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Forced Marches

Soldiers and Military Caciques in Modern Mexico

Ben Fallaw

Publication Year: 2012

Forced Marches is a collection of innovative essays that analyze how the military experience molded Mexican citizens in the years between the initial war for independence in 1810 and the consolidation of the revolutionary order in the 1940s. The contributors—well-regarded scholars from the United States and the United Kingdom—offer fresh interpretations of the Mexican military, caciquismo, and the enduring pervasiveness of violence in Mexican society. Employing the approaches of the new military history, which emphasizes the relationships between the state, society, and the “official” militaries and “unofficial” militias, these provocative essays engage (and occasionally do battle with) recent scholarship on the early national period, the Reform, the Porfiriato, and the Revolution.

When Mexico first became a nation, its military and militias were two of the country’s few major institutions besides the Catholic Church. The army and local provincial militias functioned both as political pillars, providing institutional stability of a crude sort, and as springboards for the ambitions of individual officers. Military service provided upward social mobility, and it taught a variety of useful skills, such as mathematics and bookkeeping.

In the postcolonial era, however, militia units devoured state budgets, spending most of the national revenue and encouraging locales to incur debts to support them. Men with rifles provided the principal means for maintaining law and order, but they also constituted a breeding-ground for rowdiness and discontent. As these chapters make clear, understanding the history of state-making in Mexico requires coming to terms with its military past.

Published by: University of Arizona Press

title page

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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-viii

The co-editors of this volume would like to thank Ben Huseman of the University of Texas at Arlington Library; Edward Montañez Pérez of the Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán’s Fototeca Guerra; and Russell Martin, Anne Peterson, and Cynthia Franco of Southern Methodist University’s DeGolyer Library ...

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Redrafting History: The Challenges of Scholarship on the Mexican Military Experience

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pp. 1-22

At times historical change takes place as slowly and imperceptibly as the growth of an olive tree. But at other times it lurches forward through what might be called a forced march, when people suddenly find themselves dragged out of cozy domesticity and plunged into conflicts not of their choosing. ...

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1. An Unsatisfactory Picture of Civil Commotion: Unpopular Militias and Tepid Nationalism in the Mexican Southeast

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pp. 23-48

Foreigners who came to Mexico in the years between independence and 1876 consistently remarked upon one feature: the pervasive and seemingly unhealthy role of military service in daily life. The German property owner Carl Sartorius referred to the “unsatisfactory picture of civil commotion” that their presence created ...

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2. The Mobile National Guard of Guanajuato, 1855–1858: Military Hybridization and Statecraft in Reforma Mexico

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pp. 49-80

By the 1850s, to quote the succinct assessment of statesman Jose María Lafragua, the Mexican military had become a “school of revolutions.” Lafragua lamented that the military had distinguished itself as an intensely politicized and internally divided corporate entity thoroughly embroiled in civilian disagreements ...

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3. Behaving Badly in Mexico City: Discipline and Identity in the Presidential Guards, 1900–1911

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pp. 81-109

At around eleven one morning during March 1902, residents of Mexico City witnessed the unusual spectacle of a presidential guardsman drunkenly careening past parading fellow guardsmen and officers—in a possibly stolen carriage—with a known prostitute.1 This brazen display of disregard for both societal niceties ...

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4. Heliodoro Charis Castro and the Soldiers of Juchitán: Indigenous Militarism, Local Rule, and the Mexican State

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pp. 110-135

Ask inhabitants of Juchitán about the postrevolutionary local leader, General Heliodoro Charis Castro, and they avoid tales of military expertise or heroic endeavor and instead respond with a joke. A typical gag goes as follows: “After the Cristero war, the president decided to offer Charis a gift. ...

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5. Eulogio Ortiz: The Army and the Antipolitics of Postrevolutionary State Formation, 1920–1935

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pp. 136-171

Between 1920 and 1935, Mexico’s postrevolutionary state weathered coups, the Cristiada, challenges from the left and right, and finally, Plutarco Elías Calles’s displacement by Lázaro Cárdenas. General Eulogio Ortiz played a crucial but underappreciated role in strengthening the revolutionary state during these critical years. ...

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6. Revolutionary Citizenship against Institutional Inertia: Cardenismo and the Mexican Army, 1934–1940

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pp. 172-209

In 1939, two radical printmakers from Mexico City’s Popular Graphics Workshop, Leopoldo Méndez and Alfredo Zalce, made a new flyer to be pasted on the city’s walls and street corners. In the center of one panel stands a stern, young army officer dressed in a smart but modest uniform. ...

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7. Military Caciquismo in the PRIísta State: General Mange’s Command in Veracruz

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pp. 210-237

The history of the Mexican military’s discreet self-effacement after the revolution is well known but under-researched.1 It is in many ways a peculiar story.2 The young, predatory generals of the revolutionary army, that strange hybrid of diverse citizens in arms, ended the bloody decade of the 1910s ...

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Conclusion: Reflections on State Theory through the Lens of the Mexican Military

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pp. 238-268

In the spring of 2008, Felipe Calderón, president of Mexico, began sending thousands upon thousands of army troops and federal police to the city of Ciudad Juárez along the US–Mexican border. The mission of these personnel was clear: they were to restore the rights of citizens and reestablish control for the central government. ...

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About the Contributors

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pp. 269-270

Ben Fallaw completed his PhD at the University of Chicago in 1995, and he has taught Latin America history at Colby College in Waterville, Maine, since 2000. He published his first monograph, Cárdenas Compromised (Duke University Press), in 2001, ...


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pp. 271-277

E-ISBN-13: 9780816599424
Print-ISBN-13: 9780816520428

Page Count: 304
Publication Year: 2012