Normalizing the Revolution: Teachers and Students in Guerrero’s Universidad Pueblo

Receipt: January 23, 2023

Acceptance: April 14, 2023


This paper analyzes the University-People project in the state of Guerrero as a common space of experience articulated by political ideas and educational practices during the 1970s. Of special relevance was the participation of normalista teachers who shared the objectives of social transformation supported by the university. Following the ideas of Walter Benjamin and Reinhart Koselleck, we suggest that diverse layers of historical experience found in the normalista teachers a catalyst to explode the present time, giving rise to one of the most contradictory experiments of popular higher education in Mexico in the 20th century. xx. The research is based on in-depth interviews conducted in 2018-2019 in Acapulco and Chilpancingo, Guerrero.

Key words: Universidad Pueblo, normalistas, common space of experience, Guerrero, Mexico.

normalizing the revolution: teachers and students in guerrero's universidad pueblo

This work analyzes the political-educational project of the Universidad Pueblo in Guerrero state during the 1970s. Using the ideas of Walter Benjamin and Reinhart Koselleck, we argue that this project can be understood as a common space of experience articulated through political ideas, educational practices, and student movements in the recollections of professors and students. We suggest that the diverse layers of historical experience of teacher-training professors is a catalyst sparking off today, giving origin to one of the most contradictory and interesting practices in popular higher education in Mexico in the 20th century. This research is supported by in-depth interviews in 2018 and 2019 in Acapulco and Chilpancingo in Guerrero state.

Keywords: Universidad Pueblo, teacher-training students, common space of experience, Guerrero, Mexico.


This paper addresses the relationship between political action and higher education in the state of Guerrero, in southern Mexico, during the 1970s. During this period, the Autonomous University of Guerrero (uagro) defined its role in Guerrero society through the lines of action of the so-called Pueblo University, which recovered the concerns and objectives of the popular universities founded at the beginning of the century. xx in Latin America. Melgar Bao points out that "it was in the years of the University Reform, particularly between 1918 and 1925, where the Popular Universities became symbolic capital in the imaginaries of students and workers" (Melgar-Bao, 2020), occupying a central place in the ideological debates of the Latin American left. The community of the Autonomous University of Guerrero recovered this tradition in the 1970s and put it into practice in a state that demanded the participation of the university in the solution of the socioeconomic problems of the entity. This way of understanding the university and its work aspired to forge in young university students a critical awareness of national problems and achieve "greater contact with the popular sectors" (Punto Crítico, 1974: 40).

Although the approach of the university as a radical agent of political and social change in Mexico was expressed in the universities of Oaxaca, Sinaloa, Puebla and even Nuevo León, the profile of the university professors in Guerrero gave this experience a particular character. The normalist origin of most of the university professors marked the development of the project, which articulated new perspectives, but also long-standing educational experiences and social struggle. From 1972 onwards, the growth of the uagThis was linked to the creation of a system of high schools that brought higher secondary education to the most remote regions of the state. Here we argue that normalista teachers played a fundamental role in that expansion, as well as in the ideological and pedagogical profile of the Universidad Pueblo project.

The incorporation of the graduates of the rural teacher training colleges was especially relevant because they contributed a wealth of experience in community outreach, solidarity with social struggles and political organization, elements that distinguished these institutions from their origin. The normalista teachers who joined and remained in the uagThe "normalizing the revolution" thus points to the decision of the Guerrero university students to consider the popular revolution as a process carried out on a daily basis, especially at that time of denouncing injustice. Thus, "normalizing the revolution" points to the decision of the Guerrero university students to consider the popular revolution as a process carried out on a daily basis, especially at that time of denunciation of injustice and commitment to the struggle for a new society. It also alludes to the role played by the normalista teachers in these daily activities of academic and political formation among high school students. Rural normalistas still valued and defended the principles of the Mexican Revolution, as one graduate affirms that in them the "revolutionary spirit that we have been nurtured in these schools" was kept alive (cit. in Ortiz and Camacho, 2017: 263).

Mainly following Reinhart Koselleck's conceptual approaches, we want to approach the Universidad Pueblo guerrerense as a "shared space of experience" formed by political and educational events and actions that took place between 1972 and 1978. During this period the university authorities, guided by leftist ideologies, set out to transform society through education. As a People's University, the Autonomous University of Guerrero became a space of convergence of leftist political aspirations, social demands and actions of social linkage and community work, as well as forms of school self-management and political participation. The interaction of all these elements within the university, as well as their expressions outside of it, have been fixed in the memory of those who participated as a time when the will for transformation through education encompassed the personal, political and social spheres and marked a rupture in the space of historical experience of the students and the people of Guerrero in general.

This paper is mainly based on interviews with four participants who were involved in the Universidad Pueblo project since its formation, who have continued their academic link with the uagThe project and its impact up to the present can be considered.1 Files of the Federal Security Directorate available in the General Archive of the Nation were also consulted. Following Koselleck,2 we consider that the stories initially emerge from the narrated experiences of the participants and that experience is inseparable from knowledge and from the "exploration and inspection of this lived reality", which allows us to re-create it and give it meaning (Koselleck, 2002: 52). The remembrance of the diverse events witnessed and the ideas put into practice by the interviewees will allow us to observe the elements that configure the Universidad Pueblo as a "common space of experience", as well as to explore the relationship between the field of experience and the horizon of expectation in these years of intense socio-political mobilization in Guerrero.

The following section briefly presents the conformation of the Autonomous University of Guerrero, starting from the struggle for autonomy in 1960 to the implementation of the Universidad Pueblo project in 1972. The theoretical-methodological coordinates guiding the research are also presented. The following section places the Universidad Pueblo Guerrero project in the context of the popular struggles in order to introduce the main argument of this work: the role of the historical normalist experience in the conformation of the university project in Guerrero. In the final section we present the conclusions of this work.

Event and experience: society and university in Guerrero

In the seventies, relations between the university students of Guerrero and the state government were tense and even violent, especially after the struggle for university autonomy that took place at the end of the fifties. By that time, the economic and political situation of the state had reached a breaking point, triggering the popular insurrection in Chilpancingo, capital and political center of the state, as well as in other regions of the state. The historical accumulation of grievances against the poorest classes in a mostly peasant region reached its peak in the sixties, giving rise to the guerrilla movements of the Genaro Vázquez Rojas normalist teachers in the central zone of the state (Asociación Cívica Guerrerense-Asociación Cívica Nacional Revolucionaria, acg-acnr), and Lucio Cabañas Barrientos in the Costa Grande region (Partido de los Pobres, pp) (Bracho et al., 2018; Aviña, 2014; Suárez, 1976; López, 1974). The historical causes of this process are complex, but the abuses of the landowning class (regional caciques), the repression and destruction of peasant productive organizations, the patrimonialist use of power and public resources, as well as the stifling of various attempts at democratic organization among the popular classes fueled popular anger and discontent (Bartra, 2000, 2000a; Illades, 2011). By the end of the 1950s, such conditions pushed the population to demonstrate and confront the then governor of the state, General Raúl Caballero Aburto (1957-1961).

On November 7, 1960, the students of the University of Guerrero called for a general strike in the state capital to demand the freedom to establish their academic orientation and define their role as actors in Guerrero society. The strikers had two main demands: the disappearance of powers in the state and the autonomy of the university. The demands of the university students were joined by those of "workers, industrialists, merchants, bankers, state and federal bureaucracy and teachers" (García, 1991: 101), making it clear that it was not only a student revolt, but a broad popular movement. From the union of these diverse sectors emerged the Coalition of Popular Organizations (cop), which was joined by the university students of Guerrero. To the list of political and economic demands of the cop The university was also oriented to serve the society of Guerrero, promoting the social, industrial and political development of the state (García, 1991). In the words of Mario García Cerros, "the university struggle took a qualitative leap to transform itself into a student-popular movement" (1991: 102). The growing social involvement of the university detonated the politicization of the highest house of studies in Guerrero, a process that would reach its peak in the period from 1972 to 1981.

The massive and peaceful popular struggle of 1960 achieved its objectives, but this moment of triumph was accompanied by repressive practices on the part of the local government, initiating a dark period of state violence against all forms of dissidence, which would intensify in the following years.3 Nevertheless, the mobilization of Guerrero society around the university constituted a moment of rupture in a continuous history of servitude among the poorest strata of the people of Guerrero, which marked a milestone in the collective memory of Guerrero society. In the words of Walter Benjamin, the popular-university movement of 1960 was, for the participants, the "time of the now" (Jetzt-Zeit) (Benjamin, 2008: 51); an event in which different temporal strata actualize and condense past struggles in an experience that allowed the participants "the awareness of making the continuum of history [that] is proper to the revolutionary classes in the instant of their action" (Benjamin, 2008: 52).

With all its shortcomings and contradictions, we suggest that the Universidad Pueblo project occupied for a time the space of the unexpected in a society characterized by the constancy of defeat in its struggles for social change (Bartra, 2000, 2000a; Illades, 2011). The Universidad Pueblo was the event that articulated the space of experience and the horizon of expectation, as Koselleck has defined it, as an experience that "exceeds the limitations of the possible future that is presupposed from previous experiences. The way in which expectations are exceeded allows the two dimensions to be reordered in their mutual relation" (2004: 262). This change in the experience/expectation relationship makes the future and the different possible, since they imply the reorganization of the inventory of past experiences according to the newly acquired experience and allows the creation of new perspectives of the future.

For those who participated in one way or another in the Universidad Pueblo, this project represented the accumulated expectations and desires of generations of poor families for whom the university movement contributed to exploit a space of experience marked by precariousness and poverty, opening a horizon of expectations full of hope in the possibilities of the future. For some, the hope of achieving revolutionary change in society through armed struggle. For others, the possibility of improving the socioeconomic conditions of the family through a university education. For some others it was the beginning of the struggle for the democratization of the country. The university was, for some years, a space where these aspirations found a place of expression and dialogue.

The collective memory of this period is condensed and signified around the Universidad Pueblo. It is the Universidad Pueblo itself that condenses the struggles and utopian hopes of those who participated in this project turning it into what Walter Benjamin would call an event-constellation (Benjamin, 2008). The reconstruction of this event-constellation passes then through the recovery of the experience in the memory narrated in the present by those who were involved.

A Prepota! Opening schools where many flowers bloom

Although the Autonomous University of Guerrero had as its founding moment the alliance between the university and various popular demands, by the 1970s it was on its way to becoming an institution aimed at satisfying the educational demands of the economically and politically privileged sectors of the state. This was expressed in the idea of creating a quality university that would train future rulers and professionals who would contribute to the economic development of the state in the context of the so-called "socialism". Mexican Miracle. It was during the rectorship of Jaime Castrejón Díez (1970-1971) that this modernizing vision of the university prevailed, in which "the concept of social change was conceived and understood in terms of reformism-liberal and developmentalist, with a certain degree of loyalty to the policies of the regime of that time; not in the radical, revolutionary and socialist sense, as it would later be interpreted" (Dávalos, 1999: 51-52).

Romualdo Hernández Avilez, who actively participated in the 1968 student movement in Tlatelolco and later joined the Mexican Communist Party, considers that university vision as elitist. Romualdo was born in the city of Acapulco in 1949 and grew up in the popular neighborhood of La Fábrica. His father was a small grocery merchant, raised small farm animals and for a time worked in transportation; his mother was a waitress in one of the hotels in the port's nascent tourist industry and later dedicated herself to housework. Although Romualdo had the opportunity to study high school in Mexico City, he believes that the university planned by Rector Castrejón Diez was a project that left young people who did not live in the main cities of the state or who did not have the economic resources to study outside their place of origin without options. Romualdo gives as an example the university's High Schools 1 and 2, which he points out were elite, and had a teaching staff of purely professional people, who practically gave classes by the hour. hobbynot so much for the salary [...] simply for the pleasure of teaching, but it was with a conservative vision... [with] Jaime Castrejón Díez the university made a qualitative leap in terms of teaching quality, but there were real limitations, because the population in Guerrero had increased and there were no options for higher secondary and higher education in the different regions of the state, only in Chilpancingo, Acapulco and Iguala. [...] Because indeed, many people who had economic possibilities sent their children to Mexico City, Puebla or Michoacán, but those who did not have economic possibilities... here there was no option.4

In Romualdo's opinion, in 1970 the Autonomous University of Guerrero was "that which Pablo González Casanova says of the quality university, but with elites", far from the one proposed during the popular-university struggle of 1960. When Romualdo joined the uagro in 1974 as a professor at Preparatoria 2, he did so in a radically different university context. Romualdo arrived at the invitation of one of the historic leaders of the struggle for university autonomy, Dr. Pablo Sandoval Cruz, and joined one of the groups of university students who sought to recover the social role of the university as demanded by the movement of the 1960s.

This elite university, with limited access, concentrated in the main cities of the state, expresses the presence of two different and contradictory temporalities. On the one hand, the sediments of the time of a liberal modernity within which the urban experience of the emerging professional middle classes is situated, whose field of experience drives them to broaden their insertion in higher education within and outside the state. On the other hand, the precarious temporality of broad sectors of peasant origin and service workers in the growing tourist industry in Acapulco, for whom the horizon of expectations barely glimpses the scarce possibility of accessing higher secondary education.

The student movements of the sixties and early seventies broadened that horizon, as they opened the possibility of forming a "progressive university" whose objective was to "remedy the economic, educational and political needs" of society. Rosalío Wences Reza analyzed the relationship between the university, student movements and national problems in a book published months before he was appointed rector of the Autonomous University of Guerrero. In the book The student movement and national problemsWences Reza established "revolutionary theory" as the framework of his study, and made it clear that the university and student thought should be at the "forefront of the possibilities of economic-political development of the country" based on the consciousness acquired about national problems (Wences, 1971: 13).

These ideas were put into practice during Wences Reza's first term as president of the university. uagro. In the years 1972-1976 the liberal-developmentalist vision of a university of elites is supplanted by a project of a "democratic, critical, scientific and popular" institution of higher education that will open the field of experiences of the popular classes of Guerrero (Dávalos, 1999: 56; Academic-Political Commission of the Central Administration of the University of Guerrero, 1999). uagro, 1980). The Universidad Pueblo guerrerense began in the context of the previous experiences of the universities of Oaxaca and Nuevo León, which made clear the resistance of local governments to allow the exercise of legally accepted university autonomy. State authorities considered parity between teachers and students on university councils inadequate. Even more resistance was generated by the idea that the government of the university would be left in the hands of the community through direct elections of rectors, school and institute directors, as proposed in the Universidad Pueblo project. According to Alfredo Tecla: "The Universidad Pueblo thesis [...] proposes a democratic structure, whose main characteristic consists of the participation of students and teachers, through collegiate bodies, in the planning and solution of the content and problems of academic life" (1976: 124-127; see also Tecla, 1994). These new processes were aimed at democratizing university life and educating young people in democratic participation and practices, a central issue in the political discussion in Mexico in 1970.

The democratization of university life was the first element that was delineated within the vision of the university promoted by Wences Reza and was based on the conviction that the university and the students should "do politics" (Wences, 1971: 35). uagt meant a space of diverse experiences: studying, electing university authorities and professors, participating in rallies and protests, carrying out literacy campaigns, providing medical attention in the villages farthest from the main cities, offering legal advice to those who needed it, providing housing for students with less economic resources or communicating with like-minded groups, even with radical ideas.

Professor Alfonso Aguario, one of the most committed participants in the Universidad Pueblo's educational work, considers that the project "[...] had no other objective than to democratize university life a little and to try to influence the democratization of society itself, to give education a new turn towards a popular education".5 The intention to "democratize a little" the society of Guerrero and Mexico in general implied a process of great complexity that would have diverse areas, from the expansion of the coverage of higher secondary education with the founding of high schools throughout the state to the internal ideological dispute over the "kind of politics" and the depth of the political and social "revolution" that would be promoted inside and outside the university. More important for this study is that these two poles, the teaching practice and the ideological discussion, served effectively to bring the university and the university students closer to the society of Guerrero, as had been proposed in the 1960s. This social and political experience, shared by professors, students, families and diverse social groups, is what gives the Universidad Pueblo the quality of event-constellation, as it constituted a moment of rupture with a field of experience in which the space for political action was limited (Revueltas, 2018: 146).

One of the most outstanding participants in the Universidad Pueblo project since its foundation was Professor Alejandra Cárdenas, who was in charge of the creation of what today is Preparatoria 9 "Comandante Ernesto Che Guevara". This school was one of the most politically dynamic both in the university and in activities outside the university premises. Alejandra was born in the city of Colima, but spent her childhood and youth in Ensenada, Baja California. Her father was a military chemist and her mother a nurse. After finishing high school, Alejandra enrolled in the Escuela Nacional de Maestros in Mexico City. After finishing her studies as a teacher, she and her husband approached the Mexico-Mexico Friendship and Exchange Institute (Instituto de Amistad e Intercambio) in Mexico City.ussr. At the Institute she learned that the Soviet government offered scholarships to study at the Peoples' Friendship University "Patricio Lumumba", where she was accepted to study history and philosophy. There she became friends with Luis Sandoval, son of Pablo Sandoval Cruz, and from this relationship Alejandra had the opportunity to join the uagShe became a professor in 1973 and became fully involved in the Universidad Pueblo project. As Alejandra points out, getting involved in this project meant taking not only an academic position but also a political one. The visions of the university promoted by the various ideological currents that congregated within it came into direct confrontation and required a clear personal definition. In this regard, Alejandra Cárdenas points out that the university project proposed by Wences Reza faced opposition from the Communist Party, which sought greater influence over university affairs. On the other hand, political discussions on the university campus followed paths outside the university, as Alejandra maintains that "many of us broke with the Communist Party because we became part of the people who collaborated with or were part of the Party of the Poor". 6

As Alejandra confirms, the Universidad Pueblo did not have a unique and stable meaning and content. Between 1972 and 1981 the ideology of the university changed according to the social movements that acted within it and the rectors who headed it: Rosalío Wences Reza (1972-1975 and 1978-1981), Arquímedes Morales Carranza (1975-1978) and Enrique González Ruiz (1981-1984). Each of these personalities gave a particular twist to the Universidad Pueblo project, from a more socialist perspective with tinges of liberation Christianity that functioned as a protective sphere for various political and social movements (Wences Reza) to a markedly communist line influenced by the pcm (Morales Carranza), until reaching a radical democratic proposal very close to the popular mobilizations outside the university (González Ruiz) (Wences, 2014; Institutional Observatory. uagro, 2014; González, 1989).

In the late sixties and early seventies, the Mexican left showed great heterogeneity, expressing ideological fractures and dissensions that would give birth to Stalinist, Trotskyist, Maoist, Spartacist, Foquist, etc. factions (see Illades, 2018, 2018a, 2017). These divergences would also express themselves within the uagro. Based on our interviews, it is clear that the dissent and abandonment of the pcm The experience of several professors was largely due to direct contact with the reality of Guerrero and the radical political mobilization expressed mainly in the guerrillas of Genaro Vázquez and Lucio Cabañas, which found in the university an important sounding board among teachers and students. It is interesting to see how the complex interweaving of these diverse processes can be apprehended through a singular life experience, as in the case of Alejandra, who, from being a normalista, a student in the ussr and member of the pcm went on to collaborate with the Party of the Poor led by Lucio Cabañas. Alejandra's participation reached the point of being "part of the Party of the Poor... even when Figueroa was kidnapped (1974) we were the couriers. Well, I participated as a courier and other types of support".

The intensity and diversity of the participation of some members of the university community in political affairs and the importance of the university as a "common space of experience" can be seen in Alfonso Aguario's account of his dual role as a professor and as a collaborator of the Partido de los Pobres. As for Alejandra Cárdenas, for Alfonso the relationship between politics and the university was clear.

Alfonso Aguario was born in 1946 in the town of Amuco de la Reforma, municipality of Coyuca de Catalán in Tierra Caliente, a region of the state historically characterized by high rates of poverty and marginalization among a mainly peasant and artisan population. Like many poor young people from the Mexican countryside, Alfonso found in the normalista education the only way to access higher education. His experience at the Rural Normal School "La Huerta", in Michoacán, would deeply mark his political and social commitment, particularly when he came into contact with Lucio Cabañas, at that time secretary general of the Federation of Socialist Peasant Students of Mexico (1962-1963), political organ of the rural-normalist student movement in the country. After a journey as a teacher in different schools in the country that took him from Michoacán to Veracruz to finally return to Guerrero, Alfonso entered the uagHe was a student of Sociology in Chilpancingo in 1973. Through his participation as a student leader, by then linked to the Partido de los Pobres, he came into contact with Wences Reza, who invited him to join what would become Preparatoria 9.7

Along with his teaching activities, Alfonso maintained contact with Lucio Cabañas and the Party of the Poor. Although he did not "go up" to the mountains or take up arms like some of his students or fellow teachers, his support was constant, as he spread the ideas and actions of Cabañas and the Party of the Poor among young people and organized propaganda actions such as printing and distributing flyers.8

In high schools and colleges of the uagt was the group leaders and student associations that organized activities that anyone could join. In the files of the Dirección de Investigaciones Políticas y Sociales (Directorate of Political and Social Research), there are constant accounts of the political activities of the university students: their leaflets and graffiti, or their marches, demands and slogans.9 As Alejandra points out:

[there was] a very active participation on the part of most of the students [...] because I believe that the classes themselves promoted student participation. But there was also a small group of people closer to us, who had a much more active participation. In that group, several belonged to an organization that existed at the university, called Unión Estudiantil [...] it was a leftist organization, and several of those comrades, some of them, later joined the guerrilla, but as a personal matter.

The Universidad Pueblo was a hotbed of protest and mobilization; in its classrooms, concerns, ideas, vocations and commitments arose, but the flowers grew outside of it. The university promoted, sheltered and protected diverse movements and ideological tendencies to the extent of its possibilities, but it never became a homogeneous and coherent political actor. Perhaps it was precisely this that made it an important space for popular struggles in Guerrero, to the extent that, as Alfonso Aguario recalls, in a meeting the governor Rubén Figueroa Figueroa Figueroa (1975-1981) himself said: "The university is becoming a state power parallel to the legal executive constitutional power [...]".sicyou are so many, you are growing all over the place... that you are effectively shaking the State, you are turning it upside down.
up... Then stop him!"10

What was growing all over the place were the preparatory courses for the uagro, which covered a large part of the state. To paraphrase Lombardo Toledano (1984: 72), the alma mater The most important growth of the Universidad Pueblo Guerrerense were the high schools, not the faculties. The exponential growth of the uagThe political influence in the state was sustained in the high schools. As Aguario points out: "[...] we were discussing with Wences about the Universidad Pueblo and we said we have to take root, and if we do not take root in the people we are not going to do anything, so let's go, we are going to found high schools wherever there are conditions and they ask for them, and then came the boom of the growth of high schools, covering the largest number of municipalities".11 Hence, in a conference given in Chilpancingo in 2006, the cultural critic Carlos Monsiváis said that the uagro was "una prepota".12

The growth of the high schools was sustained by the participation of teachers from the normalistas, since, as Alfonso also comments, "the vast majority of teachers (in the high schools), especially in the interior of the state, were normalistas. unamWe had to pay the teachers for four hours and with those salaries... no, then we would enable the teachers".13 The normalista teachers and their teaching and life experiences will leave a greater imprint on the Universidad Pueblo de Guerrero project, differentiating it from similar projects in Puebla and Sinaloa (Sanchez, 2013; Tecla, 1976, 1994; vv. aa, 1971). This is the subject of the next section.

The University Pueblo and social transformation

Normalista teachers encouraged the creation, maintenance and growth of popular high schools throughout Guerrero. The encounter of the normalista experience with those coming from the student movement and various leftist organizations in the country had its expression in the study programs. Along with the basic subjects in Language and Mathematics, courses in Dialectical and Historical Materialism, Formal and Dialectical Logic, Political Economy and Sociology were included, which were taught with texts that would become classics in the university student memory, such as the Manual of political economy by Pitrim Nikitin or the Red book of Mao Tse-Tung.14

Along with this theoretical dimension, which often ended up being a superficial ideological transmission disconnected from the immediate reality, there was a real experience of intra-university political participation and linkage with society that left a mark on the educational and political experience of the students. At 61 years of age, Rafael Boleaga still teaches mathematics at Preparatoria 17 "Vladimir Ilich Lenin" in Acapulco, which he joined full time in 1984, some time after finishing his civil engineering studies at the University of Acapulco. uagro. As a student, Boleaga was part of the first generation of High School 9. For Rafael, what marked his experience as a student and frames the Universidad Pueblo as an event-constellation was the commitment to action:

For example, we would go on weekends, on Fridays we would take the university bus, we would go to Tecpan de Galeana and there we would talk to the community. They were dedicated to making brick and some were farmers, so we were in charge of giving them information [...] There were people who did not know how to read or write, so we taught them to read and write; others were good at philosophy and they were taught to read the famous manuals from Nikitin and all that social education, there was material available for social issues. I was in charge of technical matters, because I liked mathematics and I taught them how to do operations: "Let's see how many partitions? And then how to sell them? That kind of little problems, so that they would not be left behind by people, that was my job. Others were dedicated to teach them to write, others to politicize them, so that people would not let them.15

For Rafael, these activities show the importance of education not being "just blah blah blah and philosophical stuff, but the practice of going and doing it" in collaboration with teachers. As an engineer, Rafael believes that achieving transformation meant "contributing with the little we could as high school students", emphasizing the conviction that education "must serve for something", in this case, for a social transformation that had been postponed for centuries.

If the University People forms a "common space of experience," it can also be seen as a temporal sediment in the events and experiences it recovers from the past. According to Koselleck, historical time consists of "multiple layers that reference one another without being entirely dependent on each other" and establish the preconditions for an event to occur (Koselleck, 2018: 3-4). This project resonated strongly with the tradition of teachers trained in the rural normal and the cultural missions (Quintanilla and Vaughan, 1997), educational projects emanating from the Mexican Revolution. The rural normal would provide a stable temporary sediment on which the university could be structured as a space for new experiences that, in turn, allowed the updating of the normalista tradition.

Rural teacher training colleges emerged in the 1920s, but their greatest expansion occurred during the presidency of Lázaro Cárdenas, who defined socialist education as one of the foundations in the construction of a new social order. Socialist education emphasized the relevance of group interests over individual ones, socially useful work, the link with the community and self-government (Montes de Oca, 2008: 498), and added a socio-political dimension to John Dewey's educational philosophy that had been the axis of action of Mexican education since 1923 (Padilla, 2009: 89).

Dewey's emphasis on learning through the solution of practical problems in interaction with the community (Ruiz, 2013: 108), together with the aspirations for social justice derived from the Revolution, laid the foundations of the rural normalista tradition. The teachers trained there had a mission that transcended the transmission of academic knowledge since "they would not only be educators but social leaders" (Padilla, 2009: 89). The rural school had broad objectives: from promoting better farming methods and the formation of cooperative societies, to the social and political organization of peasants vis-à-vis the government and local power groups (Raby, 1981: 80). The decision of students and teachers to defend the normales rurales as a legitimate educational option, as well as their participation in the workers', peasants' and students' movements of the 1950s and 1960s have made them the focus of attacks from both private individuals and the federal government, which have sought to control or disappear them (Villanueva, 2020; Ortiz and Caamcho, 2017: 252).

Tanalís Padilla has found that for rural normalistas "socialist education, collectivist principles and the defense of the community structure their memory" (Padilla, 2016: 115), and notes that the intensity of these memories derives, in part, "from the political nature of their experience" in the normales (Padilla, 2016: 127). In these schools students had incidence over the functioning and decisions made in the classrooms through assemblies, in a constant exercise of democracy. Alfonso Aguario recalls that in his transit through the Normal Rural de La Huerta, in Michoacán, he was elected to serve as group leader and head of self-government and even to be the representative of his campus to the Federation of Socialist Peasant Students of Mexico.16 On the other hand, the organization based on the boarding school gave students not only what was indispensable for a career, but also generated a sense of what an integral education meant. At the boarding school, students studied, but also learned trades and took theater, literature or dance classes, in addition to the activities that took place in the surrounding communities (Padilla, 2009: 90).

The normalistas who joined the uagro contributed their transforming convictions, as well as the will to transmit in the high schools the multifaceted formation they had received. Rafael Boleaga recalls how his days were spent at Preparatoria 9, where the teachers spared no time in organizing extracurricular artistic and sports activities, in addition to the trips to the communities we have already described.17 As in the rural teacher training colleges, the teachers aspired that young people would become aware of "their own experience" and that, like them, getting involved in social struggles would be a life commitment (Padilla, 2009: 91). The teachers broadened the horizon of expectation of socio-political change of the young people of Guerrero, since their daily actions allowed them to glimpse the possibilities of the future, from their own participation, in the solution of the problems of the community and in the demands for social justice. Although not all the normalistas were graduates of the rural normal schools, those who came from the Normal de Maestros de México generally shared this awareness of the "social and ethical function of the teaching profession" (Ortiz and Camacho, 2017: 258).

The incorporation of teacher educators in higher secondary education under the uagro was not only a practical solution to a problem of economic resources and expansion of the high school network. For a period, albeit brief, the normalistas found their interlocutors in a university that was doing politics by trying to remedy the conditions of poverty and marginalization in Guerrero. However, there is a deeper temporal sediment, although certainly difficult to capture in its historical diffusion: the colonial utopian humanism that had its maximum expression in the Hospitales Pueblo de Vasco de Quiroga (Matamoros, 2009; Lombardo-Toledano, 2015: 33-37; Zavala, 1941).

Recalling the formation of the Universidad Pueblo Guerrerense, Alejandra Cárdenas finds similarities with Quiroga's project of the century. xviIn both cases, the aim was to lay the foundations for a new society. Both experiences were based on an "ethical indignation" in the face of the violence and exploitation suffered by indigenous people and peasants and sought to provide "a remedy that would be an integral solution" based on education (Ceballos, 2003: 806). If Vasco de Quiroga aspired to impart a spiritual formation, the Universidad Pueblo wished to impart a political formation. In both cases, the transmission of practical knowledge and the organization of the material elements necessary for education were the foundation of "an educational process directed especially to those who were the most capable of leading social life". In the xx university students would be the leaders, but, as in the Chiroguian project, this was only part of a "larger process that included all the components of a society" (Ceballos, 2003: 798).

The experience of the Hospitales Pueblo can be considered as a stable sediment that has been able to recover through time as an experience that delineates a possible future in which education is a fundamental element in the defense against exploitation and -in the contemporary update- of the political struggle; transformative education as a new experience that exceeds the expectations of the popular classes in Guerrero in the 20th century; education as a new experience that exceeds the expectations of the popular classes in Guerrero in the 20th century; education as a new experience that exceeds the expectations of the popular classes in Guerrero in the 20th century. xx. The popular Guerrero "prepota" updated that normalista commitment in which "teachers would join forces with peasants to secure agrarian reform, higher wages, loans and fair prices. Education-action became a vehicle for the politics of oppressed groups" (Vaughan, 1997: 36). Paraphrasing Civera Cerecedo, in Guerrero, the mission of the university teacher was the same as in the normalista school, "[...] but now subordinated to an end: to agitate the population to fight to achieve a classless society" (Civera Cerecedo, 2013: 187).

Beyond what Alejandra Cárdenas said, the sediments of the Quiroguian utopia were present in the Universidad Pueblo through the fundamental role of the normalista teachers who gave life to the popular "prepota", that "university of palapas", as the Secretary of Education Jesús Reyes Heroles called it (1982-1985), or "Autóctona University of Guerrero", as others disparagingly called it.18 People such as Alejandra Cárdenas, Alfonso Aguario and many other teachers trained in the ideals of the Cardenista socialist school contributed to normalizing the revolution at the Universidad Pueblo Guerrerense.

Final thoughts

Imbued with a revolutionary ideology, the university students of Guerrero demanded the implementation of an educational utopia that had its glory years more than thirty years ago in the cultural missions and the rural normal school, a project whose dedication to the people is already identifiable in the Vasco de Quiroga Village Hospitals.

The popular classes always arrive late to the appointment of power, which only receives them with violence. But in reality it is not a delay, but an arrest of the dominant time that updates the historical density of the popular demand. The popular demands of the long history of Guerrero were updated in the seventies and gathered in the university; however, they have also become the past. A popular demand that, having become the past, must be brought voluntarily to the present.

By reminiscing about their different experiences in and around the university, Rafael, Alfonso and Alejandra integrate again the speech and action of what happened, and by narrating their experiences they do "justice to the events worth remembering" and whose past reality can only be established by means of this "linguistic evidence" (Koselleck, 2002: 27-28). Through this "evidence" the participants allow us to observe a set of events, actions and experiences that happened at different times but that are articulated in the memory of the Universidad Pueblo, making the project and its multiple facets a "common space of experience" of transformation and socio-political struggle from and through education. This "common space of experience" could constitute a temporary sediment of Guerrero's history as the time when the popular classes actively and consciously intervened in the disputes within the country's political arena, contributing to the transformations that would give way to the democratic opening that Mexico would experience in later decades.

The Guerrero Pueblo University as an event-constellation condensed a set of temporary sediments located in different moments and contexts of Mexican history: the Pueblo Hospitals of Tata Vasco during the colony, the rural normalist utopia of the first decades of the twentieth century, the various ideological currents of the Mexican left, the student movements of the sixties and the historical political-economic demands of the popular classes of the state of Guerrero. Perhaps the lack of ideological coherence of the Universidad Pueblo was not a weakness, but rather a condition of openness to diverse political expressions and popular demands that found in the uagWe consider that during the seventies the Universidad Pueblo -that "prepota" of Guerrero- was a garden that, to paraphrase Mao Tse-Tzu, was a space for its birth, articulation, expression and organization. In spite of its problems and contradictions, we consider that during the seventies the Universidad Pueblo -that "prepota" of Guerrero- was a garden that, paraphrasing Mao Tse-Tung, made it possible for thousands of flowers to bloom.

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Rafael Alarcón holds a degree in Sociology of Communication and Education from the Universidad Autónoma de Guerrero; master's and doctorate in Sociology from the Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla. He has postdoctoral studies in Architecture and Urbanism at the Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais (Brazil). He is a tenured researcher in the Department of Cultural Studies at El Colegio de la Frontera Norte and a member of the National System of Researchers (sni), level i. His work addresses the intersections between memory, history and politics in Latin America.

Ana Lilia Nieto holds a PhD in Mexican History from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. She is a tenured researcher at El Colegio de la Frontera Norte since 2009, in the Department of Cultural Studies. Her main research interests are the political history of Mexico in the 20th and 20th centuries. xix and xx.

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