These volumes constitute a significant contribution of primary materials for understanding the importance of Ricardo Flores Magón and the Partido Liberal Mexicano (PLM) in the historiography of the Mexican Revolution. Two of the volumes contain selections of Flores Magón’s articles and editorials from Regeneración, and from his private correspondence. They effectively transmit his spirit and ideology, and are indispensable to the student of the Revolution. ¡Viva tierra y libertad! contains some of Librado Rivera’s correspondence, plus a fine introduction by David Poole. These books are welcome, coming after Nicolás T. Bernal’s solitary efforts to keep Ricardo’s message and memory alive during the silence of the pre-1968 generation.
Those scholars who stress the importance of the working classes, industrial and campesino, in the revolutionary process invariably point to the PLM movement as a precursor of the social upheaval that followed its appearance. Those who minimize the impact of the workers in the Revolution reject the PLM’s significance, view it as impotent in exile, point to the failures of its attempted uprisings between 1906 and 1910, and assert its irrelevance after Madero’s success.
Flores Magón and the PLM were more than mere precursors. They were produced by the same socioeconomic process and changing moral consensus of the nation that brought the greater Mexican population into open conflict with the state. Flores Magón was prominent in the university student unrest of the 1890s and the Liberal club movement that ensued. His newspaper, Regeneración, contributed to the changing moral consensus that would soon characterize the Díaz regime as brutal and irresponsible. Flores Magón and the PLM contributed significantly to the emergent political aspirations of the nation with the party plan of 1906. They were heroes to the emergent industrial workers’ syndicates across the land, from Cananea to Río Blanco to Mexico City.
The PLM and Flores Magón remained on the offensive for years, despite the concerted efforts of the United States Department of Justice and the Díaz regime to crush their efforts. Despite defeats, they made repeated attempts to link revolutionary invaders from the United States with insurgents across the border. The defeat by Madero’s forces of the PLM’s most powerful militia unit, under the command of Prisciliano Silva in Chihuahua, was followed by the anarchists’ unsuccessful invasion of Baja California. Although imprisoned and isolated in the United States, Flores Magón was repeatedly offered the presidency of Mexico (with a capital in Cuernavaca) by Emiliano Zapata. In or out of prison, he represented independence, virtue, and integrity to a broad cross-section of Mexican labor. Upon his death in 1923, he was remembered and celebrated by working people throughout Mexico. During the hectic and massive demonstrations in Mexico City in the summer of 1968, speakers invoked his name repeatedly as the greatest Mexican revolutionary. Ironically, this ardent internationalist had become a contemporary nationalist symbol.