domingo, 30 de noviembre de 2008

The Crónica in the Spanish-Language Journalism of Los Angeles: The cases of Francisco P. Ramírez and Ricardo Flores Magón

Palabras claves: crónica en castellano, Los Angeles, Francisco P. Ramírez, Ricardo Flores Magón, anarquismo, chicanos

Por Ignacio López-Calvo
Publicado en Journal of Spanish Language Media 1 (2008): 125-38


This essay will study the evolution of the crónica, Latin America’s oldest non-fiction narrative form, in the Latino literary journalism of Los Angeles. The study will provide an inventory of the discourses and genre characteristics of the crónicas published in Spanish since the city’s founding. This project represents a fresh approach to the crónica as a literary and discursive form. Until only recently, the scholarly community interpreted the ethnic press as a sociological text or scanned its pages for factual details with which to reconstruct Southern California’s political and cultural history. That tendency to subordinate Spanish-language journalism to the role of minor literature at the service of grander historical or cultural narratives persists in the recent scholarship. The study will rely on available critical studies and examples of the Los Angeles crónicas to develop a working lexicon of narrative motifs, discourses, and genre traits to guide the selection of representative texts. This presentation will therefore attempt the first systematic literary study of the crónica’s discursive and stylistic permutations in the Spanish-language journalism of Los Angeles. Toward this end, this study will revisit such Los Angeles-based Spanish-language newspapers as El Heraldo de México, La Crónica, El Joven, El Clamor Público, La Estrella, Las Dos Repúblicas, La Voz de la Justicia, El Eco de la Patria, El Malcriado, Regeneración, and La Opinión.

The Spanish-language crónica, a non-fiction journalistic genre akin to the New Journalism of American authors such as Tom Wolfe, Hunter Thompson, Norman Mailer, Truman Capote, and others, is one of the oldest non-fiction narrative forms in the Latino literary journalism of Los Angeles. This genre is still being used in Mexican journalism by some of the most renowned cultural critics in the country, including Carlos Monsiváis and Elena Poniatowska. Ignacio Corona and Beth E. Jörgenensen also mention Salvador Novo, José Alvarado, Vicente Leñero, José Joaquín Blanco, Cirstina Pacheco, Julio Scherer García, and Ricardo Garibay (1-2). This essay will study the main motifs, the stylistic traits, and the evolution of this journalistic genre as it appeared in Los Angeles-based Spanish-language newspapers such as El Heraldo de México, La Crónica, El Joven, El Clamor Público, La Estrella, Las Dos Repúblicas, La Voz de la Justicia, El Eco de la Patria, El Malcriado, Regeneración, and La Opinión. It will approach this discursive manifestation from a literary and aesthetic perspective and beyond the anecdotal, historical, or sociological approaches from which it has been usually considered. In other words, representative examples of the Spanish-language crónica of Los Angeles will be considered as an end in themselves, rather than as secondary texts or tools to understand other sociopolitical and cultural narratives.

Typically, the journalistic crónica has to find a balance between journalism’s expected impartiality and objectivity on the one part and the marks of the author’s personal style and personality on the other. In fact, this peculiar structure and way to express ideas are supposed to attract and keep the readers’ attention. The interaction between past and present events is also of crucial importance in this Spanish-language journalistic genre. Lourdes Barrera has defined the crónica in the following manner: “The crónica is a genre of speed, from one day to the next, from one impression to the other. […] The speed, besides being an inevitable journalistic condition, grants sincerity, and among other things predetermined in the crónica one may find moral reflections that articulate or reaffirm the conscience of the new society.”

Likewise, Ignacio Corona and Beth E. Jörgensen state: “The presence of the chronicle on the Spanish American literary scene since the period of European exploration and conquest is an irrefutable cultural phenomenon. This widely practiced and constantly evolving genre, conceived on the battlefields and in the streets, in the plazas and at the theaters, is a hybrid form of writing that crosses multiple discursive boundaries” (1). Like the reportaje, the crónica requires a previous investigation; however, the crónica emphasizes the chronicler’s own subjective interpretation of the facts. It is, therefore, an intermediate genre between the supposedly objective news and the expectedly subjective editorial or article in the “Opinion” section of the newspaper. At the time, Latino readers were aware of the particular conventions of the crónica. The centrality of language brings the crónica closer to literature and makes of the chronicler a “master of the art of recreating news in a literary manner.”[2] For some journalists, this same awareness of style makes the crónica a more sophisticated genre. Thus, Monsiváis quotes a text by Luis G. Urbina that implies the notion of an elevated status for the crónica: “It is true that the chronicler is not an artist. But I don’t know what this journalistic genre has that, without being superior, requires a clean expression, a vibrant temperament, a sharp observation, and, if possible, a certain dose of fantasy in order to combine and color images.”[3]

Carlos Monsiváis studies, in A ustedes les consta (1980), the crónica genre in Mexico. According to him, it recreates the news in a literary manner, often using a nostalgic tone. In contrast, the reportaje pays less attention to personal style and is more political, and prone to sensationalism and denunciation. Monsiváis considers Salvador Novo one of the masters of this journalistic genre: “[he] easily gets rid of the legacy of poetic prose and moralist conventions and blends chronicle, article, and essay into one single genre.”[4] Novo, continues Monsiváis, resorts to erudition, memorable phrases, neologism, archaism, and a disdain for that which is transcendent.

Nicolás Kanellos, in turn, defines the Latin American crónica as “a short, weekly column that humorously and satirically commented on current topics and social habits” (116). It owes its origins, he explains, to Addison and Steel in England and to José Mariano de Larra in Spain. Kanellos claims that in the Southwest of the United States, the crónica took on different goals:
From Los Angeles to San Antonio and up to Chicago, Mexican moralists assumed pseudonyms and, from this masked perspective, commented satirically in the first person as witnesses to the customs and behavior of the colony whose very existence was seen as threatened by the dominant Anglo-Saxon culture [….]
It was the cronista’s job to fan the flames of nationalism and enforce the ideology of “México de afuera.” He had to battle the influence of Anglo-Saxon immorality and Protestantism and protect against the erosion of the Spanish language with equally religious fervor. (116)

In the same vein, Raymund A. Paredes points out that Los Angeles Mexican-American writing “dates from the 1850s, when El Clamor Público and other local Spanish-language newspapers began to publish poems and fictional sketches, some of which treated aspects of Los Angeles life. But these works are of limited interest and the fact remains that extended fictional works about Los Angeles by Mexican-American authors did not appear until the 1970s” (240-41). Indeed, in many ways the trails of the Chicano/Latino community in Los Angeles and in Southern California find a mirror image in the Spanish-language press of the region. During the Spanish and Mexican periods, there were no Spanish-language newspapers in Los Angeles. Later, however, there would be sixteen different ones. According to Richard Griswold del Castillo, there were two types of newspapers: on the one hand, some were long-lived and influential, and represented the opinions of the wealthy native Californios, such as La Estrella, El Clamor Público, La Crónica, and Las Dos Repúblicas; on the other hand, the other newspapers (La Voz de la Justicia, El Eco de la Patria, El Joven, La voz del Nuevo Mundo, and El Eco Mexicano) had a more popular background, but were short-lived and poorly funded by Mexican immigrants (The Los Angeles 125-26).

For many years, prominent Latin American intellectuals, such as Francisco Ramírez, José Rodríguez, Pastor de Celis, Mariano J. Varela, and S.A. Cardona, Ricardo Flores Magón,
[5] José Vasconcelos, Octavio Paz, Carlos Monsiváis, and Mario Vargas Llosa have published editorials the Los Angeles-based Spanish-language newspapers El Heraldo de México, La Crónica, El Joven, El Clamor Público, La Estrella, Las Dos Repúblicas, La Voz de la Justicia, El Eco de la Patria, El Malcriado, Regeneración, and La Opinión. Today, La Opinión, one of the nation’s oldest surviving and continuously published Spanish-language newspaper (along with the New York-based La Prensa), and Hoy, a new local edition published by the Tribune Corporation, provide continuity to this heritage of Latino Journalism in Los Angeles. Yet, as Víctor Valle pointed out in an interview, overall, Los Angeles’ long tradition of excellent journalism has progressively deteriorated into a business that is more interested in making money than in creating original writing. In many cases, such as those of Enlace (San Diego) and Hoy (Los Angeles and New York), the newspaper is based on the quick translation of articles from mainstream English-language newspapers. As a result, the level of Spanish language is lower and issues of concern to the Latino community are generally ignored. At a different level, this is also the case of La Opinión, although, in this case, the concern for Latino issues is significantly higher. For a city that has had sixteen different Spanish-language newspapers and that is home to the largest Latino community in the nation, the increasing dependence on translation from English-language news is, undoubtedly, a matter of concern. As Víctor Valle has pointed out, instead of building on traditionally Hispanic genres, such as the crónica, more and more Latino journalism is becoming poor-quality imitation. The more news that is translated, the less connection to Latino issues there will be. Ownership of Spanish-language newspapers by Anglo corporations seems to be, along with the lack of economic means, the main source of this problem: it prevents these newspapers from continuing the tradition of acting as the voice of Latinos against Euro-American hegemony in the region. In many ways, the dependency of Spanish-language press in the United States in general echoes the marginal position that Latinos still have in this society, despite the slow improvement. Instead of being a vehicle for influence and change in public policy and an outlet for Latino concerns, many Spanish-language newspapers in Southern California (and in the rest of the country, for that matter) have become a mere vehicle for acculturation, which only reflects the ideology of the dominant culture. The initial “decolonizing” objectives of these publications have progressively vanished to become, paradoxically, yet another colonizing tool.
“The Spanish-language press,” explains Roberto R. Trevino, “played a crucial role in Californio biculturation. It was both a mirror and an agent of the process. Newspapers reflected feelings about Hispanic and Anglo culture, as well as the degree of adherence to one or the other. In addition to being a gauge of cultural orientation, the press actively promoted culture and biculturation in a manner that varied from subtle to clamorous” (34). The familiarity of both Latino and non-Latino journalists with traditional forms of Spanish-language journalism such as the crónica could facilitate the goal of incorporating and reaching out to Latino readers’ sensibility. In this sense, Víctor Valle has lamented this hiatus between Latino reporters and their Anglo editors: “Because U.S.-styled journalism also perpetuates the parochialism, the minority reporter bears the full burden of translating his or her culture to an often indifferent or hostile editor. In my case, this meant that a whole universe of signs was unavailable to most of my editors because they were monolingual and monocultural” (264). Along these lines, he contrasts the descriptive approach of mainstream journalism to the “Latin intellectual style that is more literary, discursive, overtly ideological, and interested in broader conceptions of social and cultural history. Works of art, literature, or ordinary news events become points of departure for philosophical or cultural meditations” (266-67).

Trevino wisely points out that the “establishment of a Spanish-language press did not occur until after the American conquest of California” (14). This can be partly explained, he argues, “as a conscious effort to preserve Mexicano cultural integrity” (13). After the Californios lost their land and their political power to the Anglos as a result of the US-Mexican War of 1846-1848, the press became a medium where they could vent their indignation, defend their culture, and fight for their rights. As previously stated, it was also a vehicle for cultural affirmation, where they could praise Mexican literature and history, and defend the Spanish language and Catholicism (Trevino 17).

Ramón D. Chacón has studied the way in which the Los Angeles newspaper El Heraldo de México, founded in 1915, safeguarded the interests of Mexican working-class immigrants and Chicanos. As Chacón explains, the newspaper, full of nationalistic fervor, claimed to be the “Defender of the Mexicans in the United States” against discrimination and exploitation (50). With that aim, it published information about job opportunities in the Southwest of the United States and in Baja California as well as information on the changing immigration policies of both the United States and Mexico. More importantly, El Heraldo de México created an association to protect the rights and interests of Mexican immigrants and Chicanos called “Liga Protectiva Mexicna de California” (Mexican Protective League of California).
One of the leaders of these protests was the teenager Francisco P. Ramírez (born in Los Angeles in 1837-died in 1908 in Ensenada, Baja California), who, in June 1855 founded and became the editor of the first Spanish-language newspaper (and third newspaper) of Los Angeles, the four-page El clamor público (The Public Outcry), which lasted until December 31, 1859.
[6] As Félix Gutiérrez explains, this newspaper was an outgrowth of the Spanish section of the first newspaper in Los Angeles: the bilingual Los Angeles Star (4). Through his El clamor público, Ramírez protested the abuse and oppression of Mexicans and chronicled their odyssey into the disempowered status of second-class citizens. Ramírez went from a moderate tone that supported the ideals of the U.S. Constitution and promoted cooperation between Mexicans and Anglos to a more radical tone with which he protested slavery and racial inequalities, scolded Mexicans for not standing up against Anglo oppression, and supported Mexican liberalism and public education for girls (Gutiérrez 5-7, Juan Gonzales 51).

A good example of this last tone and of the different goals of the crónica in the American Southwest is “La doctrina de Monroe” (Monroe’s Doctrine), published by Ramírez in El Clamor Público on January 29, 1859 (vol. IV, no. 31, p. 1). There, Ramírez criticizes the Monroe Doctrine as it will, in his opinion, isolate the United States. If America, he argues, does not allow Europe to intervene in matters related to the Americas, then logically European powers will not allow America interfere in matters related to Europe and other parts of the world. Ramírez dares to call the doctrine and “arrogant and unsustainable aspiration.”
[7] In the same vein, the crónica “Folleto notable” (Notable Leaflet), also published by Francisco P. Ramírez in El Clamor Público (March 19, 1859, vol. IV, no 38, p. 1) calls for an alliance of the Latin nations of the New and the Old World, and more specifically a Franco-Spanish alliance, to put an end to the annexationism of the United States. Ramírez shows his awareness of foreign affairs and the foreign press, as well as his unyielding opposition to U.S. foreign politics. The leaflet mentioned in the title was published in the French journal Courier des Etats Unis under the title “Carta a S. M. el Emperador Napoleón III sobre la influencia francesa en América, y el Mensaje de Mr. Buchanan.” In his chronicle, Ramírez praises the civilizing history of Latin European nations and describes the new attitude of North American Anglo-Saxons as a continuation of the reformation initiated by Martin Luther. In his view, the clash between the United States and the Latin American nations is not only the embodiment of the fight between civilization and barbarism, but also a racial and religious war that began in European during the Protestant Reform: “The United States are the senseless Reformation that, unable to triumph over Latin civilization with Coligny’s support, crossed the oceans to return with renewed strength to fight against that civilization.”[8] He warns against the insatiable thirst of territorial conquest of the Americans, and cites as examples of the Monroe Doctrine their objective to take over Cuba, Mexico, and Central America as a first step to conquer the entire South American continent as well as Europe and the other continents. Therefore, the pro-European Ramírez considers President of the United States James Buchanan (in office March 4, 1857March 4, 1861) a “filibuster” and a threat to Latin nations at both sides of the Atlantic and the only way to save civilization, he assures, is the aforementioned alliance of the “Latin races”: [Pres. Buchanan] knows very well that, once the fight has begun, his triumph is assured, the isthmus and the island will be his prey, and nothing will stop his invading march to the south, his destructive flight toward Europe.”[9] Ramírez also argues that most Europeans who migrate to the United States and mixes with the Yankees, immediately turns into an enemy of Europe. In all, as Félix Gutiérrez states, “Ramírez used the press to inform his readers of their rights, expose injustices and inspire action. His reports and editorials had a special ring of truth because he also was experiencing the same conditions he was reporting in his newspaper” (11). However, both Gutiérrez and Roberto R. Trevino point out that, along with his defense of Californios, Hispanics and their cultures, and his proposal to move to the Mexican State of Sonora, Ramírez also recommended Californios to learn the English language and “urged the acquisition of Anglo American traits on the grounds of ‘expendiency,’ that is, for survival” (Trevino 34). In this way, Trevino argues, the Spanish-language press reflects the beginning of a long biculturation process among middle- and upper-class Californios.

Another of the big names in Spanish-language journalism in Los Angeles is Ricardo Flores Magón (1873-1922), the editor of Regeneración, as Juan Gómez-Quiñones explains, was born in Oaxaca, Mexico, and lived in the United States the last eighteen years of his life, after they forbade him to publish any of his writings in Mexico. As he points out, Flores Magón’s writings prove that “Chicanos participated in the Mexican Revolution through the activities of the PLM, while, at the same time, the took part in the radical movement in the United States.”
[10] Regeneración was founded by two lawyers, Jesús Flores Magón and Ricardo Horcasitas, and a law student, Ricardo Flores Magón, on August 7, 1900 and it was published in different U.S. cities. In the United States, it was published for the first time in San Antonio, Texas, in 1904 and then in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1905 (Gómez Quiñones 39). “Because of the threat of discovery and arrest,” explains Albro, “the junta journal which appeared for the first time in Los Angeles on June 1, 1907, was titled Revolución, not Regeneración” (80). Other journals of the PLM in Los Angeles were Regeneración (September 1910-June 1918) and Libertad y Trabajo (Gómez-Quiñones 49).

In Los Angeles it was edited by Anselmo Figureoa and Ricardo Flores Magón. According to Richard Griswold del Castillo, “Regeneración downplayed Mexican nationalism and emphasized multi-national, multi-ethnic working class solidarity in a struggle against liberalism and capitalism” and “advocated violent revolt, anarchy and the total destruction of the existing order” (42). Many of Ricardo Flores Magón’s crónicas were written and published in Los Angeles. After he became blacklisted under Porfirio Díaz’s government, he and his brother Enrique went into exile in the United States in 1904. Ricardo Flores Magón, in his chronicle “A la mujer” (To Women), published in the Los Angeles journal Regeneración, on September 24, 1910, provides a good example of the chronicle that is trying to raise political awareness, this time among women. Trying to follow the anarchist principles of the Partido Liberal Mexicano (the Mexican Liberal Party; PLM), of which Flores Magón was leader, he attempts to promote equality among men and women. However, this progressive stance is not without flaws. First, he approaches a feminist and suffragette positionality when he argues:

Are you a worker? Because you are a woman you are paid less than men, and made to work harder. You must suffer the impertinence of the foreman or proprietor; and if you are attractive, the bosses will make advances. Should you weaken, they would rob you of your virtue in the same cowardly manner as you are robbed of the product of your labor.
Under this regime of social injustice which corrupts humanity, the existence of women wavers in the wretchedness of a destiny which fades away either in the blackness of fatigue and hunger or in the obscurity of marriage and prostitution.
[11] [….] Women are perpetually treated as minors when the law places the wife under the custody of the husband. She cannot vote or be elected, and to enter into civil contracts she must own a sizeable fortune.[12]

Enrique Ochoa Ávila has pointed out that Flores Magón proposed equal rights for men and women, and even appealed for matriarchy: “The vindications he suggests to women are not different in essence from the one he suggests to men, since they are addressed to the struggle for emancipation.”[13] However, in other passages Flores Magón relegates women to a passive position in society, encouraging them to e a mere shadow of their men:

Are you mothers? Are you wives? Are you sisters? Are you daughters? Your duty is to help man; to be there to encourage him when he vacillates; stand by his side when he suffers; to lighten his sorrow; to laugh and to sing with him when victory smiles. You don't understand politics? This is not a question of politics; this is a matter of life or death. Man's bondage is yours and perhaps yours is more sorrowful, more sinister, and more infamous.
[14] [….] She is not as prepared as men for the industrial struggle, nor is she organized with the women of her class to fight alongside her brother workers against the rapacity of capitalism.[15] [….] Demand that your husbands, brothers, fathers, sons and friends pick up the gun.[16]

The patronizing and anti-feminist attitude of the chronicler in these passages contradicts his previous statement that women are equal to men. In his view, women are not qualified to participate in the armed struggle required by the revolution. Therefore, he reinstates the hierarchies that Anarchism is supposed to eliminate. As Reggie Rodríguez points out, this perspective may have been influenced by the implicit male chauvinism in
Peter Kropotkin’s “An Appeal to the Young” (Ricardo Flores Magón).

Another member of the PLM and journalist in Regeneración, Práxedis Guerrero, continues with the topic of the emancipation of women in another chronicle entitled “Mujer” (Woman), which, according to Gómez-Quiñones, was published in Punto Rojo in 1909. Guerrero anchors the beginning of the discrimination of women in the Bible and the Jewish tradition. Subsequently, he praises the freedoms women had in the ancient Egypt, Madagascar, and among the Bedouins, and then he contrasts them with the oppression suffered in India, China and ancient Greece. Paradoxically, after this introduction, he proceeds to attack the feminist movement.

In another chronicle, titled “Margarita Ortega” and published in Regeneración on June 13, 1914, Flores Magón tells the story and death of the anarchist of the Mexican Liberal Party Margarita Ortega. This way, he re-inscribes women as an active participant in the Mexican Revolution. According to Flores Magón, Ortega acted as a link for the combatants of the Mexican Liberal Party in Baja California, bringing them dynamite, weaponry, and ammunition. Being from a wealthy family, she could have chosen an easier life, but she left her boyfriend and the security of a well-to-do home to fight, along with her daughter Rosaura, for her ideals. The Maderista authorities expelled them from Mexicali and order them to walk in the desert without water or food until she reached Yuma and then Phoenix. Rosaura would die short thereafter and Margarita would be imprisoned, tortured, and shot by a firing squad in Mexicali.

Likewise, in another chronicle published in Regeneración on February 12, 1916 and titled “Progreso revolucionario” (Revolutionary Progress), Flores Magón states that five years after the beginning of the Mexican Revolution there has already been progress for women. In a conference for women in Yucatan, it was established that women are as intelligent as men and, therefore, deserve to have the same rights. However, the celebration of this outcome is followed by a condemnation of the fact that they want to occupy public posts, when, in his opinion, they should be fighting for anarchy.

Similarly, in “Vamos hacia la vida” (We Move Toward Life), first published in the Los Angeles newspaper Revolución in July 1907 and then reprinted in Regeneración on October 10, 1910, Flores Magón defines himself not as a utopian but as a realist person. Speaking against organized religion, he states that the days were human beings fought for heaven are long gone; according to him, now they fight for the Earth. He even cites Lucifer, the fallen angel, as a heroic rebel. As he does in many other chronicles, here he encourages people to revolt: “Blessed be the hearts where protest takes root. Indiscipline and rebelliousness!, beautiful flowers that have not been adequately grown.”
[17] In “La Junta Organizadora del Partido Liberal Mexicano a los maderistas y a los mexicanos en general” (The Organizing Junta of the Mexican Liberal Party to Maderistas and Mexicans in General), another crónica written in Los Angeles on May 24, 1911 and published in the Los Angeles newspaper Regeneración on May 27, 1911, Flores Magón asks Mexicans to support the anarchist views of his party if they want an authentic economic revolution and the free distribution of land. In fact, Albro argues that “By proclaiming his anarchism Flores Magón ruled himself out of future significance in the stormy course of the Mexican Revolution” (99). Flores Magón also warns against the dangers of electing Francisco Madero because, according to Flores Magón, once in power he will have to support the interests of the Capitalist class: “Let’s not be content with having Madero sit in the presidential seat, because no government will be able to decree happiness. Happiness is achieved by obtaining economic freedom through the take over of the possession of the land and the production machinery, in order to take advantage of it altogether.”[18]

Similar ideas against Capitalism, international borders, government, authority, false patriotism, private property, and organized religion are repeated time and again in different crónicas published in Regeneración. In “Tierra” (Land), for example, he argues that private property originates from crime and violence, and that it has caused all the evils of humankind. He ends the crónica by encouraging peasants to not work the land until they own it. Meanwhile, he assures, the best think to do is to buy weapons and fight for the land. This repetition of ideas, however, is sometimes interrupted by blatant contradictions. For instance, at the same time that Flores Magón and his Mexican Liberal Party claim to be the people, in crónicas such as “Sembrando” (Cultivating), he laments the “Imbecility and cowardice of the masses.”
[19] Likewise, in “Para después del triunfo” (For After the Triumph) he states paternalistically: “The people are the eternal boy: credulous, innocent, pure.”[20] His radicalism leads him, in “Por la patria” (For the Fatherland) to encourage Mexicans to assassinate Huerta, Carranza, Villa, and whoever proposes a paternalistic government and speaks of patriotism.

As we see in “Derecho de propiedad” (Property Right), Flores Magón frequently uses the example of pre-Columbian societies and their common property of the land as a model for the Marxist-Anarchist politics he defends. In his view, the arrival of the Spanish conquerors was the beginning of the present situation of injustice and social inequality. For this reason, in “En marcha” (Marching), he points at the deportation of Yaqui Indians from Sonora to Yucatán by Porfirio Díaz in order to sell the land to U.S. companies as an insult to the Mexican nation.

Gonzalo Aguirre Beltrán has summarized Flores Magón’s contributions to the formation of the idea of nationality: “1) that the fatherland is a social invention, 2) that the concept originates and develops along with Capitalism, 3) that the fundamental trait that shapes it is the principle of territoriality and 4) that the irrational character that it often acquires is produced by the cultural conditioning carried out by the leading bourgeoisie of a society that is divided in classes.”
[21] In all, as Ward S. Albro points out, “Ricardo Flores Magón and his Partido Liberal Mexicano (PLM) have come to be sanctified in modern Mexico as the primary precursors of the Mexican Revolution of 1910” (XII). Griswold del Castillo also points out that in contrast with other Mexican and Chicano newspapers in the Southwest, Regeneración promoted collective struggle across ethnic and national borders: “Magón used Regeneración to publicize rallies and labor conferences in Los Angeles and elsewhere; the constant theme was the alliance of the Mexicans, Chicano and Anglo-American working class. The revolution was an opportunity to unite all oppressed people regardless of national boundaries” (“The Mexican Revolution” 46).

In “Carta de la cárcel de Los Angeles” (Letter of the Los Angeles penitentiary), written on June 13, 1908, Flores Magón justified his hiding the fact that he was an anarchist and calling himself a liberal: “If we had called ourselves anarchists from the beginning, no one, other than a few, would have listened to us. Without calling ourselves anarchists we have been firing in the brains ideas of hate against the possessing class and against the governmental caste. No other liberal party in the world has the anti-Capitalist tendencies of the one that is about to start a revolution in Mexico, and that has being achieved without saying that we are anarchists, and we wouldn’t have achieved it even if we had called ourselves socialists. It all is, therefore, a matter of tactics.”[22]

The denunciation of the lynching of Hispanics in the United States was one of the most recurrent topics in the early Spanish-language chronicle. Flores Magón addresses this issue in “La repercusión de un linchamiento” (The repercussion of a lynching), published in Regeneración on November 12, 1910. There, he denounces U.S. support to dictators such as the Guatemalan Estrada Cabrera and the Mexican Porfirio Díaz, as well as the intervention in the internal politics of several Latin American countries. Flores Magón does not blame the American people but the greedy millionaires who own multinational companies. Then, he proceeds to denounce the mistreatment and oppression of Mexicans in the United States: “Everyone knows the despise with which the Mexican race in general is treated, everyone knows that in Texas they treat Mexicans worse than blacks. In hotels, hostels and other public businesses in Texas, they do not admit Mexicans. Public schools close their doors to children of our race.”[23] More specifically, Flores Magón condemns the lynching of a Mexican citizen named Antonio Rodríguez, who was burned alive after being accused (without a court case) of killing a North American woman in Rock Springs, Texas. In the end, he uses the tragedy for his own political propaganda, blaming not the lynching crowd, but Capitalism, which, he argues, has divided “the two races that populate this beautiful continent” (meaning Anglos and Latinos).[24]

Práxedis Guerrero, in his chronicle “Blancos, blancos” (Whites, whites), published in November, 1910, also condemns the burning of Antonio Rodríguez. With the same sarcasm used by Flores Magón, Guerrero states: “They were the descendents of Washington, Lincoln, and Franklin; it was a crowd that was well dressed, educated, proud of their virtues, civilized; they were citizens, white ‘men’ of the United States.”[25]

In another chronicle titled “Regeneración” and published on September 3, 1910, Flores Magón informs readers about his release from prison after spending three years doing hard labor and encourages them to join the upcoming war. Presenting himself as a martyr, he declares himself ready for new sacrifices and openly regrets the democratic process. He proposes, instead, an armed revolution that, in his view, will bring about the liberation of oppressed Mexicans. Four months after the Mexican Revolution had started, Flores Magón, this time along with his brother Enrique, Librado Rivera and Anselmo L. Figueroa, continued to celebrate the prospects of victory in “Manifiesto a todos los trabajadores del mundo” (Manifesto to all the workers in the world), published in Regeneración, in Los Angeles, on April 3, 1911. They also encourage readers to translate this article to send it to workers’ journals in foreign countries at the same time that they criticize another enemy, who is in the shadow of the dictator Porfirio Díaz: the “millionaire” Francisco I. Madero, leader of the Anti-re-electionist Party. These four journalists will publish another Manifesto in Los Angeles on September 23, 1911, in which they claim that once private property disappears there will no longer be any need for government or Church. The three enemies of workers, they insist, are capital, authority, and the clergy. As representatives of the Mexican Liberal Party, they claim that while other parties promise political freedom, they guarantee the possession of land, machinery, transportation, and houses. They also protest against the killing of two Mexican revolutionaries named Rincón and Lomas in Texas and the imprisonment of twelve more, accused of killing a Hispanic sheriff:
Who among you has never suffered outrage in this country for the mere fact of being Mexican? Who among you has not heard about crimes that are committed daily against our race? Don’t you know that in the south of this country Mexicans are not allowed to sit in a diner next to a North American? Haven’t you gone into a barber shop where they’ve been told, looking at you up and down, ‘We don’t serve Mexicans here’? Don’t you know that the prisons of the United States are full of Mexicans? And have you even counted the number of Mexicans that have been hung in this country or who have been burned by brutal crowds of white people?

In “Los levantamientos en Texas” (The uprisings in Texas), published in Regeneración on October 2, 1915, Flores Magón discusses the skirmishes between Texas Rangers and Mexicans living in Texas, in which, according to him, Mexicans were just trying to put an end to the constant attacks against their ethnic group in this region. Instead of attacking only the rebels, Flores Magón explains, the Rangers, aided by civilians, began to persecute all Mexican males. While the “bourgeois press,” as he calls it, talks about the Plan of San Diego, by which supposedly some people were trying to create an independent country out of the lands the United States took from Mexico. However, he explains, the revolt is only a matter of self-defense. In the end, over five hundred Mexicans were killed.

On September 2, 1911, in another chronicle “El pueblo mexicano es apto para el comunismo” (Mexican people are apt for Communism) and published in Regeneración, Flores Magón goes even further. He claims that “Mexico is marching toward Communism at a faster pace than that we, exalted revolutionaries, expected,”
[27] because, he argues, Mexicans have practiced communism for centuries. He also claims that before they were robbed of all their possessions twenty years earlier, the four million Indians who live in Mexico collectively shared their lands, waters, and forests, with no need for authority. The situation, according to Flores Magón, was the same for most Mestizos in Mexico, who worked with solidarity and mutual support.

Works Cited

Aguirre Beltrán, Gonzalo. “Introduction” Ricardo Flores Magón. Antología. Ed. Gonzalo Aguirre Beltrán. México: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 1970.
Albro, Ward S. Always a Rebel. Ricardo Flores Magón and the Mexican Revolution. Fort Worth: Texas Christian University Press, 1992.
Chacón, Ramón D. “The Chicano Immigrant Press in Los Angeles: The Case of ‘El Heraldo de México,’ 1916-20.” Journalism History 4.2 (Summer 1977): 48-50, 62-64.
Corona, Ignacio and Beth E. Jörgensen. “Introduction.” The Contemporary Mexican Chronicle. Theoretical Perspectives on the Liminal Genre. Corona, Ignacio and Beth E. Jörgensen, eds. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2002.
Egan, Linda. “Play on words: Chronicling the Essay.” The Contemporary Mexican Chronicle. Theoretical Perspectives on the Liminal Genre. Corona, Ignacio and Beth E. Jörgensen, eds. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2002. 95-122.
Flores Magón, Ricardo. “A la mujer.” Ricardo Flores Magón. Ed. Reggie Rodríguez.

-----. Ricardo Flores Magón. Antología. Ed. Gonzalo Aguirre Beltrán. México: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 1970.
-----. “To Women.” Ricardo Flores Magón. Ed. Reggie Rodríguez.

Gómez-Quiñones, Juan. Las ideas políticas de Ricardo Flores Magón. Trans. Roberto Gómez Ciriza. Mexico: Era, 1977.
Griswold del Castillo, Richard. The Los Angeles Barrio 1850-1890. A Social History. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1979.
-----. “The Mexican Revolution and the Spanish-Language Press in the Borderlands.” Journalism History 4.2 (Summer 1977): 42-47.
Gonzales, Juan. "Forgotten Pages: Spanish-Language Newspapers in the Southwest.” Journalism History 4.2 (Summer 1977): 50-52.
Gutiérrez, Félix. Francisco P. Ramírez. “Californio editor and Yanqui conquest.” Courage. Media Studies Journal 14.2 (Spring/Summer 2000): 16-23. 1-12.
Kanellos, Nicolás. “A Socio-Historic Study of Hispanic Newspapers in the United States.” Recovering the U.S. Hispanic Literary Heritage, Vol. II. Ed. Ramón Gutiérrez and Genaro Padilla. Houston: Arte Público Press, 1993. 107-28.
López-Calvo, Ignacio. “Interview with Víctor Valle, winner of a Pulitzer Award for journalism.” California State University, Los Angeles. Oct. 14, 2004.
Monroy, Douglas. Rebirth. Mexican Los Angeles from the Great Migration to the Great Depression. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1999.
Monsiváis, Carlos. A ustedes les consta. Antología de la crónica en México. Mexico City: Era, 1985.
Mora, Mary Alice. “Los rituales del caos, de Carlos Monsiváis. Crónica de la crónica.” University of Texas at El Paso. M.A. Thesis, 2000.
Ochoa Ávila, Enrique. “El pensamiento de Ricardo Flores Magón: su concepción antropológica.” Proyecto Ensayo Hispánico. July 2006. March 1, 2007.
Paredes, Raymond A. “Los Angeles from the Barrio: Oscar Zeta Acosta’s The Revolt of the Cockroach People.” Los Angeles in Fiction. A Collection of Essays. Ed. David Fine. U.S.A: University of New Mexico Press, 1995.
Ramírez, Francisco P. “La doctrina de Monroe.” USC Digital Archive. March 3, 2007.

-----. “Folleto notable.” USC Digital Archive. March 3, 2007.

Rodríguez, Reggie. “Ricardo Flores Magón. Commentary.” Feb. 28, 2007.
Trevino, Roberto R. “Becoming Mexican American: The Spanish-Language Press and the Biculturation of Californio Elites, 1852-1870.” Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity Working Paper Series. Stanford University. March 5, 2007.
Valle, Víctor. “Chicano Reporter in ‘Hispanic Hollywood’.” Chicanos and Film. Representation and Resistance. Chon Noriega, Ed. Minneapolis, London: University of Minnesota Press, 1992.


[1] “La crónica es género de velocidad, de un día a otro, de una impresión a otra. […] La rapidez, además de condición periodística inevitable, garantiza la sinceridad, y entre lo ya predeterminado en la crónica se encuentran las reflexiones morales que arman o reafirman la conciencia de la sociedad nueva” (2; Citado por Mary Alice Mora).
[2] “Maestro del arte de recrear literariamente la actualidad” (Monsiváis 39).
[3] “Es cierto que un cronista no es un artista. Mas no sé qué diablos tiene este género periodístico que, sin ser superior, requiere una expresión pulcra, un temperamento vibrante, una observación atinada, y, a ser posible, cierta dosis de fantasía para combinar y colorear las imágenes” (Monsiváis 39).
[4] “Fácilmente se desprende del legado de prosas poéticas y reconvenciones moralistas y funde en un solo género crónica, artículo y ensayo” (40).
[5] It was in the Los Angeles newspaper Regeneración where Ricardo Flores Magón published “A la mujer” (September 1910) and “Manifesto de 23 de Septiembre 1911,” where he proclaimed himself and his organization “for anarchist revolution in Mexico” (Monroy 218).
[6] The first Spanish-language newspaper of California was San Francisco’s La Crónica, which was first published in 1854. By 1900, there were 312 Spanish-language newspapers in California (Trevino 15).
[7] “Pretensión arrogante e insostenible.”
[8] “Los Estados Unidos son la Reforma insensata que no habiendo podido triunfar de la civilización latina con el apoyo de Coligny, atravesó los mares para volver con fuerza a luchar contra esa civilización.”
[9] “Sabe muy bien que, una vez empeñada la lucha, su triunfo es seguro, el istmo y la isla su presa y que nada podrá detener su invasora marcha hacia el sud, su vuelo destructor hacia Europa.”
[10] “Los chicanos participaron en la revolución mexicana a través de la actividad del PLM, mientras al mismo tiempo tomaban parte en el movimiento radical de Estados Unidos” (14).
[11] “¿Sois obreras? Por el solo hecho de ser mujer se os paga menos que al hombre y se os hace trabajar más; tenéis que sufrir las impertinencias del capataz o del amo, y si además sois bonita, los amos asediarán vuestra virtud, os cercarán, os estrecharán a que les deis vuestro corazón, y si flaqueáis, os lo robarán con la misma cobardía con que os roban el producto de vuestro trabajo. Bajo el imperio de la injusticia social en que se pudre la humanidad, la existencia de la mujer oscila en el campo mezquino de su destino, cuyas fronteras se pierden en la negrura de la fatiga y el hambre o en las tinieblas del matrimonio y la prostitución.”
[12] “Eterna menor de edad, la ley la pone bajo la tutela del esposo; no puede votar ni ser votada, y para poder celebrar contratos civiles, forzoso es que cuente con bienes de fortuna.”
[13] “Las reivindicaciones que sugiere a la mujer no se distinguen en lo esencial de las del hombre, ya que son dirigidas hacia la lucha por la emancipación.”
[14] “¿Sois madres? ¿Sois esposas? ¿Sois hermanas? ¿Sois hijas? Vuestro deber es ayudar al hombre; estar con él cuando vacila, para animarlo; volar a su lado cuando sufre para endulzar su pena y reír y cantar con él cuando el triunfo sonríe. ¿Que no entendéis de política? No es ésta una cuestión de política: es una cuestión de vida o muerte. La cadena del hombre es la vuestra ¡ay! y tal vez más pesada y más negra y más infamante es la vuestra.”
[15] “No está educada como el hombre para la guerra industrial, no está organizada con las de su clase para luchar con sus hermanos los trabajadores contra la rapacidad del capital.”
[16] “Haced que vuestros esposos, vuestros hermanos, vuestros padres, vuestros hijos y vuestros amigos tomen el fusil.”
[17] “Bienaventurados los corazones donde enraíza la protesta. ¡Indisciplina y rebeldía!, bellas flores que no han sido debidamente cultivadas” (Ricardo 8).
[18] “No nos conformemos con que Madero vaya a sentarse en el sillón presidencial, porque ningún gobierno podrá decretar la felicidad. La felicidad se consigue obteniendo la libertad económica por medio de la toma de posesión de la tierra y de la maquinaria de producción, para aprovechar todo en común” (Ricardo 41).
[19] “Imbecilidad o cobardía de las masas” (Ricardo 19).
[20] “El pueblo es el eterno niño: crédulo, inocente, candoroso” (Ricardo 30).
[21] “1) que la patria es una invención social, 2) que el concepto insurge y se desarrolla con el capitalismo, 3) que el rasgo fundamental que lo compone es el principio de la territorialidad y 4) que el carácter irracional que a menudo adquiere es producido por el condicionamiento cultural puesto en obra por la burguesía dirigente de una sociedad dividida en clases” (XLIV).
[22] “Si desde un principio nos hubiéramos llamado anarquistas, nadie, a no ser unos cuantos, nos habría escuchado. Sin llamarnos anarquistas hemos ido prendiendo en los cerebros ideas de odio contra la clase poseedora y contra la casta gubernamental. Ningún partido liberal en el mundo tiene las tendencias anticapitalistas del que está próximo a revolucionar en México, y eso se ha conseguido sin decir que somos anarquistas, y no lo habríamos logrado ni aunque nos hubiéramos titulado no ya anarquistas como somos, sino simplemente socialistas. Todo es, pues, cuestión de táctica” (Gómez Quiñones 115).
[23] “Todos saben con qué desprecio se trata a la raza Mexicana en general, todos saben que en Texas se trata a los mexicanos de manera peor que a los negros. En los hoteles, fondas y otros establecimientos públicos de Texas, no se admite al mexicano. Las escuelas oficiales cierran sus puertas a los niños de nuestra raza” (138).
[24] “Las dos razas pobladoreas de este hermoso continente” (138).
[25] “Fueron descendientes de Washington, de Lincoln, de Franklin; fue una muchedumbre bien vestida, educada, orgullosa de sus virtudes, civilizada; fueron ciudadanos y ‘hombres’ blancos de Estados Unidos” (136).
[26] “¿Quién de vosotros no ha recibido un ultraje en este país, por el solo hecho de ser mexicano? ¿Quién de vosotros no ha oído relatar los crímenes que a diario se cometen en personas de nuestra raza? ¿No sabéis que en el sur de este país no se permite que el mexicano se siente, en la fonda, al lado del norteamericano? ¿No habéis entrado a una barbería donde se os ha dicho, mirándoos de arriba a abajo: ‘aquí no se sirve a mexicanos’? ¿No sabéis que los presidios de Estados Unidos están llenos de mexicanos? ¿Y habéis contado, siquiera, el número de mexicanos que han subido a la horca en este país o han perecido quemados por brutales multitudes de gente blanca?” (165).
[27] “México marcha hacia el comunismo más aprisa de lo que esperábamos los exaltados revolucionarios” (146).

Los Angeles Journals

19th Century
Los Angeles Star (1851-1879)
Half of paper (1851-1855) printed in Spanish as La Estrella de Los Angeles.
El Clamor Público
Las Dos Repúblicas (1892-1898)
El Amigo del Pueblo (1861-1862)
Weekly; second Spanish-language newspaper in L.A.
La Crónica (1872-1892)
Semi-weekly; weekly. One of its editors was Francisco Ramirez, who as a seventeen year old had established El Clamor Público.
El Eco Mexicano (1885)
El Monitor (1898)
La Reforma (1877-1878) Semi-weekly.
Revista Hispano-Americana (1889-1894)
Published in Spanish and English; weekly.
Revista Latino-Americana (1892-1893)

20th Century
El Correo Mexicano (October 1917; editor Tirso Campo; Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History)
La Opinión (1926-)
El Heraldo de México (1915-1918)
El Malcriado 1920s
La Voz de la Justicia
El Eco de la Patria
El Joven (1877-1878)
La voz del Nuevo Mundo
Regeneración (Sept. 1910-June 1911)
La Prensa (1912-1924)
La Gaceta de los Estados Unidos (1917)

Los Angeles's Journalists
● Pastor de Celis (La Crónica)
● Mariano J. Varela (La Crónica)
● S.A. Cardona (La Crónica)
● José Rodríguez (El Joven)
● Miguel Arce
● Esteban Escalante
● Gabriel Navarro
● Daniel Venegas pseudonyms as El Malcriado (The Brat)
● Julio Arce (pen name Jorge Ulica) “Crónicas diabólicas” El Malcriado
● Benjamín Padilla (Kaskabel, Rattle Snake, Az. T.K. (The Aztec) and Chicote (The Whip)
● Manuel C. Rojo (La Estrella)
● José E. Gonzales of (El Clamor Público)

● Los Angeles’ Spanish American Printing

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1 comentario:

pirugenia dijo...

Me parece que este artículo sería de interés para la premiada periodista mexicana María Luisa Arredondo, que trabajó muchos años en La Opinión, más que yo, y tiene ahora su propio medio.