Challenging Authoritarianism in Mexico: Revolutionary Struggles and the Dirty War, 1964-1982

Challenging Authoritarianism in Mexico: Revolutionary Struggles and the Dirty War, 1964-1982

Challenging Authoritarianism in Mexico: Revolutionary Struggles and the Dirty War, 1964-1982

Challenging Authoritarianism in Mexico: Revolutionary Struggles and the Dirty War, 1964-1982

Synopsis

The Cold War in Latin America spawned numerous authoritarian and military regimes in response to the ostensible threat of communism in the Western Hemisphere, and with that, a rigid national security doctrine was exported to Latin America by the United States. Between 1964 and 1985, Argentina, Chile, Mexico, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uraguay experienced a period of state-sponsored terrorism commonly referred to as the "dirty wars." Thousands of leftists, students, intellectuals, workers, peasants, labor leaders, and innocent civilians were harassed, arrested, tortured, raped, murdered, or 'disappeared.' Many studies have been done about this phenomenon in the other areas of Latin America, but strangely, Mexico's dirty war has been excluded from this particular scholarship. Here for the first time is a sustained look at this period and consideration of the many facets that make up the nearly two decades of the Mexican dirty war. Offering the reader a broad perspective of the period, the case studies in the book present narratives of particular armed revolutionary movements as well as thematic essays on gender, human rights, culture, student radicalism, the Cold War, and the international impact of this state-sponsored terrorism.

Excerpt

Héctor Guillermo Robles Garnica

Challenging Authoritarianism in Mexico: Revolutionary Struggles and the Dirty War 1964–1982, arrives at a timely moment in Mexican history. The rise of new social movements and the ongoing revolutionary struggles in the states of Chiapas, Guerrero, and Oaxaca, as well as the precarious situation Mexican society is currently undergoing, have prompted a new interest in the violent decades of the 1960s and 70s. In the past six years journalists, students, scholars, novelists and poets, as well as former revolutionaries, have written an array of literature about the Dirty War. Mexico has always prided itself on its democratic traditions while military dictators ruled other countries in the Western Hemisphere. Yet, despite the growing literature, Mexican society continues to resist acknowledging that a Dirty War similar to those in the Southern Cone occurred in their own country. The 1970s remained a void in the historiography of revolutionary movements, until the year 2000, when declassified archives allowed scholars and researchers to evaluate a dark history from dusty and deteriorating boxes. With the revelation of new sources that document political violence and social inequality, a counterhistory of the “politically stable” 1960s and 70s has begun to be reconstructed.

Political dissent is not new in Mexican history, in fact the track record of civic struggle, revolutionary movements, student radicalism, and peasant and worker militancy are deeply embedded in popular memory. To be more specific, the ongoing studies on the 1910 Revolution and post-revolutionary struggles help us understand how previous societies confronted political, social, and cultural authority and how their ideas informed future struggles. The armed struggles of the 1960s and 70s that challenged authoritarianism directly during the Cold War when state-sponsored repression pervaded Latin America, are now beginning to be used as a point of reference to fill a gap in Mexican history.

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