No segment of the rural population, prior to the Mexican Revolution, has been so neglected or misunderstood as the rancheros. The meaning of this term itself is ambiguous, referring at the same time to small farmers of predominantly Spanish descent in the state of Jalisco, to traditional landowners occupying very modest estates in more isolated regions in other parts of central and southern Mexico, or to pioneer cattle ranchers in the more sparsely populated northern frontier.1 The common denominator seems to be their middle-class status in rural Mexican society, or their intermediate position between the mass of landless peons or sharecroppers and a small elite of hacendados. Sometimes the term is also used to refer to relatively prosperous commercial farmers, working as tenants within the boundaries of large landed estates,2 or even to prosperous, capitalist landowning farmers in northern Mexico.3 Most scholars, however, including Eric Wolf, George McBride, Rodolfo Stavenhagen, and Roger Hansen4 depict the typical ranchero as an independent smallholder, a type of poor family farmer who mainly relies on his own labor and that of his family. This picture is part of a more widely held view which portrays the social structure of Mexico prior to 1910 as a small group of hacendados pitted against a great mass of equally downtrodden peons, sharecroppers, tenants, and tiny plot holders. In this schema, the ranchero is numerically insignificant and socially unimportant.

This paper will analyze the social and economic structure of a rural region inhabited by such rancheros or landowning farmers. The area, located in northwestern Hidalgo, is representative of other parts of Mexico characterized by small and medium-sized agricultural estates (ranchos) and the absence of large-scale latifundism and landlord absenteeism prior to 1920. This pattern of land tenure and its corresponding class structure were especially prevalent in the mountainous zones of the more densely populated central portions of Mexico. The landowners of such ranchero regions, who resided on their estates or in small rural communities, emerged in the middle of the nineteenth century. Despite a weakly developed sense of identity and strong paternalistic ties between employers and workers, the rancheros regularly employed wage labor and rented out part of their land to sharecroppers or part-time cash tenants, thus constituting a local upper class vis-à-vis the poor peasants dependent on them. Unlike the hacendados so often portrayed in the literature, however, they managed their own farms and were actively engaged in local commerce or the small-scale processing of agricultural products grown on such small estates. They also shared the dress, deportment, and speech of their economic subordinates. In another article, the author refers to these rancheros as a peasant bourgeoisie to emphasize both their “peasant” or rustic lifestyle, which gave them low status in the eyes of the metropolitan elite, and their actual economic position as local employers and entrepreneurs.5

The specific region in Hidalgo chosen for a detailed examination of a ranchero economy in central Mexico is known as the Sierra Alta de Hidalgo and roughly corresponds to the district of Jacala, today comprised of five municipios (see figure 1).6 Most of the Sierra Alta, which belongs to the eastern foothills of the Sierra Madre Oriental range, is also considered to belong to the Huasteca, a semitropical region of abundant vegetation that also includes parts of the states of San Luis Potosí and Veracruz. Although geographically isolated until the construction of Highway 34 in the 1930s, the Sierra Alta de Hidalgo has been a site for the production of such commercial crops as coffee (mainly second-grade, sun-dried coffee) and sugarcane (locally processed into pilón or sugarloaf) since the middle of the nineteenth century. The production of these tropical crops is supplemented with the cultivation of maize and beans, mainly using the swidden technique, and extensive cattle production.

Politically, the entire region was a stronghold of liberalism (exemplified by support for Benito Juárez’ philosophy) and anticlericalism throughout the nineteenth century.7 Local rancheros fought on the side of Juárez during the French occupation from 1863 to 1867 as well as in the 1870s, and several landowning farmers set up a small newspaper which criticized interstate tariffs, taxes on locally processed agricultural products, government corruption, and the professional standing army.8 Local politicians also supported Porfirio Díaz’ rebellion in 1876, ostensibly fought in order to carry out further liberal reforms. During the Revolution of 1910, the majority of rancheros in the Sierra Alta de Hidalgo, who shared many grievances with other segments of Mexico’s population against the government then in power, joined several revolutionary factions (mainly Villistas and Carrancistas). Several prominent rancheros who belonged to the victorious Carrancista faction later established their respective spheres of influence in the Sierra Alta. Such local strongmen, all members of the peasant bourgeoisie, had small contingents of soldiers armed at their own expense and continued to fight among themselves for local control, allying themselves to rival politicians on the national level.

The political behavior associated with the peasant bourgeoisie who dominated the Sierra Alta de Hidalgo region can be explained by the type of social relations associated with the class structure and land tenure system found in this ranchero society. Unlike other parts of Mexico, characterized by landlord absenteeism or the rapid expansion of huge haciendas at the expense of communal villages, the Sierra Alta did not experience violent clashes between landowners and landless peasants. Such overt class conflict was absent because the excesses of the hacienda system and the polarization between the very poor and the very rich had not reached the same unbearable level as in other sections of the country. Moreover, there were frequently personal bonds of kinship or compadrazgo between local landowners and the wage-earning peasants, with whom many rancheros shared a common origin. Because of the absence of local agrarian conflict, landowning families of the Sierra Alta were not faced with a threat to their dominant position at home when the Revolution broke out in 1910. Indeed, local revolutionary leaders, all from prominent ranchero families, recruited their own economic subordinates, some of whom were relatives as well as employees and tenants, to fight for the revolutionary cause, using guerrilla tactics and returning home periodically to tend their farms. The members of the peasant bourgeoisie of the Sierra Alta who fought during the Revolution had several advantages vis-à-vis other rebels who came from urban areas. They were quite adept at horseback riding and the use of firearms as well as being thoroughly acquainted with the physical terrain of a mountainous region of strategic military importance. Revolutionary leaders from this local upper class of rancheros were also able to utilize a wide network of social contacts with other landowning families, previously established through intermarriage, in order to recruit additional allies and supporters.

During the immediate post-revolutionary period, ambitious young men from other landowning families in the Sierra Alta were provided with the opportunity to initiate their own political careers by attaching themselves to one of several leading rancheros who had become paramilitary chiefs during the Revolution. Not only did native sons manage to occupy important political posts on the regional level, but men from landowning families in this ranchero region actually became governors in two different states.9 These ranchero politicians even supported the partition of large haciendas in the Mexican plateau. The political history of the Sierra Alta, which has been more fully analyzed elsewhere,10 thus indicates that the rancheros of central Mexico constituted a significant political force both before and after the Revolution of 1910. The present paper will specifically focus on the social and economic development of the Sierra Alta de Hidalgo and particularly the municipio of Pisaflores: its early history, its emergence during the Porfiriato and its main characteristics at the time of the Mexican Revolution.11

Early Historical Background

Compared to other areas, which have agricultural populations going back to prehispanic days, the Sierra Alta region to which Pisaflores belongs was only recently settled. At the time of the Spanish conquest in the early sixteenth century, the region was inhabited by nomadic Indians who remained outside the area of effective political and economic control.12 The first contact was made by Catholic missionaries belonging to the Franciscan and Augustinian orders. These friars tried to proselytize the native inhabitants and set up small settlements of converts which were repeatedly attacked and forced to disband. The first permanent mission center was a fortified convent set up in Chapulhuacán around 1650.13 The region around Chapul-huacán, including part of the municipio of Pisaflores, was then settled by Nahuatl-speaking peasants from the neighboring region of San Luis Potosí, who came to this part of the Sierra Alta after most of the original inhabitants had been driven away. Further to the south, the municipio of Jacala was settled by lay Spaniards in the early 1700s. Here, a group of miners founded the community and the hacienda of San Nicolás. Among these Spanish settlers, the Rubio family later established the nearby village of Jacala which gradually outstripped San Nicolás in numerical size and economic importance. Apart from very primitive mining of small copper and zinc deposits, these early settlers raised cattle and grew wheat for export to the Mesquital Valley, a dry region just to the south.14

The sparsely inhabited territory between the outskirts of Jacala and the area of Indian settlement along the border of San Luis Potosí was ceded by royal decree to a merchant from Mexico City in 1738. This estate, which included the valley of Pisaflores, was later sold to a Captain Joseph Joaquín Rubio, a resident Spaniard of Jacala.15 This huge hacienda, called Tampochocho, covering 20, 000 hectares of fertile but rugged semitropical forest, served as a reserve for further settlement by Rubio’s numerous descendants. These settlers, who intermarried with the Indian inhabitants of surrounding communal villages, cultivated the subsistence crops of maize and beans. They also raised cattle on the banks of the Moctezuma and Quetzalapa rivers and in several small valleys within the boundaries of this estate. By the end of the eighteenth century, they had reached a mountain range just south of the valley of Pisaflores, where several members of the Rubio family established the village of Alamos. Wage labor was almost nonexistent in this earlier period of expansion and the tenants or sharecroppers who lived in Tampochocho were frequently poorer relatives of the founding family, whose direct descendants continued to jointly own the land.16 One of these co-owners, a grandson of Captain Joaquín Rubio of Jacala, finally settled in the valley of Pisaflores with a few relatives and friends during the turmoil associated with the war of independence from Spain. The small residential center they founded in 1817 later became the cabecera of Pisaflores.17 Upon their arrival, the only other nearby population center of even minor administrative importance was the hamlet of Xochicoaco, located on a mountain peak overlooking the valley of Pisaflores. This hamlet was surrounded by sparsely populated terrain then communally owned by Nahuatl-speaking peasants who had earlier migrated to the mountainous zone just north of the valley of Pisaflores which formed the northern border of Tampochocho (see figure 1). At the time that these early settlers built their primitive homes in the valley, most of what is now the municipio of Pisaflores was still covered by thick forests, and traversed by numerous mountain brooks.18

The Emergence of a Ranchero Economy

Between 1820 and 1870, especially during the political turmoil of the War of the Reform and the French Intervention, the Sierra Alta was settled by successive waves of immigrants from other parts of Mexico, fleeing from the effects of political persecution or physical destruction in other regions. These newcomers included small merchants and entrepreneurs who started handicraft industries (soapmaking, lumbering, and liquor distilling) while engaging in various agricultural activities, especially the cultivation of sugarcane, an increasingly important regional cash crop which was locally processed into pilón.19 This sugarloaf, an item of popular consumption, was sold in the highlands of Querétaro and Guanajuato and also provided the raw material for the production of aguardiente. Several coppersmiths from Italy who made equipment used in the processing of sugarloaf or the distilling of aguardiente came to live in the recently founded village already known as Pisaflores.20 The introduction of other cash crops, including tobacco and coffee, further stimulated trade with surrounding regions and part-time wage employment became an important source of income for local inhabitants who did not own land.21 The favorable geographical position of the valley of Pisaflores soon made this part of Tampochocho into a flourishing entrepôt between the highlands of Querétaro and Guanajuato and the low-lying parts of the Huasteca region. Earlier footpaths leading to the neighboring state of Querétaro were improved, and between 1860 and 1870 a mule trail was built under the auspices of the leading citizens to improve communication between Pisaflores and the town of Tamazunchale. A bustling marketplace developed and in 1873, the rustic hamlet of Pisaflores became a town (pueblo de categoría) as well as the cabecera of a municipio with the same name. This new municipio, which at first included only the valley of Pisaflores, was expanded in 1878 when it was merged with the mountainous zone previously under the jurisdiction of Xochicoaco.22

Although the hacienda of Tampochocho, which now included part of this enlarged municipio, was still officially owned as a single estate by the descendants of the original owner from Jacala, it had evolved into a number of separate farms (ranchos), scattered over three municipios. In the valley of Pisaflores the typical rancho included a field of sugarcane, a fenced-off pasture for horses and mules, a roofed structure used to set up a molienda (a small sugar mill) during the cane harvest, and an adobe-brick house where the owner of the rancho lived with his family. This house would be surrounded by thatched-roofed huts used for cooking and additional sleeping quarters as well as the humble homes of the landless peasants who were given permission to live on the rancho. Such a cluster of huts frequently formed the nucleus of a hamlet or ranchería consisting of several farmers and their day laborers or tenants. Each ranchería, conveniently located near a stream or a freshwater spring, was surrounded by forest, which provided firewood and timber, and terrain for the perpetually shifting corn plots or milpas. Coffee trees were also planted in the forest under the protective shade cover of larger trees. There were no fixed boundaries between one rancho and the next when the valley of Pisaflores was first being settled in the early part of the nineteenth century. But as the local population expanded, the co-owners or tenants who operated such ranchos set up stone markers to demarcate the limits of their properties.23 Newcomers who came to Pisaflores after 1850 set up their own ranchos on land belonging to the hacienda and paid rents to an administrative committee representing all the co-owners set up to look after the financial and legal affairs of the old landed estate. Some of these newcomers also became co-owners by marrying members of the founding family while others bought shares which likewise entitled them to rights of joint ownership.24

In the area bordering the old hacienda, including the mountainous zone of the municipio of Pisaflores, the pattern of land tenure changed more dramatically. With the restoration of the liberal government of Juárez in 1867 and then Lerdo de Tejada (1872-1876), the law of desamortización, designed to encourage private ownership of land, was implemented in this region. The subsequent granting of titles to specific pieces of formerly communal land reinforced an ongoing process of internal class differentiation of rich versus poor peasants because wealthy peasants were able to file claims for larger amounts of land which they supposedly already “possessed” while others sold their land titles to more powerful neighbors. Land records relating to the municipio of Pisaflores or the former municipio of Xochicoaco indicate quite a discrepancy, for example, in the amount of land granted to local inhabitants issued with such titles.25 They ranged from three cuartillos (the equivalent of approximately 2 hectares) to ten fanegas (200 hectares). Moreover, the number of new landowners (adjudicatarios), already smaller than the total adult population of the mountainous zone of Pisaflores, dwindled from 107 in 1872 to 67 in 1887 due to the transfer of such titles from poorer peasants to wealthier villagers or outsiders.

One incident is especially revealing. In the hamlet of Las Moras, an army officer who had come to the region in the 1860s during the war against the French filed a claim of ownership in his own name on behalf of this entire hamlet, after persuading the local peasants that they could continue to work rent free on a portion of this land.26 The jefe político of the district of Jacala also granted land titles to farmers who were already co-owners of the hacienda and who had previously obtained “permission” to use communal lands of the mountainous zone for pasture or the growing of maize. In this manner, most of the communally owned lands belonging to the inhabitants of the former municipio of Xochicoaco were transformed into small privately owned estates or ranchos similar to those located within the boundaries of the hacienda of Tampochocho.27

After 1870, many landless peasants came to the Sierra Alta from the arid and poorer zones of southern Hidalgo (Valle de Mesquital) attracted by higher wages and the possibility of combining wage labor with subsistence cultivation on virgin slopes. Many of these migrant workers, some of whom spoke Otomí, a language indigenous to many regions of Hidalgo, settled permanently in local ranchos and added to the population of already existing hamlets. In Pisaflores several new population centers sprang up and by 1874 the municipio had over 4,000 inhabitants.28 The fact that these new arrivals came from different regions with different dialects also reinforced the tendency for Spanish to become the common language of the lower classes, unlike other parts of the states of Hidalgo and San Luis Potosí.

The constant flux of newcomers and the rapid expansion of local commerce in the Sierra Alta region throughout the second half of the nineteenth century transformed a primarily subsistence-oriented agricultural system based on a patriarchal relationship between a few “Spanish” landowning families and tenants or part-time laborers who were poor relatives or “Indian” peasants, into a commercial type of rural production system characterized by private land tenure and wage labor. This gave birth to a class of rancheros or a peasant bourgeoisie producing for a national or international market. These commercial landowning farmers, whether they were nouveau riche peasants or the descendants of Tampochocho’s original owner, dedicated themselves to overseeing the production of cattle, sugarcane, coffee, and corn. Most of these fanners tended their own cattle and rode horseback between hamlets to conduct business, while small stills and stores owned by such rancheros were usually managed by their immediate relatives (for example, a son, wife, or widowed mother). However, although they did participate in certain kinds of physical labor on occasion, the rancheros all employed wage laborers for clearing the land, harvesting the crops, and running their trapiches. Even the poorer rancheros with very small farms rarely worked in their own cornfields or harvested their coffee or sugarcane, but rather supervised these tasks which were carried out by peons.

Local landowning farmers periodically rented out part of their small estates to these same landless peons for the slash-and-burn cultivation of maize. This provided the rancheros with com (either a fifth or a third of the crop) for their own consumption, for animal fodder, or as a means of payment to part-time day laborers. More importantly, such slash-and-burn activities created natural pastures for the rancheros who drove their cattle into the fields of stubble after the com harvest had been completed. Some of the landless peasants were also allowed to plant coffee trees for their own use. Because they were given access to land for the cultivation of noncommercial crops, these landless peons were more likely to settle on their employers’ estates, thus constituting a local labor force willing to work for low wages during periods of peak demand.

With the transformation of the local economy from an isolated region of primarily subsistence farming to a center of commercial agriculture in the latter half of the nineteenth century, the legal status of the hacienda of Tampochocho, comprising over half of the surface area of the Sierra Alta region, became increasingly incongment with its de facto possession by numerous individual farmers. Tampochocho had never been controlled as a single administrative unit by one family as so many other haciendas in less mountainous regions of Mexico, and consequently never developed a casco or landowner’s mansion.29 On the contrary, the ambiguous legal status of the estate and a lack of clearly demarcated boundaries of rural properties within its limits led to litigation among the co-owners and shareholders. Because sugarcane plots, coffee orchards, or pastures were sometimes abandoned and since most cornfields were constantly reverting back to secondary forest, it was not unusual for one ranchero who was legally a co-owner of the hacienda to claim rights of possession over land that had been cleared at an earlier date by another co-owner, thus giving rise to legal disputes.30 Increasing competition among local farmers and the gradual expansion of several estates belonging to prominent shareholders aggravated such boundary disputes, especially in the valley of Pisa-flores.

In order to put an end to this situation of constant conflict, one of the co-owners of the hacienda still living in Jacala, Doña Dolores Ledezma, initiated legal proceedings in 1888 to have the hacienda of Tampochocho surveyed and formally divided into separate farms.31 A new committee of five members was set up to investigate the validity of titles held by some sixty-odd shareholders or co-owners and to hire a professional engineer to carry out the partition of Tampochocho. This junta directiva, with two representatives from Pisaflores, two from Jacala, and one from the village of Alamos in the municipio of Chapulhuacán, was also charged with the day-to-day administration of this corporation. The first treasurer of the junta was a wealthy ranchero and leading member of the founding Rubio family in Pisaflores. Despite these measures to insure a peaceable resolution, the division of the old hacienda became the object of bitter factional disputes which reinforced earlier conflicts over boundaries. The main contenders in this conflict were two rival families, the Rubios (descended directly from the original owner) and the Alvarados of humble origin, now wealthy farmers who had been able to buy shares in the hacienda as well as numerous plots of land in the mountainous zone. Disputes over boundaries and the trespassing of cattle heightened local tensions until one member of the founding family was ambushed and shot in 1898.32 The threat of further violence required the personal intervention of the new state governor, Pedro Rodríguez. At a special meeting held in the cabecera later that year, the governor was designated as legal arbiter of the complex disputes associated with the division of the hacienda.33

Several years later in 1902, the hacienda of Tampochocho was finally divided among what had now become 200 co-owners, about half of whom lived in the municipio of Pisaflores. Each co-owner received one or more lots of varying sizes, usually adjacent to one another, according to the number of shares he owned. Apart from minor adjustments, this division did not change the prevailing pattern of land tenure, for most farmers simply obtained full legal rights over land they already possessed and which was already registered as private property in the local tax office. Nor did the implementation of this “land reform” diminish either the economic or the political influence of the most powerful ranchero, Evaristo Alvarado. This man received various lots, totaling 1,200 hectares scattered over two municipios. Together with other rural properties he already owned outside of Tampochocho, the total size of his estate was 1,500 hectares, substantially larger than the estates of 25 to 100 hectares owned by many smaller landowning farmers in the valley.34

Between 1890 and 1900, political wranglings over the partition of Tampochocho did not affect the continuing prosperity of the Sierra Alta region and especially the valley of Pisaflores. For example, in the municipio of Pisaflores, major public projects including a telegraph line were undertaken. The total population rose from 4,516 in 1890 to 7,804 in 1900,35 exceeding that of the municipio of Jacala. The Sierra Alta, well-known for its abundant production of tropical products, especially coffee and sugarcane, was even included in plans for a proposed railroad, which would run from Pachuca, the state capital, through Jacala and Pisaflores, to the port of Tampico.36 In 1900, the population of the region declined somewhat as many wage-earning peasants left to seek work for higher wages on a new, modern sugar plantation in El Higo, Veracruz. This first out-migration lasted only a short time, however, because many workers contracted malaria and returned home.

Despite these and other setbacks,37 the local economy continued to expand until 1910. Indeed, peasants from the highlands of Querétaro or the Valle de Mesquital region continued to flock to the Sierra Alta, and especially to the municipio of Pisaflores, up to and during the revolutionary period.38 Although the widespread civil war that devastated much of rural Mexico between 1912 and 1917 also had its impact on the Sierra Alta, little physical destruction actually occurred. In spite of frequent incursions by rival military bands, forced loans, and periodic shortages of com and beans, local commerce and the production of traditional agricultural commodities continued on a reduced scale and were assumed with renewed vigor after the cessation of hostilities in 1917. A threefold rise in the price of coffee further stimulated the economy at the end of the First World War which coincided with the end of the most violent phase of the Mexican Revolution.

Land Tenure and Class Structure, 1880 to 1910

A more accurate picture of the pattern of land tenure and its corresponding system of social stratification between 1880 and the time of the Revolution is provided by archival data concerning population, rural properties, and occupations in the municipio of Pisaflores. Table I dealing with the distribution of land ownership indicates, for example, that in 1880, out of 1,050 heads of households who lived in this municipio, 314 owned rural properties. Eighty-three of these heads of households who owned land with a fiscal value of less than 50 pesos (approximately twenty hectares of sloping shrubland)39 were in fact subsistence cultivators who probably also worked for wages on local farms. These cultivators constituted only 7.9 percent of all households. The other 231 landowners with more than 50 pesos worth of land could be further divided into three subcategories: poor landowners (50 to 249 pesos worth of land), middle-sized landowners (250 to 999 pesos), and rich landowners (1,000 to 5,000 pesos). Local records indicate that the heads of households belonging to these three categories also owned cattle, paid taxes on the commercial production of sugarcane or coffee, owned stores and trapiches, or slaughtered cattle. Together they constituted less than a quarter of the local population in 1890, the date by which most of the communal lands belonging to the mountainous zone of the municipio of Pisaflores had already been registered as private properties.

Table II shows a breakdown over four decades of the heads of households in Pisaflores by occupational categories which roughly correspond to the major socioeconomic strata of the area. The large landowners (by local standards), who were usually classified as agricultores, owned cattle, sugarcane, and retail stores. This category includes all of the rancheros who owned rural properties with a fiscal value of over 999 pesos as well as some of the middle-sized landowners of Table I who also owned urban real estate.40 The larger landowners, many of whom were direct descendants of the founding Rubio family, generally owned several ranchos and appointed administrators to supervise some of their agricultural operations. The second category, wealthy merchants and artisans, also owned land (usually over 250 pesos worth) but tended to dedicate most of their time to commercial and speculative activities, leaving their ranchos almost entirely in the hands of overseers or tenants. For all practical purposes the wealthy merchants belonged to the same social class as the large landowners since they all began as farmers and because they belonged to the same landowning families. Most of the wealthy artisans were in fact merchants or commercial farmers who also administered small manufacturing workshops run by apprentices or day laborers. Like the wealthy merchants and the large landowners, they had their principal residence in the cabecera. The next category, landowning farmers with 50 to 999 pesos worth of land generally resided on their ranchos and did not use overseers. In fact, apart from managing their own estates, some of these landowning farmers also administered ranchos for wealthy merchants or larger landowners who lived in the cabecera. They all cultivated cash crops and regularly employed seasonal wage laborers.

Full-time tenant farmers were rancheros who did not yet own their own land but who did pay taxes on the production of sugarcane or coffee. Both the landowning farmers, with less than 999 pesos of land, and the full-time tenant farmers were frequently designated as labradores in local censuses.41 The small artisans and petty merchants, all self-employed, also lived in the cabecera but only hired wage laborers to help them cultivate their milpas, an economic activity practiced by every family in the area regardless of whether they were rich or poor. Apart from a small number of men with other occupations (full-time municipal employees such as scribes and schoolteachers), the rest of the population in 1880 (60.4 percent) consisted of day laborers, known as jornaleros, who combined wage labor and subsistence farming. Although this last category included some subsistence cultivators who owned small plots of land (less than 50 pesos), they all carried out seasonal wage labor and did not produce cash crops. This figure, of course, does not include those seasonal wage laborers who came from other regions.

While 1880 was selected as an arbitrary date for the beginning of a full-fledged ranchero economy in the Sierra Alta, a tendency towards greater concentration of landownership and the virtual disappearance of full-time tenant farmers and subsistence cultivators owning their own plots of land can be discerned between 1880 and 1910. According to the data summarized in Table I, both the absolute number and the percentage of peasants with less than 50 pesos worth of land declined between 1880 and 1910, while Table II shows that the full-time tenant farmers dwindled from 5 percent of all heads of households to less than 2 percent.42 At the same time the day laborers, most of whom did not own land, represented an increasing proportion of the population, constituting 82.3 percent of all household heads in the municipio of Pisaflores in 1910. In contrast, landowning farmers who had more than 50 pesos worth of rural properties comprised less than 12 percent of the total number of households in the municipio of Pisaflores at the time of the outbreak of the Mexican Revolution. This changing proportion of landowners plus employers versus day laborers without property reflects the transfer of rural properties from tiny subsistence cultivators and smaller landowning farmers to the owners of larger ranchos, as well as the influx of landless peasants from other parts of Hidalgo.

A tendency toward greater inequality of landownership among the rancheros themselves also emerged in the region during the prerevolutionary period. In the 1890s, several already prominent landowning farmers in the valley of Pisaflores expanded their estates through the purchase of additional ranchos or the foreclosing of mortgages obtained by lending money to other farmers. For example, one member of the founding family who lived in the main village of Pisaflores expanded his landholdings from 200 to 600 hectares.43 The man who became the wealthiest ranchero during this decade, Alvarado, was a distant relative of the original owner of Tampochocho on his mother’s side who came to Pisaflores as a young man. He became a co-owner of the hacienda in the 1880s by purchasing several shares and later bought tracts of land in other parts of the municipio. This man forged personal links with the powerful Cravioto family who ruled the state of Hidalgo during the first half of the Porfiriato. Political influence reinforced his economic power and Alvarado soon became a regional cacique traveling back and forth between his home in Pisaflores and nearby villages where he also acquired other farms.44

The growing differentiation of wealth among landowning farmers was not attenuated by the partition of the hacienda of Tampochocho in 1902, as we have seen. In 1910 landowners with between 1,000 and 5,000 pesos worth of land represented .7 percent of all household heads in the municipio, while the smaller landowning farmers with between 50 and 249 pesos worth of land constituted 6 percent of the households (see Table I). A middle range category with between 250 and 999 pesos worth of land represented another 3.6 percent. However, while the distribution of rural properties within this landowning class was highly skewed, as is to be expected in a system of private land tenure, the phenomenon of minifundism, or the widespread ownership of tiny plots (less than 50 pesos fiscal value), by part-time subsistence cultivators was practically nonexistent in the Sierra Alta de Hidalgo. The minimum size of a viable rancho seems to have been approximately that corresponding to 50 pesos worth. This would represent five hectares of flat land in the valley or fifty hectares in the mountainous zone with its usual mixture of steep forest, shrubland, and mildly sloping arable land.

The rancheros of the Sierra Alta have so far been analytically treated as a single socioeconomic class which could be subdivided into various economic strata. All of these rancheros raised cattle and produced cash crops using seasonal wage laborers. However, the reader should be made aware of the fact that wealth differences between rancheros with more land, who generally lived in the small towns of the Sierra Alta, and their counterparts in more isolated hamlets were reinforced by certain cultural differences. For example, in the municipio of Pisaflores, a little over half of the landowning farmers who resided in the rancherías of the mountainous zone were illiterate and lived in the same type of thatched-roofed houses as the landless peons who worked on their small estates. Although they owned and rode horses and ate better, most of them had not yet built the two-story houses that later became fashionable. In contrast, the more cultured landowning farmers and merchants of the cabecera lived in adobe and brick houses, with tile or copper roofs, surrounding a central patio, and they knew how to read and write.45 Not only did their children attend one of several primary schools in the valley, including one for girls in the main village, but the children of wealthier families were sometimes sent to larger urban centers to continue their education. Despite such differences in lifestyle, however, landowning families from both town and hamlet and even artisans and petty merchants without land mingled with one another on all social occasions, frequently intermarried, and shared the same aspirations and values.

Moreover, the most sophisticated as well as the poorest ranchero shared a common rustic outlook that contrasted sharply with that of upper or middle-class urbanites. For example, many rancheros lived in common-law unions like the majority of their peons, and it was not considered improper or unusual for a man who could afford it to have more than one wife, each living in her own separate dwelling or in a different village. Even Alvarado, the wealthiest landowner or ranchero of the Sierra Alta, frequently wore the same broad-brimmed hat and the silver-buttoned trousers as Emiliano Zapata,46 who epitomizes the small Mexican farmer or the rural villager—the opposite of the sophisticated hacienda owner, born and bred in Mexico City or abroad. Like Zapata, this rich ranchero, the most prominent representative of the landowning fanners of the Sierra Alta de Hidalgo, held in awe by his numerous humble peons, was still considered a “peasant” or a backward rustic during his occasional visits to Mexico City.


The examination of a ranchero economy in the Sierra Alta de Hidalgo indicates that the social structure associated with this type of rural region was not as simple as generally depicted in the literature on rural Mexico. While the lower strata of landowning farmers in this case study (those with less than 250 pesos worth of land) could to a certain extent be designated as poor family farmers from a national perspective, the rest of the rancheros (that is, those on whom the majority of local day laborers were dependent) were far from insignificant in the regional and national context. These landowning rancheros, who employed wage laborers and rented out part of their land to sharecroppers or part-time tenant farmers were designated as a peasant bourgeoisie, a social class which played a leading role in the political and military events that occurred in Hidalgo between 1910 and 1930. The theoretical implications of this analysis of one ranchero region therefore go far beyond the confines of the northwestern comer of the state of Hidalgo. Indeed, this case study can be used as a basis for reinterpreting existing data on the social structure and patterns of landownership in prerevolutionary Mexico as a whole.

There is no doubt that the distribution of landownership in Mexico was very concentrated when the Revolution broke out in 1910. According to one author, one percent of the population owned ninety-seven percent of the national territory while the bottom ninety-six percent of the population only possessed two percent of the land.47 However, more detailed studies of the different categories of rural property listed in the last census taken before the overthrow of the Porfiriato indicate that a considerable number of farmers were neither hacendados nor poor landless peasants. For example, in his classic study, Land Systems of Mexico, McBride shows that there were 47,939 ranchos compared to 8,245 haciendas in 1910 although he emphasizes that the ratio in amount of land held would be quite different.48 Likewise, a recent work on economic statistics during the Porfiriato lists 410,000 agricultores,49 a term which in the context of northwestern Hidalgo referred to the uppermost stratum of the landowning rancheros. It is interesting to compare these figures with statistics on other aspects of rural society at the time of the Mexican Revolution. Frank Tannenbaum, in Peace by Revolution, tries to estimate the number of people who actually lived within the boundaries of the large estates by comparing the number of free villages, primarily located in mountainous regions in central Mexico, with “plantation communities” existing within the boundaries of haciendas. While the latter numbered 56,825 or eighty-one percent of all inhabited communities, their average size was less than a fifth of that of the 12,724 free villages (that is, 97 compared to 541 inhabitants).50 Thus, less than half of the rural population of Mexico lived in communities under the direct control of hacendados.

Previous studies, including those which cite these statistics, have emphasized the fact that the small properties owned by different categories of farmers living in free villages, as well as the few remaining communally owned lands surrounding Indian villages, were rapidly being encroached upon by large haciendas and that most of their inhabitants in fact worked as seasonal day laborers in neighboring haciendas.51 Even McBride, who claims that the ranchero enjoyed a better life than the mass of landless peons, says that “he must earn wages to supplement the meager produce of his land.”52 Such conclusions, based on library research alone, or the observation of a few selected and more accessible regions characterized by large-scale latifundism, are at odds with the results of my research in the Sierra Alta de Hi-dalgo. Rather than being “completely overshadowed by the hacendados,”53 the agricultores or rancheros in more remote areas did exercise effective economic and political power in their home regions. The labor relations and internal social organization of small estates found in such locales and the cultural characteristics of their owners were quite different than those of the classical hacienda. Although the arbitrary or ambiguous nature of such censal categories as jornalero, ranchero, labrador, or agricultor makes it very difficult to calculate exactly how many landowners in Mexico were members of the peasant bourgeoisie, this author feels that it would not be too farfetched to say that at least two-thirds of the inhabitants of what Tannenbaum calls free villages must have lived in regions actually dominated by a peasant bourgeoisie. Therefore, it is probable that the peasant bourgeoisie, rather than being socially unimportant and numerically insignificant, directly or indirectly controlled close to a third of the rural population of Mexico at the time of the Revolution.

The case study of the Sierra Alta can also explain why previous studies have underestimated the importance of the type of rancheros described in this paper. Because the peasant bourgeoisie had such low status in the eyes of a metropolitan elite and because of the relatively small size of the estates owned by even the wealthier rancheros in comparison to huge haciendas, this rural class was almost socially invisible to those revolutionaries who came from urban areas or to the intelligentsia who formulated the ideologies used during the Mexican Revolution.54 For example, in the state of Hidalgo the rustic attire and less polished manners of the rancheros who came from the mountainous region of the Sierra Alta enabled them to pass for “genuine peasants” and even “defenders of the rural proletariat” to leftist labor leaders of the miners’ union in Pachuca.55 By publicly supporting the implementation of land reform, many rancheros who were actually landowners and employers gave the false impression that they belonged to the same class as the majority of landless, wage-earning peons or sharecroppers or else that they were small plot holders anxious to overthrow the rich. Such a political stance did not affect the land tenure pattern and the relationships between landowning farmers and peons in regions such as the Sierra Alta, where the size of almost all rural properties was below the limits set by the agrarian legislation introduced by a new revolutionary government. Moreover, the landless peasants of the Sierra Alta did not exert pressures for the redistribution of local landholdings. In fact, it was even to the advantage of the rancheros who were politically active to perpetuate a distorted view of Mexican rural society as one of absentee landowners versus peasants since many members of this peasant bourgeoisie took advantage of the chaotic situation resulting from the Revolution to improve their economic position at the expense of even larger, absentee landowners.

The picture presented by many Mexican and foreign scholars, of the social structure of rural Mexico at the time of the Revolution, represents an uncritical acceptance of an oversimplified and partly distorted view of the socioeconomic structure of Mexican society. Most historians and sociologists writing on the latter part of the Porfiriato and on the Mexican Revolution have lumped the peasant bourgeoisie together with such broad social strata as the “peasantry” or the “petit bourgeoisie.” In the case of the former, the typical ranchero is depicted as a small family farmer who was quickly becoming numerically insignificant. In the case of the vague and all encompassing category of “petit bourgeoisie” (including shopkeepers, small traders or artisans, teachers, and professionals), the ranchero is treated as an anachronism or a rural counterpart of a lower middle class which is essentially urban. Consequently, previous researchers have simply ignored or dismissed those regions characterized by a ranchero economy. The vast majority of case studies carried out by political scientists interested in land tenure and politics have focused on those areas with large-scale latifundism and the institution of the large hacienda while historians have rarely tried to determine the exact social background of numerous revolutionary caudillos from central or southern Mexico who came to prominence during the Mexican Revolution. Archival material and census data relating to the pre-1920 period have likewise been interpreted in terms of a basically two-class model (hacendados versus peasants), with the possible exception of northern Mexico.56 In other words, most social scientists dealing with prerevolutionary Mexico have been using a model which more closely fits the world view of an urban upper class that lived at the time of the Revolution, or the distorted and overschematic representation of Mexican society held by many revolutionary leaders themselves, than the actual socioeconomic structure of a very complex reality. The uncritical use of the term ranchero, itself a very ambiguous folk concept, is part of that same incomplete picture of Mexican society prior to the Revolution.


See George McBride, The Land Systems of Mexico (1923; reprint ed., New York, 1971), pp. 82-102; Eric Wolf, Peasant Wars of the Twentieth Century (New York, 1969), pp. 18-19; Charles Cumberland, Mexican Revolution: Genesis Under Madero (New York, 1969), pp. 20-22; Eyler Simpson, The Ejido: Mexico’s Way Out (Chapel Hill, 1937), pp. 490-491.


See Roger Bartra, Estructura agraria y clases sociales en México (México, 1974), p. 137.


See Anatoli Shulgovski, México en la encrucijada de su historia (México, 1972), p. 41.


Eric Wolf, Peasant Wars, p. 18; McBride, The Land Systems of Mexico, p. 82; Rodolfo Stavenhagen et al., Neolatifundismo y explotación (México, 1968), p. 43; Roger Hansen, The Politics of Mexican Development (Baltimore, 1971), p. 27.


See Frans J. Schryer, “The Role of the Rancheros of Central Mexico in the Mexican Revolution,” Canadian Journal of Latin American Studies, 4: 7 (1979).


Jacala, Pacula, La Misión, Chapulhuacán, and Pisaflores.


Benito Juárez himself awarded a wooden plaque to the town of Jacala as one of the “favored sons of the fatherland.”


El Instinto del Pueblo, published in Pisaflores in 1877 and 1878.


The best known revolutionary politician from the Sierra Alta region was Nicolás Flores, who was elected governor of the state of Hidalgo in 1917. See Gobierno del Estado de Hidalgo, Homenaje al General Nicolas Flores (Pachuca, 1971).


Schryer, “The Role of the Rancheros” and The Rancheros of Pisaflores: The History of a Peasant Bourgeoisie in Twentieth Century Mexico (Toronto, 1979).


The economic and social structure of the Sierra Alta de Hidalgo region prior to 1920 was reconstructed on the basis of both archival documents and local oral tradition, with special emphasis on the municipio of Pisaflores. Not only was the author able to interview most of the older men of this municipio, but he found a set of fairly complete municipal archives covering the period from 1870 to 1920. These records were supplemented by others obtained in the administrative center of Jacala, in the state capital, and in Mexico City. The documents found in Pisaflores and in Jacala, which were in a state of complete disarray, were sorted and selectively copied during three summers, from 1975 to 1978. The resulting data were then interpreted in the light of life histories provided by older informants, other historical records, and the author’s knowledge of production techniques, land tenure, and social organization in the contemporary period. The author had previously carried out anthropological fieldwork in the same area for his doctoral dissertation. See Schryer, “Social Conflict in a Mexican Community” (Ph. D. Diss., McGill University, 1974).


The nomadic tribesmen of this region were also referred to as Jonaces, and included both Nahuatl and Otomí speakers who inhabited a larger region known as the Cíbola. Catálogo de construcciones religiosas del Estado de Hidalgo (Pachuca, 1932), with an introduction by Manuel Toussaint. A map drawn up by François Chevalier in Land and Society in Colonial Mexico (Berkeley, 1963), also indicates that the Sierra Alta region was located inside the area inhabited by nomadic tribes during the early colonial period.


Catálogo de construcciones religiosas; see section dealing with Chapulhuacán.


From Jacala, settlers moved into the neighboring municipio of La Misión. Theodomiro Manzano, Geografía del Estado de Hidalgo (México, 1897).


Archivo General de la Nación, México, Ramo Tierras, vol. 2255, Meztitlán.


These and other statements concerning the early history are partly based on a handwritten account by a local merchant, Luciano Cruz, “Apuntes históricos de Pisaflores: Su fundación, desarrollo económico, social y político hasta su erección en pueblo,” unpublished ms., n. d. (ca. 1910).


Cruz, “Apuntes.” The name Pisaflores comes from the words pisar and flores. According to oral tradition it was thus named because of the abundance of pink blossoms from the palo de rosa tree at springtime.


Cruz, “Apuntes.”


The sugar mills, known as moliendas, consisted of simple metal contraptions called trapiches, with two revolving wheels to crush the cane stalks. The trapiche, still used in the region today, is set in motion by means of a long horizontal pole, to which a team of mules or oxen are hitched. The resulting sap (agua miel) is first boiled in low vats and then poured into molds to produce pilón or piloncillo.


These Italian immigrants, followers of Garibaldi in Italy, had come to Mexico because of political persecution at home. One family of French origin and an Arab who married a local girl also became Pisaflorenses.


Arabic coffee trees were introduced on an experimental basis in 1845. The first coffee orchard was planted in the valley in 1859, but coffee beans produced in the Sierra Alta were not sold in Tampico (the nearest port of export) until 1871. See Cruz, “Apuntes.”


In the early nineteenth century, when the area still belonged to the state of Mexico, Xochicoaco and Pisaflores were both under the jurisdiction first of Meztitlán, later Zimapán. Pisaflores actually became a municipio in 1863, although its cabecera retained its legal status of ranchería, prior to the formation of the state of Hidalgo in 1869. When Xochicoaco was incorporated into the expanded municipio of Pisaflores in 1878, one year after General Porfirio Díaz defeated the government of Lerdo de Tejada, many prominent farmers from the mountainous zone moved to the new cabecera or assumed public posts under the new local government. In 1878, the former municipio of Alamos also became part of Chapulhuacán.


Several references are made to such mojoneras (some of which still exist) in the local archives.


The institution of joint-ownership (codueñazgo) is a land tenure arrangement whereby a number of persons own shares in a single property which has legally remained undivided after the death of the original owner. Frequently its de facto division by inheritance or sale has been carried out without the prescribed legal formalities. Each shareholder has the right to occupy and cultivate any unused portion of the property and to enjoy the use of pastures, woods, waters, or forests of the place. See McBride, The Land Systems of Mexico, pp. 103-104. This form of land tenure was not uncommon in the Huasteca region, where the number of shares owned by various co-owners stood in direct relationship to the number of hectares in such an estate. Joaquín Meade, La Huasteca veracruzana (Veracruz, 1962), p. 356.


These títulos de adjudicación and other documents were found unbound, unsorted, and frequently not labeled and incomplete in the attic of an old school-building (formerly an army barrack and municipal office building) in Pisaflores and in a storage room in the district jail in Jacala. Officially, the first set of documents belonged to the archives of the government of the municipio of Pisaflores, the second set to the district judicial office in Jacala; hence, the sources for these documents will be cited as Archivo Municipal de Pisaflores and Archivo del Juzgado de Primera Instancia de Jacala (hereafter cited as AMP and AJJ respectively).


Petition of the hamlet of Las Moras to jefe político of Jacala, Aug. 18, 1874, AMP. In this letter, followed by thirty-five signatures or thumbprints, the inhabitants of Las Moras ask that the communal land surrounding their hamlet be registered as a single private property in the name of Colonel Margarito Mata, stating that this property is too small to be subdivided and that they would not have sufficient money for legal fees in any case.


The remaining communally owned lands, which were not claimed by individual farmers, were later registered as properties belonging to the municipal government.


Data obtained from population censuses, listing place of residence, sex, age, marital status, occupation, and literacy, carried out in 1869, 1872, 1873, and 1874 in the municipio of Pisaflores, AMP.


This was largely due to the irregular terrain of the Sierra Alta de Hidalgo as well as the lack of an effective communications network in such a mountainous region. These conditions were not conducive to centralized control and also tended to favor smaller units of production.


The details of several more serious disputes over competing land claims are found in the records of the district judicial office; for example, Juicio verbal, Vicente Villanueva contra Ambrosio Alvarado, Sept. 1893, AJJ.


Testimonio de las diligencias mandadas protocolizar en el juicio promovido sobre la división de la Hacienda de Tampochocho, Oct. 3, 1888, AJJ.


Details concerning this assassination, including the statement by a witness that the gunman responsible for this murder had been paid by a leading landowning fanner who was a personal enemy of the victim, were recorded in a lengthy investigatory report: En averiguación del homocidio de Severo Rubio, Oct. 18, 1898, AJJ. News concerning tírese events even appeared in several daily newspapers in Mexico City: El Universal, Nov. 6, 1898; El Popular, Nov. 8, 1898; but charges of a cover-up were vehemently denied by the official state newspaper. Periódico Oficial del Estado de Hidalgo, Nov. 8, Nov. 16, 1898.


Periódico Oficial, July 20, 1899.


Registro de una información ad perpetuam sobre hechos y derechos de la Hacienda de Tampochocho, AJJ, Registro Público, Año de 1902, Sección primera, no. 1.


Memorias administrativas, 1890 and 1901, AMP.


Periódico Oficial, Mar. 1, 1904.


In 1899, severe frost destroyed many coffee orchards in Pisaflores. The following summer many of the desiccated trees caught on fire and most of the area thus destroyed was planted with corn.


This information is based on interviews conducted with Fausto Cruz Angeles, Severino Orosco Rubio, Irene Flores, Noradino Rubio Ortiz, Elpidio Rubio Nieto, Leobardo Morales, Antonio Resendiz Estrada, Aurelio Rubio Márquez, and Juan Aquino Chávez at various times between May 1971 and August 1977. All of these people were alive at the time of the Revolution.


One hectare of land had a fiscal value of anywhere from one to ten pesos, depending on the location of the rural property. The fiscal values of rural properties listed in a census compiled in 1908 were used as a common basis for comparison: Causantes, predios rústicos y urbanos, pago de contribuciones, 1908, Oficina de Recaudación de Rentas, Pisaflores, AMP. Except for lots created as a result of the partition of the hacienda of Tampochocho, these fiscal values did not change from 1880 to 1911, when all such values were augmented (prior to 1880, local documents recorded land values in terms of the number of bushels of com that could be sown thereon, following local custom). Because of the great variation in quality of land, especially between valley and hillsides, this standard fiscal value is a more meaningful figure for comparing the real worth of land than the actual size of the rural properties in hectares.


This classification into social strata is also based on the amount of processing equipment, urban real estate, and other productive property owned.


Although these terms roughly correspond to the various categories listed in Table II, there was no consistency in the use of such labels as agricultor, labrador, peón de campo, or jornalero in official censuses. For example, while most landowning farmers with 50 to 999 pesos’ worth of land were referred to as labradores at least once in the written records, they were often labeled as jornaleros and sometimes as agricultores. In fact, even some of the wealthiest “large landowners” were sometimes listed as jornaleros. Not only were there variations according to the type of census (electoral, general population, or for taxation purposes) carried out, but during the volatile revolutionary period nearly everyone, including very wealthy landowning fanners, was listed as peón de campo.


“Full-time tenant farmers” is a residual category including all heads of households who produced cash crops or cattle but did not own land and who were also not members of landowning families. There were considerable differences in the scale of operation among such tenants, ranging all the way from small family tenants who must have recently worked mainly for wages to capitalist tenant farmers. Their decreasing proportion in the population in tin’s period represents both the process of purchase or inheritance of land by wealthier and more successful tenant farmers (who frequently married daughters of landowning farmers) and the financial ruin of many smaller tenant farmers.


Testamentaria de C. Severo Rubio, Nov. 1898, AJJ, Civil, Sección primera.


This ranchero had the finest horses in the district and also monopolized the distribution of aguardiente in most of the district of Jacala and in the municipio of Jalpan, Querétaro. From the personal diary of Coronel Cuauhtemoc Córdoba: “La revolución, 1910 a 1923,” n.d., Jacala.


Local records indicate that about fifty-eight percent of the landowning farmers of the municipio born before 1875 were illiterate, but only one of these illiterate landowners lived in the cabecera.


See John Womack, Zapata and the Mexican Revolution (New York, 1969). The photographs of Zapata and Evaristo Alvarado, the rich ranchero of Pisaflores, bear a striking resemblance.


Stavenliagen, “Aspectos sociales de la estructura agraria en México,” Neolatifundismo y explotación, p. 13.


McBride, The Land Systems of Mexico, p. 100. Simpson, who also uses McBride’s figure of 1,000 hectares as the dividing line between ranchos and haciendas, shows that according to the 1923 census (at a time when the concentration of landownership was not radically different than in 1910) there were 176,057 ranchos, constituting 28 percent of all farm units, compared to 12,782 haciendas, constituting 2.1 percent of such units. The ranchos, together with the parcelas (tiny plots of land of less than 10 hectares) comprised less than half of the total area in all farms. However, although he does refer to the typical rancho of 300 hectares as a “small replica of the hacienda,” Simpson still lumps together these two categories (ranchos and parcelas) in opposition to the haciendas, just like McBride, Tannenbaum, and other scholars. Simpson, The Ejido, pp. 491-192.


El Colegio de Mexico, Estadísticas económicas del Porfiriato: Fuerza de trabajo y actividades económicas por sectores (México, 1956).


Tannenbaum, Peace by Revolution: Mexico after 1910 (New York, 1966), pp. 192-195.


See McBride, The Land Systems of Mexico, pp. 84-85; Michel Gutelman, Reforme et mystification agraires en Amérique latine: Le cas du Mexique (Paris, 1971), p. 40.


McBride, The Land Systems of Mexico, p. 84. Although Simpson does state that the typical ranchero also employed wage laborers or sharecroppers, he agrees with McBride that these same rancheros were subsistence cultivators who rarely raised stock or crops for market. See Simpson, The Ejido, pp. 490-491.


McBride, The Land Systems of Mexico, p. 101.


For a discussion of the intellectual leaders who inspired the Mexican revolutionaries, see James Cockcroft, Intellectual Precursors of the Mexican Revolution, 1900-1913 (Austin, 1968).


See Gobierno del Estado de Hidalgo, Homenaje al General Nicolás Flores.


Many scholars have noted that the northern states of Mexico had a social structure somewhat different from the rest of the country. For analysis of such differences, see Barry Carr, “Las peculiaridades del norte mexicano, 1880-1927,” Historia mexicana, 22 (Jan-Mar. 1973).

Author notes


The author is Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada.