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Mexico, armed political movements, 1960s-present

Bill Weinberg


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The emergence of armed revolutionary movements in Mexico in the 1960s has its roots in the erosion of the agrarian reform program, a critical gain of the 1910–21 Revolution . As early as the 1940s, the ruling party (in 1946 dubbed the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI) tilted to the right after land was massively redistributed under President Lazaro Cárdenas (1934–40). Strains emerged in the corporatist system which delivered peasant votes and loyalties in exchange for access to land, water, and credit. Corrupt bureaucrats and political bosses began taking over redistributed lands, known as ejidos , leading some among the disenfranchised to break with the system and revive the agrarian revolutionary legacy of Emiliano Zapata (1879–1919). In the 1960s, these rebels were linked to the general revolutionary effervescence of the era, making common cause with radical students. These movements went into retreat with the repressive “dirty war” of the late 1960s and 1970s, but reemerged powerfully with the neo-liberal reforms of the 1990s, which represented a far more profound threat to the ejidos and a virtual end to the corporatist state. The link between the new armed movements and the original Zapatistas was Rubén Jaramillo (1898–1962), who had been a captain in Zapata's Liberator Army of the South at the age of 15. By the 1940s, he was once again organizing strikes ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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