Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Latin American & Caribbean Studies

Novels about the Twentieth Century Mexican Presidential Succession during Four Crisis Periods

Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Latin American & Caribbean Studies

Novels about the Twentieth Century Mexican Presidential Succession during Four Crisis Periods

Article excerpt

Abstract. This article traces the evolution of Mexico's presidential incumbent selection process as portrayed in four novels by politically active journalist-authors. These writings reveal the inner workings of the Mexican presidential succession process at crisis periods in its development, thereby providing in ironic fictional guise a measure of the investigative reportage missing from the controlled establishment press. La sombra del caudillo (1929) by Martin Luis Guzman and Acomodaticio : Novela de un politico de convicciones (1943) by Gregorio Lopez y Fuentes treat the presidential succession while the generals still vied for rule after the Revolution of 1910 and before the official party had gained complete control of the process. El gran solitario de palacio (1971) by Rene Aviles Fabila and Palabras mayores (1975) by Luis Spota expose the official party's fully developed but corrupt incumbent selection system in the aftermath of the failed 1968 social revolution. The first two novels, by using stable irony to expose abuses, manage to convey some hope for reform under the aegis of the Revolution. However, hope gives way to despair in the last two novels, whose unstable irony portrays the official party once again losing control of the system.

Resume. Cet article retrace l'historique du systeme de selection presidentielle au Mexique sur la base de quatre romans de journalistes-ecrivains engages. Ces oeuvres mettent en lumiere les rouages internes d'un tel systeme au cours des crises ayant marque son evolution et laissent percer, sous le couvert de l'ironie romancee, le style de reportage journalistique absent d'une presse soumise a l'autorite des pouvoirs etablis. La sombra del caudillio (1929) de Martin Luis Guzman et Acomodaticio : novela de un politico de convicciones (1943) de Gregorio Lopez y Fuentes abordent le probleme de la succession presidentielle a l'epoque oU les generaux convoitaient encore le pouvoir (1943), apres la Revolution de 1910 et avant que ce mode de selection ne devint la pregorative exclusive du parti officiel. El gran solitario de palacio (1971) de Rene Aviles Fabila et Palabres mayores (1975) de Luis Spota devoilent l'efficacite, mais aussi la corruption du processus de selection entre les mains du parti officiel apres la revolution sociale manquee de 1968. Les deux premiers romans, dont l'ironie constante demasque les abus du processus, donnent quelque espoir de reforme sous l'egide de la Revolution. Toutefois, cet espoir se transforme en desespoir dans les deux derniers romans, dont l'ironie inconstante decrit une nouvelle perte de controle du systeme par le parti officiel.

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Beginning with the establishment in 1929 of the official political party, now called the PRI (Institutional Revolutionary Party), the twentieth-century Mexican presidential transition process was secretive and undemocratic. Behind closed doors, the incumbent president selected his successor and the PRI manipulated the elections to ensure a victory for its candidate. At the same time the political elite, bent upon preserving a revolutionary democratic facade, presented the appearance of open, democratic elections (Riding 1986, 97). The elite also controlled the press by providing rewards for adhering to the party line, combined with strong disincentives for revealing the truth behind the democratic facade. The lack of freedom of the press has prompted writers to choose fiction as a vehicle for telling the political truths concealed by the establishment media.

This article traces the evolution of Mexico's presidential incumbent selection process as portrayed in four novels by journalistic writers who were active in the politics of their times. The novels reveal the inner workings of the Mexican presidential succession at crisis periods in its development, chronicling the unfolding current events in a way not possible in the controlled establishment press. The first two works, La sombra del caudillo (1929) by Martin Luis Guzman (1887-1976) (1) and Acomodaticio : Novela de un politico de convicciones (1943) by Gregorio Lopez y Fuentes (1897-1966), (2) treat the presidential succession during the aftermath of the Revolution of 1910, when the militarists vied for rule. …

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