Reception: March 2, 2017
Acceptance: June 19, 2017
This article focuses on the Revolutionary Party of the Mexican Proletariat (PRPM) that operated in the Federal District and in the states of Morelos and Guerrero between the years 1969 and 1970. Through interviews with the members of the PRPM and the consultation From documents from the General Archive of the Nation (AGN) I was able to reconstruct this little-known stage in the contemporary history of Mexico. I have proposed four objectives: to present the founding process of the PRPM, what was the structure of this party, to expose how the dismantling of this group took place and, finally, the influence that this Maoist organism had on the popular urban movement, specifically in the founding of the Rubén Jaramillo Proletarian Colony, in the state of Morelos.
Maoism in mexico: the case of the Revolutionary Party of the Mexican Proletariat, 1969-1970
In the present article I will focus on the Revolutionary Party of the Mexican Proletariat (“The Revolutionary Party of the Mexican Proletariat,” acronym in Spanish: PRPM), which developed in Mexico City as well as in the states of Guerrero and Morelos in 1969 and 1970. Based on interviews with PRPM militants as well as through documentary research at Mexico's National Archive (General Archive of the Nation; acronym in Spanish: AGN), I was able to reconstruct a little-known era from Mexico's recent history. I've set out to achieve four objectives: present the PRPM foundation process; describe the party's structure; recount how it disbanded and demonstrate the influence of the Maoist organization exerted in popular urban movements, specifically the foundation of the “Rubén Jaramillo Proletarian Colony” in Morelos.
Keywords: Maoism, communism, militancy, left, guerrilla.
The PRPM arises in a national context characterized by divisions of ideological tendencies generated from the dispute between the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) and the Chinese Communist Party (PCC).2 The friction and rupture between these two parties had its effects on the Mexican militancy. This period was characterized by political ruptures that caused the Mexican militants to define themselves by one side or the other. Some dissatisfied with the political position of the Mexican Communist Party (PCM) embraced the cause of the Chinese, since they considered that the Chinese Communist Party (PCC) was more attached to Marxism-Leninism, becoming the general line of the international communist movement.3
In the 1960s, leftist militants created organizations that had a short existence, such as the Leninist Spartacus League (LLE), the Bolshevik Communist Party (PCB), the Revolutionary Party of the Proletariat (PRP), the Communist League for Party Building. Revolutionary of the Proletariat (LCPRP), the Revolutionary Party of the Mexican Proletariat (PRPM), the Spartacus Revolutionary Association (ARE), the Spartacus Revolutionary Association of the Mexican Proletariat (AREPM), the Peasant Workers' Reclamation Union (UROC). A good part of them ended up in the Spartacus Communist League (LCE), which was located on the side of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).4
It is worth mentioning that there were other Maoist groups that decided to follow a path of political work and popular organization during the 1970s. Among the most representative were the non-militarist faction of the People's Union, the Companion Group, the Ho Chi Minh branch of the University Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), split from the Espartaco Communist League, and Popular Politics.5
However, among all the groups that identified with the thought of Mao Tse-Tung, the only group recognized and supported by the Chinese communists was the Mexican Leninist Marxist Movement (MMLM), whose members were colloquially called "the Mamluks" and its main leader was Federico Emery Ulloa.6 Later there was a second Mexican Maoist body that the Chinese communists supported and recognized, which was called the Revolutionary Party of the Mexican Proletariat (PRPM).
The main leader of the PRPM was the engineer Javier Fuentes Gutiérrez, alias Pancho. Engineer Fuentes was a member of the Mexican Communist Party (PCM), the National Liberation Movement (MLN), the Central Peasant Independent (CCI) and the People's Electoral Front (FEP). From declassified documents of the political police (DFS) we know that Javier Fuentes was disappointed in these organizations and distanced himself from them; thus it is established in its declaration:
... but that when he saw the program of the Mexican Communist Party that did not satisfy him, because he considered that it was not enough for the social injustices suffered by the people, he chose to separate from it and join the Independent Peasant Central, an organization at that time again creation and focused on solving the problems of the peasantry in Mexico, but that over time realized that this Central was not able to solve the peasant problems for their benefit either, opting to separate and not belong to any leftist group, although it did frequent each one of them in order to study and analyze their work programs and see if it was possible for any of them to fulfill their aspirations, consisting of actually doing work for the benefit of the people.7
The engineer Javier Fuentes looked for other options and found them when the militant and leader of the Mexican Leninist Marxist Movement (MMLM) Federico Emery Ulloa put him in contact with the Chinese. In an AGN document, in a statement made by the militant Javier Fuentes, he recounts the way he met Federico Emery Ulloa:
That upon having the knowledge of the voice that Federico Emery Ulloa was a distributor of this printed material in China, he contacted him, who after identifying ideologically in that both were and are admirers of the thoughts of mao tse tung, ulloa recommended the declarant to grant him the distribution of written and printed material in China Popular, for its dissemination in Mexico.8
Thus, in January 1967, Javier Fuentes founded a bookstore called El Primer Paso, located at 14 Enrico Martínez Street, in Mexico City, with the aim of distributing Maoist books. In addition to his propaganda activity in the Federal District, Javier Fuentes dedicated himself in that year to consolidating study circles in the state of Morelos with peasants and young people interested in Maoism.
Among those attending these indoctrination meetings are: Antonio and Israel González, Rafael Equihua, the Medrano brothers and their cousin Aquileo, two former Jaramillistas, Abundio and the Tlacuache, Justo, a Xoxocotla Indian and Carmelo Córtes, whoever was in that then the lieutenant of Lucio Cabañas in that state. The main objective of these meetings was to convince the attendees that the Maoist theory was the scientific guide to undertake a necessary revolutionary struggle, so it was opportune to start increasing the organization to start the armed struggle and overthrow the government and establish one of socialist type. In these meetings the Revolutionary Party of the Mexican Proletariat (PRPM) has its germ (Jaso, 2011: 38).
However, in that year the political police the Federal Security Directorate (DFS)9 links Fuentes to an armed action in the state of Guerrero.
Indeed, in July 1967, when the members of a guerrilla group in formation were apprehended, the Deputy Attorney General of the Republic, Julio Sánchez Vargas, accused him of being "the intellectual author of the conspiracy," which served as A pretext for closing the El Primer Paso bookstore, which was his property, and confiscating the Chinese propaganda and publications that they kept from there (Condés, 2009: 123).
Javier Fuentes Gutiérrez was saved from being arrested. Days before, he had left with Emery Ulloa for the People's Republic of China, where they stayed for several months. There they received political and military training.
Rafael Equihua Palomares, who was a state leader of the CCI in Morelos and a member of the PRPM, said, in his statement obtained under torture, that the subjects who carried out the attack on military transport in the mountains of the state of Guerrero were people recruited by the engineer Javier Fuentes. However, these subjects acted on their own. Let's see:
That he now recalls that Fuentes Gutiérrez commented that when he was in the People's Republic of China an attack was carried out against a military transport in the mountains of the state of Guerrero, which was committed by individuals recruited by himself for his organization, but who had acted On his own account, with which he had been compromised, for which he was forced to return to Mexico clandestinely and enter the country by walking across the border with the Republic of Guatemala.10
When Javier Fuentes returned to Mexico, he went to Cuernavaca, Morelos, where he established his home and began working in a bicycle workshop. Both the workshop and his home concealed activities of the PRPM.
The year of 1968 arrived and in the Federal District student mobilizations were carried out.11 At this juncture, the engineer Fuentes worked with a group of students from the School of Economics of the National Polytechnic Institute (IPN). It is during this movement that the Maoists of the PRPM recruit other elements. The activist of those years Rosalba Robles Vessi mentions that: “they met the engineer Fuentes Gutiérrez –at least she and [her husband] Raúl Murguía– almost at the end of the 1968 student movement” (Jaso, 2011: 39).
During the development of the student movement in 1968, Raúl Murguía, a mathematician at the IPN, met the anthropologist Antonio García de León, who at that time participated in two committees of struggle: that of the National School of Anthropology and History (ENAH), where he was studying , and the Economics of the National Polytechnic Institute (IPN), where he had some friends. At the end of 1968 - after the October 2 massacre in Tlatelolco - it was through Raúl Murguía that Antonio García de León met the engineer Javier Fuentes and later joined the PRPM. The cells that made up this organization were made up of people who were very upset by the state repression12 Faced with this situation, the Maoists of the PRPM thought that the armed struggle was the only political solution.13
Subsequently, in January 1969, the PRPM was formally founded in the Federal District. This meeting took place in the home of a couple who were sympathetic to the organization. Among the attendees were the engineer Javier Fuentes Gutiérrez, Jesús Gómez Ibarra, Florencio Medrano Mederos, Raúl Murguía Rosete, Rosalba Robles Vessi, Judith Leal Duque and Rafael Equihua Palomares. In addition, at this meeting the program of the organization called the Revolutionary Party of the Mexican Proletariat was drawn up.14
The creation of the PRPM was guided by Marxism-Leninism, thought of Mao Tse-Tung. According to Antonio García de León, the party's organizational structure was as follows: "In cells of 3 or 4 members that functioned under coordination and without knowing each other from cell to cell."15 On the other hand, the militant Rosalba Robles Vessi adds more elements about the structure of the PRPM: “A leader, a head, a command; later, some men close to the leader and later, the others. It was a very young organization that was still in the process of being structured; the leadership was led by the engineer Fuentes ”.16
According to AGN documents, the PRPM's objective was to: “organize the popular masses and overthrow by means of armed force the power of the ruling class, servant of Yankee imperialism, and establish in the Mexican Nation a state of new democracy, with a Government that represents the interests of all the revolutionary classes ”.17
To carry out this project and strengthen the political and military ideal in the organization, the engineer Fuentes proposed that the PRPM militants travel to the People's Republic of China. This is how Antonio García de León recalls: “To receive political preparation and military training within the Chinese and Vietnamese conception of creating a large organization, preferably rural, that would surround the city from the countryside; that was the idea developed by Fuentes and other leaders ”.18
The trip to the People's Republic of China took place in May 1969. The PRPM militants left in two groups: in the first group, Raúl Ernesto Murguía, Rosalba Robles, Florencio Medrano, Judith Leal, Rafael Equihua and Teresa traveled, while in the second group were Antonio García de León, Israel González and Aquileo Mederos. The first stop they made was in Helsinki and later in Paris, where they made contact with the embassy of the People's Republic of China. In this way, the Chinese diplomats provided them with the plane tickets that they used to continue their trip to the city of Beijing, where they were received by Chinese officials. Once reunited, the PRPM militants were taken by bus to a guerrilla warfare school.
In this way, a group of PRPM militants were indoctrinated. One of them, Rosalba Robles Vessi, evokes the experience: “The training consisted of studying and discussing the works of Mao Tse-Tung, visits to factories, communes, hospitals, historical sites, relationships with workers and veterans of the revolution who shared their experiences during and after it, and military strategies and tactics that included knowledge about some weapons ”.19
In his statement obtained under torture, Rafael Equihua Palomares gave a more extensive description of the training in the People's Republic of China. I declare that
At 6:00 am they did gymnastic exercises and walks; at 6.30 am toilet and immediately after a light breakfast; from 8:00 to 11:30 theoretical classes; lunch at 12 noon and then a siesta; from 2:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. new classes and then time for dinner and then discussion or comments on what was studied and at 9:00 p.m. to sleep; that the classes consisted of politics, military strategy and tactics, explosives and handling of firearms and shooting practices, recalling that of the latter they only had two or three practices, not explosives, which was more extensive, teaching them how to handle explosives, dynamite, mines and how to make and connect detonators; who also carried out practical drills of attacks and ambushes, in which all the members of the Mexican group already named participated, and Chinese soldiers acted as enemies, using rifles without cartridges, and sometimes they were given bullets, using camouflage, and the Chinese always They said that in the simulation they were fighting against the Japanese.20
It is pertinent to mention that the PRPM militants were in the Asian country in the middle of the cultural revolution,21 undoubtedly a historical moment that marked them politically and ideologically. With the knowledge acquired, the members of the PRPM returned to Mexico at the end of December 1969. However, the DFS kept track of them and highlighted the following premises:
1) They are fully convinced of the "need to establish a political-military nucleus among the masses that allows the accumulation of forces", in a first phase of a long political-military process known in Maoist theory as the "Prolonged People's War"; 2) They separated themselves from the urban guerrillas existing at that time, in particular from the efforts that gave rise to the LC23S; For them, the perspective was clearly that of a rural guerrilla, their slogan was “to surround the cities from the countryside”; 3) Although the majority are from Guerrero, they saw better development conditions in the state of Morelos due to the tradition of peasant struggle.22
Unfortunately the members of the PRPM were not aware that the DFS was tracking them; This is how the militant Rosalba Robles Vessi remembers it: “as Nassar Haro himself mentioned during the interrogations, Interpol had the record of our trip from the last air stop before arriving in China. No, we did not know that they were tracking us until a few days before our arrest ... "23
The Maoists of the PRPM returned convinced of being related to the common and simple people. They settled in the states of Morelos and Guerrero, where there were contacts and previous political work by Javier Fuentes Gutiérrez, Rafael Equihua Palomares and the brothers Florencio, Primo and Pedro Medrano Mederos, among others.
The plan with peasants from these two states was frustrated due to the persecution that had been launched against the militants of the organization since their arrival from China. An event that precipitated the group's dismantling occurred in February 1970. Two bombs were detonated by accident in the electrical appliance repair shop that functioned as arsenal for a group called the Revolutionary Struggle Committee (CLR). These pumps were manufactured and stored there.
After the explosion, the police began investigations, until they managed to capture the entire group. According to the historians Azucena Citlalli Jaso Galván and Enrique Condes Lara, the Committee for Revolutionary Struggle (CLR) maintained relations with other armed groups that operated in Chiapas, Tabasco, Mérida, and Guerrero, in the latter state specifically with the group of Genaro Vázquez,24 and in the Federal District and Morelos with the PRPM. "The Maoists [of the PRPM] had effectively held conversations with members of the Revolutionary Struggle Committee but they did not participate in the bombings or assaults - revolutionary expropriations - carried out by their interlocutors" (Condés, 2009: 126)
It is in mid-February 1970 when the PRPM militants begin to have problems with the distribution of the propaganda that one of its members distributed from a department in Tlatelolco. Antonio García de León recalls that Javier Fuentes tried to clarify the problem with that person:
Due to a mistake made by Fuentes, it occurred to him that we would go as a group to claim this guy as far as Tlatelolco. We would go Fuentes, Murguía, Rosalba, two other companions and myself. But in those days I had to act as a witness to my sister's wedding in Veracruz, so I declined the "invitation" and went to the wedding. Days later, I learned from the press that they had all been "ambushed" by police officers from the brigade commanded by Nasar Haro ...25
The PRPM militants attended the meeting in the Tlatelolco square and, instead of finding the person who summoned them, they were detained by DFS agents. Rosalba Robles Vessi recalls: “It was carried out by Nassar Haro and other agents in Mexico City, in the garden of Santiago Tlatelolco, while we were waiting for an appointment. There, Javier Fuentes, Raúl Murguía and Rosalba Robles were detained ”.26
The PRPM militants were kidnapped in an unknown location, possibly in Military Camp number one. Days later they were presented to the authorities and accused of conspiracy, incitement to rebellion, criminal association and cover-up of the crimes of damage to the property of others by explosion and injuries.27
It is now known that the arrest was due to an accusation. Antonio García de León recalls:
But later I learned that he was not an infiltrator and that his denunciation was justified. The story, which Murguía told me years later, in 1975, is that at that time (1970) the friend he had just gotten married and his wife was pregnant. The Nasar Haro police (from the White Brigade created by Echeverría in Segob, and after years prosecuted for car smuggling, murder and drug trafficking) captured his wife: they told her that they would torture and rape her in their presence, that they would make her have an abortion and that they would only respect them and set them free if they gave up the group.28
Engineer Javier Fuentes Gutiérrez and his colleagues Raúl Murguía Rosete and Rosalba Robles Vessi were sentenced to 40 years in prison. Suddenly they were released as irregularly as the entire process against them had been.
While the nucleus of the PRPM in jail, the rest of the group –both in Mexico City and Morelos– disperses, the detainees remain in the Lecumberri Palace and in the Santa Marta Acatitla women's prison for about 4 years. They are released –possibly as a token of friendship from the Mexican government– after Echeverría's 1973 trip to the People's Republic of China and after diplomatic activities between the two nations resumed (Jaso, 2011: 45).
When they were released from prison, the members of the PRPM dispersed. This is how the Mexican Maoist body was dismantled. The militant of those years Antonio García de León remembers that there was no attempt to restructure the organization: “Never again: I was in Chiapas and was active in the 'Vietnamese' wing of the Unión del Pueblo group and there Murguía visited me when I left the jail, who was already a student of Physical Anthropology at the ENAH, to which he later devoted himself (today he lives in Yucatán) ”.29
However, the legacy and action of Maoist thought continued to be present in one of the members of the PRPM, Florencio Medrano Mederos, the Güero, of peasant origin. This is confirmed by Antonio García de León: “The only one who continued to maintain a tiny PRPM was the Güero Medrano, something that later became PPUA (United Proletarian Party of America), with cells in Mexico and with migrants in the United States ”.30
When the PRPM militants returned from their political and military training in China, Florencio Medrano spent his time fleeing the political police. During 1971 and 1972 he took refuge with the ejidatarios of Acatlipa, Morelos. In this place, Florencio dedicated himself to working as a bricklayer and cutting roses, in his spare time he commented on Mao Tse-Tung's works and approaches to his colleagues. In this way, seeing the need for land to live, the invasion of land will be planned in what was destined to be the Villa de las Flores subdivision, located in Temixco, Morelos state. This is how his brother and partner in the struggle for housing, Pedro Medrano Mederos, remembers:
They invited him to go to study, to prepare precisely for China ... when he returned to Mexico and since then the Mexican government began to follow him, the Mexican law began to persecute him and then he was on the loose, well, on one side to the other side, and then working with the masons or wherever there was work. Then he went to Acatlipa, there he took refuge with the ejidatarios to cut roses and from there, because between comments, he like the evangelists with his books under his armpit and giving the doctrine of Mao Tse-Tung to the workers of the ejidatarios, to those who will gather there to cut roses and all that. Then as time passed, it was time for Rubén Jaramillo ...31
Florencio Medrano assimilated his experience in the People's Republic of China as a theoretical analysis, thereby making a resignification of Maoism but according to the conditions of the Mexican reality. This is how Florencio Medrano led an important group of peasants, migrants, day laborers, workers and the unemployed from Acatlipa, Temixco, Jojutla and also from the state of Guerrero, mainly from Iguala and Tierra Caliente, to invade a large property in Villa de las Flores , Temixco, Morelos, owned by the son of the State Governor, Felipe Rivera Crespo. The land seizure took place on March 31, 1973, which is how they founded the Rubén Jaramillo Proletarian Colony based on Maoist thought.32
However, this Maoist project was interrupted in the early morning of September 28, 1973, when elements of the Mexican army repressed and occupied the Rubén Jaramillo Proletarian Colony, on the pretext that “people and arsenal of Lucio Cabañas” were hiding within it.33 El Güero Medrano and Félix Basilio Guadarrama managed to escape.
This is how Florencio Medrano and some of his supporters, bordered by repression and persecution, had no choice but to go underground. Shortly afterwards they decided to form the United Proletarian Party of America (PPUA), with which they began the armed struggle to defend themselves and confront the authoritarian PRI government.34 Finally, this armed Maoist organization was dismantled after the death of Florencio Medrano Mederos, the Güero, in the Sierra de Oaxaca, on March 26, 1979.35
The foundation of the PRPM must be analyzed in the national context characterized by divisions of ideological tendencies, generated from the Sino-Soviet international struggle: a struggle between the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) and the Chinese Communist Party (PCC). ). The crisis began with the mandate of Nikita Khrushchev, who initiated a process of de-Stalinization and promoted the peaceful transition to socialism, a position antagonistic to that of the PCC. In the 1960s and 1970s, the complete breakdown of the alliance of the two communist giants became one of the basic elements of international affairs.
It was in this context that Javier Fuentes Gutiérrez (main leader of the PRPM) began to do propaganda and political work with groups of peasants from the states of Morelos and Guerrero, and with groups of workers and students from the Federal District. Maoist propaganda and literature was distributed through the El Primer Paso bookstore, located in the Federal District, while political work was done through study circles in the homes of families who were sympathetic to the organization.
In January 1969, the Maoist militants decide to found the PRPM. Thus began his formal, political and ideological militancy, reinforced by political and military training in the People's Republic of China. Some works on armed movements in Mexico establish that the Revolutionary Action Movement (MAR) was the only Mexican organization that had political and military training abroad36. Now we know that it was not only the sea, because members of the PRPM were also trained abroad.
The PRPM had a short life and few activities. In 1970 some of its militants will be arrested –among them, its main leader Javier Fuentes–, that is how this organization was dismantled. However, his legacy and influence served as a bridge or trial for one of his militants, Florencio Medrano Mederos, the Güero, who founded the Rubén Jaramillo Proletarian Colony, based on Maoist thought, and later created a Maoist guerilla, the PPUA.
Rosalba Robles Vessi, September 22, 2015.
Antonio García de León, October 20, 2015.
Pedro Medrano Mederos, January 22, 2016.
AGN, Gallery 1, IPS, Grupo Documental Lucio Cabañas. Public version.
AGN, Gallery 2, IPS, box 2538, file 1.
AGS, IPS, Gallery 2, box 3033 A, file 12.
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