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date: 24 April 2017

Indigenous Mobilizations and the Mexican Government during the 20th Century

Summary and Keywords

The political history of indigenous peoples in Mexico during the 20th century is complex, particularly because it intersects with changing local, state, and federal government projects aimed at exclusion, inclusion, assimilation, integration, homogenization, and multiculturalism. Focusing only on such government initiatives, however, muddies the analytical waters, as doing so tends to silence forms of resistance, accommodation, reaction, adaptation, and the agency of first peoples and communities. Oftentimes this approach assumes a complacent population at the mercy of a predatory state or a subject people in the care of a paternalistic state. In recognition of the danger of accepting state-driven indigenismo projects as the defining criteria of native people’s histories during the 20th century, this article parallels glimpses of state-driven indigenismos with indigenous forms of regional and national organization in defense of individual and collective interests, as expressed in works that have emerged over the last twenty-five years. By no means are the themes covered in this article indicative of the breadth of the concerns, ideas or political, social, and economic interests of native peoples. Rather, its intent is to juxtapose histories of indigenismos and indígena mobilizations and organization after 1940 to illustrate how the government attempted to shape its “revolutionary” vision after 1920 and the ways in which indigenous communities themselves also engaged, or did not, in this process for a number of reasons, collective and individual.

Keywords: indigenous, indigenismo, participatory indigenismo, mobilization, populism, state, nation, political identity, violence, citizenship

Revolutionary Assimilationist Indigenismo

Indigenous peoples like the Mayo, Yaqui, and Tzeltal took part in the struggles of the Mexican Revolution (1910–1920) by joining, or being coerced to join, the armies of various revolutionary leaders, and they did so with their own interests in mind.1 Following the revolution, government leaders and civilians alike sought to rebuild a country battered by internal warfare. Part of the rebuilding process after 1920 included cultural and visual representations of particular views of the revolution and its victors. As part of that project, José Vasconcelos (minister of public education) supported the works of artists across different media who sought to construct and communicate a people’s revolution and national identity. Government policies seeking to transform indigenous peoples into incarnations of revolutionary citizenship, defined broadly as modern, also became part of the revolutionary regime. Proponents of mestizaje saw this racial ideology as having two functions: (a) to foment unity after years of destruction and division caused by revolution via a common national identity and (b) to craft and attain that unity and national identity by embracing the value of a blended European and indigenous cultural background. While this vision was explained as taking the best from indigenous and European culture and practices, it ultimately functioned as a homogenizing project in which indigenous peoples themselves were to be assimilated into an imagined national community.2 To this end, rural teachers became a critical arm of the government during the education campaigns of the 1920s and 1930s. As Mary Kay Vaughan and Adrian Bantjes show, education during this time was far from anchored to classroom learning; rather, the Secretariat of Public Education (SEP), founded in 1921, charged teachers with shaping the new citizen with the values and ideals of the revolution.3 Both also argue that the education missionaries were not always successful. Like Vaughan and Bantjes, Natividad Gutiérrez shows how the tentacles of official education agencies extended to the front lines of the effort, to craft the revolutionary nation and its citizens, including indigenous peoples.4 Alexander Dawson writes of the Casa del Estudiante Indígena, a government educational and cultural assimilation project of the 1920s, which he sees as an attempt to realign regional and ethnic identities into an imagined homogenous mestizo national identity.5 While Dawson argues that indigenous peoples eventually took advantage of this opening to forge their roles as intermediaries between federal government agencies and their communities, Stephen Lewis maintains that, in Chiapas, this was not necessarily the case. In The Ambivalent Revolution, Lewis argues that SEP teachers in Chiapas were charged with “replacing the cult of the saints with the cult of the state,” a process in which civic and patriotic celebrations were to supplant the Roman Catholic Church’s central role in the life of revolutionary citizens, one that was envisioned as increasingly secular.6 Lewis shows that SEP education campaigns were successful in some regions, but in others, like the highlands where Tzotzil and Tzeltal ethnic communities resided, the government’s reach was minimal at best. Part of that failure is located in the lack of spoken indigenous languages by teachers in the Chiapanecan boarding schools that indigenous students were forced into by local officials as well as the strained relationships between the school administrators themselves and local government officials.7 By 1940 SEP teachers had certainly come to play a role as missionaries of an early version of indigenismo, especially in relation to the indigenous communities they sought to assimilate, to shape into desired modern revolutionary citizens, that is, into mestizos.

Official approaches to the goal of assimilation were various and were often shaped by intellectual debates and the whims of changing federal government administrations as well as local forms of state formation and indigenous communities’ challenges and needs. During one such administration, that of Lázaro Cárdenas (1934–1940), federal government initiatives included the establishment of a Department of Indigenous Affairs (DAI) in 1936. Under the leadership of Isidro Candia the DAI was responsible for hosting a series of regional indigenous congresses meant to give a select group of ethnic communities the opportunity to put voice to their concerns and demands.8 These proved to be limited and failed to represent the interests of most native peoples. Perhaps the most recognized event of the Cárdenas period was the international Interamerican Indigenist Congress held in Pátzcuaro, Michoacán, during April of 1940. Mexican and U.S. official delegates presented themselves as leaders in the shaping of a continental indigenismo. While the various practices and goals of indigenismo make it impossible to form a rigid and uniform definition of that process that fits snugly across the Americas, the desired result in the case of the official Mexican indigenismo version of the time was largely for the assimilation of indigenous peoples into national society. This “transformation” of ethnic identities into one homogenous national identity tends to be a thread common to indigenismo across the continent before the 1950s, although how that was envisioned to occur, with some exceptions if we consider the U.S. Native American reservation system that separates rather than includes, varied.9 At the Interamerican Indigenist Congress, representatives from nineteen countries designed a Pan-American proposal that called for national governments to commit to the founding of national indigenist institutes with the mission of politically, socially, and economically assimilating indigenous communities. Yet there were limits to its reach, as contemporary economic, political, and social realities in each member country dictated either a tepid or a fervent commitment to national and local versions of indigenismo. As Laura Giraudo has argued, the Interamerican Indigenist Congress, along with the Interamerican Indigenist Institute (III), the international organization birthed there, was a success for the Cárdenas administration in terms of American diplomacy; beyond that, if success is measured as long-term impact, its impact is questionable, given wartime interruption and internal political and academic disagreements that existed both in Mexico and within the III.10 In many ways the 1940 Interamerican Indigenist Congress was an elitist and government-generated meeting, with few to no indigenous delegates in attendance. Regardless of its actual reach, indigenous communities were both active and reactive agents working within and outside of local, state, and federal governments to protect their own interests.

In Mexico, government projects seemed to produce results that were equally debatable. Toward the end of the 1930s the DAI attempted to organize a series of regional indigenous congresses. In Indian and Nation in Revolutionary Mexico, Alexander Dawson writes about the questionable nature of these government-organized indigenous congresses, arguing that their short- and long-term impacts were limited at best.11 Among the indigenous groups in which regional congresses took place during the late 1930s and early 1940s, perhaps the most successful was that of the Rarámuri (Tarahumara), although it was not necessarily due to the efforts of the national government. The Tarahumara Supreme Council (CST) was officially established at the 1939 Tarahumara regional congress held in Guachochi, Chihuahua. With a supreme council structure, the federal government hoped to redefine the process by which it dealt with indigenous populations. For example, supreme councils were supposed to establish one focal group of leaders that represented entire populations of indigenous peoples in order to facilitate government interactions with these communities. From the view of government officials, these supreme councils were conceived as part of the corporate structure by which government programs and communication were to filter to indigenous communities. As a democratic ideal, it was also supposed to serve as a way for demands, concerns, and complaints to make their way from indigenous communities to supreme council leaders and then, ultimately, to government agencies.12

When the indigenous congress in the Sierra Tarahumara was held in 1939, Rarámuri leaders, both youth and older generations, had already anticipated government efforts to redefine the political relationship between themselves and the state, establishing their vision of a CST as early as 1935. Works such as El Consejo Supremo Tarahumara: Organización y resistencia indígena (1939–2005), presented by Miguel Merino Rascón; the CST’s own Aspecto organizativo del Primer Congreso Tarahumara celebrado en Guachochi en 1939; and the unpublished history of the CST, by Guillermo Bonfil Batalla, show that by early 1938 Ignacio León Ruíz and José Jarís Rosalío were already at the helm of the organizing committee for the Tarahumara Regional Congress. Both graduates of the Casa del Estudiante Indígena in the 1920s, León Ruíz and Jarís Rosalío were driving change from within the Sierra Tarahumara instead of waiting for the change to be imposed from without.13 President Cárdenas’s vision for indigenous communities’ effectively organizing amongst themselves was realized through the Rarámuri example. While the CST was not without its problems, both internal and external, their restructuring of local and regional leadership was an active process, not entirely reactive to federal actions but rather preemptive. In this case mobilization by indigenous communities was an active affair shaped by an assimilationist state-sponsored indigenismo but also driven by indigenous leaders who had their own visions of how they might fit into the national imaginary and who certainly had local political and economic designs of their own.

The DAI did not survive, as President Miguel Alemán (1946–1952) shut down the department very early on in his presidency. The action was met with a great deal of pressure from other political leaders and indigenistas to replace the DAI with an improved federal entity. A couple of years later, in 1948, legislation to establish the National Indigenist Institute (INI) was passed, and the new agency officially opened its doors in January of 1949.14 In the early 1950s, much of the budget of 6 million pesos was used to launch a new program designed by anthropologist Dr. Gonzalo Aguirre Beltrán. Indigenist Coordinating Centers (CCI) were supposed to connect the infant INI to geographically remote regions. These institutions were envisioned as INI regional representatives and vehicles through which to penetrate what Aguirre Beltrán deemed “regions of refuge,” defined as places, perhaps a type of frontier, where indigenous peoples resided but government officials and projects were unable to reach.15 The first coordinating center was launched in Las Casas, Chiapas, in 1951. Seven CCIs were created during the 1950s and five more during the 1960s.16 Yet the CCI project was unsuccessful in reaching deeply into the communities it was supposed to penetrate and “transform.” For example, Stephen Lewis argues that the pilot CCI project in Las Casas was flawed from the beginning and was limited as to the influence it had on local economic development and the assimilation of indigenous communities into national life.17

While government projects, programs, and institutions were said to be working in favor of indigenous peoples, some indigenous peoples disputed the federal government claim that it had a positive presence in their communities. In 1949, Mazahua peoples from the towns of San Pedro el Alto, Los Pastores, and San Pedro Potla, in the municipality of Temascalcingo, State of Mexico, rose up to defend their land holdings from government incursions. From this campaign emerged the Indigenous Movement from the State of Mexico, armed with a moral authority and tenacity to defend Mazahua lands.18 The Wixáritari (Huichol) in Jalisco, too, fought back against what they viewed as unwanted government intrusions. During the late 1940s and early 1950s, the Wixáritari of San Sebastián Teponahuaxtlán engaged in a dispute with the federal government when surveyors arrived in the region to claim, divide, and sell land plots that the Wixáritari claimed as their own. This government action conflicted with complex Wixáritari understandings of land ownership, which were sufficiently flexible to allow movement between arguments over land rights as existing from time immemorial to those premised upon the promises of revolution and modernity, effectively linking the past and the future in the present.19

The Wixáritari were not the only ethnic group in the region negatively affected by state-led assimilation efforts. For example, a local INI office was established near the Sierra Nayar in 1960, with the Huichol, Náyari and Tepehuan peoples the intended targets of “transformation.” While most indigenous peoples of the region were suspicious of the new arm of the government, the locals of the town of Santa Teresa (Náyari) initially welcomed the presence of the government, hoping it might quell the decades-long conflict in the region. Long-standing political struggles and violence between the Náyari and vecinos, local mestizos, had created a weary population that desired change. Philip Coyle, in From Flowers to Ash, traces the challenges of the Náyari in the Sierra Nayar over the course of the 20th century. According to Coyle, the presence of INI in the region only deepened the conflicts, as the INI representative, an unnamed cultural promoter in Santa Teresa, intervened in local matters, like calling for an investigation into seventeen unresolved murders that many locals preferred be left alone, among other actions that challenged local power brokers.20 Eventually, Santa Teresa officials managed to have the cultural promoter removed from his post. In addition, an airstrip that INI had set up in 1966 came to be used by local intermediaries to import foodstuffs in bulk to sell at a profit, thus undercutting local merchants and production.21 Over time the struggle between vecinos and the Náyari came to include INI officials, as these three entities pushed and pulled for control of local and federal resources and as protagonists in the struggle to define the identity of the region and its people.22

The Wixáritari rebellion in Jalisco and the Náyari struggles in Santa Teresa are not the only examples of indigenous peoples’ pushing back against state-supported indigenismos. Paul Gillingham, in Cuauhtémoc’s Bones, presents the battle between local officials, federal officials, and intellectuals as well as residents of Ixcateopan, Guerrero, over the legitimacy of imagining the past. The cultural and political capital to be gained or lost over the bones of the last Aztec emperor Cuauhtémoc was on display during the years-long struggle in Ixcateopan over the forging of a national identity. While the official narrative denied that the remains found in 1949 were those of Cuauhtémoc, local officials and residents claimed the bones not only as his but as theirs as well. In this way, locals in Ixcateopan shaped their own version of indigenismo, clearly understanding the potential cultural and political (and certainly economic) opportunities from such a finding; bridging the Aztec past, the modern mestizo identity, and their town, whether state-sanctioned or not. In this case the federal government and its league of educated “experts” were not recognized as sources of legitimacy to craft indigenismo or its relationship to national identity.

In her article “The Effects of Truth: Re-Presentations of the Past and the Imagining of Community,” Ana Alonso explains that national histories and identities are largely ideologically constructed. Using cannibalism as a metaphor, she argues that state narratives consume local and regional memories, identities, and symbols, only to reorganize them as part of the official history. In ¡Zapata Lives! Lynn Stephen argues that popular groups do the inverse—they ingest state narratives and regurgitate them as part of local symbols and identities.23 By utilizing state narratives to legitimize their claims, locals in Ixcateopan, Guerrero, demonstrated that the battle over symbols, words, and bones is not always top down. While, perhaps, for federal officials, Cuauhtémoc’s bones, whether five hundred or fifty years old, were not useful, for locals they became a way to contest an official indigenismo while creating one that worked for them, even if in the short-term.24

Participatory Indigenismo

These interactions between indigenous communities and local and federal government agents during the mid-20th century shaped the contours of President Luis Echeverría (1970–1976) and José López Portillo’s (1976–1982) participatory indigenismo for twelve years. President Echeverría’s response to national social discontent after 1960 took place, at least in part, within a populist framework. Attempting to quell student, campesino, and labor protest that had erupted particularly under President Gustavo Díaz Ordaz (1964–1970), Echeverría turned to massive social spending as a gesture of goodwill toward various dissenting social groups, including indigenous communities. The expansion of the already established CCI project has been viewed as a weapon in his populist arsenal to create short-term consensus among indigenous peoples. For example, when Echeverría took over the reins of the nation in late 1970, eleven CCIs served three hundred thousand indigenous peoples. But during the following six years the number of CCIs increased by almost 500 percent, expanding to fifty-eight coordinating centers claiming to serve almost 2.5 million indigenous peoples by 1976. Meant to demonstrate a state commitment to and investment in indigenismo projects, as a sign of goodwill this expansion had a clear political choreography that indigenous peoples were keen to interpret as such.

In the meantime, indigenous groups and communities continued to organize of their own accord. By 1972, when the Seventh Tarahumara Congress was held, more than twelve thousand Tarahumara, Pima, and Tepehuanes gathered in Guachochi, with 110 indigenous governors among the thousands of participants. The official federal entourage included Augusto Gómez Villanueva, director of the Department of Agrarian Affairs and Colonization (DAAC);25 Alfredo Bonfil, secretary general of the National Campesino Confederation (CNC); and Dr. Gonzalo Aguirre Beltrán, the National Indigenist Institute’s director, along with several representatives of the SEP.26

This regional congress and the wide participation of local indigenous peoples displays the resiliency of the CST and the ability of its leaders to keep it alive for almost forty years. Therefore, it should not be surprising that it served as a model for the organization of a series of indigenous regional congresses and a National Indigenous Congress in the 1970s as well as for the governing structure of the eventual National Council of Indigenous Peoples (CNPI; established in 1975). Although the regional congresses of the 1930s had been methodically organized, with less than twenty congresses held in four years, those held four decades later were not. The more than fifty regional congresses held during Echeverría’s presidency were all carried out between March and July in 1975. The actual time spent planning these congresses was even more abrupt than the five-month time frame suggests, given the stop/start nature of the organizational process and the interagency squabbles that endangered the very survival of the congresses.27 For example, not all CNC officials were receptive to the regional congresses, and neither were campesino leagues.28 A group of indigenous leaders working within DAAC and led by a Chatino man from Oaxaca, Vicente Paulino López Velasco, and Samuel Díaz Holguin, a Rarámuri man from Chihuahua, worked as official cultural and political intermediaries and translators.

While some indigenous leaders worked within the system, other indigenous peoples worked the system. The Indigenous Congress in the southern state of Chiapas was initially conceived in 1973 by the Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Committee, to commemorate the five hundredth anniversary of the birth of Bartolomé de Las Casas (1474). Anthropologist Gertrudis Duby, Chiapas governor Dr. Manuel Velasco Suárez, and director of Chiapas Indigenous Affairs Angel Robles led the organizational efforts.29 The limitations in the reach of the Chiapas government into indigenous communities forced Robles to seek Catholic Bishop Samuel Ruiz’s help to organize Tzotzil, Tzeltal, Chol, and Tojolabal indigenous groups so that they would participate in the planned event. Bishop Ruiz exercised a great deal of caution regarding the proposition but accepted taking the lead in organizing the congress on the condition that it function as an event in which indigenous participation was not merely token but a reality and that the congress not be reduced to a mere performance of government politics.30 Ruiz’s team traveled to indigenous communities promoting the event as one in which Chiapanecan indígenas could take charge of the process and make demands to improve the economic, social, and political conditions of their communities. The committee focused on organizing Tzeltal, Tzotzil, Tojolabal, and Chol communities, the four ethnic groups that resided within Bishop Ruiz’s diocese.31 Over a thousand indigenous participants attended the congress in 1974.32

While the congress was regional in scope, federal government officials were certainly aware of it and expressed public support for it. Unable to attend, President Luis Echeverría sent a telegram on October 14, 1974, in support of the event.33 For his part, Governor Velasco Suárez inaugurated the congress and attended its proceedings. Although most municipal presidents were invited, few attended. The presence of some government officials at the Chiapas congress may have represented a continuation of government-sponsored indigenismo intended to display the state as willing to engage in dialogue and generate real solutions for the concerns of indigenous peoples at a regional level. Yet it is unlikely that this overture was taken at face value by indigenous leaders who, instead, viewed it as a political performance rather than a genuine attempt at crafting solutions to the problems that plagued their communities. In Histories and Stories from Chiapas, R. Aída Hernández Castillo effectively argues that the indigenous peoples in Chiapas were less than convinced by the federal and state government’s overtures.34

Indigenous peoples also took it upon themselves to make collective demands. Although critics charge that the conclusions presented at the Chiapas congress were limited and lacked political depth, they do, in fact, reveal the real necessities of indigenous peoples in Chiapas.35 This congress is important in the history of indigenous organization, most certainly within Chiapas, but not necessarily for the demands that were made, as they were neither radical or new and centered on medical attention, land reform, employment, and education, as Hernández Castillo has shown. Rather, the methods used to organize during a time when state repression was a real threat is of importance. It is also significant that the congress itself was not completely an independently organized process and that it was, in fact, funded by government monies. Indigenous and religious leaders merely utilized the opportunity before them to craft a process that could be their own, even if not completely separate from the state. In many ways this method reflects the efforts of indigenous peoples, in this case at a local level, to maneuver within the spaces that government officials unwittingly or intentionally crafted. The discourse of state projects was often rewritten into ones that indigenous peoples could and might deploy at their convenience.

First National Congress of Indigenous Peoples

Approximately a year after the Chiapas Indigenous Congress was held, the First National Congress of Indigenous Peoples of Mexico took place from October 7 to 10, 1975, on Janitzio Island in Lake Pátzcuaro, Michoacán. For Echeverría’s administration the First National Congress of Indigenous Peoples represented the apex of participatory indigenismo and was intended to serve as a government-generated campaign of social control in the face of mounting political and social pressures. But this program also represented an opportunity for indigenous leaders to reframe the conversation, to make their own demands and pursue individual and collective goals. Additionally, it also served to establish interethnic cooperation between various indigenous groups that for the first time gathered in one place, with sixty-eight delegations from all over the country transported by buses provided by government agencies.36 After 1975 the participatory nature of indigenismo was reflected in the continued mobilization of the indigenous sector, which pressured for material assistance and programs as well as the right to make decisions about indigenous lives and communities with little to no government intervention.37 The national congress was clearly an example of government-generated indigenismo. In fact, in Stand Up and Fight, María L. O. Muñoz shows that the 1975 congress was the culmination of four years of planning and represented the crowning moment of President Echeverría’s participatory indigenismo. Still, it functioned as a facilitator for indigenous self-determination through the Letter from Pátzcuaro.38 In this document indigenous leaders made demands for political and cultural determination as well as the release of indigenous political prisoners, bilingual and bicultural education, improved infrastructure in their communities, and economic development, among other petitions.

Indigenous leaders also maneuvered to work within the system. For example, the group of bilingual promoters working within the DAAC sought to act on the participatory nature of Echeverría’s indigenismo. Led by Vicente Paulino López Velasco, Samuel Díaz Holguín, and Galdino Perfecto Carmona (Amuzgo-Guerrero), these men took the lead in the creation of the CNPI. Sergio Sarmiento Silva’s “El Consejo Nacional de Pueblos Indígenas y la política indigenista” is the first article that tried to understand the rise and functions of the CNPI.39 While Sarmiento Silva argued the CNPI represented an attempt by indigenous peoples to participate in the crafting of government policies, the focus of the article has more to do with how the council fit into a long list of indigenous- and government-based organizations formed within the context of the postrevolutionary regime; the article locates its founding in 1975. While the CNPI was indeed government funded, indigenous leaders like Díaz Holguín and López Velasco had begun the process of organizing within the DAAC as early as 1971. In late 1971, when President Echeverría announced the organization of a national indigenous congress, these indigenous leaders claimed a role in its organization process. For the four years prior to the official founding of the CNPI, indigenous leaders within DAAC worked to foster national support for such an structure via their participation in the organization of regional indigenous congresses that were eventually held in early 1975. As government workers, they functioned as intermediaries between indigenous communities and other government officials in order to create support for a national indigenous congress. In addition to that task, they followed their own agenda to foster a base of support for a national indigenous organization that would hold federal, state, and local government officials accountable and responsive to the needs of indigenous Mexicans.

Sarmiento Silva contends that during the early years of the CNPI, its leaders were able to shape it into an organization that was truly representative of indigenous communities.40 While this may be true, its early years were perhaps the years when the CNPI was also “learning” how to be a national organization, to cement its position within the state, and to navigate internal disagreements over the organization’s short- and long-term goals. In trying to establish themselves as national leaders, CNPI members attempted to capitalize on the populist discourse of Presidents Luis Echeverría and Jóse López Portillo in order to make political and material gains for themselves and their communities. But in many respects they overplayed their political hand, and their influence at the national and local levels had declined by the mid-1980s.41

Not all indigenous leaders and organizations, however, chose to work within the system. Many organizations opted to remain outside of the government’s reach as long as possible, as contributors to the edited volume Movimientos indígenas contemporáneos en México demonstrate. While some indigenous leaders accepted the opportunities that the national populist politics of the 1970s and early 1980s provided and used the language of the revolution as leverage when making demands for material improvements and political inclusion, ethnic groups like the Maya in the Yucatán were not all that interested in working with or within government agencies.42 As with many indigenous communities, the long-standing resistance of many Maya to external agents of authority has been continual since contact with Europeans and certainly before it as well. This resistance has taken different shapes over time, depending on space and context, from the Chetumal rebellion in 1639 and Jacinto Canek’s movement in 1761 during the colonial period to the Caste War in 1847 and to the efforts to retain Maya languages and practices in the face of the Mexican state’s 20th-century mestizaje project.43 In fact, when the Maya from the State of Mérida were incorporated into the CNPI after 1975, their supreme council was established by the state’s government decree, not by Maya leaders themselves. Even then, few Maya actively participated in the organization.

By 1983 a number of dissenting organizations emerged to challenge the CNPI’s claim as the national indigenous organization. For example, the Coordinadora Nacional de Pueblos Indígenas (also CNPI) emerged as an offshoot of the CNPI led by a group of Nahuas and Popolucas from Veracruz, Yaquis from Sonora, Zoques from Chiapas, and Chinatecos from Oaxaca. Led by Genaro Domínguez, who had been part of the CNPI,44 many former CNPI members formed the membership of the Coordinadora Nacional and the Coordinadora Nacional Plan Ayala (CNPA).45 Members of the Coordinadora Nacional de Pueblos Indígenas were faced with the realities of the economic crisis of the 1980s, which required changes in their political strategies. For example, a rise in the numbers of campesino and indigenous organizations resulted in greater competition for already diminished government funds. Although the Coordinadora Nacional de Pueblos Indígenas continued to make demands for land, fair prices for basic necessities, and credit as well as to denounce government corruption, repression, and the austerity policies adopted by President Miguel de la Madrid (1982–1988), it was much more difficult to work within a system that had drastically cut funding for social programs.46

Members of CODREMI (Defense Council for Human and Cultural Resources of the Oaxaca Mixe) argued that an alliance between campesino- and indigenous-based organizations would strengthen the demands made by rural peoples. They pointed to organizations like the Coalition of Workers, Campesinos, and Students of the Isthmus (COCEI); Emiliano Zapata Campesino Union (UCEZ); Campamento Tierra y Libertad Veracruz; Revolutionary Front of Guerrero Public Defense; and Zacatecas Popular Front and, in Morelos, a number of rural organizations led by Mateo Zapata, the son of agrarian icon Emiliano Zapata, under the name Coordinadora Nacional Plan Ayala (CNPA),47 as representative of a new wave of grassroots coalition politics. These case studies also reveal the failure of the federal government, populist or not, to truly make gains in indigenous communities. Jeffrey Rubin’s study of COCEI in Juchitán, Oaxaca, shows the ways in which government officials relied on local leaders, caciques, and other intermediaries to claim control in the region. In this process, indigenous peoples in Juchitán shaped their own forms of control, one of which was redefining their relationship with the state in their communities and membership in their indigenous-based organization. Contemporary with COCEI, the UCEZ in the central region of Michoacán was understood as an indigenous-based organization that made efforts to include self-identifying campesinos in its membership base, particularly because the drying of Lake Pátzcuaro threatened not only fisheries but also irrigation and the availability of potable water for all residents of the region. Concerns were also linked to issues of political self-determination and a fight against what many leaders and community members considered cultural ethnocide as a result of the Mexican state’s mestizaje project.48 Both the government and indigenous leaders during the 1970s and 1980s shaped a legacy regarding the possibility of engaging in the construction of national policies and programs from within and without.


State-sponsored indigenismo was reshaped by the neoliberal economic policies initiated in 1982 under Miguel de La Madrid (1982–1988) and continued under Carlos Salinas de Gortari (1988–1994). These policies resulted in particularly damaging programs for rural residents and, in many cases, for indigenous communities. The amendment to Article 27 of the Constitution in 1992, for one, redefined the nature of ejido holdings.49 Campesino and indigenous communities were free to choose whether they wanted to remain in a collective property arrangement or opt for the issuance of individual land titles, in effect, bringing about the privatization of collectively owned land. For many small landholders and campesinos and rural indigenous peoples, this effectively marked the end of the Mexican Revolution, as land reform had been one of the promises central to its legacy. The amendment was generally believed to be a strategic move to open the way for unfettered free trade. The majority of meetings between Canadian, U.S., and Mexican officials in which the terms of a regional trading block were negotiated took place during Salinas de Gortari’s presidential term. Many government leaders believed that free trade was the key to creating economic opportunities for industrialists, big business corporations, and small business owners while also paving the way for success in large commercial agriculture ventures. Yet for indigenous peoples and many campesinos, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) meant the loss of lands, deepening of poverty, and disappearance of already low-paying jobs as large landowners bought land, legally or through intimidation and deceit, in order to profit from the impending trade agreement. In addition, illegal loggers continued to devastate forests, and big coffee cultivators with strong connections to domestic buyers and distributers stood to benefit from potential opportunities about to be ushered in by the trade agreement. In the southern state of Chiapas, members of the Zapatista National Revolutionary Army (EZLN) saw the death, figuratively and literally, of their way of life in the birth of NAFTA. With nothing left to lose and everything to gain, they mobilized to draw attention not only to their plight as indigenous Mexicans but also to the dangers that NAFTA represented for all urban and rural lower-class peoples.50

In the early hours of January 1, 1994, the day that NAFTA was to officially go into effect, masked and poorly armed EZLN combatants attacked government offices in a number of towns and cities in Chiapas. While some EZLN combatants carried firearms, the majority did not, bearing little more than agricultural implements like knives, machetes, hoes, and sticks. For government officials and national leaders in Mexico City, the uprising in the south came as a surprise. But Natividad Gutiérrez and Shannan Mattiace argue that it should not have, considering the continued mobilization of campesino- and indigenous-based organizations during much of the 1970s and 1980s owing to the deepening of the economic crisis that devastated entire communities.51 For those who would certainly be negatively affected by the trade agreement it was a logical step in the history of indigenous struggles during the 20th century. After 1982, with the acute economic crisis and government adoption of rigid austerity measures, the results were felt in many indigenous communities and amongst urban and rural lower classes and the poor. NAFTA, in the view of many of these groups, would only further deepen their misery.

Since 1994, the EZLN has become the face of the national indigenous movement, in part the result of national and international media portrayals but also by being targeted as research subjects of political scientists, anthropologists, sociologists, and historians. The uprising certainly drew public attention, both domestic and international, to the dire situation indigenous peoples throughout the nation faced. While Mattiace maintains that the rise of the EZLN led to the emergence of a national indigenous movement, this article, along with the work of Gutiérrez and other historians of indigenous mobilizations, has shown that the armed struggle of the EZLN fits into a much longer and more complex set of mobilizations that marked the collective lived experience of indigenous communities and peoples throughout the 20th century. While the armed insurgency led to support from different social sectors across the country, the closest indigenous Mexicans may have come to a pan-indigenous movement was during the 1970s. In addition, the demands made by the EZLN in the 1996 San Andrés Accords were modeled, directly or indirectly, after the Letter from Pátzcuaro, which was crafted and publicly presented to President Echeverría at the 1975 First National Congress of Indigenous Peoples, although in the 1990s such demands were cast in the language of human rights. Likewise, the demands framed in the Letter from Pátzcuaro were long-standing ones and certainly not novel in 1975. Julio Garduño discusses how Mazahua peoples began organizing in 1949 to protect their lands but also to demand bilingual education and political self-determination.52 Thus, demands for bilingual and bicultural education, the release of indigenous political prisoners, political inclusion, and political and cultural self-determination were key in multiple movements since the turn of the century, including those of the Rarámuri, the Wixáritari, and the Mazahua, among many more ethnic communities—and not just in the 1975 Letter from Pátzcuaro or the San Andrés Accords. The Chiapas uprising was timely and important, but making the EZLN the representative of 20th-century indigenous mobilizations overshadows the longer history of mobilizations and resistance occurring since the 1930s. Generations of indigenous leaders have adopted and adapted the language and strategies that are deemed relevant to their realities and particular situations. From the rhetoric of “time immemorial” in regard to rights over land and natural resources to the legitimizing force of revolutionary social promises and the language of human rights, various discourses and rationales have been employed and deployed as situational weapons. Some communities and organizations have experienced varying levels of measured success and others the harsh realities of cooptation and state repression.

In conjunction with the dismantling of the protective clauses of Article 27 of the Constitution and the potentially debilitating economic and political aspects of NAFTA for most rural Mexicans, amendments to Articles 3 and 4 directly affected the status of indigenous peoples in that the new version of the Constitution declared Mexico a multicultural, multilingual, and multiethnic nation, officially abandoning the mission of mestizaje. While it was considered an important change and a step forward in political and social recognition of the right of indigenous Mexicans to exist as indígenas, this change was also met with caution. The expectation was that the recognition of the ethnic and cultural diversity of the national population would open a path to political and social inclusion and address the decades of attempts at purging indigenous cultural practices that had characterized the mestizaje project. Yet, as Guillermo de la Peña has explained, it also allowed the federal government to cleanse its hands of any enforcement of programs and funding for indigenous communities and populations.53 By arguing that, legally, indigenous peoples were officially recognized as such, the government—regional and federal—could move on with plans to open up the nation to external economic investments as part of NAFTA, no longer ideologically obligated to safeguard the revolutionary ideals of land protection. NAFTA language was vague in regard to environmental impact, labor rights and protections, fair wages, and land access. Together, these changes shifted the 20th century’s revolutionary discourse, which acknowledged the federal government’s obligation to protect indigenous communities and natural resources, in their charge to include loopholes that circumvented such long-standing promises and legal obligations in order to carry out economic exploitation in the name of free trade. In addition, the federal government removed the responsibility for carrying out programs for indigenous communities from its own table and left it up to individual state and local governments to do so on their own terms.54 Considering the long history of less than cordial relations between state and local government and indigenous communities and organizations, that arrangement was a difficult one for most communities; it meant that they would need to adapt to a new set of circumstances yet again.


During the 20th century, indigenous peoples have continually struggled against oppression and repression and attempted to negotiate their rights as Mexican citizens. As the federal government lost its mandate to govern, owing to corruption and violence, by the end of the century, drug-related violence escalated and its impact on indigenous communities deepened. For example, the Rarámuri are now caught between drug cartels who recruit them, sometimes forcibly, into carrying cargo across the Sierra Tarahumara, while police and military agents terrorize them by coercing them to becoming informants or treating them as collaborators if they do not. Drug cartels also impart terror and violence by coercing indigenous peoples, largely young men and some women, into transporting drug loads across difficult terrain or framing them as government collaborators. Indigenous communities are caught between two violent groups, with a great deal to lose if they do not walk a very tight rope between both.

This is not necessarily a new occurrence; it has historical precedence in the case of the Cora in Nayarit. Coyle writes that during the field research for From Flowers to Ash in the 1980s, he came across rumors that local bilingual teachers in Santa Teresa had connections to the Sinaloa drug operation and that opium and marijuana were fast becoming part of the informal local economy.55 Over time, local government officials turned to police and military patrols to curb the rise of narcotic production and transport, while those invested or working in the drug operations sought to protect the poppy and marijuana fields. By the late 1980s the 86th Infantry Battalion was operating in Santa Teresa, destroying poppy and marijuana fields while also terrorizing locals.56 Indigenous communities in the Sierra Nayar were caught between both vehicles of violence, whether they were working in the narcotic fields or not.

Perhaps the major difference between the rise of drug operations in Guerrero, Michoacán, and Jalisco during the 1950s and 1960s versus today is the scale of operations and production as well as the Mexican government’s ability to negotiate with drug cartels, keeping them manageable in terms of size and levels of violence. According to Ioan Grillo, by 2000 when the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) lost the presidential election and thus power, it also unleashed levels of brutality and violence that not even the Mexican military is able to control. The violent struggles over control of narcotics production, smuggling routes to the United States of America, and power has engulfed large parts of the country, with innocent civilians caught in wars of narco versus narco, narco versus military, and military versus local police forces. Many of those innocent civilians also include indigenous peoples who have long resided in areas now used for drug production (methamphetamine, cocaine, cannabis) or along trade routes.57

The complex and oftentimes historically destructive relationship between the federal government and indigenous communities is multifaceted and has changed over time and varies from place to place and situation to situation. As the literature of the last twenty-five years shows, those changes have been shaped by reactive and proactive strategies enacted by indigenous leaders and communities as well as by multiple versions and understandings of indigenismo and citizenship. In addition, shifting social, political, and economic winds have also shaped the breadth of strategies adopted by communities, leaders, and local and federal government officials. Rather than top-down or bottom-up approaches, the meeting point—ever shifting, ever changing—has proved to be difficult to locate.

Discussion of the Literature

The literature focusing on indigenismos and indigenous movements during the 20th century in Mexico tends to be produced via the frameworks of sociological and anthropological disciplines as well as political science and by journalists. Scholars such as Lynn Stephen and Ana Alonso have helped our understanding of the ways in which state rhetoric is reproduced by multiple groups and adapted to fit a number of agendas, official and unofficial. The works of Jeffrey Rubin, Margarita del Carmen Zárate Vidal, and José Eduardo Zárate Hernández provide local studies that also fit into a larger national context in terms of the ways indigenous communities shaped their understandings of government relationships to carve out spaces in which to maneuver politically, socially, and economically. Likewise, R. Aída Hernández Castillo and Shannan Mattiace’s work provides a glimpse into the complex relationship between political and cultural identity and the different ways those identities are imagined, reimagined, and deployed.

Historians have also contributed to our understanding of state-sponsored initiatives, indigenismos, and indigenous mobilizations and helped to give shape and voice to the experiences of indigenous peoples. Alexander Dawson, Stephen Lewis, and Andrae Marek, in particular, focus on the two decades following the end of the armed revolution to provide explanations for the process of change over time in those critical years. Of late, historians have begun to take an interest in moving beyond the established and somewhat outdated view that anything after 1945 cannot be history. The works of Paul Gillingham and Benjamin Smith focus on the middle of the 20th century and contextualize the ideological struggles between local communities and federal officials, indigenous and nonindigenous. Likewise, María L. O. Muñoz’s work adds to the shaping of political identities and sheds light on how indigenous peoples tried to negotiate for self-determination. Collectively, these works are important in excavating the longue duree of indigenous mobilization and indigenismo. The breadth of scholarship that explores local and national, social, political, and economic indigenous mobilizations and indigenismos is extensive and has been critical to our understanding of how ethnic and racial identities are shaped and negotiated, how revolutionary discourse could be deployed by multiple actors in multiple ways, and how the Mexican state itself was much more fragile than we tend to think.

Primary Sources

In the last thirty years the analytical focus has dared to move past 1940 in part owing to attempts to understand how the Mexican state was built and what it looked like after the classic Cárdenas period. In addition, the unearthing of official documents and gathering of oral histories have allowed scholars to understand how different political and social groups shaped the postrevolutionary state. From individual presidential papers (post 1934) held at the National Archive (AGN) in Mexico City to the opening of the intelligence records of the Federal Department of Security (DFS) and the Secretariat of the Interior’s (SEGOB) Social and Political Investigations Unit in 2001, these documents have helped researchers piece together the post-1940s. Of course, since 2015, the DFS archive has been provisionally closed to the wider public and researchers, making the works by the scholars who harvested documents from that archive while it was open critical to the history of social movements and to the understanding of what the state “looked” like and how it functioned, state violence, and intelligence mechanisms and surveillance. This work also helps us find out what happened to the disappeared.

For a more specific look at indigenismo programs and indigenous communities, the National Commission for the Development of Indigenous Peoples (CDI), formerly the INI, holds a wealth of documents, photographs and other media. Their online catalogue is useful for exploring the site, and in some cases the documents and photographs are accessible online. The III has been revived in the early years of the 21st century, and their physical site in El Pedregal in Mexico City houses some of the organization’s documents. The National Institute of Anthropology and History Library in the National Museum of Anthropology, also in Mexico City, holds some of the documents pertaining to the regional indigenous congresses of the 1930s and 1940s. Finally, the personal archives of Guillermo Bonfil Batalla (CIESAS-DF) and Salomón Nahmad Sittón in Oaxaca contain documents pertaining to the regional indigenous congresses of the 1970s, the 1975 First National Congress of Indigenous Peoples and the CNPI.

Further Reading

Bonfil Batalla, Guillermo. México profundo: Una civilización negada. 2d ed. Mexico City: Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes, Editorial Grijalbo, 1990.Find this resource:

Boyer, Christopher. Becoming Campesinos: Politics, Identity, and Agrarian Struggle in Postrevolutionary Michoacán, 1920–1935. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2003.Find this resource:

Collier, George. Basta!: Land and the Zapatista Rebellion in Chiapas. Oakland, CA: Food First Books, 1999.Find this resource:

Graham, Richard. The Idea of Race in Latin America, 1870–1940. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1990.Find this resource:

Lomnitz, Claudio. Deep Mexico, Silent Mexico: An Anthropology of Nationalism. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2001.Find this resource:

Marak. Andrae. From Many, One: Indians, Peasants, Borders, and Education in Callista, Mexico, 1924–1935. Calgary: University of Calgary Press, 2008.Find this resource:

Nahmad Sittón, Salomón. 7 ensayos sobre indigenismo. Mexico City: Instituto Nacional Indigenista, 1977.Find this resource:

Smith, Benjamin. Pistoleros and Popular Movements: The Politics of State Formation in Postrevolutionary Oaxaca. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2009.Find this resource:

Vázquez León, Luis. Ser indio otra vez: La purepechización de los tarascos serranos. Mexico City: Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes, 1992.Find this resource:


(1.) Adrian Bantjes, As If Jesus Walked on Earth: Cardenismo, Sonora, and the Mexican Revolution (Wilmington, Delaware: Rowman & Littlefield, 1998).

(2.) José Vasconcelos, La raza cósmica: Misión de la raza iberoamericana (Madrid: Aguilar, S.A. de C.V. Ediciones, 1966): 30–32; and Alexander Dawson, Indian and Nation in Revolutionary Mexico (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2004), 11–15.

(3.) Mary Kay Vaughan, Cultural Politics in Revolution: Teachers, Peasants, and Schools in Mexico, 1930–1940 (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1997).

(4.) Natividad Gutiérrez, Nationalist Myths and Ethnic Identities: Indigenous Intellectuals and the Mexican State (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1999).

(5.) Alexander Dawson, “‘Wild Indians,’ ‘Mexican Gentlemen,’ and the Lessons Learned in the Casa del Estudiante Indígena, 1926–1932,” The Americas 57.3 (January 2001): 329–361; and Alexander Dawson, “From Models for the Nation to Model Citizens: Indigenismo and the ‘Revindication’ of the Mexican Indian, 1920–40,” Journal of Latin American Studies 30.2 (May 1998): 279–308.

(6.) Stephen Lewis, The Ambivalent Revolution: Forging State and Nation in Chiapas, 1910–1945 (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2005), xvii.

(7.) Lewis, The Ambivalent Revolution, 190–192.

(8.) Dawson, Indian and Nation in Revolutionary Mexico, 96–126.

(9.) Laura Giraudo, “Neither ‘Scientific’ nor ‘Colonialist’: The Ambiguous Course of Inter-American Indigenismo in the 1940s,” Latin American Perspectives 39.5 (2012): 1–21.

(10.) For further information on the Interamerican Indigenous Congress, see Laura Giraudo, La questione indigena in America latina (Rome: Carocci, 2009); and Stefano Varese, Witness to Sovereignty: Essays on the Indian Movement in Latin America (Copenhagen: IWGIA, 2006).

(11.) Dawson, Indian and Nation in Revolutionary Mexico, 96–126.

(12.) Félix Báez-Jorge, “¿Líderes indios o intermediarios indigenistas? Dinamicas internoa y externas en el caso mexicano,” 23, Archivo CIESAS-DF/GBB, box 115; and Andres Medina, “Los grupos étnicos y los sistemas tradicionales de poder en México.” Nueva Antropología 5.20 (January 1983): 5–29.

(13.) Bonfil Batalla, Archivo CIESAS-DF/GBB, box 63; Dawson, Indian and Nation in Revolutionary Mexico, 123; Juan Luis Sariego Rodriguez, El indigenismo en la Tarahumara: Identidad, comunidad, relaciones interétnicas y desarrollo en la Sierra de Chihuahua (Mexico City: Instituto Nacional Indigenista: Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes, Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia, 2002), 168–171; and Miguel Merino Rascón, El Consejo Supremo Tarahumara: Organización y resistenia indígena (1939–2005) (Mexico City: Doble Hélice Ediciones, 2007), 23.

(14.) “Legislation on INI,” Instituto Nacional Indigenista, in Realidad y proyectos: 16 años de trabajo (Mexico City: Instituto Nacional Indigenista, 1964), 16.

(15.) Instituto Nacional Indigenista, Los centros coordinadores (Mexico City: Instituto Nacional Indigenista, 1962); and Instituto Nacional Indigenista, Regiones de refugio: El desarrollo de la comunidad y el proceso dominical en Mestizoamerica (Mexico City: Instituto Nacional Indigenista, 1973).

(16.) Instituto Nacional Indigenista, El indigenismo en acción: XXV aniversario del centro coordinador indigenista Tzeltal-Tzotzil, Chiapas (Mexico City: Instituto Nacional Indigenista y Secretaría de Educación Pública, 1976).

(17.) Stephen Lewis, “‘Indigenista’ Dreams Meet Sober Realities: The Slow Demise of Federal Indian Policy in Chiapas Mexico, 1951–1970,” Latin American Perspectives 39.5 (2012): 63–79.

(18.) Julio Garduño Cervantes, “El movimineto indígena en el estado de méxico,” in Movimientos indígenas contemporaneos en México, eds. Arturo Warman and Arturo Argueta (Mexico City: Grupo Editorial Miguel Angel Porrua, 1993), 133–155.

(19.) Paul M. Liffman, Huichol Territory and the Mexican Nation: Indigenous Ritual, Land Conflict and Sovereignty Claims (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2014), 91–109.

(20.) Philip E. Coyle, From Flowers to Ash: Náyari History, Politics, and Violence (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2001), 198.

(21.) Coyle, From Flowers to Ash, 199–201.

(22.) Coyle, From Flowers to Ash, 201.

(23.) Lynn Stephen, ¡Zapata Lives!: Histories and Cultural Politics in Southern Mexico (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002), 33–82.

(24.) Ana Alonso, “The Effects of Truth: Re-Presentations of the Past and the Imagining of Community,” Journal of Historical Sociology 1.1 (March 1988): 33–57; and Stephen, ¡Zapata Lives!; Paul Gillingham, Cuauhtémoc’s Bones: Forging National Identity in Modern Mexico (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2011), 49.

(25.) In early 1975 the Department of Agrarian Affairs and Colonization (DAAC) was renamed the Secretariat of Agrarian Reform (SRA).

(26.) Merino Rascón, El Consejo Supremo Tarahumara, 33.

(27.) Interview with Salomón Nahmad Sittón, Oaxaca, Mexico, October 2007; Bonfil Batalla, “En torno al resurgimiento etnico en Mexico,” 2, Archivo CIESAS-DF/GBB, box 56; “Movilizacion ideologica de los grupos etnicos de Mexico,” Instituto Nacional Indigenista, Archivo SNS, Oaxaca, Mexico.

(28.) Interview with Salomón Nahmad Sittón, Oaxaca, Mexico, October 2007.

(29.) Centro Nacional de Comunicación Social, AC, Documentos, Primer Congreso Indigena (Mexico City: CENCOS, December 1974), 1, 4. Archivo SNS.

(30.) Centro Nacional Pastoral Indígena, “Conclusiones del I Congreso Indígena,” Estudios Indígenas 4.2 (Mexico City: CENAPI, December 1974), 255. Archivo SNS; R. Aída Hernández Castillo, Histories and Stories from Chiapas: Border Identities in Southern Mexico (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2001), 106.

(31.) CENCOS, 255.

(32.) Centro Nacional Pastoral Indígena, “Conclusiones del I Congreso Indígena.” Report from Agustín Romano Delgado to Dr. Gonzalo Aguirre Beltrán, October 21, 1974. Archivo SNS, Oaxaca, Mexico. Report from Agustín Romano Delgado to Dr. Gonzalo Aguirre Beltrán.

(33.) Centro Nacional Pastoral Indígena, 256, Archivo SNS.

(34.) Hernández Castillo, Histories and Stories from Chiapas, 105–108.

(35.) Hernández Castillo, Histories and Stories from Chiapas, 105–108.

(36.) R. Aída Hernández Castillo and María L. O. Muñoz, Stand Up and Fight: Participatory Indigenismo, Populism, and Mobilization in Mexico, 1970–1984 (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2016).

(37.) Jorge Hernández-Díaz, Reclamos de la identidad: La formación de las organizaciones indígenas en Oaxaca (Mexico City: Grupo Editorial Miguel Angel Porrua, 2001), 32; and Shannan L. Mattiace, To See with Two Eyes: Peasant Activism and Indian Autonomy in Chiapas, Mexico (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2003), 64.

(38.) Speech by Dr. Gonzalo Aguirre Beltrán, “Primer Congreso Nacional de Pueblos Indígenas,” in Anuario Indigenista (Mexico City: Instituto Indigenista Interamericano; “Letter from Pátzcuaro”, December 1975), 196; and Archivo General de la Nación/Ramo de Gobernación, Investigaciones Politicas y Sociales, October 7, 1975, Soporte 2811 (hereafter cited AGN/SEGOB-IPS).

(39.) Sergio Sarmiento Silva, “El Consejo Nacional de Pueblos Indígenas y la política indigenista,” Revista Mexicana de Sociología 47.3 (July–September 1985): 197–215.

(40.) Sarmiento Silva, 197.

(41.) Hernández Castillo and Muñoz, Stand Up and Fight, 150–183.

(42.) “Carta de las comunidades indígenas,” 33. Archivo III.

(43.) Bartolomé Alonso Caamal, “Los mayas en la conciencia nacional,” in Movimientos indígenas contemporáneos en México, eds. Arturo Warman and Arturo Argueta (Mexico City: Centro de Investigaciones Interdisciplinarias en Humanidades UNAM, Grupo Editorial Miguel Ángel Porrua, 1993), 46–49.

(44.) Maria Consuelo Mejía Piñeros and Sergio Sarmiento Silva, eds., La lucha indígena: Un reto a la ortodoxia (Mexico City: Siglo Veintiuno Editores, 1991), 175.

(45.) Mejía Piñeros and Sarmiento Silva, La lucha indígena, 167.

(46.) Comunicado de la Coordinadora Nacional Pueblos Indígenas, April 10, 1985, Archivo Instituto Nacional Indigenista/Comisión Nacional para el Desarrollo de Pueblos Indígenas, FD 30/0093 (hereafter cited as Archivo INI-CDI).

(47.) Jeffrey W. Rubin, Decentering the Regime: Ethnicity, Radicalism, and Democracy in Juchitán, Mexico (Durham, NC: Duke University Press,1997); and Mejía Piñeros and Sarmiento Silva, La lucha indígena, 197.

(48.) Margarita del Carmen Zárate Vidal, En busca de la comunidad: Identidades recreadas y organización campesina en Michoacán (Mexico City: Colegio de Michoacán y Universidad Autónoma Metropolotana-Iztapalapa, 1998); Gunther Dietz, La comunidad Purhépecha es nuestra fuerza: Etnicidad, cultura y región en un movimiento indígena en México (Quito, Ecuador: Ediciones Abya-Yala, 1999); and José Eduardo Zárate Hernández, Los señores de utopia: Etnicidad política en una comunidad P’urhépecha: Santa Fe de la Laguna-Ueamuo, 2d ed. (Mexico City: Colegio de Michoacán y el Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en Antropoligía Social, 2001).

(49.) Gareth A. Jones, “Dismantling the Ejido: A Lesson in Controlled Pluralism,” in Dismantling the Mexican State? eds. Rob Aitken, Nikki Craske, Gareth A. Jones, and David E. Stansfield (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1996), 188–203.

(50.) Mattiace, To See with Two Eyes, 1–9.

(51.) Mattiace, To See with Two Eyes; and Gutiérrez, Nationalist Myths and Ethnic Identities.

(52.) Garduño Cervantes, “El movimineto indígena en el estado de méxico,” 133–155.

(53.) Guillermo de la Peña, “A New Mexican Nationalism? Indigenous Rights, Constitutional Reform and the Conflicting Meanings of Multiculturalism,” Nations and Nationalism 2.2 (2006): 279–302.

(54.) De la Peña, “A New Mexican Nationalism?” 291–294.

(55.) Coyle, From Flowers to Ash, 211–212.

(56.) Coyle, From Flowers to Ash, 215–216.

(57.) Isaac Campos, Home Grown: Marijuana and the Origins of Mexico’s War on Drugs (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2014); and Ioan Grillo, Gangster Warlords: Drug Dollars, Killing Fields, and the New Politics of Latin America (London: Bloomsbury Press, 2016).