Here is a little-known story, that of the soldiers during the Mexican Revolution, which began in November 1910 with the uprising against President Porfirio Díaz.
It is therefore a feminine point of view which is privileged here, because women have participated actively and in many ways in the emancipation of Mexican society, but History has neglected them.
Díaz had ruled the country with an iron fist for about 30 years. It should be noted that this dictator did not only have faults, he had adopted several progressive measures in the fields of health and education, such as the creation of the National Autonomous University of Mexico from which many revolutionaries would emerge. , including several women who, alongside their less educated working-class sisters, would play a leading role in sparking the revolution.
Towards the end of the 19th century, Mexico was shaken by a wave of strikes that often turned into riots. The anarchist movement is very present there. Threatened with death, several union leaders have to flee to the United States where they have many supporters.
A new generation of women
Sara Estela Ramírez is one of those -the. His home in Laredo, Texas soon became the headquarters of opponents of the Porfiriat (supporters of dictator Porfirio Díaz). She calls for the unification of forces and “founds the newspaper La Corregidora, in tribute to the heroine of Independence, who attacks the government of Porfirio Díaz ”, while collaborating with other press organs in Mexico and the United States.
Flores de Andrade is another activist. Pursued by the henchmen of the regime, she took refuge in El Paso with her companion, “comrade Pedro Mendoza”. During a mission in Mexico, she was arrested and sentenced to death. It is said that facing the firing squad, she seized the officer's weapon and, under threat, obtained his release. True or false, the authors tell us, the fact is that she found herself again in the United States, where she founded, in September 1905, “the Mexican Liberal Party, libertarian and anticlerical, whose program insisted above all on workers' concerns”.
When the men end up in prison, the women take over. Agitators, organizers, editors, suitcase carriers, these petrolheads often carry out delicate and perilous missions and do not hesitate to participate in armed uprisings. Not content with supporting roles, the authors tell us, these activists often take the initiative by constructing their own tools of struggle.
“ The press is their privileged space for expressing themselves against the government and at the same time fight for their rights at work. »
It speaks, among other things, of female suffrage, access to work, domestic violence and equal rights, in the midst of articles vilifying the government of Díaz.
An eloquent example
The story of Juana Belén Gutiérrez Chávez is worth the detour. Born of a peasant father and a “holy frog” mother, she will nevertheless be a fierce anticlerical. A small seamstress, Juana buys a few goats whose milk she sells to make ends meet. She finds the time to write vitriolic articles to denounce the working conditions of miners, which will earn her to be imprisoned for a year. When she leaves prison, she changes town to track down the police, sells her herd of goats, buys a press to print the combat newspaper she founded, Vésper/Justice et liberté , “the first women's opposition publication”, while working as a factory worker and raising her children as a widowed mother. She took part in the insurrection against Díaz, had a man shot for rape and was promoted to colonel by Emiliano Zapata.
Juana was imprisoned several times and even tortured, but she never abdicated. After the revolution, she will be a literacy worker and teacher of marginal populations and, despite all these years of service, will die in total poverty at the age of 67.
This book is full of equally heroic and spectacular stories . You'll never see Mexico the same way again.