For God and Revolution: Priest, Peasant, and Agrarian Socialism in the Mexican Huasteca 082635338X, 9780826353382

During the early 1880s, a wave of peasant unrest swept the mountainous Huasteca region of northeastern Mexico. This acco

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For God and Revolution: Priest, Peasant, and Agrarian Socialism in the Mexican Huasteca
 082635338X, 9780826353382

Table of contents :
Front Cover
Title Page
1: The Cultural Geography of the Huasteca Potosina
2: From Pueblo to Nation: The Huasteca Potosina, 1810–1848
3: Peasant Nationalism and Agrarian War, 1848–1856
4: War, Foreign Invasion, and Revolution, 1856–1876
5: The Liberal Assault, 1856–1884
6: The Capitalization of the Countryside, 1856–1884
7: Toward a Mexican Theology of Liberation: Padre Mauricio Zavala
8: Death to All Those Who Wear Pants!: The Huastecan Peasant War, 1879–1884
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Citation preview

during the early 1880s, a wave of


Mark Saad Saka is associate professor of

history at Sul Ross State University, Alpine, Texas.

“A MAJOR ADDITION to the history of the Porfiriato as well as peasant revolts against a specific regional government. The scholarship in this history is very thorough as well as constituting a major breakthrough in the history of the Huasteca. No other book in English compares to this work. It will remain the dominant book on this topic for many years.”

“A FASCINATING STORY of the Huastecan peasant war that provides useful historical and ethnographic information on the indigenous history and ethnography of Mexico and Latin America.” —Marc Becker, Truman State University, author of Indians and Leftists in the Making of Ecuador’s Modern Indigenous Movements

isbn 978-0-8263-5338-2 background texture: courtesy of Jim Ward Morris, © Artville, LLC jacket design: Catherine Leonardo

University of New Mexico Press 800-249-7737

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—Douglas W. Richmond, University of Texas, Arlington, author of The Mexican Nation: Historical Continuity and Modern Change


. Priest, Peasant, and Agrarian Socialism in the Mexican Huasteca

Mark Saad Saka

peasant unrest swept the mountainous Huasteca region of northeastern Mexico. The rebels demanded political autonomy for their pueblos, protection for their churches, and restoration of the land, water, and foraging rights that were a part of their heritage—issues with nationwide implications that foreshadowed the revolution of 1910. This account traces the material and ideological roots of the rebellion to nineteenth-century liberal policies of land privatization and to the growth of a radical anarcho-communist agrarian consciousness. Elite landholders had held sway in the Mexican state of San Luis Potosí since colonial times. In the nineteenth century their seizures of agricultural lands clashed with the rising political consciousness of the Huastecos, who rose up to fight for their way of life. Saka further traces the roots of the Huasteco rebellion to the grassroots religiosity that had developed in the course of centuries of local clerical leadership as well as to a nationalism derived from Huastecan participation in Mexico’s wars against the United States in the 1840s and France in the 1860s. But the hero of Saka’s narrative is Mauricio Zavala, a socialist parish priest who began his career in the Huasteca by providing blessings, organizing local schools, and representing the pueblos in the local and state courts. As conditions deteriorated, he began delivering revolutionary sermons and writing proclamations, arguing that the status of the rural people and their culture should match that of Europeanized Mexicans. His synthesis of Christian humanism and a community-​ based agrarian order promised to raise the dignity of all indigenous Mexicans, anticipating Zapatismo and the liberation theology that swept across Latin America in the twentieth century.

For God and Revolution

For God and Revolution Priest, Peasant, and Agrarian Socialism in the Mexican Huasteca

. Mark Saad Saka

University of New Mexico Press  \ Albuquerque

© 2013 by the University of New Mexico Press All rights reserved. Published 2013 Printed in the United States of America 18 17 16 15 14 13   1 2 3 4 5 6 Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Saka, Mark Saad, 1962– For God and revolution : priest, peasant, and agrarian socialism in the Mexican Huasteca / Mark Saad Saka. pages cm Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 978-0-8263-5338-2 (cloth : alk. paper) — ISBN 978-0-8263-5339-9 (electronic) 1. Agriculture—Economic aspects—Mexico—Huasteca Region. 2. Peasant uprisings—Mexico—Huasteca Region. 3. Land tenure—Mexico—Huasteca Region. 4. Sociology, Rural—Religious aspects—Catholic Church. 5. Socialism—Mexico— Huasteca Region. 6. Huasteca Region (Mexico)—History. I. Title. HD1795.H83S35 2013 338.10972’109034—dc23 2013000926

book design: Catherine Leonardo Composed in 10.25/13.5 Minion Pro Regular Display type is Jawbones Condensed WF

Dedicated to Rosa Lilia

Contents . Maps ix Preface xi Acknowledgments xiii Introduction xv

Chapter 1 The Cultural Geography of the Huasteca Potosina 1

Chapter 2 From Pueblo to Nation: The Huasteca Potosina, 1810–1848 17

Chapter 3 Peasant Nationalism and Agrarian War, 1848–1856 33

Chapter 4 War, Foreign Invasion, and Revolution, 1856–1876 51 Chapter 5 The Liberal Assault, 1856–1884 63 vii


contents Chapter 6

The Capitalization of the Countryside, 1856–1884 83

Chapter 7

Toward a Mexican Theology of Liberation: Padre Mauricio Zavala 103

Chapter 8 Death to All Those Who Wear Pants!: The Huastecan Peasant War, 1879–1884 123 Conclusion 143 Notes 145 Glossary 167 Bibliography 169 Index 177

Maps . Map 1

The Huasteca in relation to Mesoamerican regions

Map 2

The Huastecan language in relation to the languages of Mesoamerica 4

Map 3

The Huasteca Potosina in the colonial era


Map 4

El partido de Tamazunchale


Map 5

El partido de Ciudad del Maíz


Map 6

El partido de Tanchanhuitz


Map 7

Railroads in nineteenth-century San Luis Potosí




Preface . / In the summer of 1879 the peasants of the Huasteca Potosina, 

a region associated with the Sierra Madre Oriental of northeastern Mexico, openly rebelled against the dictatorship of Porfirio Díaz and state elites in San Luis Potosí. They tore down fences, invaded haciendas, seized lands that they felt were rightfully theirs, and established their own local governments. In the years that followed, the violence spread throughout the region and culminated in the occupation by rebel forces of such notable cities of regional importance as Tamazunchale and Ciudad del Maíz. The origins of the Huastecan revolution lay in two sets of causes: longand short-term forces, both material and moral. The long-term and material bases of the revolution derived from the inequalities between the indigenous people and the Spaniards established during the conquest of the region in the sixteenth century. The short-term material origins resided in the privatization of Huastecan agriculture and lands that began in the 1850s, which deprived the rural lower classes and villagers of their land, leaving them desperate. The moral basis of the revolution rested on the synthesis of a subaltern nationalist ideology that derived from participation of the Huastecan peasantry in two patriotic wars and a radical anarchist and socialist consciousness that demanded an egalitarian political system and economy. The agraristas, those who advocated radical social doctrines, included village clergy that provided local leadership and anarchists from Mexico City who, in the case of the Huasteca, introduced subversive ideas into the area, hoping to form political alliances. The agraristas and their allies sought to preserve the peasantry and their community holdings. Padre Mauricio Zavala, a local parish priest, emerged as a key figure in articulating the moral economy of the Huastecan peasantry. Zavala, a socialist, organized the construction of schools, delivered revolutionary sermons, and fought for the redress of indigenous rights in the courts. He taught a xi



form of ethnic populism that elevated the status of the indigenous people to that of Europeanized Mexicans. Zavala synthesized Christian humanism and anarcho-agrarian thought in support of the social, political, and economic rights of the indigenous peasantry of Mexico. In doing so, Zavala attempted to forge a more humane moral and material order in the hope of raising the dignity and aspirations of indigenous Mexicans. Based on previously untapped sources, this work presents a new social and cultural history of a significant portion of the Mexican countryside in the nineteenth century. The story of the Huastecan uprisings offers a new perspective on the origins of Mexican nationalism and incorporates the peasantry into the national historical process.

Acknowledgments . / Many individuals and institutions have contributed to this 

study, first and foremost my wife, Rosa Lilia, whose patience and support made this book possible. John Mason Hart, Tom O’Brien, and Susan Kellogg at the University of Houston proved invaluable as I completed this book. A number of individuals encouraged me throughout the process; I would especially like to thank to Pauline Warren. In addition, a number of individuals read and commented on earlier drafts of this work, including Terry Rugeley, Douglas Richmond, Paul Hart, Norman Caulfield, and Arnoldo de León. In San Luis Potosí, assistance from Rafael Montejano y Aguiñaga, María Isabel Monroy de Martí, and others proved invaluable, and without the professionalism of the staff of the Archivo histórico de San Luis Potosí, this book would not have been possible. Support for this research came from the Fulbright-Hayes Foundation. At Sul Ross State University I would like to thank Jim Case, Jay Downing, Filemón Zamora, Matthew Marsh, Susan Spring, Ryan Buck, and Miguel Ortíz. Finally, I owe this book to my parents, Hamid and Kathleen, who taught me when I was very young to appreciate the histories and dignity of all people.


Introduction . With this edict, we proclaim the just cause of the socialist struggle of the masses that are living in poverty; as close neighbors in the small communities of the Sierra you represent the children of the Mexican nation; and thus you understand the evil hacendados who say that they own all of our land. We must remain firm in the face of their actions and take up arms in order to defend our rights. If we do not, then we will continue to suffer from their abuses. —Council of Socialist Sharecroppers

We have peace because of the imposition of thirty-two thousand bayonets, we have peace because the reformists have become the aristocracy, we have peace because it is natural that a nation born in monarchy is cursed with dictatorship! —Padre Mauricio Zavala

/ During the late 1870s and early 1880s a wave of peasant unrest  swept the mountainous Huasteca region of northeastern Mexico.1 The

Huastecan uprising represents the apogee of agrarian unrest that erupted in the 1840s and swept northeastern Mexico until the 1880s. The Huastecan peasantry that waged these struggles demanded political autonomy for their pueblos, the protection of their churches, and the restoration of the land, water, and foraging rights that were a part of their heritage. In short, the Huastecan struggle presented some of the principal issues at stake in the revolution of 1910 and the Cristero War that followed it. Heightened labor abuses and a loss of pueblo lands, which was the ground of deeply held community values, provided the immediate basis for the upheaval. While the origins of the dissatisfactions expressed by xv



the revolutionaries can be found in the effects of the sixteenth-century Spanish conquest of Mexico on indigenous peoples, they worsened during the course of the nineteenth century. By the 1870s, during the attempt to modernize the economy of San Luis Potosí, the state elites had privatized community landholdings and were eagerly building roads, railroads, and telegraph lines throughout the state, including in the previously remote Huasteca. The construction of the roads and railroads from across the area to the port of Tampico, undertaken to provide access to the global economy, encouraged elite and foreign landowners to “purchase” farmland, ranchland, and timberland that were part of the pueblos. These changes, in turn, challenged the communal way of life of the Huastecan peasantry, which relied on village autonomy and locally controlled production. They also violated a sense of radical national consciousness that had developed in the region beginning with the armed struggles accompanying the independence war against Spain (1810–1821) and then during armed guerrilla wars against United States and French invaders between the 1840s and 1860s. Those struggles entailed far-ranging guerrilla campaigns and had given the previously parochial Huastecan veterans a new sense of empowerment. When they returned from the wars, a newly enhanced sense of citizenship enabled them to become involved in local issues. At the same time, the sense of self they had acquired combined with more traditional beliefs, including religious and agrarian ideology. During the 1870s anarchist ideas that emanated from Mexico City and were carried into the Huasteca by revolutionary agitators further radicalized the indigenous peasantry and small landholders, who grafted peasant-class consciousness onto a preexisting subaltern nationalism. Socialist parish priests further raised and radicalized their political consciousness and then led them into a revolution against the national government. The origins of the Huastecan revolution were also rooted in longer-term problems, especially the caste divisions that resulted from the invasion of the Huasteca by the Spaniards in the sixteenth century. The privatization of peasant properties from the 1830s to the 1870s deepened these already existing inequalities. The short-term causes of the revolts followed the imposition of Liberal Party rule on the national government in Mexico City and the state government in San Luis Potosí. Under the Liberal governorships of Mariano Escobedo (1870–1872) and Carlos Díez Gutiérrez (1876–1896), the elites of San Luis Potosí began their effort to transform the economic and commercial structure of the Huasteca Potosina. The previously isolated



mountain region, held in stasis for centuries, suddenly became a part of the effort to develop agrarian capitalism. During the colonial era, the defeated Huastecos had been reorganized by the conquerors, placed under the authority of the church, received pueblo land grants, and gradually developed new pueblo identities. By the late eighteenth century, however, a landowning class made up of creoles and mestizos emerged in Huasteca among a still large Indian majority. The unequal competition between the growing native rural population and the emergent private estate owners established the social inequalities that contributed to the wave of peasant unrest between 1848 and 1884. Then, the intrusion of large-scale investments of private capital in the 1870s, as Mexico sought to incorporate the Huasteca into the North Atlantic capitalist economy, dramatically shifted the balance of power against the campesinos. While the state elites inaugurated the construction of the roads, railroads, and telegraphic lines into the Huasteca from the port of Tampico, they also bought up peasant land holdings. The growth of export agriculture had provided incentives for the state’s landowning elites and foreigners to increase the magnitude of their holdings. The development of nationalist, anarchist, and socialist ideologies among the Huastecan rebels evolved over the course of the nineteenth century. First, Huastecan peasants fought for national independence alongside the armies of Padre Hidalgo y Costilla. Second, in 1846, in an important step, they again heeded the call to arms and fought as guerrilla bands alongside the Mexican Army against the invading U.S. forces. The pueblo militias also helped to harass and attack the U.S. Army’s supply lines that stretched from Veracruz to Mexico City. Third, during the 1860s they enlisted in another patriotic resistance against French invaders. These experiences created an unprecedented awareness of national destiny among the Huastecan fighters. After the U.S. invasion, Huastecan peasant guerrillas returned to their villages. Calling themselves “citizens” and armed with weapons and a nationalist identity, they occupied their ancestral lands and subdivided haciendas by force. In their proclamations, the peasants also delegitimized the Mexican government by declaring that the government opposed the general will of the people and asserting that it had failed to prosecute the patriotic war against the foreign invaders. During the rebellions of the 1840s the campesinos demanded greater political participation, guarantees of citizens’ and pueblo rights, and the right



of peasant women to fight in the militias of the locally controlled pueblos. The Huastecos also called for an end to private property. The Mexican state they envisioned would guarantee the right of native citizens to pursue economic self-sufficiency and political autonomy through common agricultural lands. The intervention of the Mexican Army and compromises between the national government and the rebels restored a semblance of stability. Then, during the 1860s, the French invaded and occupied Mexico, an event that once again brought the Huastecan campesinos into a broader national struggle. The communities of the Huasteca formed much of the militias for Mexican president Benito Juárez’s army of the east that conducted an extensive guerrilla war against the French and Emperor Maximilian’s forces. The experience gained by the Huastecos during their service in the armed forces in conjunction with their exposure to the ideas of liberty, equality, and fraternity that Liberal army officers propagated among the troops in order to motivate and inspire them further enhanced their sense of nationalism. Later, when Porfirio Díaz launched the 1876 Tuxtepec revolt against the beleaguered government of President Sebastían Lerdo de Tejada and proclaimed himself president of Mexico, he enjoyed wide support from peasants throughout the Huasteca. In the Huasteca Potosina, the campesinos believed Díaz would support their demands for the return of recently usurped ancestral village lands. Declaring themselves “Porfiristas,” the Huastecan campesinos considered themselves part of Díaz’s alliance. They supported him because he promised a new, free, and more democratic Mexico: “In the struggle sustained from time immemorial by the people with the haciendas, I shall be on the side of the people once I obtain power.” When Díaz broke that promise he set the stage for social violence. Beginning in the 1870s, a wave of peasant unrest swept northeastern Mexico. Many of these uprisings were grounded in modern anarchist and socialist notions of class warfare and revolutionary agrarian syndicalism. These ideas reached the Huasteca Potosina through a number of different means, including pamphlets, books, and community organizers as well as through symbolic banners as red and black flags. Many of these ideas were disseminated to the Huastecan peasantry via the revolutionary sermons by a radicalized parish priest Padre Mauricio Zavala. In the summer of 1879, the Huastecan peasants of San Luis Potosí rose in open and armed defiance against the new agrarian order imposed on them by the policies of Porfirio Díaz in Mexico City and state elites in San Luis Potosí. At Tamazunchale the Nahua and Otomí campesinos demanded the



return of lands that had recently been usurped by commercially oriented agricultural estate owners. After years of increasing tensions, the peasants of the tropical highlands, under the leadership of Padre Mauricio Zavala and cacique Juan Santiago, tore down fences and invaded haciendas, seizing lands they felt were rightfully theirs. The rebellion quickly spread to nearby Tanchanhuitz, where Huastecan jornaleros marched through the streets, waving machetes and chanting “death to all those who wear pants!” The indigenous Huastecos distinguished themselves from the mestizos of the towns by castigating them for wearing Europeanized clothing. When negotiations between the peasants and government failed to bridge the seemingly unbreachable gulf between the native peasants and their creole overlords, the military intervened. A six-year bloodbath ensued, characterized by guerrilla ambushes and scorched-earth counterinsurgency efforts. From 1880 to 1882, the peasant forces grew in strength, and the movement spread northward within the Huasteca. By the spring of 1882 the campesinos around Ciudad del Maíz, most notably the pueblos of San Nicolás de los Montes and San José, had attacked landowners and estate managers, seized estates, and established de facto pueblo governments. Led by Padre Zavala, who had earned his prestige by heading up a campaign to build locally controlled schools and fighting in the courts for the legal redress of indigenous rights, the peasants demanded the restoration of communal lands that they claimed the great estate owners had usurped from the pueblos during the previous two decades. Zavala openly advocated what outsiders referred to as “anarchism.” The form of rural anarchism, or anarcho-agrarianism, advocated by Zavala and other anarchist agraristas, demanded local autonomy from centralized government, seizure and redistribution of agricultural properties by the municipios libres, and cultural autonomy over the educational and religious traditions of indigenous communities. He and his allies proclaimed “agrarian socialism” in the name of the “Mexican nation” and created red and black flags that read “Agrarian Law and Municipal Government” with a red star adjoining the proclamation. Agrarian socialism, a variant of anarchoagrarianism, advocated the equal distribution of landed resources among collectivized peasant villages and the democratic participation of the indigenous population in decisions about the types of crops to be cultivated. The Huastecan rebels proposed the restructuring of rural society into an egalitarian economic, political, and moral order that would give indigenous people control of property. They justified their rights as “children of Mexico” and



as “citizens.” Owing to their open challenge to the elite Mexican and foreign estate owners, the peasant revolutionaries constituted an important force for agrarianism and peasant nationalism in nineteenth-century Mexico. The presence of rural subaltern nationalism in the Huasteca parallels modern examples in China, India, Peru, and other regions of rural Mexico. Chalmers Johnson testifies to the role that peasant participation in national guerrilla wars played in the creation of modern revolutionary movements in Peasant Nationalism and Communist Power, his groundbreaking analysis of the importance of peasant nationalism in the Chinese peasantry’s resistance to the Japanese occupation of the 1930s and 1940s, which then became the basis for the Chinese Communist Party’s ascension to power in the late 1940s. For Johnson, Chinese communism originated during a war that energized a radical nationalist movement among the peasantry, the imposition of Marxist-Leninist ideology being adjunct to Chinese peasant nationalism. David Hardiman provides a subaltern perspective of the emergence of Indian nationalist consciousness in Peasant Nationalists of Gujarat by focusing on the peasantry of Gujarat, the epicenter of Mahat Gandhi’s Indian National Congress. The Gujarat peasantry forged a revolutionary nationalism and actively joined multiclass and multiethnic alliances and shaped a broader political base from which Gandhi’s anticolonial politics emerged. According to Hardiman, this peasant communal base proved crucial to the making of modern India. In Peasant and Nation, Florencia Mallon uncovers the pivotal role that Peruvian peasants played in the formation of cross-class and cross-ethnic alliances that confronted the Chilean Army during the War of the Pacific (1879–1883) and, in so doing, forged a nationalist consciousness that urban middle class radicals later embraced. During the course of the war, a radicalized nationalism materialized among these peasant-soldiers, whose newly empowered sense of nationalist consciousness then spurred them on to seize lands that had historically belonged to their Indian communities. Mallon further enhances her treatment of the Andean peasantry’s radicalized nationalist consciousness and actions by providing a comparative treatment of the Mexican Indian guerrillas who, in the region of Cuautla, Puebla, participated in armed resistance against the U.S. invasion between 1846 and 1848. In the aftermath of the war, peasant guerrillas occupied local haciendas, as a sense of heightened empowerment manifested itself among the peasant guerrillas, who had internalized nationalist consciousness as a means of promoting an agrarian struggle against their class enemies.2



In Bitter Harvest, Paul Hart also underscores the nationalist discourse that the peasantry of Morelos articulated in Mexico’s wars against the U.S. invasion of 1846 and the French occupation of the 1860s. In the aftermath of the tumultuous wars of the nineteenth century, the rural working class of Morelos drew on modern social and political ideologies to construct a vision of a more humane and inclusive Mexican state. The formation of nationalist discourse among the peasantry of Morelos laid the groundwork for an empowered sense of class consciousness that manifested itself in the ideology of Zapatismo that characterized rural revolts during the Mexican Revolution (1910–1940). In Peasants, Politics, and the Formation of Mexico’s National State, Peter Guardino provides a pathbreaking history of the peasantry of the state of Guerrero in southwestern Mexico and the impact they had on the formation of Mexico’s political culture during the first half of the nineteenth century. Guardino demonstrates how the peasantry and the rural population actively engaged in and forged various political alliances with elites at the regional and national levels and shaped the outcome of Mexico’s state-building process. For Guardino, the question was not whether there would be a Mexican state but what the character and nature of that state would be. Michael Ducey reconstructs the emergence of the nation of Mexico out of villages in A Nation of Villages, a groundbreaking history of the Huasteca Veracruzana. Ducey traces the active participation of the Huastecan villages in a series of wars and political conflicts and illuminates their vision of a nation of villages that would graft various federalist and republican ideologies to their village aspirations. For the villages and peasantry of Veracruz, such as Morelos, Guerrero, and Puebla, the question would remain what type of nation Mexico would become. The development of a revolutionary consciousness among the Huastecos in the state of San Luis Potosí allows historians of subaltern societies to incorporate Mexican peasant studies into a broader world context. The Huastecan peasantry fought throughout the nineteenth century to determine and shape their new nation. Their ideas and actions demonstrate the political and social importance of the peasantry and subaltern forces in the shaping of the modern world.

Chap te r 1

The Cultural Geography of the Huasteca Potosina . The Spanish Conquistadores did not have the right to appropriate through violence the nation’s territory that was already populated; and neither did they have the right to reduce the nation to slavery and servitude against human liberty. The usurpation of the Conquest and the division of our common lands has converted the nation into one of proletariats suffering under the tyrannical oppression of the haciendas. Without Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, and Land, prosperity is impossible. —Juan Santiago, cacique of Tamazunchale, San Luis Potosí, 1879

/ The origins of the agrarian violence that engulfed the Huasteca

Potosina during the nineteenth century lie in the exploitative political and economic order established during the three centuries of Spanish colonial rule.1 The Mexican Huasteca extends from the tropical lowlands of the Mexican Gulf Coast upland through the rugged Sierra Madre Oriental to the fertile valleys beyond. It encompasses portions of the states of San Luis Potosí, Veracruz, Querétaro, Hidalgo, and Tamaulipas. The western edge of the area, where the greatest number of people lived during the time of the rebellion, lies three thousand feet above sea level. The hot climate, ample rivers, and fertile soil of the region provide an ideal basis for agriculture. In the eighteenth century, the indigenous peasants and the creole elites lived in regional isolation, the former in their villages and the latter in the capital cities and country estates.



Chapter 1

Map 1.  The Huasteca in relation to Mesoamerican regions

The society of the Huastecos was as complex as their landscape. Historically, the distribution of land in the Huasteca varied greatly from one region to another. Ethnic ratios varied as well, and San Luis Potosí retained a denser indigenous population than Veracruz, Querétaro, Hidalgo, or Tamaulipas. Large haciendas characterized the Potosina provinces of Valles, Tanchanhuitz, and Tamazunchale, where the nineteenth-century revolutions were most intense. The Huasteca is regarded as an ecological, sociocultural, and economic region. Ecologically, it is made up of three different zones: the high tropical mountain forests and canyons of the Sierra Madre Oriental, the low mountains characterized by a series of valleys, and the coastal plains of Veracruz. Socioculturally, the vast portion of the peasant population of the Huasteca is descended from various native Mexican groups, but the region is dominated socially and politically by rancheroowning creole families. Economically, the region is characterized by interdependency. Frans Schryer notes that, in economic terms, the different parts of the Huasteca have more in common with one another than they do with other regions of their respective states.2 In the 1870s, at the outbreak of the agrarian revolts, the Huasteca Potosina, that region of the Huasteca located in the state of San Luis Potosí,

The Cultural Geography of the Huasteca Potosina


was divided into three partidos: Valles, Tanchanhuitz, and Tamazunchale. Eight municipios with 22,743 inhabitants constituted Tanchanhuitz, the largest of the three partidos, while Tamazunchale contained four municipios with 18,165 inhabitants.3 Tanchanhuitz and Tamazunchale belonged to the southern part of San Luis Potosí, which is marked by hot jungles and extends southward into the states of Veracruz and Hidalgo. The city of Valles, which is to the north and borders the Huasteca of Tamaulipas, had four municipios but only 10,590 inhabitants living in the Gulf Coast littoral.4 Valles is characterized by low and straight land that runs along the whole of the Gulf Coast. The Spaniards used the plains to raise livestock and sugarcane. In the areas of Tanchanhuitz and Huehutlán, cattle ranching and sugar thrived in the lower valleys, while corn was cultivated on the mountainsides. During the late nineteenth century in the southern municipio of Tamazunchale and Xilitla, the indigenous peasantry still had some land for sugarcane cultivation in the lower valleys, and they raised coffee trees on the mountainsides. The term “Cuextlan,” used by the Aztecs to name the region, means “land of abundant food.” It was later altered to “Huasteca” by the Spanish during the sixteenth century. The descendants of the earliest inhabitants of the region refer to themselves as Teenek and distinguish themselves from the more recent ethnic groups in the area, the Nahua and Otomí. The term Huasteca is applied, by outsiders, to all of the indigenous people of the region, but this is a misnomer; technically the term applies to the Teenek only. However, when collectively referring to the indigenous peoples of the region, I use the distinguishing term “Huasteco.”

The Pre-Columbian Origins of the Huasteca Agriculture developed along the Veracruz coast and Potosí serranos before 7500 BC, but little is known about these early Mesoamerican peoples. By 500 to 200 BC the Teenek had built small villages and ceremonial centers at Pánuco, Tamuín, Tanchanhuitz, el Ebano, Ramposoque, Tamatzán, Chajil, and other coastal and serrano mountain sites. The main Teenek settlements and religious centers remained in the Huasteca Veracruzana, Potosina, and Hidalgo. The states of Tamaulipas and Querétaro stood peripheral to the Teenek core.5 The origin of the Teenek is still debated by many. Linguistically they belong to the greater Mayan family of languages. Morris Swadesh estimates that the Teenek language evolved in the coastal region for some forty-five hundred years until about thirty-five hundred years ago, when they diverged


Chapter 1

Map 2.  The Huastecan language in relation to the languages of Mesoamerica

from the peninsular Mayan and gradually developed their own language. By AD 200 their dialects and languages represented a distinct tongue. Some regional variations in the Teenek language persist until today. The dialect of San Luis Potosí differs from that of Veracruz, and the people of both regions differ from their neighbors in Hidalgo.6 In the sixteenth century, Spanish cleric Sahagún claimed that two migratory surges, via marine travel from the Yucatán Peninsula, brought the Teenek to the Gulf Coast.7 Lorenzo Ochoa disputes this belief. He believes that the Teenek came overland to the Huasteca and that the emergence of the Olmec civilization permanently divided the Gulf Coast from the Yucatán Peninsula.8 Jeffery Wilkerson conducted extensive archaeological research in the Santa Luis region of Veracruz, near the modern city Papantla, and supports Ochoa. Wilkerson also believes that the Olmec split the protoMayan peoples and that by that time, around 300 BC, the Teenek had developed their own cultural attributes and languages.9 However, the geographic break between the Teenek and the peninsula

The Cultural Geography of the Huasteca Potosina


did not end all contact. A high degree of trade continued. Ochoa concludes, in his analysis of Spanish and Nahua histories, archaeological remains, and marine currents that bustling maritime traffic integrated the two regions for most of the pre-Columbian era. He speculates that the trade continued through the first century of the Spanish Empire.10 Eric Thompson emphasizes the maritime commercial trade between the Maya of the Yucatán peninsula with regions extending from Tamaulipas to the Honduran coastline of Central America. Thompson believes that the maritime contact continued during the late Classic period, from about AD 850 to 950.11 A trade complex developed in the Huasteca around the modern city of Tuxpan, south of the Huasteca Potosina, and Mayan merchants established commercial ties as far west as Huejutla, in the Huasteca Hidalgo. The coastal Huastecos carried out long-distance maritime trade in both canoes and relatively large boats, traveling to Campeche, where they exchanged shellfish, jade, and obsidian for peninsular salt.12 These trade routes played an important role in the development of the Maya economy in the Yucatán Peninsula during the post-Classic era, AD 950–1500. Between 200 BC and AD 800 the Teenek developed their highest degree of social organization. They had a ruling merchant class. They constructed elaborate buildings with sophisticated geometric architectural designs and demonstrated considerable urban planning in Tamuín, Tanchanhuitz, Tamatzán, Tamosque, and El Ebano.13 Between AD 200 and AD 500 there were urban centers that possessed defined architecture, including temples with circular platforms. These cities integrated, culturally and economically, the geographically dispersed Teenek settlement patterns into a series of theocratic city-states. Changes in the development of political institutions indicate that increased agricultural output and commerce gave rise to greater population density and that centers exerted ever greater control over the Huastecan hinterlands. The Teenek practiced swidden, or extensive slash and burn agriculture, producing corn, beans, chiles, and sweet potatoes. Swidden agriculture is accomplished through rotational growing periods. The cultivator initially clears the land of vegetation by burning off the cover. He maintains the plot for a year or two, at which time he moves to another plot of land. After five or six years the farmer returns to the original land and repeats the cycle. The Teenek supplemented their diets with honey and wild game such as deer and birds. Aztec tribute records indicate that the mountainous tropical regions of the Huasteca provided an abundance of diverse food and game. The Teenek


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obtained fish, oysters, and shellfish from the river systems that extended throughout the Huasteca, and they manufactured their own clothes with cotton, which was grown in the area. The majority of the Teenek population lived in decentralized villages, each headed by an independent governor or cacique. These pueblos formed independent states, made compromises with other villages, and remained fiercely independent, and often warred with each other. The position of the cacique was usually hereditary, and if a father died before the boy was old enough to rule, a tutor-regent assisted in managing tribal affairs.14 The Teenek developed a cultural and religious consciousness that paralleled that in the rest of Mesoamerica. Like other Mesoamericans, they worshipped all-powerful gods of both male and female powers and both earthly and heavenly origin. They could manipulate these god powers through magic and intercessional pleading expressed in prayers and chants. The Teenek attributed spiritual identities to local topographical features, including celestial objects, mountains, valleys, waterfalls, ridges, peaks, caves, streams, burial sites, temples, cities, and trees. “There was effectively no distinction between the sacred and the material. Stone, wood, clay, seeds, and maize were not simply inert materials to be shaped into images that symbolized or evoked divinity. These materials were alive with the sacred, not just symbolic of it.” 15 Anthropologist Janis Alcorn points out that in Aquismón, a small village in the Huasteca Potosina, many Teenek parents continue to baptize their children in caves before taking them to the Catholic Church.16 The blessings of the spirits, which inhabited the caverns, came before Jesus and the Virgin. The coexistence of local and universal spiritual identities is a feature of an enduring regionalism that continues today and that has proven alien to colonialism and agrarian capitalism. During the fifteenth century, the Aztecs of the central valley invaded the Huasteca. According to Fray Diego Durán, the Huastecos repeatedly attacked and killed Aztec invaders. Moctezuma I failed in his attempt to conquer the Huasteca in 1458. In 1485 the Teenek again repelled an Aztec invasion. The Aztecs never established a firm foothold in Huasteca. Aztec soldiers were able to capture the coastal town of Tuxpan, and from there they launched bloody raids into the heart of the Huasteca Potosina. The Aztecs also managed to capture and conquer the flat Huasteca region around Huejutla in the Huasteca Hidalgo. The Aztecs demanded tribute from the conquered Huastecos in the form of gold, white honey, exotic fruits of many

The Cultural Geography of the Huasteca Potosina


colors, a wide variety of chile peppers, fish and shrimp from the coast of Veracruz, cocoa, cotton, jewelry, feathers, and tropical birds.17 During the early sixteenth century, the Aztecs captured thousands of Huastecan men, placed their necks in stocks, marched them off to Tenochtitlán, and put them to work or sacrificed them to their god of war, Huitztilopchtli. The Aztecs settled on this tribute payment as a means of subduing and depopulating the Huasteca Potosina of many of its original inhabitants.18 The Nahua (the descendants of the Aztecs) from the central valley arrived in the late fifteenth century. The Nahua hoped to transform these colonial outposts into trading centers that would bring the “barbarians” of the Huasteca into their imperial orbit.

The Spanish Conquest The first Spanish coastal explorations came in 1517, carried out by Juan de Grijalva, but no landing resulted. After securing support from Cuban governor Diego Velásquez, Grijalva returned to Mexico in 1518. He navigated the Tamesí River until he reached Tancasnequí and then continued into the interior of Pánuco. From there, his troops disembarked and rowed canoes into some smaller tributaries. After determining that the land was much larger than previously thought, they returned to Cuba.19 The next expedition, led by Alonso Alvarez de Piñeda, came in 1521. He also explored the region but made no contact with the Huastecos. Later that year, Jamaican governor Francisco de Garay sent Grijalva back to Pánuco, but Teenek warriors ambushed the Spanish expedition, killing many soldiers and forcing them to abandon their wounded and return to Jamaica.20 Hernan Cortés made the first Spanish overland invasion of the Huasteca in 1522. After conquering the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlán, his forces penetrated the highland serranos of San Luis Potosí. He then abruptly left the Huasteca and returned to Tenochtitlán to suppress Cuauhtemóc’s revolt. After defeating the Aztecs, Cortés returned to the Huasteca with a force of 120 horsemen, some artillery, and 40,000 Tlaxcalan allies. They traveled up the Moctezuma River into the heartland of the Huasteca Potosina, following a route through Tamazunchale, Coscatlán, Tanchanhuitz, Tamuín, and Chila. An alliance of Teenek villagers rose up in defiance of their conquerors near the modern village of Coscatlán. The site of the battle, however, allowed the Spanish horsemen to use an open plain to achieve an easy


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victory. Coscatlán remained a stubborn center of cultural resistance. There, in the 1840s, 1870s, and 1880s, agrarian violence swept the region. Cortés delineated the province and named it “Pánuco” from the river that bears its name. The area extended from the Tuxpan River in northern Veracruz through Huejutla in Hidalgo and on to the Huasteca Potosina. Major Potosina villages such as Tamazunchale, Tampache, Xilitla, Tanchanhuitz, and Valles fell under the political jurisdiction of the provincial governor.21 Warfare soon erupted in Pánuco, as the Teenek rose up in an attempt to expel the invaders. Using highly mobile tactics and their knowledge of the terrain, they surrounded the scattered Spanish forces and cut them off from one another. The besieged garrisons of Tamiquil and Tacetuco surrendered, but the Huastecos still killed one hundred Spanish troops. The Huastecan rebels then laid siege to the town of San Sebastían del Puerto for over fifty days and killed four hundred more Spaniards. Cortés reacted by invading in force, crushing the revolt and establishing a reign of terror. He destroyed dozens of Huastecan villages and burned over four hundred villagers alive. The cordons of wood and humans smoldered for days, marking the violence visited on the indigenous people who resisted the conquistadores.22 In 1527 the Spanish Crown appointed Nuño de Guzmán as governor of the province of Pánuco. During the next six years Guzmán deported four thousand Huastecos to Mexico City. More than half of them died shortly after their arrival. The cold climate differed radically from the hot and humid mountains of their homeland, and that along with the harshness of forced labor killed them.23 Guzmán enslaved other Huastecos, deporting eighty thousand of them to Cuba in return for one thousand head of cattle. He literally depopulated the Veracruz coastal region. Guzmán facially branded his slaves, including infants. He owned nearly one-third of all the Huastecan slaves deported to the Caribbean. The governor allowed his close friends to buy and sell the other two-thirds. Slaves departed from Veracruz and Tampico and died either along the way or soon after their arrival in Cuba. The Spaniards packed the ships so full of Huastecos, as many as four hundred to a vessel, that they sometimes sank in the Gulf. Entire shiploads of chained Huastecos died during this Caribbean “Middle Passage.” The combined weight of forced enslavement and brutal military campaigns devastated the Teenek. Samuel Wilkerson writes that “various types of documents directly or indirectly indicate a drastic de-population of north-central Veracruz during the sixteenth century.” 24 Within five decades the population declined by 90 percent. Wilkerson estimates that the

The Cultural Geography of the Huasteca Potosina


Huasteca-Totonaca region surrounding the modern city of Papantla experienced a death rate of 98 percent.25 Likewise, areas such as the Pánuco River region retained a mere 2 percent of their precontact population. Additionally, in the 1540s and 1570s central Veracruz underwent terrible smallpox and measles epidemics. By 1580 the population of the town of Jalapa had declined from 30,000 to 639. An even greater catastrophe took place in the countryside, which “suffered higher death rates than Jalapa.” 26 The few remaining Teenek fled the coastal plains of Veracruz to the Potosí and Tamaulipas highlands, where they managed to survive. Bartolomé de las Casas denounced the “savage” behavior of Nuño de Guzmán as the worst in all of New Spain. “Having committed many cruelties and killings as mentioned and others that have been left out in the provinces of New Spain and Pánuco, there followed another cruel and insensible tyrant in the year 1525.” 27 He testifies to the role that Guzmán played in the massive depopulation of the Teenek and the catastrophic impact of forced deportation. The Spanish “brutally depopulated the entire land” and the Teenek “would not be here if it were not for God’s will and the resistance of the religious order of Saint Francis.” 28 The intervention by Franciscan friars prevented the absolute elimination of the Huastecos and allowed for an eventual demographic comeback by the middle of the nineteenth century, some three hundred years later.

The Colonial Regime The religious orders of the Augustinians and Franciscans first attempted to convert the Huastecos.29 The Augustinians missionized the Huasteca between 1538 and 1557. Fray Antonio de Roa entered the region through Meztitlán in 1538. He deliberately distinguished himself from the conquistadors by walking barefoot, fasting, and flagellating his back with a short whip. He came to the villages thin and disfigured, refusing meat from local conquistadors and accepting only corn and beans from sympathetic Huastecos. He allegedly performed a series of miracles and founded a church in Huazalingo, in Hidalgo. The Augustinians divided the Huasteca into two regions, the Meztitla and Huejutla. In 1557 they inaugurated a third zone in the Huasteca Potosina. They built a convent in the Nahua pueblo of Xilitla. This convent still exists today and is the oldest functioning church in the state of San Luis Potosí. On June 30, 1571, Fray Juan de la Cruz finished Doctrina cristiana de la lengua


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Map 3.  The Huasteca Potosina in the colonial era

guasteca, con la lengua castellana, a translation of the New Testament into the Teenek language. This is the oldest known written text of the language. Fray Andre de Olmos led the first Franciscans into the Huasteca, who likewise evangelized there.30 The Dominicans also worked in the Huasteca, but to a much lesser degree. They expended most of their effort in the Sierra Gorda and among the Chichimeca and Jonaces peoples.31 In addition to seeking to convert the Teenek to Christianity, the local padres advocated and obtained communal tracts of lands for them, further assuring their survival and helping to create the basis for agrarian ideology.

The Cultural Geography of the Huasteca Potosina


In the Huasteca, as in other regions of Mexico, the native demographic decline in the sixteenth century enabled Spanish and creole landowners to acquire the properties of the deceased Indians through land grants, called “mercedes,” issued by the viceroy. The concessions provided the judicial basis for the development of private estates in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries.32 In the region surrounding Ciudad Valles, the haciendas took shape through the middle of the seventeenth century. They included Buenavista, San Ignacío del Buey, La Mula, Miraflores, Tanzacle, Tancheneque, and Tamalihuate de los Humos. The manner in which estates came into being became the basis of contention between the Huastecan pueblos and great landowners. In the ensuing struggles, the Indians generally lost. Many of the Spanish landholders in the region of Ciudad Valles imported cattle from Spain and Cuba in order to make their ranches profitable. But extensive grazing by the cattle devastated the land. This destruction amounted to what Miguel Aguilar Robledo described as “ethnocide.” Spanish livestock destroyed much of the tropical forests of the Huasteca, turning once lush vegetation into grasslands. This topographic change more or less put a stop to the slash-and-burn farming system of the peasantry in Valles and enabled the further consolidation of ranching interests. The ranchers then took advantage of the new graze lands and subsequently imported more cattle.33 In addition to imposing Christianity on the indigenous population and transforming the environment of the region, the Spanish conquerors also restructured the ethnic matrix. The demographic collapse of the sixteenth century permitted large numbers of Otomí, Tlaxcalan, and Nahua immigrants to flood the Huasteca. Many of these native groups assisted the Spanish in their conquest of Pánuco and received land grants for their service. The Spanish imported Nahua from the central valley and Tarascans from Michoacán into the Huasteca. They preferred the more urbanized and “civilized” natives to the “barbaric” Teenek. The Nahua populated the major Spanish towns and urban outposts throughout the southern Huasteca. In Tamazunchale and Xilitla, Nahua represented the entire indigenous population. Augustinian friars founded Xilitla in 1557, and by 1570, the Hispanic urban center was home to some 1,518 Nahua and Otomí immigrants. In 1570 the encomendero Juan Sánchez founded the town of Coscatlán on a preexisting pueblo and then imported 410 Nahua settlers.34 Nahua and Otomí settled throughout the surrounding fracciones. Nahua and Otomí lived in most parts of the Huasteca Hidalgo, including in Huejutla, Molango, and Jacala.


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Over the course of the colonial era, however, the diverse indigenous population of the Huasteca gradually merged through the integration of communities and marital relationships to form a common cultural and ethnic identity. Some ethnohistorians such as Guy Stresser Péan downplay the high number of central valley immigrants and suggest instead that the rural population of the southern Huasteca assimilated into the Huasteca region as “Nahuatized” Teenek. The Spanish utilized Nahuatl as a lingua franca, and many Spanish friars used it as a missionizing language.35 Most of the pueblo names in the ethnically diverse Huasteca Potosina retain their original Teenek meanings. Tanchanhuitz (place of flowers), Tamazunchale (place of the women caciques), Tampamolón (place of the birds), Huehutlán (place of the drums), and others reflect a continuous Teenek cultural presence.36 Common cultural indicators throughout the region and among the Tepehuas, Nahua, Totonac, and Otomí demonstrate an established Teenek ethnic identity. When violence erupted in the nineteenth century, the indigenous population of the Huasteca Potosina represented a mixture of the original Teenek and the various new peoples who arrived during the colonial period. The people in some pueblos, such as San Antonio and Aquismón, were almost completely Teenek, but others, such as Tanalajax, Huehutlán, Tamuín, and Valles, contained mixed populations of Teenek, Mestizo, and Spanish peoples. The Nahua and Teenek lived alongside each other in the towns of Tampamolón and Tanchanhuitz, although they lived in separate barrios and had different patron saints.37 The Nahua and the Teenek dressed differently. The Nahua men wore long shirts about the waists, and the women wore shirts underneath their shawls, braided their hair, and wore a waistband petticoat with folds, all black and cotton. Mestizos believed that this made the Nahua more “civilized” than their Teenek counterparts.38 Both Nahua and Teenek women reinforced a separate ethnic identity by wearing necklaces made of differing colored cheap pearls, and Nahua women wore blue bracelets to distinguish themselves from the Teenek women.39 The Teenek and Nahua also had different dances and festivals. The Nahua and Otomí often danced in commemoration of epochal wars and their kings and warriors and in memory of a forgotten time and empire. The Nahua dances demonstrate a historical memory, based on the oral traditions of the abuses of the conquest and linkages to the preconquest era. The Chalecuas, a dance performed by the Nahua in Tamazunchale, represents the Aztec wars

The Cultural Geography of the Huasteca Potosina


and the Noche triste, the battle for Tenochtitlán. “The dancers are inclined toward an opening in the earth and show indignation upon finding the body of their emperor Moctezuma in a prison. They then discover the fact that Hernan Cortés has escaped and try to recapture him in order to sacrifice him to their Gods.” Pedro Antonio Santos Santos observed that in the “dance of the Varitas,” the Aztecs first encounter Spanish cavalry and defeat them. The monarch dance, however, recreates the past glory of Moctezuma.40 The dances of the Teenek glorified the past of Pánuco. The “danza de los Reyes” immortalized Teenek myths and kings. In this dance, rather than one individual representing the king and possibly representing an emerging sense of equality, all the Teenek dressed as royalty. They encircled and danced around a young Teenek girl dressed as the woman they perceived as a traitor, “la Malinche.” Santos Santos noted that the most popular dance of the Teenek and the one that most distinguished them from the other indigenous of the region was the palo volador. It was executed by five uniformly dressed dancers with feathered crowns, who moved rhythmically to whistles and tambourines. The dancers hung upside down on ropes from an elevated pole. They then went around in circles while making a frightful haunting noise.41 Spanish friars attempted to stamp out this dance, but to no avail, and it continues to the present, demonstrating the Teneeks’ continuity with their past. Teenek and mulatos joined together in the “danza Panoquera” to imitate gangs called “lanceros.” Both men and women participated in this dance.42 Africans represent an important, yet often underestimated, element in the Huastecan ethnic mosaic. Within a few decades after the Spanish invasion, a drastic decline in the indigenous population and the huge profits from sugar production encouraged the Spanish to import Africans as a source of forced labor. As many as two thousand African slaves entered the port of Veracruz annually in the third quarter of the sixteenth century and early decades of the seventeenth century.43 Constituting a “third race,” the Africans fled to the Huasteca Potosina from plantation slavery in Veracruz throughout the colonial era and helped create the distinct regional culture, music, foods, and dialects of the region.44 The Africans entered a multitiered labor system. Many of them worked on the sugar plantations in central Veracruz, while others worked in the urban centers as domestic slaves. Although the Spanish landowners in the Huastecan serranos of San Luis Potosí did not directly import African slaves as did the plantation owners in the Veracruz lowlands, the region still absorbed a large number of Africans into the rural ethnic population. Many


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of the plantation slaves escaped and set up cimarrón communities in the mountains around the towns of Veracruz, Jalapa, Orizaba, and Cordoba. The predominance of males in the plantation work force created an uneven sex ratio in the slave community, which proved a prime factor in the emerging multiethnic social order. African males oftentimes married indigenous women, and their bicultural/biracial children reflected a new Mexican nation. These runaway slave communities practiced what officials referred to as “mountain marriages.” 45 This fugitive lifestyle created a heritage of rebellion and armed resistance that emerged in the Huasteca. One of the more prominent of these mountain cimarrón communities lay in the vicinity of Cordoba in the Huasteca Veracruzana. Led by an escaped slave named Yanga, former escaped slaves raided central and northern Veracruz during the late sixteenth century. By the middle of the seventeenth century the marauding mobile population had become a sedentary agricultural one. The Spanish state accepted the Yanga maroon community and granted it legal recognition as the pueblo of “San Lorenzo de los Negros.” The racial mixture in the pueblo produced a rural population similar to that of neighboring indigenous communities. The ethnic reworking of the Huasteca Veracruzana became widespread. As noted by Patrick Carroll, “Yanga’s evolution from fugitive to legal settlement did not represent an isolated incident. These circumstances prevailed until well into the eighteenth century.” 46 Many of the cimarrón communities established escape routes through the vast Huastecan river network. Escaped slaves often ended up in the Huastecan serranos of San Luis Potosí and Tamaulipas. They worked on haciendas as an auxiliary labor force, physically assimilating into an emerging rural proletariat. The presence of Africans in the Huasteca Potosina has been underestimated. Although San Luis Potosí did not import large numbers of African slaves as did Veracruz, owing to the fact that the region remained a principal escape route for resettlement for runaway slaves, their numerical presence in the colonial Huasteca was significant. The last major census conducted in colonial San Luis Potosí demonstrates the extensive African presence in the Huasteca. In some Potosina pueblos, they represented a small but significant portion of the rural population. In the town of San Antonio, Africans represented 5 percent of the nonEuropean population. In Tanalajas, in the partido of Tanchanhuitz, more than 6 percent of the non-European population was African. In Tamuín, a Teenek village outside of Ciudad del Valles, Africans made up almost 20 percent of the non-European population and 13 percent of the total population.

The Cultural Geography of the Huasteca Potosina


In Tampamolón, Africans represented 14 percent of the non-European population. In Tampacán, the percentage of Africans topped 30 percent.47 It is safe to assume that much of the rural population described in the census as indigenous or mestizo probably counted much African racial and cultural heritage in their genealogy. Two hundred and fifty years of colonial miscegenation blurred somatic differences between the Huastecos and injected a tradition of rebellion and guerrilla-style military tactics into the rural population. Mulatos lived dispersed and marginalized throughout the Huasteca, most villages containing a sizeable number. Santos Santos notes a significant number of mulatos in Tanlajas, Tantzuyo, Cuayalab, Coscatlán, Tampamolón, Axtla, and Tamazunchale. Many of them lived as fishermen along the banks of the plentiful rivers characteristic of the Huasteca. Denied access to land, and possibly because of the fact that most slaves escaped by canoe, fishing emerged as a viable alternative to farming for the mulatos. Spanish officials often charged fishermen who lived out of their canoes, referred to as “canoeros,” with drunkenness and with quarreling with the Nahua and Teenek peasants. Lacking access to legally recognized agricultural land, the mulatos remained marginalized from both the creoles and their indigenous neighbors. Yet mulatos made a new life for themselves as fisherman for the village market. In the process they helped to forge a distinct regional identity.48 The final ethnic mix during the colonial era came from the migration of small creole landowners, who often prided themselves on their alleged Hispanic purity. They formed the nucleus of the ranchero culture that developed during the nineteenth century. Social custom allowed for a flagrant display of ostentatious behavior. The creoles regarded the indigenous population with a sense of elitist disgust and racist contempt. Antonio Cabrera described the indigenous as a “vile and depressive race that does not give any hope of enlightenment nor of changing their customs in much time.” 49 Augustín Ugarte, the jefe político of Tamazunchale, described the indigenous peoples in racist and derogatory tones: “The indigenous people are the major center of vice and public disorder and the greatest vagrants found in our communities.” 50 Ugarte further denounced the Huastecos as living in a manner contrary to civilized ways and incapable of improvement. Rudolph Schuller and Antonio Cabrera note alcoholism and a high incidence of suicide. According to them, Teenek men often became so intoxicated that they passed out alongside the road. To avoid the theft of their property, their wives


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stripped them naked and left them on the ground until they awoke the next day. The men then wandered home in a naked stupor. During the colonial era, many Huastecos internalized a sense of racial inferiority, believing “gentes de razon” (“people of reason”) inherently superior. Huastecos often buried money with corpses, thinking that they would be reincarnated as creoles and would need the money for a new beginning. Schuller observed that the indigenous people always bore gifts when they visited their creole godparents, if they had them.51 The combined effects of the conquest, the demographic collapse of the sixteenth century, forced labor, slavery, the establishment of a caste-based racial order, and the introduction of missionary-based communal values laid the social bases for the nineteenth-century agrarian violence that swept the Huasteca Potosina when land privatization and seizures were introduced. Nineteenth-century peasant unrest was rooted in a complex mixture of forces. One was a desire to protect a way of life that had been established during the massive rupture and upheavals of three centuries of Spanish colonial rule. Another was an attempt to remediate immediate gains achieved during the Mexican War for Independence and the agrarian and political decompression of the decades following independence. And yet another related to the struggle over the future and nature of Mexican nationalism. Would the future Mexican state exclude the newly liberated castes and rural classes or, as they would struggle for, include the newly championed citizens of all ethnicities and classes in a broader and a more participatory social and political order? It is to these nineteenth-century struggles that we now turn.

Chap te r 2

From Pueblo to Nation The Huasteca Potosina, 1810–1848 . Their enthusiasm and bravery as soldiers and their patriotism to the national authorities is a living testimony.

/ The Mexican War of Independence (1810–1821), the subsequent 

postindependence armed struggles associated with the federalist movements of the 1830s, and, most importantly, the war against the U.S. invasion (1846–1848) severed the Huastecan peasantry from their colonial caste subjugation.1 During the course of these struggles a radical shift in peasant consciousness evolved into an empowered sense of nationalist identity and heightened awareness of class and political inclusiveness. By the late 1840s the Huastecan peasantry had internalized a tremendous amount of ideological and political propaganda and military training, and this served to energize a subaltern sense of class and nationalist identity. Far from resisting participation in the new nation, the Huastecan peasantry sought to actively shape its outcome through a series of political and military alliances. On September 16, 1810, Padre Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla launched the Mexican War of Independence. When Hidalgo’s army entered the state of San Luis Potosí, the peasants of the western portion of the state, who inhabited large estates, failed to heed the call to insurrection for a variety of reasons. The most important of these rested in the dependent relationship that existed between the peasantry and the large estates. The estates provided permanent employment, guaranteed maize rations, and ensured a social



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safety net. This interdependent relationship proved a crucial factor in the lack of support among peasants for Hidalgo’s insurgency.2 In contrast, the eastern portion of San Luis Potosí, the Huasteca, heeded the call to arms. Throughout 1811 and 1812 the Potosina pueblos of Tamazunchale, Valles, Ciudad del Maíz, Río Verde, and Xilitla formed an insurgent stronghold in northeastern Mexico and linked with proindependence revolts in neighboring Huejutla.3 In the Huasteca Veracruzana, insurgent peasants joined the movement and occupied Pahuatán, Chicontepec, Papantla and the Veracruz hinterlands.4 Lucas Alamán described the Huasteca as a “revolutionary vortex.” 5 The ideological and political outcome of the insurgent struggle had deeper and more lasting consequences for the peasantry and indigenous villages of the Huasteca Potosina. An emerging body of literature supports the pivotal importance that independence brought to Mexico’s rural peasantry.6 First, participation in the insurgency expanded the range of rebellion from the pueblo or village level that had characterized the resistance of the late colonial area to the region-wide level and in the process linked these village rebellions to the new nation. Second, the independence struggle legitimized violence as a means of addressing political and social conflict and introduced many of the Huastecan peasantry to guerrilla warfare skills and tactics. These tactics would prove useful in future conflicts—for example, in the federalist revolts of the 1830s and the struggle against the U.S. invasion of the 1840s. Third, both sides injected a large amount of political propaganda into the struggle among the peasantry and village communities and introduced modern notions of constitutionalism, republicanism, and nationalism, which all served to ideologically sever the Huastecan peasantry from colonial notions of village loyalty and caste subjugation and widened their intellectual horizons and visions. Fourth, the independence struggle strengthened the peripheral regions of the new nation at the expense of the central core and weakened the larger landed estates that were economically tied to the metropolitan and North Atlantic economies. This led to what John Tutino calls “a period of agrarian decompression” during which the pueblos advanced their economic and social interests and power at the expense of the hacienda estates.7 The events that unfolded for the Huasteca Potosina from the 1810s to the 1840s confirm Tutino’s observations. Michael Ducey finds further evidence for this concept of agrarian decompression in the fact that villages in the adjoining Huasteca Veracruzana held their village titles and lands well into the Porfiriato.8 Fifth, the emergence of federalism shifted the

From Pueblo to Nation


political center of gravity from the metropolitan core to the periphery and to the municipal level. And finally, the successive independence struggle and the constitution of 1824 expanded suffrage to include the newly independent male Indian population, lowered taxes, allowed for greater municipal autonomy, and provided for a more inclusive ethnic and cultural notion of citizenship that now incorporated Indians, mulatos, and Euro-Mexicans alike. Terry Rugeley notes the critical break that independence brought to the rural Maya peasantry in the Yucatán peninsula. The Maya entered the national era with a heightened sense of empowerment and actively resisted the imposition of taxes and clerical and church fees, made demands for debt forgiveness, voiced opposition to the commercialization of land, challenged severe labor abuses, and demonstrated a strong propensity for physical mobility in the quest for decentralization of political power that would work toward the advantage of the Maya.9 Peter Guardino likewise interprets independence as producing a major break with the colonial past for the peasantry and sharecroppers of Guerrero. Guardino notes that the peasantry successfully utilized diverse strategies to advance their economic and political interests against the centralist threat to regional autonomy and municipal control. Using the newly won notion of citizenship, peasants of Guerrero increasingly expressed a sense of nationalist consciousness as Mexican citizens, manifesting a heightened sense of membership at both the community and national level.10 In the aftermath of independence, Mexico experienced decades of political instability as various political factions and regional actors vied to secure a national consensus for their vision of what the new nation should be. It is not an unsafe assumption to state that at that point in time Mexico was not a nation. But it became one, and so the question is how did that happen? Peasant participation in the nation-state building process played a crucial role. One of the major ideological currents that appealed to the peasant pueblos of the Huasteca Potosina was the political concept of federalism. Federalism promised regional autonomy to the provinces and states; the alternative political approach was centralism, which would centralize political authority in the new nation in Mexico City. Federalism appealed to the pueblos of the Huasteca Potosina because it would allow a high degree of political autonomy and control over the municipal decision-making process. At the center of this debate stood the question of municipal politics and the role of the peasantry and subaltern rural classes in the forging of an emerging national consensus. The first sign of federalist leanings in the Huasteca


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Potosina emerged in 1823, when local elites in Tamazunchale proposed the creation of a separate Huastecan state out of the regions of San Luis Potosí, Veracruz, and Hidalgo.11 However, elite discord between the Tamazunchale advocates of a Huastecan state and those of Valles and Tanchanhuitz prevented elite consolidation of a Huastecan state. During the national elections of 1828, the state of San Luis Potosí voted for the federalist and socially radical candidate Vicente Guerrero over the more conservative centralist Manuel Gómez Pedraza. In 1832 Potosino general Estebán Moctezuma again proposed the creation of a Huastecan state. He did so in conjunction with Ignacio Martínez of Huejutla. The pueblo inhabitants of Tamazunchale and Xilitla greeted his call with armed support, as they interpreted the federalist creation of a Huastecan state as the best means of maintaining municipal autonomy over their political affairs. This attempt also failed, but it demonstrates the continuing role that the peasantry of the Huasteca played in the effort to establish a federalist state of the region, as they aligned themselves with various political factions at the local, regional, and national levels. In the long run, however, the lack of elite consensus prevented the emergence of a Huastecan state, and the Huasteca would remain divided between the various states of the region. During the 1830s the pueblos of the Huasteca Potosina supported a series of federalist rebellions. The most important of these occurred in 1836, as peasant villages in the Huasteca Potosina allied themselves with General Estebán Moctezuma and with a broader federalist revolt headed by Mariano Olarte emanating in the neighboring state of Veracruz. In 1830, the conservative and centralist General Anastasio Bustamante had seized power in Mexico City. Although the Olarte rebellion began in the city of Tampico as a federalist revolt against the national government, it quickly spread throughout Veracruz, where it reignited the Huastecan pueblos’ desire for municipal and social autonomy. In the Huasteca Potosina, the pueblos of Tamazunchale and Xilitla supported General Estebán Moctezuma and attempted to aid Olarte. Olarte had requested assistance from Moctezuma’s federalist forces in the Huasteca Potosina, but his call failed to generate support in time, and state counteroffenses from both San Luis Potosí and Veracruz ended the revolt. Both Moctezuma and Olarte died in battle.12 These alliances demonstrate the participatory role that the peasantry played in regional politics and dispels the notion that they lacked a national vision. These alliances forged during the 1820s through 1840s foreshadowed

From Pueblo to Nation


future alliances that the pueblos of the Huasteca Potosina initiated with national elites in the decades between the 1840s and 1880s. The largest rupture in the early national era for the Huasteca Potosina resulted from the U.S. invasion of Mexico in 1846. Between 1846 and 1848 many of the peasants joined in a guerrilla war to drive the U.S. Army from Mexico. They served as guerrilla forces operating independently but by appointment of the Mexican Army. In the aftermath of the U.S. withdrawal, the armed Huastecan guerrillas returned to their villages and sought to redress ancient land and labor grievances. They occupied and divided hacienda lands, executed abusive foremen, rose up against the authorities in the larger urban centers, drafted revolutionary proclamations calling for the socialization of the land, and demanded the end of government tobacco monopolies and the abolition of forced levies as well as land taxes. Although the Mexican Army successfully repressed the peasantry, the 1848 rebellions mark the beginning of a new era in the political history of the Huasteca Potosina. President James Polk’s invasion of Mexico occurred in two stages: first the forces of Major General Zachary Taylor assaulted Monterrey, and then General Winfield Scott occupied Veracruz and drove westward to the capital. After Taylor occupied the city of Monterrey, he estimated that he would need an additional twenty-five thousand men to advance to Mexico City, along with five thousand troops to safeguard supply lines.13 As a result of these estimations, Polk rejected the idea of a direct invasion of Mexico City from Monterrey through Saltillo and San Luis Potosí. The occupation of San Luis Potosí would have proved to be difficult given the terrain and isolation. General Miguel Mora y Villamil had fortified the capital city of San Luis Potosí by building a lengthy anti-cavalry trench from the main plaza in the center of the city to the Guadalupe Sanctuary a few kilometers south and to the church of the Tlaxcala in the north. The enthusiastic participation of the civilian population digging the trenches alongside their rural counterparts, who were fighting the guerrilla war, earned Potosina the name San Luis de la Patria.14 Hacienda workers helped to fortify the capital. For example, in April 1847, the owner of the Hacienda de Vadillo de Río Verde paid the salaries of ten jornaleros to work for fifteen days, while the owner of the Hacienda de la Sauceda supplied a dozen jornaleros, and his counterpart at the Hacienda de Angostura sent another ten. Estate owners and local elites charged the national government with “treason” for failing to prosecute the war even further.15 Most hacienda owners in the San Luis region, including those of


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the Gogorón, Bledos, Gallinas, and Santiago, supplied the Mexican Army and civilian militias with grain, mules, and corn.16 The fortified defenses of San Luis de la Patria had anticipated an advance by Taylor’s forces. The mass participation of the rural and urban citizenry demonstrated a determination to defend their interests. In addition to recruiting the local population in the construction of defensive fortifications around the state capital, the Mexican Army began creating small militia units to prepare to harass Scott’s army should he attempt to invade Mexico City via the city of San Luis Potosí. The Mexican Army established citizen militias to organize a defense of Matehuala, one hundred miles north of San Luis Potosí.17 The citizen militias used the Rancho del Noyal as their base of operations. The owner of the estate contributed supplies and men.18 The establishment of these citizen militias in the state of San Luis Potosí served as a model for further militias to be established composed of the rural peasantry. The following year in the Huasteca, the Mexican Army formed citizen militias based on those that had been created earlier in the capital region and use them to combat Scott’s army after it invaded the port of Veracruz and marched toward Mexico City. In March 1847 General Winfield Scott bombarded and occupied the Mexican port city of Veracruz. The commander of Veracruz, Brigadier General Juan Morales, rejected Scott’s demand for surrender and mobilized the citizens of the city to help defend it. The subsequent bombardment of the city killed more than one hundred civilians and eighty Mexican Army troops. Scott’s army then marched into the valley of Mexico. The march inland from Veracruz to Mexico City took the U.S. Army through the strategic cities of Jalapa and Puebla. Its advance began on April 2, 1847, and culminated with the occupation of the capital on September 14. Instead of fighting in Jalapa, General Antonio López de Santa Anna chose to make his stand at Cerro Gordo. Santa Anna’s hacienda at Encero stood nearby, and his familiarity with the terrain led him to believe that he could prevent Scott from occupying Mexico City. The Mexican officers planned to ambush the U.S. forces in a series of strategic hills known locally as the Devil’s Jaws. Lieutenant Colonel Manuel Robles Pezuala fortified the Cerro Gordo with regular Mexican Army troops, estate workers from local haciendas, and an increasing number of guerrilla volunteers from the Huasteca of San Luis Potosí and Veracruz. Throughout the spring of 1847 Santa Anna dispatched troops to the Cerro Gordo in an effort to halt Scott. The defense of Cerro Gordo, however, lasted only three hours. By noon on April 18 Scott’s forces had driven the Mexicans into the countryside, at which point Santa Anna

From Pueblo to Nation


fled to San Luis Potosí, where he established a provincial capital.19 The U.S. Army soon occupied Mexico City. The occupation of Mexico City created logistical problems for the U.S. Army and also created a target for an emerging peasant militia to harass and attack. Supply problems challenged the capabilities of even the most determined quartermaster. Scott estimated that up to one thousand wagons, three thousand pack mules, and almost five draught animals would be needed to outfit ten thousand men. Another ten thousand recruits were expected in May 1846, virtually doubling the logistical needs.20 Mexican opponents recognized these problems and mobilized guerrilla forces to fight him. After the United States invaded Mexico, Mexican Army commanders chose to fight a prolonged guerrilla war against their adversaries’ supply lines rather than confront them in large pitched battles. The loss of Texas, California, and New Mexico was already apparent, and the Mexican government sought to salvage the rest of the nation by making the war as costly as possible and forcing an eventual evacuation. The Mexican commanders exchanged reviews of, and then drew on, the lessons learned from the Spanish guerrilla effort against the French Army during the Napoleonic wars. Prior the U.S. invasion, the Mexican government viewed the notion of an armed citizenry with distrust. During the 1830s the federalist revolts in the state of Zacatecas produced a series of armed citizen militias that were violently crushed by the centralist army of Santa Anna. In the province of Texas, an armed citizenry had successfully defeated the Mexican Army and created a new nation. But the tremendous challenge posed by the U.S. invasion forced the Mexican Army to adopt the Spanish model of an armed citizenry that was capable of waging a guerrilla war against a foreign occupation.21 In anticipation of a prolonged guerrilla war, Mexican officers inventoried their national guard troop strength in San Luis Potosí and counted 6,123 infantrymen, 2,103 cavalrymen, and 110 artillery pieces. These units then recruited three hundred men from Tanchanhuitz, thirteen hundred from Río Verde, and fifteen hundred from Venado. Some of the Huastecan pueblo of Tanchanhuitz’s forces went into “the lancers,” an artillery battalion, and the rest to the infantry. The officers created three guard battalions, naming them “strength,” “consistency,” and “loyalty.” They then distributed rifles and uniforms. In addition, the army provided each unit with a Mexican national flag.22 In this scheme, the Huasteca fell under different military commands. General Mariano Paredes y Arillaga commanded the state of San Luis Potosí.


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The Huasteca Potosina was divided into four regions under four different military commanders.23 This decentralized command structure over the guerrilla forces in the Huasteca would have a dramatic impact on the future peasant rebellions. The lack of centralized command also led to a lack of centralized accounting of the number of arms and munitions distributed to the peasant guerrillas, and this contributed greatly to the widespread social unrest that accompanied the end of the war. Officials in Río Verde were pleased when the size of the volunteer forces exceeded their expectations and recommended that the army hold some of them in reserve.24 A cross-class alliance developed when guerrilla soldiers from the pueblos joined units organized and funded by local landowners. Remigio Martínez, a retired army colonel, and some local landowners donated a large sum of money to the Potosino military commanders.25 Pablo Verasteguí, owner of the Hacienda de San Diego in Río Verde, raised an entire guerrilla company, agreeing to pay the soldiers’ rent and supply their families with food, animals, and a pension should the soldiers be killed.26 Other landowners in the Río Verde area, including don Brasilio del Castillo and Mauricio Torres of neighboring Ciudad Fernández, made large donations of food and cash to the troops.27 The Mexican Army then expanded the citizens’ militias in the Huasteca Potosina by creating auxiliary guerrilla forces to prevent an invasion from the ports of Tampico and Tuxpan. The forces were comprised of volunteers only; there was no need for forced conscription. The army also agreed to pardon any enlistees who were serving short prison sentences in return for their services.28 Military officials stated their objectives: to harass the North American supply lines, especially between Veracruz and Mexico City, monitor and report on all U.S. troop movements, intercept military correspondence, and defend smaller cities attacked by Scott’s forces.29 Commanders authorized guerrilla leaders to obtain food and supplies from local pueblos, haciendas, and ranches while instructing them to take only the bare minimum of supplies in order to avoid depleting the resources needed by the pueblos to carry on a protracted war.30 The neighborhoods in the pueblos supplied the guerrillas with food, shelter, and information regarding troop movements, while the citizens of San José and Ciudad del Maíz provided two hundred mules for the defense of Tula, Tamaulipas.31 The people of San Nicolás de los Montes, Tanchanhuitz, and its surrounding pueblos also contributed troops and additional food and mules to the defense of Tula. Their donations included meat, corn, beans,

From Pueblo to Nation


rice, and pilon and earned them the nickname, “vecinos patriotas.” 32 The growth of a popular people’s army grew naturally from a spirit of sacrifice born of a desire to realize a national goal. General Francisco de Garay was in charge of the army’s relations with the guerrillas and organized a line of defense from Huejutla, Hidalgo, to the Pánuco River. José María Mata commanded the partisan armies between Perote and Puebla, organizing the guerrillas into companies of sixty to eighty, with thirty or so cavalrymen accompanying the infantry.33 The army coordinated much of its activities with those local political leaders who monitored and worked with Mexican officials. The political leaders in Tuxpan met with their equivalents from Tampico, Veracruz, Huehutla, Tantoyuca, and Papantla in the Veracruz pueblo of Tamiagua and coordinated defense and logistic strategies. They designated points for civilians to meet should the need arise for more volunteers, while officials in Río Verde remained in contact with the Veracruz leaders.34 One guerrilla unit formed in Tanchanhuitz consisted of eighty-five volunteers who called themselves Guerrillas Guadalupe Potosina. The army outfitted them with firearms soon after enlistment. The recruits were between twenty-five and forty years old and born in Tamazunchale, Xilitla, Tanchanhuitz, Axtla, San Martín, Aquismón, Huehutlán, San Antonio, and Coscatlán. The unit’s ledger identified all of them as Nahua. The army also recorded their professions, and most called themselves labradores. The army provided each recruit with a carbine and ammunition and each unit with a Mexican national flag.35 In the state capital of San Luis Potosí, agricultural workers from the haciendas of Sauceda, Santa Rosa, Pendencia, Tepetate, Trinidad, and Santa Rita formed five guerrilla Guadalupe Potosina units of thirty soldiers each.36 Sixty Mexican laborers and carpenters, all between the ages of twenty and forty, brought their horses to form a “Guadalupe Brigade.” 37 In Santa Ysabel, fiftynine cowboys rode their horses in formation to create yet another Guadalupe Brigade.38 Twenty labradores joined a guerrilla unit near the Rincón de los Lejos in the Huasteca. Individual troops from Ciudad del Valles and Río Verde served in an artillery battalion, dug into the trenches, around the state capital. Many of these soldiers returned to Río Verde to create small artillery platoons surrounding that city. In Guadalcázar, agricultural workers and miners formed five regiments and operated as guerrilla bands over a wide area.39 The Mexican Army then established a line from Huehutla in Hidalgo through the Huasteca Potosina to the Pánuco River, placing the guerrilla


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forces under the command of Mexican Army captains Andrés Grande and Antonio Melo, the latter a rancher in Tamazunchale.40 The Huastecan guerrilla units launched raids on U.S. forces at Tuxpan, Veracruz, and Tampico from their bases at Tanchanhuitz, Tamazunchale, and Valles.41 More than two thousand Huastecos from San Luis Potosí in the area immediately to the north and around Tampico fought in the Tamaulipas theater of operations, repelling the scout units sent by Scott that penetrated the Huastecan serranos.42 In 1847 the guerrillas monitoring enemy troops at the Hacienda de Panocha near the Pánuco River noted preparations for an advance by the U.S. detachment.43 Guerrillas from the Valle del Maíz fought in the Tula region of neighboring Tamaulipas and helped fortify that city in case the U.S. forces tried to move into the Sierra Madre from Victoria.44 Based on that intelligence, the Mexican Army reinforced Tanchanhuitz with six artillery pieces.45 In the summer of 1847 U.S. troops moved from Tampico south across the Pánuco River in an attempt to occupy Huejutla in the state of Hidalgo. Meanwhile, General Scott sent troops from Veracruz northward in the hopes of attacking Huejutla from two sides. Mexican troops concentrated themselves around the city in preparation for the assault and blocked the road to Tampico with a battalion of cavalry. Guerrilla riflemen, reinforced by local militias from the Huasteca Potosina, launched three assaults at a strategic point near the Rancho de Hasón, about thirty-six miles east of Huejutla.46 The Huastecan guerrillas captured a U.S. flag that remains on display today at the museum at the Castillo de Chapultepec in Mexico City.47 Thirty of the Huastecan troops used ten canoes on the Pánuco River to supply the army.48 In the midst of the chaos of war, the Mexican Army officers made fateful decisions that would affect the future of peasant insurrections in the Huasteca. On July 16, 1847, they ordered guerrillas led by the local village priests to attack a U.S. expeditionary force along the Pánuco River. Then the military commanders sent armed Huastecos from Tamazunchale, Tampamolón, Ozuluama, and Temporal back to their respective pueblos. They justified allowing the returning campesinos to carry their firearms because of the threat of North American assaults on the pueblos.49 Many of the local hacendados and political officials protested, arguing that this would disrupt rural society. General Garay repelled the U.S. attack and forced the troops to retreat to Tampico and so he did not need to rely on the Huastecan guerillas, but they had nevertheless become a force to be reckoned with. The fears of local officials would prove prophetic.

From Pueblo to Nation


The military commander of Huejutla thanked the citizenry of the pueblos for their contribution to the national defense: “All of these pueblos and ranchos have managed very well, considering the circumstances, offering their patriotism and services.” 50 He especially thanked the Huastecos for their enthusiasm and bravery as soldiers, telling them that their “patriotism to the nation is a living testimony.” 51 In the event of a U.S. occupation of Tamazunchale and Tanchanhuitz, the partisans agreed to meet at a place near the Pánuco River and await further instructions.52 The presence of the rural clergy in the guerrilla ranks demonstrates the populist nature of the partisan war. Consistent with behavior of the thousand parish priests who fought in the independence struggle in support of Padres Miguel Hidalgo and José María Morelos, clergy throughout the Huasteca served as chaplains and led guerrilla raids on the Veracruz–Mexico City supply lines. Following their endeavors to protect religion and nation, many of the priests led peasants in defense of their lands and assisted them in occupying haciendas when they returned to the Huasteca in 1848. The nationalist actions of the lower clergy contrast with the actions taken by the Church hierarchy in Mexico City. In January 1847 the Mexican government, needing $15 million to fund the war effort, attempted to force a loan from the Church. High-ranking clergy members condemned the decree and threatened the government officials with excommunication should they enforce it. They urged the general population to refuse to support the government and launched an attempted coup in the infamous “revolt of the Polkos.” 53 The rebellion failed to unseat the Mexican government or prevent the confiscations. The failed revolt, however, served to alienate the Church hierarchy from much of the rural populace, who saw the government’s actions as a “stab in the back.” In response to the higher clergy’s call for the population to reject the Mexican government’s war effort, members of the lower clergy in the barrios of San Luis Potosí and the surrounding Huastecan countryside defiantly issued patriotic declarations in support of the national government’s armed struggle against the U.S. invasion. They proclaimed it the “duty” and responsibility of the Mexican citizenry to support the national war effort. State newspapers in San Luis Potosí printed sermons from parish priests who supported the war effort. Mexicans! Our nation has been invaded by the United States in a most unjust war violating our rights. The treacherous and immoral


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Yankees have spilled the blood of our brothers; our mothers, wives, daughters, and sisters have been raped and murdered, the peace of our defenseless children has died. . . . Vengeance! And may the people be the first to march. . . . You have already sacrificed on the holy altar. March and march well!54 Some priests gave sermons calling for sacrifice. Others blessed the troops, asking for God’s help in driving out the Yankees. Defend our ancestral home; the land of the Aztecs, Hidalgo, Morelos, and Iturbide. . . . [B]ecause we are the noble sons of Independence, and it is our duty to rise and defend our homes, our motherland, and our government’s war; our parish and our clergy continue to raise up the Army of God; the support of the faithful will triumph, and may our clergy serve as soldiers of the nation.55 Members of the clergy throughout the Huasteca signed declarations affirming their support for the war against the North Americans and proclaimed their loyalty to the struggle. The signers included all of the parish priests in the Huasteca, including Padre Touqitud from Tanchanhuitz, Padre Francisco of Tampamolón, Padre Camarga of Huehutlán, and the other clergy from Tamazunchale, San Martín, Axtla, and Xilitla.56 Parish priests worked as chaplains and recruiters for the Mexican Army, and they helped to raise the militias. The parish priest from Río Verde served as chaplain to one of the guerrilla units formed in May 1847.57 Sometimes priests stood out enough to be recognized. For instance, a letter published in La época commemorated Padre Tranquilino Carreña for his involvement in the defense of Veracruz.58 A Franciscan priest, José María Herrera from Guadalcázar, died during the battle at Angostura while administering the final sacraments to a fallen second lieutenant.59 In Guadalcázar, some parish priests recruited a cavalry battalion of more than four hundred cowboys, whom the Mexican Army described as highly disciplined. They placed themselves under the command of Mexican Army colonel Camilo Bros.60 The priests at the Santa Iglesia parish of San Luis Potosí donated thirty pieces of fine copper to the commander of the artillery battalion, blessing the metal before it was melted into artillery shells.61 Father Celedino Domeco from Zaragoza, San Luis Potosí, emerged as one of the most effective guerrilla leaders of the war. Named as the chaplain

From Pueblo to Nation


of the Second Infantry regiment under the command of Colonel Arzamendí, Domeco quickly assumed the leadership of a partisan force of more than one thousand fighters that operated throughout the countryside. Receiving support from hacendados and pueblos, Domeco’s men raided and harassed Scott’s supply lines throughout the conflict. The editors of the state’s leading newspapers followed his exploits as he captured mules, ammunition, and supplies at the same time that he killed U.S. soldiers throughout Veracruz and Puebla.62 The Huastecan clergy were challenging an equally powerful imperial doctrine enunciated by the clerics who came with the invading U.S. Army. These chaplains also preached religious patriotism, promoted an expansionist ideology, and articulated the war in terms of divine providence. Thomas Bangs Thorpe remembers one sermon by chaplain Captain Reverend A. Stewart, a Methodist minister and planter from Iberville Parish in Louisiana: The soldier preacher then passed onto the second part of his text. “Then I will cause you to dwell in this place, in the land I gave your fathers forever and ever.” It would be impossible for us to give the slightest idea of the conclusion of this remarkable discourse. The reverend-speaker explained most plainly and beautifully, how that it was the order of the Providence that the Anglo-Saxon race was not only to take possession of the whole North American Continent, but influence and modify the character of the world and that such was meant by the “land that I gave you forever and ever.” He stated that the American people were children of destiny, and were the passive instruments in the hands of an overruling power, to carry out its great designs; and beautifully illustrated this position by a rapid glance at the history of our nation in times past, and the present.63 The chaplains of the contesting armies demonstrated vastly conflicting theological interpretations of the war; the Mexican clergy interpreted the struggle in terms of defending the ancestral homeland of the Aztecs, the faith of the Guadalupe, and a pantheon of nationalist heroes, while the U.S. clergy perceived the war in a manner reflecting racial Anglo-Saxonism. Racial Anglo-Saxonism developed in North American popular culture prior to the early nineteenth century. It was an ideology that relegated the Spanish, Mexican, African American, and Native American peoples to an inferior status. North American servicemen carried these racist attitudes with them


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to Mexico, and their oftentimes abusive treatment of civilians incensed local Mexicans, enhancing guerrilla support.64 In order to combat the Huastecan partisan bands, the North Americans created counterguerrilla light army units. General Taylor enlisted a company of ninety-one Texas Rangers soon after crossing the Río Grande.65 First, the Rangers fought in the Monterrey campaign, including the Battle of Buena Vista. Then they confronted the partisan forces throughout central Mexico. Captain Samuel Walker, a notorious anti-Mexican Ranger in the lower Río Grande Valley of South Texas, headed the Rangers.66 Newspapers throughout San Luis Potosí recounted his sordid record of the murder and rape of Mexican women and the killing of children in Texas. They urged the Huastecos to fight the Rangers until the United States could be expelled.67 Even General Zachary Taylor described the atrocities committed against Mexican civilians by the Texas Rangers as barbaric acts of “licentious vandals.” 68 In 1848 the final stage of the antiguerrilla strategy of the U.S. Army fell to Brigadier General Joseph Lane, the most effective of the counterinsurgency leaders. In January Lane’s forces pursued a group of Padre Jaurata’s partisans throughout the state of Hidalgo. After failing to capture Jaurata at Otumba, the Texas Ranger forces retired to the city of San Juan de Teotihuacan. There Jaurata’s forces attacked them as they slept. They scattered and fled to Mexico City as the guerrillas shot at them from ambush.69 North American troops also occupied the city of Pachuca and the Real del Monte silver mines and attempted to pursue Padre Jaurata. Lieutenant Daniel Harvey’s forces raided the town of Tulancingo on January 18, 1848, and found that Jaurata’s guerrillas had slipped away in the night. It was obvious to the U.S. military officers that the local populace supported and informed Jaurata of their movements. Most of the townspeople denied assisting the guerrillas, and, despite attempts to eradicate them, their strength remained steady, as evidenced by Daniel Harvey’s observations: These wretches, the guerrilleros are getting more and more impudent every day. They are swarming all around us and their object now seems to be to murder all of us at Pachuca and all the English at Real del Monte. The population of this town (Tulancingo) is getting more hostile every day and they have been so bold as to stab our own soldiers and stone our officers in broad daylight. Our force is still too small and we have every prospect of having a bloody time before many days.70

From Pueblo to Nation


Winfield Scott’s other officers commented that the U.S. antiguerilla campaign was hopeless and expressed skepticism that the long-term occupation of Mexico was tenable. Scott described the major problems of the logistical nightmare as the heat and disease and “the danger of having our trains cut and destroyed by the exasperating rancheros, whose homes are thinly scattered over a wide surface, of whom it is almost impossible with our small cavalry force to pursue and to punish.” 71 The combination of the guerrilla war and growing antiwar sentiment at home convinced Polk to withdraw north of the Río Grande. The Huastecan peasantry’s contribution to that armed guerrilla struggle thus shaped the destiny of both the United States and Mexico.

Chap te r 3

Peasant Nationalism and Agrarian War, 1848–1856 . We fight against the Lords who have committed outrageous violations against us for many years. They are the true enemies of Mexican liberty, those who have forced us to live in bondage without land, food, or sunlight and have prohibited our tobacco trades by their monopolies. We demand that the Mexican government recognize our historic struggle against the North American enemy. —“Plan of Tamazunchale,” January 8, 1848

/ The guerrilla war against the U.S. Army inadvertently and tempo-

rarily shifted the balance of power in the Huasteca in favor of the peasants and against the hacendados.1 Beginning in 1848, agrarian rebels invaded hacienda lands in the states of Querétaro, San Luis Potosí, and Veracruz. The origins of the rebellion rested within specific localities, and yet they were deeply linked. The social origins of these uprisings resided in the peasantry’s ongoing investment in the federalist political struggles of the 1820s and 1830s and the desire to reassert local control over their pueblo lands and in the attempts to shape an expansive concept of national citizenship, one that included the rural peasantry. In the close geography of northeastern Mexico, the peasant uprisings in the Huasteca Potosina formed part of a broader wave of social unrest that also erupted in the neighboring Sierra Gorda and the Huasteca Veracruzana. The Sierra Gorda is a mountain chain that extends from San Luis Potosí through Querétaro, Hidalgo, and Guanajuato. In January 1847, Otomí, 33


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Nahua, and Totonac Indians from the Huasteca of Querétaro invaded the state capital of Querétaro to protest the governor’s plan to sell large amounts of pueblo lands in order to support the war effort. They noted that their governor refused to sell lands belonging to the large hacendados and that the burden of the war costs fell disproportionately upon their shoulders. Federal troops dispersed the protestors, and they forced many of them to return to their pueblos. Soon enough, however, they began attacking local municipal governments and landed estates across the northeastern part of the state. By June 1848 a group of disaffected military officers, regional elites, and civil authorities at their base near Jalpan, Querétaro, in the Sierra Gorda had organized political opposition to the national government, complaining that it had failed to prosecute the war adequately. They enlisted the peasant rebels and drafted a plan titled “Liberty and War on the Invader.” Led by General Tomás Mejía, an army colonel, the dissenters called for the continuation of the war to force the North Americans to leave even as they refused to recognize the national government. They also called for the elimination of federal taxes. Mejía rallied wide support among the Indian pueblos of the Sierra Gorda. But the peasants soon threatened to turn his antigovernment coalition into a class and ethnic rebellion by seizing the hacienda lands. In August 1848, alarmed by the “rabble” that was quickly joining their ranks, Mejía and other leaders withdrew and accepted a pardon issued by President José Joaquín Herrera.2 At this point the rebellion moved into a more radical phase under the leadership of village heads and lower-class elements. Eleuterio Quiróz took charge of the rebels. He was a muleteer on the Hacienda de Tapanco in San Luis Potosí who had deserted from the fourth light infantry battalion of the Mexican Army during its confrontation with the U.S. forces and had fled to the city of Xichú in the state of Guanajuato, whose citizens had longstanding agrarian grievances. Born in 1825, Quiróz was described by his fellow hacienda workers as a person who earned their respect and admiration because he constantly challenged local officials and estate managers.3 When troops repressed the rebels around Xichú, Quiróz escaped to the Indian pueblos around Huejutla, which then joined the rebellion, and the fighting flared anew. The governors of the neighboring states of San Luis Potosí and Querétaro sent state troops to Guanajuato to crush the revolt in Xichú, but Quiróz’s forces continued to grow. Then Indian pueblos in the neighboring state of Hidalgo and the Huastecan pueblos of Tanchanhuitz and Tamazunchale

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joined in. As the rebellion spread across the Huasteca, it created logistical problems for the region’s military. The governor of Tamaulipas denied a request from the governor of Guanajuato for auxiliary national guardsmen from Tula, arguing that these troops were needed for squelching potential agrarian revolts in his own jurisdiction.4 Quiróz then left the Sierra Gorda and entered southern San Luis Potosí, occupying Santa María del Río in March 1849. Within weeks the rebels had sacked the Hacienda del Jabalí, occupied Ciudad Fernández on the outskirts of Río Verde, and engaged in widespread looting, burning, and pillaging of local haciendas.5 The creole national and regional elites feared that the rebellions would allow the lower classes to undermine their oligarchic control. They perceived the rural unrest in racist terms and feared the spread of “caste wars” from the Yucatán to the Huasteca. Liberal leader Mariano Riva Palacios described Quiróz’s occupation of Río Verde as an imminent “race struggle” and compared the rebellion to the Yucatecan caste war.6 Military and local officials constantly referred to the agrarian rebels as “indios bárbarosos.” The charge of “caste war” stemmed from the massive social violence that erupted in the Yucatán Peninsula in 1847. Although the caste war of the Yucatán differed from those of central, southwestern, and northeastern Mexico, the influence of these events shaped much of the national dialogue and historical interpretation of events for the rest of Mexico. In his monumental history of the caste war, Terry Rugeley points out that the charge of caste war was utilized by elites and urban interests to deny the complex economic and political origins of the rebellion, which legitimized past labor and racial abuse as well as the state’s future repression.7 The reductionist description of all rural violence as a manifestation of a coming racial apocalypse allowed elites and urban forces to dismiss the multifaceted political and social origins of agrarian unrest. Some rural landowners in San Luis Potosí actually supported the agrarian rebels. In 1848 the national government had alienated the peripheral elites there by dismissing the governor and vice governor of the state because of their insistence that the government prosecute the war against the North Americans and their rejection of the Treaty of Guadalupe. Manuel Verasteguí, the nephew of Pablo Verasteguí, one of the largest landowners in the area, supported Quiróz and helped draft the agrarian plan. The plan denounced the national government for signing a compromise peace treaty and giving up the war. Manuel Verasteguí served as the provincial prefect of Río Verde but was fired by the interim national government because he


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continued to support the guerrilla war. The Verasteguí family now found itself in opposition to the Mexican state, and their nationalist politics made a cross-class alliance with Quiróz possible. Quiróz allied himself with Manuel Verasteguí and occupied the city of Río Verde.8 Together, Manuel Verasteguí and Eleuterio Quiróz drafted “Regenerating the Army of the Sierra Gorda,” an agrarian plan that advocated a reordering of the rural social structure. They called for turning haciendas with more than fifteen hundred workers into pueblos. They also demanded the division of uncultivated land, the cutting of tenant rents, the termination of rents on communal properties, the elimination of unpaid work, and the suspension of parish fees. The rebels also demanded the reinstatement of the governor and the vice governor.9 Chaos rocked the Huasteca as rural uprisings swept into the Mission de las Palmas, Huascam, Cerritos, Laguna de Santo Domingo, Carbonera, Rincón de Turbiates, Valle del Maíz, Tanchanhuitz, Tamazunchale, and Tancoyol. The occupation of Río Verde and the drafting of such an explosive plan threatened the state elites, who combined their forces and crushed the rebellion. Local state governors sent their troops into the Sierra Gorda to hunt down and kill the rebels. Meanwhile, troops from Ciudad Victoria of Tamaulipas entered San Luis Potosí and chased rebel fighters into the Valle del Maíz. They occupied the Jabalí, San Diego, and Santa María del Río haciendas. In the same month federal troops invaded the Huastecan towns of Tanchanhuitz, Xilitla, Axtla, and Tamazunchale.10 Quiróz, facing the prospect of an imminent assault on Río Verde, advanced his troops into the mountainous desert plains outside of the middle zone, between Río Verde and the capital of San Luis Potosí. Caught in unfamiliar territory and owing to the fact that his army depended on mobile horseman and guerrilla-style assaults, the San Luis Potosí National Guard easily defeated the serrano guerrillas in the open desert outside of the capital. In October 1849 government troops captured Quiróz; in December, they publicly executed him. The army then deported several hundred of his followers to the neighboring states of Coahuila, Chihuahua, Tamaulipas, and Durango. The presence of women in the rebel ranks revealed the grassroots nature of the insurgency. The army captured several women among the Sierra Gorda rebels and placed their names on separate prisoner rolls. Among them, María Gutíerrez and Guadalupe Trinidad Lara had fought in battles and therefore shared in the looting of Santa Catarina.11 Trinidad Juárez and

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Catarina Hernández served as buglers during Quiróz’s band in the occupation of Río Verde and also led the rebels. In these cases, the police exercised leniency, fining the women eight reales each and then releasing them.12 After their victory, the state governments of the Sierra Gorda pursued a two-pronged strategy to pacify the population. First, they promised to solve the land and tax disputes that had produced the rebellion. Although nothing came of these promises, they served the immediate purpose of convincing a rural population weary of war and rebellion to agree to an “honorable” peace. Second, Governor Julían de los Reyes convinced a number of large landowners to seek reconciliation with the rural working class. In return, the state exempted them from paying taxes for two years.13 The hacendados, however, did nothing to solve the problem of the region’s imbalanced agrarian order. The unresolved contradictions within the Sierra Gorda’s social system persisted and gave birth to new, and more politically radicalized, uprisings in the 1860s and early 1870s. Both of these series of uprisings, the ones in the 1840s and 1860s, influenced the course and radicalism of the Huastecan peasant struggles in San Luis Potosí. The other wave of peasant unrest that influenced the Huasteca of San Luis Potosí originated in the Huastecan regions of neighboring Veracruz. On November 24, 1847, 450 peasants, many of them returning veterans of the guerrilla war against the United States, marched from the AmatlánTanquian area of the Potosí-Veracruz border to Ozuluama, Veracruz. During the war with the United States, some Veracruz elites had collaborated with the U.S. Army, supplying them with food, sugar, coffee, and other perishable goods. These elites had advocated a peace treaty with Scott’s army that many nationalists found treasonable. Francisco de Garay, the military commander of Huejutla, sent a force of peasant guerrillas to prevent further collaboration. Local judge Manuel Mora, not realizing the guerrilla strength, ordered Garay and his supporters incarcerated. The guerrillas, now turned agrarian rebels, occupied Ozuluama and killed Judge Mora, launching what contemporary observers erroneously called the “caste war of the Huasteca.” 14 Small peasant forces now dispersed throughout the Huasteca Veracruzana and Potosina. They marched and occupied the larger urban centers—Tantima, Ozuluama, Tantoyuca, Tanchanhuitz—and most of the smaller fracciones and hamlets in the Veracruz-Potosí border regions. Although the Veracruz villages did not lie in immediate proximity to those of the Huasteca Potosina, these Huastecan villages lay in closer proximity


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to one another and had more in common with one another than with other parts of their respective states. Revolutionary proclamations and ideas spread throughout the Huastecan serranos. On December 30, 1847, rebels drafted “The Plan of Amatlán” and then sent copies to the neighboring pueblos of Ixhuatlan, Papantla, and Chicontepec, where their allies held sway. 1. The people should disregard all authority that emanates from the government. They are free to elect their own representatives with preference to be given to the indigenous class in order that they may determine their own destiny. 2. The rental of land is prohibited. Instead we declare the haciendas common lands whose produce will be held in common. There will be no jornaleros. 3. All taxes are abolished except those necessary for local emergencies. 4. Feeling that the priests are the true scourge of the exploited class, we prohibit payment of all extra fees that we are now charged. The priests are actually public workers and should be paid by the state.15 On December 31, 1847, the rebels followed up with “The Plan of Ozuluama.” They added a call for a convention of municipal representatives in order to determine the legality of titles for all haciendas and pueblo lands. The owners would have to bring their land titles, and in order for the owners to lay a valid claim to the land, the documentation would have date to the colonial period. In order to prevent future abuses by the landowners, they also called for the elimination of rents for campesinos.16 In early January the Huastecan rebels arrived in Tantoyuca and Chicontepec, where the peasants of the neighboring haciendas then gathered. A local parish priest and former chaplain in the guerrilla army that had just fought the North Americans, José María Melo, led the rebellious peasants in a takeover of hacienda lands. The Mexican Army sent troops under Díaz de Vivar to suppress them. He disbanded the ayuntamiento, but the army occupation only temporarily solved the unrest. On January 6, 1848, peasants in nearby Chicontepec under the command of their subprefect, Juan Llorente, descended on Tantoyuca. Proclaiming the “común de tierras” (“communalization of the lands”), they occupied the militia armory and seized the weapons in it. Díaz de Vivar retreated to the Hacienda de Chopopo, about six miles away.17

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The next day, on January 7, 1848, the rebel leaders issued “The Plan of Tantoyuca and Chicontepec”: 1. We call on all Mexicans to the armed struggle in the defense of our homeland against the government of the United States, which aspires to conquer our land. 2. All Mexicans should contribute with their person and interests in a manner that is equitable and just to the continued defense of the nation. 3. Considering that we have all taken part in the war against the North American’s attempt to dominate and dispossess our nation, we declare that all properties are to be held in common for all citizens of the Republic. 4. Resolved: as a result of the publication and adoption of this plan throughout the Republic, the above mentioned cannot for any motive or pretext be taken from the workers of the land nor can anything else of which they can make use.18 The rebels then occupied the Hacienda de Cayahual on the outskirts of Chicontepec. They gathered the estate workers and the hacendado in front of the “big house.” They declared an end to private property and the communalization of all lands. The rebels proclaimed that the hacienda was now a municipio libre governed by the workers. In the same month of January, at the Veracruz pueblo of Tantima, the agrarian rebels penned “The Plan of Tantima.” These rebels were slightly less extreme in their demands than their countertparts in Tantoyuca and Chicontepec. They called for the review of land titles held by the haciendas, the elimination of land rents, the pardoning of back taxes, greater municipal control over the national government’s ability to levy taxes, the suspension of parish fees, and the right of the region’s citizenry to contest the actions of the political bosses and mayors.19 The agrarian violence and the radicalized ideology that emerged in the Huasteca Veracruzana influenced the course of the rebellions in the Huasteca Potosina. The peasants of Tamazunchale and Tanchanhuitz were already in an active state of armed rebellion, but radical agrarian plans continued to be diffused throughout the region. In late January 1847 some merchants, artisans, and horsemen in San Nicolás Sitaltepec promised to abolish taxes and tobacco monopolies so that everyone could grow tobacco and sell it at market rates. Andrés Grande, a Spanish merchant, and Manuel Melendrés, a former cowboy and veteran of the guerrilla war,


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Map 4.  El partido de Tamazunchale

both of Tamazunchale, found little support for the plan from the town’s leading citizens and landowners. On January 16, however, armed peasants, many having just returned from the war, met Melendrés in Tamazunchale. They agreed to support his plan if it advocated land reform and satisfied local pueblo grievances against hacendados. Andrés Grande protested the inclusion of the rebels’ demands because he was in the midst of wooing the alcalde of Tamazunchale to support his antitax platform. He feared further alienating the town’s “respected” citizens and called on the rebels to yield.20

Peasant Nationalism and Agrarian War


Map 5.  El partido de Ciudad del Maíz

The campesinos, feeling betrayed, refused to compromise. They divided up into groups and began rioting in the city and invading haciendas. Padre Lucas Mariano Meza, the parish priest of Tamazunchale and the father of Manuel Melendrés by way of an Indian woman, Beatriz Melendrés, met with the army commander, Colonel Manuel Hernández Barbarena. He told Barbarena that the Huasteco Indians were justified in their actions and that the army should not repress them. Colonel Barbarena threatened Meza, accusing him of encouraging the riots, referring to him and his son Manuel as “animals” and “drunkards.” When Padre Meza left the meeting, he joined


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Map 6.  El partido de Tanchanhuitz

his son and Pablo Castrellón, a local Pamé Indian and war veteran, and led a number of land occupations near the Hacienda Isla.21 In Tamazunchale, the rioting continued, and looters attacked shops owned by Spaniards and wealthier merchants. Manuel Melendrés, Francisco Peña, Padre Meza, and some three hundred rebels marched to the town square and proclaimed a new plan, “The Plan of San Nicolás.” José Requienes headed the infantry, Pablo Castrellón led the cavalry, and Pascual Antonio took charge of the less well-armed Nahua and Otomí campesinos from the surrounding barrios. Pablo Castrellón led a Pamé Indian platoon that was distinguished from the regular infantry by the branches that the troops wore

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in their hats. Unit integrity held firm under Castrellón, whose brightly colored sombrero served to encourage the Pamé warriors as they retook their ancestral lands.22 With the help of local parish priests, the triumphant peasant armies drafted yet another proclamation on January 29, 1848, this time dubbed “The Plan of Tamazunchale”: The citizens of the community [are] concerned with the objective of denouncing the disgraced political administration of our department and seek to redress this evil. We deplore the wretched condition of our pueblos that have waged war on the North American enemy, including the state capital and the pueblos of the Huasteca. We support citizen Tovar Barbarena and encourage our pueblos to carry out the foreign war with greater intensity in order to free the Republic of the invasion that is under way. It is best that all Mexicans work together. To preserve the peace we must address the following articles.

1. We recognize that the state government opposes the desires of the pueblo citizenries. 2. We know that the prefect lacks the public trust. In accordance with the recent vote of the town, he must be replaced by a new mayor of the department. 3. We call for an end to all tobacco monopolies. Tobacco shall be cultivated by all workers who wish it. 4. It is best for the population of the town to remain calm and to cooperate through meetings held by neighborhood representatives. 5. The properties in dispute between the owners of the haciendas and the pueblo citizenries will establish boundaries via documents confirmed by the authorities. 6. The local authorities will not abuse any persons or their property. 7. The agreements must be approved by the priest of the pueblo.23

The rebels denounced the “Lords of the Land” who employed tactics that had “caused outrages and much suffering.” They also mocked the so-called humanitarian claims of these “lords” who “masqueraded as just and honorable, but who proved to be enemies of Mexican liberty,” forcing indigenous


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Mexicans to “live under their brutal service without nutrition and sunlight.” The rebels also called for the recognition of the sacrifices made by the Huastecos in the defense of the nation against the U.S. invaders.24 On February 28, 1848, Pedro Cabrera, keeper of the public records of Tamazunchale, received fifteen representatives from the pueblos, who “in the name of the nation” presented their titles and maps of community lands. The town notary, Guadalupe Rodríguez, certified that the titles and maps were legitimate. Cabrera then asked them to show him their pueblo farming boundaries, and they took him to their milpas. The cacique of Axtla pointed out to Cabrera that the two large rocks near the Moctezuma River had always marked the boundary between their pueblo and the Hacienda Isla. In the twenty-five years since independence, the hacendado had moved his boundary several times, encroaching on Axtla’s lands. By moving the boundary marker back, the pueblo was simply correcting the problem. Cabrera agreed with Rodríguez and certified the two rocks as the boundary.25 Registrar Cabrera continued his efforts to achieve social peace through conciliation. He went to Matlapa and met the cacique, who took him to the edge of the pueblo and threw some rocks toward the river. It was obvious to everyone that the rocks fell on Augustín Rivera’s lands. The campesinos explained that the pueblo’s borders had traditionally been established by the length of the cacique’s arm throw. It was in the pueblo’s interest therefore, to have a healthy cacique. Cabrera agreed, and the pueblo’s borders were officially established at the place where the rocks fell.26 Later, the military detained a number of individuals who signed “The Plan of Tamazunchale” or who were believed to have participated in the occupation of the town. The army questioned them and learned that the Tamazunchale and Tanchanhuitz rebels were not just peasants and agitators but included individuals from many layers of society. In addition to the Teenek and Nahua peasants, a number of mestizo rancheros had initiated and led much of the violence. The rebels also included mestizo artisans, small merchants, and mulata aguardiente vendors. The multiethnic and multiclass nature of the rebel leadership repudiates the claim of Mexico City newspapers and urban politicians that the agrarian and political unrest amounted to a “caste war” fought by “indios bárbarosos.” Such racially charged imagery was merely a ploy designed to deny the rebels’ legitimate political and class aspirations. For example, the Mexican army had also arrested mulata aguardiente vendors for earlier attacking cantinas that were selling North American–produced corn whiskey. Manuela

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Villegas, María Feliciana, and Magdalena María all complained that the U.S. soldiers in Tampico were either producing or importing the corn whiskey and that their low prices were driving them out of business. They denounced the flood of North American whiskey as “foreignism” and demanded that the politicians prohibit the sale of non-Mexican goods.27 During the Tamazunchale rebellion, the mulatas articulated a political vision by promoting nationalist economic issues in their confrontation with the government. The mulatas demanded that the state protect businesses against foreign competition, what they defined as “price cutting,” while the indigenous cultivators demanded the restoration of lands.28 Two of the rebels captured by the army, Juan Aguilar and Sebastián Santiago, came from the Tamazunchale barrios of San Francisco. They denied killing or robbing anyone but admitted that they had joined the rebels in early January in order to obtain land under “The Plan of Tamazunchale.” Ventura Heur, a twenty-year-old mestizo merchant from Tamazunchale, joined Melendrés, attacking those shops in the town owned by Spanish merchants. José Rubio, a forty-eight-year-old campesino from Xilitla, was arrested for robbing a local Spanish merchant. Ignacio Valenzuela, a forty-eight-year-old merchant from San Martín, rode with the rebels, but the army released him after he convinced them that he had not robbed anyone. Many of those arrested and questioned by the army were later released to family members after declaring to the authorities that they had not committed serious crimes and would not take part in future unrest.29 The army officers felt that many of the campesinos joined the uprising because law and order had broken down and they had been caught up in the moment. In addition, many military commanders remarked that these pueblos had contributed greatly to the armed resistance against the U.S. Army and that a general leniency was in order.30 The social unrest that wracked Tamazunchale, however, spread throughout other regions of the Huasteca Potosina. Soon the town of Axtla fell to the campesino rebels. They had seized local hacienda lands that they felt were rightfully theirs. Later, Manuel Melendrés rode through Axtla and rallied the pueblo’s citizens to take up “wood, sticks, arrows, and rocks” and invade the nearby haciendas of Huatepango and Tesquito and to kill the notorious estate managers and foremen who had abused them. Augustín Rivera, the owner of the hacienda, learned of the impending attack and organized an army of loyal estate workers and “hired guns.” It became a struggle, as indigenous and mestizo campesinos and local leadership allied with their clergy to battle landowners.


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Andrés Grande, outraged at the turn of events, allied himself with Rivera. He tried to kill Melendrés for what in his mind had been a betrayal of the original idealistic and lofty goals of the rebels. On February 13, the forces of Rivera clashed with those of Melendrés at the Zicatipán River. Many died, and Rivera withdrew to the nearby rancho Cisapa. Melendrés’s fighters attacked the ranch in the early morning hours of February 15 and killed many of Rivera’s men, including Felipe Rivera, the hacendado’s son. The attack ended with the looting and pillage of the estate. The Mexican cavalry in the area shortly thereafter tried to penetrate the rebel stronghold outside of Mecatlán. Melendrés, however, used watchdogs to provide early warnings, and they allowed an easy escape for his men.31 Meanwhile, rebellious peasants occupied other estates, including the Hacienda de Isla owned by Antonio de los Santos and Tenecalco in Villa Verde. The cacique of the barrio San Francisco near Tamazunchale was led there by Nahua and Otomí peasants, who went to reoccupy land claimed by the pueblo. In San Martín, cacique Juan Constantino likewise occupied estates, as did the cacique of Xilitla. The unrest in Xilitla spread to the neighboring fracciones, and for years thereafter state military commanders refused to move their troops into the Xilitlan highlands for fear of ambush.32 In the summer of 1848 local efforts to secure peace having failed, federal troops invaded the districts around Tamazunchale. They captured and arrested leading figures in the revolt. The army colonel sent Manuel Melendrés under escort to the state capital, San Luis Potosí. When the army escort stopped to rest in Río Verde, Melendrés escaped and made his way to Huehutlán, his home pueblo. His mother, Beatriz Melendrés, and other family members hid him from his pursuers. Colonel Barbarena, the commander at Tamazunchale, then sent a dispatch to Captain Manuel Romero in Río Verde and inquired as to the nature of Melendrés’s “escape.” Romero replied that yes, Melendrés was in Huehutlán but that he had not been rearrested because he had fought as a loyal and brave soldier in the U.S.-Mexican War. Outraged, Colonel Barbarena called Romero an “idiot” and even accused him of allowing Melendrés to escape while under his command. Colonel Podencio Bravo, the military commander of the Ciudad del Maíz, came to Romero’s defense and pointed out that Melendrés fought bravely in the Valles-Tampico region around the Pánuco River and had emerged as a war hero. He even had risked his life on several occasions for his men. Bravo asked that Barbarena consider Melendrés’s military service as a factor in

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whether or not to further prosecute the case.” 33 Colonel Barbarena, outnumbered by the local military commanders, finally dropped the issue, and Melendrés found refuge in Huehutlán.34 Florencia Mallon has found a similar case near Cuautla, Puebla. Former Indian guerrillas of the anti-U.S. armed resistance invaded local haciendas, and as in the case of the Huasteca, the local national guard and military commanders refused to repress the peasants, arguing that “justice was on their side and with all members of the ‘popular classes.’”35 The local officers, all veterans of the guerrilla war against the U.S. invaders, had varying degrees of sympathy for the rebels. Brooke Larson demonstrates how the Chilean invasion of Peru during the War of the Pacific shattered a fragile ethnic and class structure in the Peruvian Central highlands. Peasant villagers fought as peasant-soldiers and then turned their newly empowered sense of nationalism against their class enemies to appropriate crops and livestock and to seize lands they felt rightfully belonged to them. But unlike in Mexico, the Peruvian Army crushed the peasants and branded them as barbarians and bandits. State-building elites erased these peasant soldiers from the history of Peru and effectively removed a critical manifestation of subaltern nationalist discourse from official memory.36 In August 1848 Manuel Barbarena ordered all Tamazunchale inhabitants to present themselves in the town square within twenty-four hours in order to turn in their arms. Anyone not appearing was subject to the confiscation of his property and money. Furthermore, anyone found in possession of firearms after that day would be subject to arrest as a rebel sympathizer. The army then demanded that the inhabitants of the surrounding municipalities likewise turn in their arms within forty-eight hours to the troops who would be sent to their plazas.37 The majority of the Huastecan rebels, realizing that this was their best opportunity to avoid severe reprisals, turned themselves in and accepted the general amnesty. During the following year, the federal army occupied all of the main population centers in the Huasteca. Then, in the summer of 1849, the federal officers launched what they hoped would be a final offensive. They assaulted guerrilla strongholds and captured and killed a large number of them. At the same time, a cholera epidemic, spreading to the south from Monterrey, struck the state of San Luis Potosí with a vengeance. By the spring of 1850 the cholera outbreaks had swept through the Huasteca, killing thousands of people in the area. The combined effects of war, rebellion, military repression, and cholera slowed the great peasant uprising.38


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Throughout the 1850s, however, rebel activity continued throughout the Huasteca. In 1851 state official Mariano Palacios concurred that the rebels still controlled many areas of the Huasteca, including all of the mountainous regions.39 Armed clashes between agrarian rebels on one side and armed, vengeful landlords on the other continued throughout the 1850s. One episode of the conflict merits special attention. In August 1856 a new level of ideologically inspired agrarian violence erupted in the Huasteca in neighboring Tantoyuca, Veracruz. Denouncing capitalism, its peasants declared war against the “Mexican government” and an “unjust social order.” Although it was short lived—on November 23, 1856, federal troops, commanded by Colonel Manuel F. Soto, crushed the revolution— the Huastecos of Veracruz, led by citizen Rafael Díaz and representing “the oppressed classes, workers, Indians, and proletariats,” launched the first anarcho-communist agrarian revolution in Mexico and probably in all of Latin America.40 The Mexican government claimed, but never proved, that “outside agitators” from Mexico City were involved in writing the proclamations, providing supplies, and organizing the uprising. Their “Plan of Tantoyuca” marked a new level of sophistication. The documents of 1848 had called for municipal control over pueblo affairs and the communal division of lands. “The Plan of Tantoyuca,” however, called the capitalists “class enemies” and “vampires that thirst for blood,” who are “swimming in gold while other men do not have a penny in their pocket.” The rebels declared property to be a basic right of humanity, as free as “the air, the moonlight, and the sunshine.” All of the agrarian plans that emerged between 1848 and 1856 reflected local conditions. The plans from other parts of the Huasteca differed from the one created by Quiróz and Verasteguí. The Río Verde plan envisioned a ranchero Mexico made up of a series of small- and mediumsized plots, whereas the plans of the Huasteca demanded the elimination of private holdings and the communalization of haciendas. The Huastecan rebels did inject a local concern when they denounced the landowners for taking young girls from the villages to the estate houses for sexual exploitation, thus violating “love’s natural union.” 41 The revolutionaries promulgated an eight-point plan, which, if implemented, “would make a just society”: Considering that property is the basis of wealth and that men have usurped it and that the people should enjoy it as they enjoy

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the moon, sunlight, and air, it is ridiculous that some have no land while others have too much. We are talking about those people who take everything from the pueblos. Just as vampires that thirst for blood, they are never satisfied. We are talking about the capitalists. It is intolerable that some men are swimming in gold while others do not have a penny in their pockets. This is contrary to the laws of nature. They even deny us the women that we love. To create a just society as an example for others, we proclaim and swear the following articles.

1. We declare a war to the death against private property, for land is for all men to enjoy. 2. We also declare that all capitalists’ wealth should be distributed equally and in common. 3. All children should be cared for by the community until they are old enough to work for themselves. 4.  This community support should include medical services, clothes, and food. When people are in need, they can have these things at no cost, since money is going to be useless, locked up in a box that can only be used for external commerce. 5. Everybody must have an equal opportunity for pleasure as well as work. 6. A ll citizens, women included, are to serve in the military; the only exceptions are the disabled. 7. We are going to distribute this plan to all of the pueblos, and it will be known in all of the world.42

The inclusion of women and class in “The Plan of Tantoyuca” and its call for its worldwide distribution transformed it from simply another agrarian plan into a social revolution. The demand for state-supported medical services, clothing, and guaranteed employment paralleled European socialist thinking at the time and would be recognized by most progressive twentyfirst-century ideologies. Finally, the plan’s proclamation to Mexico and to all the world negates the common assumption that all peasant revolutions are local in nature. Clearly, the Huastecan anarcho-communists of Tantoyuca perceived themselves as the vanguard of the coming revolutionary storm that would sweep Mexico, Latin America, and the world.

Chap te r 4

War, Foreign Invasion, and Revolution, 1856–1876 . / In the aftermath of the U.S. war with Mexico, the nation entered

a period of sustained political and economic crisis that culminated in the French invasion. Just as they had done in the partisan struggle they waged against the U.S. Army, but on an even larger scale, Huastecan guerrillas once again forged an alliance with the Mexican Army and waged war against another foreign occupation. For the Huasteca Potosina, the political conflicts, ensuing foreign occupation, and guerrilla struggle serve as a critical link between the earlier agrarian rebellions and those of the late 1870s. In the decade following the French expulsion in 1867, the Huastecos were increasingly drawn into national politics, as General Porfirio Díaz launched and enlisted their aid in the 1876 Tuxtepec rebellion and successfully overthrew President Sebastían Lerdo de Tejada. The fighting during the French intervention and the Tuxtepec rebellion spread over much of the Huasteca Potosina. Believing that Porfirio Díaz would honor his pledge of support for peasant land rights, the Huastecan peasants once again armed themselves and fought as Porfiristas. Later, when the Huastecos realized that Díaz had betrayed them, they allied themselves with agrarian anarchist and socialist revolutionaries to launch their peasant war (1879–1884). The origins of the social crises that wracked Mexico during the 1850s originated in the political struggles between the Conservative and Liberal parties. Conservative politicians advocated a strong centralized executive to offset the chaos of postindependence partisan violence. Conservative thought advocated a corporate and a hierarchical class structure, a prominent role for the Church and the military in civil society, the retention of 51


Chapter 4

colonial-era fueros that allowed members of the Church and the military to be tried by their own members in separate courts, a provision for corporate monopolies over key economic sectors, and a concession that would allow the Church to hold tax-free great estates in the countryside.1 In contrast, Mexican liberalism rejected Spanish authoritarianism and supported an end to economic monopolies, which it regarded as vestiges of colonialism, a reduction of the public roles of the Church and the military, an end to fuero privileges, an agrarian system based on private landholders, and laissez-faire economic principles.2 Liberalism rested its social base on four important elements: creole elites, middle-class professionals, the urban intelligentsia in the cities, and an alliance of lawyers and landowners in the countryside. Prominent Liberal politicians at the national level included Benito Juárez, Melchor Ocampo, and Miguel Lerdo de Tejada, while in San Luis Potosí and the Huasteca they were led by General Mariano Escobedo and Colonel Carlos Salazar, Manuel Barragán, Don Justo Corressee, and José Martín Rascón. All of them favored the privatization of rural community properties. In 1855 the Liberals successfully overthrew the Conservative government and initiated a series of reforms whose objectives were to transform Mexican society. The first of these reforms, the Ley Juárez, abolished the military and ecclesiastical fueros that protected the Church and the military. The second of the major reforms, the Ley Lerdo, prohibited the Church and municipalities from owning or administering property not directly used in the day-to-day operations of the Church. The Ley Lerdo directly threatened the economic foundation of not only the Church but the Indian pueblos. The Liberal government incorporated these laws into the 1857 constitution, which formed the judicial basis of the Liberal state.3 Between 1858 and 1861 a wave of severe civil strife known as the Wars of the Reforma engulfed Mexico. General Félix Zuloaga launched a Conservative revolt that threatened to topple the Liberal government and reverse its policies. Despite a series of setbacks, the Liberals gained the upper hand and finally turned the tide against the Conservatives. On New Year’s Day 1861 the triumphant Liberal armies entered Mexico City, but the euphoria following the military victory proved short lived. The financial strain of years of civil war and economic upheaval had left the Mexican treasury bankrupt. Juárez, facing financial insolvency, declared a two-year moratorium on the payment of Mexico’s foreign debt. By the fall of 1861 Britain, France, and Spain had all agreed on a joint occupation of Veracruz and the seizure of its customs houses in order to collect their claims. The French,

War, Foreign Invasion, and Revolution


however, under Louis Napoleon Bonaparte, had forged a secret alliance with the Mexican Conservatives and moved to occupy all of Mexico, remove the Liberal government, and install a monarchy. By February 1862 the governments of Britain and Spain, angered by what they perceived to be a French betrayal of the original mission, ordered their troops home.4 In the spring of 1863, after serious reversals, including the defeat of their army at Puebla on May 5, 1862, the French seized Mexico City. Juárez established a provisional capital in San Luis Potosí. The president and his military leadership emphasized the need to defend the city in case the French mounted an assault from Tampico. That meant the creation of a guerrilla army to be used in an unconventional war. The subsequent formation of the “army of the east” resulted partly from the strategy drafted for the defense of San Luis Potosí. In addition to the French Army, Conservative Mexican forces, under the command of General Tomás Mejía and General Ignacio Ugalde, fought the Liberals, also known as Juaristas. Mejía operated from the Sierra Gorda, where he had once hunted Eleuterio Quiróz and his agrarian rebels in the late 1840s. In late December 1862, before Juárez arrived in San Luis Potosí, Mejía launched raids deep into the Huasteca and Río Verde mountains and tried to establish contact with the French along the coast.5 The combination of the French Army in Tampico and Mejía’s forces in the Sierra Gorda placed Juárez’s Liberal army in a precarious position at San Luis Potosí. The Huasteca lay between them. The Juarista army adopted a double strategy in order to combat the French and their Conservative allies.6 First, the Juaristas established regular army positions throughout the state, one to defend the capital from an assault by the French from Tampico striking through the Huasteca and another to prevent Mejía’s forces in the Sierra Gorda from moving through the southern city of Santa Maria del Río. The Liberal commanders used the city of Río Verde and Zaragoza as strongholds to defend the capital. They also reinforced the cities of Cerritos in the north.7 Second, they resurrected the military strategy that had proved successful in defeating the earlier U.S. occupation. Realizing that a concerted French invasion from Tampico and the Sierra Gorda would overwhelm them, the Juarista commanders armed and trained a citizens’ militia. The Liberal generals knew that their regular forces were not strong enough and could not withstand a major French and Conservative assault. At first, things did not look promising. They inventoried the auxiliary military forces in the


Chapter 4

state and found most of them lacking in troops and equipment. The crucial Huastecan town of Tamazunchale, for instance, had only twenty national guardsmen.8 The neighboring municipalities of San Martín, Xilitla and Axtla could only provide an additional twenty-two troops. The Huastecan pueblo of Tanchanhuitz provided six men, while the neighboring municipalities of Aquismón, Huehutlán, Coscatlán, San Antonio, Tampamolón, and Tampacán contributed a combined total of thirty-six soldiers.9 The northern tier of the Huasteca in Ciudad del Maíz and Valles maintained troop strengths of only 142 militiamen. But due to the popular nature of the war effort, things soon brightened, and peasant pueblos throughout Río Verde and the Huasteca formed the basis for a mass peasant militia force. By November 1862 national guardsmen from Valles were confronting French troops in the area of the Pánuco River.10 In January 1863 a French attack in southern Tamaulipas provoked a counterattack in which Huastecan campesinos from Valles crossed the state border and attacked the French Army.11 In the spring of 1863 volunteer militias from Río Verde and Cerritos moved into Zaragoza to strengthen the local defenses.12 At that point, the alcalde of Tamazunchale established a regional defense alliance with the neighboring Huastecan pueblos of Tanchanhuitz and Valles. In the event of a French or Conservative assault on one partido, the others agreed to come to their assistance.13 Volunteers poured in from nearly every Huastecan pueblo to fight the “traidores de Sierra Gorda,” as Juárez called them. The Juarista generals encouraged campesino cooperation in the defense of the motherland and proclaimed that modern Mexicans and their indigenous ancestors were historically and culturally united as one people: The indigenous race has the courage of Cuahtemóc y Juárez, the energy and the character of Xicotencatl and Zaragoza; the strength of their origins lie in the patriotism and dignity of Huitzolopochtli and the campesinos of Oaxaca and Coatepec. Who can doubt our triumph. Our War Cry is Viva Mexico! Viva the Supreme Government!14 Two hundred men from Tanchanhuitz and Huehutlán joined the fighting, supported by the landowners of Tampamolón, San Martín, Axtla, Aquismón, San Antonio, and Xilitla. In February, the army expanded the

War, Foreign Invasion, and Revolution


regional defensive alliance to include the now mobilized peasants of the Huasteca Veracruzana.15 The campesinos quickly demonstrated their fighting skills. The military commanders repeatedly expressed gratitude and complimented the indigenous guerrillas. Those from the Huastecan pueblo of Axtla drew special praise for their patriotism and service in the interests of national honor and dignity. It is necessary to recognize that the poor indigenous have exceeded their quota in support of the National Guard as paid via the civil registry, and to that effect that they offered their all in the raising of arms in order to defend their pueblos. Their hostility to the traitors of the Sierra Gorda is as exceptional as their promising of goods for the supreme government.16 By March 1863 Mexican officers had equipped seventy-five local volunteers from Axtla with rifles and bayonets.17 The army had also provided the campesinos with uniforms including socks, shoes, shirts, pants, and hats. In June 1863, in southern San Luis Potosí, the 4th Company of the 5th Battalion of the army of the east arrived in Xilitla and established a fortified trench around the “gateway to the Huasteca.” Throughout the summer small skirmishes took place. Nahua and Otomí campesinos acted as scouts and guards in the strategic mountain passes, informing the officers of Conservative troop movements.18 Meanwhile, the army trained and equipped one hundred additional campesino jornaleros as troops. The pueblos of Tamazunchale and Xilitla supplied the militias with corn and beans throughout the war.19 To the south, elements of the 6th Battalion descended on the Ciudad del Maíz in 1863 to prevent a French movement southward from Ciudad Victoria. Some local campesino troops went as far north as Tula to shore up that city’s defenses.20 The Río Verde military inspectors to the Huasteca described the regional militias as “for the most part jornaleros.” According to them, they learned “the ideas of infantry service” and were subsequently paid one and a half reales a day.21 Colonel Carlos Salazar, the army commander in Río Verde, trained a number of mobile rifle units and then sent them out as trainers, under Colonel Angel Díaz, to organize and teach Indian units so that they could operate in the mountains.22 The pueblo of Coscatlán raised a guerrilla force of 150 campesinos and armed them with rifles. During the French intervention, most high-ranking Church elements, believing that their interests lay with the Conservatives and that liberalism


Chapter 4

threatened their social and economic position, supported the French invaders. Likewise, many peasants, such as the Maya Indian rebels in Yucatán, also supported the French and Conservatives, believing that the Conservatives promised better protection of their lands and their religion.23 In contrast, many lower-level urban and rural priests in the Huasteca fought alongside the Mexican Army in an effort to expel the French invaders. Parish priests Lorenzo Espinoza, José Manuel de León, José Ruiz, and José Vega in Río Verde and the Huastecan pueblos preached support for Mexican independence from France. They also served as chaplains to the military units and called for the “expulsion of the foreign invaders in order to prevent any attempt to reinstall a foreign monarch on Mexican soil.” The priests in Tamazunchale even paid the salaries of campesino troops.24 Local parish priests in the city of Zaragoza organized, and led a citizens’ militia.25 As fighting intensified throughout the summer of 1863, agriculture suffered because campesino soldiers proved unable to till their lands. Liberal commanders discussed the need to raise the salaries of their soldiers because “as jornaleros, they were the sole support of their families.” Taking the initiative, the families of the Río Verde defense forces began to change the nature of the war, transforming it from strictly a fight with the foreign enemy into a class conflict. They occupied unused hacienda lands as payment for their husbands’ and fathers’ national services. The military commanders in Río Verde also joined in. Riding a wave of lower class activism, they proposed nationalizing unused hacienda lands throughout the region for the purpose of dispensing them as private lots in payment to volunteer troops.26 Some Juarista military commanders encouraged these actions when they nationalized unused hacienda lands in the vicinity of San Luis Potosí and then gave them to the families of slain soldiers.27 A short-term boom emerged in the midst of war, as Juárez also funded the war effort by exporting agricultural goods such as hides and leather from Guanajuato and silver from Zacatecas and Catorce through the Huasteca Potosina to ships on the northern Gulf Coast. While peasants exported crops such as cotton, the regional elites led by José Manuel Rascón, owner of the Hacienda del Salto de Agua, and don Justo Corresse smuggled goods to the port city of Matamoros and sold them to unspecified buyers.28 The Liberal army used the coastal city of Tuxpan, south of Tampico, as a supply base for military operations in the Huasteca in the interior. When the French invaded the Huasteca Veracruzana, they faced stiff resistance in the pueblos around Temapache, Tamiahua, and Ozuluama. The French hanged

War, Foreign Invasion, and Revolution


five Huastecan guerrillas, captured outside of Tamiahua, from streetlamps in the plaza of Tampico, while a 550-man French counterinsurgency force and 4,000 Conservative Mexican forces attempted to invade the Huasteca. The French and Conservative troops encountered fierce resistance from peasant troops, under the command of Colonel Jesús Alvarado, in Tanchanhuitz. Guerrillas also flourished in Tampamolón. When French forces attacked Tampamolón, José Salvador, a local campesino, led the defense of the village church, and his men held off the invading army for two days. He survived and became a hero in town.29 Many of the Huastecos fought aggressively, in an offensive mode, attacking Conservative “traitors” in the Sierra Gorda. In the fall of 1863 more than 850 Tamazunchale jornaleros, 180 Tanchanhuitz campesinos, and twenty cavalrymen from Valles participated in an offensive.30 Some of the troops fought in a campaign waged in Querétaro. In anticipation of a counter attack, officials in Tamazunchale requested backup support from national guard troops in Río Verde and Zaragoza. Armed clashes involving the Zaragoza and Río Verde reinforcements with French and Conservative forces continued throughout the fall of 1863 and the winter of 1864.31 In December 1863 French and Conservative army assaults into the Huasteca caused immense destruction in Huichipán and prompted a forty-five man force from Valles and two hundred more from the 5th Infantry Battalion to confront them.32 In 1864 continued French and Conservative assaults into the Huasteca temporarily pushed the Juarista army out of the mountains. In the event of a long-term French occupation of the Huasteca, the commanders stockpiled arms throughout the countryside. Before leaving, the Mexican Army buried ammunition and weapons near the Huastecan pueblo of San Antonio and other places for future use by the peasants against French forces.33 The Huastecos were gaining vast military experience, experience that would prove beneficial in the near future. In November 1866 the Mexican Army launched an all-out offensive against the French in the Huasteca. In the Hacienda Salto del Agua, near the Ciudad del Maíz, armed campesinos joined the Tula Battalion under the command of Colonel Juan López and Colonel Francisco Vargas and attacked a French outpost near the city. Colonel López marched his men from Ciudad del Maíz to the village of San Antonio and joined in an attack led by General Mariano Escobedo. Meanwhile, two hundred Huastecos dug up and carried the arms and ammunition left behind at the rancho outside of San Antonio.34


Chapter 4

Liberal commanders from Ciudad Victoria also delivered more than four hundred horses to them, enabling widespread guerrilla resistance against the French.35 The fighting continued as the peasants refined their guerrilla fighting capabilities. In December 1866 French and Conservative troops from a counterinsurgency battalion under Juan Araujo attacked Ciudad del Maíz and sacked the Rancho Ojo de Leon. Eight hundred campesino soldiers from the Huasteca successfully counterattacked and forced the French to evacuate the entire Huasteca Potosina.36 In February 1867 Colonel Francisco Mozo of the Mexican Army took a triumphal tour of the region and reported to his commanders in San Luis Potosí that there were “no French left in the Huasteca Potosina.” 37 The armed struggle against the French and the alliance formed between the Liberals and the Huastecan peasantry was crucial in the further development of a nationalist ideology among the Huastecos. Their taking part in the war against the French Empire, which built on a nationalist sentiment that originated during the independence war and then reappeared in the active participation in the federalist movements of the 1820s and 1830s and in the patriotic alliance formed to repel U.S. forces in the 1840s, proved a critical building block. The Liberal army’s diffusion of popular or egalitarian liberalism among the Huastecan peasantry fell on fertile soil as they adopted popular liberalism owing to its emphasis on self-government and constitutional guarantees against arbitrary government.38 During the 1860s and 1870s these ideas merged with the proliferation of radical agrarista ideologies associated with anarchism and laid the basis for the political radicalization of the Huastecos. In the aftermath of the war, Juárez expressed his gratitude to the Huastecan campesinos for their struggle in defense of national integrity. But, being a Liberal and a supporter of land privatization, he never attempted to assist the guerrilla heroes in their fight for what they regarded as agrarian justice. For many Huastecos, their common struggle against the French Army was rooted in their own interpretation of liberalism. As noted by Florencia Mallon, peasant liberalism was “more collective”: it rested on “the right of all individuals to citizenship—defined broadly as the just exercise of property rights, equitable access to resources and revenues, and the right to elect representatives and hold them accountable for their actions.” 39 But the Liberal elites, merchants, landowners, and entrepreneurs interpreted liberalism in terms of “free markets: the right to accumulate and invest capital without the restrictions represented by such neo-colonial institutions as the Catholic Church or the Indian communities.” Their

War, Foreign Invasion, and Revolution


embrace of this more individualist and restrictive concept of economic integration within the capitalist world economy was accompanied by the infusion of large amounts of foreign capital that increasingly defined their ideas of “modernization and progress; i.e., Liberals hated communal ownership and considered indigenous peoples inferior.” 40 In the Huasteca Potosina, the decade following the expulsion of the French in 1867 witnessed the achievement of elite Liberal goals: an increase in private landholdings by the larger estate owners at the expense of the indigenous pueblos, which was made possible by the 1857 constitution. In addition, the centralization of state authority under Liberal rule further shifted the political balance of power against the Huastecan peasantry. Mallon notes in her study of Puebla that the political alliances that underwrote the construction of Liberal discourse began to change. No longer was the main goal the defeat of a powerful military enemy. Increasingly, the newly emerging Liberal agenda centered around the reorganization and institutionalization of power.41 A sense of deep betrayal quickly grew within the hearts and minds of the campesinos. After participating in two guerrilla wars in less than twentyfive years, the political and economic position of the campesinos began to deteriorate badly. Further, the Huastecan peasantry bore the brunt of an increasingly racist ideology that had germinated among Mexico’s elites. The rise of “scientific racism” and its synthesis with Mexican positivism led to the subordination of the Mexican indigenous peasantry.42 This clash between Mexico’s elites and a radicalized indigenous peasantry who now saw themselves as citizens and therefore equals with other Mexicans laid the basis for the mass social violence of the late 1870s and 1880s. In the aftermath of the French expulsion, political instability and intraLiberal power struggles wracked San Luis Potosí. In 1869 the governorship changed hands four times, and in the 1870 election the state electorate split the Liberal ruling party into two warring factions. In that year General Mariano Escobedo, a loyal Juarista, received support from the national government and “won” the governorship. The radical faction of Liberals in San Luis Potosí opposed Escobedo’s election. The radicals supported a more rapid pace for land privatization. Their leader was Carlos Díez Gutiérrez, the grandson of Manuel Barragán, the dominant landowner of the Huasteca Potosina.


Chapter 4

The bitterness engendered by federal support for Escobedo sowed the seeds of dissent against the government in Mexico City. When General Porfirio Díaz launched the Tuxtepec rebellion in 1876 and overthrew the Lerdo government, Díez Gutiérrez joined him. He was rewarded with the governorship of the state.43 Gutiérrez mediated political and land disputes in San Luis Potosí by stressing the themes of economic growth for the export– oriented landed class, linking the state to global markets through the modernization of the region’s railroads and the port of Tampico. He soon issued contracts for road construction throughout the state and aggressively sought one such road that would extend to the port of Tampico. Gutiérrez also reorganized the hospitals and jails and promoted public schools for the children of artisans in the capital. His six-year program of public works opportunities stabilized state politics momentarily and accelerated the extensive privatization of land in the Huasteca. The Tuxtepec rebellion in the Huasteca began when armed supporters of the Tuxtepec rebellion, called Tuxtepecanos, marched from Pachuca, Hidalgo, and entered the city of Tamazunchale. They proclaimed “el plan politico, regenador de las libertades y garantías de la republica mexicana” (“the political plan for the regeneration and guarantees of the Mexican republic”). The revolutionaries gathered in the plaza and appealed to the citizens to “rise up against tyranny, new local taxes, and other abuses.” 44 They also coupled these local complaints with a national vision, charging that the government was selling Mexico out to Britain by allowing them to finance and construct the Mexico City–Veracruz railroad. They called for a new government that would uphold Mexican sovereignty against the British. Hoping to prevent the reelection of President Sebastían Lerdo de Tejada, the rebels agitated for their neighbors to join in the crusade against him.45 In the hope of recovering communal lands, many of the campesino pueblos in the Huasteca supported the Tuxtepec revolt. Díaz proclaimed that “in the struggle sustained from time immemorial by the people against haciendas, I shall be on the side of the people.” 46 At first, the campesinos of the Huasteca thought that Porfirismo, the program of Porfirio Díaz, offered them a chance to redress past grievances. Veterans of two armed struggles against foreign invaders, many Huastecos believed that they possessed inalienable rights that were afforded by national citizenship. Campesino expectations of social justice had vanished by the early 1870s, however, as hacendados, invoking the laissez-faire and individualist ideology of President Benito Juárez, directly assaulted pueblo lands. Juarismo, the program of Benito

War, Foreign Invasion, and Revolution


Juárez, was the vehicle with which the landowners justified their attacks on pueblo lands. By 1876 the militarily experienced campesinos were ready to join Díaz’s revolt, one in which they felt they held a stake. The clash between peasant and elite aspirations that defined the 1876 Tuxtepec revolt underlay the approaching outbreak of agrarian violence. The disaffected politicians of San Luis Potosí also supported the Porfirian insurrection. They understood Porfirismo to include the accelerated privatization of communal lands, the building of railroads, including one from San Luis Potosí across the Huasteca to the port of Tampico, and the expansion of commercialized crops such as sugar and tobacco. The first creoles to declare their allegiance to Díaz’s rebellion in the state of San Luis Potosí were large landowners, including José Manuel Rascón and Díez Gutiérrez. The latter obtained arms and munitions in Matamoros.47 The BrownsvilleMatamoros area of the border served as the center of Porfirio Díaz’s North American–financed revolution against Lerdo. Privately supplied U.S. arms allowed Díaz to wage a protracted war against Lerdo throughout northeastern Mexico.48 Díez Gutiérrez and Ignacio Martínez, another landowner, operated a Porfirista military base at Ciudad Victoria, Tamaulipas, just north of the Huasteca Potosina. They recruited peasants and drew them into the military campaign. Martínez then invaded the Valle del Maíz, and his forces occupied Tanchanhuitz, Tamazunchale, Ciudad Valles, and Río Verde.49 Three hundred men under the command of Ignacio Martínez fought throughout Tantoyuca, Huejutla, Tamuín, Ciudad del Maíz, Río Verde, and Valles.50 José Manuel Rascón, the son of José Domingo Rascon, whose property extended across the border between the states, armed and recruited peasants on his Hacienda Salto del Agua near the Tamaulipas border. The wealthy Santos family of Tampamolón also declared themselves Tuxtepecanos and led units that fought throughout Tampacán, San Vicente Cuayalab, and Veracruz. Díaz’s allies, both elites and peasants, expected rewards. He did not disappoint the elites. Díaz appointed Díez Gutiérrez as governor of the state. Rascón received the railroad concession for the line between San Luis Potosí and Tampico and became the state’s largest landowner. By 1878 Díaz had reneged on all of the assurances the peasants had fought for. The “betrayal” of the Tuxtepec revolution pushed the Huastecan campesinos to take the initiative and reconquer their lands by force of arms.

C hap te r 5

The Liberal Assault, 1856–1884 . / In the early 1870s the evening bell pierced the humid sky in

the Ciudad del Maíz, as it had since the first Castilian inhabitants built the Spanish city in the days of the conquistadors. Every night, in memory of the city’s dead, the pueblo marked a moment of collective silence as the local church rang the community’s bell. To U.S. observers such as Cora Townsend, who was from a banking family in New Orleans, the Huasteca constituted an untouched “Eden,” a land of “glorious rivers, wandering streams, and never ending cascades.” She describes the “aboriginals” as indifferent and undisturbed by the outside world, living in a pristine natural state. “The quiet farms and little Indian villages rest undisturbed by the turmoil and dissensions that wrack the outer world. They know them not. To the newspaper they are indifferent, and the telegraph is no more to them than it was to our first parents in Eden.” 1 However, this idyllic vision of a Huastecan Eden masked the brutal reality of an immiserated peasantry locked into a deteriorating landed and labor regime. The pueblos had expanded both the economic and political rights of peasants during the era of agrarian decompression and the federalist struggles of the 1820s and 1830s, and the seeds for a future resurgence of the larger landed estates and an offensive waged by a centralizing state were also sown in those years. During the early national period, the secularization of Church properties laid the basis for the growth of larger estates that would by midcentury threaten peasant landholdings. In the eighteenth century the Augustinian and Franciscan orders maintained seventeen missions in the Huasteca and controlled over four hundred thousand acres. Twenty thousand Huastecos lived on twenty-five Church-owned haciendas and eighty-five ranchos. The Huastecan creoles eagerly sought the secularization of these Church lands in 63


Chapter 5

the expectation of expanding their private holdings. In 1828 Mexican Liberal president Vicente Guerrero passed the Bienes de manos muertes, the first in a series of laws aimed at dispossessing the Church of its lands. In 1832 Liberal president Valentín Gómez Farías carried out the edict. The privatization of Church land allowed the creoles to begin expanding their lands at the expense of the Huastecan peasantry.2 Once such creole landowner was José Pablo Jongitud, who became a leading military strongman in Tanchanhuitz and Tamazunchale. By the 1830s Jongitud and his allies had eliminated the mission properties in Tanchanhuitz. In 1834 the Cofradía del Santísmo Sacramento de Tampamolón lost its communal lands because they lay within the boundaries of the missions. By 1850 the Jongitud clan controlled the haciendas of Cheneco and Chalco, totaling almost 825,000 acres.3 In the 1840s new elite families appeared. In 1844 José Domingo Rascón purchased the Hacienda San Ignacio del Buey. When Rascón’s son, José Manuel, inherited the property he introduced the first modern sugar mill to the Huasteca. Manuel promoted road development throughout the area and was instrumental in campaigning for the building of the San Luis Potosí–Tampico Railroad. Rascón controlled a number of haciendas and ranches in the region under the rubric of the Rascón Hacienda. By 1879 he owned 1.4 million acres that reached across eastern San Luis Potosí and the state of Tamaulipas. Other creoles complemented the Rascóns, and together they attempted to wield arbitrary rule over the Huasteca. The Castellanos family dominated the Ciudad Valles political economy. Between 1848 and 1871 the Santos family of Tampamolón extended their cattle ranches by tens of thousands of acres, enveloping the pueblos. In the 1860s they further extended their power by participating in the civil war against the French. Using the Huastecan serranos as an operational base, they augmented their power by commanding the state militia.4 The only political units that remained independent were the pueblos, with their native languages, culture, and communal experience. By the middle of the 1850s a new and dynamic social class, the rancheros, emerged in and around Tamazunchale. Rancheros represented a politically significant portion of the agrarian population. Working medium-sized plots, these farmers developed a complex social structure.5 A few of the more prosperous ones sublet lands to smaller holders and even hired field hands. They lived alongside one other, ate the same food, dressed alike, and most were hardly distinguishable from one another. Employing relatives or neighbors, the rancheros of the Huasteca maintained close paternalistic

The Liberal Assault


social relations with their workers. These “middle peasants,” as Eric Wolf notes, are often the primary social and agrarian agitators in revolutionary movements.6 The development of a ranchero class in the pueblos of Jacala and Pisaflores and the presence of vaqueros in Huejutla, all lying adjacent to Tamazunchale, had a major impact on the course of nineteenth-century Huastecan agrarianism. Ranchero revolutionaries from Hidalgo inspired Juan Santiago’s peasant revolt of 1879 and influenced its course. A major struggle on the part of the Huastecos was for a more decentralized polity that would allow a broader and more participatory rural social order to evolve. Political authority in the region resided in the office of the jefe político, always held by a creole or wealthy mestizo. One jefe served in each of the three partidos. The governor of the state designated a powerful creole to an unspecified term in office. They directed the affairs of the province, except for the internal governance of the pueblos.7 In each of the regional capitals, Tamazunchale, Tanchanhuitz, and Valles, an administrative body, subordinate to the jefe, collected taxes, imposed fines, dispensed justice, fulfilled military conscription demands, appointed police commandants, assured public tranquility, and commanded the local state militia.8 The jefe further centralized government functions by collecting census statistics, tax accounts, and reporting violations of public order. He often determined the outcome of regional politics. Geographically isolated and far removed from the state capital of San Luis Potosí, the jefes arbitrarily made most decisions in the larger towns and controlled trade between them. They often overruled state governors, their dictums becoming de facto law, and administered personal fiefdoms in the Huasteca. Many of the political struggles that ensued resulted from the desire of the citizens to escape this type of political domination and centralization imposed by the capital cities. These native townships functioned as a separate and distinct administrative body, paralleling that of, but subordinated to, the capital of the province. The pueblos had a governor, two alcaldes, and two juges, the tequihuas and the mayules, each serving in a separate ayuntamiento. The registers often passed legal decisions according to local customs. Around December or January of every year, the natives of each pueblo held meetings to determine the new body. The older members voted for and conducted the ceremonial rituals inaugurating the new governor, with the local priest and ex-governor passing the Vara de justicia, a wooden mantle, from which to administer the position of Indian governor for a year. The newly appointed governor and his cabinet then marched through town


Chapter 5

and around everyone’s house, allowing the pueblo to identify their newly elected officials. In the case of biethnic pueblos such as Coscatlán, which contained both Nahua and Teenek populations, one governor represented both groups. Upon arriving in the town square, unemployed campesinos humbly petitioned the new governor in the hope of receiving assignments or allocations from meager public funds held by the treasurer. After hearing some immediate cases and demonstrating the new manner of rule, the governor and council, adorned in flowers and followed by flute musicians, marched through town and then slowly departed to their respective homes.9 The governors served as intermediaries between the pueblo and the Hispanic world. The governor remained a central organizing figure of Huastecan society throughout most of the nineteenth century. Because the governorship was limited to a one-year term, local power constantly changed hands. In case of the cacique’s absence, a substitute governor, the tequihua, temporarily filled the vacancy. He also served as a neutral intermediary force between differing barrios and fraccíones. The tequihua allocated labor demands for pueblo upkeep and building repair and was charged with fulfilling pueblo quotas for work drafts and military conscription. The Indian judge, the mayules, dispensed justice as dictated by the cacique, even to the point of publicly whipping village criminals. While abuses occurred, the governors usually saw to the well-being of their pueblos as best they could, considering the constraints imposed upon them by the Mexican political economy. A skewed distribution of land and a growing exploitative labor regime also contributed to peasant oppression. The haciendas of the region utilized a sharecropper tenure system called condueñazgo. The system of condueñazgo in principle represented a private association of shareholding landowners. In reality, though, it amounted to a retrograde system of labor exploitation and abuse imposed by powerful creoles on a rural Indian peasantry. Emilio Kourí notes that the system of condueñazgo that accompanied the expansion of the vanilla industry in the Papantla region of Veracruz “proved to be highly malleable—and manipulable—landholding institutions.” Kourí also notes that the major beneficiaries of the condueñazgo system included town merchants, land speculators and brokers, and shareholder farmers.10 Those Huastecos who lived outside the pueblos and needed supplementary income became condueños by renting a milpa from the landlord and in return the landowning condueño credited the family’s account and paid their state taxes A condueño typically built a small palm hut near a field and

The Liberal Assault


harvested sugar or rice for the owner while providing the minimal necessities for his family. The creole condueños measured their personal wealth and status by the number of Indian condueños working for them. As Antonio Cabrera noted, a feudal and racist mentality ruled: A condueño sets up his house wherever he likes and gets a group of Indians to settle nearby on his land. The Indians, in return for the privilege of building houses and starting garden plots or small cane fields, are obliged to clear, plant, and harvest a corn or bean field for the owner without pay. He who has the most Indians is the richest and as in the days of the encomiendas refers to them as “My Indians.” When the rains come the Indians go out and sow the land with their sticks. When the time comes they harvest the crop, carry it on their backs to their Lord’s house, and there shuck and store it.11 In the regions surrounding Ciudad Valles, the sharecroppers lived in absolute misery. The majority of lands rented out through condueñazgo proved barely able to pay the taxes. The peasants supplemented their meager salaries by working on the sugar harvest at local haciendas. Outside observers denounced the monetary compensation paid to the peasants as “unjust” and incapable of providing for the needs of their families and neighborhoods.12 The peasants were not able to effectively exploit the agricultural potential of the Huasteca because of the land parcels were too small. Even those rancheros that had access to medium-sized plots of land lacked the necessary means to fully exploit their properties. Some of the “middle peasants” satisfied their labor requirements by hiring extra field hands.13 These farmers seemed to have been the few cultivators capable of paying the taxes levied on them. Labor conditions worsened as a result of the growth of agrarian capitalist relations. During the 1870s, visitors commented on the forced subjugation of the peasants. In 1879, at the beginning of the Tamazunchale revolt, Victor Martínez, a state inspector, interviewed a number of peasants in the area and listed their complaints. The hacendados exacted forced personal and public service. The jefes uses labor drafts to get their lands cleared and burned for free. Children worked for the governors, carrying mail and delivering it to homes in the municipalities. The jefe políticos required that the Huastecos maintain city walls and street lamps, that they clean the roads, and that they service government buildings.14 Very little monetary compensation was


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provided for this work. In the event that peones refused to provide free service to a local hacendado, he was incarcerated. During his incarceration, the prisoner provided free service for a public works project. The hacendados and jefes who received free labor from the peones needed only to provide food. But, as some later recalled, they often supplied their meals with inferior corn from an earlier harvest.15 The continuation of colonial-era labor drafts into the 1870s formed the basis of peasant grievances and contributed to their political radicalization. The case of Dolores Jacame demonstrates the fate of Huastecos who annoyed the jefe político or other creole public officials. They ran the risk of being arbitrarily imprisoned with no contact with family members and no set date for release. In 1880, the children of Jacame formally complained to state inspector Procopio Medellín that J. J. Ocaña, the jefe político of Tanchanhuitz, had arrested their father and imprisoned him in Tanquian without pressing specific charges. Denied contact for twenty-five days, the children asked Medellín for assistance in getting their father released. Cases such as this were commonplace.16 The creoles maintained a large Huastecan domestic work force. Men and women served in landowners’ homes for weeks and sometimes months at a time. The women brought their children with them and carried their infants on their backs as they worked. The hacendados paid the men six reales weekly (seventy-five centavos), but women were only paid three and a half reales weekly. Prevailing wages in other parts of rural Mexico ranged from thirty centavos to one peso per day. The domestics also received wages that covered the baptismal fees for their infants. Ironically, in spite of low pay and poor working conditions, patrimonial social bonds characterized the social relations between landlords and domestic workers, as the hacendados often served as godparents for the children. The forced servitude of the Huastecan peasants aroused the wrath of critics in Mexico City. Urban working-class newspapers denounced this form of forced servitude as a relic of the colonial labor system and criticized the brutal living conditions endured by the Huastecan campesinos. El socialista, a working-class newspaper based in Mexico City, exposed the humiliating and brutal public beating of peasants by hacendados and political authorities. It described Huastecan jornaleros as “suffering under a yoke of severe enslavement,” “laboring in the fields for slave wages,” and “often unpaid by their Creole Lords.” The paper also criticized the regional “feudal barons” for having failed to adapt to “modern times.” It pointed out that forced labor extractions were

The Liberal Assault


unconstitutional and depicted the hacendados as racists who referred to the Indians as “gentes sin razón” (“people without reason”).17 Potosino elites also denounced the labor drafts. Manuel Palacios condemned unjustified incarceration and exploitation, complaining that the civil authorities abused the peasants. He described their behavior as a hindrance to the development of the nation’s riches and as outdated and unfit for a modern nation.18 The state governors’ attempts to break the political power of regional caudillos motivated them to a large extent. The governors hoped to expand the political strength of the state government. Many officials feared the independence of regional landowners, who often had private militias defend their power base. When the state governors attempted to displace or otherwise castigate the Huastecan elites, the creoles relied on their loyal militias to combat the outsiders. Between 1876 and the outbreak of the 1879 rebellion, peasant leaders of the Huasteca increasingly complained to state officials about abuses committed by local authorities. The forced labor drafts injured their families. Their meager salaries left them in a tortured existence. They described “a yoke of slavery” and referred to themselves as “our disgraced class.” Constant references to their rights as Mexican citizens revealed the bitter consciousness of their “disgrace.” 19 In January 1878 peasant leaders Sixto Flores, Juan Pascual, and Tomás Rada and all of the barrio of San Juan Acatlán lodged a labor protest in Mexico City under their right of liberty as guaranteed by the 1857 constitution. They complained that the officials in Tamazunchale exacted personal labor without providing just compensation. The peasants presented a petition in which they claimed that they “suffered like cattle under the heels of the jefes.” Flores, Pascual, and Rada based their protest on their inherent rights as Mexican citizens. The signers of the petition represented a roll call of the coming peasant rebellion. Flores and Pascual later fought at the side of Juan Santiago.20 In 1879 Juan Santiago and sixty campesinos from San Francisco lodged complaints of labor abuse against local jefes. Santiago denounced the officials in Tamazunchale for extracting labor without pay and interfering with indigenous political affairs. Santiago derogatorily referred to all the abusers as “castellanos” (“Spaniards”), and demanded that Spanish speakers “respect indigenous custom, laws, morality, and right to just compensation for work on public projects.” He demanded pay owed to the workers for repairing the banks of the Moctezuma River following the great hurricane of 1878.21


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In the interest of education and in order to preserve indigenous traditions, Santiago called for the establishment of schools that instructed in the Nahuatl language. He also demanded indigenous control over the electoral process in Tamazunchale. The campesinos proclaimed the need for the legal equality of all Huastecos. The pueblo of San Francisco remained one of the most volatile barrios of the entire cabecera of Tamazunchale. Santiago’s leadership and agitation in his home pueblo for the redressing of abuses and injustices was a major factor in the radicalism displayed by the citizens of Tamazunchale and explains why this barrio initiated much of the violence that erupted in the summer of 1879. Work in the sugar processing mills around Tamazunchale, Tanchanhuitz, and Valles illustrate the difficult conditions that had been imposed on the Huastecan campesinos. The landowners increasingly denied the peasants access to land they had traditionally used for subsistence needs. Santiago called the result “wage slavery.” In the growing plantation economy of Tampamolón and Huehutlán, entire families of formerly independent peasants worked in the sugar fields. Forced into small living quarters, men toiled for one and a half centavos a day, cutting sugar cane and hauling it on their backs to the processing mills. The women and children were paid one centavo a day, but they rarely received it because the hacendados charged a centavo for meals. Arising before dawn and working well into the evening, women pushed the blowers for the wringers, ground the cane, and stirred the boiling sugar in the pots. In addition to working in the fields, women and children processed and ground corn and cooked tortillas and beans for the male labor force. During midday the women fed the men and quickly returned to the mills. Thus, women served under a dual form of oppression, as they were expected to work in the fields and the mills as well as prepare meals.22 Children carried the crystal remnants from the pots into the sun, where they dried the cane juice into piloncillo, a brown powder sugar cane still widely popular in San Luis Potosí and the Huasteca. They worked the ovens and carried water and food to the field hands. Mothers carried their infants on their backs in cotton slings called “akils,” and they endured the searing heat of the mills. A granddaughter recalled her grandmother’s account of murder in a Huastecan sugar factory: “The foremen burned and killed a child for simply crying in the sugar mill, while his mother was working. This is no exaggeration, but verified by peasant witnesses as to the brutal activities that the foreman committed on children. He threw the child in the akil into the pot of boiling sugar until he died.”23

The Liberal Assault


Labor conditions deteriorated during the nineteenth century, as the Huasteca became increasingly integrated into the capitalist world economy. This integration reinforced existing unequal land and labor relations established during the Spanish invasion of the sixteenth century. Labor conditions in the Huasteca shared much in common with those in other regions of Porfirian Mexico; the workers saw a decline in real wages, the pueblos lost land, working conditions became more severely regimented, and women and children were removed from the domestic economy and their labor was proletarianized in agricultural factories. This integration accelerated during the 1860s and 1870s as a result of the rapid modernization of the Huasteca’s road and transportation infrastructure. It is to this process that we now turn. Throughout the colonial period, road travel between San Luis Potosí and other major Mexican cities remained difficult and hazardous. The only major road of any substance, the Camino real de la tierra adentro, linked Mexico City with Zacatecas, Querétaro, San Luis Potosí, Laredo, and Matamoros. Spain’s early highway network deteriorated tremendously during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, and by the early national period, wheeled vehicular traffic had virtually disappeared. The Mexico City– Veracruz highway carried only mules; in fact, mules were the standard form of transport in all the cities along the Gulf Coast as far north as Tampico.24 Communications and transportation links within the state, not to mention in the national capital, remained weak and nonexistent. Visitors to San Luis Potosí repeatedly commented on the poor conditions of the roads connecting the Huasteca with neighboring cities such as Jalapa, Pachuca, Victoria, Querétaro, and San Luis Potosí. Pack animals carried most of the goods, and this in itself was difficult much of the year because of bad weather conditions and flooding. It was not until the late 1870s that wheeled vehicles penetrated the Huasteca for the first time with the completion of the San Luis Postosí–Tampico road. Some areas were not paved until the twentieth century, and many hamlets presently reside several kilometers from the nearest pathway. Communal peasant self-sufficiency and hacienda production geared toward local markets characterized Huastecan agriculture throughout most of the nineteenth century and reduced the commercial demand for roads. What little produce that reached Tampico from the Huasteca usually arrived by canoe via the Moctezuma River. Huastecan agricultural production consisted of campesino staples: corn, beans, and chile. Coffee and sugar cane represented a small portion of the region’s output. The


Chapter 5

effects of market relations and commercialized agriculture had yet to penetrate the region’s economy. The Potosino elites, however, wished to end the geographic and commercial isolation of the Huasteca by integrating the region with the state capital and the port of Tampico. As a result, during the 1870s the Huasteca experienced a dramatic increase in the construction of road networks, railroads, and telegraphs. These changes encouraged local developers to assume pueblo lands under the privatization law of 1856 and to buy vacant and marginal lands. The state newspapers encouraged the process, describing the “fertile soil,” “complex river network,” and “agricultural potential” of the Huastecan “frontier.”25 Roads appeared to be the logical mechanism by which state officials could integrate the state’s vast and rugged territories. In 1869 they inaugurated the construction of a major road linking San Luis Potosí, Santa Catarina, and Río Verde.26 In the Huasteca, the creole elites recognized the opportunities before them and proclaimed the benefits of regional trade integration. Calling the Huasteca the “pathway to the sea,” they advocated the construction of a highway from Tampico to San Luis Potosí for the purpose of regenerating the state’s agricultural and mining trade.27 In the capital, officials hoped that the Potosí–Tampico road would not only promote trade but also put an end to the social bandits who plagued the area.28 In February 1871 the state appointed José Manuel Rascón as the president of the Junta directiva del camino, who arranged for the highway to pass through his Hacienda del Buey, thus profiting immensely. Although the road would cost seventy-two thousand pesos and not be completed until 1880, commercial traffic between the capital and the port began to intensify. Elite optimism extolled the project during the inaugural ceremonies in Ciudad del Maíz. Governor Mariano Escobedo read a congratulatory letter from neighboring Tamaulipas, describing the Huasteca as an area of great potential because of its strategic location along the great highway from Tampico. The letter even speculated that someday a railroad could integrate the two states and that the resources of the Huasteca would serve to unite them. The elites of San Luis Potosí rejoiced at the possibilities. While staying in the Ciudad del Maíz, Governor Escobedo shared breakfast at the jefe político’s house with the local elites, including the patriarchs of the Rascón, Cervantes, and Espiñosa families.29 In June 1871 construction on the road between the capital and Rayón began.30 By November 1874 the road connecting Río Verde and Jalpan

The Liberal Assault


opened.31 During the following year road construction began between Río Verde and Ciudad del Maíz, and in 1880 to Cerritos on the Nuevo León border. National and state officials planned to connect the Pacific with the Gulf Coast by means of a road network.32 By the mid-1870s road construction had linked the regional cities within the state to the capital. New roads linked San Luis Potosí not only with the port of Tampico but to other cities in northern Mexico, including Aguascalientes, Zacatecas, Jalisco, and Colima. Eugen Weber notes that the road construction played a critical role in the formation of a nationalist consciousness among the French peasantry. The growth of roads increased postal delivery, education, and the diffusion of modern political ideologies.33 Roads, likewise, played an important role in the integration of the Huasteca Potosina with a broader Mexican nation and the Huastecan peasantry with a national vision. After 1878 commercial traffic in San Luis Potosí expanded rapidly. State officials bragged about the increased internal commerce between San Luis Potosí, Río Verde, and Ciudad del Maíz. The privately owned haciendas and ranches in the Huasteca exported maize, cotton, tobacco, and sugar to ships waiting in Tampico. In 1879 twenty-two thousand bushels of corn from Río Verde and over seventy thousand bushels from Soledad filled the ships waiting in Tampico, while over six hundred carriages and two thousand passengers traveled the “great highway.”34 As important as the roads were in building up the transportation infrastructure of San Luis Potosí, mules and horses proved limited in their ability to traverse the difficult terrain of the Huasteca. The San Luis Potosí– Tula–Matamoros road permitted only mules over most of the 533-kilometer route, while for 66 kilometers in the mountains, only human porters could pass. Travel also remained difficult between San Luis Potosí and Querétaro. During much of the year severe weather impeded wheeled vehicle travel, and mules immersed bridle deep in mud often proved incapable of traversing the trails.35 The problems involved with road travel caused by the great distances of northern Mexico and the severe topography of such regions as the Huasteca increased the desire among the provincial elites to push for the construction of a more efficient means of transportation: railroads. The iron horse allowed the Mexican nation to overcome its transportation deficiencies. In 1867 construction had begun on the first railroad line linking the port city of Veracruz with the national capital. Between 1877 and 1883 railroad construction accelerated, as several projects began. By 1882 six thousand kilometers had been built.36 Two of Mexico’s main lines ran


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Map 7.  Railroads in nineteenth-century San Luis Potosí

through San Luis Potosí, establishing the state capital as an important crossroads. The Mexican National Railroad ran from Mexico City through San Luis Potosí, crossing the border at Laredo and ending at Corpus Christi, Texas. The Mexican Central Railroad ran from the principal rail junction in northern Mexico at Aguascalientes east through San Luis Potosí to the Gulf Coast port of Tampico and north to El Paso. In addition to the trunk lines, railroad crews built two subsequent state lines linking San Luis Potosí with the northern mining cities of Matehuala and Vanegas and still another from the capital to Río Verde.37 The San Luis Potosí–Tampico line offered the state elites access to the world market by linking the state’s great mining and agricultural wealth with an international port. Although the San Luis Potosí–Tampico line was not fully completed until 1890, its impact became apparent as early as the 1870s. An article appeared in La sombra Zaragoza in 1872 that discussed the economic potential of the Huasteca’s agricultural wealth after the state completed the railroad. The article suggested that cotton, sugar, tobacco, and

The Liberal Assault


cocoa production could make Mexico one of the world’s wealthiest countries and that the Huasteca could make San Luis Potosí one of its richest states.38 Local elites in the Ciudad del Maíz were very excited about building the railroad. They felt that a railroad would end their isolation and allow them greater access to the world. Cora Townsend was more ambivalent, as she witnessed the shock of modernization and elite perceptions of progress: One almost regrets that progress must reach these people bringing with it added knowledge, added wants, and the passions, wrongs, ambitions and disappointments—which are the penalties that must be paid for the blessings of advancement. But such pleasures must soon be theirs. The railroad with steady steps is already creeping up toward these beautiful and romantic scenes. Day before yesterday we will say, it was 500 miles away, yesterday it was 200 miles away—today it is touching this beautiful border. This means that the magnificent estate will soon no longer be classed among the undiscovered valleys. Already the proprietor has been approached by their would-be purchasers of the land. So far he has remained true to the habits of his forefathers and refused to part with the patrimony to which he covers three or four a year to dwell among its scenes of beauty, and amid a people patriarchal in their simple tastes and habits. Still, the capitalists will find it out, at last, this little kingdom of fruitfulness and romantic love-business and grand dwellings will replace the palm thatched hut and the whine of the factory wheel will mingle with the song of the cascade, and the busy mill will sit with the river. The forests will no longer go unfelled, or the fallen trees lift their wondrous crests in magnificent vitality. The products of its coffee and cane will no longer be known along with the pottery and little labor of the rancheritos, but will go to the markets of the world to blend their fragrance in the delicate china of the rich. Gardens and orchards of tropical luxuriance will blossom its valleys and the pick of the miner will be heard in the bosom of its hills. The sowing of the herds will increase ten-thousand fold and its flocks will swell a hundred plains. This is an age which demands of nature her good, that man may wed it to his best and so benefit the world.39 Creole landowners in the Huasteca eagerly anticipated the coming of the railroad, as demonstrated by a series of optimistic letters from officials


Chapter 5

in Tanchanhuitz and Ciudad del Maíz.40 Juan Barragán, son of the great Huastecan patriarch and former governor, financed the laying of the first railroad track in the state in 1879. In 1878 the state government had imposed a special railroad tax on all male citizens, ranging from one centavo to a five peso bill with the inscription “Ferrocarril de San Luis a Tampico.” 41 Many local Potosino elites donated a “secular tithe” in their wills for its construction. Señorita Jesús Aguilar de Manrique left 10 percent of her property, valued at 484,000 pesos, to the state line. Concepción Manrique also contributed 10 percent of her riches. D. Severrano Ypiña of Río Verde likewise willed 10 percent of his estimated 444,000-fortune peso fortune to the state, as did José Guadalupe Martínez, also of Río Verde.42 The governor encouraged hacendados to contribute to the building of the state railroad, and many estate owners from Río Verde, Matehuala, Valles, Rayón, and Catorce all increased their land rents to help finance the approaching forces of “progress.” The generosity of these local landowners should not be underestimated. Each will also included a one-peso donation for the state library.43 In 1880 the central railroad bought out local Potosino and Mexican interests in order to obtain the right-of-way for the construction of the San Luis Potosí–Tampico Railroad.44 Potosino officials, such as Governor Carlos Díez Gutiérrez, sold their shares to the company at the profitable rate of 5,500 pesos per kilometer. Moreover, Gutiérrez benefited from the construction of the railroad because the tracks ran through his Hacienda de Cardenás, which served as a parts depot and repair station.45 The construction of the Tampico–San Luis Potosí rail network fell under the responsibility of the Chicago capitalist Colonel David Whitney. Whitney recommended his engineer Joseph Young to oversee the construction of the railroad. Young came to San Luis Potosí with letters of recommendation from Indiana Senator D. W. Voorees, a personal friend of the Mexican minister to Washington D.C., don Manuel de Zamacona. Voorees mentioned Young’s previous experience, which included construction of the Fort Wayne–Chicago line, the Chicago–Great Eastern line, and the Chicago– Danville line. Young directed the construction of these lines from start to finish and impressed House representatives William Aldrich and John Thomas of Illinois and Charles Cowgill and W. H. Calkins from Indiana, who mailed letters of recommendation to the Mexican government. Governor Gutiérrez also attested to his engineering skills. With official approval, Young began construction in early 1880. Building from the city of San Luis Potosí, he had penetrated the Huasteca by the spring.46

The Liberal Assault


The construction of railway lines through the Huasteca proved a formidable task to the engineers and workers. They fought the rugged terrain and the inhospitable climate of the tropical mountains and valleys of the Sierra Madre Oriental. The Sierra de Barbosas near the Tamaulipas border posed the worst obstacle to the engineers, but by the summer of 1880 they had tunneled through the rugged mountains. In the early 1880s, 336 kilometers of rail lines had been built that crossed the Valle del Maíz and entered the Sierra Madre.47 Although the railroad was not completed until 1890, its immediate effects were already felt in the Huasteca. By 1880 haciendas in the Huasteca transported and sold over one hundred thousand bushels of maize in the port of Tampico. Seven work gangs, numbering twenty-five to thirty workers each, cut through to the Ciudad del Maíz. Some labored on Manuel Rascón’s Rancho de Platanitos and linked his estate with the city of Cerritos to the north and with the state capital.48 The first construction workers arrived in the spring of 1878, and they suffered terrible calamities, including a major outbreak of an unidentified “fever.” The epidemic took a heavy toll on the Mexican workers, most of whom came from the Huastecan highlands. They died at a rate of five to six a day. By April 1878 over three hundred workers had deserted the line and retreated to Mexico City and San Luis Potosí.49 The engineers divided each kilometer of track into forty stations and allotted the workers a section of track to lay at a daily wage of forty centavos. The families of the laborers worked as well, often carrying the piece of track overland. The father carried the rail at the front, the children held up the middle, and the mother carried the back. They sometimes covered as much as nine miles, transporting the rails from one section to the next. The rugged terrain of the Sierra Madre Oriental was extremely difficult for the families, but heavy rains often made overland travel impossible. In the summer of 1883 a severe set of storms washed away months of work along the Pánuco River.50 State officials assigned soldiers to guard the tracks, and many of them lived in some of the local rancherías. They were prone to drunkenness and fighting, which often spilled over into physical conflicts with local peones. Whether the guard’s abuse and drunkenness intensified the peon’s frustration with the oppressive social order is questionable. But it is fair to add the guard’s abuse of the Huastecos to an already long list of grievances.51 The Huastecos were less than anxious to perform many of the more grueling tasks. As a result, the railroad company imported one thousand African Americans from the American South and two thousand Afro-Caribbeans


Chapter 5

from Jamaica to help build of the Tampico–San Luis Potosí Railroad. One of the reasons for choosing southern and Jamaican blacks was their expertise and willingness to work. The recruitment of foreigners also constituted a classic “divide and conquer” strategy. The company paid blacks and Jamaicans at the high wage of thirty-five dollars a month, whereas Mexican workers were paid at a rate of only twenty dollars. Mexico City critics denounced this dual wage system as an insult and demanded that the government redress a “national disgrace.” The Mexican workers complained that “neither the American peones nor their Jamaican counterparts attempted to learn Spanish” and that they often treated Mexican workers with contempt. In some cases violence broke out, as the English-speaking blacks taunted and even physically assaulted their Mexican coworkers.52 Jonathan Brown notes that American workers in Mexico often ran afoul of Mexican workers for ignoring and violating local custom and Mexican law as well as sexual harassment of indigenous women.53 The appearance of a nationalist discourse among Mexican workers and urban working-class radicals as early as the 1870s foreshadowed similar manifestations later. In 1906 a dual wage system led directly to outbreaks of nationalist strikes and anti-American violence at the copper mines of Caneñea, Sonora. The construction of railroads in San Luis Potosí also encouraged the growth of telegraph service. Between June 1875 and 1877 a telegraph company constructed lines connecting the capital to Ciudad del Maíz, Río Verde, Catorce, and Matehuala.54 Soon afterward officials in the capital celebrated the inauguration of telegraph service between San Luis Potosí and the Huasteca.55 By 1879 construction began on telegraph lines from Ciudad del Maíz to Alaquines in the northern part of the state and to the southern city of Rayón, along the Hidalgo border.56 In January 1881 the company completed lines connecting Ciudad Valles and the capital. By the summer of that year the Huastecan lines began operating. The people of Huastecan pueblos such as Tanchanhuitz and Tamuín now received and sent messages to San Luis Potosí and Río Verde. In addition to the major lines, there were smaller linkages connecting Alaquines, Cerritos, Guadalcázar, Hidalgo, and Río Verde.57 In the summer of 1882 the Compañía teléfonica mexicana began construction of a telephone system between the state capital and Mexico City. Many Potosinos anticipated that the telephone service would soon link the Huasteca with San Luis Potosí and Tampico.58 At the same time, in April

The Liberal Assault


1882, the Comissión de reforma postal sent an order from Mexico City to local officials in San Luis Potosí ordering them to better regulate mail delivery. By the summer, as the fighting raged, the postal system was providing regular mail service between San Luis Potosí and Ciudad del Maíz, Río Verde, Valles, Tanchanhuitz, Tula de Tamaulipas, and Tamazunchale. Within the Huasteca, regular mail service started between Tamazunchale and its outlying neighborhoods of Axtla, Huehutlán, Tampacán, and San Martín, as well as between Tamazunchale and Pachuca.59 The growth of the transportation and communication network transformed the state economy. The railway from San Luis Potosí to Tampico and its linkup with the U.S.-based Guggenheim family’s copper smelter in Aguascalientes accelerated the privatization of land in the region. John Coatsworth attributes the seizure of pueblo lands in large part to the railroads and commercialization of the countryside.60 He identifies the Porfiriato as a major turning point in the nineteenth century in his observation that “the beginning of the new era can be seen in the usurpations of Indian land as a result of the stimulus to agricultural enterprise introduced by the construction of railroads.” 61 He places great emphasis on the railroads as a catalyst for land concentration and interprets the Porfirian land seizures as a direct outgrowth of the achievement of administrative and judicial stability. Although completion of the entire railroad network did not occur until 1890, its negative impact on Huastecan land tenure became evident by the late 1870s. Clearly, in the case of the Huasteca, the Potosino elites confiscated indigenous lands because they had been promised that the railroads would bring profits from world markets to them. Potosino politicians and the capitalists employed two methods to augment their holdings: “The first method involved enforcement of the Reform Laws, which required alienation of Indian communal landholdings and the distribution of such lands into individual parcels,” and the second method “involved purchases of ‘vacant public lands’ from the government at low prices fixed by decree.” 62 Furthermore, men of property, mestizos and creoles, easily manipulated the law, local judiciaries, and sources of credit to gain lands. Many of the properties, however, were actually farmed by labradores. In the early 1870s they began to impose these laws in the Huasteca and to expropriate pueblo communal properties. The close proximity of the railroads further stimulated the construction of textile mills in the Huasteca during the 1870s. This step also encouraged the expansion of cotton production in the region, which possessed


Chapter 5

ideal soil and climactic conditions for its cultivation.63 Government reports described the cotton potential of the Huasteca, noting the high quality fibers and regional varieties for which the Huastecos were famous “since the days of the Aztecs.” 64 Cotton production in the Huasteca increased from eighteen thousand tons in 1893 to thirty-five thousand in 1907.65 Sugar cultivation and cattle raising also encouraged the privatization of Huastecan peasant properties. These enterprises predominated in Valles and Tamuín, in the northern part of the Huasteca Potosina; many private farmers there also cultivated hay for export to Durango and Chihuahua as cattle fodder.66 In the early 1870s Governor Mariano Escobedo and Tanchanhuitz jefe político and banker, J. J. Ocaña, displayed cotton, timber, regional medicines, and coffee at an exposition in the state capital in an effort to promote more land investments and road construction in the Huasteca.67 Between 1893 and 1907, sugar production in the Huasteca increased from 1.1 million tons to 2.35 million tons.68 Production of henequen (an agave fiber used to make ropes) also increased, during the same period of time, from 64,275 to 104,600 tons. By 1904 the state ranked fourth in the nation in coffee production, third in oranges, and second in bananas, but the people lived in misery.69 U.S. investors also encouraged the commercialization of Huastecan agriculture. The Barcel Brothers of New York arrived in San Luis Potosí in late 1878 and sold a rice-cleaning machine that could do the work of many field hands. They promoted rice cultivation in San Luis Potosí and Tamaulipas. By early 1879 Pedro Cisneros, a merchant in San Luis Potosí, was importing the machines and selling them.70 Timber was also a factor in the privatization of peasant landholdings. The state newspapers called for increased road building across the “Huastecan frontier,” as over thirty-six types of exportable woods were being newly harvested. The entrepreneurs also expected the roads to link them with the vast banana and coffee plantations of Veracruz and hoped that the citizens of San Luis Potosí could soon be eating tropical food. The press also called for increased cultivation of coffee and encouraged the state authorities to subsidize production with price supports in order to encourage cultivation. Coffee trees prosper in certain areas of the Huasteca, mainly in the southwest around Tamazunchale and Tanchanhuitz. In this zone, with altitudes ranging from nine hundred to eighteen hundred feet above sea level, coffee output increased tremendously. By the late 1880s coffee production in the Huasteca increased from twenty thousand to thirty thousand tons per year.71

The Liberal Assault


Mineral resources represented another source of potential economic growth in the Huasteca. The Spanish had established silver mining in the state in the sixteenth century. Because of the low value of the deposits, however, a mining complex did not develop in the area. In the 1870s Governor Gutiérrez hired U.S. geologists to explore the Huasteca, and they reported large coal deposits. In the early 1880s reports filtered back to San Luis Potosí that petroleum fields could bring unprecedented profits.72 By 1884 Pedro Díez Gutiérrez, brother of the state governor, was exploring, with outside capitalists, the potential of abundant deposits of natural asphalts, pitholium, malta, and even more coal.73 In sum, the Mexican and Potosino elites rapidly transformed the Huasteca during the 1870s, overseeing the construction of roads, railroads, telegraphs, and telephones. The development of transportation and communications infrastructure allowed for the penetration of market forces and international capital. Ultimately, the privatization of agriculture became the leading cause for the revolution.

Chap te r 6

The Capitalization of the Countryside, 1856–1884 . / One of the most significant factors contributing to the nineteenth-

century Huastecan rebellions was the privatization of communal landholdings. The legal precedent for privatizing pueblo lands began shortly after independence. The state government recognized the pueblos in San Luis Potosí and codified this recognition in a series of land laws passed in 1827. These laws recognized the boundaries between collective lands, called “ejidos,” and private landholdings. The state government measured and registered nontitled lands, which laid the basis for their eventual sale to private developers in the 1870s.1 These actions negatively affected the Huastecan peasant cultivators, who practiced slash-and-burn agriculture, a process which left large plots of land fallow for a number of years. Much of the untilled land supported the peasantry, who also relied on it for common grazing and firewood collection. In addition, this land provided room for more milpas to accommodate the expanding population. The Liberal regime of Benito Juárez passed two critical land laws as the state-building elites tried to emulate and modernize Mexico’s land tenure. Liberalism represented a direct threat to and assault on Indian landholdings. Liberals held racist views of Mexico’s indigenous landholders, seeing them as an obstacle to national progress and in possession of lands that could be better and more efficiently utilized by an individualistic progressive class.2 The Ley Lerdo of 1856 outlawed communal landholdings and established the precedent and procedures for partitioning pueblo lands into individual plots. In July 1863 the Juárez regime passed a general law that called for the division and sale of 83


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vacant lands. These two laws laid the basis for the legal expropriation of peasant communal lands and the dispossession of the pueblos. The privatization of Huastecan lands and the encroachment of hacienda boundaries on pueblo lands began during the early years of the Restored Republic (1867–1876). In 1871 El socialista in Mexico City began to report on the program for the division of communal lands, in the Huasteca Potosina, under the direction of Governor Mariano Escobedo.3 In 1874 the state assembly of San Luis Potosí passed a series of land laws known collectively as the Leyes de hacienda. The laws called for the immediate division of pueblo lands and required individual landholders to present their titles to local officials so that fixed boundaries could be positively established. The law required Huastecan villagers defending their properties to provide titles based on state land laws of 1827.4 This worked against the peasants because the 1827 law recognized their land as corporate holdings. Because the Huastecan pueblos were listed under corporate charters, they fell subject to privatization edicts that were articulated in the 1856 Ley Lerdo and the 1784 state land laws. An important factor underlying the social and political tensions that developed during the nineteenth century is the growth of the Huastecan population following independence. Between 1819 and 1878 the population of the three Huastecan partidos steadily increased. Some pueblos doubled and almost tripled. For instance, Tamuín increased from 700 inhabitants to 1,983, and Aquismón’s proportionally increased even more from 1,291 to 4,796. In the pueblo of Tanchanhuitz, the population increased from 2,045 to 3,895 and in Xilitla from 906 to 3,512. Ciudad del Maíz’s population increased from 8,346 to 22,146 and Tampamolón’s from 710 to 4,000. The resurgence of the indigenous population during the half century following independence fueled social tensions between the pueblos and the larger landed estates, increased the number of jornaleros and landless laborers, and contributed to growing class polarization.5 The earliest privatizations began immediately following the imposition of the Ley Lerdo. In 1856, Jesús Andrade, owner of the Hacienda de San Juan occupied six hundred varas (a vara is roughly one square meter) of the ejido of San Vicente Cuayalab bordering the state of Veracruz. This left the ejido with the other half of six hundred varas. He converted the land into cattle grazing grasslands, and his free-roaming livestock remained a constant source of friction between his lands and the now diminished ejido. The citizenry of the pueblo of San Vicente Cuayalab grew coffee, tobacco, vanilla, cotton, corn, beans, cane, platinos, and chiles. Much of this agricultural production

The Capitalization of the Countryside


was for local consumption or for sale in the market of Valles. The pueblo lodged a series of protests over the next twenty years, but on October 18, 1878, the state legislature of San Luis Potosí approved the land usurpation. Twenty campesinos, including Matías Hernández, signed the final protest letter. In 1879 Hernández joined Juan Santiago in the great revolt that began at Tamazunchale. Hernández served as a local military commander of one of the revolutionary brigades. Hernández’s outrage over what he saw during the Mexican state’s defense of Andrade’s land grab influenced his decision to join the coming revolution.6 In another early case of land usurpation beginning in 1856 local políticos partitioned a section of the San José pueblo near the Ciudad del Maíz, promising that if the local inhabitants agreed, the state would build a school for the campesinos’ children. Fifteen years later the school remained an elusive dream, and the residents grew incensed when the new generation of políticos partitioned the remaining communal lands, intending to sell parcels to private owners. When the Huastecos lodged a series of protests, the político Jorge Bustamante told them that because the campesinos did not pay enough taxes, the state was under no obligation to build a school. He also told them their problems stemmed from their communal practice of keeping their lands in common, which was holding back those Huastecos who wanted to get ahead by working their private plots. Bustamante explained that their communal living arrangement allowed some peasants to live off the labor of the harder workers and that the partitioning of the remaining communal lands would benefit society.7 A major impetus for land investments in the Huasteca came in 1873 with the founding of the Sociedad agricola de la benefactora, an agricultural bank that promoted the commercialization of the region’s agriculture for export to the port of Tampico. Agricultural capitalists Augustín Vidales, J. P. Martell, J. J. Ocaña, Severo Rubío, Sixto López, and others founded their organization in Rayón. They did so in conjunction with land developers from Pisaflores and Jacala in the neighboring state of Hidalgo and raised a net capital of fifty thousand pesos for the rural development bank. They hoped to finance the shift of agriculture in the Huasteca from corn, beans, and chiles to sugar, coffee, vanilla, cocoa, cotton, tobacco, and cattle raising, that is, from food production for domestic consumption to commercial production for export.8 In December 1873, at a meeting in Xilitla, the society outlined an elevenpoint program, which, among other things, provided for the establishment


Chapter 6

of a headquarters in Xilitla. The program called for the division of the communal lands in accordance with the Ley Lerdo, which encouraged the privatization of pueblo lands. Further provisions included the cultivation of two hundred thousand coffee plants in addition to vanilla and tobacco and the subdivisions of those properties in sections valued at one hundred pesos. The society also established a board of directors, a president, and a treasurer to oversee and regulate the daily operations of the local branches. Finally, the society recommended importing new technology for the processing of sugar cane and the establishment of three- and six-year plans in order to accomplish the its aims.9 In April 1874 the society established a privatized center in the fracción of Foxtla, on the outskirts of Xilitla. Declaring that the industrial class knew better than political officials how to exploit and develop Mexico, the society explained that it would divide and privatize communal lands in the best interest of all. Led by C. Rafael Medina, who assessed the fracciones’ worth at three thousand pesos, the society expelled twenty indigenous families from Foxtla and then charged them a sixteen-peso annual fee to work their former lands. Some of the families had arrived in the early 1850s and could not produce legal titles; hence, the courts agreed with the society and called them “squatters.” 10 By November 1878 the society had achieved its goals of cultivating two hundred thousand coffee trees and of privatizing most of the municipalities around Tamazunchale and Tanchanhuitz.11 In the northern Huasteca Potosina, local elites encouraged the privatization and commercialization of lands by seizing land and building processing plants. Manuel Rascón built one for wine and mescal, the Rancho de Vino, at his Hacienda del Custodio in the Ciudad del Maíz. He sold the fermented beverages over a wide area, including Río Verde, Cerritos, Guadalcázar, Tula de Taumalipas, and San Luis Potosí. The plant produced four hundred pesos in monthly revenue. Rascón’s costs ran two hundred pesos a month, plus twenty-six pesos for state taxes. His friend, Governor Díez Gutiérrez, approved of Rascón’s efforts and personally reduced his monthly tax rate to twenty-three pesos a month in April 1880 in the “interest of promoting economic growth.” 12 In the late 1870s Cabo Rodríguez, owner of the Hacienda del Limón, and Faustino Vega, owner of the Hacienda de Santo Iñes, invaded the ejidos near Tamuín and converted the lands into cattle-grazing plots. The Teenek of Tamuín protested the loss of their lands, and the jefe político told them that he was willing to respect any indigenous land claims as long as they

The Capitalization of the Countryside


produced legal titles to the lands. Most of the ejidos lacked any proper documentation; their claim to ownership rested on the moral grounds of possessing the lands since “time immemorial.” 13 The Hacienda del Limón was a major battleground of the 1882 revolt led by Padre Zavala, and it was here that much of the violence conducted by the peasant revolutionaries against local managers and hacienda officials occurred. One of the major factors affecting the peasantry’s ability to maintain their landholdings resulted from the state’s manipulation of land values and property taxes. The 1874 land laws provided for the assessments of pueblo lands at the rates established in 1867. This worked strongly against the pueblos, since land values had increased dramatically after the opening of the San Luis Potosí–Tampico road in 1868.14 Therefore, when the pueblos were divided up, the mestizo and creole land developers acquired them at preroad and pre-railroad prices and then charged land rents reflecting the inflated values of the 1870s. In February 1875 in order to complete the process, Governor Escobedo sent letters, supported by the Sociedad agricola, to the jefe políticos in Ciudad del Maíz, Ciudad Valles, Tanchanhuitz, and Tamazunchale, calling for the final adjudication and division of communal lands in accordance with the state laws of 1874.15 Indian resistance to the forced enclosures began immediately, but the governor sent memos informing the jefes that they should send the new land titles and then send them to the state legislature for final approval.16 Soon after the passage of the Leyes de hacienda of 1874 the creole politicians and the Sociedad agricola in Tamazunchale were warned that they might cause social unrest by applying the new land law. Augustín Ugarte, the jefe político of Tamazunchale, anticipated the danger and told them that putting the laws into effect would provoke stiff resistance from the Indians. He also warned the officials in the capital that the peasants had always defended themselves and their lands, since they considered themselves owners by virtue of eminent domain, with or without proper titles. They also believed that their long-standing title and rent payments had established ownership. Finally, since the Indians distrusted those who spoke Spanish, any attempt to explain the new land laws to them would have to be done in Nahuatl.17 The Huastecan campesinos from all of the fracciones surrounding Tamazunchale soon issued legal protests. Led by Juan Santiago, the cacique of the barrio of San Francisco, more than 150 peasants signed a document denouncing attempts by “mestizo” rancheros to occupy “their lands.”


Chapter 6

Thirteen of the protestors came from the barrio of Chapulhuacanito, ten from the fraccíon of Matlapam, fifteen from Santiago, three from Picula, eight from San Francisco, and the rest from Tamazunchale proper. They claimed that the mestizos would destroy native homes and customs and turn them into peones forced to work on their own lands that they had possessed since time immemorial.18 Ugarte told them that the division of their lands into eighteen lots was already under way and that there was nothing he could do about it. He informed them that the action being taken was for their benefit because now they could buy and sell their lands and suggested that some of them could even make a profit.19 This idea appealed to some of the campesinos, who petitioned Ugarte to allow them to sell their pueblo lands. They offered to pay him their overdue taxes from their profits.20 But in the spring of 1875 the communities’ majority began to assert itself. Individuals who advocated the sale of the lands were shunned or assaulted. In response, Ugarte requested state funds in order to construct a jail to handle the rising number of lawbreakers.21 In this way the privatization of communal lands encouraged the growth of a stricter legal system in rural Mexico, but it also unleashed intense conflict within peasant communities. In 1875 Miguel Rivera, a lawyer in Tamazunchale, acting on behalf of the “indios,” lodged a series of protests with the state government, arguing that the campesinos had possessed the lands since “time immemorial” and stressing their moral right to the lands even when they couldn’t produce legal titles.22 In fact, many of the peasant villages that challenged the local officials held “primordial” titles that authorities disregarded. Three of the pueblos in the vicinity surrounding Tamazunchale, San Martín, Axtla, and Tampacán even presented titles issued by the Spanish Crown during the sixteenth century. The Indians interpreted privatization as another European invasion and proudly proclaimed that they had “opposed the castellanos since colonial times, and would continue to do so.” The laws of 1856 and 1874 had fundamentally shifted the balance of power in the Huasteca, placing the Spanish on the offensive. Ironically, it was the hacendados and rancheros who lacked long-standing land titles, but, because of the new laws, they could manipulate the situation.23 Enormous amounts of land changed hands. By 1879 the owners of the Haciendas Ysla, Huatepango, and Tranquispicula of Tamazunchale had occupied some 193,000 acres of land, compared to the 240,000 still held by the Nahua and Otomí villagers. The hacendados converted most of their

The Capitalization of the Countryside


lands from the traditional crops of corn, beans, and chile to coffee production intended for export to the world via Tampico. While the hacendado of Tampochocho, near Axtla, added 5,000 acres to his holdings between 1878 and July of 1879, the extension of hacienda lands in Tamazunchale surpassed 430,000 acres in the pueblos of San Martín, Tampacan, and Axtla. The Hacienda de Jobo annexed 13,000 acres, and the Hacienda de Tanzocob added 30,000 acres. In Tampacán, the hacendado of Misaflores seized 40,000 acres, and the owner of La Isla added 1,756 acres, while the operators of the Hacienda de Zacateplayo added 5,268, the Hacienda de Cuez 2,634 acres, and the Hacienda de la Lima 1,756 acres. Other hacendados around Axtla also seized the opportunity: the Hacienda de Tenescalco annexed 8,500 acres, while the haciendas of Checo and Chalco increased in similar amounts. The haciendas of Tesquico, Tianquispicula, and La Isla annexed the smaller ranches of La Cuchilla and Mez del Toro, and by 1879 they were employing 1,819 former owners as renters and peones.24 In 1879 more than 6,000 Nahua and 300 Otomí Indians lived in seventeen fracciones alongside 1,776 mestizos. But the numerical advantage that the native Mexicans possessed did not matter much because the political balance of power had shifted against them. In Tamazunchale during the 1870s only 340 of the original Indian proprietors remained on communal lands after 1,072 mestizos had moved onto them. The expansion of these mestizo rancheros upset indigenous land ownership as much as the expansion of the haciendas. In Tamán, not far from Tamazunchale, a similar situation developed, as some 400 mestizos ejected 114 Nahua campesinos. In the fraccíon of Tampacán, 839 mestizo rancheros expelled 604 Nahua, and in Axtla the ratio stood at 559 mestizo landholders to 57 natives.25 In some cases, there were conflicts between indigenous pueblos and villages. In the spring of 1875, near the pueblos of Aquismón and Tampache, one hundred landless Teenek jornaleros invaded land claimed by local Nahua cultivators. The landless jornaleros wanted to establish a new ejido called El Tenuto on the site of a pre-Columbian Teenek village, and they sought to have their ejido recognized as a separate entity apart from either Aquismón or Tampache. In May 1875 the jefe político, wishing to reduce social tensions between indigenous communities, granted legal recognition to El Tenuto as an autonomous pueblo, to the outrage of the local inhabitants.26 Those jornaleros who could not legally access lands oftentimes found themselves working seasonally, often migrating from region to region, one


Chapter 6

clearing the mountains and fields, another in harvesting high-grade coffee and fruits and depositing them in the hacienda storehouse. Many of the campesinos now paid rents to “landowners” for the milpas they worked. In Axtla the campesinos paid twenty-five to thirty centavos a month, with a few rents as high as seventy-five centavos, for a community outlay to the hacienda of forty pesos. In Tamazunchale, where the land was less rocky and mountainous than Axtla, rents reached as high as one to two pesos monthly, with one Nahua paying thirty-five pesos. The total rent collected each month in the municipality of Tamazunchale came to 2,772 pesos, much of it being used to support former commons that had been privatized.27 As rents increased because of the inflationary pressures created by the railroads, the peasants reacted violently and resisted in paying them. By the late 1870s rent and tax officials regularly reported difficulties in collecting the rents and taxes, as the campesinos, feeling cheated, threatened them with physical violence. Some collectors received commendations and official acknowledgments from the jefe político, testifying to their bravery in confronting these “troublesome” Indians.28 In the adjacent rugged mountains in the municipality of Xilitla lying southwest of Tamazunchale and bordering the state of Hidalgo, the widespread dispossession of peasant lands transformed the communal pueblos into agrarian work camps tied to ranches. A series of attempts to divide the indigenous communities through expulsions, threats, and material incentives sparked armed resistance and prevented the full implementation of the new land laws.29 The Sociedad agricola had proposed privatizing the municipality by establishing clearly demarcated boundaries, concentrating the indigenous population in order to gain access to their labor, and developing a system of water preservation and delivery. The Sociedad agricola further complained to state officials that the natives unjustifiably considered the land as their common property since “time immemorial.” The Indian peasantry and the entrepreneurial class also battled over lands that the bankers identified as “vacant” but that the peasants considered actively in use.30 Jefe político Miguel Rivera of Tamazunchale advised the Sociedad agricola to divide up the lands very carefully and leave each of the seven fracciones of Xilitla with enough land for families to maintain a subsistence level of production. Rivera then declared about a third of the terrain in the municipality as vacant, giving the Sociedad agricola the green light to privatize them. In October 1875 peasant resistance to the society’s program grew so fierce that Rivera and J. J. Ocaña were forced to suspend privatization plans.

The Capitalization of the Countryside


In December 1875 they sent a letter informing the governor of their plans. The governor, wishing to avoid an open revolt, supported the decision. The indigenous lodged legal protests with the state, but this defense quickly ran its course. Local merchants seized the lands by refusing to acknowledge them as communal properties, submitting boundary surveys, purchasing land titles, and paying a tax. In December 1878 the society’s bankers openly conducted surveys of the “vacant lands” in all seven of the fracciones of Xilitla. On March 31, 1879, they proceeded to divide the lands into individual plots. Manuel Gómez astutely commented that this clearly set the local elite families and the owners of the pueblos, the native Mexicans, on a collision course.31 On July 23 Joaquín Morán, a mestizo land developer, initiated a new series of land divisions. The new land assault triggered widespread violent resistance. Three days later Juan Santiago revolted in neighboring Tamazunchale. The Nahua campesinos of Xilitla quickly joined the uprising.32 The following year state officials decided that the root of the unrest lay in the refusal of the native Mexicans to modernize and adapt to the new order. They decided that the best way to encourage this “inevitable” process was to accelerate privatization. In December 1880 state officials notified the jefe político of Xilitla that he could more aggressively implement the Ley de hacienda of 1874.33 The Nahua peasants of Xilitla made one last effort to legally forestall the division but failed, and in April 1881, at the height of the revolution, the last of their communal lands disappeared.34 In order to forestall the seizures, many of the mestizo and indigenous people filed what were called “denuncias” (“land claims”), for the land that they were already occupying and raising crops on. For instance, Justo Vázquez filed claims for four fanegas (each fanega is roughly 125 square meters) of land on which he had grown coffee since 1869. Febronio Senego, associate director on the board of the Sociedad agricola of land developers, used that tactic as well in order to purchase two fanegas of land that he had occupied since 1874 and on which he cultivated some forty-four thousand coffee plants and another six fanegas lying adjacent to his Xilitla ranch.35 Calistro Olvera claimed one fanega of land that he also had used since 1874. Mauricio Friar filed a claim for six fanegas of coffee lands he had worked for the previous four years. In the fraccíon of Ahuacatlán, Jesús Leal claimed four fanegas of land he had used for cultivating coffee since 1875, and Demetrio Velo filed a claim for three fanegas he had maintained since 1876. Lucas Rubio claimed six fanegas in the same fraccíon.36


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In the barrio of Falla, Rafael Villades filed a claim for three fanegas of land that had been devoted to coffee and cane production for eight years and another four fanegas that he intended to use for the same purpose. His house occupied one fanega, from which he provided staple foods such as corn and beans for his family. Gerardo Vázquez claimed and occupied two fanegas of land that he devoted to coffee production. Nievas Uribe claimed eleven fanegas on which he had been growing coffee for three years. Yrenco Peña claimed four fanegas he had cultivated for eight years.37 In the Xilitla barrios of Xuichiallo and Huitzmalolitla, Pedro Martínez claimed four fanegas of land already devoted to coffee. In the same barrio of Xuichiallo, Pedro Pecina claimed a fanega of coffee land that he had inhabited since 1866. In the fraccíon of Potrerillos, Homovano Marquez claimed four fanegas of well-irrigated land, alongside the Tanaulín River, on which he raised sugar cane for the production of pilon. Juan Reyes claimed two fanegas for the same purpose. Sabino Marquez claimed five fanegas on which he was already growing corn. Farn Olvera claimed two fanegas of land he had already occupied for three years, and Leonard Montoya claimed another two fanegas. In the Rancho del Sotano, Margarito Salinas claimed four fanegas of land he had grown food on for twenty years. While most of these land claims came from mestizos, local campesinos initiated many as well. For instance, in the barrio of Apexo, a number of Otomí peasants claimed seven fanegas of land that they were collectively managing.38 In the municipality of Huehutlán, directly north of Xilitla, the campesinos confronted a similar problem, as haciendas and ranchos transformed their communities into private plots. Tensions increased after 1875 when the Hacienda de Huichihuayan annexed a small fraccíon of Teconom bordering the barrios of Huehutlán and the neighboring ones of Aquismón. The indigenous complained that the hacienda was using their common lands to freely graze its cattle and that they lacked the necessary legal fees to contest the aggression of the hacienda. The owner answered their charges, saying that under the federal land laws of 1856, they could legally acquire “vacant lands.” In May 1878 seizure of vacant lands in Huehutlán accelerated, as mestizo land developers from neighboring Tamazunchale took advantage of rising land values and new laws.39 They privatized and divided common lands bordering Aquismón and Huehutlán. The border area between the various municipalities often contained the “vacant” lands, and this is where the first dispossession began. Other land claims were made in those areas that formerly belonged

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to the Catholic Church. For instance, in Huehutlán, Antonio Vázquez de Cárdenas, the same mestizo who claimed lands along the municipal borders, bought the abandoned home and milpa of Padre Pedro Villaverde, a friar who had died in 1830 and whose land, which measured forty-six by thirty varas, the local peasants had been using ever since. Because the Huastecos didn’t actually possess legal titles to the land and Villaverde had died fifty years earlier, Vázquez de Cárdenas obtained the land with relative ease and completed the transfer by April 1881 at a cost of twenty-six pesos.40 Obispo Saeno eliminated the Ranchería de Jelim north of Huehutlán with his claim of ten fanegas. This process expelled eight families that lived in the ranchería. In May 1881 jefe político, banker, and Sociedad agricola member J. J. Ocaña, approved of the occupation of the ranchería. José Barrio claimed the remaining three fanegas of land and proceeded to grow coffee.41 Ocaña ignored most of the campesino complaints, and cattle continued to graze, damaging communal lands. Complaints that the haciendas’ cattle were damaging indigenous lands continued throughout the 1870s, indicating a fundamental shift in power in favor of the haciendas.42 In the nearby barrio of Tancajon, about four kilometers from San José Tampaxal, a local merchant privatized a large plot of communal land in 1877 and allowed his livestock to roam freely, damaging native milpas. The peasants lodged a series of unsuccessful protests throughout the 1870s in a vain attempt to force the owner to get control over his wayward livestock.43 Ocaña castigated local landowners for permitting their animals to roam unchecked and told them that they needed to control the animals. Most of the cases concerned cattle that crossed from one municipality to another. For instance, one official fined some owners from Aquismón whose animals damaged peasant lands in San José Tampaxal, and another fined owners from Tamuín whose cattle destroyed communal lands in Aquismón.44 Disputes often arose as to who in fact owned the freely grazing livestock. For instance, in the summer of 1878 Manuel Gómez investigated a series of disputes over the ownership of fifty head of cattle. José Castellanos brought the livestock into San José Tampaxal, which was inhabited by 312 Teenek and 148 Nahua. The Huastecos planted corn throughout the barrio, although not in a general uniform fashion as, for example, corn grown in separate fields. Thus, it was difficult to determine where communal lands began and where they ended. But many of the native cultivators believed the cattle were on their land, and they felt that if the cattle grazed on their property, they automatically assumed ownership. The details of the case also reveal the new emphasis on


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commercially viable property. The Teenek cultivated corn on the rocky hillside, but Gómez noted that the inhospitable terrain made this difficult.45 The competition for land around Tamazunchale intensified. In San José Tampaxal, José Espiñosa claimed and occupied thirty fanegas of land on which he began cultivating coffee plants. In a series of immediate protests, Nahua peasants objected to the occupation, claiming the thirty fanegas as communal property. They had collectively worked the land to grow corn, coffee, and cane and valued the property at ninety pesos. On May 4, 1881, Ocaña ruled in favor of Espiñosa and denied peasant claims to the land on the grounds that they lacked proper legal titles and paperwork.46 In Aquismón, which is a municipality north of Xilitla and west of Huehutlán that was overwhelmingly populated by Teenek, the process of land division differed from the one that took place in Huehutlán and Xilitla, which was primarily inhabited by a Nahua-and Otomí-speaking peasantry. In Aquismón, the privatization of communal lands assumed the character of large-scale hacienda assaults for the purpose of extending hacienda livestock production because the terrain there was extremely rocky and therefore not suitable for farming. Many of the communal lands were larger than the ranchería-sized lands in Huehutlán and Xilitla. These actions provoked peasant resistance. In Tampatz, dozens of peasant families protested the usurpation of their communal lands by a neighboring hacendado who tried to augment his cattle grazing rights. In order to prove their ownership of the land, the Teenek produced tax receipts from 1752, 1771, 1773, 1776, 1777, 1782, 1783, 1803, 1810, 1814, and 1821. They felt that since they had regularly paid taxes since the days of the Spanish viceroys, they were legally and morally entitled to the land. Many of the other protests demonstrated a similar sense of historical consciousness. In one case the protestors claimed the moral right of pueblo ownership to communal lands as having been established during the early colonial era. They argued that since the days that Mexico was under the dominion of the Spaniards and Catholic Kings they registered us under Mexican legislation, attending to our race, considering our primitive rights. After independence came to our country, with few exceptions, our rights and privileges were almost always the same.47 In addition to demonstrating their sense of the past, the peasantry also testified to the ravages brought about by the capitalization of the Huastecan

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countryside. The protesters rejected the recent tripling of land taxes, and they requested a pardon of two-thirds of the fee. Inflation brought about by the building of roads and railroads proved extremely burdensome to the pueblos, which, for all practical purposes, lacked cash to pay rising taxes. Between 1877 and 1880 Lorenzo Morales, a lawyer representing the peasants of the pueblo of Tanchanaco, near Aquismón, lodged over sixty land protests and petitions. He did so in the face of direct threats from Adrian Dorcas, owner of the Hacienda de Tampemoche. Dorcas lived in San Luis Potosí and wished to expand his cattle holdings in Aquismón.48 Ten campesino families lodged a general protest in the interest of their pueblo. They claimed that the hacienda’s expansion threatened over fifteen hundred fanegas of communal lands. The town council of Aquismón supported their effort.49 In April 1881 Mariano Moctezuma, from the Ciudad del Maíz, bought five hundred fanegas of Aquismón land from the municipal headquarters in Tanchanhitz, which was immediately contested by what he termed the “the immiserated classes and working poor.” Teenek families in Aquismón that lacked access to pueblo lands used the communal land threatened by Moctezuma.50 Teenek campesinos in Tanchanhuitz protested in March 1880, claiming that since 1830 the hacendado of Santa Isabel had occupied much of their pueblo. Ocaña argued that this was an old complaint and that if they didn’t have anything new to show him, there wasn’t anything he could do about it.51 Although the actual dispossession of much of the Huastecos’ lands didn’t occur until the 1870s, the reappearance of old land disputes demonstrated rising tensions in the neighboring fracciones surrounding Tanchanhuitz and the other municipalities of the Huasteca Potosina. In 1881, even in the midst of mass social violence, the number of land usurpations increased around Tanchanhuitz. In March, Reyes Medellín claimed fifty fanegas of common lands alongside the Tanchanhuitz–San Antonio road.52 Manuel León occupied four plots of land, equaling nineteen fanegas, spread throughout the municipality. Officials described these lands as vacant, but they bordered Huastecan fracciones and most villagers considered them communal.53 In May of the same year, Romulo Fernández occupied five fanegas of land with Ocaña’s direct written approval. These properties were also considered common lands by the Teenek inhabitants of Talamate.54 Other land claims initiated by the Teenek in Tanchanhuitz and other municipalities were usually for plots that ranged between five and ten fanegas.


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The jefe político of Aquismón castigated the campesinos for bothering him about a subject over which he had no control given that they lacked “proper titles.” 55 In another protest, more than one hundred Nahua from San José Tampaxal, near Aquismón, complained that privatization threatened their lands, while a local leader, Pascual Guevara, gathered a petition denouncing the usurpations, to no avail. The dispossession of pueblo lands in San José forced the peasants into a wage-labor market and transformed them into sharecroppers and jornaleros. By 1901 the proletarianization process was complete: “In all manner within a few years, the lands of Tampaxal were declared vacant and appropriated by the company bordering Urista, already in private hands. The 121 families returned as sharecroppers.” 56 In some cases, mineral exploration represented the main factor in privatizing the lands. In the early 1880s North American geologists convinced many creoles to speculate in land claims in the hopes of “cashing in” on the new minerals. In Coscatlán, Mariano Moctezuma claimed a hill for the purpose of coal mining.57 Ronaldo Rodríguez occupied another coal deposit in a ranch outside of Tamazunchale.58 Gabriel Cabrera from the Ciudad del Maíz assumed a small coal deposit outside of Tanchanhuitz in spring 1881.59 In the municipality of Valles, Mariano de Arguinzoníz occupied a large coal deposit fifteen hundred meters wide with an unspecified depth.60 Many of the creoles who acquired land around coal deposits did so in the hopes of providing fuel for the coming railroads.61 In 1878, in the Ciudad del Maíz, Santiago Cabrera, a local merchant, ordered the administrator of rents to appraise the value of all indigenous properties in the region. He wanted to enforce the new federal land laws. His action triggered attempts by local peasants to pay their back taxes for lands that their pueblos rested on. For instance, the Huastecan campesinos of San José, a small fraccíon on the outskirts of Ciudad del Maíz, paid one hundred pesos to forestall their eviction from lands that they owned for unpaid taxes that they had owed since 1873. Juan Ortíz, another local merchant, stated that the payment represented only about a quarter of what they owed and that they needed to produce the remaining funds.62 In addition to a flurry of attempts by local sharecroppers to pay their back taxes, a series of land struggles ensued between local haciendas and mediumsized rancheros. Juan Bertrand attempted to force Juan Antonio Ayarzin, the owner of the Rancho de Cabeza de Toro, to return five fanegas of land that Bertrand claimed Ayarzin had taken and held for a number of years.63

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Local officials used rental arrangements as a common means of usurping pueblo land claims. The rent administrator in the Ciudad del Maíz succeeded in confiscating the properties that campesinos Guadalupe Cruz y Castillo and Espindron Cobrado, from the fraccíon of Agua Nueba del Norte, cultivated. The administrator charged the campesinos for failing to pay the required rents. In turn, they accused the administrator of siding with local hacendados and not charging a fixed rate. The use of fluctuating tax rates resulted in additional fees being charged on top of what was already required and, in some cases, in the new charges being applied to previous billings. In July 1880 Antonio Cruz y Castillo and Juan Cobrado attempted to pay their rent taxes. The rent administrator informed them that the 1877 rates had been recently increased. When they could not pay the increased rate, the administrator then embargoed their properties and all of the animals on them until the courts could decide their disposition. On May 31, 1881, Cruz y Castillo protested, telling the judge that when he had made his last appeal in July his level of desperation had already been acute, but now the situation was even worse; his animals needed care and his fields needed sowing. At that point he lacked the funds necessary to continue the legal maneuvering, and the rent administrator auctioned the land, selling to the highest bidder: himself. 64 In another case, the outcome differed. Jesús Andrade (not related to the owner of the Hacienda de San Juan), a sharecropper on the Rancho de Papagallos, complained that the administrator of rents used unfixed rates in order to charge him back taxes on his lands in the hopes of confiscating his small parcel. Andrade produced a series of receipts going back years and demonstrated to the chief administrator of rents that he had faithfully paid his taxes at the rates that were, at that time required. The chief administrator ruled in his favor and blamed the misunderstanding on an overzealous subordinate. That Andrade was able to maintain his small landholding contrasts with the experience of Cruz y Castillo and Cobrado, yet his case still demonstrates the unscrupulous methods that the landholding class used in their attempts to usurp indigenous lands.65 Many of the land claims rested on grants and sales from the colonial period. For instance, Gerardo Curiel produced a bill of sale to don Luis Velez from the year 1749 for 1,850 varas of land near the ejido of Jobo. He also produced a bill of sale from 1786 to a Spanish royal officer, General Manuel de Guemes, for lands that now contained a series of “squatter” ejidos. Curiel used these dormant land titles to purchase the land from the San


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Luis Potosí state government, which allowed him to outlaw the “squatter communities.” 66 Often the means used to seize communal properties were not legal and rested on collusion between entrepreneurial elites and state politicians. The most important single case that illustrates the origins of the 1879–1883 Huastecan revolt took place at San Nicolás de los Montes. The episode began in 1875 when land speculators examined and measured the pueblo’s borders for possible annexation to Rascón’s Hacienda de San Ygnacio del Buey. By October of that year the jefe político of the Ciudad del Maíz declared vacant the two well-irrigated gardens bordering the village. The threatened community of San Nicolás protested, arguing possession of the community since “time immemorial.” 67 When asked to produce documentation, they explained that they had lived in the pueblo since the early days of the conquistadors and that in 1696 the viceroy of New Spain granted them legal recognition. Their original land bordered a Jesuit estate that fell under legal assault following that religious order’s expulsion in 1767. In 1778 don Felipe Barragán bought a small plot of land bordering their pueblo for the price of one thousand pesos and threatened to buy their entire pueblo. A local priest, Fray José Olvera, defended the pueblo’s rights to the lands, arguing that the recognition of 1696 gave the community official status, and in 1794 the viceroy granted San Nicolás de los Montes official documentation. This documentation served as the legal basis of defense for the community against a proposed land usurpation in 1801 by Barragán, who proceeded to buy all of the land surrounding the pueblo. In 1844 don José Domingo Rascón bought the lands, along with the Jesuit estate of San Cuevas. Rascón transformed this property into the Hacienda de San Ygnacio del Buey, which became part of his privately owned four-hundredthousand-acre empire.68 Rascón’s hacienda contained a series of smaller ranches, each dedicated to a separate economic pursuit. For instance, the Rancho del Salto, valued at seventy-two thousand pesos, produced sugar at a large mill. Rascón later reassessed the value of the rancho at sixty-five thousand pesos and succeeded in lowering his state tax. A twenty-six league subsection of the hacienda, the Rancho de Gallinas, produced livestock and fowl for the market at Ciudad del Maíz. The Rancho de Papagallos represented twelve leagues of land and produced mescal for export to Ciudad del Maíz and San Luis Potosí. Several small pueblos resided within the boundaries of the hacienda, including the

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Puerto de San Juan, Naranjo, Sabrinito, Yerva Buena, Abritos, and Charcos, all totaling about one hundred thousand acres.69 Rascón’s son, Manuel, inherited the hacienda and in 1875 began procedures to annex the community of San Nicolás. Following the revolt of Tuxtepec in 1876, Rascón accelerated legal proceedings against the village, arguing that the boundaries resided within the borders of the original Jesuit estate and that in addition to the Jesuits’ property, the lands purchased from Felipe Barragán included those of the pueblo. Moreover, he claimed, since the pueblo collectively administered its land, the reform laws applied.70 The lands in question consisted of sixteen grazing pastures valued at eighty-five hundred pesos per site and twenty-six fanegas of land used for the cultivation of corn and sugar. Forty-six families resided within the pueblo and worked the lands as sharecroppers, devoting six of these fanegas to cane cultivation for producing piloncillo. Each fanega produced ninety-six pilones for a total annual harvest of 576 pilones. They sold the pilones in the Ciudad del Maíz for 10 pesos each, and the pueblo used the 5,760 pesos to pay the annual rents and taxes and to meet its needs. In 1875 and 1876 the city council of the Ciudad del Maíz embezzled the pueblo’s communal funds, stating that the reform laws permitted not only the division of communal lands but also the division of cash!71 Attorney C. Arguinzoníz argued the case in court, stating that his client José Manuel Rascón legally owned the property in question because the original purchase of the Jesuit estate included the pueblo’s lands. Fernando Ortíz fought for the community, declaring that they held a moral and historical right to the pueblo and that they had paid the annual tax of five hundred pesos for decades with no delinquencies. Ortíz also argued that ever since the first dispossession in 1875, the pueblo had experienced a decrease in its food supply and that much of the population was hungry. Many of the Huastecos had reached such a serious state of malnutrition that many of the otherwise healthy children had become sick and died.72 The litigation for the defense of the community of San Nicolás continued through 1877 and into the summer of 1878. In January 1878 a surveyor named Joaquín Reynosa who worked for Ortíz’s defense of indigenous rights and had measured the boundaries of the pueblo quit because someone had attempted to assassinate him. He charged that the assassins worked for Rascón and that they had followed him to the Río de Huertas where they ambushed him. In June 1878 the state court rendered its final decision, annexing the pueblo to the


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Hacienda de San Ygnacio del Buey. Fernando Ortíz immediately appealed the decision, arguing that the peasants be allowed to collectively purchase their lands back from the hacienda for a price valued at 7,710 pesos. The transaction would have cost each family 167 pesos.73 In June 1881 Rascón’s attorney offered the Huastecan campesinos the opportunity to rent small partials of land on the edge of the hacienda. The sharecroppers immediately complained about the inferior quality of the soil and also objected to the fact that they had to pay rent for the use of their animals. In addition, under the new conditions, Rascón denied them access to the free use of firewood, which they felt was a traditional right. By the summer of 1881 the Huastecan sharecroppers had lost their ancestral lands and became agrarian laborers. Feeling abandoned and betrayed, they rebelled.74 The rebel peasant leaders mobilized their followers. One of the leaders explained the causes of the rebellion: We took to arms to defend ourselves. In 1879 the administration of Don Cesario Garza commenced hostilities on the sharecroppers of the Platanito Ranch. He trimmed away our plots, reducing them to nothing more than the floor in our homes, prohibited the cutting of any wood in which to repair our homes [following the great hurricane of 1878], prohibited the cutting of any firewood, doubled, even tripled our rent in a few years; and he did so with pride. He also required personal services on the hacienda house, without consulting us and giving no compensation. Who will represent our rights? Before whom? For we have no justice, we are poor, we have no representation. They tell us that the Constitution of 1857, that of Benito Juárez, gives to all citizens the guarantees for defending ourselves before a tribunal that dispenses individual rights and guarantees. The legal domain works for certain persons that through their money and intrigue have concentrated power, exercised personal vengeance with immunity from honorable men that live from their work. They levy ill treatment and impose fines. We are the victims of the anger of those jefes that call themselves Lords. The administrator of the Salto del Agua, Don Florencia Barro was empowered to fully attack the sharecroppers of Tierra Nueva with soldiers that committed outrageous robberies and arson. They were angry because the sharecroppers had defended themselves. Neither did he give us seed,

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nor pay us, while imposing taxes on land and the use of the river, and by immiserating the sharecroppers that worked night and day searching for subsistence for their families. We have been suffering for year after year in the hope that someday we may remediate these evils.75 In 1879 the peasants of the Huasteca set out to remediate the evil.

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Toward a Mexican Theology of Liberation Padre Mauricio Zavala . In 1878, when I did not have the eight pesos needed to send my son to school, Padre Zavala pulled four pesos out of his pocket and told me to forget the rest. He did this for many campesino families and we all respected him for it. —Jesús Moctezuma Bolano, San Nicolás de los Montes

I joined the movement when Padre Zavala said that the hacienda lands belonged to us who worked it and that we should not have to pay rent on our own properties. —Germán Segundo, Ciudad del Maíz

Property is Patriotism and the only way to build true patriotism is to place the nation into the arms of socialism! —Padre Mauricio Zavala

/ Into this arena of impending class war stepped a socialist agita-

tor from one of Mexico’s oldest and most established institutions, the Catholic Church.1 Between 1867 and 1884 Padre Mauricio Zavala openly challenged the attempts of landed creoles and state authorities of San Luis Potosí to expand private land tenure at the expense of the peasantry. He articulated a theology of ethnic self-determination for his indigenous parishioners and 103


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joined the secular ideologies of socialism and anarchism with Christian humanism to synthesize a new political consciousness among the pueblo citizenries. Specifically, he advocated government aid for the pueblos, their autonomy, local control over hospitals and schools, and self-management of the land. He also recruited lawyers to defend the indigenous pueblos in the state courts. Later, when corruption, as he saw it, caused these efforts to fail, Zavala urged the Huastecos to “take up arms and seize the land that rightfully belonged to them.” In the summer of 1882 Padre Zavala led campesinos of the Huasteca in an attack on the Ciudad del Maíz. They seized the city and then spread out, occupying nearby haciendas. The rebels demanded a restoration of the communal lands that had been recently usurped from their pueblos and proclaimed “agrarian socialism” for the entire nation. They carried red and black flags that read “Agrarian Law and Municipal Government” and that had a red star over the proclamation. In conjunction with their uprising, Zavala drafted a series of revolutionary plans that proposed restructuring rural Mexican society into a more egalitarian economic, political, and cultural order. These plans included “The Plan of Zavala,” “The Proposed Electoral Law,” “Political Reform,” “The Agrarian Law of Zavala,” and “Tamazunchale: Municipio Libre.” The term “municipio libre” reflected the pre-Columbian notion of self-governing and economically viable pueblos. In addition to drafting these revolutionary plans, Zavala later published three books while living in Merida. Padre Zavala was born in the city of San Luis Potosí in 1832, the son of Guatemalan immigrants. He entered the priesthood and served at the parish level from July 1867 until August 1873 in the working-class barrio of San Sebastían, on the outskirts of San Luis Potosí. Then, in 1873, the Church fatefully posted Zavala to Ciudad del Maíz.2 Over the course of seven years Zavala succeeded in politicizing his parishioners, most of whom worked in miserable conditions of virtual servitude under the domination of their landowners and managers.3 Zavala’s communalist political philosophy in support of the rural workers and indigenous people stood in stark contrast to the positions of both the Liberal and Conservative parties. He criticized the individualistic philosophy of liberalism as expressed by Juarismo and denounced the dispossession of Church property because, in addition to eliminating the Church’s income and ability to provide health, education and welfare, it also removed collective access to much of the land utilized by the indigenous people, who often

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used such property for common pastures and firewood collection. Zavala questioned the logic of a foreign social and economic system that benefited only a fraction of the population and wondered how it could be called “Mexican.” He declared that the “dispossession of the indigenous pueblos forced the majority of true Mexicans into a life of misery and proletarianized and crucified them on the cross of free wage labor.” 4 For Zavala, in losing their communities and pueblo landholdings and being unable to cultivate land for the common good any longer, the indigenous and rural workers were being dehumanized. Acknowledging that free wage labor existed before Juárez, Zavala believed that in its previously limited form it had contributed to a more balanced and humane social order. The campesinos in the countryside had their own resources and knew their employers since they lived and worked together in the same community. Liberalism broke that bond by stripping the peasants of their property and creating a dependent rural proletariat forced to exchange its raw labor power for increasingly unfair wages, often from absentee landowners. Zavala denounced liberalism because the new economic order that had dispossessed the native landed class provided inadequate working outlets for the landless in their localities. Instead, the privatization of land forced many indigenous peasants to move to cities. These brutal realities turned many peasants into an urban lumpen proletariats, who ended up divorced from their ancestral cultural and social roots. For Zavala, they became “slaves of capital.” 5 According to Zavala, the Liberals and their reform programs destroyed the foundation of society when they eliminated indigenous ownership of land and ecclesiastical property, allowing power to be concentrated in the hands of a small elite that had led to abuses not witnessed in Mexico “since the ravages of the Spanish Conquest.” Zavala also critiqued the notion that Juárez “liberated” Mexico from the yoke of oppression. Juárez, Zavala declared, “was worse than Cortés, because under his reign, the Mexican government and the wealthy monopolized even more land and political power than the Spaniards.” Zavala denounced the imposition of a philosophy that dispossessed rural Mexicans as “foreignism.” Under the colonial order, according to Zavala, a system of checks and balances existed, as different branches of government shared power. The Spanish Crown, the hacendados and plantation owner nobility, the Church, the military, and the indigenous pueblos were all corporately linked and held each other in balance. This balance produced greater freedom and autonomy


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for all Mexicans because no single group could dominate the others in their domain. Under liberalism, the state and the great landowners’ powers increased, and these institutions did not recognize the traditional pillars of local authority. As a result, the government and great estate owners emerged as absolute.6 The colonial crown had recognized the indigenous pueblos as legitimate and separate corporate entities, thus guaranteeing their access to social and political autonomy. The reform program, however, eliminated the villages’ titles, destroyed their corporate wealth and civil property, and shattered the “equality and fraternity” of rural Mexicans. Zavala challenged the popular notion that Juárez had unshackled Mexicans from centuries of ignorance and tyranny, reinventing the role of Miguel Hidalgo. On the contrary, rather than liberating Mexico in a second independence, Juárez had reenslaved Mexicans, this time under the “inquisitorial powers of a monolithic state.”7 In 1896 the governor of Veracruz described Juárez as the “Christ of Liberty and Progress, an angelic light guiding the Israelites to the promised land of milk and honey.” This smacked of hypocrisy, in Zavala’s view, since Juárez and the Liberal ideology had reshackled indigenous Mexicans to the chains of Egyptian bondage. Mocking the idea that Juárez had liberated Mexico, Zavala replied by casting Juárez in the role of the pharaoh, the enemy of freedom who wanted to reduce indigenous Mexicans to an immiserated state as wage laborers.8 Zavala’s usage of pharaoh-like imagery to describe Juárez challenged Mexico’s peasantry to break the shackles of agrarian capitalism and cross into the “promised land” where they could establish a society free of exploitation, racism, and alienation. The Israelites’ Exodus struggle is a recurring theme in Latin American theologies of liberation. Gustavo Gutiérrez interprets the Latin American struggle against the exploitative nature of capitalism within a Mosaic-pharaonic paradigm. “The Exodus experience is paradigmatic. It remains vital and contemporary due to similar historical experiences which the people of God undergo. The work of Christ forms a part of this movement and brings it to complete fulfillment.” 9 In addition to denouncing Juárez and liberalism, Zavala also criticized conservatism. According to Zavala, the Conservatives lacked true patriotism because they monopolized wealth, putting money and resources into the hands of a few elite families to the disadvantage of the Mexican people. He denounced both the Conservatives and the Liberals as unpatriotic and

Toward a Mexican Theology of Liberation


charged them with acting in the interests of the privileged few. The true patriots according to Zavala were the campesinos and working class of Mexico, and he castigated both political factions for having used them as cannon fodder during their decades-long incestuous civil wars. They both enslaved the indigenous race, and neither party defended the natural rights of the true Mexican nation. In Zavala’s view, patriotic workers could only achieve national redemption through socialism. “Oh, the proletarian masses will cast themselves into the arms of socialism, destroying the new army, annihilating the new and ancient propertied classes, and claim their own national soil.” 10 In the Huasteca, Zavala hoped to promote economic development by establishing worker-controlled market opportunities for the rural laborers. In the years prior to the insurrection, Zavala served as the commissioner of road building in the Partido del Valles. He directed the construction of six roads connecting various campesino barrios, an untaxed transportation network: “Road travel, the usage of water, common pasture, or other means of common property should not be taxed. Travelers on all common roads are to be considered as citizens of the community subject to local laws. Roads are subject to the jurisdiction of municipal and local authorities who will maintain and protect them.” 11 Zavala’s ideas contrasted with those of the elite creoles in Mexico City, San Luis Potosí, and the Huasteca. Their roads tied the hinterlands to Mexico City and the global economy instead of to regional markets, which would have worked to the advantage of the indigenous pueblos. Zavala, however, sought to support local self-sufficiency by expanding production and exchange among the local artisans and campesinos. The roads would provide them with access to one another and less so with the outside world.12 Zavala also promoted economic self-sufficiency for the indigenous municipalities whose form of government modeled the pre-Columbian free pueblo and drew on anarchist notions of village autonomy: Municipal citizenry are free to cultivate whatever crops they wish, and sell for whatever price they want. Each family will hold title to a property for their own work. All individuals are free to make arrangements about the crops to be raised and the amount that they want to sell. Commercial goods will not be taxed entering or leaving the municipality for the economic betterment of all. There will be no monopolies. People are free to sell whatever they want to and


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with no official documentation, papers, or the need to maintain records. Agriculture will be free from taxation. Foreign businesses must pay taxes.13 Zavala’s program for regional autonomy and economic self-sufficiency reinforced his anarcho-agrarian political philosophy, which emphasized political and cultural freedom grounded in a secure and traditional agricultural base. Zavala called for the termination of land rents for the poor and the equitable distribution of pueblo lands. Hacienda and land rents, license fees, and taxes will only be applied to those who have the ability to pay, and hacendados must work their own lands, mines, and make their own fabrics, raise their own livestock, and construct their own buildings; with no unpaid or forced labor levied on the campesinos. Each hacienda inhabitant shall receive the property that they are currently cultivating. New landholders may only buy and sell their property with the consent of their entire family. All pueblos have the right to possess common lands that are sufficient enough to provide for necessary social events, and all pueblo lands are inalienable. All common properties are to be defended by their owners. Pueblo defense shall reside in community militias and not the federal army. All common property is to be freely used by the women of the municipality. No one can occupy more land than they can work. All haciendas that have been abandoned are to be returned to the indigenous people as common property.14 Many of Zavala’s parishioners claimed that they had joined the revolutionary movement because of his example of fighting for the poor and his commitment to social justice. Germán Segundo, a thirty-two-year-old jornalero from the Hacienda Salto del Agua, explained the basis for his commitment: “I joined the movement when Padre Zavala said that the hacienda lands belonged to us and that we should not pay rents on our properties.” 15 Zavala’s political and economic thought can be described as part of the Mexican anarcho-agrarista tradition. According to John Mason Hart, anarcho-agrarian emphasized

Toward a Mexican Theology of Liberation


local autonomy from centralized government; seizure and redistribution of agricultural properties by the municipio libres, or free village governments, and an end to the political corruption of national and local government officials. Their agrarian heritage consisted of individual identification with the local village; a sense of egalitarianism; an abiding distrust of outsiders, such as absentee landlords, labor recruiters, tax collectors, military conscriptors, and government officials; and a persistent suspicion of politics in general. The campesino population had long struggled to preserve a peasant order that included village control of the land and self-sufficient government.16 Zavala worked with revolutionary anarchists from the Gran circulo de obrero, active in the defense of working-class rights, in Mexico City. Zavala’s political, economic, and social ideas parallel nineteenth-century anarchist thought and served as a critical intellectual link between indigenous campesino society and the urban anarchist tradition emanating from Mexico City and Europe. The urban radicals were deeply committed to supporting agrarian socialism and campesino rights in the areas adjacent to Mexico City and helped to organize strikes and land occupations. They wrote many articles in the working-class press of the capital in support of the agrarian rebels in San Luis Potosí, declaring that the “day of vengeance is here” and trumpeting “communism in Mexico,” and “agrarian law.” 17 The labor organizers promoted rural working-class culture by writing celebratory articles about Huastecan religious festivals, dances, games, and music.18 They claimed that their coming socialist revolution would include dramatic improvements in the agrarian population’s living conditions. Calling for “a socialist and democratic republic,” and for “land, industry, education, and arms,” the urban revolutionaries claimed they were acting “in the name of God and the Mexican people.” The revolutionaries mobilized peasants and linked their party with the “linea militar de la Huasteca Potosina” (“military line of the Huasteca Potosina”). In April 1878 Clemente Elías and Felipe H. Saldaña, editors of El social­ ista, distributed anarchist literature to local Nahua and mestizo campesinos in the town’s library, hoping to “propagate, through all means possible, the diffusion of knowledge to the popular masses that disgracefully live without a sense of their rights.” Elías and Saldaña believed it to be a “vital necessity


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to present campesinos with their ideas, enhance their press and library, and thus improve the intellectual conditions of the poor.” 19 They organized a socialist peasant’s party in Tamazunchale, with the aim of establishing a “republica democratica socialista.” The party was headed by Diego Hernández, who was also a major leader in the Directorio socialista. An ally of Miguel Negrete, Hernández often signed his letters with such phrases as “year 358 of the enslavement of our people.” The accuracy of Hernández’s historical memory testifies to the strength of Huastecan regional oral history. Exactly 358 years prior to the 1879 revolt, in 1521, Cortés had invaded the Huasteca. In another demonstration of historical memory, Hernández recollected how on January 6, 1811, the Huastecos in Tamazunchale had joined in the great struggle for national independence. This reference was meant to convey the idea that the campesinos’ ancestors would approve of the revolution about to break out. Matías Hernández, a jornalero from the fracción of San Vicente Cuayalab, served on the party’s directorate along with Juan Santiago. Matías served as the liaison between Santiago and the Centro socialista de la confederación Mexicano, a working-class socialist organization based in Mexico City. Serecona Sera served as the organization’s diplomatic representation to the Socialist Peasant Party.20 Another aspect of Zavala’s philosophy that fell within the anarchist political tradition was his vision of a municipio libre in which each pueblo would retain a high degree of political control and autonomy over internal political decisions: There will be a government of and by the people. As the owners of the town, the people in each place will have authority to enforce the laws. Each pueblo will elect officials independent of higher authorities. The people of each neighborhood, village, and county will also elect their own authorities. All officials must gain approval for their decisions from their constituents, including the president of the nation. The government of the first level will be made up of the heads of families of neighborhoods and villages; the next level will represent groups of between ten and twenty people, and they will form the pueblo government. Council members can be removed by recall and neither the president of the council or any other official is eligible for reelection.21

Toward a Mexican Theology of Liberation


On this plan, each pueblo would exercise considerable independence from its cabecera, and the limitation of term limits would weaken caciquismo, or boss rule, prevalent in rural society. The citizens of each pueblo would participate in open community meetings and voluntarily contribute their labor and funds to public works projects, projects that served to maintain local roads, bridges, and canals and to beautify the pueblo. “The people will build churches, collectively own the town, its street and plaza, maintain public worship, suppress vice, build schools, repair roads, control commerce, repair fences and fountains, and construct aqueducts for the irrigation of the milpas.” 22 Boys would be become eligible for public service at the age of ten and for locally controlled militia conscription at the age of sixteen. Zavala’s plan exempted newlyweds from public service for the first year of their marriage as well as individuals incapacitated by sickness or injury. Neither municipal council members nor the children of local landowners would be exempt from rendering public service to the municipalities.23 Zavala assisted Italian immigration into the Huasteca. He also called for Latin American and Asian immigration, believing that the association among many races could only help society mature. “The ports of the nation will be open for foreign immigration, preferably Spanish American or Asians. Qualified immigrants shall relocate in the pueblos and receive assistance from them.” 24 Zavala also wished the indigenous pueblos to be the final arbitrators when it came to where the migrant communities would be located and how many there would be. He also called for “surplus” hacienda lands to be made available for immigrants, who would obtain the unused land at no cost. When the Italian immigrants arrived in the Ciudad del Maíz in the summer of 1879, they were exhausted and ill. The Huastecos welcomed them to the hospitals whose construction Zavala had overseen.25 The immigrants assimilated into Huastecan-Mexican culture quickly. When the town of Ciudad del Maíz held an official welcoming ceremony, the Italian women wore Mexican flags and clothes bearing the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe and baptized their children in the Mexican Catholic Church. In some cases they renamed their children Guadalupe.26 Zavala also advocated religious and ideological freedom. He proclaimed that “no one should be persecuted for their religious or social ideas.” 27 Zavala believed that religious worship began at home and that each family should


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hold its own ceremonies, with one of the parents leading the prayers and communion. In each free municipality, the heads of families would serve on the city council and choose the dates of religious festivals.28 Religious observances would provide the cement that would hold Zavala’s “anarchoagrarian” communes together. Zavala spread his Catholic anarchist ideas among the campesinos of the Huasteca through the building and implementation of thirty-seven schools. Fellow cleric Manuel Meza described Zavala’s schools as “Spartan” and “disciplined.” 29 He promoted a sense of class and ethnic equality by prohibiting ostentatious clothes. He oversaw the construction of one school especially for the children of the landless campesinos and charged them no tuition. His schools provided free meals to needy students. He also hoped to elevate Huastecan culture by founding a school of music and another dedicated to the arts: “Since mechanical and scientific arts are a prime necessity for each family to economically and culturally thrive, this community knowledge must be preserved.” 30 He promoted the construction of an art school in each pueblo: “In each pueblo, the people should be free to establish art schools and classes that are sustained by the people. The pueblo should provide the school, but each community should feel free to choose the arts that they feel would make their pueblos beautiful.” 31 In order to uphold indigenous culture and history, Zavala also believed that archaeological treasures should be controlled and promoted by the pueblos: “The artistic community of each pueblo should periodically display ancient artifacts that are discovered in the municipality.” 32 Zavala also argued that single girls were entitled to public lands that would allow them either to support themselves or to save money for a dowry.33 Another of Zavala’s more emancipatory projects was the creation of a school designated for the daughters of the campesinos near Tamazunchale. Enrollment in the school grew so rapidly that in the summer of 1875 the young girls’ Nahua and Otomí parents demanded that Zavala relocate the school to a room in the church that could provide more space. At first Zavala told them they should find another building because on his view the church building should be used for ecclesiastical affairs and schools should be free from governmental and religious institutional control. The campesino parents disagreed, claiming that they had maintained the building and grounds for three hundred years and therefore had the right to use the facilities free of Church or state controls because it belonged to the indigenous community.

Toward a Mexican Theology of Liberation


The president of the local ayuntamiento attempted to intervene, and he castigated Zavala for trying to teach “Indian girls” in the first place. He argued that if there was going to be an all-girls school in Tamazunchale, then it should first attend to the needs of the creoles and the daughters of the well-off rancheros. Zavala became incensed at the suggestion that he turn the church building over to the rural wealthy classes and agreed to house the campesinas in it. When confronted, as in this case, with the racism and classism prevalent among the creoles, he demonstrated flexibility and tactical abilities, which allowed him to forge a sound alliance with the indigenous and poor rural women.34 The grateful parents expressed their appreciation and respect for the padre, complimenting him on his administering of the schools and commenting on how much progress their children had made. Señor cura Mauricio Zavala, our dear and respectable friend. I am happy that you are well and full of life and I hope that you remain so. Your instruction to our children is a benefit to our society and a powerful tool to awaken our minds. It is important that we think in a positive and intelligent manner so that we may be strong. We are united now and that constitutes our strength and the more that we learn the stronger we shall be. With good help and happiness.35 This letter was signed by Blas Trujillo, a campesino from Tamazunchale, who wrote for and signed many of the letters for his illiterate neighbors. Another campesino, thirty-nine-year-old jornalero Jesús Moctezuma Bolano, explained that his loyalty and gratitude to Zavala derived from the schooling program: “In 1878, when I did not have the eight pesos needed to send my son to school, Padre Zavala pulled four pesos out of his pocket and told me to forget the rest. He did this for many campesino families, and we all respected him.” 36 Zavala believed that the retention of indigenous languages was the key to cultural vitality. He preached that the first humans God had created were Indians and that he then taught his Indian language to Adam and Eve. Zavala claimed that God had intended for all people to be free and that he had given Adam and Eve land for them to share in common with all of their children. He claimed that the serpent who first tempted mankind spoke Spanish and that the Spanish language and capitalism were the result of original sin and the fall from grace. Zavala taught his followers that private


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property and rents were also part of the curse of original sin. Communal ownership of lands brought humanity closer to God’s perfect will, and, thus, he argued, the campesinos should refuse to pay rents. Not only should they stop paying rents but they should “rise up and seize the haciendas.” 37 He castigated the Potosino elites who sent their children to the United States and France for education, which separated them from the “true languages of God.” During the course of his life Zavala learned Teenek and Nahuatl, and later, during the 1890s while in exile in Mérida, Yucatán, he acquired Yucatecan Maya. While serving in the Huasteca he preached in Nahuatl and Teenek, as well as in Spanish.38 In 1882, after the peasant assault on Ciudad del Maíz, Governor Carlos Díez Gutiérrez blamed the uprising on Zavala, calling him a “visionary who repudiated private property and proclaimed socialism.” 39 The governor correctly assessed Zavala’s qualities, but he underestimated the depth and appeal of the revolutionary priest’s religious and political philosophy. Bartolo Laredo, a forty-six-year-old jornalero, joined Zavala’s movement because “he taught that all men were born free and that all land should be free of rents and that God had given free land to Adam and Eve and to all of their children forever.” 40 Zavala and the Huastecan insurgents called for community control over which languages should be taught and used. “All tests that are to be made by the teachers must be approved by the town council, which shall have the power to determine what languages will be taught.” 41 Local authority over education would be monitored by a council that would appoint a representative for a three-year term. He or she would administer the school, while each child’s parents would pick the vocation that they wanted their children to learn. Through community control over the curriculum, Zavala sought to empower parents and to give the working class a way to sustain their ethnic identity. In addition to teaching mathematics and literacy and promoting indigenous culture, Zavala’s schools also taught the students basic military tactics. “Militia instruction is indispensible in every school.” 42 Mexico’s national army on Zavala’s plan would consist of free and local militiamen and would be commanded by campesino officers. He drilled the students in military discipline and training over the course of six years. During the 1879–1884 campesino uprising one of his former students, Felipe Cortina, utilized his combat training to effectively lead battlefield units. During the uprisings, Cortina defected to the side of the insurgents after his officers ordered him to repress his neighbors and community.

Toward a Mexican Theology of Liberation


Zavala gave the campesino insurgents power by storing weapons and ammunition in community-controlled armories. He organized uniformed civil guards and militias in the pueblos. During the 1879–1884 uprising, these civil guards often intercepted arms and ammunition intended for local hacendados and landowners and gave them to the Huastecan insurgents.43 Zavala declared that each pueblo shall raise a volunteer force of three to five members. It is desired that each family of five should provide one volunteer. The pueblo shall store arms, horses, and weapons that are currently held by the haciendas. After the people achieve victory and congratu­ late themselves on their earned revolutionary liberty, they shall con­ tinue to organize their own militias and distribute arms to all of the sons and daughters of the pueblos. A common munitions center will be established for the common pueblo defense and uniformed and armed civil guards will remain in the pueblos and barrios.44 Zavala encouraged the peasantry to forge political and class alliances with the artisans of the larger towns. He taught the children of the artisans in Tamazunchale and Ciudad del Maíz to demonstrate their virtue and revolutionary solidarity with the indigenous sharecroppers and agrarian laborers by living without such basic accommodations as shoes. He taught that “soft living” promoted moral decadence, a trait incompatible with the nobility inherent in the working class. He scorned the wealthy as being “haughty” and “corrupt,” as “in the days of Rome.” 45 In keeping with his own teachings, Zavala wore humble garb and cooked his own food. Everyone agreed that Zavala maintained an austere and disciplined life. Benito Peña, a twentyeight-year-old campesino, explained that Zavala’s high ideals and personal behavior won him his support for the agrarian revolution. “I let Padre Zavala borrow my horse because he always wore white cotton trousers and a blouse, just like us campesinos, and not his clerical garb. I told him that I thought his visions and revolutionary ideas were good but that they were probably unrealizable.” 46 Through his schools and his sermons, Zavala fomented a nationalism that synthesized ethnic populism and peasant-class consciousness. He taught that Mexican nationalism and citizenship rested on an agrarian socialist base.47 “The nation is the property of all of its citizens, and all citizens have the right to possess and receive common lands: Citizens are all those who are born here


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and naturalized foreigners.” 48 He led students daily in salutes and the pledge of allegiance to the Mexican flag while teaching that the indigenous Mexicans were the true heirs of Mexico.49 He proclaimed that all Mexican citizens were natural heirs to the nation’s landed resources. Zavala preached that the reform was anti-Mexican because it “dispossessed the nation’s true citizenry of their common lands and turned the people into proletarians.” 50 Denying land to the rural working class destroyed their patriotism because in the absence of property, they had no stake in the national destiny: “The needy masses will lack patriotism without property.” 51 Zavala believed agrarian socialism would liberate a servile and oppressed people and create national inclusivity: “Property is Patriotism and the only way to build true Patriotism is to push the nation into the arms of socialism!” 52 When Zavala was working at the Hacienda de Salto del Agua, children often accompanied him on walks during which he gave sample homilies on the nature of law as an instrument of social justice. He taught the children that the Indians possessed a fundamental right to their own lands and that the legal system worked against them because they lacked access to education and the written word. According to Zavala, land titles proved nothing; with or without a land title, he argued, “the land belonged to those that work it.” 53 The curriculum offered in the schools allowed for practical as well as intellectual growth, facilitating a sense of citizenship and public virtue. Zavala organized classes in which educated youth served as judges, juries, and defense and prosecuting attorneys, these courts ruling on disputes among the students. These actions further developed the campesino children’s sense of political inclusivity and civic virtue. Zavala set his schools up to provide legal training to a generation of students who would then become empowered citizens capable of maintaining a democratic judicial system that would manage Mexican civil society following the successful peasant revolution that had swept away the vestiges of the ancient régime. His actions dispel the notion that religious leaders and belief systems are utopian or millenarian in nature. Huastecan revolutionary leaders such as Juan Santiago, Sixto Flores, Matías Hernández, Julían Pérez, Román Aguilar, Gervacio Martínez, and others fought for concrete material and political gains and were not seeking a supernatural escape or rapture.54 According to fellow cleric Ezequiel Meza, Zavala planned his revolt for at least six years. He worked with other local priests and taught his fiery brand of agrarian nationalism. Meza describes some of these other priests as having possessed dynamic and charismatic personalities. The Huastecos

Toward a Mexican Theology of Liberation


referred to one Padre Mata as “el General.” 55 The extent of widespread clerical involvement in the Huastecan peasant war can only be speculated on. Evidence from the military records is scant as to other clergy, but it can be surmised that Zavala’s religious and political views influenced some local parish priests in the Huasteca, who shared the same rustic lifestyle as their campesino parishioners. Zavala’s vision of an agrarian-socialist society remained consistent with peasant practices and values. He energized his followers by proclaiming that “agriculture is a noble profession and is to be practiced by all of the children of the pueblo.” 56 He called for nationalizing Mexican lands, for returning Mexican territory that had been sold to foreigners to its rightful indigenous owners, who possessed an inalienable right to work their lands collectively and for the nation.57 Zavala proposed establishing hacienda communal lands when the population of a locality reached one hundred. Foreign-owned haciendas would be occupied, pueblo borders reestablished, the lands communalized and then divided up for grazing, mining, or cultivation. “Possession of new property,” he argued, “is to be decided by local authorities and they are to delineate the boundaries between pueblos and boundaries between landholdings.” 58 Zavala publically denounced, especially in his sermons, creoles’ racist attitudes toward native Mexicans and declared the inherent equality of all people: “People, I have said it and I say it again: all men are equal; all the human race is noble; we are all brothers and sisters, whatever our origin and the color of our skin.” 59 By so doing, Zavala articulated a form of ethnic populism that challenged the racial caste system imposed on the indigenous peasantry by the Spanish in the sixteenth century. The haughtiness of local Spanish and creole elites who promenaded in British riding clothes with their Castilian sense of “nobility” irked Zavala, who proclaimed that “all the children of the municipio are noble; there are no titles of nobility of any kind; nobility consists of one’s talents, virtues, and courage.” 60 The demands of local landowners such as Manuel Rascón that they be referred to by the aristocratic term “duke” incensed Zavala, who repeatedly called for the abolition of all titles. Old official titles of administrative, state, Church, and military functions were to be kept simple.61 In the late 1870s Acosta Macedonio, a creole from Tamazunchale, attended a popular folk festival in the forests outside of the Nahua fracciones of Tamán and San Francisco.62 At this festival featuring flutes, dancing, fireworks, skyrockets, and regional tamales called “zacahuiles” that were


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sold from mobile cooking stands, Macedonio attended one of the popular sermons given by Padre Zavala, during which he spoke in both Nahua and Spanish. Zavala told the campesinos that they should demand their citizens’ rights and lands by taking “matters into their own hands” and that they should establish pueblo authority over the region. At the end of the sermon, Zavala also listened attentively to the complaints of the campesinos, showing his concern about the horrible living conditions of his parishioners. Macedonio described how Zavala met openly with all of the leaders of the fraccíones around Tamazunchale and discussed concerns with them. The popularly elected campesino leaders lodged their complaints against the large landowners and the physical abuses they had endured. They charged that the political authorities treated them with contempt, levied excessive taxes, seized personal property without compensation and accused some hacendados of exacting free labor from public work drafts while paying no wages.63 Daisey Townsend, the sister of Cora Townsend de Rascón, also witnessed one of Zavala’s sermons, a Good Friday sermon that he delivered in April 1882, shortly before the campesino uprising on the Hacienda del Agua: We went to Church. A great numbers of Indians were kneeling about on the floor. The priest preached as strong a sermon on communism as was ever uttered to rouse an ignorant and impulsive people to error and bloodshed. He told them as plainly as words could tell that the country belonged to the Indians and that the Indians were idiots not to rise up and claim their own. His logic did not seem to make any impression on the congregation of Indians. They were apparently absorbed in the more objective portions of the ceremony but the sentiments were scarcely likely to win applause from either Cora or me when we realized that we were so far in the interior, quite cut off from immediate mail or telegraph communications and fourteen leagues from the nearest white settlement.64 Townsend’s observation that Zavala’s words failed to leave an imprint on the Huastecan jornaleros is highly questionable, considering the fact that within a matter of months these Indians became guerrilla soldiers waging a peasant war. Zavala constantly petitioned local judges on behalf of the campesinos, beseeching them to dispense justice fairly, and he also represented them in the courts. He denounced judicial treachery and those who took advantage

Toward a Mexican Theology of Liberation


of class connections and education. In April 1875 Zavala represented the campesinos in front of Augustín Ugarte, the local jefe político, in the matter of a hacendado’s expropriation of Tamazunchale communal land. After Ugarte refused to intervene on behalf of the campesinos and ruled in favor of the hacendado, Zavala urged the indigenous people to disregard the ruling and seize their lands. Ugarte summoned Zavala for questioning. He then reported to the state authorities in San Luis Potosí that Zavala had created dissension and encouraged resistance to the land seizures, which he maintained were legal land claims under the Leyes de la reforma.65 The state officials replied to Ugarte that he should sit the “confused” priest down and explain to him that the land seizures and privatized holdings were legitimate. After three attempts to explain the new economic order to him, they believed Zavala now realized that the privatization of indigenous communal properties was legal and that he would respect the civil registry’s official decisions.66 However, Zavala already understood and rejected the program. He was in the midst of planning the revolution and training local campesinos in military tactics and firearms. The revolutionary and antihierarchical nature of Padre Zavala’s thought may seem a paradox, considering that he himself represented the Roman Catholic Church, an institutional pillar of tradition and authority in rural Mexican society. However, Zavala also represented an anticlerical tradition that intensified during the nineteenth century. Many agrarian revolutionaries were anticlerical and yet still held personal religious values. The range of religious personal commitment spanned a wide variety of beliefs including Protestantism, spiritualism, anarcho-Catholicism, and oftentimes a synthesis of various strands of religious traditions. Protestantism represented one form of anticlerical radicalism. Protestant societies actively supported the rural uprising of Julio López Chávez, who denounced both the Catholic Church and clergy. In the 1860s Protestant communities expanded into the Municipio de Reyes Comán, in the state of Puebla. This region of Puebla served as the geographic base of rural support for Alberto Santa Fe. His revolutionary plan, the “Ley del Pueblo,” was the most sophisticated of mid-nineteenth century agrarian plans and was written in a center of Protestant proselytizing. During the 1870s Protestantism spread in the Huasteca among the rancheros in the state of Hidalgo in the south and in San Luis Potosí in the west. The city of Pisaflores, south of Tamazunchale, had a Presbyterian congregation of more than one hundred members. The antihierarchical nature of


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Protestantism appealed to the mostly small- to medium-sized ranch owners around Pisaflores. Protestantism eroded the vertical class structure associated with colonial-era hierarchy and traditional peasant-landlord social relations.67 In Veracruz, Protestant societies emerged in the town of Tantoyuca, and Tampico became a beachhead for protestant infiltration into the Huasteca. Presbyterian churches formed in Río Verde, Rayón, Tamazunchale, and Ciudad Valles, while Masonic lodges and spiritualist communities were organized in Tamazunchale. Many nineteenth-century Mexican anarchists practiced spiritualism. Alberto Santa Fe, a spiritualist, found common sympathies with the Protestant communities of Puebla. Both spiritualism and Protestantism offered religious alternatives to the Catholicism, which often opposed mass literacy. Santiago Sierra, an anarchist spiritualist, wrote that socialism was a superior step in human evolution and that the proletariat could achieve socialism through spiritualism. The social vision of Sierra was fundamentally moral. The workers atoned for their past faults and “the act of redemption [was] based on the zeal for perfection.” 68 Libertarian socialist ideas merged with religious sentiment. Workingclass newspapers such as El hijo del trabajo published many articles that combined the doctrines. In one, José María González denounced the false Christianity of the clerical “pharisees” and proclaimed that “socialism fulfills the original teachings of Jesus.” 69 A biography of the life of Christ appeared in the newspaper in 1880 depicting Jesus as both divine and human, the son of a working-class carpenter.70 The entire Easter issue of El hijo del trabajo, published on April 2, 1882, was dedicated to the themes of Palm Sunday, when Christ entered Jerusalem, with emotional poems denouncing greedy Judas Iscariot for his betrayal of the Lord. El socialista, another socialist newspaper, also displayed anticlerical yet religious sentiment. Emilio Castele of El socialista proclaimed that Christ’s association with prostitutes, adulterers, and the Jewish working class and peasantry and his compassion for them demonstrated both his sympathy for the downtrodden and his divinity. According to Castele, Christ allied himself with the working class by his denunciations of the moneylenders and religious hypocrites who exploited the poor in the name of God.71 The newspaper often portrayed Jesus as a social liberator, one who challenged the aristocracy and the “empire of the Pharisees.” Christ was depicted as an emancipator of the proletariat and a proponent of Cristianismo, the “first revolutionary doctrine” and a model for Mexican socialists: “Cristianismo

Toward a Mexican Theology of Liberation


represents equality among humanity, fraternity between pueblos, social justice and natural rights, collective property, and opposition to the flaunting of riches by the wealthy and powerful.” 72 The socialist utopia envisioned by the protestant agrarians in Chalco influenced the Greek anarchist Plotino Rhodakanaty, who in 1877 converted to Presbyterianism.73 Rhodakanaty had first brought the ideas and doctrines of anarchism to Mexico, where he proselytized them to a wide range of social radicals and intellectuals. He greatly influenced the ideological development of nineteenth-century agrarianism in Mexico. After converting to Presbyterianism, he taught Greek and philosophy at the Seminario de la Iglesia de Jesus in Mexico City, where he published a number of Christian anarchist essays in La verdad, a newspaper that promoted the teachings of the Iglesia de Jesus. Rhodakanaty viewed history as the realization of providential design; it constituted a collective struggle against the rich as exemplified by Christ’s struggles against the elite pharisees. He declared that Jesus’s sermons preached socialism, referring to Christ as the “divine socialist of humanity” and the “savior of liberty for the world.” 74 Rhodakanaty taught that the moral basis for class leveling could be found in the four Gospels and that they set forth the notion in a democratic philosophy stressing liberty, equality, and fraternity. The divine nature of God incarnated in the son of a Jewish carpenter had revealed that the spirit of Cristianismo would liberate all of humanity’s working classes. Rhodakanaty’s Christian socialism offered a moral critique of capitalism and provided a link between anticlerical anarchist thought and the religiously conscious peasant revolutionaries. His group of activists, La social, sent emissaries to Chalco from 1868 to 1869 and to Querétaro in the 1870s to organize peasant resistance to the Liberal land privatization program. His thought demonstrates a continuity of ideology between the clerically inspired agrarian revolts of the 1810–1821 war for independence and the Catholic, anarchist, and agrarian ideas that grounded Padre Zavala’s theology of social liberation. Nineteenth-century Mexican agrarismo thus incorporated a wide range of Catholic, spiritualist, Protestant, and socialist perspectives on issues related to moral justice, the working class, and the redeemability of the peasantry. Zavala’s descriptions of the ideal society in his essay “Tamazunchale: Municipio libre” mirrors much of Saint Thomas More’s Christian socialism and merges it with native Mexican values and norms. His vision of the municipio libre incorporates More’s ideas about communal landholdings,


Chapter 7

political autonomy, municipal control over local militias, and the collective use of violence. Traditional Hispanic Catholicism supported the belief in the dignity of manual agrarian labor. Zavala, like More, expected all of the political magistrates to freely donate their labor to collective public service. Zavala’s political thought, however, articulated a more sophisticated analysis of capitalism than More’s by incorporating a wide range of nineteenth-century thought. The priest’s references to “liberty, fraternity, and equality” and his usage of the term “proletariat” demonstrate the influence of the European revolutionary tradition. His usage of anarchist symbolism such as a black and red flag and his lengthy analyses and denunciations of liberalism indicated a sophisticated understanding of the capitalist enemy that he confronted. The alliance forged between the Huastecan peasantry and Zavala broke the hegemonic domination of the racist liberal state in the Huasteca. The rebels’ defense of the municipio libre was predicated in part on the idea that a free pueblo should determine the nature of its educational and religious instruction as well as its language. The municipio libre ideally would shield the pueblo from elite cultural and religious domination, thus preserving a counterhegemonic consensus among the peasantry. After the Mexican Army crushed the revolt, Padre Zavala fled to Tamaulipas and made his way to Guatemala. In 1884 sympathetic church officials in Yucatán convinced Yucatecan authorities to allow him to come to Merida. In his last years, Zavala published a number of essays denouncing economic liberalism and the privatization of pueblo property and upholding the right of indigenous Mexicans and mestizos to their ancestral lands. He published a newspaper entitled El pobre and advocated what local church officials referred to as Catholic socialism. On October 31, 1914, Zavala died at the age of eighty-two.75

Chap te r 8

Death to All Those Who Wear Pants! The Huastecan Peasant War, 1879–1884 . To The Mexican People! Wake up sleeping people and claim your rights as sons and daughters of Mexico! Year after year the tyrannical landowners have smothered us with unjust taxes, they have increased our poverty and misery, they undervalue all of us just because we are poor. They believe that because they are hacendados, they are the owners of the universe. But they are not the owners of the universe. God is our creator and He gave us our lives that we may live in union together, enjoying all of His creation equally. —The Council of Socialist Sharecroppers

/ The Huastecan rebellions of the late 1870s differed from

previous agrarian rebellions because of their coordination with national leadership originating from Mexico City and the provinces, their incorporation of anarchist and socialist ideas, and their coordinated military strategies under cacique Juan Santiago and Padre Mauricio Zavala.1 The 1879–1884 revolution was the outcome of both short- and long-term local conditions that had been building for years. But the unrest also formed part of a broader wave of agrarian violence that erupted across much of the Mexican countryside during the first years of the Porfiriato. In the late 1870s a wave of peasant unrest swept across the states of Querétaro, Hidalgo, Guanajuato, Chihuahua, Mexico, Michoacán, and Oaxaca.2 Anarchist and socialist revolutionaries from the Gran comité comunero and the Directorio socialista in Mexico City assisted the campesino leaders and coordinated regional support for rural defense. 123


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General Miguel Negrete, a former Mexican minister of war, directed one of the most intense agrarian upheavals of the later 1870s and contributed to the increasing political radicalism of the peasantry in the Huasteca. On June 1, 1879, Negrete led agrarian rebels in the Sierra Gorda of Querétaro against the Díaz government, proclaiming that the new administration had betrayed its promises made during the Tuxtepec rebellion. Negrete, a war hero during the struggle against the U.S. and French occupations, had long fought for working-class and peasant rights. In 1876 he supported Díaz’s Tuxtepec revolt, believing that it would improve the immiserated conditions of the rural proletariat. By 1879, however, Negrete realized that Díaz had betrayed the peasantry and working class.3 In July 1879 Salomon Morales, Diego Hernández, and Luis Luna, leaders from the Directorio socialista, joined Negrete and helped him write “The Socialist Plan of Sierra Gorda.” The Directorio socialista originated in Mexico City and represented a core cadre of urban working-class intellectuals and radicals who were attempting to organize and coordinate peasant rebellions throughout northeastern Mexico. They played an important role in the Huastecan uprisings and maintained close contact with Juan Santiago and Padre Mauricio Zavala. Juan Santiago emerged as a classic rural “organic intellectual” as conceptualized by Antonio Gramsci.4 He bridged the gap between the urban socialist parties and the rural working class. By providing indigenous intellectual leadership, he was able to legitimize socialist ideologies and make them compelling to the rural indigenous peasantry. The Directorio socialista advocated agrarian laws and the reformation of the electoral and political process in such a way as to secure the representation of the interests of the rural working class. The plan was influenced by previous agrarian struggles in Mexico, the ideas of individual liberty enshrined in the 1857 constitution, and the Paris Commune of 1871.5 Similar documents also emerged in the states of Hidalgo and Querétaro, as well as in the Huasteca Potosina.6 In July 1879 Juan Santiago and Mauricio Zavala joined the agrarian rebellions erupting as a seismic wave, and Zavala later incorporated parts of “The Socialist Plan of Sierra Gorda” within the broader revolutionary plans and ideas he articulated that gave expression to the social and cultural values of the Huastecan peasantry. The agrarian unrest that swept the Huasteca Potosina between 1879 and 1884 moved through four phases, beginning in Tamazunchale and ending in the Ciudad del Maíz. The opening guns sounded in July 1879 and kept sounding until a cease-fire was negotiated in the winter of 1880. The summer

Death to All Those Who Wear Pants!


of 1880 marked a new and more radical departure. The appearance of Diego Hernández of the Directorio socialista transformed the peasant rebellion into a revolution. In their revolutionary leaflets denouncing the hacienda system and agrarian capitalism, the Huastecos adopted contemporary political ideologies, comparable to those adopted by the Zapatistas more than a century later in 1994, to undergird their agrarian storm of protest. One socialist organization, the Council of Socialist Sharecroppers, nailed revolutionary documents to trees in the Huasteca: With this edict, we proclaim the just cause of the socialist struggle of the poverty stricken masses. People of the sierra communities, you are the children of the Mexican nation; and you understand the evil hacendados who say that they own all of our land. We must take up arms to defend our rights. If we do not we will forever live under their abuses.7 Then, in the spring of 1882, Padre Zavala led the campesinos of Ciudad del Maíz and its surrounding pueblos, who occupied several haciendas. Zavala produced more agrarian plans that integrated traditional Catholic humanist values with the socialist ideas of Hernández. Finally, from the summer of 1882 to July 1883 Juan Santiago directed a guerrilla war. In the spring of 1883 a national guard sergeant, Felipe Cortina, defected to the rebel cause and injected military discipline and momentum into the rebel ranks. Before the rebels’ defeat, the rebel leaders and Cortina promulgated an agrarian plan calling for milpas owned and communally managed by the free pueblos but worked by individual campesinos as family units. Cortina’s defection and those of others from the ranks of the national guard alarmed Carlos Díez Gutiérrez, the governor of San Luis Potosí. In response, President Manuel González ordered Colonel Bernardo Reyes from the neighboring state of Nuevo León to lead federal troops, brought in from Tampico and Querétaro against the rebels. The immediate event that triggered the mass armed rebellion in 1879 was a hurricane that swept the Gulf Coast of Mexico, devastating the low-lying coastal towns and pounding the Sierra Madre Oriental with heavy rains and floods. The towns of Tanchanhuitz, Tula, Tamazunchale, and Valles suffered heavy damage.8 Agricultural losses were widespread across the Huasteca; harvests and food storage facilities were wiped out.9 The floods left the entire Huasteca, extending from north of the state of Hidalgo to the northern extreme


Chapter 8

of San Luis Potosí, isolated. The roads between Xilitla and Tamazunchale remained impassable until September, and news of the destruction did not reach the authorities in the state capital of San Luis Potosí until September 20.10 Many horses and livestock drowned, caught in the valleys when flash flooding caused the rivers to overflow. In Tamazunchale, the Moctezuma River overflowed and devastated the town. Because of continuing rains and saturated soils, the waters did not return to their prehurricane levels until December.11 The floods destroyed the seeds for the 1879 harvest, and local officials worried about the coming food shortages. In addition, the authorities were slow to offer relief of any kind. The Huastecos protested, declaring that the state only provided help to the rich creoles and large landowners.12 By February 1879 the tension between the peasantry and the local creoles had reached the boiling point. The peasants in Tamazunchale had repaired the broken levies along the Moctezuma River with the understanding that the municipal government would pay them. The reimbursement never arrived. This refusal to pay for the repair of the riverbank remained a source of contention between the Huastecan workers and the municipal officials into the spring of 1879. The failure of the state and local officials to rectify the problems associated with the flooding fed the anger of the rural populace. By spring, hunger stalked the Huasteca. Then the issue of land tenure came to the surface. The recent growth of the haciendas in the region had come at the expense of the pueblos. The pueblo’s previously extensive holdings had protected the populace from starvation because, in the event of floods and destruction, there usually remained enough tillage to prevent death. James Scott’s discussion of the moral economy of the peasant provides a way to grasp the situation in Tamazunchale at this time. He notes that Southeast Asian and most precapitalist peasant societies possessed a “subsistence ethic.” This ethic formed the heart of the moral economy and became the standard means by which peasants fought the surplus production demanded by landlords and the state. Peasants regarded agricultural exploitation as a violation of the rights to subsistence, and such exploitation provided the basis for most modern peasant revolutions. Their moral economy provided a buffer between themselves and poverty. In the Huasteca, the development of agrarian capitalism destroyed the subsistence base that the campesinos had relied on. The hurricane of 1878 provided what Scott calls a “collective shock” that served to engage the Huastecos in the debate over agrarian capitalism and collective agriculture.13

Death to All Those Who Wear Pants!


In February 1879 the campesinos in Huehutlán rioted in front of the pueblo plaza, protesting land usurpations. Then, in March, armed bandits from Veracruz invaded the municipio. The police stood by and failed to halt the violence they committed against the “indios pobres,” compounding the political crisis.14 Many Huastecos were outraged. By April, the Indians in Huehutlán were rioting with more force. Three people died.15 The rapid rise in violence greatly alarmed the local judge, the police, and officials, and so they requested assistance from the district capital of Tamazunchale.16 They contacted Juan Terrazas, the military commander at Tamazunchale, who sent forty well-armed men “to restore order.” 17 The reinforcements temporarily solved the problem of campesino violence but did little to ease the underlying tensions.18 In June the conflict grew. The Indians in the San Francisco barrio outside of Tamazunchale rioted when Juan Santiago called a meeting attended by Padre Zavala and thirty other town leaders. Santiago read them a document allegedly written by President Porfirio Díaz: “I, C. Don Porfirio Díaz, President of the United States of Mexico, using the power invested in me, appoint Juan Santiago, pueblo governor, with the right to protect the borders between his barrio San Francisco, Tamazunchale, and the haciendas.” The document also gave Santiago’s people permission to defend themselves “with their arms in hand.”19 Most of those who witnessed the revolt agree that the letter was a forgery. Although it was only a strategy used by Santiago, it had an immediate impact on the pueblo leaders, many of whom had participated in the 1876 Tuxtepec revolution that had landed Díaz in the presidential palace. They remembered his words on behalf of the rights of the pueblos and decided to take up arms. On July 5, 1879, four hundred Nahua and Otomí campesinos invaded Tamazunchale. With small carbines (usually reserved for hunting rabbits), bayonets, machetes, bows and arrows, and spears, they marched to the town square where Augustín Ugarte, the jefe político, ordered their dispersal. They did not leave until he agreed to meet with the leaders and discuss their land grievances by looking at the titles and maps they had brought with them. Local officials prohibited those who lacked documentation from participating.20 The presence of the national guard discouraged violence. While their leaders negotiated with the authorities, the police noted that many of the armed campesinos returned to the fracciones of Chapulhuacanito, Matlapa, Tamán, and San Francisco.21


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On July 9 Juan Terrazas warned the commander of the local national guard unit that the peasants were mobilizing for a wider assault. Terrazas blamed much of the violence on “outside agitators” who had just returned from Mexico City. By that same date, rebels controlled all of the roads leading out of Tamazunchale, and violence flared throughout the barrios of the area. Old grievances were reactivated in the rancherías of Matlapa and its fracción of Xochitla. The rent administrator of Tamazunchale, along with estate owners, demanded that Terrazas prosecute the rebels, while state officials alerted the authorities in Hidalgo and requested that they maintain vigilance.22 On the morning of July 26, 1879, the street market in Tamazunchale opened as usual. Unknown to the authorities, however, hundreds of armed Nahua and Otomí campesinos entered the town that morning and fanned out across the city, hiding among the general population. They identified themselves by wearing special branches in their sombreros. At a prearranged signal they seized control of the municipal building and set fire to the national guard armory. The soldiers, caught by surprise, took flight. The rebels sealed the barrio of San Rafael and entered the home of the police chief and killed him. They also assassinated Victorio Manriques, the rent administrator. At three in the afternoon they withdrew, leaving the authorities and townspeople of Tamazunchale in stunned silence.23 Immediately afterward the rebels assaulted the neighboring pueblos of Tampacán, Axtla, Xilitla, San Martín, Aquismón, Tanchanhuitz, and Tanquian, attacking government buildings and burning municipal buildings, police stations, and the national guard armory. Some of them ambushed Señor Mario Mendez, the jefe político of Tanchanhuitz, wounding him and killing some of his bodyguards. The news of the rebellion’s rapid growth worried Governor Carlos Díez Gutiérrez in San Luis Potosí, and he ordered the national guard to crush the rebels. But the rebellion spread too rapidly to be easily contained. By the first week of August the rebel forces had grown to over three thousand.24 Realizing that the entire Huastecan region was in a state of incipient revolution, Terrazas warned the jefe políticos of Valles and Ciudad del Maíz to prepare for a race or caste war. The governor reacted by sending an additional three hundred infantrymen into the Huasteca, but they were unable to do very little to restore law and order.25 The governors of the nearby states of Querétaro and Hidalgo immediately mobilized their national guard forces, and they castigated Díez Gutiérrez for his initial brutal response to indigenous protests in San Luis Potosí. They also informed him that they supported a negotiated settlement

Death to All Those Who Wear Pants!


to the “Huastecan problem.” By the middle of August, Díez Gutiérrez had appointed Colonel Bernardo Reyes to lead a military reconquest of the Huasteca. Colonel Reyes argued that the Indians were stupid “savages” who were “incapable of reason” and that only severe and immediate repression would end the revolt.26 Calmer leaders prevailed, however, and on August 24 the state leaders celebrated the “dos tratas de paz” (“two treaties of peace”) and sent representatives to the mountain stronghold of Juan Santiago. Santiago had requested that Zavala accompany the army commanders and serve as an intermediary between the two warring sides. The federal officers knew little of Zavala’s past and did not suspect that he was in fact an ally of Juan Santiago. The secretary of the army in Mexico City appointed General Ignacio Ugalde to lead the peace negotiations on behalf of the federal government. Ugalde, in turn, brought in reinforcements from Querétaro, Jacala, and San Luis Potosí as part of his strategy designed to convince Santiago and the other rebel leaders that military confrontation with the state was futile. On August 31 two hundred infantrymen under the leadership of General Rafael Olvera arrived from the Sierra Gorda of Querétaro and attached themselves to Ugalde’s command.27 With the forces now linked up, the leaders opened negotiations in the Mazatetl barrio near Tamazunchale. Outsiders in the government and public were watching closely. The rebels received moral support from socialist intellectuals and working-class leaders in Mexico City, who monitored the negotiations and reported their progress in their newspapers. They denounced Reyes for his hardliner stance and favored the redressing of land grievances as the method with which to deal with the “indigenous question.” 28 Newspapers in San Luis Potosí, on the other hand, strongly defended the army’s position during the negotiations and demanded an end to the “lower-class” violence.29 Negotiations continued from the August 25 until December 1879. General Ugalde requested that Santiago explain the origins of the violence. The rebel leader replied by stating that the form of slavery under which we find ourselves is insufferable and never once has anything been done for our betterment. Reduced to the condition of beasts of burden, we do not know the benefits of life in society, we have no representative in the municipal body, and the Indians are inequitably burdened compared to the class that calls itself las gentes de razón.30


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Santiago then posed a question to Ugalde: For how many years have the owners of the lands of Tamazunchale suffered every day from the attacks on our properties because of the establishment of many farms? We have sought to obtain the land titles that were lost and in the process have spent much of our money, and we have wished that they would recognize our property lines and we have sought help from interested persons, who also seek justice in assisting us with money.31 The negotiations and proposed solutions did little to defuse the crisis. The only concrete proposal offered by the army was that the lands in question be arbitrated by the courts after competent legal authorities reviewed land titles and proper documentation. This did little to satisfy the Huasteco rebels, who had pressed this issue in the courts for years without success. But more troop reinforcements brought in from Querétaro and San Luis Potosí intimidated them and convinced the Indian leadership to take a momentary break. After negotiating for a few weeks, Santiago took Ugalde’s proposals and held a council meeting near the town of Mazatetl with the caciques and pueblo representatives of the Huasteca. Santiago returned to the negotiations without a firm commitment from his fellow leaders to accept yet another court review. Santiago told Ugalde that he could not sign the treaty, but he promised not to resort to armed force unless provoked. He listed six conditions for the rebels’ surrender: (1) that the titles to their lands be honored by the government, (2) that any arms confiscated during the unrest be returned to their proper owners, (3) that Ugalde assume responsibility for any prisoners (Santiago understood very well that Ugalde represented a moderate force in the negotiations as opposed to the hardliner Colonel Reyes), (4) that the Huastecos’ constitutional rights be guaranteed, (5) that the government send in troops that were not affiliated with San Luis Potosí landowning elites and that had not participated in any military actions against the Indians, and (6) that Ugalde inform the national, state, and local authorities of all agreements reached between the rebels and the army.32 Ugalde accepted Santiago’s conditions for the treaty, although Colonel Reyes adamantly opposed any further concessions to the rebels. Ugalde then withdrew the federal troops, and the Huasteca remained in a state of uneasy peace during the winter of 1880. During this period Governor Díez Gutiérrez

Death to All Those Who Wear Pants!


sent state investigator Victor Martínez to look into the causes of the violence. His efforts momentarily helped to moderate the high level of tension that had existed.33 But the peace did not last because Martínez could do little to satisfy the rebels’ material demands. Martínez replaced Terrazas as jefe político of Tamazunchale with someone that the state official felt was more flexible, but the move did little to satisfy the overall objectives of the campesinos. The leaders pointed out that Terrazas’s removal changed nothing because his allies, Vicente Mendez, the jefe político of Tanchanhuitz, and López Portillo of Valles, remained in power. In addition, hacendados from Huehutlán, Xilitla, and Tampamolón continued to bring in arms and threatened a counterrevolution that would “burn the Huasteca to the ground.” 34 By January 1880 the rebels’ patience with the army, the landowners, and the state of San Luis Potosí had run out. It was now more obvious to everyone that Padre Zavala was an important rebel leader and he was convinced that no justice would ever be achieved via negotiations and treaties with the state. He disappeared into the mountains with a contingent of armed supporters. During the next two years, Zavala preached revolutionary sermons and raised the political awareness of campesinos and hacienda peones as he traveled throughout the Huasteca Potosina and Tamaulipas.35 In January 1880 the Huastecos in Tanchanhuitz and Tamazunchale seized government rent collectors and hid them in the mountains for four months. After their release, the rent collectors told the jefe políticos and military authorities that the countryside was in open revolt and that armed Huastecos roamed freely.36 The hacendados complained of widespread animal theft, while the owner of the Minas Viejas estate began branding all his cattle in order to maintain his ownership. Indiscriminate violence spread as seven armed and masked campesinos from Chalco, a fraccíon of Axtla, traveled to Matlapa and robbed and beat up respectable people and those gentes de razon. Four of the seven assailants were later arrested by Captain Mariano Coronado.37 In January Governor Díez Gutiérrez established local armed citizens’ militias, called “juntas de proteccion y vigilancia,” in Cerritos, Catorce, Ciudad del Maíz, Valles, Guadalcázar, Hidalgo, Moctezuma, Río Verde, Santa María del Río, Salinas, Tanchanhuitz, and Tamazunchale. The militias were made up of conscripted and volunteer citizens whom the state organized for municipal defense. The hacendados paid for their weapons and expenses and harassed those campesinos who refused to join the militias or


Chapter 8

showed signs of collaboration with the guerrillas. To identify and intimidate them at the same time, they painted the homes of the accused.38 On February 14, 1880, Juan Santiago, Matías Hernández, José Rodríguez, Eduardo Vásquez, Ambrosio Otero, and Villarion Rivera left their headquarters in order to lead a rebel takeover of San Vicente Cuayalab. The violence spread into Veracruz, where the state authorities declared an alert. The rebels at San Vicente Cuayalab took control of the municipal government in order to redress land grievances.39 By March 1880 agrarian unrest had spread throughout the Huasteca, and peasants once again attacked haciendas and municipal buildings in Tampacán, San Antonio, Tanlajas, Tanchanhuitz, Aquismón, San Vicente Cuayalab, and Tampatz. In Aquismón the rebels captured the son of Lucas Cardenás, a local hacendado, took him to Tampatz, and then executed him.40 They ambushed and wounded Colonel Tovar on the outskirts of Ciudad del Maíz.41 Governor Díez Gutiérrez of San Luis Potosí and the Huastecan creoles prepared for a war of attrition. Later that month the military commander in Ciudad del Maíz dispersed the rebellious peasants from the populated centers in that region and forced them into the countryside. Arms and munitions poured into the national guard armories throughout the Huasteca during April, and Díez Gutiérrez ordered the construction of more jails in Xilitla, San Antonio, and Tamazunchale. Local hacendados paid for them.42 Throughout April and May 1880 Huastecan rebels fought national guard forces in Tampamolón, San Antonio, Aquismón, Tanchanhuitz, Tanlajas, and Tamazunchale. The numbers of guerrillas increased tremendously in May. By June, four hundred Huastecos, armed with bows and arrows and carbines, controlled all of San Antonio and Tanaljas. Fifty national guard reinforcements arrived from Axtla, but this gave J. J. Ocaña of Tanchanhuitz little comfort because the road to Tanchanhuitz was monitored by over eighty Huastecan rebels.43 The Directorio socialista and Comité circulo got directly involved, entering the Huasteca Potosina. They were led by Comandante Salomón Morales, Diego Hernández and Luis Luna of the Directorio socialista, and many others from Mexico City, who, in addition to smuggling books and revolutionary pamphlets, were bringing in arms and ammunition.44 In July 1880 forty rebels from Tampatz, led by Morales, came together outside of Tanchanhuitz in order to attack the authorities there. Attempts by the national guard to dislodge them failed. Many soldiers suffered from fatigue due to the extreme humidity, a characteristic of the Huastecan summer. Ocaña requested fresh

Death to All Those Who Wear Pants!


troops from Querétaro and Hidalgo but to no avail. Many of the nearby governors did not want to lower their troop strength because they anticipated that the guerrilla unrest might spread to their areas.45 The fighting continued through August 1880, as rebels fought for control of Aquismón, Tampatz, and Matlapa. At Tansobab, near Aquismón, they burned the chapel and killed Lucas Cardenás. Then they burned his house to the ground. Ocaña estimated that more than five hundred Indian rebels were active around Tanchanhuitz. But a much larger group of campesinos supported the rebels. In Valles, ten armed men attacked the Fishilla Hacienda. The police followed the men back to Tamuín, but they did not attempt to arrest them for fear of inciting a riot in the pueblo.46 The officials in Tamazunchale then complained to the governor of Hidalgo that more Indian rebels were operating on the border between Hidalgo and Tamazunchale. The jefe político in Jacala positioned armed men along the Hidalgo state border and invaded San Luis Potosí in a failed attempt to capture Juan Santiago and the leadership of the Directorio socialista. By November 1880 the unrest had reached such a level that the Indian authorities were no longer able to maintain order, and Governor Díez Gutiérrez ordered an all-out invasion of the Huasteca by national guard forces as well as the occupation of all urban centers. The governors of Guanajuato and Querétaro sent their militias to join Díez Gutiérrez’s men in the effort. This show of force and the coming winter forced Santiago and the Directorio socialista leadership to move constantly in the mountains where they were holed up.47 In the spring, a state of uneasy calm that had settled since winter continued. The militias rarely ventured from their strongholds, describing the road between Tamazunchale and its surrounding fracciones as lined with Indian rebels and in a state of anarchy. After the May planting season, peasant unrest broke out again around Tanlajas and San Vicente Cuayalab. Ocaña blamed Tomás Santiago, the cacique of Tanchanhuitz, for inciting the violence. Meanwhile, during that spring and early summer, Juan Santiago, Matías Hernández, and Salomón Morales began planning a major assault on Tamazunchale. They had originally scheduled the uprising for October 10, before the harvest, but peasant violence and widespread rioting in San Martín forced them to launch an earlier offensive. In August 1881 they began a series of ambushes, as well as assassinated government representatives, set fire to haciendas and government buildings, and stole hacienda animals. At San Martín the campesinos attacked


Chapter 8

the El Cristiano ranch and executed the owner, don Maximiano Hernández. They divided his lands among those in San Martín who possessed no land at all. The rebels also attacked the Rancho de Cauyayo, San Nicolás, and La Concepción and occupied the Palitla barrio near Valles. A local official, Francisco Mascarenas, petitioned the national guard to recapture San Martín and arrest those responsible for the land redistribution and violence.48 The repression of San Martín, of course, infuriated Juan Santiago, who ordered a general meeting of village notables, elders, and leaders in the area. Together, they forged a revolutionary alliance with agrarian rebels from Jacala, Molango, and Las Moras. With Morales of the Directorio socialista coordinating the attack, the Huastecos in San Vicente Cuayalab, Tanchanhuitz, and San Antonio and the jornaleros of the Hacienda Santa Isabel retaliated against the authorities and hacendados. By late August 1881 the national guard and the landless Huastecos, under the leadership of Juan Santiago and the Directorio socialista, were moving toward full-scale warfare.49 Finally, in September the national guardsmen sent from Hidalgo joined those from San Luis Potosí, invaded the rebel-controlled borderlands between Tamazunchale, Pisaflores, Jacala, and Molango, and began a bloody counterinsurgency. Dozens of national guardsmen and a larger number of Indian rebels died. The exact number of rebel deaths was difficult for the authorities to determine, however, because they usually carried their dead and wounded with them rather than have the army gain valuable intelligence or desecrate their fallen comrades. In one instance, twenty-five rebels invaded the pueblo of Tecuapa in Hidalgo in order to dig a fellow Huastecan up from his grave. They then carried their fallen comrade back to his mountain homelands for a traditional burial by his loved ones.50 In late September the violence spread into the state of Veracruz. More than one hundred rebels assaulted the Tanlajil ranch owned by Pablo Martell. Army raids in the region of Tampacán resulted in the arrests of ten guerrillas. Meanwhile, Huastecan rebels from San Vicente Cuayalab, San Antonio, and the Hacienda Isla marched to Molango and joined a revolt by sharecroppers. State officials in Pachuca, in the state of Hidalgo, sent the state militia to the border when they received reports of rebel activity in Veracruz. Under the central command of Juan Santiago, Matías Hernández, and the Directorio socialista, Huastecan revolutionaries now traveled throughout the Huasteca, from Veracruz to Nuevo León and Tamaulipas, encouraging peasants and joining rebellions already in progress. By now many officials in Mexico City feared that the revolution would destabilize the

Death to All Those Who Wear Pants!


entire northeastern Mexican coast. Indian rebels from Matlapa assisted campesinos from the barrios of Ximislitla, Santocalco, Teasco, and Capala when they revolted. Potosino rebels fought in Pisaflores, Jacala, Molango, and dozens of hamlets and fracciones in Hidalgo. Likewise, Huastecan rebels from three provinces crossed into San Luis Potosí and aided their struggle. The coordination between the various Huastecos and the ability of the Directorio socialista and Santiago to direct and move large numbers of rebel forces greatly alarmed state and military officials. The local police reported a sharp increase in the number of rebel prisoners, whom officials in Mexico City and Querétaro described as “communists,” “political in character,” and “anarchists.” 51 They blamed these outside agitators for coordinating the guerrillas and directing the insurrection. On the night of October 8 three hundred Huastecos captured Matalapa and forced the withdrawal of one hundred national guardsmen. The occupation of Matalapa lasted two days. On the morning of October 10 Captain Manuel Jasco and several cavalrymen invaded the pueblo and rode into the town plaza. General Augustín Ugarte ordered twenty soldiers to block the river crossing outside of Matlapa in order to prevent the escape of the rebels. Then, two platoons under the command of Colonel José Escamilla occupied the barrio of San Miguel. Violence erupted when the residents began throwing rocks at the soldiers, which resulted in the deaths of three Indians and one soldier. The army captured the church tower and placed a sharpshooter with a modern rifle in it. At 10:00 a.m. when the campesinos attacked the city again, the sniper killed some of them at considerable ranges. Again, the exact number of dead or wounded remains unknown because the Indians carried the deceased with them when they retreated.52 The army units chased the rebels into the mountains, and the Indians retaliated by ambushing a horse patrol, killing one soldier, and wounding another. The army returned to Matlapa, and the campesinos quickly rebuilt their guerrilla forces.53 National guard forces under the command of Captains Castulo Martínez and Armando Gutiérrez and units from San Martín, Tampacán, and Tamán arrived on October 11 to assist the army in Matlapa. Francisco Mascarenas, the state overseer sent by the governor and the jefe políticos of Tamazunchale, Tanchanhuitz, Axtla, Xilitla, and Tampamolón, decided to attack and crush the central leadership of the revolt: Juan Santiago, Matías Hernández, and Diego Hernández of the Directorio socialista.54 On October 22, 1881, more than two hundred national guardsmen under the command of Colonel Margarita Mata arrived in Tamazunchale.


Chapter 8

Colonel Escamilla headed an expedition that left Matlapa and marched toward Huichipán. Since military intelligence reported that the rebel leadership was using Huichipán as a base, the two army companies made their way through San Francisco and into the town plaza of Huichipán. The rebels, however, had evacuated the town and launched an attack on the city from the Xinutilla canyons. The canyons were home to scores of indigenous families, and the women and children furnished the guerrillas with supplies, food, and materiel. It was only after more national guard forces under the command of Captain Manuel Rojas arrived that the military could take the mountain slopes of Huichipán. The army then launched an assault on the canyons from higher ground toward Xinutilla, killing three Indians and capturing seventeen rebels. After the army executed them, the soldiers hung their bodies from the limbs of the trees between Matlapa and Chalco.55 Then the troops under the command of Augustín Ugarte invaded rebel strongholds near Mazatl and Isteamel and confiscated mules, horses, arms, munitions, and a red and black flag with a red star over a black stripe. On the morning of the November 12 state forces occupied the rebels’ positions in Petlapixca, Mecapala, Taxoxol, Tlalocuil, and Mecachuquico. They also displaced two hundred rebels near Xalcuatlan and Zoquitipa under the command of Colonel Sixto Flores. Many of the campesino rebels that survived the government assault joined Juan Santiago’s forces that were now besieging Tamazunchale.56 In early November more than a thousand rebels under the command of Juan Santiago attacked and occupied Tamazunchale under a red and black anarchist flag that read “Gobierno municipal y ley agraria” (“Municipal Government and Agrarian Law”). The news of anarchist rebels allied with the Directorio socialista greatly alarmed Governor Díez Gutiérrez and the authorities in Mexico City. State newspapers began a campaign of denunciation against the Huastecos, castigating them for allowing themselves to fall under the control of “dangerous radicals” from the national capital. The combined national guard units from the cities of San Luis Potosí, Ciudad del Maíz, and Pachuca were needed to push back Santiago’s forces. Then, on November 14, army troops captured Sixto Flores in the Molango barrio of Chalcuatla. On November 23 they followed up on that success against Flores’s men by killing 30 rebels and capturing 548 and confiscating 14 rifles, 133 carbines, 4 pistols, 14 kilos of gunpowder, 765 cartridges, 12 pounds of sulfur, 24 fire rockets, 150 arrows, 20 bows, 72 slingshots, and another red and black flag.57

Death to All Those Who Wear Pants!


The army then initiated a mass execution of the rebels, shooting Sixto Flores in the back of the head on the Mescatlán road. After executing Ricardo Benito, another fighter from the Directorio socialista, the soldiers threw his body into the Moctezuma River. The army intentionally placed many corpses along the roads and in the rivers in an attempt to terrorize the general population. The soldiers hanged the local rebel leaders and left the bodies of brothers Pedro and Juan Antonio dangling from the streetlamps of Xochitla. They also hanged and publically displayed the bodies of José Hernández, Perfecto Zaragón, Basilio Arellano, José Carbayal, José Miguel, and José Pascual.58 An ensuing assault on the headquarters of Juan Santiago gained forty more captives. Many of them were hanged in the plaza at Tamazunchale, in front of their families, and their bodies were left on display for a number of days. However, Santiago and Hernández escaped and launched a rebel counterattack the very next day near Tamán. They succeeded in killing army captain Severiano Martínez. The losses suffered by the rebels, however, were too extensive, and they entered the winter once again cold and hungry but not accepting defeat.59 In March, Padre Zavala returned to the region. After two years of clandestine activity and political agitation, he proclaimed a series of agrarian resolutions that the campesinos and army officers referred to as “The Plan of Zavala.” The reappearance of the rebel priest and his agrarian plans encouraged a new wave of violence. This time, however, the focal point of the uprising had moved northward from Tamazunchale to the San Luis PotosíTamaulipas border and the region around Valles and Ciudad del Maíz. Peasant rebels occupied the pueblos of Guajalote, San Juan del Meco, San Nicolás de los Montes, Salto del Agua, Minas Viejas, Papagayo, and Tierra Nueva. Then the rebels crossed the Tamaulipas border, where people from the towns of Higuera, Cerritos, and Tula joined them.60 The rapid success of the guerrillas and the high degree of rebel support in the Huastecan countryside prevented a quick government counteroffensive. In August 1882 rebel forces under the command of Padre Zavala and Celso Arisiago fought government forces to a stalemate between San Nicolás de Los Montes and the partido of Hidalgo. A weakness in military morale became apparent when army sergeant Felipe Cortina defected to the rebel side. Leading a force of rebels that threatened the town of El Salto, Cortina took military discipline to a new level and introduced different tactics. To remedy the situation, Governor Díez Gutiérrez sent Colonel Matías Fernández to Alaquines, and he assumed command of the state militia. He


Chapter 8

took a number of rebel prisoners to the prison at Ciudad del Maíz. Zavala, however, continued to lead guerrilla units in attacks around the city, and many Army reports issued from Ciudad de Maíz complained of the guerrillas’ strength in the countryside.61 In September 1882 Zavala’s forces campaigned throughout the Hacienda del Salto del Agua, the Hacienda de Cardenás, the Rancho de Canoa, and the Sierra del Maguey. In October, some of the Huastecos entered Tetlama and Chalchocayo in disguise. Officer Francisco Mascarenas, however, was not fooled. He described the insurgents as “former rebels” and accused them of working with revolutionaries Zavala, Santiago, and rebels from the state of Hidalgo.62 Díez Gutiérrez feared that a regional alliance of revolutionary forces was forming, so he brought in federal troops under the eager and brutal Colonel Bernardo Reyes. The army quickly crushed the uprisings around the Hacienda Salto del Agua, occupying the towns of Tula, Ciudad del Maíz, and El Salto and capturing a number of insurgents. Captain Adolpho Morales captured Juan Santiago, Matías Hernández, and Juan Antonio and took them to Tampico for a military trial.63 Sergeant Cortina, however, took refuge with his men in the mountains, where he held the guerrilla forces together. By December 1882 the fighting in the Huasteca had once again temporarily died down. The final phase of the great Huastecan rebellion began in the spring of 1883. Diego Hernández and other leaders of the Directorio socialista joined forces with Padre Zavala and Felipe Cortina and organized the Council of Socialist Sharecroppers in the pueblos surrounding Ciudad del Maíz. They nailed revolutionary proclamations on local trees. The San Luis Potosí National Guard collected these leaflets. One leaflet read: To the Mexican People! To all the people of Minas Viejas. The time has come to assert our rights, to break the bondage and end our slavery! Let everyone know that our lands belong to the nation and not to the landlords who only recognize individual ownership! We invite all patriots and neighbors on the ranchos of Minas Viejas, Los Charcos, Micos, Ojo Frio, Puerto de Igeron, Hoya Verde, Peña del Refugio San Juan de Vievo, [and] Maguey de Oriente y Yerba to put an end to monopoly landholdings. The hacendados will not discuss these issues. We must take the necessary steps to change sharecroppers into owners. If the large landowners do not want it, they will have to be checked by the superior power of the common

Death to All Those Who Wear Pants!


good and had best take note of this proclamation. If after eight days, the hacendados still refuse to accept these demands, they may be executed for their whoredoms.64 Another leaflet read: To the Mexican People! Wake up sleeping people and claim your rights as sons and daughters of Mexico! Year after year the tyrannical landowners have smothered us with unjust taxes, they have increased our poverty and misery, they undervalue all of us just because we are poor. They believe that because they are hacendados, they are the owners of the universe. But they are not the owners of the universe. God is our creator and He gave us our lives that we may live in union together, enjoying all of His creation equally. It is necessary that we break the yoke of tyranny that for so many years has plagued our disgraced nation with evil taxes that have been imposed upon us by the hacendados. We only want to live in peace, and without oppression from the hacendados. We want to live in accordance with the Agrarian Law and its program.65 A third leaflet gathered by the national guard read: You can see in this proclamation that the just cause of the socialists who fight for the rights of the poor. And who are the poor? They are our neighbors of the immediate towns of the Sierra mountains and they are the true representatives of the Mexican nation. Our situation is that the landlords impose high taxes upon us, and since they have proclaimed that they are the owners of this land we have been pushed to take up arms to defend our rights, since we cannot stand any more suffering. They are not the owners of their labor and they are increasing taxes on those who work! We are not conspiring against the Mexican nation; just the opposite, we are making our position clear that we want them to help us get rid of this tyranny. We have taken our complaints to the jefe político of Ciudad del Maíz and he has ignored us; instead he has paid attention only to the landlord’s arguments, and they are powerful and we are poor. We know that these lands belong to the nation, but in earlier years, a nation was promised us. But when the


Chapter 8

government of Sr. General Antonio López de Santa Anna ruled our nation, he wanted us to be his slaves. The nation has not materialized and Santa Anna approved of the selling of our lands and the landlords came to have dominion over us. We only want to benefit from our lands; we do not want to hurt anyone, we do not want to damage or rob anyone, we do not want to burn any property. The people who have done honest business with us have seen that it is not in vain. Although our situation is sad and we are scarce of talents, we do not want the landlords to abuse us. Consequently we present this document with respect, and we do not want to sign it [because we do not want] you to harm us. February 28, 1883. At the end of eight days, this proclamation takes effect and if someone dares to remove it before that time, it will be punishable by death!66 Led by Felipe Cortina at Tanchanhuitz and Tamazunchale, jornaleros and hacienda workers on the Platanito, Maguey de Oriente, Abritos, Tierra Nueva, and Chihuahua estates demanded, among other things, that administrators and landowners who abused their workers be arrested. The junta’s call to arms centered on an agrarian plan proclaimed by Felipe Cortina. The plan consisted of three major elements. First, it called for the restructuring of the social and political order, stipulating the communal use of public buildings. Cortina envisioned transforming ranches and haciendas into pueblos, constructing streets, plazas, and gardens in the pueblos, allowing free use of pasture woods and the forested areas for firewood, and giving autonomy to the pueblos to minimize the effect of outside pressures on their decisions. Second, the plan called for a public assembly to be composed of resident family heads, a president, alternating town watchmen, one or more judges elected for a one-year term, pueblo control over the judiciary except in serious offenses, and an armed militia for its own defense. Third, it required that all public buildings to be placed under municipal control, including the councilmen’s building, courtroom, jail, and school.67 The organization and successful propagandizing of the rebels’ ideals and goals gained Cortina widespread support, which contributed to his ability to recapture the Hacienda Salto del Agua, with the help of two hundred armed men, on July 2, 1883. Taking money, arms, and horses, they also occupied the Hacienda de Norias, the Rancho del Herrosache, Llano del Perro, Rancho del la Concepción, Minas Viejas, Papgallos, and Guajalote and killed two estate

Death to All Those Who Wear Pants!


managers. The rebels also attacked the towns of Valles, San Nicolás de los Montes, and Olla Verde, although the outcome of this assault is not known.68 Ignoring the revolution’s political character and calling the revolutionaries “bandits” as was customary during Mexican insurrections, President Manuel González sent Bernardo Reyes to crush the movement. Colonel Juan María Ramírez and Colonel Ramón Terán both served under Reyes and were responsible for leading the army troops, who behaved brutally. Governor Díez Gutiérrez no longer used national guard troops because he feared more collaboration between the state militia and the rebels. The national newspapers in Mexico City denounced the brutal military response and called the government’s attempts to crush the five-year insurgency “illusionary.”69 Newspapers in San Luis Potosí, however, applauded the army and denounced the insurgents as communists who agitated the Huastecan sharecroppers.70 In September 1883, after a three-month campaign, Reyes’s forces successfully crushed the insurgency and captured Cortina and a number of rebels. In a major confrontation in the Sierra del Maguey, near the Rancho de Olvala, hundreds of army infantrymen and dozens of cavalrymen caught the rebels in a three-pronged attack and trapped them in the valley. Infantry Lieutenant Jorge Rodríguez commanded the right flank, Infantry Lieutenant Miguel Cuellas took the left flank, and Captain Priciliano Salgado charged up the middle. On the night of September 15, the combined offensive brought the great Huastecan war to a bloody end. Hundreds of dead rebels littered the countryside. Many Huastecos escaped across the Tamaulipas border, but aggressive army pursuits led to their capture. Meanwhile, Padre Zavala had crossed the border into Tamaulipas and hid with a sympathetic bishop in Santa Barbara. By the winter of 1883 the Huasteca stood in an eerie calm. Five years of bloodshed and war had come to a close.71

Conclusion . / The 1879–1884 Huastecan peasant war claimed the lives of

thousands of Huastecan Indians, hundreds of government troops, and dozens of estate owners and their families. The destruction of property, Indian villages, and infrastructure set the region back for years. While the long-term origins of the agrarian violence lay in the Spanish invasion of the sixteenth century, the more immediate cause of the rebellion was the marginalization of subsistence-oriented pueblo land production in the face of a demand to develop a commodity- based export agriculture. The imposition of Liberal nation-state building and the centralization of the state’s coercive powers that accompanied the development of modern infrastructure such as railroads and telegraphs further shifted the balance of political and economic power to that of the larger commercially oriented agricultural estates. The increasing severity of labor exploitation and abuses exacerbated the already desperate conditions of the largely indigenous peasantry, who now found themselves in a rapidly deteriorating situation. The Huastecan peasant war also originated from a half century of political and military struggles that witnessed the formation of regional and national alliances forged between various national actors and factions. The manifestation of subaltern nationalist and class consciousness challenges elite versions of Mexican history as well as the hegemonic discourse proclaimed by various triumphant elites. Over the course of the nineteenth century, a nationalist sentiment emerged that was not static but a living and evolving discourse that permeated the long century’s political, economic, and social transformation. By synthesizing nationalist empowerment with agrarian socialism, Huastecos forged an alternative nationalism, a more inclusive social and cultural order than what emerged during the years of the Porfirian dictatorship, that stands in contrast to Liberal state-building nationalist visions. 143



In addition to nationalist sentiment, the proselytizing efforts of Padre Mauricio Zavala, his clerical aides, and the socialist activists from Mexico City also served to radicalize the Huastecan peasantry. The role of anarchist and socialist revolutionaries from the national capital calls into question traditional Western interpretations of regionally focused peasant ideologies, those that deny rural citizens a national intimacy. In addition, the presence of coordinated political activity between indigenous “organic intellectuals” and socialist and anarchist leadership at the national level testifies to the political sophistication of indigenous rural leaders in constructing a national vision for their country’s future. The Huastecan revolution incorporated a vast range of ideas that provide insight into the origins of Mexican nationalism, agrarian socialism, and religious consciousness. The Huastecos’ ideas and actions provide an alternative way of understanding the historical forces that shaped the making of modern Mexico.

Notes . Introduction

1. The epigraphs come from “Desordenes cometidos en el partido de ciudad del Maíz,” folder 15, March 1883, AHESLP, SGG, 1883, March file 4, and Zavala, Juárez y la reforma, 75. 2. Mallon, Peasant and Nation, 142.

Chapter 1

1. The epigraph comes from “Declaración de Juan Santiago,” folder 7, AHESLP, SGG, 1879, July, file 2. 2. Schryer, Ethnicity and Class Conflict in Rural Mexico, 51. 3. “Leyes y decretos,” folder 4, October 26, 1877, AHESLP, SGG, 1877, October, file 2. 4. “Leyes y decretos,” folder 3, October 26, 1877, AHESLP, SGG, 1877, October, file 2. 5. See Piña Chan, “El desarrollo de la tradición huasteca.” 6. See Casteñada, “La posición de la lengua Huasteca.” 7. Sahagún, Historia general de las cosas de la Nueva España, 128–30. 8. Ochoa, Historia prehispánica de la Huaxtec, 109–51. 9. Wilkerson, “Ethnogenesis of the Huasteca and Totonac,” 928–29. 10. Ochoa, “Historia prehispánica,” 119–38. 11. Thompson, Maya History and Religion, 126–34. Also see Andrews, Maya Salt Production and Trade. 12. Ochoa, “Historia prehispánica,” 116–19. 13. Piña Chan, “El desarollo de la tradición Huaxtec,” 170–76. 14. Ochoa, Historia prehispánica de la Huaxtec, 140–51. 15. Taylor, Magistrates of the Sacred, 6. 16. Alcorn, Huastec Mayan Ethnobotany, 160–75. 17. Sahagún, Historia general de las cosas de la Nueva España, 2:156–58. 18. Toussaint, The Conquest of Pánuco, 44–49. 19. Ibid., 67–68. 20. Ibid., 75–80.



Notes to pages 8–18

21. Chipman, Nuño de Guzman and the Province of Pánuco in New Spain, 1518–1533, 20–21. 22. Ibid., 78–79. 23. Ibid., 10–11. 24. Wilkerson, “Ethnogenesis of the Huasteca and Totonac,” 909. 25. Ibid., 906. 26. See Carroll, Blacks in Colonial Veracruz. 27. de las Casas, Brevismima relacion de la destrucción de las indias, 19–39. 28. Ibid. 29. Meade and Almanza, Los agustinos en San Luis Potosí, 19–39. 30. See Meade, Fray Andres de Olmos. 31. See Arroyo, Los misiones dominicanas en la Sierra Gorda de Querétaro. 32. Meade, La Huasteca Potosina en la época colonial, 91–95. 33. Aguilar-Robledo, “Reses, indios y poder,” 78–82. 34. Meade, La Huasteca Veracruzana en la época colonial, 279–316. 35. Stresser Péan, “Los indios Huastecos,” 290. 36. Rudolph Schuller Papers. 37. Santos Santos, Historia antigua de los tres partidos de la Huasteca Potosina, 32–37. 38. Ibid., 112. 39. Rudolph Schuller Papers. 40. Santos Santos, Historia antigua de los tres partidos de la Huasteca Potosina, 31–34. 41. Ibid. 42. Ibid. 43. Carroll, Blacks in Colonial Veracruz, 115–20. 44. Herrera Casausas, Presencia y esclavitud del negro en la Huasteca, 5. 45. Ibid., 78–79. 46. Ibid., 10–11. 47. See Monroy de Marti, Pueblos, misiones y presidios de la intendencia de San Luis Potosí. 48. See Santos Santos, Historia antigua de los tres partidos de la Huasteca Potosina. 49. Cabrera, La Huasteca Potosina, 102–10. 50. “Tamazunchale,” folder 4, April 19, 1875, AHESLP, SGG, 1875, April, file 2. 51. Cabrera, La Huasteca Potosina, 107–12.

Chapter 2 1. The epigraph comes from “Ministerio de guerra y marina, prefectura de Río Verde: Correspondencia de Francisco Fernández,” folder 2, June 17, 1847, AHESLP, SGG, 1847, June, file 1. 2. Tutino, From Insurrection to Revolution in Mexico, 151–64. 3. Montejano y Aguiñaga, San Luis Potosí, 97–103.

Notes to pages 18–24


4. Ducey, A Nation of Villages, 60–76. 5. Hamnett, Roots of Insurgency, 129; Tutino, From Insurrection to Revolution in Mexico, 151–63; Bazant Cinco haciendas mexicanas. 6. Rugeley, Yucatán’s Maya Peasantry and the Origins of the Caste War in Yucatán, 1800–1880; Ducey, A Nation of Villages; Guardino, Peasants, Politics, and the Formation of Mexico’s National State. 7. Tutino, From Insurrection to Revolution in Mexico, 215–41. 8. Ducey, A Nation of Villages, 102–7. 9. Rugeley, Yucatán’s Maya Peasantry and the Origins of the Caste War in Yucatán, 1800–1880, 61–90. 10. Guardino, Peasants, Politics, and the Formation of Mexico’s National State, 110–46. 11. See Andrade Azuara, Huaxtecapan, el estado Huasteco. 12. Ducey, A Nation of Villages, 120–40. 13. Bauer, The Mexican War, 234. 14. “Guerra: Correspondencia de Ygnacio Mora y Villa,” folder 19, April 7, 1847, AHESLP, SGG, 1847, April, file 3. 15. “Administrador del hacienda de la Sauceda: Correspondencia de Ygnacio Mora y Villa,” folder 3, June 17, 1847, AHESLP, SGG, 1847, June, file 3. 16. “Administrador del hacienda de la Sauceda: Correspondencia de Ygnacio Mora y Villa,” folder 3, June 17, 1847, AHESLP, SGG, 1847, June, file 4. 17. “Ejercito del norte: Correspondencia de Ygnacio de Llora y Vellarde,” folder 6, April 14, 1847, AHESLP, SGG, 1847, April, file 3. 18. “Ejercito del norte: Correspondencia de Ygnacio de Llora Vellarde,” folder 4, June 3, 1847, AHESLP, SGG, 1847, June, file 1. 19. “Ejercito de operaciones de oriente,” La época, April 27, 1847; “Guerra: Correspondencia de los comandantes generales de los estados y gefes militares,” folder 4, February 3, 1847, AHESLP, SGG, 1847, February, file 4. 20. Bauer, The Mexican War; “Memoranda for Brevet General Jesup, Quartermaster General,” in Chronicles of the Gringos, 261. 21. “Guerra: Correspondencia de los comandantes generales de los estados gefes militares,” folder 4, February 3, 1847, AHESLP, SGG, 1847, February, file 2. For a seminal treatment of the development of the citizen militias during the U.S.Mexico War, see Santoni, Mexicans at Arms. 22. “Ejercito del norte: Correspondencia de Ygnacio Mora,” folder 16, December 10, 1847, AHESLP, SGG, 1847, November, file 7; “Acta de la guarnición de Tampico de Tamaulipas,” La época, January 3, 1847. 23. “Reglamento para la guardia nacional del estado de San Luis Potosí,” La época, February 4, 6, 9, 1847. 24. “Prefectura de Tanchanhuitz: Correspondencia de Manuel Castellanos,” folder 11, June 9, 1847, AHESLP, SGG, 1847, June, file 1. 25. “Communicado,” La época, May 25, 1847.


Notes to pages 24–26

26. “Prefectura del departamento de Río Verde: Correspondencia de Col. Don José Antonio del Castillo al Brasilio del Castillo,” folder 4, April 12, 1847, AHESLP, SGG, 1847, April, file 3. 27. “Organización de las guerrillas,” La época, May 4, 1847. 28. “Ejercito del norte: Correspondencia de Ygnacio Mora,” folder 9, April 23, 1847; AHESLP, SGG, 1847, May, file 1; “Organización de las guerrillas,” La época, May 4, 1847. 29. “Objeto de las guerrillas y bases generales a que deberan arreglar las operaciones de campaña,” La época, May 6, 1847. 30. “Prefectura de departamento de Tanchanhuitz: Correspondencia de José Ygnacio a Col. Don José Antonio del Castilo,” folder 4, April 24, 1847, AHESLP, SGG, 1847, April, file 4. 31. “Guerra: Correspondencia de Juan Fernández a Col. Don José Antonio del Castilo,” August 9, 1847, AHESLP, SGG, 1847, August, file 2. 32. “Guerra: Tanchanhuitz,” folder 5, June 6, 1847, AHESLP, SGG, 1847, June, file 4. 33. “Guerrillas de Tanchanhuitz,” folder 1, August 23, 1847, AHESLP, SGG, 1847, August, file 2. 34. “Guerrillas de Tanchanhuitz,” folder 9, August 24, 1847, AHESLP, SGG, 1847, August, file 6. 35. “Guerra: Tanchanhuitz,” folder 5, May 7, 1847, AHESLP, SGG, 1847, May, file 4. 36. “Prefectura de Tanchanhuitz: Correspondencia de Miguel Castellanos,” May 14, 1847, AHESLP, SGG, 1847, May, file 5. 37. “Guerrillas de Tanchanhuitz,” folder 1, May 14, 1847, AHESLP, SGG, 1847, May, file 3. 38. “Guerra: Correspondencia de los comandantes generales,” folder 2, April 26, 1847, AHESLP, SGG, 1847 April, file 4. 39. “Guerra, ejercito del oriente: Correspondencia de Juan Tovar,” folder 5, April 27, 1847, AHESLP, SGG, 1847, April, file 4. 40. “Ejercito de oriente: Correspondencia del prefectura de Ríoverde,” folder 5, June 6, 1847, AHESLP, SGG, 1847, April, file 4. 41. “Guerra, ejercito del oriente: Correspondencia del prefectura de Ríoverde, J. J. Gutíerrez,” folder 7, February 13, 1847, June 9, 1847, AHESLP, SGG, 1847, April, file 5. 42. “Ejercito del oriente: Correspondencia del Prefectura de Ríoverde,” folder 5, April 6, 1847, AHESLP, SGG, 1847, April, file 4. 43. “Guerra, prefectura de Tanchanhuitz: Correspondencia de Miguel Castellanos,” folder 6, April 7, 1847, AHESLP, SGG, 1847, April, file 9. 44. “Guerra, prefectura de Tanchanhuitz: Correspondencia de José Ygnacio a Don José del Castillo,” folder 6, April 12, 1847, AHESLP, SGG, 1847, April, file 5. 45. “Comunicado a Señor Delgado a Miguel Castellanos,” folder 3, July 22, 1847, AHESLP, SGG, 1847 April, file 7. 46. “Ministerio de guerra y marina,” La época, August 5, 1847. 47. “Comunicado,” La época, May 25, 1847. 48. “Prefectura de Tanchanhuitz: Correspondencia de Miguel Castellanos al Señor Delgado,” folder 22, August 13, 1847, AHESLP, SGG, 1847, July, file 3.

Notes to pages 26–34


49. “Comandancia militar y marina,” folder 5, August 7, 1847, AHESLP, SGG, 1847, August, file 4. 50. “Prefectura de Tanchanhuitz: Correspondencia a Miguel Castellanos a Señor Delgado,” folder 4, August 9, 1847, AHESLP, SGG, 1847, August, file 3. 51. “Ministerio de guerra y marina, prefectura del departamento de Ríoverde: Correspondencia de Francisco Fernández,” folder 6, June 17, 1847, AHESLP, SGG, 1847, June, file 4. 52. “Comandancia militar y marina,” folder 5, August 7, 1847, AHESLP, SGG, 1847, August, file 9. 53. Santoni, Mexicans at Arms, 168–79. 54. Muro, Historía de San Luis Potosí, 3:408–14. 55. “La cura parrocca de Guadalcázar a sus dignos feligreses, al salir a la campaña,” La época, October 26, 1847. 56. “Prefectura del Ríoverde: Correspondencia de Francisco Fernández,” folder 4, May 3, 1847, AHESLP, SGG, 1847, May, file 4. 57. Ibid. 58. “El clero secular y regular de la capital de SLP, a todos los fieles de su comprension,” La época, May 4, 1847. 59. “El clero secular y regular de la capital de SLP, a todos los fieles de su comprension,” La época, May 4, 1847. 60. “Tanchanhuitz: Correspondencia a Miguel Castellanos,” folder 5, March 4, 1847, AHESLP, SGG, 1847, March, file 1. 61. “Juzgado eclessiastical de SLP,” folder 6, December 13, 1846, AHESLP, SGG, 1846, December, file 4. 62. “Ministerio de guerra y marina,” La época, June 10, 1847. 63. Thorpe, “Our Army on the Río Grande,” in Chronicles of the Gringos, 317. 64. See Horseman, Race and Manifest Destiny. 65. Eisenhower, So Far From God, 102–3. 66. See Samora, Bernal, and Peña, Gunpowder Justice. 67. “Tropas,” La época, July 25, 1847. 68. Oates, “Los Diablos Tejanos: The Texas Rangers,” 121. 69. Muro, Historia de San Luis Potosi, 3:450. 70. Daniel Harvey Hill, diary ms., entries for January 17, 21, 29, and 30, 1848, cited in Chronicles of the Gringos, 422. 71. Chronicles of the Gringos, 298.

Chapter 3 1. The epigraph comes from “Copia del plan pronunciamiento de San Nicolás Sitaltepec: Secundado para Tamazunchale,” folder 9, January 8, 1848, AHESLP, SGG, 1848, January, file 5. 2. Reina, “The Sierra Gorda Peasant Rebellion,” 269–94.


Notes to pages 34–45

3. Ibid. 4. See O. L. A., Origen y progreso de la revolución de Sierra Gorda, 1847–1849. 5. Schryer, Ethnicity and Class Conflict in Rural Mexico, 85–87. 6. Mariano Riva Palacios Papers, pt. 4, 1847–48, item no. 2716. 7. Rugeley, Rebellion Now and Forever. 8. Reina, “The Sierra Gorda Peasant Rebellion,” 286–87. 9. “Plan politico y eminentemente social,” El siglo XIX, March 14, 1849. The plan is reprinted in Reina, Las rebeliones campesinas en Mexico, 1819–1906, 300–301. 10. “Estado de San Luis Potosí,” El siglo XIX, April 10, April 25, May 16, 1849. 11. “Sublevados de Sierra Gorda, juez de letras: Correspondencia de Segundo Evebar, lista de mujeres comprendidos con los sublevados de la Sierra,” folder 6, July 14, 1849, AHESLP, SGG, 1849, July, file 6. 12. “Sublevados de Sierra Gorda, juez de letras: Correspondencia de Francisco Fernández, prefectura de Río Verde,” folder 3, August 16, 1849, AHESLP, SGG, 1849, August, file 3. 13. Reina, “The Sierra Gorda Peasant Rebellion,” 289. 14. Meade, La Huasteca Veracruzana en la época colonial, 61; Ducey, A Nation of Villages, 145–57. 15. Reyes Heroles, El liberalismo mexicano, 569. 16. Meade, La Huasteca Veracruzana en la época colonial, 64. 17. Ibid., 65–66. 18. Reyes Heroles, El liberalismo mexicano, 570. 19. Meade, La Huasteca Veracruzana en la época colonial, 64–65. 20. “Prefectura de Tanchanhuitz: Correspondencia de Luis Guzmán, secretario al supremo gobierno del estado de San Luis Potosí,” folder 7, January 16, 1848, AHESLP, SGG, 1848, January, file 3. 21. Ibid. 22. Ibid. 23. “Copia del plan pronunciamientos de San Nicolás Sitaltepec: Secundado para Tamazunchale,” folder 9, January 29, 1848, AHESLP, SGG, 1848, January, file 5. 24. Ibid. 25. Ibid. 26. Ibid. 27. “Seccion de operaciones sobre la Sierra de Tamazunchale: Correspondencia de Manuel Hernández Barbarena,” folder 5, January 19, February 16, 1848, AHESLP, SGG, 1848, March, file 3. 28. “Seccion de operaciones sobre la Sierra de Tamazunchale: Correspondencia de Manuel Hernández Barbarena,” folder 6, February 16, 1848, AHESLP, SGG, 1848, February, file 4. 29. “Ayuntamiento de Tamazunchale: El ciudadano Prudencio Bravo, capitan de la 2nd compañia de lanceros de la escuadrón de Ciudad del Maíz y comandante en jefe de las fuerzas que operan sobre los sublevados de Tamazunchale,” folder 5, August 29, 1848, AHESLP, SGG, 1848, August, file 3.

Notes to pages 45–54


30. “Ayuntamiento de Tamazunchale: El ciudadano Prudencio Bravo, capitan de la 2nd compania al lanceros de la escuadrón de Ciudad del Maíz, comandante en jefe de las fuerzas que operan sobre los sublevados de Tamazunchale,” folder 17, August 29, 1848, AHESLP, SGG, 1848, August, file 6. 31. “Ayuntamiento de Tamazunchale: Declaración de Pascual Ramírez,” folder 7, February 16, 1848, AHESLP, SGG, 1848, February, file 4. 32. “Ayuntamiento de Tamazunchale: Correspondencia de Pedro Cabrera, regidor de ayuntamiento,” folder 7, February 16, 1848, AHESLP, SGG, 1848, February, file 4. 33. “Comandancia de la Sierra de Tanchanhuitz: Correspondencia a Sr. prefecto de este departamento de este ciudad de Manuel Barbarena,” folder 5, September 12, 1848, AHESLP, SGG, 1848, October, file 1. 34. “Comandancia de la Sierra de Tanchanhuitz: Correspondencia a Sr. prefecto de este departamento de este ciudad de Manuel Barbarena,” folder 14, September 12, 1848, AHESLP, SGG, 1848, February, file 4. 35. Mallon, Peasant and Nation, 142. 36. Larson, Trials of Nation Making, 141–202. 37. “Ayuntamiento constitucional de Tamazunchale: Correspondencia de el ciudadano Manuel Fernández Barbarena, comandante de la sección de operaciónes sobre la Sierra a los habitants de esta villa,” folder 4, August 7, 1848, AHESLP, SGG, 1848, August, file 4. 38. Montejano y Aguiñaga, San Luis Potosí, 114–15. 39. Mariano Riva Palacios Papers, pt. 17, item no. 5168. 40. Meade, La Huasteca Veracruzana en la época colonial, 167–68. 41. Ibid. 42. Rea, ed., Rebelion y plan de los indios Huastecos de Tantoyec. The plan was signed by Rafael Díaz, Lazaro Mendoza y Saucedo, Pedro Martín del Angel, and seventyone others.

Chapter 4 1. See Reyes Heroles, El liberalismo mexicano; Sinkin, The Mexican Reform. 2. Ibid. 3. Ibid. 4. See Bazant, “Mexico.” 5. “Facción de la Sierra,” El Garibaldi, December 24, 1862. 6. “Ministerio de guerra y marina: Un comunicado de A. Panodi á Vicente Chico Seiru,” folder 2, January 13, 1862, AHESLP, SGG, 1862, January, file 4. 7. “Ministerio de guerra y marina: Un comunicado de Manuel de Sandoval al comandante de guerra,” folder 2, March 4, 1863, AHESLP, SGG, 1863, March, file 4. 8. “Ministerio de guerra y marina: Un comunicado de Ventura Herrera al comandancia militar de San Luis Potosí,” folder 12, May 3, 1863, AHESLP, SGG, 1863, May, file 4.


Notes to pages 54–57

9. “Ministerio de guerra y marina: Un comunicado de Ventura Herrera al comandancia militar de San Luis Potosí,” folder 12, March 24, 1863, AHESLP, SGG, 1863, March, file 1. 10. El Garibaldi, November 9, November 16, December 20, 1862. 11. “Derrota de la escuadra francesa en la barra de Tampico,” El Garibaldi, January 23, 1863. 12. El Garibaldi, November 9, November 16, 1862. 13. “Ministerio de guerra y marina: Un comunicado de J. M. Barragán, jefe político de Ciudad del Maíz, al comandancia militar de San Luis Potosí,” folder 1, March 3, 1863, AHESLP, SGG, 1863, March, file 3. 14. “Escativo a la raza indigena,” El Garibaldi, December 20, 1862. 15. “Ministerio de guerra y marina: Un comunicado de C. Salazar al Manuel de Sandoval,” folder 3, October 13, 1863, AHESLP, SGG, 1863, October, file 3. 16. “Ministerio de guerra y marina: Un comunicado de C. Salazar al Manuel de Sandoval,” folder 8, October 16, 1863, AHESLP, SGG, 1863, October, file 2. 17. “Comandancia militar del partido del oriente: Un comunicado de Manuel Sandoval al comandante de guerra,” folder 3, March 24, 1863, AHESLP, SGG, 1863, March, file 2. 18. Ibid. 19. “Ministerio de guerra y marina: Un comunicado de Manuel Sandoval al Angel de Dios,” folder 4, March 25, 1863, AHESLP, SGG, 1863, March, file 1. 20. “Ministerio de guerra y marina: Batallón Rifleros,” folder 6, June 6, 1863, AHESLP, SGG, 1863, June, file 4. 21. “Batallón Rifleros,” folder 9, June 30, 1863, AHESLP, SGG, 1863, June, file 5. 22. “Comandancia militar de los partidos del oriente: Ríoverde, un comunicado de Angel de Dios,” folder 14, June 13, 1863, AHESLP, SGG, 1863, June, File 1. 23. Richmond, “The Failure of Mid-Nineteenth-Century Liberalism in Yucatán, 1855–1876.” 24. “Comandancia de militar de los partidos del oriente: Ríoverde–Un comunicado de Angel de Dios al Manuel Sandoval,” folder 6, July 7, 1863, AHESLP, SGG, 1863, July, file 6. 25. El Garibaldi, December 20, 1862. 26. “Terreños de San Cirro,” folder 4, August 21, 1863, AHESLP, SGG, 1863, August, file 6. 27. “Año de 1863: Adjudicación de ejidos,” folder 4, November 16, 1863, AHESLP, SGG, 1863, November, file 4. 28. “Conductos,” folder 4, November 19, 1863, AHESLP, SGG, 1863, November, file 1. 29. Santos Santos, Historia antigua de los tres partidos de la Huasteca Potosina, 67–75. 30. “Ejercito nacional comandante de los partidos de oriente: Un comunicado de Manuel de Sandoval al comandante de guerra,” folder 1, October 14, 1863, AHESLP, SGG, 1863, October, file 8. 31. “Gefatura político de Tamazunchale,” folder 4, November 3, 1863, AHESLP, SGG, 1863, November, file 6.

Notes to pages 57–64


32. “Gefatura militar comandante de los partidos de oriente: Un comunicado de Angel de Dios al comandante de guerra,” December 14, 1863, AHESLP, SGG, 1863, December, file 4. 33. “Republic mexicana ministerio de guerra y marina: Un comunicado de Angel de Dios al comandante de guerra,” November 23, 1863, AHESLP, SGG, 1863, November, file 3. 34. “Gefe de la linea de oriente en SLP,” folder 4, September 13, 1866, AHESLP, SGG, 1866, September, file 8. 35. “Ejercito republican de la linea de oriente de SLP,” folder 6, December 20, 1866, AHESLP, SGG, 1866, December, file 7. 36. Ibid. 37. “Un comunicado de ciudadano Colonel Francisco Mozo al ciudadano Julían Rodríguez, teniente colonel de la Huasteca Potosina,” folder 6, February 16, 1867, AHESLP, SGG, 1867, February, file 6. 38. Thomson with LaFrance, Patriotism, Politics, and Popular Liberalism in Nineteenth-Century Mexico, 258–60. 39. Mallon, Peasant and Nation, 25. 40. Ibid., 24. 41. Ibid., 103. 42. See Graham, ed., The Idea of Race in Latin America, 1870–1940. 43. Perry, Juárez and Díaz, 141–44. 44. “Copia del plan revolucionario que fracas en el plaza Tamazunchale la noche del 29 de enero de 1876,” folder 3, January 29, 1876, AHESLP, SGG, 1876, January, file 5. 45. Ibid. 46. Soto y Gama, La revolución agraria del sur y Emiliano Zapata su caudillo, 39. 47. “Ministerio de guerra y marina: Compra de armas en la revolución pasada, Prudencio Montemayor,” folder 1, December 16, 1879, AHESLP, SGG, 1879, December, file 1. 48. Hart, Revolutionary Mexico, 105–28. 49. “Noticias de la campaña en el estado,” La sombra de Zaragoza, April 26, May 10, June 1, 10, 14, 1876; “Movimientos de tropas,” La sombra de Zaragoza, September 23, October 23, 1876. 50. Santos Santos, Historia antigua de los tres partidos de la Huasteca Potosina, 72.

Chapter 5 1. Cora Townsend, Townsend-Stanton Family Papers, box 7, folder 11. 2. Marquez, “Tierras, clanes y políticos en la Huasteca Potosina, 1794–1834,” 213–14. 3. Ibid., 205–8. 4. Marquez, “La casa de los señores Santos: Un cacicazgo en la Huasteca Potosina, 1876–1910,” 31–34. 5. Tutino, From Insurrection to Revolution in Mexico, 239.


Notes to pages 65–76

6. Wolf, Peasant Wars of the Twentieth Century, 292–94. 7. Ibid., 35–40. 8. Ramírez, Tanquian, 40. 9. Santos Santos, Historia antigua de los tres partidos de la Huasteca Potosina, 39–41. 10. Kourí, A Pueblo Divided, 168. 11. Cabrera, La Huasteca Potosina, 57–58. 12. “Cartas de Manuel Palacios,” folder 3, January, 1875, ASHESLP, SGG, 1875, January, file 3. 13. Ibid. 14. Victor Martínez, “Abusos en la Huasteca,” folder 5, December, 1879 ASHESLP, SGG, 1879, January, file 2. 15. Fernández and Estebán, “La revolución en Tampamolón,” 9. 16. “C. visitador general—Tanchanhuitz,” folder 6, May 1880, AHESLP, SGG, 1880, January, file 3. 17. “San Luis Potosí,” El socialista, May 31, 1883. 18. “Cartas de Manuel Palacios,” folder 2, January 1875, AHESLP, SGG, 1875, January, file 3. 19. “Terreños de comunidad, yndigenas de Tampamolón: Piden extingua la antigua comunidad de ellos,” folder 4, March, 1879, ASHESLP, SGG, 1879, March, file 4. 20. “Yndigenas de San Juan Mescatlán: Escrito de queja contra las autoridades de Tamazunchale,” folder 5, SGG, ASHESLP, January, 1878. 21. “Visitador de la Huasteca,” no. 61, December, 1879, ASHESLP, SGG, 1879, December, file 1. 22. Fernández and Estebán, “La revolución en Tampamolón,” 11. 23. Ibid., 12. 24. Coatsworth, Growth Against Development, 18–19. 25. Editorial, La sombra de Zaragoza, June 13, 1873. 26. Editorial, La sombra de Zaragoza, October 25, 1869. 27. Editorial, La sombra de Zaragoza, February 17, 1871. 28. Editorial, La sombra de Zaragoza, December 9, 1874. 29. Editorial, La sombra de Zaragoza, March 8, 1871. 30. Editorial, La sombra de Zaragoza, June 1, 1871. 31. Editorial, La sombra de Zaragoza, November 25, 1874. 32. Editorial, La sombra de Zaragoza, May 8, 1875. 33. Weber, Peasants into Frenchmen, 195–219. 34. “Caminos,” folder 11, February, 1880, ASHESLP, SGG, 1880, February, file 3. 35. Coatsworth, Growth Against Development, 22, table 2.1. 36. Ankerson, Agrarian Warlord, 8–9. 37. Ibid. 38. “Ferrocarriles en Mexico,” folder 5, August 1872, AHESLP, SGG, 1878, May, file 3. 39. Cora Townsend, Stanton-Townsend Family Papers, box 7, folder 11. 40. “Ferrocarriles,” folder 6, June 1880, AHESLP, SGG, 1880, June, file 5.

Notes to pages 76–84


41. Kalixto Espiñosa, “Emisión de billetes del ferrocarril San Luis Potosí–Tampico el año 1878–1880,” folder 4, volume 4, March 1881, AHESLP, SGG, 1881, May, file 4. 42. “Caminos,” folder 4, February 1880, AHESLP, SGG, 1880, February, file 3. 43. “Caminos,” folder 6, January 1880, AHESLP, SGG, 1880, January, file 1. 44. Cockroft, Intellectual Precursors of the Mexican Revolution, 14. 45. Ankerson, Agrarian Warlord, 7–8. 46. “Caminos,” folder 7, October 1879, AHESLP, SGG, 1879, November, file 2. 47. “Caminos,” folder 9, February 1880, AHESLP, SGG, 1880, February, file 3. 48. “Caminos,” folder 6, February 5, 1880, AHESLP, SGG, 1880, February, file 5. 49. El socialista, April 14, 1878. 50. “Cuestión ferrocarrile,” El socialista, February 17, 1882; July 10, 1883. 51. “Ferrocarriles,” folder 3, June 1880, AHESLP, SGG, 1880, June, file 3. 52. Coatsworth, Growth Against Development, 40. 53. See Brown, “Foreign and Native-Born Workers in Porfirian Mexico.” 54. “Ferrocarriles,” folder 10, October 1875, AHESLP, SGG, 1878, June, file 3. 55. La union democrática, June 8, 1877. 56. “Caminos,” folder 1, December 1879, ASHESLP, SGG 1879, December, file 4. 57. “Ferrocarriles,” folder 6, January 1881, ASHESLP, SGG, 1881, February, file 2. 58. “Ferrocarriles,” folder 5, July 1882, ASHESLP, SGG, 1881, June, file 2. 59. “Ferrocarriles,” folder 2, April 1882, AHESLP, SGG. 1881, June, file 2. 60. Coatsworth, Growth Against Development, 153. 61. Ibid., 154. 62. Ibid., 155. 63. La sombra de Zaragoza, February 12, 1867. 64. “Agricultura,” folder 2, June 1879, AHESLP, SGG, 1879, July, file 2. 65. Ankerson, Agrarian Warlord, 9. 66. La union democrática, June 26, 1879. 67. “Agricultura,” folder 4, March 1874, ASHESLP, SGG, 1875, May, file 3. 68. Ankerson, Agrarian Warlord, 9. 69. Ibid., 10. 70. “Industria y comercio,” folder 2, January 1879, AHESLP, SGG, 1879, January, file 1. 71. Ankerson, Agrarian Warlord, 9. 72. “Ferrocarriles,” folder 9, February 1880, ASHESLP, SGG, 1880, February, file 3. 73. “Ferrocarriles,” folder 14, February 1884, AHESLP, SGG, 1880, February, file 3.

Chapter 6 1. The 1874 land laws were reprinted in La union democrática, September 15, 1881. 2. Richmond, The Mexican Nation, 170–71. 3. “Los obreros de San Luis Potosí,” El socialista, September 24, October 1, and October 8, 1871.


Notes to pages 84–90

4. La union democrática, June 22, 1881. 5. This data comes from three sources: Cabrera, La Huasteca Potosina, Monroy de Martí, Pueblos, misiones y presidios de la intendencia de San Luis Potosí, and Valdez, Apuntes geografícas y estadísticas sobre el estado de San Luis Potosí. 6. “Terreños de común de San Vicente Cuayalab,” folder 16, June 1883, AHESLP, SGG, 1883, June, file 4. 7. “Terreños de común de Ciudad del Maíz,” folder 4, April 1879, AHESLP, SGG, 1879, April, file 3. 8. “C. presidente del ayuntamiento,” folder 1, November 1875, AHESLP, SGG, 1875, November, file 2; “Sociedad agricola de la benafactora,” folder 6, July 1875, AHESLP, SGG, 1875, November, file 3. 9. “Sociedad agricola de la benefactora,” folder 9, July 1875, AHESLP, SGG, 1875, July, file 3. 10. “Sociedad agricola de la benefactora,” folder 5, February 1875, AHESLP, SGG, 1875, July, file 5. 11. “C. gobernador del estado de SLP,” folder 5, November 1875, AHESLP, SGG, 1875, July, file 5. 12. “Agricultura,” folder 6, April 1880, AHESLP, SGG, 1880, April, file 3. 13. “Terreños de denuncio de un terreño vacante de la municipio de Tamuín,” folder 6, July 1875, AHESLP, SGG, 1875, July, file 4. 14. The 1874 land laws were reprinted in La union democrática, September 15, 1881. 15. “Terreños baldios,” folder 3, February 1875, AHESLP, SGG, 1875, February, file 6. 16. “A los jefes políticos: para que remitan noticia a los terreños de comunidad que existen en sus partidos, espresando su extensión, quienes son sus dueños y porque titulo,” folder 3, July 1877, no. 79, AHESLP, SGG, 1877, August, file 1. 17. “Terreños baldios,” folder 3, February 1875, AHESLP, SGG, 1875, February, file 7. 18. “C. gobernador del Estado,” folder 4, February 1875, AHESLP, SGG, 1875, February, file 7. 19. “Terreños de común,” folder 5, February 1875, AHESLP, SGG, 1875, February, file 7. 20. “Terreños de común,” folder 3, February 1875, AHESLP, SGG, 1875, February file 7. 21. “Terreños de común,” folder 5, May 1875, AHESLP, SGG, 1875, June, file 3. 22. “Terreños de común,” folder 5, June 1875. AHESLP, SGG, 1875, June, file 6. 23. “Puntos del informe del visitador de la Huasteca de Manuel Gómez,” folder 1, December 17, 1879, AHESLP, SGG, 1879, December, file 1. 24. “Puntos del informe del visitador de la Huasteca de Manuel Gómez,” folder 5, December 19, 1879, SGG, AHESLP, 1879, December, file 4. 25. “Puntos del informe de la visitador de la Huasteca,” folder 1, December 1879, AHESLP, SGG, 1879, December, file 1. 26. “El ayuntamiento y vecinos de Aquismón solícitan el permiso de cambiar el vecindario,” folder 19, May 14, 1875, AHESLP, SGG, 1875, May, file 4. 27. “Terreños de común,” folder 2, January 1878, AHESLP, SGG, 1878, February, file 2. 28. “Terreños de común,” folder 6, August 1877, AHESLP, SGG, 1878, February, file 2.

Notes to pages 90–95


29. “Referentes a los terreños de la municipales de Xilitla desde 1875–1878,” folder 6, October 1875, AHESLP, SGG, 1878, October, file 4. 30. “Terreños de común,” folder 7, February 1876, AHESLP, SGG, 1876, March, file 2. 31. “Documentos relatives a la repartición de terreños comunidades de Xilitla,” folder 9, August 23, 1879, AHESLP, SGG, 1879, August, file 4. 32. “C. secretario: Correspondencia de Manuel Gómez,” folder 5, December 30, 1878, AHESLP, SGG, 1878, December, file 7. 33. “Ayuntamiento Xilitla sus presupuesto,” folder 3, December 17, 1880, AHESLP, SGG, 1880, December, file 8. 34. “Un correspondencia de ciudadano Miguel Rivera al ciudadano Gobernador,” folder 5, April 27, 1881, AHESLP, SGG, 1880, May, file 6. 35. “Terreños común de Xilitla,” folder 4, March 1878, AHESLP, SGG, 1878, March, file 3. 36. “Denuncios de terreños baldios,” folder 5, March 1878, AHESLP, SGG, 1878, March, file 3. 37. “Denuncios de terreños baldios,” folder 16, May 1879, AHESLP, SGG, 1879, May, file 6. 38. “Denuncio de terreños baldios,” folder 1, May 1879, AHESLP, SGG, 1879, May, file 5. 39. “Terreños baldios de Huehutlán,” folder 1, May 1878, AHESLP, SGG, 1878, May, file 18. 40. “Denuncios de un terreño vacante de la municipio de Huehutlán promovido en la secretaria del supremo gobierno por el C. ciudadano Vázquez de Cardenás,” folder 14, November 16, 1879, AHESLP, SGG, 1879, November, file 2. 41. “Denuncios de un terreño vacante de la municipio de Huehutlán promovido en la secretaria del supremo gobierno por el ciudadano José Barrio,” folder 9, May 13, 1881, AHESLP, SGG, 1881, June, file 6. 42. “Correspondencia de ciudadano J. J. Ocaña al ciudadano Gobernador,” folder 5, April 27, 1881, AHESLP, SGG, 1881, June, file 3. 43. “Terreños de comun,” folder 9, October 1878, AHESLP, SGG, 1878, October, file 3. 44. “Testimonios de los titulos del pueblo de San José Tampaxal,” folder 4, May 14, 1878, AHESLP, SGG, 1878, May, file 2. 45. “Referentes de los terreños de Aquismón,” folder 3, June 14, 1878, AHESLP, SGG, 1878, June, file 5. 46. “Referentes de los terreños de Tanchanhuitz,” folder 9, May 1881, AHESLP, SGG, 1881, May, file 4. 47. “Terreños de común,” folder 2, May 23, 1880, AHESLP, SGG, 1880, May, file 4. 48. “Terreños de común de Aquismón,” folder 19, January 1880, AHESLP, SGG, 1880, January, file 5. 49. “Terreños de común de Aquismón,” folder 3, March 1880, AHESLP, SGG, 1880, March, file 5. 50. “Mariano Moctezuma á c. secretario de gobernador,” folder 9, March 1880, AHESLP, SGG, 1880, March, file 1.


Notes to pages 95–101

51. “Tanchanhuitz,” folder 4, November 1880, AHESLP, SGG, 1880, November, file 3. 52. “Denuncio de terreño baldio de Reyes Medellín,” folder 1, June 1880, AHESLP, SGG, 1880, June, file 3. 53. “Denuncio de terreño baldio de Manuel León,” folder 4, June 1880, AHESLP, SGG, 1880, June, file 4. 54. “Denuncio de terreños baldios de Romulo Fernández,” folder 5, June 1880, AHESLP, SGG, 1880, June, file 4. 55. “Terreños comúnes,” folder 9, June 1880, AHESLP, SGG, 1880, May, file 9. 56. “Terreños comúnes de Tampaxal,” folder 4, June 1881, AHESLP, SGG, 1881, June, file 4. 57. “Mariano Moctezuma denuncia un cuardeno de puecha en Coscatlán,” folder 6, April 3, 1881, AHESLP, SGG, 1881, May, file 3. 58. “Denuncia terreños por vecinos el partido de Tamazunchale,” folder 17, March 12, 1881, AHESLP, SGG, 1881, May, file 3. 59. “Valles,” folder 6, March 1, 1881, AHESLP, SGG, 1881, May, file 3. 60. “Valles,” folder 1, February 13, 1880, AHESLP, SGG, 1880, February, file 6. 61. “Tanchanhuitz,” folder 3, February 27, 1880, AHESLP, SGG, 1880, February, file 4. 62. “Terreños comúnes,” folder 9, March 1878, AHESLP, SGG, 1880, February, file 4. 63. “Ayuntamiento de Ciudad del Maíz,” folder 1, July 1880, AHESLP, SGG, 1880, July, file 5. 64. “Ciudad del Maíz,” folder 21, May 1880, AHESLP, SGG, 1880, May, file 2. 65. “Ciudad del Maíz,” folder 5, August 1880, AHESLP, SGG, 1880, August, file 6. 66. “Denuncio de terreño baldio de Gerardo Curiel,” folder 5, August 1880, AHESLP, SGG, 1880, August, file 1. 67. “Terreños de común de San Nicolás de los Montes,” folder 30, October 24, 1875, AHESLP, SGG, 1875, October, file 3. 68. “Terreños de común de San Nicolás de los Montes,” folder 9, August 15, 1877, folder 13, June 28, 1878, AHESLP, SGG, 1877, May, file 5. 69. “Terreños de común de San Nicolás de los Montes,” folder 13, May 12, 1880, AHESLP, SGG, 1880, May, file 2. 70. “Terreños de común de San Nicolás de los Montes,” folder 6, August 24, 1878, AHESLP, SGG, 1878, August, file 3. 71. “Terreños de común de San Nicolás de los Montes,” folder 6, August 29, 1877, AHESLP, SGG, 1877, August, file 3. 72. Ibid. 73. “Gobernación yndiferente,” folder 7, January 23, 1877, AHESLP, SGG, 1877, January, file 5. 74. “Terreños de común de San Nicolás de los Montes,” folder 5, June 17, 1881, AHESLP, SGG, 1881, June, file 6. 75. “C. gobernador del estado de SL P” folder 3, February 24, 1883, AHESLP, SGG, 1883, February, file 3.

Notes to pages 103–11


Chapter 7

1. The epigraphs come from “Sumaria contra los amotinados de la hacienda de Salto de Agua y el cura Mauricio Zavala: Declaración de Jesús Moctezuma Bolano,” folder 10, Comandante Mariano Moctezuma y Subteniente Clemente Gallegos, AHESLP, SGG, 1883, September, folder 3, “Sumaria contra los amotinados de la hacienda de Salto de Agua y el cura Mauricio Zavala: Declaración de German Segundo,” folder 10, Comandante Mariano Moctezuma y Subteniente Clemente Gallegos, AHELSP, SGG, 1883, September, folder 4, and Zavala, Juárez y la reforma, 17. 2. Menéndez Rodríguez, Iglesia y poder, 277–80. 3. Rodríguez Barragán, El canónigo Mauricio Zavala, apostal del agrarismo en el Valle del Maíz; Montejano y Aguiñaga, El Valle del Maíz, 301–2. 4. Zavala, Juárez y la reforma, 6–7. 5. Ibid., 67. 6. Ibid., 33–36. 7. Ibid., 40–44. 8. Ibid., 38. 9. Gutiérrez, A Theology of Liberation, 156–57. 10. Zavala, Juárez y la reforma, 38. 11. “Sumaria contra los amotinados de la hacienda del Salto del Agua y el cura Mauricio Zavala, caminos—Tamazunchale: Municipio libre,” folder 10, Mauricio Zavala, AHESLP, SGG, 1883, September, file 1. 12. “Yunta directivos de vecinos del partido de Ciudad del Maíz,” folder 3, Mauricio Zavala, AHESLP, SGG, 1883, September, file 2. 13. “Sumaria contra los amotinados de la hacienda del Salto del Agua y el cura Mauricio Zavala, comercio libre—Tamazunchale: Municipio libre,” folder 10, Mauricio Zavala, AHESLP, SGG, 1883, September, file 3. 14. “Sumaria contra los amotinados de la hacienda de Salto del Agua y el cura Mauricio Zavala, propiedad—Tamazunchale: Municipio libre,” folder 10, Mauricio Zavala, AHESLP, SGG, 1883, September, file 3. 15. “Sumaria contra los amotinados de la hacienda del Salto de Agua: Declaración de Germán Segundo,” folder 10, Comandante Mariano Moctezuma y Subteniente Clemente Gallegos, AHESLP, SGG, 1883, September, file 3. 16. Hart, Anarchism and the Mexican Working Class, 1860–1931, 15. 17. “El comunismo—ley agraria,” El socialista, August 20, 1871. 18. “Huehutla de Hidalgo,” El socialista, June 9, 1878. 19. “Tamazunchale,” El socialista, April 7, 1878. 20. “Guerra,” folder 4, June 5, 1881, AHESLP, SGG, 1881, June, file 3. 21. “Sumaria contra los amotinados de la hacienda del Salto del Agua y el cura Mauricio Zavala: El plan de Zavala,” folder 10, Mauricio Zavala, AHESLP, SGG, 1883, September, file 3. 22. Ibid. 23. Ibid.


Notes to pages 111–14

24. Ibid. 25. Ibid. 26. Montejano y Aguiñaga, El Valle del Maíz, 323–34. 27. “Sumaria contra los amotinados de Tamazunchale,” folder 10, Mauricio Zavala, AHESLP, SGG, 1883, September, file 3. 28. Ibid. 29. “Manuscritos: Correspondencia de Pbro. Manuel Meza á Lic. Fernándo Moctezuma,” folder 1, July 4, 1942, AHESLP. 30. “Sumaria contra los amotinados de la hacienda de Salto del Agua y el cura Mauricio Zavala, artes,” folder 10, Mauricio Zavala, AHESLP, SGG, 1883, September, file 3. 31. Ibid. 32. Ibid. 33. “Sumaria contra los amotinados de la hacienda de Salto del Agua y el cura Mauricio Zavala: El ley de Zavala,” folder 10, Mauricio Zavala, AHESLP, SGG, 1883, September, file 3. 34. “Sumaria contra los amotinados de la hacienda de Salto del Agua y el cura Mauricio Zavala, escuelas—Tamazunchale: Municipio libre,” folder 10, June 14, 1875, AHESLP, SGG, 1883, September, file 3. 35. “Sumaria contra los amotinados de la hacienda de Salto del Agua y el cura Mauricio Zavala, hedionda,” folder 10, August 22, 1881, Blas Trujillo, AHESLP, SGG, 1883, September, file 3. 36. “Sumaria contra los amotinados de la hacienda de Salto del Agua y el cura Mauricio Zavala: Declaración de Jesús Moctezuma Bolano,” folder 10, Comandante Mariano Moctezuma y Subteniente Clemente Gallegos, AHESLP, SGG, 1883, September, file 3. 37. “Sumaria contra los amotinados de la hacienda de Salto del Agua y el cura Mauricio Zavala: Ley agraria de Zavala,” folder 10, Mauricio Zavala, AHESLP, SGG, 1883, September, file 4. 38. Zavala, Vocabulario español-maya, 1–6. 39. Montejano y Aguiñaga, El Valle del Maíz, 320. 40. “Sumaria contra los amotinados de la hacienda de Salto del Agua y el cura Mauricio Zavala: Declaración de Bartolo Laredo,” folder 10, Comandante Mariano Moctezuma y Subteniente Clemente Gallegos, AHESLP, SGG, 1883, September, file 4. 41. “Sumaria Contra los amotinados de la hacienda de Salto del Agua y el cura Mauricio Zavala, escuelas—Tamazunchale: Libre municipio,” folder 10, Mauricio Zavala, AHESLP, SGG, 1883, September, file 3. 42. “Sumaria contra los amotinados de la hacienda de Salto del Agua y el cura Mauricio Zavala, escuelas—Tamazunchale: Libre municipio,” folder 10, Mauricio Zavala, AHESLP, SGG, 1882, September, file 3.

Notes to pages 115–18


43. “Sumaria contra los amotinados de la hacienda de Salto del Agua y el cura Mauricio Zavala: Ley agraria,” folder 10, Mauricio Zavala, AHESLP, SGG, 1883, September, file 3. 44. Ibid., emphasis added. 45. “Sumaria contra los amotinados de la hacienda de Salto del Agua y el cura Mauricio Zavala: Correspondencia de Mauricio Zavala al Blas Trujillo,” folder 10, August 22, 1881, AHESLP, SGG, 1882, July, file 4. 46. “Sumaria contra los amotinados de la hacienda de Salto del Agua y el cura Mauricio Zavala: Declaración a Benito Peña,” folder 10, Comandante Mariano Moctezuma á Subteniente Clemente Gallegos, AHESLP, SGG, 1883, September, file 3. 47. “Manuscritos: Correspondencia de Pbro. Manuel Meza á Lic. Fernándo Moctezuma,” folder 1, July 4, 1942, AHESLP. 48. “Sumaria contra los amotinados de la hacienda de Salto del Agua y el cura Mauricio Zavala: El plan de Zavala,” folder 10, Mauricio Zavala, AHESLP, SGG, 1883, September, file 4. 49. “Manuscritos: Correspondencia de Pbro. Manuel Meza á Lic. Fernándo Moctezuma,” folder 1, July 4, 1942, AHESLP. 50. Zavala, Juárez y la reforma, 17. 51. Ibid. 52. Ibid. 53. “Manuscritos: Correspondencia de Pbro. Manuel Meza á Lic. Fernándo Moctezuma,” folder 1, July 4, 1942, AHESLP. 54. “Sumaria contra los amotinados de la hacienda de Salto del Agua y el cura Mauricio Zavala: Ley agraria de Zavala,” folder 10, Mauricio Zavala, AHESLP, SGG, 1883, September, file 3. 55. “Manuscritos: Correspondencia de Pbro. Manuel Meza á Lic. Fernándo Moctezuma,” folder 1, July 4, 1942, AHESLP. 56. “Sumaria contra los amotinados de la hacienda de Salto del Agua y el cura Mauricio Zavala, agricultura libre: El plan de Zavala,” folder 10, Mauricio Zavala, AHESLP, SGG, 1883, September, file 4. 57. “Sumaria contra los amotinados de la hacienda de Salto del Agua y el cura Mauricio Zavala: El plan de Zavala,” folder 10, Mauricio Zavala, AHESLP, SGG, 1883, September, file 4. 58. Ibid. 59. Zavala, Juárez y la reforma, 69. 60. “Sumaria contra los amotinados de la hacienda de Salto del Agua y el cura Mauricio Zavala: Municipio libre,” folder 10, Mauricio Zavala, AHESLP, SGG, 1883, September, file 4. 61. Ibid. 62. Acosta, Ligeros apuntes por la historia política de Tamazunchale, 54. 63. Ibid. 64. Cora Townsend, Townsend-Stanton Family Papers, box 7, folder 11.


Notes to pages 119–27

65. “Actos de registro civil,” folder 3, April 29, 1875, AHESLP, SGG, 1875, April, file 3. A copy of one of these seven documents pertaining to this case can also be found in Marquez, ed., San Luis Potosí, 264–65. 66. “Actos de registro civil,” folder 3, April 29, 1875, AHESLP, SGG, 1875, April, file 3. 67. Bastian, Los disidentes, 102–7. 68. García Cantú, El socialismo en Mexico siglo XIX, 108–11. 69. “La verdad,” El hijo del trabajo, November 25, 1877. 70. “Algunas noticias sobre Jesuscristo y la pasion,” El hijo del trabajo, March 28, 1880. 71. “Cristianismo y el progreso,” El socialista, April 6, 1873; El socialista, March 2, 16, 1873. 72. El socialista, March 16, 1873. 73. For Rhodakanaty’s anarchism and influence on the formation of Mexico’s anarcho-agrarian tradition see Hart, Anarchism and the Mexican Working Class; for Rhodakanaty’s religious sympathies see Bastian, Los disidentes. 74. El socialista, October 28, 1877. 75. Menéndez Rodríguez, Iglesia y poder, 298–301.

Chapter 8

1. The epigraph comes from “Desordenes cometidos en el partido de Ciudad de Maíz,” folder 1, March 22, 1883, AHESLP, SGG, 1883, March, file 4. 2. Hart, Revolutionary Mexico, 41–43. 3. See Hart, “Miguel Negrete.” 4. Gramsci, Selections from the Prison Notebooks, 14–23. 5. Gastón Cantú, El socialismo en Mexico siglo XIX, 71. 6. Reina, Las rebeliones campesinas en Mexico, 1819–1906, 271–81. 7. “Desordenes cometidos en el partido de Ciudad del Maíz,” folder 15, March 24, 1883, AHESLP, SGG, 1883, February, file 4. 8. “Los obreros de San Luis Potosí,” El socialista, September 24, October 1, and October 8, 1871. 9. “Lo de Tamazunchale,” La union democrática, June 22, 1881. 10. “San Vicente Cuyalab,” folder 9, March 1878, AHESLP, SGG, 1878, March, file 3. 11. “Yndigenas de la villa de San José, no estan conformes con el reparto de terreños,” folder 6, November 1880, AHESLP, SGG, 1880, November, file 3. 12. “Ayuntamiento de Tamazunchale pide un auxilo del goberino para levanter una borda a la orilla del rio, que impide que las cuvientes perjudiquen las casas,” folder 8, January 30, 1879, AHESLP, SGG, 1879, September, file 1. 13. Scott, The Moral Economy of the Peasant, 194. 14. “A los jefes políticos: para que remitan noticia a los terreños de comunidad de existen en sus partidos,” no. 79, July 1877, AHESLP, SGG, 1877, July, file 2. 15. “Guerra: Un comunicado de J. J. Terrazas,” folder 35, April 30, 1879, AHESLP, SGG 1879, April, file 1.

Notes to pages 127–32


16. “C. gobernador del estado,” folder 5, February, 1875, AHESLP, SGG, 1875, February, file 3. 17. “C. gobernador del estado,” folder 9, February, 1875, AHESLP, SGG, 1875, February, file 3. 18. “C. gobernador del estado,” folder 6, February, 1875, AHESLP, SGG, 1875, February, file 3. 19. “Los documentos relativos de insurrectos de los indigenas de la Cabesoren del partido de Tamazunchale vayo la por usa del caudillo Juan Santiago,” folder 20, July 9, 1879, AHESLP, SGG, 1879, August, file 1. 20. “Movimientos de indios en el partido de Tamazunchale,” folder 23, July 9, 1879, AHESLP, SGG, 1879, August, file 1. 21. Ibid. 22. Ibid. 23. Ibid. 24. “Movimientos de indios en el partido de Tamazunchale,” folder 23, June 1875, AHESLP, SGG, 187, June, file 1. 25. “Puntos del informe de visitador de la Huasteca de Manuel Gómez,” folder 2, December 1879, AHESLP, SGG, 1879, December, file 4. A copy of this document can also found in Marquez, “La casa de los señores Santos.” 26. Reina, Las rebeliones campesinas en Mexico, 1819–1906, 71. 27. “Los motinedas de Tamazunchale,” folder 9, January 1878, AHESLP, SGG, 1878, January, file 4. 28. “Lo de Tamazunchale,” El hijo del trabajo, October 19, 26, 1878, November 9, 1879. 29. “Lo de Tamazunchale,” La union Democrática, August 30, September 25, 1879. 30. “Los motinedas de Tamazunchale,” folder 4, February 1879, AHESLP, SGG, 1879, February, file 5. 31. “C. secretaria,” folder 1, February 26, 1879, AHESLP, SGG, 1879, February, file 6. 32. Reina, Las rebeliones campesinos en Mexico, 1819–1906, 488; Stevens, “Agrarian Policy and Political Instability in Porfirian Mexico.” 33. “Abusos de la Huasteca,” folder 82, December 11, 1878, AHESLP, SGG, 1879, December, file 2. 34. “Condonación á las indigenas lo que se acenden de contingente por 1878,” folder 19, January 29, 1879, AHESLP, SGG, 1878, December, file 1. 35. Cora Townsend, Townsend-Stanton Family Papers, box 7, folder 11. 36. “Indios indultades en la Huasteca: Un comunique de Augustín Ugarte,” folder 17, January 3, 1880, AHESLP, SGG, 1879, February, file 2. 37. “Indios indultades en la Huasteca: Un comunique de Mariano Coronado al J. J. Terrazas,” folder 2, February 2, 1880, AHESLP, SGG 1879, February, file 2. 38. “Las juntas del protecion y vigilancia en los partidos de Ciudad del Maíz, Tanchanhuitz, Río Verde, y Tamazunchale,” folder 3, January 4, 1880, AHESLP, SGG, 1880, January, file 1. 39. “Movimientos revolucionarios: Un comunique de Augustín Ugarte á J. J. Ocaña,” folder 4, March 11, 1880, AHESLP, SGG, 1880, March, file 2.


Notes to pages 132–37

40. “Ayuntamiento Xilitla sus presupuesto,” folder 6, March 29, 1880, AHESLP, SGG, 1880, March, file 4. 41. “C. gobernador,” folder 6, April, 16, 1880, AHESLP, SGG, 1880, April, file 4. 42. “Indios indultades en la Huasteca: Un comunique de Augustín Ugarte al Gobernador Carlos Díez Gutiérrez,” folder 3, September 10, 1880, AHESLP, SGG, 1880, September, file 2. 43. Ibid. 44. “Guerra: Ocurso de los yndigenas del Tamazunchale en que se quejan de la persecución que se hace,” folder 24, November 17, 1880, AHESLP, SGG 1880, November, file 1. 45. “Movimientos revolucionarios: Un comunique del jefe político de Tanchanhuitz al gobernador de Hidalgo,” folder 2, October 3, 1880, AHESLP, SGG, 1880, October, file 2. 46. “Guerra: Ocursos de los yndigenas del Tamazunchale en que se quejan de la persecución que se les hace,” folder 24, November 2, 1880, AHESLP, SGG 1880, November, file 1. 47. “Guerra: Ocursos de los yndigenas del Tamazunchale,” folder 5, January 3, 1881, AHESLP, SGG, 1881, January, file 8. 48. “Movimientos revolucionarios,” folder 2, March 15, 1881, AHESLP, SGG 1881, March, file 3. 49. “Movimientos revolucionarios: Copía de las dilijencias practicadas en la villa de San Martín contra los indios de rebellion que ellas espresan—un comunique de Rafael Gónzalez,” folder 13, August 13, 1881, AHESLP, SGG, 1881, August, file 2. 50. “Movimientos revolucionarios: Lista de revista de entrada de las compañias de Tamazunchale, San Martín, Tampacán, Axtla, Tanchanhuitz, Tampamolón, San Antonio, y Xilitla—un comunique de Antonio Lagarón,” folder 2, September 23, 1881, AHESLP, SGG, 1881, September, file 1. 51. “Movimientos revolucionarios: Listas de revista de entrada de las compañias de Tamazunchale, San Martín, Tampacán, Axtla, Tanchanhuitz, Tampamolón, San Antonio y Xilitla—un Comunique de Antonio Logarón,” folder 9, October 1, 1881, AHESLP, SGG, 1881, September, file 1. 52. “Movimientos revolucionarios: Listas de revista de entrada de las companias de Tamazunchale—un Comunique de Augustín Ugarte,” folder 3, October 12, 1881, AHESLP, SGG, 1881, September, file 4. 53. “Terreños de Huehutlán y Aquismón,” folder 9, July 1879, AHESLP, SGG, 1879, July, file 1. 54. “Movimientos revolucionarios de Huehutlán,” folder 1, November 1881, AHESLP, SGG, 1881, November, file 5. 55. Acosta, Ligeros apuntes para la historia política de Tamazunchale, 56. 56. Ibid., 61. 57. Ibid., 65–66. 58. Ibid., 66–67.

Notes to pages 137–41


59. “Terreños de común,” folders 1, 3, March 1875, AHESLP, SGG, 1875, March, file 3. 60. “Guerra: Acontecimientos revolucionarios en el partido de Ciudad del Maíz,” folder 14, July, 5, 1883, AHESLP, SGG, 1883, February, file 3. 61. “Sumaria contra los amotinados de la hacienda del Salto de Agua y el cura Mauricio Zavala: Un comunique de Comandante Mariano Moctezuma al Subteniente Clemente Gallegos,” folder 1, September 14, 1882, AHESLP, SGG, 1882, September, file 5. 62. “Movimientos revolucionarios: Fuerzas del estado en persecución del enemigo— un comunique de Matías Fernández al gobernador del estado de San Luis Potosí,” folder 3, July 1882, AHESLP, SGG, 1881, July, file 4. 63. “C. gobernador,” folder, 6, May 1881, AHESLP, SGG 1881, May, file 1. 64. “Desordenes cometidos en el partido de Ciudad del Maíz,” folder 1, March 22, 1883, AHESLP, SGG, 1883, February, file 4. 65. “Desordenes cometidos en el partido de Ciudad del Maíz,” folder 1, March 25, 1883, AHESLP, SGG, 1883, February, file 4. 66. “Desordenes cometidos en el partido de Ciudad del Maíz,” folder 3, July 17, 1883, AHESLP, SGG, 1883, July, file 2. 67. See Reina, Las rebeliones campesinos en Mexico, 1819–1906, 278–79. 68. “Acontecimientos revolucionarios en el partido de Ciudad del Maíz,” folder 3, July 9, 1883, AHESLP, SGG 1883, July, file 2. 69. “Vandalismo,” El hijo del trabajo, July 29, 1883; “Los comunistas,” El hijo del trabajo, August 12, 1883. 70. La union democrática, September 25, 1883. 71. “Telegrama: Un comunique de Jesús González al Alfarez Manuel Ortega,” folder 2, September 5, 1883, AHESLP, SGG, 1883, October, file 2.

Glossary . agrarista: a supporter of land reform aguardiente: alcohol alcabalas: excise taxes ayuntamiento: town council barrio: neighborhood cabecera: chief agglomeration in a pueblo of more than one settlement cacique: local Indian leader campesinos: agrarian workers cimarrón: runaway slave communities cofradía: parish confraternity condueños: joint land owners condueñazgos: holders of the condueños creoles: Mexicans of European descent ejidos: collective lands fraccíones: small neighborhoods within a barrio fueros: colonial corporate privileges hacienda: large landed estate devoted to grain production of ranching Huasteca: mountainous region of northeastern Mexico encompassing portions of the states of San Luis Potosí, Hidalgo, Veracruz, Tamaulipas, and Querétaro Huasteca Potosina: the region of the Huasteca that lies within the State of San Luis Potosí Huasteco: an indigenous inhabitant of the Huasteca jefe político: local political boss or district official 167



jornalero: day laborer labrador: independent small farmer mayule: an indigenous judge who presided over an ayuntamiento mestizo/mestiza: person of mixed Spanish and Indian ancestry milpa: small portion of land owned and tilled by a family mulato/mulata: person of mixed Spanish and African ancestry municipio: municipality municipio libre: a municipality free of hierarchical control Nahuatl: indigenous language spoken by the Nahua Otomí: an indigenous Mexican who inhabited portions of the southern region of San Luis Potosí; it also refers to the language Pamé: an indigenous Mexican who inhabited the western region of the Huasteca Potosina; it also refers to the language partido: an administrative unit similar to an American county peón: laborer pueblo: village or small town ranchería: small dispersed settlement in which one or a few extended families live ranchero: farmers who till a more substantial or medium-sized tenured plot of land serranos: highlands Teenek: an indigenous Mexican, the original inhabitants of the Huasteca; it also refers to the language tequihua: an indigenous judge who presided over an ayuntamiento Tuxtepecanos: supporters of the Tuxtepec rebellion visitador: a state official who conducted inspections vaquero: a cowboy Zapatismo: the agrarian and political ideas of Emilio Zapata

Bibliography . Primary Sources Mexico AHESLP, SGG, Archivo histórico general del estado de San Luis Potosi, Fondo secretaria general gobierno, Centro de estudios histórico Ramon Alcorta Guerrero, San Luis Potosí, Mexico

United States Rudolf Schuller Papers, Latin American Library, Tulane University, New Orleans Townsend-Stanton Papers, Howard-Tilton Memorial Library, Tulane University, New Orleans Mariano Riva Palacios Papers, Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection, University of Texas, Austin

Newspapers Mexico City El socialista El hijo del trabajo El siglo XIX

San Luis Potosí El Potosino La union democrática La sombra de Zaragoza El Garibaldi La época El estandarte




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Index . Page numbers in italic text indicate illustrations. Adam, Eve and, 113, 114 African Americans, 77–78 Africans, 13–15 Afro-Caribbeans, 77–78 agrarian capitalism, xvii, 6, 67, 106, 125, 126 “Agrarian Law and Municipal Government,” xix, 104, 136 “Agrarian Law of Zavala,” 104 agrarian socialism, xix, 116–17. See also anarcho-agrarianism agrarian war (1848–1856), 33–49. See also peasant nationalism agraristas, xix, 58, 108 agriculture: pre-Columbian, 3; privatization of, xi, xvi, 16, 52, 58, 59, 60, 61, 81; slashand-burn, 5, 11, 83; Sociedad agricola and, 85–86, 87, 90, 91, 93; Zavala and, 117. See also privatization aguardiente vendors, 44 Aguilar, Jesús, 76 Aguilar, Juan, 45 Aguilar, Román, 116 Aguilar-Robledo, Miguel, 11 Alamán, Lucas, 18 alcohol use, 15–16, 44 Alcorn, Janis, 6 Aldrich, William, 76 Alvarado, Jesús, 57 Amatlán, Plan of, 38 ambushes, xix, 133–34, 135 anarchists: agraristas, xix, 58, 108; Catholic anarchist ideas, 112; Christian anarchist essays, 121; Elías and, 109–10; ideas, xvi, xvii, xviii; red and black flags, xviii, xix,

104, 122, 136; Rhodakanaty and, 121; role of, 144; Saldaña and, 109–10; spiritualism, 120; Zavala as, 110–11. See also Zavala, Padre Mauricio anarcho-agrarianism: defined, xix; first revolution, 48–49; Hart, J. M., and, 109–10; Zavala and, xix, 108–9, 112 anarcho-Catholicism, 119 Andrade, Jesús, 84–85, 97 Anglo-Saxonism, racial, 29 anticlerical radicalism, 119–21 antiguerrilla campaign, 30–31 Antonio, Juan, 137, 138 Antonio, Pascual, 42 Antonio, Pedro, 13, 15, 137 Araujo, Juan, 58 Arellano, Basilio, 137 Arguinzoníz, C., 99 Arguinzoníz, Mariano de, 96 Arisiago, Celso, 137 army of the east, xviii, 53, 55 Arzamendí, Colonel, 29 Asian immigration, 111 Augustinians, 9–10, 11, 63 autonomy, xvi, xix, 107–11 Ayarzin, Juan Antonio, 96 ayuntamiento, 38, 65, 113 Aztecs, 3, 5, 6–7, 12–13 back taxes, 39, 96, 97 bandits, 47, 72, 127, 141 bank, Sociedad agricola, 85–86, 87, 90, 91, 93 baptism, in caves, 6 Barbarena, Manuel Hernández, 41, 46–47




Barcel Brothers, 80 Barragán, Felipe, 98, 99 Barragán, Juan, 76 Barragán, Manuel, 52, 59 Barrio, José, 93 Barro, Florencia, 100 Benito, Ricardo, 137 Betrand, Juan, 96 betrayal, of Tuxtepec revolt, xviii, 51, 60–61, 99, 124, 127 Bienes de manos muertes, 64 biracial children, 14 Bitter Harvest (Hart, P.), xxi black and red flags, xviii, xix, 104, 122, 136 bloodbath, xix Bonaparte, Louis Napoleon, 53 books, of Zavala, 104 boys, public service and, 111 Bravo, Podencio, 46 Bros, Camilo, 28 Bustamante, Anastasio, 20 Bustamante, Jorge, 85 cabecera, 70, 111 Cabrera, Antonio, 15, 67 Cabrera, Gabriel, 96 Cabrera, Pedro, 44 Cabrera, Santiago, 96 caciques, 6. See also Santiago, Juan Calkins, W. H., 76 Camino real de la tierra adentro, 71 campesinos: demands of, xvii–xix; Zavala and, xix, 103–5, 107–10, 112–19. See also Hernández, Matías; Huastecan Peasant War; Zavala, Padre Mauricio “canoeros,” 15 capitalism: agrarian, xvii, 6, 67, 106, 125, 126; capitalization of countryside (1856–1884), 83–101; original sin and, 113–14; Rhodakanaty and, 121; slaves of capital, 105; Zavala and, 121–22. See also privatization; socialism Carbayal, José, 137 Cárdenas, Antonio Vázquez de, 93 Caribbean, 8, 77–78 Carreña, Padre Tranquilino, 28 Carroll, Patrick, 14 caste-based racial order, xvi, 16, 17, 18, 117

Castele, Emilio, 120 castellanos, 69, 88 Castellanos, José, 93 Castellanos family, 64 caste wars, 35, 37, 44, 128 Castrellón, Pablo, 42–43 Catholic anarchist ideas, 112 Catholic Church, 6, 58, 93, 103, 119. See also Zavala, Padre Mauricio Catholic socialism, 122 cattle grazing, 11, 84, 86, 92, 93–94 caves, baptism in, 6 centralism, 19 Cervantes family, 72 chaplains, 27–30, 38, 56 checks and balances, colonial order, 105–6 Chichimeca people, 10 Chicontepec, Plan of, 39, 48–49 children: biracial, 14; girls school, 112–13; godparents of, 68; Italian immigration and, 111; labor of, 67, 70, 71, 77; public service and, 111; schools, of Zavala, 112–16; Walker and, 30; with Zavala, 116 “children of Mexico,” xix–xx Chilean invasion, of Peru, xx, 47 Chinese Communist Party, xx cholera outbreaks, 47 Christian humanism, 104, 125 Christianity: anarchist essays, 121; anticlerical radicalism, 119–21; baptism in caves, 6; Catholic Church, 6, 58, 93, 103, 119; Cristianismo, 120–21; Gospels, 121; New Testament, Teenek language, 10; original sin, 113–14; Presbyterianism, 119, 121; Protestantism, 119–20, 121; religious freedom, Zavala and, 111–12. See also Jesus Christian socialism, 121–22 “Christ of Liberty and Progress,” 106 Church land, secularization of, 63–64 cimarrón communities, 14 “citizens,” xvii, xviii, xx citizens’ militias, 24, 53, 56, 131–32 Ciudad del Maíz, partido de, 41 coal deposits, 81, 96 Cobrado, Espindron, 97 Cobrado, Juan, 97 coffee production, 80 Cofradía del Santísmo Sacramento, 64



collective lands. See ejidos collective shock, hurricane and, 126 colonial regime, 9–16, 10, 71, 105–6 Columbian era, pre-Columbian Huasteca, 3–7, 89, 107 Comité circulo, 132 communalization, of lands, 38, 39, 48, 104, 117 communism, xx, 109, 118. See also anarchoagrarianism; socialism Compañía teléfonica mexicana, 78 condueñazgos, 66–67 condueños, 66–67 Conservatives, 51–59, 104, 106–7 Constantino, Juan, 46 constitution of 1824, 19 constitution of 1857, 52, 59, 69, 100, 124 copper mines, 78, 79 corn whiskey, 44–45 Corressee, Justo, 52, 56 Cortés, Hernan, 7–8, 13, 105, 110 Cortina, Felipe, 114, 125, 137, 138, 140–41 Coscatlán, 7–8, 11, 55, 66, 96 cotton production, 79–80 Council of Socialist Sharecroppers, xv, 123, 125, 138 creoles: colonial era, 15–16; condueños, 66– 67; domestic work force of, 68; emergence, in Huasteca, xvii; land claims and, 96; Quiróz and, 35; railroads and, 75–76; rancheros, 2, 15, 64; Zavala and, 117–18 Cristero War, xv Cristianismo, 120–21 Cruz, Fray Juan de la, 9–10 Cruz y Castillo, Antonio, 97 Cruz y Castillo, Guadalupe, 97 Cuauhtemóc, 7 Cuellas, Miguel, 141 Cuextlan, 3 cultural geography, of Huasteca Potosina, 1–16 Curiel, Gerardo, 97–98

Devil’s Jaws, 22 Díaz, Angel, 55 Díaz, Porfirio, xviii, 51, 60, 61, 124, 127 Díaz, Rafael, 48 Directorio socialista, 110, 123, 124, 125, 132, 133, 134, 135, 136, 137, 138 Domeco, Celedino, 28–29 domestic work force, 68 Dominicans, 10 Dorcas, Adrian, 95 “dos tratas de paz,” 129 Ducey, Michael, xxi, 18 Durán, Fray Diego, 6

dances, 12–13, 117–18 danza Panoquera, 13 deaths, Huastecan Peasant War, 143 “death to all those who wear pants,” xix. See also Huastecan Peasant War defection, 114, 125, 137 de las Casas, Bartolomé, 9

false Christianity, 120 fanegas, 91–92 federalism, 18–20 federal land laws, 92, 96 Feliciana, María, 45 Fernández, Matías, 137–38 Fernández, Romulo, 95

east, army of the, xviii, 53, 55 economy: moral, 126; self-sufficiency, Zavala and, 107–8 Eden, 63 Egyptian pharaoh-like imagery, 106 eight-point plan, 48–49 ejidos (collective lands), 83, 84, 86, 87, 89, 97. See also privatization El General, 117 El hijo del trabajo, 120 Elías, Clemente, 109–10 El pobre, 122 El socialista, 68–69, 84, 109–10, 120 El Tenuto, 89 Escamilla, José, 135, 136 Escobedo, Mariano, xvi, 52, 57, 59, 60, 72, 80, 84, 87 Espiñosa, José, 94 Espiñosa family, 72 Espinoza, Lorenzo, 56 ethnic populism, 115, 117 ethnocide, 11 Europeanized clothing, xix Eve, Adam and, 113, 114 execution, mass, 137 Exodus struggle, 106



festivals, 12, 117–18 feudal mentality, 68, 69 Fishilla Hacienda, 133 fishing, mulatos and, 15 floods, hurricane and, 125–26 Flores, Sixto, 69, 116, 136, 137 forced servitude, 68–69 foreign invasion. See French invaders; Spain foreignism, 45, 105 Franciscans, 9–10, 28, 63 free wage labor, 68, 105, 118 French expulsion, 51, 56, 59 French invaders, xvi, xvii, xviii, xxi, 23, 51, 52–58, 64 fueros, 52 Gandhi, Mahat, xx Garay, Francisco de, 7, 25, 26, 37 girls school, 112–13 godparents, 68 Gómez, Manuel, 20, 91, 93, 94 González, José María, 120 González, Manuel, 125, 141 Gospels, 121 Gramsci, Antonio, 124 Gran circulo de obrero, 109 Gran comité comunero, 123 Grande, Andrés, 26, 39–40, 46 great highway, 72, 73 Greek anarchist, Rhodakanaty as, 121 Grijalva, Juan de, 7 Guadalupe: Brigade, 25; Treaty of, 35; Virgin of, 111 Guadalupe Martínez, José, 76 Guardino, Peter, xxi, 19 Guatemala, 104, 122 Guemes, Manuel de, 97 Guerrero, Vicente, 20, 64 guerrillas: campaign against, 30–31; Guerrillas Guadalupe Potosina, 25 Guevara, Pascual, 96 Guggenheim family, 79 Gujarat peasantry, xx Gutiérrez, Armando, 135 Gutiérrez, Carlos Díez, xvi, 59, 60, 61, 76, 81, 86, 114, 125, 128–29, 131, 132, 133, 136, 137– 38, 141 Gutiérrez, Gustavo, 106

Gutíerrez, María, 36 Guzmán, Nuño de, 8, 9 haciendas, xvii, xix, xx; Fishilla Hacienda, 133; Hacienda de Angostura, 21; Hacienda de Cardenás, 76, 138; Hacienda de Cayahual, 39; Hacienda de Chopopo, 38; Hacienda de Huichihuayan, 92; Hacienda de Jobo, 89; Hacienda del Agua, 118; Hacienda de la Lima, 89; Hacienda de la Sauceda, 21; Hacienda del Custodio, 86; Hacienda del Jabalí, 35; Hacienda del Limón, 86, 87; Hacienda de Norias, 140; Hacienda de Panocha, 26; Hacienda de Salto del Agua, 108, 116, 138, 140; Hacienda de San Diego, 24; Hacienda de San Juan, 84, 97; Hacienda de Santo Iñes, 86; Hacienda de San Ygnacio del Buey, 98, 100; Hacienda de Tampemoche, 95; Hacienda de Tanzocob, 89; Hacienda de Tapanco, 34; Hacienda de Tenescalco, 89; Hacienda de Vadillo, 21; Hacienda de Zacateplayo, 89; Hacienda Huatepango, 88; Hacienda Isla, 42, 44, 46, 134; Hacienda Salto del Agua, 56, 57; Hacienda San Ignacio del Buey, 64, 72; Hacienda Santa Isabel, 134; Hacienda Tranquispicula, 88; Leyes de hacienda, 84, 87, 91 hangings, 56–57, 137 Hardiman, David, xx Hart, John Mason, 109–10 Hart, Paul, xxi Harvey, Daniel, 30 Hernández, Catarina, 37 Hernández, Diego, 110, 124, 125, 132 Hernández, don Maximiano, 134 Hernández, Matías, 85, 110, 116, 132, 133, 134, 135, 137, 138 Herrera, José Joaquín, 34 Heur, Ventura, 45 Hidalgo, Miguel, xvii, 17, 27, 106 highway, great, 72, 73 Huasteca, 1–14 Huasteca Hidalgo, 3, 5, 6, 11 Huastecan Eden, 63 Huastecan Peasant War (1879–1874), 123–41; ambushes, xix, 133–34, 135; bloodbath, xix; causes of, xv–xvii, 1, 16, 81, 98, 123, 143;

index Cristero War and, xv; deaths, 143; “death to all those who wear pants,” xix; difference of, 123; end of, 141; final phase, 138– 41; hurricane and, 69, 100, 125–26; Mexican Revolution (1910–1940) and, xv, xxi; mountain strongholds and, 133; negotiations and, xix, 129–31; phases of, 124– 25, 138–41; privatizing pueblo lands and, 83–84; revolutionary leaflets, 125, 138–40; San Nicolás incident, 98–101; treaties and, 129–31; Tuxtepec revolt and, xviii, 51, 60– 61, 99, 124, 127. See also Santiago, Juan; Zavala, Padre Mauricio Huastecan population growth, 84 Huastecan serranos, 3, 7, 13, 14, 26, 38, 64 Huasteca Potosina: colonial regime, 9–16, 10; cultural geography of, 1–16; pre-Columbian, 3–7, 89, 107; from pueblo to nation (1810–1848), 17–31; Spanish conquest, xvi, 1, 7–9, 11 Huasteca Veracruzana, xxi, 3, 14, 18, 33, 37, 39, 55, 56 Huasteco, 3 Huichipán, 57, 136 humanism, Christian, 104, 125 hurricane of 1878, 69, 100, 125–26 ideological freedom, Zavala and, 111–12 Iglesia de Jesus, 121 immigration, 111 independence war against Spain (1810–1821), xvi, 17, 121 India, xx indigenous languages, retention of, 113 indios bárbarosos, 35, 44 indios pobres, 127 inferiority, racial, 16 insurgent struggle’s impact, 18–19 intellectuals, organic, 124, 144 Iscariot, Judas, 120 Israelites’ Exodus struggle, 106 Italian immigration, 111 Jacame, Dolores, 68 Jamaicans, 7, 78 Jasco, Manuel, 135 Jaurata, Padre, 30 jefe políticos, 65, 67, 68


Jesus: “Christ of Liberty and Progress,” 106; Iglesia de Jesus, 121; Israelites’ Exodus struggle and, 106; socialism and, 120–22; spirit blessings and, 6; Virgin and, 6; Virgin of Guadalupe and, 111 Johnson, Chalmers, xx Jonaces people, 10 Jongitud, José Pablo, 64 jornaleros, xix, 21, 38, 55, 56, 57, 64, 68, 89, 96, 108, 110, 113, 114, 118, 134, 140 Juárez, Benito, xviii, 52, 53, 54, 56, 58, 60, 61, 83, 100, 105, 106 Juárez, Trinidad, 36 Juaristas, 53, 54, 56, 57, 59 “juntas de proteccion y vigilancia,” 131 Kourí, Emilio, 66 labor: child, 67, 70, 71, 77; complaints, of Santiago, 69–70; domestic workforce, 68. See also Santiago, Juan; wages labradores, 25, 79 La época, 28 la Malinche, 13 lancers, 23 lands: claims, 91, 92–93, 95, 96, 97, 119; communalization of, 38, 39, 48, 104, 117; ejidos, 83, 84, 86, 87, 89, 97; land laws, 72, 83–84, 87, 90, 92, 96; rental of, 38, 87, 90, 97, 100; tax receipts, 94; “time immemorial” and, xviii, 60, 87, 88, 90, 98; titles, 88, 116; vacant, 72, 79, 84, 90, 91, 92, 95, 96, 98. See also privatization Lane, Joseph, 30 Laredo, Bartolo, 114 Larson, Brooke, 47 La sombra Zaragoza, 74 Latin America, 106, 111 La Verdad, 121 leaflets, revolutionary, 125, 138–40 Leal, Jesús, 91 León, José Manuel de, 56 León, Manuel, 95 Lerdo de Tejada, Sebastían, xviii, 51, 60, 61 Leyes de hacienda, 84, 87, 91 Ley Juárez reform, 52 Ley Lerdo reform, 52, 83, 84, 86 liberal assault (1856–1884), 63–81



Liberals, 51–59, 83–84, 104–6, 143. See also Juárez, Benito liberation theology, 103, 106, 121. See also Zavala, Padre Mauricio “Liberty and War on the Invader,” 34 Llorente, Juan, 38 local autonomy, xix, 109 López, Antonio, 22–23, 139–40 López, Juan, 57 López, Sixto, 85 López Chávez, Julio, 119 “Lords of the Land,” 43 Luna, Luis, 124, 132 Macedonio, Acosta, 117–18 Mallon, Florencia, xx, 47, 58, 59 Manrique, Concepción, 76 Manriques, Victorio, 128 María, Magdalena, 45 María Herrera, José, 28 María Melo, José, 38 Marquez, Homovano, 92 Martell, J. P., 85 Martell, Pablo, 134 Martínez, Castulo, 135 Martínez, Gervacio, 116 Martínez, Ignacio, 20, 61 Martínez, Pedro, 92 Martínez, Remigio, 24 Martínez, Severiano, 137 Martínez, Victor, 67, 131 Mascarenas, Francisco, 134, 135, 138 mass execution, 137 Mata, José María, 25 Mata, Margarita, 135 Mata, Padre, 117 Matalapa, 135 mayules, 65, 66 Medellín, Procopio, 68 Medellín, Reyes, 95 Medina, C. Rafael, 86 Mejía, Tomás, 34, 53 Melendrés, Beatriz, 41, 46 Melendrés, Manuel, 39–40, 41, 42, 45, 46–47 Melo, Antonio, 26 Mendez, Mario, 128 Mendez, Vicente, 131 mercedes, 11

Mérida, 104, 114, 122 mescal, 86, 98 Mesoamerican regions, 2, 2–6, 4 mestizos: emergence of, xvii; Europeanized clothing and, xix; Nahua and, 89; Otomí and, 89; rancheros, 44, 87–88, 89 Mexican Revolution (1910–1940), xv, xxi Mexican War of Independence (1810–1821), xvi, 17, 121 Mexico: “children of Mexico,” xix–xx; U.S. invasion of (1846–1848), xvii, xx, xxi, 17, 21–23 Meza, Ezequiel, 116–17 Meza, Lucas Mariano, 41–42 Meza, Manuel, 112 Middle Passage, 8 middle peasants, 65, 67 Miguel, José, 137 militias, citizens,’ 24, 53, 56, 131–32 milpas, 44, 66, 83, 90, 93, 111, 125 mineral exploration, 96 mineral resources, 81 Moctezuma, Estebán, 20 Moctezuma, Mariano, 95, 96 Moctezuma Bolano, Jesús, 103, 113 Moctezuma I, 6, 13 Moctezuma River, 7, 44, 69, 71, 126, 137 Montoya, Leonard, 92 Mora, Manuel, 37 Mora, Miguel, 21 moral economy, 126 Morales, Adolpho, 138 Morales, Juan, 22 Morales, Lorenzo, 95 Morales, Salomón, 124, 132, 133, 134 Morán, Joaquín, 91 More, Thomas, 121–22 Morelos, José María, 27 Morelos, peasantry of, xxi mountain marriages, 14 mountain strongholds, 133 Mozo, Francisco, 58 mulatos/mulatas, 13, 15, 19, 44, 45 mules, 71, 73 multiclass alliances, xx, 44 multiethnic alliances, xx, 44 “Municipal Government and Agrarian Law,” xix, 104, 136

index municipio libres, xix, 39, 104, 109, 110, 121, 122 Nahua, 11–13, 89 “Nahuatized” Teenek, 12 Nahuatl language, 12, 70, 87, 114 naked stupor, 16 nationalism. See peasant nationalism Nation of Villages, A (Ducey), xxi negotiations, xix, 129–31 Negrete, Miguel, 110, 124 New Spain, 9, 98 New Testament, Teenek language, 10 New York, Barcel Brothers of, 80 Ocaña, J. J., 68, 80, 85, 90–91, 93, 94, 95, 132–33 Ochoa, Lorenzo, 4, 5 Olmec civilization, 4 Olmos, Fray Andre de, 10 Olvera, Farn, 92 Olvera, Fray José, 98 Olvera, Rafael, 129 organic intellectuals, 124, 144 original sin, 113–14 Ortíz, Fernando, 99–100 Ortíz, Juan, 96 Otero, Ambrosio, 132 Otomí, 3, 11, 89 Ozuluama, Plan of, 38 Pacific, War of the (1879–1883), xx, 47 painted homes, 132 Palacios, Manuel, 69 Palacios, Mariano Riva, 35, 48 Pamé Indian platoon, 42–43 Pánuco, 8 Paredes, Mariano, 23–24 Paris Commune, 124 partidos, 3, 40, 41, 42 Pascual, José, 137 Pascual, Juan, 69 patriotism, property and, 103, 116 peace treaties, 35, 37, 129–31 Péan, Guy Stresser, 12 Peasant and Nation (Mallon), xx peasant nationalism: agrarian war (1848– 1856), 33–49; pueblo to nation (1810– 1848), 17–31; sentiment, 143–44; Zavala and, 115–16


Peasant Nationalism and Communist Power (Johnson), xx Peasant Nationalists of Gujarat (Hardiman), xx peasants: forced servitude, 68–69; Gujarat, xx; liberalism, 58; middle, 65, 67; of Morelos, xxi; revolt of 1879, 65, 69, 70, 110. See also Huastecan Peasant War Peasants, Politics, and the Formation of Mexico’s National State (Guardino), xxi Pecina, Pedro, 92 Peña, Benito, 115 peónes, 68, 77, 78, 88, 89, 131 Pérez, Julían, 116 Peru, Chilean invasion of, xx, 47 Pezuala, Manuel Robles, 22 pharaoh-like imagery, 106 Pharisees, 120, 121 Piñeda, Alonso Alvarez de, 7 plans: of Cortina, 140–41; eight-point, 48–49; “Liberty and War on the Invader,” 34; Plan of Amatlán, 38; Plan of Chicontepec, 39, 48–49; Plan of Ozuluama, 38; Plan of San Nicolás, 42; Plan of Tamazunchale, 33, 43, 44, 45; Plan of Tantima, 39; Plan of Tantoyuca, 39, 48–49; Plan of Zavala, 104, 137; “Regenerating the Army of the Sierra Gorda,” 36; Río Verde, 35–36, 48; “The Socialist Plan of Sierra Gorda,” 124; of Zavala, 104, 116–17 “Political Reform,” 104 Polk, James, 21, 31 Polkos, revolt of, 27 population growth, Huastecan, 84 populism, ethnic, 115, 117 Porfirio Díaz document, 127 Portillo, López, 131 pre-Columbian Huasteca, 3–7, 89, 107 Presbyterianism, 119, 120, 121 primordial titles, 88 private property, xvii, 39, 49, 113–14 privatization: of agriculture, xi, xvi, 16, 52, 58, 59, 60, 61, 81; capitalization of countryside (1856–1884), 83–101; of Church land, 64; early, 84–85; ejidos and, 83, 84, 86, 87, 89, 97; land laws, 72, 83–84, 87, 90, 92, 96; land ownership changes, 88–89; Ley Lerdo reform and, 52, 83, 84, 86; San



Nicolás incident, 98–101; Sociedad agricola and, 85–86, 87, 90, 91, 93 property, xvii, 39, 49, 103, 113–14, 116. See also lands “Proposed Electoral Law,” 104 Protestantism, 119–20, 121 pueblos: autonomy, Zavala and, 110–11; privatizing land, 83–84; pueblo to nation (1810–1848), 17–31 Quiróz, Eleuterio, 34–35, 36, 37, 48, 53 racial Anglo-Saxonism, 29 racial inferiority, 16 Rada, Tomás, 69 radicalism, anticlerical, 119–21 railroad construction, 73–78, 74, 81 Ramírez, Juan María, 141 rancherías, 77, 93, 94, 128 rancheros: creoles, 2, 15, 64; emergence of, 64–65; mestizo, 44, 87–88, 89; Protestantism and, 119–20; Río Verde plan and, 48 Rangers, Texas, 30 Rascon, José Domingo, 61, 64, 98 Rascón, José Manuel, 56, 61, 64, 72, 77, 86, 99–100, 117 Rascón, José Martín, 64 red and black flags, xviii, xix, 104, 122, 136 Reforma, Wars of the, 52–53 reforms: Ley Juárez, 52; Ley Lerdo, 52, 83, 84, 86; “Political Reform,” 104 “Regenerating the Army of the Sierra Gorda,” 36 religious freedom, Zavala and, 111–12 rental, of land, 38, 87, 90, 97, 100 Requienes, José, 42 Restored Republic (1867–1876), 84 retention, of indigenous languages, 113 revolt: of 1879, 65, 69, 70, 110; of Polkos, 27; Tuxtepec (1876), xviii, 51, 60–61, 99, 124, 127. See also Huastecan Peasant War revolutionary leaflets, 125, 138–40 revolutionary sermons, xviii, 118, 121, 131 revolutions: anarcho-agrarianism, 48–49; Mexican Revolution (1910–1940), xv, xxi; plans, of Zavala, 104, 116–17. See also Huastecan Peasant War

Reyes, Bernardo, 125, 129, 130, 138, 141 Reyes, Juan, 92 Reyes, Julían de los, 37 Reynosa, Joaquín, 99 Rhodakanaty, Plotino, 121 rice-cleaning machine, 80 Río Verde, 35–37, 48 Rivera, Augustín, 44, 45–46 Rivera, Felipe, 46 Rivera, Miguel, 88, 90–91 Rivera, Villarion, 132 Roa, Fray Antonio de, 9 road construction, 72–73, 107 road travel, colonial period, 71 Rodríguez, Cabo, 86 Rodríguez, Guadalupe, 44 Rodríguez, Jorge, 141 Rodríguez, José, 132 Rodríguez, Ronaldo, 96 Rojas, Manuel, 136 Romero, Manuel, 46 Rubio, José, 45 Rubio, Lucas, 91 Rubío, Severo, 85 Rugeley, Terry, 19, 35 Sahagún, Bernardino de, 4 Salazar, Carlos, 52, 55 Saldaña, Felipe, 109–10 Salgado, Priciliano, 141 Salinas, Margarito, 92 Salvador, José, 57 Sánchez, Juan, 11 San Francisco, 45, 46, 69, 70, 87, 88, 117, 127, 136 San Luis Potosí, railroads in, 74 San Nicolás, 42, 98–101 Santa Anna, Antonio López de, 22–23, 139–40 Santa Barbara, 141 Santa Fe, Alberto, 119, 120 Santiago, Juan: “death to all those who wear pants!” and, xix; Hernández, M., and, 85, 110, 137; Huastecan Peasant War and, 123, 124, 125, 129–30, 132–35; labor complaints of, 69–70; mestizo rancheros and, 87–88; Morán and, 91; as organic intellectual, 124; peasant revolt of 1879, 65, 70; Porfirio Díaz document and, 127; San Vicente Cuayalab takeover and, 132; Spanish

index conquerors and, 1; supernatural escape and, 116; Tamazunchale assault and, 133– 34, 136; Ugalde and, 129–30; Zavala and, 127. See also Huastecan Peasant War Santiago, Sebastián, 45 Santiago, Tomás, 133 Santísmo Sacramento, Cofradía del, 64 Santos family, 61, 64 San Vicente Cuayalab takeover, 132 schools, of Zavala, 112–16 Schuller, Rudolph, 15, 16 Scott, James, 126 Scott, Winfield, 21, 22–23, 24, 26, 29, 31, 37 secularization, of Church land, 63–64 Segundo, Germán, 103, 108 Seminario de la Iglesia de Jesus, 121 Sera, Serecona, 110 sermons, revolutionary, xviii, 118, 121, 131 serpent, 113 serranos, 3, 7, 13, 14, 26, 38, 64 servitude, forced, 68–69 sexual exploitation, 48 sharecroppers: back taxes of, 96; condueñazgos, 66–67; Council of Socialist Sharecroppers, xv, 123, 125, 138 Sierra, Santiago, 120 Sierra Gorda, 33–34, 36–37, 54 Sierra Madre Oriental, xi, 1, 2, 77, 125 silver mines, 30, 81 sin, original, 113–14 sixteenth-century Spaniards. See Spain slash-and-burn agriculture, 5, 11, 83 slavery, 13–15, 68–69 slaves of capital, 105 socialism, xv, xix, 116–17, 120–22, 123, 125, 138. See also anarchists; anarcho-agrarianism “The Socialist Plan of Sierra Gorda,” 124 Sociedad agricola de la benefactora, 85–86, 87, 90, 91, 93 “soft living,” 115 Soto, Manuel F., 48 Spain: colonial regime, 9–16, 10, 71, 105–6; Mexican War of Independence (1810– 1821) and, xvi, 17, 121; New Spain, 9, 98; sixteenth-century Spaniards, xi, xvi, 3, 8; Spanish conquest, xvi, 1, 7–9, 11 Spartan schools, 112 spirit blessings, 6


spiritualism, 119, 120, 121 squatters, 86, 97, 98 Stewart, A., 29 subsistence ethic, 126 sugar cultivation, 3, 13, 70, 80, 86 suicide, 15 supernatural escape, 116 swidden, 5 Tamazunchale: assault, 133–34, 136; partido de, 40; Plan of, 33, 43, 44, 45 “Tamazunchale: Municipio Libre,” 104, 121 Tanchanhuitz, partido de, 42 Tantima, Plan of, 39 Tantoyuca, Plan of, 39, 48–49 tax receipts, Teenek, 94 Taylor, Zachary, 21, 22, 30 Teenek: colonial regime and, 12–16; New Testament and, 10; pre-Columbian, 3–6; tax receipts, 94 telegraph lines, xvi, xvii, 72, 78, 81, 143 telephone system, 78, 81 tequihuas, 65, 66 Terán, Ramón, 141 Terrazas, Juan, 127, 128, 131 Texas Rangers, 30 textile mills, 79 theology of liberation, 103, 106, 121. See also Zavala, Padre Mauricio Thomas, John, 76 Thompson, Eric, 5 timber, 80 “time immemorial,” xviii, 60, 87, 88, 90, 98 titles, land, 88, 116 Tlaxcalan people, 7, 11, 21 Torres, Mauricio, 24 Townsend, Cora, 63, 75, 118 Townsend, Daisey, 118 trade complex, 5 traidores de Sierra Gorda, 54 traitors, 13, 55, 57 transportation infrastructure, 71, 73, 79, 81 treason, 21, 37 treaties, peace, 35, 37, 129–31 Treaty of Guadalupe, 35 Trinidad Lara, Guadalupe, 36 Trujillo, Blas, 113 Tutino, John, 18



Tuxpan, 5, 6, 8, 24, 25, 26, 56 Tuxtepecanos, 60, 61 Tuxtepec revolt (1876), xviii, 51, 60–61, 99, 124, 127 “two treaties of peace,” 129 Ugalde, Ignacio, 53, 129–30 Ugarte, Augustín, 15, 87, 88, 119, 127, 135, 136 U.S. invasion, of Mexico (1846–1848), xvii, xx, xxi, 17, 21–23 vacant lands, 72, 79, 84, 90, 91, 92, 95, 96, 98 Valenzuela, Ignacio, 45 vampires, 48, 49 vaqueros, 65 Vargas, Francisco, 57 Varitas, dance of the, 13 Vásquez, Eduardo, 132 Vázquez, Gerardo, 92 Vázquez, Justo, 91 Vega, José, 56 Velásquez, Diego, 7 Velez, don Luis, 97 Velo, Demetrio, 91 Verasteguí, Manuel, 35–36, 48 Verasteguí, Pablo, 24, 35 viceroys, 11, 94, 98 Vidales, Augustín, 85 Villades, Rafael, 92 village autonomy, xvi, 107–8 Villaverde, Pedro, 93 Villegas, Manuela, 45 Virgin, 6 Virgin of Guadalupe, 111 Vivar, Díaz de, 38 Voorees, D. W., 76 wages: free wage labor, 68, 105, 118; labor complaints of Santiago, J., 69–70; wage slavery, 70 War of the Pacific (1879–1883), xx, 47 Wars of the Reforma, 52–53 weakness, defection and, 114, 125, 137 Weber, Eugen, 73 whiskey, corn, 44–45 Whitney, David, 76 Wilkerson, Samuel, 4, 8–9 wine, 86

Wolf, Eric, 65 women: caciques, 12; girls school, 112–13; as Malinche, 13; Plan of Tantoyuca and, 49; sexual exploitation, 48; as Sierra Gorda rebels, 36–37; sugar cultivation and, 70 work force, domestic, 68 Xilitla, 11 Yanga maroon community, 14 Young, Joseph, 76 Ypiña, D. Severrano, 76 Yucatán, Mérida, 104, 114, 122 Yucatecan caste war, 35 Yucatecan Maya language, 114 Zamacona, don Manuel de, 76 Zapatismo, xxi, 125 Zapatistas, 125 Zaragón, Perfecto, 137 Zavala, Padre Mauricio, 103–22; agrarian socialism, xix, 116–17; agriculture and, 117; anarcho-agrarianism and, xix, 108–9, 112; anticlerical radicalism of, 119; books of, 104; campesinos and, xix, 103–5, 107–10, 112–19; capitalism and, 121–22; children and, 116; Christian humanism of, 104, 125; Conservatives and, 104, 106–7; creoles and, 117–18; early life of, 104; economic self-sufficiency and, 107–8; girls school and, 112–13; Gutiérrez, C. D., and, 114; Hacienda del Limón and, 87; ideological freedom and, 111–12; immigration and, 111; Juárez, B., and, 105, 106; last years of, 122; Liberals and, 104–6; liberation theology of, 103, 106, 121; in Mérida, 104, 114, 122; More compared to, 121–22; nationalism and, 115–16; Plan of Zavala, 104, 137; on property, 103, 116; religious freedom and, 111–12; revolutionary plans of, 104, 116–17; road construction and, 107; Santiago, J., and, 127; schools of, 112–16; “Tamazunchale: Municipio Libre” and, 104, 121; Ugarte and, 119; village autonomy and, 107–8; Yucatán and, 104, 114, 122 Zuloaga, Félix, 52

during the early 1880s, a wave of


Mark Saad Saka is associate professor of

history at Sul Ross State University, Alpine, Texas.

“A MAJOR ADDITION to the history of the Porfiriato as well as peasant revolts against a specific regional government. The scholarship in this history is very thorough as well as constituting a major breakthrough in the history of the Huasteca. No other book in English compares to this work. It will remain the dominant book on this topic for many years.”

“A FASCINATING STORY of the Huastecan peasant war that provides useful historical and ethnographic information on the indigenous history and ethnography of Mexico and Latin America.” —Marc Becker, Truman State University, author of Indians and Leftists in the Making of Ecuador’s Modern Indigenous Movements

isbn 978-0-8263-5338-2 background texture: courtesy of Jim Ward Morris, © Artville, LLC jacket design: Catherine Leonardo

University of New Mexico Press 800-249-7737

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—Douglas W. Richmond, University of Texas, Arlington, author of The Mexican Nation: Historical Continuity and Modern Change


. Priest, Peasant, and Agrarian Socialism in the Mexican Huasteca

Mark Saad Saka

peasant unrest swept the mountainous Huasteca region of northeastern Mexico. The rebels demanded political autonomy for their pueblos, protection for their churches, and restoration of the land, water, and foraging rights that were a part of their heritage—issues with nationwide implications that foreshadowed the revolution of 1910. This account traces the material and ideological roots of the rebellion to nineteenth-century liberal policies of land privatization and to the growth of a radical anarcho-communist agrarian consciousness. Elite landholders had held sway in the Mexican state of San Luis Potosí since colonial times. In the nineteenth century their seizures of agricultural lands clashed with the rising political consciousness of the Huastecos, who rose up to fight for their way of life. Saka further traces the roots of the Huasteco rebellion to the grassroots religiosity that had developed in the course of centuries of local clerical leadership as well as to a nationalism derived from Huastecan participation in Mexico’s wars against the United States in the 1840s and France in the 1860s. But the hero of Saka’s narrative is Mauricio Zavala, a socialist parish priest who began his career in the Huasteca by providing blessings, organizing local schools, and representing the pueblos in the local and state courts. As conditions deteriorated, he began delivering revolutionary sermons and writing proclamations, arguing that the status of the rural people and their culture should match that of Europeanized Mexicans. His synthesis of Christian humanism and a community-​ based agrarian order promised to raise the dignity of all indigenous Mexicans, anticipating Zapatismo and the liberation theology that swept across Latin America in the twentieth century.