Specters of Revolution examines the development of two guerrilla insurgencies led by schoolteachers in Mexico during the 1960s. Relying upon recently declassified documents and oral histories, it chronicles a history of nonviolent peasant political action, underscored by long-held rural utopian ideals, radicalized by persistent state terror.
The 1960s represented a revolutionary moment around the globe. In rural Mexico, several guerrilla groups organized to fight against the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). Specters of Revolution chronicles two peasant guerrilla organizations led by schoolteachers, the National Revolutionary Civil Association (ACNR) and the Party of the Poor (PDLP), which waged revolutionary armed struggles to overthrow the PRI. Both emerged to fight decades of massacres and everyday forms of terror committed by the government against citizen social movements that demanded the redemption of constitutional rights. This book reveals that these movements developed after years of seeking legal, constitutional pathways of redress, focused on economic justice and electoral rights, and became subject to brutal counterinsurgencies. Relying upon recently declassified intelligence and military documents and oral histories, it documents how long-held rural utopian ideals drove peasant political action that gradually became radicalized in the face of persistent state terror and violence. Placing Mexico into the broader history of post-1945 Latin America, Specters of Revolution explodes the myth that Mexico constituted an island of relative peace and stability surrounded by a sea of military dictatorships during the Cold War.