The 1960s represented a revolutionary movement around the globe. In rural Mexico, several guerrilla groups organized to fight against the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). Specters of Revolution chronicles two peasant guerrilla organizations led by schoolteachers that waged revolutionary armed struggles to overthrow the PRI: the National Revolutionary Civic Association (ACNR) led by Genaro Vázquez; and the Party of the Poor (PDLP) led by Lucio Cabañas. Both emerged to fight decades of massacres and everyday forms of terror committed by the government against citizen social movements that demanded the redemption of constitutional rights. This book reveals that these movements developed after years of seeking legal, constitutional pathways of redress, focused on economic justice and electoral rights, and became subject to brutal counterinsurgencies.
Relying upon declassified intelligence and military documents and oral histories, Specters of Revolution documents how long-held rural utopian ideals drove peasant political action that gradually became radicalized in the face of persistent state terror and violence. Placing Mexico into the broader history of post-1945 Latin America, this book explodes the myth that Mexico constituted an island of relative peace and stability surrounded by a sea of military dictatorships during the Cold War.
“Specters of Revolution offers a penetrating account of guerrilla struggles in modern Mexico. Alexander Aviña captures how peasant longings, political repression, and the violence of poverty created a daring movement for justice. The state’s response—a dirty war—evokes the darkest moments of Latin America’s military regimes. At times hopeful, at times tragic, Aviña provides a profoundly moving Cold War drama.”—Tanalís Padilla, MIT
“This book examines a haunting legacy of violence in contemporary Mexico. Alexander Aviña writes an engaging and partisan account, but also a serious effort to offer historical clarity on a period that is still too close for detached explanations.”—Pablo Piccato, Columbia University
“Alexander Aviña’s book is a welcome addition to this research…[he] tells this grim story in considerable detail, on the basis of innovative research. He relies chiefly on published accounts, most written by guerrilla veterans and sympathisers, along with interviews of similar provenance—these accord with his own undisguised sympathies. But he has also combed the new security archive (the most valuable source at his disposal), which gives an official perspective on what was seen as a serious and sustained challenge to the regional authority of the PRI.”—Alan Knight, English Historical Review