Individuals seeking an example of the vehement political polemics which characterized the middle years of the Mexican Revolution will certainly find these two volumes useful. The tone is set in the author’s preamble, which contends that his column of daily political commentary, which began appearing in the Mexico City newspaper Novedades during March of 1942, was the first of its type, alleging that Salvador Novo in the magazine Hoy and Carlos Denegri in the newspaper Excélsior subsequently imitated his format. This will undoubtedly come as a surprise to readers familiar with Novo’s previously published volume La vida en México en el período presidencial de Lázaro Cárdenas collecting his commentaries from Hoy, although his later volume dealing with the Avila Camacho years begins in August of 1943. While Taracena contends that Novo’s volumes provide a sympathetic view of the administration, it should be noted that Novedades, for which Taracena wrote, was at the time characterized in U.S. diplomatic dispatches from Mexico as conservative and anti-Yankee.
Approximately half of Taracena’s commentaries consist of impassioned attacks on the regime of Manuel Avila Camacho for committing the unpardonable sin of “selling out” to the Yankees. It is repeatedly charged that Mexico did not have to enter the war, that Mexicans were sent en masse to serve as “cannon fodder’’—in the European theater, and that the Yankees committed all sorts of skullduggery in Mexico under the cover of wartime exigencies, all with the complicity of the regime. Again and again the Mexican “domination” by the gringos is asserted. Citations include a comment by a Berlin newspaper and a press statement by the Japanese ambassador in Mexico. Every action, including all favorable statements by the Yankee press and by American officials, as well as settlement of major disputes, are viewed as merely further confirmation of the Yankee dominance.
The portions of the volumes dealing with domestic events consist of a similar list of charges. The alleged association of the Avila Camacho brothers with the revolt of Félix Díaz against the Madero regime is retiterated endlessly. Corruption constitutes another recurrent theme. References to the era’s principal political power, ex-President Lázaro Cárdenas, are confined to his role as Minister of Defense during the Avila Camacho years, with few comments about Cárdenas’ presidency.
While the references in the preamble would seem to suggest that these essays are reprints of the author’s daily newspaper columns (though this is not asserted), the alert reader will spot the statement that only “la mayor parte de esto” was published during those years (I, 5). There is no further explanation of their origin. The essays are undated, and though in some cases they refer to years or even specific events that can be dated, they are not arranged chronologically. More importantly, they contain references to volumes published much later. Certainly there is room for doubt as to whether anyone writing in the World War II era would use such chapter titles as “Un Tlatelolco en León, Gto.,” (II, 352), much less “Watergate Avilacamachista,” (II, 79).
Illustrating the vehemence of the politics and the latent Yankee-phobia prevalent in some sectors during this era, those volumes serve to indicate the degree to which the Avila Camacho administration needed to act cautiously to restore national unity and to prepare domestic opinion for actions imposed by wartime necessities. They also undoubtedly constitute a complete catalog of the errors and corruption of the Avila Camacho administration, as well as of all the accusations ever leveled against it.