio Tenorio-Trillo, Mexico at the World Fairs: Crafting a Modern Nation (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996), 248. 14
Ideological positions regarding the war had developed even before the United States intervened in what at the time was a Cuban war for independence. Opposition liberal newspapers such as El Hijo del Ahuizote, El Diario del Hogar, El Continente Americano, and El Correo de Mexico were supporters of the Cuban insurgents. The liberal emulation of the American Republican model is one of the explanations for the liberal newspaper’s support for Cuban independence early on. Dalia Muhler’s excellent work on the Mexican transnational connections to the Cuban independence struggle suggests that Mexican liberal purists, who had become increasingly disappointed with the entrenched nature of Porfirio Diaz’s regime, became consumers and supporters of staunchly pro-Cuban independence subscription journals as early as 1895.16 Conversely, Spaniards became an enemy associated with retrograde institutions. An underlying antigachupín (Spanish) current, largely bolstered by the acrimonious labor relations between Spanish property owners and Mexican workers, created an environment in which a liberal support for the Cuban insurgents would have had a receptive domestic audience.17 Muller’s depiction of the acrimonious debate regarding the war became an allegory for a political debate regarding Mexico’s future. As a matter of fact, “the Cuban movement gave puros, like the student journalists and many Mexicans who supported them, the opportunity to ally themselves to a cause that they believed mirrored their own.” Liberals believed that they were fighting forces that were leading Mexico away from democracy, towards dictatorship.18 By the time the United States finally declared
Dalia A. Muller, Cuban Emigres, Mexican Politics, and the Cuban Question, 1895-1899 (PhD diss., University of California, Berkeley, 2008),125, 17 For an article regarding the labor conditions between Spanish owners and Mexican workers see, Leticia Gamboa’s “De Indios y Gachupínes. Las Fobias en las Fabricas Textiles de Puebla,” Tiempos de America 3-4 (1999) 18 Dalia Muller, Cuban Emigres, Mexican Politics, and the Cuban Question, 154.
war on Spain, liberal dailies like El Correo de Mexico were articulating the view that the Cuban struggle transcended temporal and spatial considerations. For the editors, denying the Cuban desire for freedom was paramount to “negat[ing] our own glorious past.”19 The name of El Correo de Mexico actually placed in opposition to the Correo Español read by Spanish immigrants. When Muller refers to the enemies supporting the dictatorial inclinations of the Mexican regime, these include the Spanish émigrés that were engaging in physical confrontations with Mexican liberals. The war in Cuba, then, had more symbolism than that of a colonial struggle. It had become a wider philosophical conflict between the ideals of liberalism and those supported by their political opponents. The liberal’s purported opponents, those expected to read the “official” and Spanish émigré presses, were also likely to have a preconceived idea of the Cuban War of Independence even before the USS Maine exploded in Havana’s harbor. El Hijo del Ahuizote made no secret of its contempt for a mainstream press that it accused of being intensely pro-gachupín to the point of ignoring Spanish transgressions in Mexico while reminding Mexicans about the conflicted history with the United States.20 The liberal commentator on El Hijo del Ahuizote was correct in seeing a pervasive pro-Spanish feeling penetrating beyond the usual prensa gachupína since the pro-Spanish position also extended to some newspapers somewhat mildly critical of the Díaz government. El Popular, which had previously lampooned the longevity of the Díaz administration, reprinted a January 6th 1897 article from a Tamaulipas newspaper stating that “Spain not only has the right to our consideration, but it also has our fraternal appreciation.”21 The visual culture produced by El Hijo del Ahuizote and other liberal newspapers serves as 19 20 21
El Correo de México, Mexico City, April 26, 1898, 1 El Hijo del Ahuizote, Mexico City, no. 625, 17 April,1898, 250, 266 El Popular, Mexico City,1 Jan, 1897,1, and 7 Jan, 1897, 2.
evidence to the contrast that existed between liberals and other groups regarding their views on Spain. A January 1898 image from El Hijo del Ahuizote portrays the typical liberal criticism towards Spanish interests (Figure 2).22 The image depicts a bloated Spaniard wearing a matador outfit and a hat representing Clericalism. The religious nature of the gachupín is enhanced by the fact that he is holding a rosary. His arrogant nature, on the other hand, is indicated by his posture in the depiction. The man takes a relaxing pose as he has his feet on a “Mexican carpet,” suggesting that Mexico has been stepped on by Spaniards on a regular basis. The extent of the monopolistic Spanish interests is visually represented as currency bags from the industries that kept the Spaniard sitting upright: grocery stores, government contracts, currency speculation, and smaller retail operations. The fact that the Spaniard is sitting down and holding the rosary echoes Ignacio Ramirez’s criticism of the Spanish influenced colonial society as being lazy and deceived by Catholicism. A particularly interesting feature of this caricature is an element of class criticism in the work. Class criticism in itself was not foreign to Mexican liberals. After all, Mexican liberals found their strongest political base in middle class Mexicans who decried the existence of a glass ceiling in Mexican society.23 However, the class criticism of the image is unusual because it depicts an impoverished unemployed Mexican worker, driven to economic failure because of Spanish monopolies, who does not fit the “typical” depiction of the poor in Mexico. Instead of looking like a “Mexican type” or a person of indigenous descent, the unemployed man looks like a non-descript Caucasian. This might have been a strategy to further demonize the role of Spanish commercial interests.
El Hijo del Ahuizote, Mexico City, no. 610, Jan 2, 1898, 7. Margaret Chowning, Wealth and Power in Provincial Mexico, 334
Liberals may have expected Mexico’s indigenous population to be poor given that they considered them to be barbaric, but to see a Mestizo or Criollo driven to poverty because of the Spanish economic “octopus” was inexcusable.24 It would have emphasized the detrimental nature of Spaniards in Mexican society.
Figure 3. El Correo de México, May 1, 1898
The entrance of the United States into the war only encouraged liberals to further increase their support for the Cuban struggle through a discourse of freedom. The use of Uncle Sam as a warrior or a gentleman leading Cuba to the Republican ideal became widespread in opposition liberal newspapers. El Correo de Mexico published a May 1st 1898 caricature, crowned by the title “The End of the War in Cuba,” that is typical of this strategy (Figure 3).25 Although the caricature was published the same day as Commodore Dewey’s victory over the Spanish Pacific fleet in the Battle of Manila Bay, the caricature 24
The disregard for Mexico’s indigenous population by 19th century Mexican nationalists was palpable to the point that indigenous people were seen as part of a past “destined for extinction.” See Rick A. López, Crafting Mexico: Intellectuals, Artisans, and the State after the Revolution (Durham: Duke University Press, 2010), 4. 25 El Correo de México, Mexico City, May 1 ,1898, 4.
did not make any reference to this secondary field of operations during the war. It is likely that El Correo de Mexico did not find out about Dewey’s victory until after the publication of the May 1st edition. Instead, the prophetic tone of an American victory over Spain was based on a belief of the innate superiority of the Republican alternative that the United States offered to Cuba. This is seen when the United States holds a “Cuba Libre” in his hand while the old Africanized “Slave Cuba” alternative remains adrift in agony. The theme is similar to contemporary caricatures seen in the United States, but the “Mexican” flavor is evident with the significant emphasis given to the evil Papist role in Cuba’s problems.26 A sinister Pope is depicted as a reminder of the dangers of clericalism and the usefulness of a strong Uncle Sam to protect Cuba from the Papist danger.
Figure 4. El Hijo del Ahuizote, May 8, 1898
Caricatures also emphasized the significance of the Spanish-American War in the success of the Spanish or the American model of influence. El Hijo del Ahuizote
For a collection of Africanized representations of Cuba, see John Johnson, Latin America in Caricature (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1980)
published a caricature depicting a fairy deciding between an American shoe and a Spanish alpargata (Figure 4).27 A basic reading of the caricature would suggest that one shoe was to drop. One of the two countries was to be successful and make its weight felt around the Western Hemisphere. The depiction of the shoes, however, suggests that the war may decide more than just military and imperial supremacy. It may also lead to the triumph of a cultural tradition over another. By depicting each country through a type of shoe representative to their culture, the military struggle acquires a “war of cultures” tone. The Spanish alpargata, a cheap shoe associated with Spanish immigrants and workers, had to face the more “civilized” standard American shoe.28 The headline of the caricature, “O Patones o Patanes,” literally implies that the decision is between the Americans with the big feet and the Spanish bumpkins. This suggests Mexicans have an option on selecting their allegiances. However, they have to take into consideration that the alpargata wearing bumpkins are likely to lose a struggle with ideological implications. The military victory of the United States, however, never actually translated into a victory of the pro-American discourse utilized by the Mexican orthodox liberal press. While Americans triumphed in a war purportedly standing for larger political conflicts, Mexican liberals failed to achieve victory over their political rivals or the increasingly dictatorial Díaz administration. The government intensified its censorship campaigns and those liberal newspapers that were not co-opted soon paid the price for their opposition to the policies of the regime. Studies on regional newspapers are especially indicative of the 27
El Hijo del Ahuizote, Mexico City, May 8, 1898, no 628, 293. Alpargatas were cheap shoes made from cloth, often associated with Spanish immigrants. In the Argentine context, these shoes became associated with the Peronist working class. See Daniel James, “October 17th and 18th, 1945: Mass Protest, Peronism, and the Argentine Working Class,” Journal of Social Science 21.3 (1988)
transformations suffered by the oppositional liberal press after 1898. El Padre Clarencio started circulation in Merida on August 1903. This liberal weekly paper reprinted caricatures from El Hijo del Ahuizote, presented a very anti-clerical editorial stance, and formed a readership that saw anti-clericalism as the core value behind liberalism. El Padre Clarencio also became of the vehicles by which the Partido Liberal Mexicano, the party that gradually replaced its liberal ideas for anarchist ones, introduced its ideas to Yucatan.29 The newspaper’s activity suffered as consequence of the constant incarceration of its founder. Eventually, El Padre Clarencio changed its location to Campeche, stopped claiming to be a liberal newspaper, and instead classified itself as antireeleccionista in 1909.30 The case study of El Padre Clarencio exposes the level of censorship suffered by opposition newspapers, even those in the periphery of the country. Moreover, the ideological shift of the newspaper and its brief association with the Partido Liberal Mexico demonstrate the fluid nature of liberalism. Some liberals changed their ideas over time. The definition of liberalism was not static. In fact, liberalism would become harder to classify as time went on. Regardless of the ambiguous definition of liberalism, the elimination of purportedly oppositional liberal newspapers would shock the upcoming discursive battles regarding different foreign groups. Both El Hijo del Ahuizote and El Correo de Mexico had declared certain hesitance to the direction in which American foreign policy was heading. As a matter of fact, El Correo de Mexico bemoaned that the necessary war
Felipe Escalante Tió, “Los Evangelios Apócrifos de El Padre Clarencio,” in Rompecabezas de Papel. La Prensa y el Periodismo desde las Regiones de México. Siglos XIX y XX, ed. Celia del Palacio Montiel (Guadalajara: Universidad Autonoma de Guadalajara, 2006), 219, 222 30 Ibid., 227
against Spain had the potential to deform the positive qualities of the United States.31 Nevertheless, the elimination of the segment of the press most likely to advocate for a relatively positive portrayal of the United States would have consequences in the coming years, as the surviving newspapers advanced an anti-American discourse in the years prior to the Mexican Revolution of 1910. Hispanophiles, on the other hand, mobilized their forces after the end of the war. In 1900 a Hispanoamerican Congress was held in Spain to revive “the spiritual inclinations of affection with the Hispanic-American countries.”32 Recognizing the ideological implications of the war with the United States, Spaniards and receptive Latin American envoys met to discuss further integration to defeat the “yanquismo” that they saw embedded into the Pan-Americanist rhetoric emanating out of Washington. This fight for the hearts and minds of the population also led to the creation of new Hispanophilic newspapers. In January 1st 1899, El País started its long run. Sharing the Hispanist tendencies of the older El Correo Español, El País would soon become the main newspaper associated with Mexico’s Catholic movement. The paper’s antiAmerican editorial stance was evident from the first edition, when it bemoaned about a poor nation “that has to assimilate a culture for which is not prepared ethnologically nor based on traditions,” suggesting the dangers of “modernizing” Americanization.33 Cientificos, the technocrat positivists associated with the regime, would eventually follow this line of thinking.34 A year later the cultural and ethnological arguments in favor of
El Correo de México, Mexico City, July 9, 1898, 1 Aimer Granados, Debates Sobre España, 192-193, 198, 203 33 El País, Mexico City, Jan 1, 1899, 1. 34 Mauricio Tenorio-Trillo, “1910 Mexico City: Space and Nation in the City of the Centenario,” in Viva Mexico! Viva la Independencia! Celebrations of September 16, ed. William Beezley and David Lorey (Wilmington, DE: SRS Books, 2001), 188 32
Hispanism put forward by El País were featured at the Hispanoamerican Congress in one phrase: “The blood that unites us.”35 The demise of the Mexican opposition liberal press invites analysis of the effectiveness of the political caricatures they used to communicate their positions. Unlike the Liberals, the rest of the press was at the time much less likely to rely on caricatures to express their editorial stance regarding foreign affairs. Therefore, a judgment of the penetration of political caricatures relies principally on the success of Liberal caricatures in propagating their position on the Spanish-American War. Fausta Gantús, who studied the origins of the Mexican political caricature, argues that political caricatures are not the mass visual resource that can reach illiterate segments of the population. To the contrary, caricatures “contain a particular language, whose deciphering requires the receptor to have a determined cultural capital to obtain a total comprehension of the message.”36 Yet, Gantus also noticed Porfirio Diaz’s belief that these images could impact the illiterate masses, which may have an additional incentive to shut down the visually oriented liberal press.37 Furthermore, Dahlia Muller’s study suggests that liberals actually placed large newspaper images of Cuban revolutionaries in plazas to educate the masses. The fact that Spaniards vandalized these images implies the perceived potential that the caricatures could have.38 Gantús is correct, however, when we consider that these liberal papers were subscription papers, which limited their projection to a general audience. In essence,
Aimer Granados, Debates Sobre España , 202. The original Spanish phrase is “la sangre que nos une,” which sometimes was modified to literally “the bonds of blood” (‘los vinculos de la sangre’). Also see El Pais, MexicoCity, Sept 17,1910, 1. 36 Fausta Gantús, Caricatura y Poder Politico, 17 37 Ibid., 25-26. 38 Dalia Muller, Cuban Emigres, Mexican Politics, and the Cuban Question, 139, 140.
liberal political caricatures were proselytizing tools for a captive literate audience that already shared an affinity to the ideological inclinations of the editors.
The Road to Nationalism: Foreign Commercial Appreciation and Hispanism in a Time of Growing Anti-Americanism (1900-1910) The years preceding the Mexican Revolution of 1910 were characterized by an increasingly conflictive media appreciation of the United States and Spain. Although the press began to specifically criticize the United States as a political actor, the American economic model and products continued to be given special qualitative considerations. Spain had been previously judged through the behavior and attitudes of its émigré community in Mexico. However, the growing international trends catalyzed by the PanHispanic objectives of the 1900 Hispanoamerican Congress led the country to be increasingly appreciated in terms of its legacy and cultural contributions to the contemporary Mexican nation. As a matter of fact, this positive re-appreciation of Mexico’s Spanish elements also encouraged deeper re-evaluations of the value of Mexicanness. Despite the censorship wave that affected the oppositional liberal press, the Mexican media of the first decade of the 20th century had some degree of ideological diversity. The conservative press, mostly associated with El País and El Correo Español, continued their publication and criticized members of the government at times. An “official” press controlled by Diaz’s allies was far less critical of the government. Their political leaders, however, used these pro-Díaz newspapers to discredit or criticize rival members within Diaz’s political system. With the end of El Hijo del Ahuizote, other
journals attempted to fill the satirical niche that it had occupied. Newspapers targeting Mexico’s City nascent working classes actively sought to satisfy the demand for satirical political criticism. Echoing Diaz’s distrust of the political caricature medium, satirical newspapers with images had relatively short survival rates because of official censorship. An element common among all the different type of periodicals of this period is an interest in foreign products and consumption habits. This was often evident in the different type of advertisements that were present in most newspapers. National qualifiers such as “American” or “French” enhanced the perceived quality of a given advertised product. This advertising strategy started before the war. An October 1897 advertisement for “an American dentist” in El Popular is a case in point.39 The way in which the announcement is phrased suggests the fact that the dentist was American was his strongest asset. This “Americanness” denoted a level of quality that distinguished him professionally from his Mexican counterparts. Ironically, the automatic assumption that Americans were better than their Mexican equivalents hid any questioning of how this American dentist was reduced to exercise his career in a country that the average contemporary American would consider backward. The penetration of this commercial preference for foreign products was in part explained by the advertisements present in Mexico’s émigré press. El Correo Español, for example, constantly advertised products and services offered by Spain’s expatriates. These advertisements probably encouraged the creation of a clientele based on common national origin links. However, the size and relative cohesiveness of the émigré community may have facilitated the level of quality associated with non-Mexican products. The expatriate communities had few media outlets. This meant that the a small 39
El Popular, Mexico City, Oct 22, 1897, 1
amount of émigré business advertised in the few newspapers geared specifically at the expatriates received the full potential of these newspaper’s advertising powers, which facilitated these business’s control over a sizeable consumer market. Longevity in business can ensure the aura of quality. In this case Spanish businesses would seem as having great quality because of its commercial success, a perception that overlooked the advantages provided by their exclusive access to the expatriate media. Yet, the advertisements of this period also suggest an incipient recognition for the value of being Mexican. Advertisements promoting a company’s Mexicanness became visible in this period. The companies that engaged in promoting their Mexicanness, however, were generally associated with products needed by the working or “popular” classes. La Compañia Tabacalera de México engaged in this type of strategy to reach broadest market.40 The company’s strategy to appeal to the masses is demonstrated by its generalized used of images in their advertisements, which resonated with the assumption that the less literate sectors of society were likely to be attracted or informed by images. A second example, an advertisement for “El Mexicano” mills for corn dough, was a product intended for people of a less “cultured” background who consumed corn tortillas or to entrepreneurial individuals who may consider starting a business selling tortillas to the public (Figure 5).41 The “Mexicanness” of the product was adequate because of the traditional association of tortillas with what is considered part of “the authentic” Mexico. Furthermore, if a moneyed household head bought a molino for his employees to make tortillas in the house, an unlikely event given the preference for hand-made tortillas over milled ones whenever possible, this would have only reinforced the mill’s Mexican
La República, Mexico City, March 11, 1906, 4 El País, Mexico City, December 30, 1901, 5
nature. After all, the very Mexican employees (vis-à-vis the likely whiter employer) would have to use the machine.
Figure 5. El País, Dec 30, 1901
The association of “Mexicanness” with what is considered poor or indigenous is also present in the depiction of presentable society in the press. La República, a newspaper supportive of Porfirio Diaz’s ally Bernardo Reyes, reported about the President’s visit to Merida, Yucatan.42 Yucatan is commonly known for its strong Maya heritage and population. The newspaper, however, minimized the Maya nature of the state as much as possible. The front page of the paper mentioned Diaz’s meeting with the Yucatecan elite and political officials. Yet, the picture accompanying the article was that of northern Mexican women wearing white dresses and fanning themselves with Chinesque fans. The Yucatecan elite considered being “descended from the Spanish conquistadors of the 16th century,” but the common assumption has been that northerners were whiter and more productive than Yucatecans.43 A picture of genteel ladies from
La República, Mexico City, February 18, 1906, 1 Felipe Escalante Tió, “Los Evangelios Apócrifos de El Padre Clarencio,” 214.
Monterrey, therefore, was preferable to one of the elite in Merida. That same run presented the great progress achieved in Yucatan. New buildings were built to provide public services (Figure 6). The pictures of the buildings suggest the European inspired development project of the regime. The newspaper’s decision to bombard the reader with as many images of these buildings as possible suggests the approval of the editor to this vision of progress. This echoes Mauricio Tenorio’s argument regarding the Mexican elite’s decision to eschew a native development project in favor of a Western one in the period before the advent of the Mexican Revolution.44
Figure 6. La República, Feb 18, 1906
Some Mexicans did oppose the preference for foreign visions of consumption or development. El Partido Republicano, for example, criticized the German inspired uniforms used by the Mexican Presidential Guard.45 Arguing in favor of more traditional military garments and horse mounting accessories, the newspaper claimed that “the
See note 15. El Partido Repúblicano, Mexico City, November 9, 1908,1.
Prussian helmets may look good on the blonde heads of white Europeans, but we will never see it with good eyes when these are on the black heads of our bronze Amerindian types.” Ironically, Porfirio Díaz first made his name in the 1862 Battle of Puebla in which a Mexican army defeated the French with the support of indigenous irregulars. The government’s advancement of the German uniform over the Mexican charro one, then, could be construed as being a betrayal or ignorance to the origins of Díaz and Mexico. The paper’s criticism to the generalized belief of the applicability of European ideas in Mexico is best summed up when it called for all Mexicans to be aware that they were not born in Old Europe, but in the middle of Mexico. This line of criticism reflected José Martí, who considered the reliance on foreign ideologies and models to be one of the greatest problems afflicting Latin America.46 Even La República, with its interest on the neo-classical buildings built in the country and the latest trends from outside the country, engaged in promoting the positive attributes of Mexico. The newspaper regularly informed readers about different landmarks and great cities in the world. However, it also started presenting cultural tours of Mexico’s colonial cities. The Spanish influence of these locations was highlighted. In fact, Cuernavaca’s cultural guide was dominated by a description of Cortes’ Palace.47 This attention to the great Spanish contributions was facilitated by the greater rhetorical strength gained by the Hispanist movement during the period. Although the bulk of the Mexican press supported Spain during the Spanish-American War, the Díaz regime’s depictions of Mexico did not always represent the country’s Spanish heritage. Porfirian Mexican pavilions at the World Fairs highlighted an imaginary Aztec past mixed with the
José Martí, “Nuestra América,” El Partido Liberal, Mexico City, January 30, 1901 La República, Mexico City, Feb 25, 1909, 2.
latest French architectural features.48 Spain was not the ideal cultural model to display or feature according to the government. For a practically officialist newspaper like La República to start endorsing the value of Spanish background, in spite of Spain’s humiliating defeat in 1898, suggests that a segment of the population had affinities towards the Hispanist project launched initially out of Madrid. A more remarkable fact was that some of the criticisms of this reliance on nonMexican models and ideas also went as far to endorse the superiority of the domestic alternatives. The image accompanying El Partido Republicano’s article on military uniforms implies a superiority of the charro over the German soldier when it comes to horse riding. The German soldier is depicted as being in the middle of riding a horse in movement. The charro, on the other hand, sits relaxed on his horse (Figure 7). The Mexican horse rider is at ease, controlling his horse, and has no need for the type of riding equipment that the aggressive looking German is using. This can be interpreted as being an endorsement of the idea that the humbler Mexican warrior cowboy has a natural aptitude riding, which the German can only achieve through artificial means. This reliance on equipment could also have a feminizing undertone. After all, a real man may be strong or skillful enough to accomplish riding a horse without help. While this feminizing strategy towards the non-Mexican is not present in the image per say, it is suggested in the article when the writer dismisses many European uniforms as being too feminine. Later, during the revolutionary period, the hyper-virile Mexican man would become one of the archetypes deployed by the Mexican state.49
Mauricio Tenorio-Trillo, Mexico at the World Fairs, 78, 83 The post-revolutionary state’s use of the Mexican macho in the mass media has been studied by Mexican cultural historians and anthropologists. Some relevant work include Anne Rubenstein, “Bodies, Cities, Cinema: Pedro Infante’s Death as Political Spectacle” in Fragments of a Golden Age: The Politics
Figure 7. El Partido Republicano, Nov 9, 1908
Despite the ascent of a domestic re-appreciation of Mexican characteristics, foreign ideology remained key to define domestic problems or solutions. La República, for example, used the Statue of Liberty in its masthead until 1909 (Figure 8).50 The use of the epitome of American symbolism is not necessarily a sign of the type of ideological associations that the old opposition liberal press had. The newspaper’s views on foreigners were defined more based on their cultural and economic sophistication than on the political systems that these nations actually represented. After all, the masthead also depicted trade, classical mausoleums, and snow-covered mountains more likely to be found in Europe than in Mexico. In other words, La República framed its name with the modern ideals and realities found outside Mexico. These ideals and realities were the goals that the newspaper wanted the country to achieve. This reflected the government’s modernization project that borrowed elements from different developed nations: French
of Culture in Mexico Since 1940, ed. Gilbert Joseph, Anne Rubenstein, and Eric Zolov (Durham: Duke University Press, 2001) and Olga Nájera-Ramírez, “Engendering Nationalism: Identity, Discourse, and the Mexican Charro,” Anthropology Quarterly 67.1 (1994) 50 The first edition without it on the records was La Républica, Mexico City, November 11, 1909, 1
architecture, German uniforms, and the American inspired constitutional trappings it inherited from the 1867 Constitution. The key, however, is that foreign symbols still were seen as vital to define what Mexico sought to aspire to be.
Figure 8. La República
If the country’s success had to be qualified through foreign ideas and realities, then some of its problems were also defined according to the same dynamic. Foreign ideals could be used to explain some of the problems afflicting Mexico. The Yaqui revolt of the late 19th and early 20th centuries saw the rise of a previously pacified population that had engaged in agriculture and served as the workforce for the Sonoran landowners. Considered a model indigenous group in Mexico, the Yaqui revolted in the 1880s when the federal government expropriated the Yaqui lands “to advance modern agriculture in Mexico.”51 Although the Yaqui were displaced to make space for agribusiness, including foreign companies, newspapers did not necessarily blame the economic impact of these companies for the dislocation and revolt of the natives. Instead, foreign ideologies were blamed. El País argued that the Yaqui was part of an American conspiracy. The journal suggested that the Yaquis were using American ideology and symbols in their fight 51
For more context on the economic basis of the conflict see Sterling Evans, Bound in Twine: The History and Ecology of the Henequen-Wheat Complex for Mexico and the American and Canadian Plains, 1880-1950 (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2007), 70. A military understanding of the tactics of the war can be appreciated in Paul J. Vanderwood, “Response to Revolt: The Counter-Guerrilla Strategy of Porfirio Díaz,” HAHR 56.4 (1976)
against the Mexican state.52 El País’ editorial stance on this issue is telling of how an anti-American discourse began to permeate freely into the press even in moments when the United States was not actually involved in a given geopolitical incident.
Figure 9. La Araña, Sep 8, 1904
Anti-Americanism was not limited to conservative stalwarts like El País since it was also seen in the nascent working class press. Anti-American depictions were present in La Araña, a Mexico City working class newspaper. A September 1904 caricature condemned the government’s closeness with the United States (Figure 9).53 The cartoon presented a feminized Mexico and a deformed short Uncle Sam holding hands as a peaceful sun emerges in the sky. Ironically, this peaceful meeting between Mexico and the United States occurs as the 1847 Battle of Chapultepec rages in the foreground. This battle has been mythologized in Mexican history as the event in which young military cadets sacrificed their lives in the face of a more powerful American force. The image’s depiction of rushing American troops climbing Chapultepec hill and smoke emanating from the battle site dramatizes the terrible odds faced by the young Mexican cadets inside
El País, Mexico City, September 3, 1899, 1 and February 11, 1900, 1 La Araña, Sep 8, 1904, 1
the fortress overlooking the hill. The caricature is a criticism of the apparent amnesia of the government regarding the American violation of Mexican sovereignty. The accompanying text states that the Mexican cannons that fought for “liberty, vengeance, and war” have been replaced with a sun “of peace and progress.” If this message seems utopian and positive, the feminization of Mexico and the unflattering depiction of Uncle Sam belie that possibility. The female/male dichotomy is especially telling. Traditional gender norms assume a masculine superiority, which in this case would suggest an innately asymmetric relationship between feminine Mexico and gruesomely masculine America. A truly utopian liberal depiction would have portrayed either Mexico in more equal terms or Uncle Sam as a gallant handsome gentleman. Symbolically, one can connect the subsequent fall of Mexico City after the Chapultepec defeat to the caricature’s suggestion that the government has fallen victim to Washington’s charms. A working class anti-American discourse is pivotal because it advances beyond the anti-Americanism previously depicted by the mainstream press in 1898. This proletarian discourse was not based on the Hispanophile currents we see in other antiAmerican examples. After all, labor relations between Mexican workers and gachupín employers are generally depicted as being notoriously conflictive.54 Instead, the criticism is based on nationalist sentiments. The text accompanying the caricature speaks of “the heroes that with their invincible faith bathed the Indian soil with blood,” reinforcing the inherently indigenous nature of Mexico. The celebration of what is Mexican echoes the arguments of other newspapers, such as El Partido Republicano. This reference to the indigenous roots of Mexico was more palatable to the expected reader of a working class newspaper vis-à-vis the average reader of the very pro-Catholic El Pais. Class 54
See note 17
expectations play a role. One can imagine the El País reader exalting the role of the Spanish legacy given the colonial origins of the Mexican Catholic Church. Workers, often of a less European background, were more likely to appreciate or understand the indigenous presence in Mexico’s history. Despite the disparate origins of these two forms of anti-Americanism, they both were used in moments in which the United States had not infringed on Mexican affairs. Whether based on memories of national disaster, traditional conservative distrust towards the United States, or new re-appreciation for some form of local tradition or legacy, these two currents shared a distrust for what represented the totally foreign: the United States. In one sense, the celebrations of the centennial of Mexican Independence saw the convergence of the Hispanophile sentiment of the conservatives and cientificos with what the La Araña and El Partido Repúblicano considered to be Mexican. By all accounts the 1910 Independence festivities were intended to serve as “a testimony to the political and economic success of [the] regime.”55 Naturally, many of the celebrations had obvious influences from the Western developmental model that dominated Porfirian Mexico. Many of the landmarks dominating Mexico City’s center were built during this period. The Angel de la Independencia, a victory column dominating a roundabout on Paseo de la Reforma, was officially inaugurated on September 16th 1910. The Angel was representative of the type of monument built during the festivities of the centennial because it conformed to European aesthetic and symbolic norms. Mauricio Tenorio argues that the monument had “nothing particularly Mexican about it, nor should have
Mauricio Tenorio-Trillo, “1910 Mexico City: Space and Nation in the City of the Centenario,”
had” because the Repúblicanism and nationalism symbolized by it was universal.56 Beneath the standard European inspired monumental architecture, however, were performances and temporal manifestations that were representative of Hispanist and even domestic sentiments and models. Tenorio recognizes that the 1910 celebrations reflected an “official position [that] was profoundly favorable to Spain.”57 The Hispanist tendencies of the ceremonies were not only visible in the public exaltations for the madre patria Spain, but they were also present in the recriprocal role of the Spanish community when Spanish envoys returned the possessions of independence heroe Jose Maria Morelos to Mexico. The important fact is that these were reported in El País. The publication of these events, which emphasized the relationship with Spaniards and what is Spanish, could potentially reach readers living in provincial towns devoid of that dynamic. El País also published telegrams sent from the old colonial power that emphasized Mexico and Spain’s special relationship. One of them expressed the rhetoric of the 1900 Hispanoamerican Congress when it stated, “Mexico is a continuation of our country.”58 A Spaniard at the ceremonies reinforced this idea when his speech touched on the idea that “the bonds of blood were indestructible.”59 Díaz replied in kind: “If Spain were to boast about giving us life, Mexico is proud to recognize and proclaim it.”60 The strength of the official nature of the pro-Hispanic position is also evident through Diaz’s correspondence of the time. The 1910 celebrations were highly
56 57 58 59 60
Ibid., 183. Ibid.,187. El País, Mexico City, September 17, 1910, 2 El País, Mexico City, September 17, 1910, 1 Mauricio Tenorio-Trillo, , “1910 Mexico City: Space and Nation in the City of the Centenario,”
personalistic in the sense that Díaz was associated with the successes and Mexican development celebrated in 1910. Moreover, Díaz assumed a central position in the form in which the celebrations occurred. The return of Morelos’ belongings, for example, occurred through presidential channels. The Spanish Red Cross was involved with bringing the possessions and personally asked Díaz to ensure that their envoys in Veracruz could communicate with Spain’s legation in Mexico.61 The state’s commitment to the Hispano-Mexican linkage went beyond words. Compared to the French and German gifts to Díaz and the “Mexican nation,” the Spanish gift required a larger degree of cooperation with the other country.62 The Mexican state not only arranged the arrival of the Morelos possessions in Mexico City, it also allowed this arrival to be organized as a parade subsequent to the main celebrations.63 The parade could almost have been a subsequent extension to the grand events of September 16th. On the other hand, gifts from other nations did not gain the level of centrality that the Spanish Morelos possession handover parade received. The Hispanic cooperation imagined by Hispanists was occurring, at least on a symbolic level. Some of the overtly Hispanist tones of the festivities, however, represented to certain degree a celebration of Mexicanness. The official desfile historico of Independence Day was organized in such ways that each part of the parade depicted a different period of Mexico’s past. The periods included the conquest, the colonial period, and the achievement of independence. Indigenous people were recruited to depict the
Las Fiestas del Centenario de la Indepemndencia: A Través de la Correspondencia del General Porifirio Díaz, ed. María Eugenia Ponce Alcocer and Teresa Matabuena Peláez, (Mexico City: Universidad Iberoamericana, 2009), 243-4 62 Ibid.,229, 205. 63 Ibid.,228.
conquest section of the desfile.64 Tenorio suggests that the official forms of appreciating and representing the native and Mestizo elements in the Porfiriato were ambivalent when one considers the official support for racial theories that maintained that indigenous Mexicans were inferior. The 1910 Hispanism, in his point of view, was mildly accommodating to the “indigenismo, indianism, and pro-mestizaje” trends that were starting to emerge.
That, however, should not detract from the somewhat reticent
appreciation of Mexican features we can observe in the 1910 celebrations. As stereotypical as the archetypes used by the state were, they reflected similar methods used as those seen in the charro garment article of El Partido Repúblicano. The newspaper’s endorsement of Mexican military uniforms may have been nationalistic when it suggested the appropriateness of charro garments for the heavily indigenous military forces, but the piece’s appreciation was directed specifically to the charro archetype. The article implied the presence of indigenous blood in military conscripts and charros, but it did not equate the positive attributes of charros to all indigenous Mexicans.66 The piece, therefore, was not a blanket statement of support for the value of indigenous people in the same manner as done by the subsequent post-revolutionary regime.67 The creation of a separation between the archetype and the average indigenous individual is also observed in the parades of September 1910. The dark skinned charros escorting a float commemorating Mexican agriculture during the September 4th parade of industry and
Mauricio Tenorio-Trillo, “1910 Mexico City: Space and Nation in the City of the Centenario,”
184, 185 65
Ibid.,187, 188. Charros included low class Mestizos and Indians who ignored colonial racial restrictions on the ownership of horses. See Olga Nájera-Ramírez, “Engendering Nationalism,”2. 67 Officially sponsored events to celebrate all of Mexico’s natives would not really start until the 1920s. La India Bonita contest of 1921 would be one of the first instances. La India Bonita was organized by El Universal, but it was legitimized by Obregon’s administration. See Chapter One, “Ethnicizing the Nation: The India Bonita Contest of 1921” in Rick López, Crafting Mexico. 66
commerce are a contrast to the native people brought to play natives in the desfile historico of September 16th.68 This separation was enhanced by the fact that the indigenous people playing the pre-Hispanic warriors were expected by the government to be pure Indians.69 The charro may be suspected of being indigenous or having Indian blood, but the huarache wearing “Aztec” walking on foot was assuredly assumed to be Indian. Although Tenorio holds that “Indianismo and pro-mestizaje contrasted with the revival of a deep rooted pro-Hispanism” that the Porfirian elite displayed in the 1910 ceremonies, the Hispanist rituals should not be mutually exclusive from the eventual version of Mestizaje that took root in Mexico during the 1920s. The post-revolutionary Mestizaje advocated by Jose Vasconcelos’ La Raza Cosmica emphasized the value of Mexico’s Hispanic tradition to achieve the Mexican racial and cultural synthesis that was supposed to be a model to follow. The 1910 ceremonies saw an overlapping of the Hispanist attitudes of La República and El País with more nationalistic examples of El Partido Repúblicano and La Araña. The nationalistic overtones of the ceremonies may have been subsumed within the overall Hispanist discourse and relied on favoring archetypes versus generalized statements regarding the value of what was truly Mexican. Ironically, this situation would revert during the 1920s and 30s. It wasn’t that the postrevolutionary state avoided using archetypes. To the contrary, the revolutionary state gleefully exploited stereotypes to its own advantage. The difference is that the “native”
Postales del Centenario: Imágenes para Pensar el Porfiriato, ed. Alejandra Osorio Olave and Felipe Victoriano Serrano (Mexico City: Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana, 2009),89,77. 69 Mauricio Tenorio-Trillo,“1910 Mexico City: Space and Nation in the City of the Centenario,” 185
Mexican stereotypes became increasingly dominant in the Mestizaje discourse deployed by the state.70 At that point the Hispanism became the subsumed partner of the equation. It is impossible to extirpate the Hispanist and nascent nationalist moods from the dissolution of the discursive hegemony that had limited anti-Americanism. The United States’ position in the media had been greatly buffered from the resentments of the Mexican-American War because of the dominant discourse of development prior to 1910. The re-appreciation of Mexico’s Spanish bonds and the growing use of Mexican motifs either in cultural or commercial manners led to a process of cultural re-evaluation. By emphasizing aspects of Mexican heritage that had been denigrated at times by the Western developmental model pursued by late 19th century Mexican leaders, this process opened the positivist model of development to criticism. Positive re-evaluations of Mexico’s Hispanic heritage or the good masculine indigenous elements were incongruent with the meta-narrative of ideal positivist development. After all, the Hispanist revival was based on genealogical links with the madre patria and a celebration of a common colonial past. Positivist development in Mexico discouraged that retrospective analysis since it demanded a revolution that would shatter the colonial and pre-Hispanic foundations of the nation in order to obtain Western realities. The United States, which had lost its greatest ideological defenders with the persecution of the liberal opposition, suffered particularly bad from new discourses challenging the established positivist one. Neither the Hispanist nor nationalist discourses had a space given to the United States. Instead, it became a foreign “other.” The 70
For the post-revolutionary’s increasing use of Indian styles and motifs see Ricardo Pérez Montfort , “La Noche Mexicana. Hacia la Invención de lo ‘Genuinamente Nacional”’: un Mexico de Inditos, Tehuanas, Chinas y Charros. 1920-1921,” in El Orden Cultural de la Revolución Mexicana: Representaciones, Discursos y Universos Conceptuales, ed. Leonardo Martónez Carrizales (Mexico City: Universidad Autonóma Metropolitana, 2010) and Rick López, Crafting Mexico
geopolitical events only reinforced the negative perception that the United States was gaining. The use of Arizona Rangers to crush the strike in the mining town of Cananea may have been absent from the official Mexico City press, but it certainly caused a commotion in nationwide circulating El País. While El País had been relatively unsupportive of the demands of Pueblan textile workers when striking against Spanish mill owners, they were incensed by the brutality of the US owned mine against Mexican workers in Sonora.71 The American intervention during the Mexican Revolution would only add more fire to the Anti-Americanism, turning a discourse of the United States as a foreign character into one of the northern neighbor as a negative foreign one. A final consideration of the period between 1900 and 1910 is that the number of political caricatures on foreign actors declined. This is largely explained by the fact that the largest users of these types of caricatures, the opposition newspapers like El Hijo del Ahuizote, were no longer in circulation. Those caricatures still present, however, were recognized as being an easy channel to reach the masses. The fact that La Araña, a weekly directed to the working class, placed its caricatures on the cover indicates that the long adage of seeing caricatures as accessible to less literate members of society was still well alive. Furthermore, its placement assumed that the visual impact of the caricature would get the attention of a potential buyer at the newsstand. Regardless of the number of political caricatures, it is also important to notice that newspapers were using more photographs at this time. More importantly, photographs could be used to provide social or political commentary in more subtle manners than caricatures. Photographs indicated the editorial opinions on what was acceptable or preferable to portray as Mexican elites,
El País, Mexico City, June 5, 1905, 1 and January 9, 1907
for example. This could potentially allow newspapers to escape the censors, which had curtailed the activities of the liberal newspapers that published caricatures.
The Discourse Finds its Justification: American Intervention (1910-1921) The Mexican Revolution of 1910 became the pivotal event that catapulted the anti-American discourse of the conservative and working class presses into the mainstream. Although it is impossible to argue that Mexico’s Porfirian system collapsed overnight, a power vacuum did develop in the country by 1911. The election of revolutionary leader Francisco Madero did not prevent the erosion of power of the central state. Madero, a liberal committed to the ideals of the 1857 Constitution and the positivist views of development, was unable to satisfy the demands of more radical revolutionary groups. The decline of the Porfirian state and the eventual collapse of the Madero government after 1913 neutralized the largest advocates of the Western inspired development model. Moreover, the specter of American intervention would further antagonize the media and the population towards foreigners, especially those associated with the United States. The role of the Mexican Revolution on the creation of Mexican anti-Americanism has received a certain degree of attention. Alan Knight has argued against a view that has found favor in the official narrative utilized by the Mexican state: that the Mexican Revolution rapidly acquired an anti-American feeling, fueled by opposition to American investment, and which resonated mostly among the “popular classes” and the middle class.72 Knight points out the relative lack of violence against Americans as evidence
Alan Knight, U.S.-Mexican Relations, 1910-1940: An Interpretation (San Diego: Center for U.S.Mexican Studies, 1987), 23.
against this overgeneralization.73 On the other hand, pre-revolutionary working class journals have a stronger nationalistic sentiment than the one expressed by the rest of the press. Anti-Americanism, therefore, would be more likely to resonate among the vanguard of the “popular classes.” Furthermore, the use of the Battle of Chapultepec by conservatives to attack the Americans suggests that the memories of 1847 were perceived to have a galvanizing nationalist effect that Knight had only attributed to the Mexican liberal victory over the French in the 1860s.74 In the end, however, I agree with his argument that anti-Americanism was part of a long acculturation that predated 1910. The difference is that I see as being convergent with the racial re-appreciations started by the Hispanists and then by the advocates of Mestizaje and Indigenismo. The resignation of Porfirio Díaz on May 25th 1911, allowed for the circulation of a more critical press. The attacks of this press became so intense that the postrevolutionary state’s historical narrative has depicted the press of the period as libelous.75 El Ahuizote, named after the original liberal Ahuizote from the 1870s and the 1890s Hijo del Ahuizote, is a case in point. The weekly started publication just two days after Díaz officially left power. Despite the title of the paper, it was associated with one of the editors of the notoriously pro-Díaz El Imparcial. As a matter of fact, many of the caricaturists employed by El Ahuizote had previously worked in the workshops of El Imparcial. Armando Bartra describes El Ahuizote as an anti-Maderista cientifico piece far removed from the radical liberalism of El Hijo del Ahuizote.76 However, the discourse employed by the paper did borrow elements from traditional Mexican liberalism. Even if 73
Ibid., 32. Ibid., 38-9. 75 Fuentes Para la Historia de la Revolución Mexicana: La Caricatura Política, ed. Manuel González Ramírez and Sergio Fernández (Mexico City: Fondo de Cultura Economica, 1955), 53. 76 Armando Bartra, ”El Periodismo Gráfico en las Dos Primeras Décadas del Siglo, 99. 74
we are to be cynical and see El Ahuizote as a façade for the anti-radical cientificos and the bourgeoisie to attack Madero from the shadows, the discursive tools utilized by paper actually spread some liberal canons while criticizing the new president. Its first cover announced the paper’s intention to be neutral and to always be in favor of justice and reason. Rejecting the personalistic legacy of the Porfiriato, the weekly minimized the role of Madero and other revolutionaries at the end of Diaz’s government. Porfirio Díaz recanted, the paper argued, not because of any military defeat but because of the “omnipotent weight of public opinion.”77 This is representative of a shift in the Mexican press. Newspapers became increasingly willing to depict themselves as the representatives of the people. This had not been the case either during the Porfiriato or even during the pre-Porfiriato period studied by Fausta Gantús. A few prerevolutionary newspapers had already claimed to represent a segment of Mexican society, usually referring to their sectarian nature. El Correo Español, for example, had long claimed to be the newspaper that defended the interests of the “Spanish colony.” However, El Ahuizote suggests its speaks for “el pueblo mexicano” above the ideological trappings suffered by their liberal predecessors.78 The media’s self-depiction as the defender of Mexicans would change the nature in which other foreign groups would be depicted. Pre-revolutionary depictions of targeted foreigners were likely to qualify these groups in relation to their ideological or historic shortcomings. El Hijo del Ahuizote’s criticism of the monopolist Spaniard, for example, suggested the gachupín challenge to liberalism and his role in the colonial system that had survived in Mexico. Post-
“Los Hombres que Hicieron la Revolución,” El Ahuizote, Mexico City, May 27, 1911, 1,4. An example is seen in “En Defensa del Pueblo,” El Ahuizote, June 3, 1911, 11.
revolutionary depictions, however, were now more likely to represent those foreigners as genuine dangers to the country. An anti-Yankee feeling was evident in El Ahuizote. The weekly’s first edition gave a great deal of attention to what the “Yanqui” press was reporting regarding Mexico.79 This suspicious tone, however, would rapidly turn into an aggressively negative one. Just two editions later the weekly was accusing Madero and other revolutionaries of being financed by “dinero yanqui.”80 El Ahuizote called for an investigation for claims made in the Los Angeles Times about a Madero financing ring operating from the United States. The almost exclusively negative representation of the Americans would continue for the rest of El Ahuizote’s run. This culminated with an article on the second to last run of the weekly in which the newspaper warned all Mexicans of the fact that the Americans were at the gates of Mexico City.81 As if there were any doubts about the paper’s feelings towards foreigners, El Ahuizote added a new subtitle: “Mexico for Mexicans.” There are two points that have to be underlined regarding El Ahuizote’s discourse towards Americans. First, the strong anti-Americanism was very strong for a supposedly cientifico paper. In fact, this anti-Yankee was not necessarily orthodox for either cientifico ideology or for the liberal discourse that the weekly exploited. This is an indication that whichever the discourse and real loyalties of El Ahuizote, they had to conform to a growing anti-American sentiment permeating Mexico. A second point is that the editorial opinion of El Ahuizote still maintained many of the basic features of old Mexican liberalism: anti-clericalism and a reverence for the
79 80 81
“Lo Que Opina la Prensa Yankee,” El Ahuziote, May 27, 1911, 6,7. “Dinero Yanqui para la Revolución?” El Ahuizote, June 10, 1911, 5. “Alerta, Mexicanos! Los Yankees a las Puertas de México!,” El Ahuizote, February 1st, 1913, 8-9
1857 Constitution. 82 Whether false or real, this editorial stance created the impression of a modified liberalism that integrated an anti-American political patriotism.
Figure 10. El Ahuizote, Jun 14, 1911
The anti-Maderistas actively sought to associate Madero with the dangerous “Yanquis” in order to discredit his legitimacy. Madero, through the Convención Antireelecionsita of April 1910, had recommended an unrestricted entrance of American investment as long as these didn’t lead to monopolies. The convention had also called for a fraternal relationship with the United States.83 Therefore, attempts to depict Madero as a yanquista didn’t require of too many fabrications. The suspected American financial support behind Madero was one of the episodes dramatized by political caricaturists. El 82
“Todo Eso No Vale Nada! El Ahuizote, February 8, 1913, 10 and June 15, 1912, 10. Gastón García Cantú, Las Invasiones Norteamericanas en México (Mexico City: Fondo de Cultura Economica, 1996), 233
Ahuizote published a cartoon on June 1911 that showed Madero accepting John D. Rockefeller’s money, tying the former revolutionary leader to rapacious American interests (Figure 10).84 The spatial relationship and physical attributes of each character speak volumes of the caricaturist’s intent when creating this work. Madero is placed in a subservient position since he has taken off his hat in the presence of the American capitalist. Furthermore, his treasonous intentions are indicated by the fact that he is holding a newspaper titled “concessions.” Although Madero’s shorter height may suggest his subordinate role, his height is remarkably normal considering later depictions of him in caricature. Apparently his height diminished in these cartoons the longer he spent in power. Rockefeller’s sinister nature is enhanced by the fact the viewer can’t see his face. The powerful capitalist, then, not only has the stronger position in this asymmetrical relationship. He is also controlling Madero from the dark. The decision to use Rockefeller, whose name was not mentioned on the original report, was likely a calculated move. After all, Rockefeller had attained a very negative reputation even in his own country.85 More important, however, is the fact that this purportedly liberal publication was attacking a type celebrated by the Porfirian positivist developmental strategy: the foreign investor. Discourse on development had moved away so much from old standards that the investor figure could be publicly criticized without state impunity. El Ahuizote, however, was only one of the few publications engaging in an antiAmerican discourse or attacking Madero. In fact, most of the newspapers in the capital were antagonistic to Madero and he failed to create a supportive newspaper that would
El Ahuizote, Jun 24, 1911, 1 “John Davidson Rockefeller,” in Encyclopedia of the Industrial Revolution in America, ed. James Stuart Olson (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2002)
gain favor.86 The anti-Maderista media onslaught continued. La Satirá also joined the ranks of those publications attacking the alleged links between Madero and the Americans (Figure 11). More than El Ahuizote, La Satirá was able to articulate a discourse in which local Mexican subservient elements to the United States conspired to dismantle Mexico. Keeping up with the trends of the time, a December 1911 depicted Madero as a short vende patrias.87 The Mexican President is depicted wearing a peasant Mexican garment with the obligatory folkloric Mexican hat. The setting of the caricature is a store. However, Madero is not the shopkeeper selling Mexican properties to American investors. He is instead visiting Uncle Sam’s store. Madero’s demeanor and the fact that he calls Sam his boss is reminiscent of a transaction in a tienda de raya. Just as Mexican peons were expected to buy their products at their bosses’ store, Madero acts like a peon who has to sell possessions to Uncle Sam at Sam’s store. This setting, in which Madero is reduced to being countryside proletarian, is far more humiliating to Mexican national psyche than an image of Madero having a yard sale for Mexican assets. Madero is not just your usual vendepatrias, he is an absolute social and cultural inferior according to Mexican social norms. The worst part is that Uncle Sam has obviously already bought property from previous Mexican peons: Texas and Baja California are on the wall of his store. The intense anti-Americanism would continue rising even after the 1913 coup that resulted in the execution of Madero. Often referred to it as the decena tragica, the coup was organized with the help of the US Ambassador to Mexico. The resulting President
Alvaro Matute, “Prensa, Sociedad y Política,” in Las Publicaciones Periódicas y la Historia de México (Ciclo de conferencias), ed. Aurora Cano Andaluz (Mexico City: Universidad Nacional Autonóma de México, 1995), 75. 87 La Sátira, Mexico City, Dec 1, 1911, no. 56, 1
was General Victoriano Huerta, an old Porfirian military man who had been commissioned by Madero to pacify the different revolutionary factions. The role of Ambassador Henry Lane Wilson should have not surprised many Mexicans. El Ahuizote had already shown its contempt towards him to the point that it once hoped he had taken the Titanic in 1912.88 Regardless of Wilson’s toxic reputation in Mexico, his actions were among the first of a wave of American interventions in chaotic revolutionary Mexico. This level of intervention escalated even after Huerta gained control since the coup only encouraged more factions to rise in arms to remove Huerta’s imposed administration.
Figure 11. La Satirá, Dec 1, 1911
Just over a year after it facilitated Huerta’s rise to power, the United States intervened in Mexico in a more direct way. On April 21, 1914, US Marines occupied Veracruz’s waterfront to enforce the arms embargo the United States had placed on the country.89 The outrage caused by the intervention was generalized. When studying the letters by the Carrancistas, Knight notices that their leadership lamented Veracruz’s 88
El Ahuizote, Mexico City, July 6, 1912, 9. For an account of the occupation of Veracruz see, Robert E. Quirk, An Affair of Honor: Woodrow Wilson and the Occupation of Veracruz (Lexington, KY: University of Kentucky Press, 1962)
occupation because it put them in a dilemma: join Huerta to protect national sovereignty or risk being portrayed as American stooges.90 By 1914, Mexico City’s press had largely become under Huerta’s control.91 This new conservative press did not waste time accusing the hated Carrancista revolutionaries of failing to support the government to defend the nation. El Pais, which had become close to the Huerta regime, blasted the “traitorous conduct” of Carrancista Plutarco Elias Calles for sending a telegram to Woodrow Wilson announcing his intention not to join Huerta’s troops.92 The occupation of Veracruz led to an upsurge of an historical anti-Americanism based on the memories of 1847. The creation of newspaper Chapultepec in 1914 is an example of the obvious Huertista attempts to exploit history to galvanize support around the regime. The first edition of the newspaper, dating from July 5th 1914, proudly stated that there couldn’t be a better name for a newspaper considering the situation of the country. Furthermore, the paper saw itself as the embodiment when it claimed that “Chapultepec es el pueblo.”93 Although this claim refers to how the newspaper represents the people, a trend gaining ground during the period, the content of the newspaper may have as well suggested that the memory of the Battle of Chapultepec was itself part of the Mexican people. At one point in its short run, the paper went as far as suggesting that Wilson had a “plot” to arm the Panama Canal in order to pirate small vessels.94 Chapultepec would continue its anti-American rhetoric until it was shut down when Zapatista rebels took Mexico in July 1914. Chapultepec is noticeable because its creation proves that Mexican conservatives saw the memories of the Mexican-American War as a 90 91 92 93 94
Alan Knight, U.S.-Mexican Relation , 32. Alvaro Matute, “Prensa, Sociedad y Política,” 77-76. El País, Mexico City, May 18, 1914, 1. Chapultepec, Mexico City, July 5, 1914, 3 Chapultepec, Mexico City, July 16, 1914, 2.
potent force in nationalism building the way that Alan Knight couldn’t. Audience reception, of course, is an entirely different subject. That did not stop the Huertistas from having a ceremony honoring the fallen cadets subsequent to the Veracruz landings.95 These examples suggest that there was a belief that this strategy could work. The subsequent importance of Dia de los Niños Heroes in public school, which pays tributes to the cadets killed in Chapuletepec, suggests that 1847 has a nationalist effect that the victory over the French had.
Figure 12. El País, April 20, 1914
The anti-American discourse, however, also employed its share of biological and racial references. El Pais, a product of the same biological Hispanist drive following the 1898 war, portrayed the episode as having racial connotations. In its calls for a national resistance against the invaders, the newspaper called all “Mexicans by heart” to rally around the government to fight the transgressions of “the hated and eternal enemy of our race.”96 Racial preoccupations were also present in Chapultepec, which published a letter from Veracruz in which a reader decried the inevitable advent of “blue eyed indios”
El País, 22 April 1914, 3 El País, Mexico City, April 20, 1914, 1
because Veracruzanas had rejected Mexican men for the Marines.97 The racial differentiation between Mexico and its neighbor is reinforced by a cultural piece present in the same edition of El País that first raised the racial issue. The newspaper included a small note on the presentation of a “typical rural” band in Chapultepec.98 What may have been a rather insignificant piece considering the geopolitical events occurring on the Gulf Coast, gained enough prominence because it was illustrated by two pictures (Figure 12). The images emphasized the charro outfits of the members of the mariachi band. The “Mexicanness” of the band is also suggested accompanying text that claimed the enthusiastic public asked the band to repeat their “national music” songs. The addition of this piece may have been accidental, but it is rather unlikely given the fact that General Rincon Gallardo was part of the band. Regardless of the intent behind the note, the piece suggests the performance as a typical example of Mexicanness, making it different from other performances or musical styles found in other places.. El Pais’ reference of biological and cultural nuances is unsurprising given its past Hispanophilic arguments regarding Mexico’s “Spanish” foundations. This example is unusual, however, because it presents Mexico’s biological and cultural particularities not through an exclusively Hispanist lens. Mariachi music had become part of the particularities now defended and highlighted by El Pais. Just as Mexican intellectuals had to broaden their identity construction beyond the upper classes, El País had now embraced the unique cultural output of other segments of society.99
Chapultepec, Mexico City, July 5,1914, 3 El País, Mexico City, April 20, 1914, 3 99 The process of Mexican intellectuals attempting to create a national identity that actually assimilated Mexico’s popular classes is best described in Rick López, Crafting Mexico 98
For the rest of the decade, anti-Americanism became a tool for politicians to denigrate the integrity of their enemies. El Imparcial, a newspaper associated with the anti-Carrancista Convencionalistas, held that Venustiano Carranza had spent time in one of the American battleships still blockading Veracruz in 1915.100 The paper suggested that Carranza had to escape the port because of a food riot caused by the misappropriation of food supplies by his troops. Francisco Villa, one of the Convencionalistas, was also at one point accused having American ties. Carranzista newspaper El Liberal, formerly pro-Díaz and pro-Huerta El Imparcial, reported that Villa claimed his honesty by stating he had no bank accounts in the United States.101 The success of tying opposing figures to the gringo threat was limited. After all, Carranza survived the notion that his troops were disloyal when they refused to join Huerta to fight the Americans. Knight suggests this was the case because Huerta collapsed quite quickly after the American occupation of Veracruz, but it may also be a testament to the strength of the predominance of domestic concerns over international ones.102 If the political caricatures of the time period are an indication, international affairs were secondary to domestic ones except during the Veracruz occupation.
Figure 13. La República, Feb 26, 1917 100
El Imparcial, Mexico City, June 25, 1915, 1,2 Florence Toussaint, “La Prensa y el Porfiriato,” in Las Publicaciones Periódicas y la Historia de México (Ciclo de Conferencias), ed. Aurora Cano Andaluz (Mexico City: Universidad Nacional Autonóma de México, 1995),51 102 Alan Knight, U.S.-Mexican Relations, 32 101
Another revolutionary moment characterized by the use of political caricatures is 1917. The Great War was raging in Europe and the capital’s newspapers took sides. Carranza had created a series of semi-independent newspapers that required fewer subsidies but followed a pro-Carranza editorial stance.103 These newspapers formed two different camps during 1917 based on pro-German and pro-American lines. The interest in the war may have been a result of the gradual pacification of the country, as well as a cynical attempt by Carranza to force the German and American investors to subsidy his “semi-independent” newspapers to continue supporting their respective governments.104 Quite tellingly, the supposedly pro-American caricatures did not reach the level of appreciation as the ones published by El Hijo del Ahuizote or El Correo de Mexico in 1898. A February 28th 1917 caricature from La República is a case in point (Figure 13). Unlike the gallant Uncle Sam surrounded by the miniscule Filipinos, La República published a caricature in which Uncle Sam collaborates with other allies to contain the Kaiser inside a bottle.105 While Uncle Sam is portrayed positively vis-à-vis the cartoonish villainous Kaiser, he is not shown as being innately superior to any of the characters in the image. To the contrary, John Bull and Marianne are the ones actually holding the Kaiser inside a bottle. Uncle Sam simply antagonizes the already trapped Kaiser as if he were a younger world power still full of juvenile bravado. The fact that Uncle Sam is on a lower level in the picture when compared to France and Britain may also suggest the lower status of the United States in the public imagination in 1917. Furthermore, the text underneath the image tells of the Kaiser’s warning to Uncle Sam: you wouldn’t sleep as
103 104 105
Alvaro Matute, “Prensa, Sociedad y Política,” 83 Ibid., 87-8. La República, Mexico City, Feb 26, 1917, 1
comfortably if I were outside this bottle. The pro-American drawing, then, is proAmerican in relation to the perceived status of Imperial Germany in 1917. The war did not stop the flow of negative U.S. portrayals. El Chicote took an antiAmerican position in the 1917 war debates. One of its caricatures presents Uncle Sam, Mexico, and the editor of rival El Universal as a pig (Figure 14).106 Woodrow Wilson was personified as Uncle Sam, a strategy that had become common soon after the 1914 occupation of Veracruz.107 Mexico, represented in a rather stereotypical way, threatens Uncle Sam for getting involved in Mexican affairs. A frightened Uncle Sam claims he wants nothing from Mexico and wants no problems. The subservience and dirty nature of Felix Palavicini, the former revolutionary who bought El Liberal from Carranza and turned it into El Universal, is demonstrated by turning him into a pig. The caricature has a strong comedic tone. First, Uncle Sam is shown as having a stereotypically bad American English when responding to Mexico in Spanish. Sam is unable to use the correct pronoun. The humorous nature of the caricature is also highlighted by the fact that a scrawny Mexico in oversized folkloric clothes can intimidate the United States. This incarnation of Mexico is full of bravado and warns Sam with what may be considered a non sequitur by a foreigner: aca las tortas!108 Mexico’s message implies Uncle Sam can get his “lunch” from Mexico, a torta of punches. It also assumes that fighting the United States is as easy as making some sandwiches. Regardless of the differences between this cartoon and the one in La República, the general discourse towards the U.S. would soon
El Chicote, Mexico City, Sep 10, 1917, 1 Another example can be seen in La Madre Matiana, Sep 9, 1917, 1. Wilson had already been the target of anti-American caricatures. Chapultepec, for example, depicted Wilson as uninvited “hero” who demands compensation. See Chapultepec, July 7, 1914, 1 108 Aca las tortas literally means “here we make sandwiches” 107
return to its previous status. By 1919, it was once again fears of Americans that dominated the limited international coverage.109
Figure 14. El Chicote, Sep 10, 1917
Yet, this path towards a less friendly discourse regarding the United State was neither total nor straightforward. One thing to consider is that the Revolutionaries were truly concerned about gaining official recognition from the United States. Revolutionaries sought the recognition of their neighbor in order to access weapons and financing. Carrancistas created The Mexican Review in 1916 to “seduce American public 109
For example, Revolución had to come to the defense of Carranza given new rumors about him selling Baja California to the Americas. See Revolución, Feb 3rd , 1919, 1. The obsession with Baja California had a long history. The Díaz ’s government decision to allow American warships to exercise in Bahia de Magdalena was of special concern to a segment of the conservative press. This can be seen in El Pais, March 3rd ,1908, 1.
opinion and, especially, Wall Street investors.”110 The quest for American recognition continued well into the early 1920s. In fact, it wasn’t until 1923 when an agreement between the countries was achieved. In order to achieve this recognition, the Mexican government agreed to create a board of arbitration for American claims. It also left foreign oil interests unscathed from the expropriation clauses of the Mexican Constitution of 1917.111 These terms led to accusations of treason back in Mexico, but expose to what degree the post-revolutionary regime was willing to negotiate to attain American recognition. Both the revolutionary fervor and the anti-American discourse had its limits. Realpolitik dominated the day. Another attenuating factor of the anti-American discourse is the continuing obsession with American consumer goods and practices. La Revista del Sabado, more known for its lighter pieces than most periodicals, had an article on famous houses in American history.112 American products continued being associated with high quality standards. Even during the Veracruz incident, firms continued advertising products associated with the United States. Some of these ads were not as obvious as before April 1914, but they were still present in those same pages blasting the American intervention in Mexico. A day after calling for a defense against the “hated and eternal enemy to our race,” El País was advertising American furniture.113 Mexican preference for nonMexican consumer goods, a phenomenon still occurring to this day, became so significant in the period after the Revolution that the Mexican government had to
Jaime Velez Storey, “Prensa, Propaganda y la Diplomacia de la Revolución Mexicana,” in El Orden Cultural de la Revolución Mexicana: Representaciones, Discursos y Universos Conceptuales, ed. Leonardo Martinez Carrizales (Mexico City: Universidad Autonóma Metropolitana, 2010), 113, 127 111 Alan Knight, U.S.-Mexican Relations, 132 112 Revista del Sabado, Mexico City, Sep 11, 1915, 2 113 El País, April 22nd, 1914, 7.
organize promotional activities in favor of domestically produced goods in the early 1930s.114 The intense interest in the opening of Sears Roebuck’s first Mexican store in 1947 was not a spontaneous happening. It was the result of a longer interest in and preference for American products. Americans were not the only foreign group affected by the Mexican Revolution. The position of Spaniards was uncertain. On one hand, expulsions of Spaniards occurred during the period. Carrancistas, Villistas, and Zapatistas all had hostility towards the Spaniards.
Hispanophobia.115 A significant number of Spaniards were expelled in 1916 because of their association with the Huerta regime.116 The number of expelled Spaniards was relatively small, not exceeding 400 between 1911 and 1940. Yet, this number belies the number of Spaniards accused by citizens who wanted them expelled. This highlights the existence of a strong Hispanophobic element among sectors of the population. El Correo Español, for example, decried the level of discrimination against Spaniards and defended Spanish immigration to Mexico.117 On the other hand, the Spaniards association with the Huertistas also suggests that the conservative elements in society may have seen them more positively. El Renovador announced that the Spanish merchants had offered to help with the housing problems afflicting Mexico City.118 Furthermore, the editor of El Correo Español offered its paper to the services of the government during the Veracruz crisis.119 In the face of the Carrancista reluctance to participate in the defense of the country, the 114
Julio Moreno, Yankee Don’t Go Home! Mexican Nationalism, American Business Culture, and the Shaping of Modern Mexico, 1920-1950 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2003), 27, 1. 115 Pablo Yankelevich, “Hispanofobia y revolución: Espanoles Expulsados de México (1911-1940)” in HAHR 86.1 (2006):39, 44. 116 Ibid., 41, 59. 117 El Correo Español, Mexico City, September 26, 1915, 1 118 El Renovador, Mexico City, June 27, 1915, 1 119 El País, Mexico City, April 22nd 1914, 4
Spanish émigré press was positioning itself in a more patriotic role than that of the revolutionaries.
Re-assesing “The Other” The liminal role of Spaniards would change, at least when it came to the official myth of the post-revolutionary Mexican state. If the celebrations of the Mexican centennial of 1910 were characterized by some Indianist or Mestizo elements subsumed within the ceremony’s Hispanist overtures, the 1921 festivities were intended to re-cast the perceived elements composing Mexican identity. Widely recognized as a state formation exercise, the September 1921 festivities were given great importance because they commemorated a hundred years since Mexico formally gained its independence from Spain. Different groups pursuing different visions of Mexico contested the celebrations. This is evident in the different coverage it received in the press. El Porvenir of Monterrey emphasized “What Spain Did” for the research of Mexico’s biology, advocated to adopt the international spelling ‘Mejico,’ and reminded readers of Mexico’s Spanish past.120 The newspaper’s centennial section was composed of a floating female figure holding the national flag that looked at the Angel de la Independencia. An accompanying poem stated that Mexico and Spain are sister nations with “the blood [that] flows with the same violence” between the two just as Atlantic does.121 On the other hand, Mexico City’s Excelsior redeemed Agustin de Iturbide’s figure in the independence wars.122 The differing views on independence among civil society
El Porvenir, Monterrey, September 25, 1921, Sec 7, 6; Sec 3, 8 El Porvenir, Monterrey, September 25, 1921, Sec 1, 1 122 Despite his role on achieving Mexican independence, Agustin de Iturbide has been problematic for the Mexican meta-narrative because of his association with conservative Mexicans and his role as Mexico’s 121
members occur precisely in the moment in which the post-revolutionary cultural project starts to be elaborated.123 The government engaged in a co-option of different views of Mexico: allowing the Hispanophilic elite to shape the ceremonies while still insisting on the exclusive use of “Mexican” food and crafts. “Official mestizaje was the result, but the 1921 commemoration also incorporated the shadowy beginnings of official indigenismo.”124 The post-revolutionary regime’s path towards la raza cosmica had started. La raza cosmica, the notion that Mexicans were the result of a beneficial mixture of Europeans and native Mexicans, had been developing over time. Well before Jose Vasconcelos published his seminal work on the subject, Manuel Gamio had already called for the rescue of Mexico’s natives since they had hearts that could tell what was excessive.125 The shift to an increasingly racially defined world is very much characteristic of the changes seen in Mexico between 1898 to the 1920s. To actually define the nature of the Mexican Revolution has become a challenge for Mexican historians, but one can easily see it as being either nationalistic or wrapping itself in the trappings of nationalism. This nationalism had a racial component. Nationalists liked archetypes associated with non-white individuals such as charros. Hispanists constantly emphasized the power of common blood linkages. The combination of these two particularist views chipped away at the stability of the old Porfirian universal positivist
first Emperor. Excelsior’s coverage of the 1921 celebrations “redeemed” him. Excelsior, Mexico City, September 27, 1921, Seccion 6ta, 9. 123 Elaine Lacy, “The 1921 Centennial Celebration of Mexico’s Independence: State Building and Popular Negotiation,” in Viva Mexico! Viva la Independencia! Celebrations of September 16, ed. William Beezley and David Lorey (Wilmington, DE: SRS Books, 2001), 221,222. 124 Lacy, “The 1921 Centennial Celebration of Mexico’s Independence,” 208. 125 Manuel Gamio, El Liberal, Mexico City, Nov 29, 1914. 3
model. In particular, this would encourage changes on how non-Mexicans would be seen by Mexicans. Political caricatures, images, and advertisements are vital for us to understand how foreigners were seen. Political caricatures have their limitations. They require the reader to have a certain cultural capital, but the predominance of anti-American caricatures in the period after 1914 was likely to have an effect on the literate population consuming them. Furthermore, caricatures are distillations of the editorial attitudes of the print media. These positions may at times be considered extreme and out of the norm. However, the fringes of the political debate can often have an impact on the more “mainstream” press and discussion. Unlike caricatures, photographs can be subtler and often require more interpretation especially when they are not intended for overtly political objectives. They show the types of biases of the decision makers behind newspaper production, as well as indicators of what was seen as acceptable at the time. Finally, advertisements are especially telling of consumer trends and the readership of a newspaper. Companies are expected to invest in advertisements in newspapers intended for their market, otherwise their sales will suffer in an increasingly consumerist society. Advertisements also showed the power of the American consumer culture in the face of national antagonisms. The most important diachronic process observed in this study is the possibility for the re-configuration of Mexican identity through foreign communities. Alan Knight has claimed that the Mexican patria had been defined “in opposition to Spanish (gachupín) rule.”126 The rise of biologically influenced Hispanism and nationalism, and the subsequent mestizaje theory, would shake the early definition of Mexico as the ex126
Alan Knight, U.S.-Mexican Relations, 39.
colonial to the colonial power. Mestizaje would assimilate Spain into a component of Mexico’s identity. For Vasconcelo’s vision of the raza cosmica saw the precious mestizaje as being a product of the enlightened Spanish proclivity towards miscegenation. Some hostility to Spaniards continued, as still does to this day, but they are recognized as contributors to what is Mexico. On the other hand, the decline of orthodox liberalism and the Positivist ideal would lead to challenges in the US/Mexico relations. With the universality of Positivism gone, the potential ideological similarities between countries of different racial stock celebrated by Inter-American supportive liberals became secondary. The same day El Porvenir’s 1921 Centennial super-edition celebrated the pivotal role of Spain in the construction of modern Mexico, it reported on its first page about the fear of a creation of a U.S. led “gigantic trust” controlling Monterrey’s steel industry. Spain, the colonial other, had been redeemed. However, that left a new other in Mexico’s concept of the world. The United States had become a permanent other. A strange other without the “indestructible bond of blood” uniting Mexicans with other Mexicans or with Spain. An “other” so different that it had the potential to unify a country divided by regions, races, languages, and deep social divisions.
Newspapers Chapultepec El Ahuizote El Chicote El Correo de México El Correo Español El Hijo del Ahuizote El Imparcial El Liberal El País El Partido Liberal El Partido Repúblicano El Popular El Porvenir El Renovador La Araña La República La Sátira Revista del Sabado Revolución
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