Watering the Revolution: An Environmental and Technological History of Agrarian Reform in Mexico
(Counter)Revolutionary Dam, Pumps, and Pesticides
The chapter examines the postwar and post-dam transformation of the Laguna’s water regime, characterized by a sharp, rightward sociopolitical turn in Mexico; severe drought; and profligate use of chemical pesticides and groundwater pumps in the late 1940s and 1950s. As a case study, it focuses on the politically well-connected técnico, former secretary of agriculture (1928–1930, 1940–1946) and self-styled Zapatista and agrarista Marte R. Gómez. It shows how he helped to facilitate transformation of the region by creating the U.S. subsidiary, Worthington de México, in the late 1940s and expanding it into Mexico’s largest pump manufacturing company by the 1960s. The growth of the company flew in the face of numerous government pumping prohibitions that began in the 1940s and were meant to stem the crisis of aquifer depletion and contamination, a crisis that Gómez had been fully aware of as agriculture secretary.