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Railroad Radicals in Cold War Mexico: Gender, Class, and Memory (Mexican Experience)by Robert F. Alegre
Synopses & Reviews
Often translated as “revolt,” a pronunciamiento was a formal, written protest, typically drafted as a list of grievances or demands, that could result in an armed rebellion. This common nineteenth-century Hispano-Mexican extraconstitutional practice was used by soldiers and civilians to forcefully lobby, negotiate, or petition for political change. Although the majority of these petitions failed to achieve their aims, many leading political changes in nineteenth-century Mexico were caused or provoked by one of the more than fifteen hundred pronunciamientos filed between 1821 and 1876.
The first of three volumes on the phenomenon of the pronunciamiento, this collection brings together leading scholars to investigate the origins of these forceful petitions. From both a regional and a national perspective, the essays examine specific pronunciamientos, such as the Plan of Iguala, and explore the contexts that gave rise to the use of the pronunciamiento as a catalyst for change. Forceful Negotiations offers a better understanding of the civil conflicts that erupted with remarkable and tragic consistency following the achievement of independence, as well as of the ways in which Mexican political culture legitimized the threat of armed rebellion as a means of effecting political change during this turbulent period.
Despite the Mexican governmentand#8217;s projected image of prosperity and modernity in the years following World War II, workers who felt that Mexicoand#8217;s progress had come at their expense became increasingly discontented. From 1948 to 1958, unelected and often corrupt officials of STFRM, the railroad workersand#8217; union, collaborated with the ruling Institutionalized Revolutionary Party (PRI) to freeze wages for the rank and file. In response, members of STFRM staged a series of labor strikes in 1958 and 1959 that inspired a nationwide working-class movement. The Mexican army crushed the last strike on March 26, 1959, and union members discovered that in the context of the Cold War, exercising their constitutional right to organize and strike appeared radical, even subversive.
Railroad Radicals in Cold War Mexico examines a pivotal moment in postand#8211;World War II Mexican history. The railroad movement reflected the contested process of postwar modernization, which began with workers demanding higher wages at the end of World War II and culminated in the railway strikes of the 1950s, a bold challenge to PRI rule. In addition, Robert F. Alegre gives the wives of the railroad workers a narrative place in this history by incorporating issues of gender identity in his analysis.
About the Author
Robert F. Alegre is an assistant professor of history and affiliated faculty in the Womenand#8217;s and Gender Studies Program at the University of New England. His work has been published in the Journal of Womenand#8217;s History, Labour/Le Travail, and Reviews in History. Elena Poniatowska received a lifetime achievement award from the International Womenand#8217;s Media Foundation and is the first woman to win Mexicoand#8217;s National Journalism Prize.
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