Receipt: August 5, 2020
Acceptance: November 30, 2020
In this essay, I interweave different materials (audio, visual, musical, maps and statistical data) with my historical interpretation of the importance of María Arcelia Díaz (1896-1939) as a feminist, textile worker, union leader and pioneer of social and labor policies in Zapopan and the resonance of her struggles in our present time. I wove the visual, text and audio materials in my historical narrative to reconfigure Díaz’s time lived along with her hushed and quieted experience of time.
In this essay, I interweave different materials (audio, visual, musical, maps and statistical data) with my historical interpretation on the importance of María Arcelia Díaz (1896-1939) as a feminist, textile worker, union leader and pioneer of social and labor policies in Zapopan and the resonance of her struggles in our present time. I wove the visual, text and audio materials in my historical narrative to reconfigure Díaz's time lived along with her hushed and quieted experience of time.
Keywords: feminism, working class, union struggle, historical temporalities.
In early January 2019, María del Socorro Madrigal Gallegos, director of the Zapopan Municipal Women's Institute for Substantive Equality, invited me to give a lecture about María Arcelia Díaz (1896-1939), feminist, textile worker, union leader and pioneer of social and labor policies in Zapopan, as part of the event "A City for All: March 8, International Women's Day," at the Zapopan Museum of Art. This conference motivated me to present my findings and research on Diaz in a visual and interactive way.
My challenge was how to engage in an agile dialogue with the clues found in various primary sources (textual, visual, material and sound) about his life and political trajectory, my historical and subjective interpretation of a present (2019) and the "lived time" and "lived space", that is, Díaz's past (1896-1939), (Carr, 2014; Ricœur, 2004:4). I posed the question of how to show the temporal heterogeneity of Díaz and our present. To answer it, I turned to explanations of the social practices of Díaz's historical context and punctuated the characteristics of the world where she carried out feminist, labor, and political actions (Sewell, 2005). I was seduced by the idea that the images about Díaz's life not only represented something of her experience, but also had a voice to give "flesh and blood" to the different temporalities -historical time and life cycle- (Maynes, 2005). et al2008:2-3) and the cultural, labor, political and social processes she experienced. Thus, Díaz's voice can challenge the audience and the historian.
In this essay I weave together the various materials described above with my historical interpretation of the importance of this union leader in her time and the resonance her struggles have in our present with various global and Mexican feminist movements such as #MeToo (2015), #Diamantina Rosa (2019) and #UnDíaSinNosotras or #UnDíaSinMujeres in 2020.1
I was inspired by the work of American historian Natalie Zemon Davis, Women on the margins. Three lives of the century xviiwho reflects on the possibilities of historical interpretation based on the evidence gathered in an investigation and the questions that historical analysis implies. In the prologue to this work, Davis converses with the three women biographed-a Catholic, a Jew, and a Protestant; they question her about why she dared to analyze their memoirs and private writings. Davis answers each of their questions; she argues that they as women on the margins made the most of their position and compares them with other women and other men to locate their experiences in Europe in the xvii (Davis, 1995: 9-13).
In the first part I present an imaginary dialogue between Díaz and myself,2 which helps to situate the author's present and the audience with Díaz's past. These different temporalities and spatialities-with their respective contingent, complex, and heterogeneous consequences-remind us that "people are situated within social structures and discursive regimes, but not imprisoned within them" (Vaughan, 2019: 25). Díaz fought, negotiated, and contributed to transforming the living and working conditions of working-class women and men. In the second part I reconstruct Díaz's biography and political trajectory. I conclude with a waltz dedicated to her after her death, entitled "Mujer de Occidente" and composed by José de Jesús López and performed by Lucy Baruqui.3 In 2018, artist and teacher Florencia Guillén obtained funding from the Ministry of Culture to mount an art exhibition around the figure of Díaz, titled "Tierra, agua y territorio: ríos de cambio en la voz de una mujer" (Land, water and territory: rivers of change in the voice of a woman). The conversations and questions posed to me by Guillén allowed me to give a new reading and interpretation to the materials I present below.
On this International Women's Day, it is a great honor for me to talk about union leader María Arcelia Díaz, a Zapopan woman who fought for civil, labor and political rights for both men and women.
Maria Arcelia DiazWait a moment, why do you want to present my trade union and political struggle in a space I don't know, who are you, who authorized you to talk about my life, where are we?
Maria Teresa Fernandez AcevesI am María Teresa Fernández Aceves, historian of women. I found in the Historical Archive of Jalisco (ahj), I have been a member of the Labor and Social Security Department since the 1980s, when I worked as a cataloguer at the Labor and Social Security Department, where she presented her complaints, demands and reports to the Conciliation and Arbitration Board of the state of Jalisco. Her union struggle caught my attention since the 1980s, when she worked as a cataloguer in the ahj. I have studied her ever since. My professional training as a historian and my passion for understanding and contextualizing the lives of women have motivated me for many years to reconstruct and understand their lives, their actions, their labor, political and social proposals. At this moment we are in an event organized by the Municipal Institute of Zapopan Women at the Zapopan Museum of Arts to commemorate International Women's Day.
Source: Bárcena, Mariano. Ensayo estadístico del estado de Jalisco, referente á los datos necesarios para procurar el adelanto de la agricultura y la aclimatación de nuevas plantas industriales. Mexico: Oficina tip. de la Secretaria de fomento, 1888. Prepared by: Jorge Alberto Cruz Barbosa.
Source: BPEJ. "Planes de los Terrenos Anexos a la Fábrica de 'La Escoba', perteneciente a la Cía. Industrial de Guadalajara". Fondo Fábrica de Atemajac "Hugo Arroyo Godínez" (unclassified). 1925.
madI don't quite understand what you are talking about, because I was born in La Escoba, in the municipality of Zapopan, in 1896, and died in Guadalajara in 1939. What year is this?
mtfa: This is the year of 2019.
mad:What? 2019! 80 years have already passed since my death! Yes it is true that I was very active, reporting labor conditions in the Conciliation and Arbitration Board of the State of Jalisco, to the workers' organizations and to the different governors of the state of Jalisco. As 80 years have passed since my death, I am concerned that the people who are here understand what Zapopan and Guadalajara were like when I lived there.
mtfa: That is precisely what historians do, especially those of us who are dedicated to women's history and feminist biography.
mad: So are you going to point out that Zapopan in 1910 had more than 15,000 inhabitants? Are you going to point out that very few women in Jalisco in 1900, 0.31%, knew how to read and write and that is why I learned to read and write in the looms of the La Experiencia factory?... and that we women did not have civil, labor and political rights; that 638 men and 882 women from the textile factories of La Escoba, La Experiencia and Río Blanco in Zapopan fought hard to organize and maintain unions led by the workers themselves; that we "red" workers opposed the control of workers' organizations by the employers and/or the Catholic Church; that it took many strikes, work stoppages, complaints, lawsuits, labor inspections and lobbying with the governors of Jalisco to put into effect the postulates of Article 123 of the 1917 Constitution and that the Labor Law of the State of Jalisco was issued in 1923 and the Federal Labor Law in 1931.
mtfa: Yes, I have done so for each of your concerns. If I may, I will explain to this audience an overview of your political biography. This political history helps us in this present, 2019, to understand your struggles, achievements and failures in various organizations and political parties. It also helps to understand why in La Experiencia there is a street named after you and why the artist Florencia Guillén organized in 2018 an art exhibition around your life, entitled "Tierra, agua y territorio: ríos de cambio en la voz de una mujer" (Land, water and territory: rivers of change in the voice of a woman).
Source: Federico de la Torre, El Patrimonio Industrial Jalisciense del Siglo XIX: Entre fábricas de textiles, de papel y de fierro, Mexico, Secretaría de Cultura del Edo. de Jalisco, 2007.
mad: I agree with what you say, Maria Teresa. I am left with my mouth open that an artist has organized an exhibition about my life. My life and my struggles deserve to be heard by you? You, the Municipal Institute of Zapopan Women and the artist Florencia Guillen have awakened my interest. I will listen to them carefully.
mtfa: Thank you, María Arcelia Díaz! I reiterate, it is an honor for me to present your life in your municipality of Zapopan.
At the end of 1922, the leaders of the Sindicato Católico de La Experiencia agreed in an assembly to assassinate "the Bolshevik" María Arcelia Díaz (1896-1939), a trocilera (textile worker) who served as general secretary of the Unión Obrera La Experiencia (uole), a labor organization in favor of the revolutionary government. This agreement "was warmly applauded" by the priest and the political commissary, "who were present and were part of the board of directors of that union" (Gabayet, 1987: 117-119). In that meeting, one of the attendants indicated that he had already tried to liquidate her, but he had not found her alone in her house ("Attempted assassination against María Díaz", 1922). When this resolution became known, a group of tramway workers and textile workers affiliated with the Federación de Agrupaciones Obreras de Jalisco (Federation of Workers' Associations of Jalisco) (faoj), a member of the Confederación Regional Obrera Mexicana (chrom), organized a rally in the vicinity of the factory to defend it and asked the governor of Jalisco, Antonio Valadez Ramírez (1922-1923), to put an end to the hostilities and threats received by the members of the factory. uole (Hernández, 1940). To the leaders of the Catholic union, the priest and the political commissary, this demonstration confirmed that Díaz would not cease to demand the fulfillment of the workers' labor rights. In the face of this strong aggression, the question arises as to who María Arcelia Díaz was.
Diaz did not fit the image of the unskilled, apolitical, submissive, weak, dependent and inexperienced single worker. Nor did she represent the woman who, by leaving home to work in the factory, had lost her moral values and found the path of prostitution. Since the end of the century xix In Mexico, the presence of working women in the public sphere became increasingly noticeable. Their visibility led to intense debate in the press about their role in industry, their sexual morality and their honor. As in several Latin American countries, women were ordered to concentrate on jobs classified as properly feminine and separate from men, both in manufacturing and in the service sector. It was considered that these jobs did not contradict the main function they should have as mothers and wives (Fernández Aceves, 2006: 847). For example, the Catholic newspaper The Worker represented women as wives in the domestic sphere. According to this newspaper, women had different roles according to the political stance of their husbands. If their husbands were socialist leaders, women had a passive role due to their suffering and illness. Their children abandoned by the politicized father and the sick mother had to go out begging for bread. Sometimes, however, women could take a more active role at home, suggesting that their husbands leave the red unions and join the Catholic organizations. In their active role, women were pro-Church because their family would find "love, Christian charity without hatred and revenge by accepting the different social classes" (The Worker "The Socialist's Son"; "I Want Bread; I'm Hungry!"; "Poor Mari"; "The Iconoclast"). Throughout the century xximages of women who fell into prostitution were recreated in the Mexican press, in soap operas (such as SantaGamboa, 1903) and in films (Santa, Moreno, 1932). These discursive and visual representations reproduced a traditional notion of women in the domestic sphere.
Díaz was part of a generation of women who joined the revolutionary process, the conflict between Church and State, the organized labor movement and the incipient feminist movement to demand and specify their perceptions of what women should be, their role in politics and women's rights (civil, social, economic and political). Diaz established friendships and political ties at the international, national and regional levels with other women with intense political work; with Belén de Sárraga, a Spanish anticlerical and freethinker who emigrated to different Latin American countries to promote anticlerical, women's and workers' organizations; Florinda Lazos León, feminist from Chiapas in favor of women's suffrage; Ana María Hernández, teacher from Querétaro, federal labor inspector and founder of the Instituto Nacional de Ayuda de la Madre Soltera (Fernández y Fernández, 1958; Hernández, 1940), and finally Atala Apodaca, teacher from Guadalajara, iconoclast, constitutionalist and leader of the Círculo Liberal Josefa Ortiz de Domínguez.
Source: One hundred years of social activity in the factory "La Experiencia 1851-1951", Fábrica La Experiencia, n. e., 1951, p. 129.
To understand the figure of Díaz it is necessary to reconstruct her life history, so that the historian can situate her in the social structures and discursive regimes she experienced and her labor and political trajectory and her struggle for the organization of women and the defense of women's rights can be deciphered. Diaz did not write her autobiography, but there are petitions, complaints, letters, reports of labor inspections that she sent to the Department of Labor, and some newspaper articles that she published in El Jalisciense and in Fémina Roja. I examine the transition from Díaz's invisibility as a worker to her visibility as a textile leader thanks to the labor policies of Governor José Guadalupe Zuno Hernández (1923-1926), who promoted a popular anticlerical movement composed of peasants, teachers, women and workers through the Confederation of Liberal Parties of Jalisco (Fernández, 2014).
María Arcelia Díaz was born in La Escoba, municipality of Zapopan, in 1896. She was the daughter of J. Merced Díaz, a farmer, and Francisca Rendón ("María A. Díaz", 1964: 3). When she lost her father, she went out to work to support her mother and siblings. When she was eight years old, in 1904, she was hired by the Guadalajara Industrial Company (Gabayet, 1987).4 Like many of the salaried workers of that time, she worked 16 hours, without a contract, in unhealthy conditions and without labor rights. Because she was such a child, she would fall asleep during the workday among the empty shin boxes (Hernández, 1940; Keremitsis, 1997). Several biographies about Díaz state that her older companions taught her to write and read "on the looms, with the chalk to mark the blankets" (Arriola, 1975; Hernández, 1940; "María A. Díaz," 1964: 3; Bustillos Carrillo, n.d.). Díaz read the manifestos of the Flores Magón brothers, who called for the overthrow of the dictatorship of Porfirio Díaz (1876-1911) and advocated for social justice and political change; she also had access to the newspapers The Light, The Torch and the publications of the Casa del Obrero Mundial ("María A. Díaz", 1964: 3).
In 1908, when she was 12 years old, Díaz worked in Río Blanco, the textile factory that replaced La Escoba, and observed the first textile strikes in the Guadalajara region (Keremitsis, 1997). In 1910, at the age of 14, she participated in the organization of a union, but was fired (Hernández, 1940). Díaz and her family migrated from Guadalajara to Amatlán, Puebla, where there was a textile factory; she worked there for seven years. There she married Pablo Aranda, with whom she had two children who died as children (Libro de Defunciones de Guadalajara, 1939).5 Díaz developed his textile work in a context in which it was common for textile strikers and leaders to migrate to different regions to find work, as they had a political culture of solidarity that helped them confront unjust and unhealthy labor relations (Bortz, 1997). Diaz and her family, as well as the common women, men and labor leaders in the textile industry, participated in the workers' revolution within the Mexican Revolution (1910-1917) (Bortz, 2008).
In 1917 Díaz's family returned to Guadalajara with a political culture based on militancy and the struggle for workers' rights as part of the great transformations generated by the armed struggle of 1910. Based on this militancy and radicalization, upon his arrival in Guadalajara Díaz observed that the minimum wage was not granted nor was the eight-hour workday respected, and that many of the workers had to supplement their wages with overtime in order to cover part of their basic needs. These conditions favored the violation of Article 123 of the Constitution regarding the working day, the minimum wage, the obligations of employers and the rights of working men and women throughout the state (Keremitsis, 1997).
"Deserved Tribute. Comrade Rigoberto Ruvalcaba, General Secretary of Section 3 Textile of "La Experiencia" pins a medal to Mrs. Francisca Rendón Vda. de Díaz, mother of our comrade MARÍA A. DÍAZ, who was the founder and first General Secretary of this Union".
Between the 1910s and 1920s, a strong Catholic social action movement had developed in Jalisco, where women played a fundamental role in the defense of civil and political rights of the Church and Catholics in general. Catholic social action was an alternative to improve the social and material conditions of the masses, control the excesses of capitalism and prevent the spread of socialist ideas. In this entity laws in accordance with Catholic social action were decreed when the National Catholic Party (1911-1913 pcn) dominated the governorship and the legislature from 1912 to 1914. The pro-Catholic policy of the pcn favored the influence of Archbishop Francisco Orozco y Jiménez (1913-1936) in politics. The latter dictated the norms to convert militant Catholics into defenders of the Church and its properties and prescribed the conduct of Catholics in the public and private spheres. Thus, the competition between the Catholic project and the constitutionalist program provoked strong clashes during the 1910s and 1920s and during the post-revolutionary process of building a new Mexican State (1917-1940).
Díaz, together with the Círculo Radical Femenino (crf), anticlerical and iconoclastic organization affiliated with the World Worker's House (com)The union, itself a union organization with an anarcho-syndicalist orientation, strongly protested the use of religion to indoctrinate and control women workers (Keremitsis, 1997: 4). Díaz, Apodaca and the crf were in favor of organizing women workers with a vision opposed to the Catholic one, in order to contribute to the creation of a "new woman" with radical ideas, with a mixture of anarcho-syndicalist, socialist and communist ideas. In contrast to this vision, the Catholic social construction of womanhood was based on the image of the Virgin Mary as the feminine ideal of mother and virgin. As anthropologist Ana María Alonso explains, "the Mother embodies the natural and divine feminine virtues of purity, chastity and modesty. She is devout, self-sacrificing, sweet, shy, submissive, humble and tender" (Alonso, 1995: 85). From this perspective, the Guadalajara Catholic newspaper The Struggle rejected and ridiculed the iconoclasm of the women in the crf and defended the traditional role of Catholic women. Iconoclasts destabilized the naturalized model of the Catholic woman. Therefore, they did not fit into the category of "woman" (Popo, "Iconoclast Women").
In the 1920s, Díaz went from being a trocilera (textile worker) to general secretary of the Unión Obrera Libertaria La Experiencia. The 1920s in Jalisco was a period of intense social and political mobilization promoted by governors Basilio Badillo (1921-1922) and José Guadalupe Zuno Hernández (1922-1926), who implemented anticlerical, populist and radical measures to strengthen their political group, which favored the organization of men and women in the labor market and in the educational system. These governors fought against the Catholic social action proposal and created their social base through political exchanges with the masses.
In this political context, a space opened up for various workers and workers' organizations to express their urgent need for the regulation of their constitutional rights by means of a state law. Thus, María A. Díaz verbally requested Governor Zuno to decree a state labor law to contain extreme exploitation (Martínez, n.d.).
In 1922, workers at the La Experiencia factory became aware of the need to form a union to fight for their own demands, needs and rights. Therefore, on May 22, 1922, Díaz, Ignacio E. Rodríguez, Pedro M. Chávez, Timoteo Durón, Juventino Servín and others created the Unión Obrera de La Experiencia (uole), with the motto "For the collective good", affiliated with the faoj-crom.
At 26, Diaz was a charismatic young woman, politicized by important processes that influenced the way she exercised her leadership: the death of her father during her childhood, unfavorable working conditions, the death of her children when there was a lot of violence caused by the unionization of workers in the textile industry in Amatlan, the clash between Catholics and "reds". These events probably marked her desire to transform her living conditions through politics. His perseverance in the labor and union struggle, his constancy, his discipline and his determination to help others allowed him to build a political group and a clientele; his struggle for social and union justice opened the way for him to gain legitimacy and recognition among men, women and "red" political leaders. Since the emergence of the uoleDiaz and the members of the board of directors of this union were very active; They defended unjustly fired workers ("Demanda que presenta Unión Obrera de La Experiencia", 1922), complained about the abuses of the doormen, who allowed Catholic workers to arrive late but not red workers ("María Díaz y González Refugio se quejan de las analogías que existen en la fábrica La Experiencia", 1922), and demanded that inspections be carried out in that factory to verify the terrible working conditions, the lack of medical services and the low wages ("Unión Obrera de La Experiencia pide una inspección en La Experiencia", 1922).
At the end of 1922, Catholic union leaders attempted to assassinate Díaz. After that attempt, Díaz decided to carry a pistol to protect herself and to impose authority and more respect in her political practices. She was a dark-haired woman of medium height and slim build. People who knew her and did political work with her remember that she always wore her hair in a ponytail, plain skirts, blouses with long sleeves, cufflinks and shoes without heels. She had a deep voice and enjoyed great facility with words. People describe her as intelligent, a true fighter, a leader who knew how to listen and help people; willing to fight before any authority for social justice (Keremitsis, 1997).6 Her way of dressing speaks of an austere woman who did not seek to highlight her femininity or her sexuality.
On August 1, 1923, Diaz went to the Department of Labor to file a complaint against the director of the La Experiencia factory for having been separated without justification and without prior notice from her position as a trocilera, for which she received a weekly salary of $9.00. On July 30, the company justified the dismissal with the argument that Diaz had not complied with her one-day leave from work to deal with a legal matter. To give us an idea of what that amount represented in that context, the data on the cost of the basic food basket in 1923 for an average family is useful. It had a daily cost of $2.42. Workers who were heads of households earned between $1.50 and $3.00 pesos per day, while women received lower wages because they were considered family dependents. Díaz's daily wage was $1.28 and with difficulty he could buy corn, beans, milk, fuel, butter, salt, vegetables, sugar, coffee, cinnamon, bread, meat, soup, soap, starch; pay rent and electricity and buy clothes (Castro Palmeros, Villa and Venegas, 1982: 490,494-495).
Source: One hundred years of social activity in the factory "La Experiencia 1851-1951", Fábrica La Experiencia, n. e., 1951, p. 129.
After his dismissal, he extended his union work to other textile (Atemajac, Río Blanco) and paper (El Batán) factories. He helped in the establishment of the Unión Libertaria de Obreros de Río Blanco (1924), the Unión de Obreros Libertarios de Atemajac (1924) and the Sindicato Progresista Libertario Obreros del Batán (1925) ("Se comunica la creación del Sindicato Progresista Libertario Obreros del Batán que ayudó a organizar María Díaz", 1925; "Informe que rinde Ángel Cervantes de la fábrica de Río Blanco", 1924; "Expediente sobre el salario mínimo de $1.50 for the workers requested by María Díaz" 1924). He filed lawsuits against the Atemajac factory ("Demanda que presenta María Díaz en representación de los obreros de la Fábrica de Atemajac", 1925), the Compañía Industrial de Guadalajara ("Demanda que presentan Francisco Orozco y María Díaz en contra de la Cía. Industrial de Guadalajara", 1925), Compañía Hidroeléctrica de Chapala ("Lawsuit filed by José J. Ramos and María Díaz against Cía. Eléctrica de Chapala S.A.", 1927) and other employers. He made meticulous labor inspections of the different departments of the textile mills; he reported if machinery was out of order or if there was a lack of material to work with, and insisted that the workers be paid the legal wage according to their position. He perseveringly fought factory managers who were abusive to textile workers.
In 1925, Diaz was the first worker representative of the local textile industry in the Municipal Conciliation and Arbitration Board. As part of this board, she asked the manager of Rio Blanco that workers be paid the minimum wage for an eight-hour workday and that overtime should be compensated (Keremitsis, 1997).
On March 3, 1925, the state Congress asked the head of the Department of Labor for information about Díaz's services as honorary inspector of the textile factories of Atemajac, Río Grande and Río Blanco, because she was requesting compensation for her services ("Oficio que la Comisión de Presupuestos del Congreso del Estado de Jalisco envía al jefe del Departamento del Trabajo", 1925). The Department of Labor clarified that it had given her an identification as an honorary inspector, but had not appointed her to that position, and clarified that these services had been rendered on her own initiative. Díaz had tenaciously reported labor conditions to the Department of Labor and lobbied intensely for the implementation of the Labor Law ("Demanda que presenta María Díaz en representación de los obreros de la Fábrica de Atemajac," 1925; "Informe de inspecciones de las fábricas de Río Blanco y Atemajac. Hay oficios de María Díaz", 1925; "Informe de inspecciones de las fábricas de Río Blanco y Atemajac. Hay oficios de María Díaz", 1925; "Demanda que presentan Francisco Orozco y María Díaz en contra de la Cía. Industrial de Guadalajara", 1925; "Oficio que dirige la Unión de Obreros Libertarios de Atemajac a la Junta de Conciliación y Arbitraje", 1925). Finally, Zuno granted her remuneration for her political and social work and appointed her inspector of the Superior Council of Health, a position considered more appropriate for women's public work and as part of a maternalist policy within the modernization of patriarchy (Hernández, 1940; Keremitsis, 1997).
Source: Historical Archive of Jalisco (AHJ).
Although Díaz did not write a proposed social policy program for the working class in the Guadalajara region, in different petitions made to the Department of Labor it is possible to note that he suggested labor, health and housing reforms that would mainly benefit textile workers. In relation to working conditions, he continued to recommend that the minimum wage be paid, that overtime be compensated and that the factories have a good electric light service to prevent the machinery from stopping abruptly, since these interruptions ruined the fabrics and the workers were forced to pay these damages out of their salaries. He also demanded that factories provide good health services. To compensate for the low wages, she suggested that textile factories charge a lower rent for the houses they rented to workers, that the cost of electricity be lower and that workers be allowed to cultivate vegetable gardens so that their families could consume what they planted ("Petition presented by María Díaz, general secretary of the Union to the Guadalajara Industrial Company to ask that the workers not be charged rent for the houses because of the low wages they have", 1925). With these proposals, Diaz hoped to influence social and labor policy, but only the demand for the payment of the minimum wage was met in a short period of time; the rest of her proposals required more time or were not achieved.
During the post-revolutionary process, the construction of a new state and the Cristero War (1926-1927), women were central actors in the conflict between church and state. Officialist women promoted secular schools, day care centers, unions, cultural festivals, sports, newspapers and political organizations promoting collective rights. Middle-class and elite Catholic women also established parochial and private schools, charitable institutions and newspapers, and promoted individual rights. The women of Guadalajara were an extremely heterogeneous and infinitely complicated population. Nevertheless, through collusion and opposition, they influenced and shaped social policy.
In this context, in 1926 Diaz directed the Women's Evolutionary Center (cem) in Guadalajara, whose motto was "For the betterment of women", and was part of the Bloque Independiente de Agrupaciones Obreras (Díaz, 1926; "Oficio que envía María Díaz, Secretaria General del Centro Evolucionista de Mujeres", 1926). In this organization she continued with her policy of unionization and loyalty to the workers' associations that also promoted labor leaders. To get an idea of the activism and political participation of women in the public sphere in Guadalajara, Anita Brenner, a Mexican-Jewish journalist and anthropologist, recorded it in her personal diary. On March 26, 1926, Brenner wrote in her diary that at an evening political rally organized by Zuno, she heard two spectacular women, one of them a labor leader and social organizer. Although Brenner did not mention Díaz's name, he was most likely referring to her. And he described her as follows: "A llama, she is. Dressed in the black Guadalajara, with the shawl, fine and black, made for coquettes. She is beautiful, snapping black eyes (sic) and quick and forceful language. She organizes the miners and peasants and is the most sincere of all, although Siq (sic) and Zuno. She, however, has given herself completely to the cause" (Brenner, 2010: 84).
Source: Historical Archive of Jalisco (AHJ).
In the midst of the Cristero War, in 1927, María A. Diaz and seven women established the Círculo Feminista de Occidente (cfo) and affiliated it with the Confederation of Workers of Jalisco (coj) to fight for women workers ("Acta constitutiva Círculo Feminista de Occidente", 1927). The cfo brought together textile workers, tortilla makers, millers, teachers, students from the Normal School, theater employees, ticket takers, domestic workers and housewives. Among the activists were women teachers who came from working class families with an anti-clerical and liberal culture.
Source: Historical Archive of Jalisco (AHJ).
The articles of incorporation of the cfo stipulated that this organization had been working for some time and that its main goal was to fight for the moral and material progress of women workers through the commissions of Labor, Justice and Improvement. As did the Catholic organizations of that time, the cfo implemented a campaign for the moralization of society, but offered a morality based on women's rights. The cfo promoted the image of a new woman informed about her civil, political and social rights. To promote this image they included representations of strong women, for which they chose combative, radical and extraordinary figures, such as the French anarchist Louise Michel (1830-1905), one of the main figures of the Paris Commune (1871); the German Jewish Marxist and social democrat Rosa Luxemburg (1871-1919); socialist, feminist and Russian ambassador to Mexico Alexandra Kollontai (1872-1952); the 600 women of Haymarket Square, where American anarchists were martyred in their struggle for the eight-hour workday, as well as Carmen Morales, a labor leader who wore red and black in Mexico City's Labor Day parades. Through these female representations, the cfo sought to create a new morality that would destroy the passive and apolitical image of women and the old prejudices that labeled women as unfit to receive an education beyond that necessary to be able to fulfill domestic activities.
By 1933, in a newspaper article entitled "Reflections on women", Diaz set out her vision of the working woman and the modern woman (Diaz, 1933: 3, 6). She considered that it was up to women to work honestly and that they were subjects of social change because they should not be chained slaves; they could be good, useful and honest and help others, but they should modernize and leave their Catholic values and practices behind. She argued that "the woman properly prepared for the multiple fields of action that today's life represents will be and must always be a woman, as mother, as wife, as sister" and that she would have "a greatness in the home, in the office and in the workshop" (Díaz, 1933: 3, 6). She expounded a maternalist perspective that coincided with that of the new revolutionary state, but also with that of the Catholic Church, in the sense that women should serve others. The novelty lay in the fact that this conception expanded the roles of women because it invited them to work, educate and modernize. Diaz believed that these new roles would form a new generation of strong women who would defend their political, social and civil rights. She asserted that only with education could women fight for their ideals and at the same time occupy positions and perform in professions that were considered exclusive to men. She concluded that women would come to the front and say to life: "Look at me, nothing daunts me! I am strong in my femininity! I will form a strong generation! I have conquered you!" (Díaz, 1933: 3, 6).
By 1934, Diaz and the cfo published their own newspaper called Fémina Roja (Díaz, 1934: 1-2), in which they demanded that equal pay for equal work be enforced, that women be accepted in any type of employment, and that there be more women labor and health inspectors. They invited women workers to join unions to prevent their exploitation and ensure their social rights. It also mentioned that women workers should motivate their husbands to also join unions because this was a way to improve family welfare. Only a few issues were published, probably for a year.
Diaz and the cfo worked closely with the leaders of the coj because they shared the notion that women could change their image from that of the pious to that of revolutionaries. Women of the crf and other radicals and anticlericals of the 1910s promoted a more secular image of women's social roles. They called for expanding their roles and their civil, social and political rights. In pushing for these rights, they destabilized a dichotomous and "black and white" notion to open up a wide range of possibilities for women. The representation of the "revolutionary woman" and her struggle was taken up by members of the cfo. Workers and teachers such as Irene Robledo, Concha Robledo and Guadalupe Martínez helped workers such as seamstresses, maids, trimmers, tortilla makers, oil workers and biscuit makers to organize their unions (Dorantes, Ramírez and Tuñón, 1995). They were taught to read and write, fundamental tools for their union struggle. They acquired a labor civic culture by attending and organizing festivals, patriotic parades, consulting books from their library and participating in sports activities and conferences. These dealt with "women and their participation in the class struggle," "our laws and women," "women and labor laws," and "the influence of books on the social and economic betterment of women."
Diaz promoted that the quotas paid in the cfo were used to pay for medicines, to cover the basic needs of workers who had no income and to help some of the students of the Normal to finish their studies.
Diaz, the cfo and their followers became even more radical with the implementation of the socialist education project (1934-1940). They were in favor of it, participated in the establishment of night schools, demanded that vacancies for teachers in public schools be granted only to those who were revolutionaries, who would promote anti-alcoholic, anti-clerical, hygiene and educational campaigns, and would fight for social justice during the post-revolutionary process. The women of the cfo were in charge of the Third National Feminist Congress of Working and Peasant Women held in Guadalajara in 1934 (Barragán and Rosales, 1975).7 and lobbied for the women's section of the National Revolutionary Party (npr) in Jalisco was led by women with experience in organizing women workers, campaigned for women's suffrage in Jalisco and joined the nationwide Frente Único Pro-Derechos de la Mujer. Díaz, Guadalupe Martínez and the members of the cfoas militants in the organized labor movement, they were part of the public opinion in El Jalisciense. They published articles on the role of women in the public sphere as mothers, workers and people with political, social and civil rights. They participated in the local and national debate on the expansion of women's activities in the public space; they collaborated in the official party as well as in regional and national workers' organizations and created women's sections to incorporate and direct women's political participation. By 1938, of the delegation from Jalisco that attended the national convention that transformed the npr and created the Party of the Mexican Revolution (prm), María Díaz was the only one who attended because of the legitimacy built by her political, union and women's work. By the end of the 1930s, Diaz already enjoyed legitimacy and prestige in local political circles and was therefore included in the delegation.
In 1939, Governor Silvano Barba González appointed her inspector of social assistance (Hernández, 1940). Her political trajectory, her efforts and her lobbying in different spheres and spaces had allowed her to go from being an exploited textile worker to textile leader, to workers' representative in the Conciliation and Arbitration Boards, to labor inspector, to feminist leader, to representative of the workers' sector in the prm and social welfare inspector. Her intense political work allowed her mobility in the union, state and party bureaucracy. Although Díaz advocated for a modern woman with rights, her last appointment directed her to concentrate on social policy, a space supposedly more suitable for women, since it was less controversial than women's participation in politics. But at the end of that same year Maria A. Díaz died and the cfo lost its most radical leader.
In 1939 the presidency of the cfo passed to Guadalupe Martinez and changed its name to Círculo Feminista de Occidente Maria A. Díaz (cfomad). The cfomad existed from 1939 until 2002, when Martinez passed away.
In 1941, Diaz's friends, Ana Maria Hernandez, a federal labor inspector and president of the National Institute for Single Mother's Assistance, the cfo and the Liga de Mujeres 10 de Mayo de la Colonia Francisco Villa, in Mexico City, established the Centro de Capacitación Femenina María A. Díaz, to honor the memory of this woman from Jalisco ("She appreciates the presence of the cfo at the inauguration of the Centro de Capacitación Femenina María A. Díaz", 1941). Likewise, every year the members of the cfomad commemorated his death.
The imaginary dialogue between Díaz and I allowed me to reflect on historical time, the past, temporalities, "evidence", "experience", "interpretation", by using a large repertoire of primary sources. The historian must examine and critique each type of primary source he or she uses based on theoretical-methodological questions about its forms, implications, possibilities for understanding and constructing intersubjective narratives, for giving voice to people who have generally been left out of the grand historical narratives.
Eighty years after the death of María Arcelia Díaz, her political and union struggle is inspiring for our present. Regardless of partisan differences, the actions and labor and political changes in which Díaz participated show the relevance and validity of her feminist, labor and social struggles. These inspire us to continue fighting for women's civil, economic, labor, political and social rights and, of course, to combat violence against women, feminicide, sexual and workplace harassment. And accordingly, a safer city for all.
I close this presentation with the waltz dedicated to María Arcelia Díaz entitled "Mujer de Occidente", composed by José de Jesús López and interpreted by Lucy Baruqui. I had not used this waltz in previous studies. Hearing this piece of music for the first time, perhaps performed almost 60 years after Diaz's death, gives us a human and emotional dimension of the oppressions, struggles, resistances and the legacy she left in labor and social policies for women and the working class in Jalisco. I interweave voice, visual, textual and sound in my historical narrative to reconfigure the lived time, the silenced and silenced temporal experience of Díaz.
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1964 “María A. Díaz” [Nota periodística], en La Luz. acfomad. Guadalajara, p. 3.
1927 “Acta constitutiva Círculo Feminista de Occidente”, Ramo de Trabajo (T-9-927, Caja T-104, Exp. Núm. 2470). ahj.
1925 “Demanda que presentan Francisco Orozco y María Díaz en contra de la Cía. Industrial de Guadalajara”. [Demanda laboral] Ramo de Trabajo (T-2-925, Caja T-78, Exp. Núm. 1675). ahj.
1927 “Demanda que presentan José J. Ramos y María Díaz en contra de la Cía. Eléctrica de Chapala S.A.”. [Demanda laboral] Ramo de Trabajo, T-8-927, Caja T-103, Exp. Núm. 2415). ahj.
1925 “Demanda que presenta María Díaz en representación de los obreros de la Fábrica de Atemajac”. [Demanda laboral] Ramo de Trabajo (T-7-925, Caja T-78, Exp. Núm. 1682; T-1-924, Caja T-73, Exp. Núm. 1531; T-1-925, Caja T-54; T-6-925, Caja T-22, Exp. Núm. 8150). ahj.
1922 “Demanda que presenta Unión Obrera de La Experiencia”. Ramo de Trabajo (T-7-922 GUA/168, Caja T-31, Exp. Núm. 756). ahj.
1934 Díaz, M. (20/11/1934). “María Díaz dice”, Fémina Roja. ahj, Guadalajara, pp. 1-2.
1924 “Expediente sobre el salario mínimo de $1.50 para los Obreros que pide María Díaz”. [Reporte] (T-2-924, Caja T-57, Exp. Núm. 1254). ahj.
1925 “Informe de inspecciones de las fábricas de Río Blanco y Atemajac. Hay oficios de María Díaz”. [Inspección laboral] (T-7-925, Caja T-73, Exp. Núm. 1532). ahj.
1924 “Informe que rinde Ángel Cervantes de la fábrica de Río Blanco”. [Inspección laboral] (T-4-924, Caja T-71, Exp. Núm. 1494). ahj.
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1922 “María Díaz y González Refugio se quejan de las analogías que existen en la fábrica La Experiencia”. Ramo de Trabajo (T-2-922 ZAP/441, Caja T-13 bis ‘C’, Exp. Núm. 7164; T-2-922 GUA/524, Caja T-13 bis ‘C’, Exp. Núm. 70). ahj.
1925 “Oficio que dirige la Unión de Obreros Libertarios de Atemajac a la Junta de Conciliación y Arbitraje”. [Oficio] (T-2-925 ZAP/142, T-15 bis ‘A’, Exp. Núm. 415; T-8-925, Caja T-75, Exp. Núm. 1597). ahj.
1925 “Oficio que la Comisión de Presupuestos del Congreso del Estado de Jalisco envía al Jefe del Departamento del Trabajo”. Ramo de Trabajo, T-1-925 JAL/587). ahj.
1926 “Oficio que envía María Díaz, Sria. Gral. del Centro Evolucionista de Mujeres”. [Oficio] Ramo de Trabajo (T-1-926, Caja T-97, Exp. Núm. 2222). ahj.
1925 “Petición que presenta María Díaz, secretaria general del Sindicato a la Cía. Industrial de Guadalajara para pedir que no se cobre la renta de las casas a los obreros por el salario tan bajo que tienen”. [Petición] Ramo de Trabajo (T-7-925 ZAP/141, Caja T-35 bis ‘A’, Exp. Núm. 661). ahj.
1925 “Se comunica la creación del Sindicato Progresista Libertario Obreros del Batán que ayudó a organizar María Díaz”. Ramo de Trabajo (T-9-925, Caja T-75, Exp. Núm. 1608; T-1-924, Caja T-71, Exp. Núm. 1504; T-6-924, Caja T-71, Exp. Núm. 1493) ahj.
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Ana Ma. Hernández, entrevistada por la autora, Guadalajara, 17 de agosto de 1996.
Guadalupe Martínez, entrevistada por la autora, Guadalajara, 15 de agosto de 1996.
Laura Rosales, entrevistada por la autora, Guadalajara, 15 de agosto de 1996.
Maria Teresa Fernandez Aceves D. in history from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She works as a professor and researcher at the ciesas West since 2001. Her research has focused on the social history of labor, women's history and gender in Mexico in the 20th century. xxHe has taught graduate seminars at the University of California, History of Emotions and Archives. He has taught graduate seminars at the ciesas and at the University of Guadalajara. He is a regular member of the Mexican Academy of Sciences since 2012 and of the National System of Researchers (Sistema Nacional de Investigadores). iii.