Monday, April 02, 2018

The granddaughter remembers Blas Lara Cázares

The granddaughter remembers Blas Lara Cázares
By Lara Medina, Ph.D.

My childhood recollections are of a stately if sad man, who, during our monthly visits, sat quietly in the kitchen of his small Berkeley California home. Little did I know that he bore the secrets of a clandestine life that he recorded in a memoir entitled, La Vida que Yo Viví,[1] under the pseudonym Mariano Gómez Gutiérrez. His real name was Blas Lara Cázares[2], and I take great pride in the activism of my grandfather and his life-commitment to a free and just society in Mexico and ultimately to “all workers of the world.”[3] 
Blas Lara Cázares was a mysterious figure during my childhood. Once a month my parents, Florial and Ofelia, would take my older sister, Estela, and me to visit him and our grandmother, Consuelo. We would cross the bay from Marin County in our blue Mercury to West Berkeley where they lived in a small wooden house on 5th St.  After a short time in the front room, the children would be told to greet our grandfather in the kitchen who was always sitting in the same wooden chair. I still remember how it felt to walk across the uneven and squeaky linoleum floor and approach our elder then in his seventies.  Blas never spoke much, seeming too tired and, most likely, knowing that his U.S.-born granddaughters would not understand his Spanish. However, he communicated his sentiments by the look in his eyes and the feel of his handshake.  His hands were large, slender and rough; his eyes greyish and weary.  On standing he was tall and very lean, much like my father.  I believe he always wore a vest over a tattered flannel shirt. I was unaware that he spent most of his days and late nights reading and writing, nor about his lifetime as a laborer and activist fighting for worker’s rights. The only bits of information about Blas were from my father mentioning that grandfather wrote letters to newspaper editors about labor rights. My mother would say, always in a very negative tone that, “Your grandfather is a communist, anti-religious, and he sends money to Mexico!”  Although my grandmother rarely said anything about her husband, she appeared to care for his well-being. Twenty years younger than Blas, she too was from Mexico, who orphaned as a young girl came to the San Francisco Bay Area to live with a relative. It is where she met Blas. Years later, my sister told me that when Blas would shake my hand, he would always say, “You will be a school teacher.” Blas was right in his premonition. I am now a professor of history within the discipline of Chicana and Chicano studies.  On studying his writings and the significance of this primary document, I “discovered” his lifetime of struggle and profound commitment to the liberation of the working poor.  

As teenagers my father showed my sister and I a tattered copy of a book written by Blas.  Poorly bound with yellowing pages and teeming with what seemed like archaic Spanish prose (along with our indifference as typical teenagers) deterred us from reading its pages. It passed between both of us for a few years, then returned to my father and seemed to disappear for a lengthy period of time. When my father passed in 2002, it reappeared and ended in my care as my sister had passed two years before my father.  Still, its hand drawn cover[4] may have been what discouraged me from making more than hurried attempts at reading.  Sadly, its forlorn appearance denied me access to its invaluable insider perspective of the social context and transnational organizing leading to the Mexican Revolution.
Not until a few years later, during a spontaneous conversation with labor historian, Devra Weber, did I begin to realize the value of my grandfather’s memoir.  We were talking about the intellectual arm of the Mexican Revolution and the members of the PLM, frequently referred to as “Magonistas”.  When I mentioned my grandfather’s name, her eyes widened on exclaiming how prevalent was his name in the primary documents of the PLM! When I showed her his book, she enthusiastically encouraged me to have it translated and also to research his editorial work in Regeneración.  She also referred me to Jacinto Barrera Bassols at INAH.
During my sabbatical several years later I began concentrating on the book full-time. By then, my reading in Spanish had improved and the task seemed to carry energy from beyond, as if Blas was pushing me forward. The time had arrived for his life to be remembered.  With the partial translation of the first chapter done by writer, Victor Carrillo, I had the springboard to jump into the bulk of the text. What I encountered included a fascinating portrait of life for the poorest of Mexico in the late 19th and early 20th century; a sociological text revisiting pre-revolutionary Mexico; the first wave of Mexican migration to the U.S.; and revolutionary transnational mobilization.
Blas Lara was a self-taught “writer and a revolutionist,”[5] a “Mexican migrant turned agitator and revolutionary”[6] fully committed to the freedom of the Mexican people on both sides of the political border. He lived out this commitment starting as a young boy suffering the grave injustices facing the peasantry in Mexico; soon working as a bricklayer and apprentice stonemason; becoming a labor organizer; migrating to the U.S. in 1902; joining international chapters of the Socialist League; and thereby becoming a core member of the Partido Liberal Mexicano (PLM) and a member of the editorial team of Regeneración during its later years of publication. Blas remained fully committed to the socialist and eventually anarchist ideals of the PLM until the age of eighty-two, when he passed in Berkeley, California in 1966.  His self-financed publication of his manuscript in 1954 through the Luz y Vida publishing house in Mexico City attests to his belief in the continued relevancy of revolutionary ideals.   

Blas begins his memoir with an Introduction situating himself as a nameless tourist in 1947 in an unnamed city in northern California who, after visiting its primary commercial, industrial and educational establishments, he supposedly wanders into the city dump where he finds a manuscript.  After taking it to his hotel room, he finds it to be the autobiography of someone who had taken part in the Mexican Revolution.  It states that the author changed all of the family names to avoid “self-promotion.” The author stresses the simplicity of the writing due to “his lack of talent” but “hopes it will be to the liking of lovers of those times passed, of a duty accomplished, and as a good example of those times.” To the contrary, Blas Lara writes with descriptive and eloquent prose, interspersed with wit and satire, as he keenly observes and documents the ideological and societal eruption of revolutionary consciousness.
Beginning in Part I of the narrative, Blas drops the voice of the tourist and chooses the name Edmundo for the central character, again to hide his own identity.  He invites the reader into his life as a young boy in “Pueblo X”[7] in Jalisco, Mexico, the child of landless campesinos. He sorrowfully remembers the kidnapping of his father by the Mexican army for service on the henequen slave plantations in the Yucatan,[8] and the loss of their ranch to unscrupulous clergy and caciques. Such injustices shape Blas’ consciousness to challenge inequalities for the rest of his life. His early schooling by Catholic priests offers basic reading skills, and he develops a critical eye for the ever-present clerical corruption. Leaving his family and his pueblo at 16, Blas seeks work in the quarries outside of Guadalajara. He documents not only the working conditions and salaries earned in excavating rock, but also the work of the women who cook three meals a day in the camps.
Impressed by the developing urban environment, he continues his young adult years in Guadalajara seeking the apprenticeship as a stonemason and also diligently attending night school to complete the elementary education that he lacked.  His work as an apprentice and his night classes lead him to a master stone-cutter and critical thinker, Juan Uribe, and a socialist teacher, Don Emilio.  House meetings after hours expose Blas to revolutionary ideas, trade unionism, and liberal anti-clericalism; ideals that plant the seeds for the potential of the masses to unite for change.  Blas grapples with obvious contradictions like the power of the church and the poverty of its devoted masses. He observes the antagonism among laborers divided by Protestantism and Catholicism that prevents them from working together. His childhood commitment to religion fades as he learns the history of Mexico and experiences abuse of his own faith in the hands of clergy.  
Blas’ recording of his time spent in Guadalajara serves as a social history of the late 1800s, as he elaborates on the living and labor conditions of the quarry workers, urban bricklayers, stonemasons, railroad workers, cooks and teachers. It also describes the city’s development and the revolutionary class consciousness on the verge of erupting.  For example, on Sept. 16th, 1896, he witnesses “El Grito” for the anniversary of Mexican independence from Spain.  He records speeches made at a gathering in the barrio, El Rastrillo, where he hears the “real grito,” stemming “from the hunger of the people.” Blas takes creative license at
this point and places the 1914 “anarchist version” of the National Hymn penned by Enrique Flores Magón on the lips of the residents of El Rastrillo as a way to reveal the presence of anarchist ideology in late 19th century Guadalajara.[9] On paying close attention to female and male barrio residents as participants in the emerging revolutionary discourse, Blas emphasizes the agency and equality of women.
In 1902, Blas is pulled by “the necessity to go north,” in search of higher wages and by a self-imposed pressure he “does not even fully understand.” He records the details of his journey and his work in mines, railroads, kitchens and ranches along his way.  Fraternal bonds marking the lives of Mexican migrants in the early 20th century play a central role in Blas’ migration experience. At the border, he and his two companions vow not to cross unless all three make it safely. On having done so, they travel to Aguascalientes, Monterrey, and El Paso, Texas.  From there they continue on to Yuma, Arizona; San Fernando, Los Angeles, South Pasadena, and San Francisco, California.  They remain together until Blas continues on to Fort Bragg in northern California where he finds work in the sawmills. After three years of logging and interacting with a more international workforce (Russian, French, and Italian immigrants), Blas is called back to “Pueblo X” due to the grave illness of his sister.  Arriving in Ayo el Chico, Jalisco in 1905 mostly by jumping “my trains,” that he and his countrymen believed they were entitled to ride for free, led to an extended stay in Guadalajara during the care of his sister.  This time, the capital city exposed Blas to union organizing and meeting Roque Estrada, a young lawyer and member of the PLM.  He also introduces him to the newspaper,
Regeneración, the transnational liberal and eventually anarchist newspaper of the PLM, and literature about the French Revolution. At this juncture, Blas becomes actively involved in starting a union of stonemasons and bricklayers in Guadalajara. After a short time in jail for posting union flyers, Blas is named Secretary of the new union at their first meeting in early 1905 held at Teatro de Variedades. His turn toward socialism leads him to join the Socialist League of Guadalajara, a commitment he will take with him back to Fort Bragg later that year, where he joins the Socialist League of Fort Bragg.  Before leaving Mexico, he also commits himself to the PLM.
In the following years, Blas returns to Mexico once again but only for short periods of time to assist in family crisis or to lend a hand at union organizing and mobilizing for the PLM. Most of his labor organizing and writing for socialist presses and Regeneración was done in the United States, between northern and southern California. His adult life would be spent in “forced exile,” primarily in northern California but with an extensive stay in Los Angeles from 1911-1918 when he joined the editorial team of Regeneración during its final phase.
When not working as a bricklayer, stonemason apprentice, logger or warehouseman, or attending meetings of the Socialist League or mobilizing PLM support in the U.S., he spends his time reading and writing. At one point, his future wife is told by a neighbor that, “He is not like the other men. He does not go to bars or play pool. At nights I see him reading and writing. Only on Sundays does he go out.”  With minimal formal education, Blas was an organic intellectual; a critical thinker well versed in international revolutionary ideals; confident in sharing his
thoughts through the written word and in the public arena; and steadfast in his solidarity with the laboring class.  His commitment to fair wages; safe and humane working conditions; quality education for the masses; and agrarian reform in Mexico; were grounded in communal values of reciprocity and mutual aid.
Feeling at home in the natural environment of northern California and drawn toward the international immigrant character of the labor force, Blas became an active participant in house meetings, socialist discussions, and labor organizing. After an additional three years of working at Fort Bragg, he was fired by the Union Lumber Company for being a socialist.  On returning to San Francisco in 1908, he is disappointed by the lack of support for the members of the PLM, who are by then in the Los Angeles County Jail accused of breaking neutrality laws.  Joining forces with the San Francisco Bay Area socialist league, Blas is arrested for posting flyers on Broadway and Stockton Streets, but is bailed out by the socialist leadership.  Shortly thereafter, he meets Virginia Vincent, his future U.S. born wife who then travels with him back to Washington state.  As an emerging anarchist, Blas rejects the validation of their union by either state or church.  Rather, they agree to embrace their love for each other and their commitment to justice to secure their marriage bond.
While working with the United Mine of America outside of Seattle, Blas wrote “La Voz de Un Esclavo” in 1908 for Libertad y Trabajo, an independent weekly in Los Angeles and “Modern Mexico” for The Socialist[10] in Seattle in 1909.  Upon the outbreak of the Mexican Revolution in 1910, his plans to return to Mexico are
aborted by Virginia’s sudden death from heart failure.  Although Blas returns to Fort Bragg in deep grief, he manages to continue working, writing, and clandestinely sending copies of Regeneración to Mexico. 
A journey back to Guadalajara in 1911 to partake in the revolution ends up convincing Blas that his activism might be of better use in the U.S. where he could help rally the American public against U.S. intervention in Mexico. Arriving in Los Angeles on July 3, 1911, Blas quickly joins the Junta Organizadora of the PLM whose leadership at that time is free on bail.  Renting a building at 519 E. 4th St. in Los Angeles allows the small group to reinvigorate the publication of Regeneración following a time of heightened tension due to short-lived PLM victories in Mexicali and Tijuana.  They work non-stop writing and publishing in order to influence the American left, anti-Madero sentiments, and anti-U.S. intervention in Mexico. [11]
              Weekly public gatherings to hear political speeches from women and men at La Placita on Sundays became crucial to mobilizing and educating Mexican and European immigrant workers as well as U.S. born audiences on developments in Mexico and the danger of U.S. intervention.[12]  Even though La Placita has been portrayed as “a safe haven for orations of the radical left,”[13] in the early twentieth century, there were numerous conflicts between Mexican revolutionaries and their
opponents.  For example, “getting up on the box” to speak endangered Blas’ life as opponents of the PLM turn to violence.  An adversary of the PLM attempts to knife Blas in the back as he finishes his speech. A comrade, Francisco Izarrarás, “an illiterate Tarascan, who had more communal sensibility than any literate” stood security and saves Blas’ life.
In June 1912, the Junta leadership including Ricardo and Enrique Flores Magón, Librado Rivera and Anselmo L. Figueroa were convicted a second time of conspiracy and sentenced to 23 months each in McNeil Federal Penitentiary in Washington state. As a result, Blas became one of the remaining four editors of Regeneración along with Antonio de Araujo, Rafael Palacios Romero, and Francisco J. Mendoza.[14] Their tasks were to continue publishing and speaking publicly on the “Mexican Cause.” Knowing that the prosecutors of la Junta had hired at least two false witnesses, Blas took it upon himself to locate the perjurers and obtain signed affidavits. After investigations, Blas and a comrade visit Pedro Martinez, alias “Pete Martin”, in the L.A. County Jail and are about to get a signed affidavit from Martinez admitting his false testimony, when the U.S. District of Attorney barges into the cell and seizes the document that could have freed the Junta.  Unwilling to give up, Blas, William C. Owen and Trinidad Villareal acquired another affidavit from perjurer Paul Smith which they sent to President Wilson.[15]  Upon receipt of the signed affidavit President Woodrow Wilson conveniently ignores the evidence.[16]
              With the Junta leadership in prison, the significantly reduced editorial team struggled to keep Regeneración in circulation.  Although conflict was not a stranger to the beleaguered group, tensions mounted due to disloyalty and even embezzlement of sparse funds.  Blas remained a stable figure on the team and was handed administrative control.  Upon the Junta’s release in January 1914, the group relocated to a five-acre ranch in Edendale, near Silver Lake, then known as “Red Hill” for its concentration of leftist political activists.  The country atmosphere of Blas’ early childhood returned as the group farmed, raised chickens, and sold produce in order to pay for printing expenses and their meager livelihood.[17] The less than idyllic communal existence (no running water or electricity) lasted until 1916 at which time the grand jury again indicted the Magón brothers along with William C. Owen. They were charged with violating a penal code prohibiting the distribution of written material “of an indecent character…tending to incite arson, murder, or assassination.”[18]  Blas and others at Edendale escaped arrest.  A lengthy court battle resulted in three years of imprisonment for Enrique and one year for Ricardo due to his poor health.  They served their time at the McNeil Federal Penitentiary in Washington. Owens remained a fugitive.  The government once again indicted the Magón brothers and Librado Rivera in 1918, this time for conspiracy to violate the Espionage Act of 1917, the Trading with the Enemy Act, and the amended Penal Code of 1910.[19]  Librado Rivera was sentenced to fifteen years and Enrique was ultimately deported to Mexico in 1923 due to his break with the PLM in 1918.  Ricardo Flores Magón served his last sentence from 1919 until his death on November 22, 1922 at the Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary in Kansas.[20] The last issue of Regeneración was printed on March 6, 1918 and, in mourning, Blas relocated to the San Francisco Bay Area.
So what exactly was the political vision of the Partido Liberal Mexicana that my grandfather was so committed to? In 1906, the PLM published a liberal manifesto setting forth reformist goals including the re-establishment of the four-year presidential term with no immediate reelection, minimum wage, an eight-hour workday, and the end of child labor.  Such working class goals garnered the support of the radical American Left when the PLM first arrived to the U.S.  But within two years, the PLM had committed itself, although secretly, to anarchism.  Subsequent manifestos published in Regeneración in 1910, 1911, and 1918 promoted an international worker’s consciousness rejecting the entire concept of the state and its inevitable oppression of the masses. A 1911 manifesto was titled, “Manifesto to the Workers of the World,” and rallied for:
 “…modern ideas: those convinced of the fallacy of political remedies as a means of redeeming the proletariat from economic slavery; those who do not believe in the goodness of paternalistic governments nor in the impartiality of the laws worked out by the bourgeoisie; those who know that the emancipation of the workers must be accomplished by the workers themselves; those convinced of the need for direct action; those who do not recognize the “sacred right of private property;” those who have not taken up arms to elevate any boss, but rather to destroy wage slavery.”[21]
Clearly, the social vision of the PLM had evolved into the fundamental rejection of all forms of state authority.  The early 20th century context of anti-Socialist-anarchist hysteria, reinforced by stereotypical views of all anarchists as assassins and bomb throwers, and U.S. involvement in World War I, rationalized President Woodrow Wilson’s directives to root out all expressions of anti-state rhetoric.[22] How Blas managed to escape repeated incarceration (aside from his arrests for posting flyers) is a mystery. In total he wrote twenty-one articles for Regeneración, including an essay addressed to President Woodrow Wilson in 1913.  He was considered a fully committed member of the PLM and did not mince his words in critiquing the foreign policies of the U.S. and unjust labor practices on both sides of the border. 
By 1920, Blas had settled in Berkeley, California with Consuelo Medina and fathered his first-born, a son he named Florial.  He would also father three more children: twins, Harmonia and Voltairine, and a younger son, Tolstoy. All their names reflected either revolutionary symbolism or revolutionary figures.[23]  He
labored as a warehouseman in Berkeley for the remainder of his able life and managed to purchase the small house I recall visiting as a child on a lot big enough for a goat and the planting of a few maiz and nopal trees. An even smaller wooden structure behind the house is where he spent most of his time reading and writing. I remember having seen a typewriter on his old wooden desk. How must he have felt owning a small piece of land in the U.S. after years of fighting for agrarian reform in Mexico? Perhaps vindicated and, also forever saddened that the full vision of the PLM for all workers had never materialized.
At the end of his memoir, Blas narrates an imagined trip he takes to Mexico with his younger son. He is intent on seeing the plantations in the Yucatan where his father had been forced to serve in military duty and where the enslaved toiled for the modernization of Mexico under Porfirio Díaz. He carries with him his “two most prized possessions”: a copy of Barbarous Mexico by John Kenneth Turner and a copy of his own manuscript, La Vida Que Yo Viví.  He intends to have his writing edited and published while in Mexico.  Although not able to arrive in the Yucatan due to very limited and affordable transportation, he arrives in Veracruz where he partook in the theater production of Tierra y Libertad, the last written work by Ricardo Flores Magón.  Asked to speak at the evening production, Blas tells the audience, “…nothing has been fabricated in this play, on the contrary, it pales in comparison to the suffering and martyrdom of our fathers [and mothers] during the longest dictatorship that América has suffered….”
In the final days of his trip Blas converses in his dreams with “La Parca”[24] who he feels is preparing to take him. His final desire is to design La Escuela Racionalista modeled on the radical pedagogy of early 20th century educator, Ferrer i Guardia of Barcelona, Spain, and carried on by PLM member and teacher, Ms. Flora Vargas Trejo, who envisioned “the formation of human beings free of the prejudices that are taught to children in the official and religious schools.”[25]  Blas’ architectural drawing of an educational complex will make possible the teaching of the sciences, literature, history, and the arts. Blas Lara, with a primary school education, never ceased to promote critical education as a human right.
I am privileged to have learned of the struggles my ancestors underwent and I now understand deeply the social vision and political activism of my grandfather.  Each generation receives the seeds for their worldview from the experiences of the previous generations. Although my father Florial did not follow the revolutionary activism of his father, his own consciousness was shaped by testimonies of injustice transmitted to him by Blas. As a Mexican American, my father had experienced discrimination, yet he lacked the impetus of a revolutionary cohort to challenge the demeaning treatment that he witnessed and experienced.  Even so, he negotiated his life with discipline and pride in being Mexican. He cherished family trips to Mexico to teach his daughters about our culture and ancestry.  At the age of 9, I experienced an extended stay in Guadalajara with my maternal grandparents and we visited a ranch in Ayo el Chico to meet a cousin of Blas. That trip helped shape my consciousness about the foundational roots of my Chicana identity.  I became aware of the urban challenges in Mexico as well as my connection to the green landscape of Jalisco and the harshness of life for campesinos where the seeds of my lineage had been planted. My father’s awareness of social ills was transmitted to me; thus, by the time of the Chicano movement beginning in the 1960s, my orientation to life welcomed a revolutionary cohort along with strategies of mass protest. Blas’ vision for a radically transformed world reached across generations. 
After learning that two copies of La vida que yo viví and some of Blas’ personal papers are archived in the Bancroft Library at University of California, Berkeley, I realize the irony in how Blas began his memoir. The nameless tourist exploring an unidentified city in northern California who visits the university and then the city dump where he finds a manuscript has traveled full circle. The recorded history he finds has not been lost after all, but now sits on the library shelves of an elite educational institution. The republication of this edited edition of La Vida que Yo Viví in the 21st century, amid global unrest and unceasing and expanding economic disparity, will cast light on the potential for transnational activism among laborers, immigrant populations, writers, educators, organizers, and all seekers of justice.
As I sit at Blas’ gravesite in Richmond, California, I play the recordings of three international songs he selected for his burial, which he identified in his memoir: La Golondrina (Mexican), Caballeria Rusticana (Italian) and la Serenata de Shubert (German).  All three are beautiful, passionate ballads and I hear Blas’ love for life and natural beauty; love for justice; and love for the dignity of all workers. I feel how pleased he must be and, as he wrote at the end of his memoir, that his “life’s work continues to be useful to those who study the anxieties of humankind and who favor the liberation of struggling peoples around the world.”  Grandfather, thank you for your life’s work.                                                                   


[1] I am grateful to Jacinto Bassols Barerra, founding archivist of, for his commitment to the primary literature addressing the PLM and his recognition of the importance of La Vida Que Yo Viví.  Dr. Barrera Bassols has been a guiding light in my pursuing the republication of this historic memoir. I am also thankful to Juan Manuel Aurrecoechea Hernández, who edited the original published manuscript of La Vida que Yo Viví and to Alfredo Lopez who edited my Introduction. Provost Harry Hellenbrand at California State University, Northridge, and the Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historía (INAH) provided necessary financial and administrative support.
[2] Blas was named after his father, Basilio Lara, and his mother, Tirza Cázares who married in 1878.  He is identified as Blas Lara in most of the primary and secondary literature related to the Partido Liberal Mexicana (PLM).  He authored most his essays with only his paternal last name. According to Claudio Lomnitz in The Return of Ricardo Flores Magón (New York: Zone Books, 2014), Blas’ choice of Mariano Gómez Gutiérrez for a pseudonym makes reference to Mariana Gómez Gutiérrez, a schoolteacher and colonel in Pancho Villa’s army. Blas hid his own identity, but preserved the memory of a revolutionary comrade. See Lomnitz, xviii. 
[3] The 1911 Manifesto of the PLM was titled, “Manifesto to the Workers of the World” and was authored by “The Organizing Junta of the PLM” in the city of Los Angeles, California, USA, April 3, 1911. See Dreams of Freedom: A Ricardo Flores Magón Reader, Chaz Bufe and Mitchell Cowen Verter, ed. (Oakland: AK Press, 2005), 134-137.
[4] According to Jacinto Barrera Bassols, the professional artist and stage designer, Nicolás Reveles, designed the cover. 
[5] “Writers and Revolutionist” is taken from the title of the oral history interview conducted with Ethel Duffy Turner, the American writer and core member of the PLM. See “Ethel Duffy Turner: Writers and Revolutionists” An Interview Conducted by Ruth Teiserm. Regional Oral History Office, 1967. EDT papers-Bancroft Library, UC Berkeley.
[6] Lomnitz, xvii.
[7] Blas kept his pueblo, Ayo el Chico, anonymous in his writing.
[8] In 1911, the American journalist, John Kenneth Turner, published Barbarous Mexico in which he and the Mexican lawyer and author, Lázaro Gutiérrez de Lara documented the slave plantations in the Yucatan.  This book played an instrumental role in garnering U.S. public support for the Mexican Revolution as it exposed the horrific conditions of kidnapped and enslaved Indigenous populations and revealed the relationship of 20th century Mexican slavery to the U.S. economy. See Turner, John Kenneth, Barbarous Mexico (Austin: University of Texas, republished 1969).
[9] I thank Jacinto Barrera Bassols for making this astute analysis.
[10] Between 1900-1910, The Socialist was the dominant voice for socialism in the Pacific Northwest. The Socialist Educational Union organized in 1900 for the purpose of publishing the weekly newspaper. The Socialist Educational Union organized in 1900 for the purpose of publishing the weekly newspaper. It contained a mixture of articles explaining the nature of socialism, anti-capitalism rhetoric, platforms for local election races, news of socialism victories in the US and Europe, guest articles by well known socialists, such as Eugene Debs and Upton Sinclair, as well as essays on socialist virtues.
[11] The core group in 1911 included Ricardo and Enrique Flores Magón, María Brouse, Anselmo L. Figueroa, Librado and Concha Rivera, Blas Lara, and William C. Owen who wrote the English section in Regeneración.
[12] Blas names specific women who spoke “very well and were very knowledgeable about the anarchist ideals and anti-war propaganda.” Women named are Francisca J. Mendoza, María Brousse, Concha Rivera, Julia Monrreal, Balbina Yañez Perez, and Jerónima.  Also see, William David Estrada, The Los Angeles Plaza (Austin: University of Texas, 2008), 142-160, for a vivid description of PLM activities at La Placita.  
[13] Estrada, 156.
[14] Political factions in Mexico between Maderistas and the Junta intensify with PLM members such as Antonio Villareal and Juan Sarabia joining the cabinet of newly appointed President Madero.
[15] “Pete Martin,” Captain Paul Smith and Joe Reese had been bribed by the Mexican Consulate with the support of the U.S. Attorney General, to testify against La Junta.
[16] Blas records these events in his memoir as does Ethel Duffy Turner, Revolution in Baja California: Ricardo Flores Magón’s High Noon, (Detroit, 1981), 74-77, and Colin M. MacLachlan, Anarchism and the Mexican Revolution, (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991), 47.    
[17] Also see Estrada, Chapter Five, “Revolution and Public Space” for a description of the communal lifestyle lived by the Junta Organizadora in Edendale, 154.
[18] MacLachlan, 60-61.
[19] MacLachlan, 79.
[20] MacLachlan, 89-91.
[21] See “Manifesto to the Workers of the World,” in Dreams of Freedom: A Ricardo Flores Magón Reader, Chaz Bufe and Mitchell Cowen Verter, ed. (Oakland: AK Press, 2005), 134-5
[22] MacLachlan, 76-92.
[23] Lomnitz offers an interesting analysis of the names Blas chose: Flor[e]al after the second month of spring in the French revolutionary calendar; Voltairine, like the American feminist and anarchist Voltairine de Cleyre…” See Lomnitz, xviii. In addition, Blas named one of his twin daughters Harmonia, meaning harmony, one of Blas’ greatest values. Tolstoy, his second son, was named after the Russian writer, moral thinker, and social reformer, Leo Tolstoy.  He names his sons Orbe and Américo in his memoir however these are also pseudonyms with symbolic meaning.
[24] Lady Death.
[25] My translation.


Antonio SolisGomez said...

please convey my congratulations to lara medina for her scholarship and writing

Daniel Cano said...

Lara, what a wonderful discovery, rich in history and family traditions. Thanks for sharing this.

Elias said...

Great to see this, and congrats Lara. An exciting memoire, testimony of Xican@ political roots.