REVIEW of REVIEWS

What is Going on in Mexico

An Exposition of the Present Political Situation

February 1 1919
REVIEW of REVIEWS

What is Going on in Mexico

An Exposition of the Present Political Situation

February 1 1919

What is Going on in Mexico

An Exposition of the Present Political Situation

THE situation in Mexico at the present day and the aims and desires of the Government and the people are dealt with at length by William Gates in the North American Review. Put in a few words his contention is that the Carranza Government is nothing more or less than a band of organized robbers, violently pro-German, inimical to everything American and hand in glove with the I. W. W.

The chief opponent to Carranza is Zapata, an Indian, whose sole object is to win back illegally dispossessed farms for his followers in his native state, and v. ho would have supported Carranza had he agreed to this restitution. Zapata and Villa for some months previous to the Carranza régime held the capital. During that period the dominant topic in all the papers was the agrarian and farming question. There was almost no anti-Americanism. Mr. Gates then continues his story as follows:

With the entry of Carranza forces August 2, 1915, all this changed. Entering the capital the Zapata papers are at once suppressed, and their plants used to issue Carranza papers; these began at once to be filled with new kinds of notices. Agrarianism almost disappears, to be replaced by the spread of I. W. W. syndicates, “to become a great aid in combating the tyrants.” We have wild stories of “revolutions” in the United States. Kenneth Turner arrives, on the invitation of Dr. Atl, the I. W. W. propagandist. August 22 the present German Minister, von Eckhardt, arrives at the capital with letters from Carranza (still at Vera Cruz), stating that von Eckhardt has come “accredited to the Constitutionalist Government.”

( We did not recognize Carranza until October 19.)

With the definite coming into power, therefore, of the Carranza régime, we find at his side the German Minister and the I. W. W., in their official capacities, and in full co-operation and recognition. We find starting up at once an exaggerated anti-Americanism, of the “political patriotism” type.

In my recent trip through Mexico my desire to see Zapata was stimulated by the utterly contradictory reports about him. Every form of abuse possible is heaped upon him, yet on all sides acknowledgment that Zapata is the one leader in all these years who has had a a consistent principle. Zapata is fighting to restore the farms of which the Indians were by legal processes dispossessed in spite of primordial titles centuries old, and to establish small agricultural proprietorship, leaving the other economic problems of Mexico, for which modern capital and methods are essential, free. Zapata, Carranza, Alvarado, all proclaim agrarian revindication of the Indian. But the Indian, dispossessed, his race-brother bulks first in Zapata’s thoughts; in Carranza’s and Alvarado’s it is the capitalist hated, especially the foreigner, and most especially the American. The Zapata movement is a social home movement; the other a political anti-foreign one. Zapata shares the anti-Spanish feeling above mentioned, and neither he nor hi» people are anti-Yankee in the usual sense; he and his officers are also specifically anti-German. Alvarado is a convinced I.W.W., who expects to succeed Carranza as President, and establish the first Syndicalistic State; to both him and Carranza, Indianism is something to be cultivated and exploited politically.

I have ridden hundreds of miles through southern Mexico, where I was told no other American had been for the last one or two years at least, and where I was warned that it was utterly impossible to go for roving bandits, who would at the least strip me to my shoes. I have been in a town as it was attacked by Felicistas, and seen the Carrancista soldiers after repelling the attack loot the town they were brought in to de-

fend, + he commanding general of the division, Heriberto Jara of Vera Cruz, bring up the rear of the line of lootburdened men; while others after shooting a prisoner found wounded in the leg, dragged him by a rope behind a cart; and while a colonel on the general’s staff warned a friendly storekeeper to shut his doors, as they could not promise protection from their own troops. I never felt safe one hour of the time I was within Carranza lines; I felt safe every hour I was off among the country people, in the districts protected by their soldiers, farmers like themselves, working their fields and taking a gun when the need came to defend their homes from the marauding Carrancistas. I have no doubt there are bands of bandits, but I believe them to be mainly, at least, on the border lines between the opposing forces.

The Revolutionists of Mexico to-day are a peasant yeomanry defending their homes; while one may describe the Government forces as Germans in Belgium, or Bolsheviki in Russia; either term fits.

The ignorance in this country as to the extent of the German propaganda and influence over the border is little short of amazing. To try to show its working, take the matter of the public press. In Yucatan a free press is nonexistent; but in Mexico there is a long list of anti-government papers, rising and falling, besides the main dailies. Nearly the whole of this press is German subsidized; in some cases the anti-Americanism is virulent in the extreme, excitatory of fears of invasion. A good deal of this is hidden behind rabid I. W. W. anti-capitalism, where that is the cue, as in the oil regions and in the north ; and that serves to excite strikes, or destruction; but the purchase money is traceable, and has several times been openly proven German. Some of these rabid anti-foreign papers are also antiCarranza, to give them circulation among the Revolutionary districts, but there, too, they serve Carranza’s aims, for they excite the sentiment which he hopes to use when “the Day” of vindication comes. When we learned that food shipments released by us to relieve distress were being used for outrageous profiteering, and ordered the question investigated, it gave rise to violent editorials on Mexico’s sovereign right to regulate her own internal commerce.

Last January the Sonora News Co., a long established American company, obeying our Trading With the Enemy Act, cut out the most violent and shamelessiy mendacious German paper from its train list. It had its whole contract cancelled in consequence, the Government Secretary stating in the official letter that the special reason was that such action invaded Mexico’s sovereign dignity, and compromised her “strict neutrality.” Other cases followed, with like action, declaring broadly that “the American Black List has no validity in Mexico, and supported immediately by specific decrees from Carranza himself-

Mexico, outside of Carrancista circles, is our friend; it is also in desperation, and crying to us; it is absolutely proAlly, and anti-German. The case is a clear one: the Carranza policy is a

political one, against us, to which he is sacrificing the inner condition of the country; but the Mexicans outside his ranks see that alliance with Germany would only mean for Mexico what it did for Russia, even if Germany had won ; and they see Mexico’s future in friendship with us.

If we would permit it, if we would recognize the facts from the world^standpoint, that assumed diplomatic regularity is being used intentionally to hold us off and for no other purpose as Germany hoped to do first with England and then with us, till the better time; if we would recognize the Mexican people whose welfare we have at heart, instead of the Carranza Government which has betrayed the Mexican Revolution as Lenine did the Russian; if we would only go no further than was done by the Carranza Government itself and recognize the belligerency of the

legitimate State Government of Oaxaca, the whole matter would be settled by an immediate declaration of alliance by that Sovereignty, carrying with it all the rest of the Revolutionary movement through the whole Republic. We would lose Carranza, and with him the danger which he and the German Minister are fomenting, that we be drawn into attacking Mexico on the northern border, or in Tampico; all danger of the rupture between us and the Mexicans would cease, for the Carranza Government could not last if the Revolutionists got the ammunition they need.

The interior condition is wholly misunderstood in this country. It is not a case of more or less widespread banditry, pillage. It is a political movement, it is unified, and all the parties are in communication and co-operation, slowly strengthening themselves and pinching in the Carranza Government amidst the growing hatred of the whole people, and its economically critical situation.

The present movement is a unified political revolution to restore constitutional government, wipe out the socialistic legislation, and come back to a position of respect internationally. From a military point, the country is controlled by three main forces, in co-

operation: Felix Diaz commanding in

Uhiapas, Vera Cruz, the Tehuantepec isthmus, and part of Puebla, the Oaxaca State forces under Meixueiro; Zapata commanding in Morelos, part of Puebla and Guerrero; Guerrero also seceded lately, and State forces there co-operate; up the west side and through the north various military leaders; on the east coast in the oil district, Pelaez. The southern contingents have definite political programmes (substantially identical) to the restoration of constitutional government, with reforms giving effect to the social principles underlying the late revolution; these programmes have been accepted by the military chiefs in the north. And they include for the first time in Mexico’s history the economic regeneration of the Indian; that is Zapata’s one care for which he will fight to the end; it is Meixueiro’s; and Diaz has made it his. The Mexican revolution (really started by Zapata in 1909, before Madero) will never end until the mountain peasants of Morelos come into their own; you might as well fight the Swiss; but give them their farms, buying them from the landlords if necessary, and it ends to-morrow. And above all give them economic assurance that it is worth while saving—and their regeneration and that of Mexico will come.