Trouble In Mexico
A family quarrel next door, with gun play, frequently involves innocent and peaceful neighbors who do not like to have bullets whistling through their front yards. Quarrelsome neighbors make one apprehensive. In 1910, oppressed humanity in Mexico grew restive, broke its bounds and went on a rampage of destruction. American property in Mexico was destroyed and American citizens were murdered. Relations between the two governments, were at the breaking point for several years. In April. 1914, a group of American Marines was arrested in Tampico and the American fleet was dispatched to the Gulf of Mexico. War was averted only by the friendly intercession of Argentina, Brazil and Chile.
However, revolution and counter-revolution continued the destruction of American property and lives. In 1916, Pancho Villa, leader of an revolutionary faction, began making raids across the border, driving off live stock, perpetrating robberies, and putting American citizens to death on American sod. A raid on Columbus, New Mexico, on March 8, 1916, was so flagrant that the American people, tired of the policy of "watchful waiting," demanded action for the protection of our terror-stricken citizens along the border.
Over 100,000 National Guardsmen were mobilized and sent to patrol the border. A punitive expedition of 12,000 under command of General Pershing, chased Villa five hundred miles through the mountains of Mexico. There they remained inactive, targets for snipers, with instructions not to return the fire, (officially) until February, 1917, when they were recalled.
The mobilization accomplished one thing. It brought a realization of the inadequate organization and of the archaic conditions existing in our army, which enabled us to correct some of the defects before going into the World War a few months later.
After fourteen years of bloody internal strife, the "Iron Man" Calles, took over the government of Mexico in 1924, becoming the virtual dictator of the republic, and giving to Mexico a "New Deal." Calles picked General Lazaro Cardenas for the Presidency in 1934. The "Official Party" exiled Calles in 1936, Cardenas becoming "supreme chief."
While promising the wretched and the hungry, agrarianism, syndicalism, collective bargaining, education, better housing, sanitation, etc., the Mexican generals and lesser chiefs of the party have acquired large estates and comforts, while the poor have become poorer.
The domination over the people has been acquired and held through propaganda. Mexico learned much about "mobilizing the mind" from America (see page 9). Oratory, which speaks the language of the "Proletarian Revolution" while covering up the most outstanding abuses of captitaltism, is the principal instrument of its propaganda campaign, although political posters, spread through all public buildings and through the streets, supplement the statements of the mouthpieces of the government.
The 1910 revolution was the aftermath of the most flagrant abuses of an economic and social order that ever existed in the new world. Out of the chaos arose Plutarco Calles, a shrewd politician, an excellent opportunist, with agrarian reform as the chief plank of his platform. Catchy slogans about the "living wage," "anti-imperialism," and "distribution of land," stirred the people. After many years, Mexico is still Mexicoonly more so. Peonage still persists. The "living wage" was established at one and one-half pesos (about 42 cents) for an eight-hour day. But it is common knowledge that the day is from fourteen to sixteen hours long, and the average pay one-half peso per day. The all-powerful Conservative Federation of Labor (C.R.O.M.) has been crushed and its place taken by the leftist group, known as the General Confederation of Workers and Peasants. Signs of discontent are again becoming more and more in evidence. The people are beginning to wonder, why the long delay in the fulfillment of the promises of the revolution. The "in" group is trying to still the seething masses with promises of bigger and better "new deals" of the pseudo-bolshevist type. The Gold Shirts, a Fascist group, Nazi inspired, is rapidly growing in numbers. If this movement continues, a clash with the ruling party is inevitable.
Five major political factions have developed in Mexico and the principal task of the "Official Party" is to devise some means of consolidating these factions or preventing their growth. The revolutional faith demands that agitation be kept up. The people must be impressed that the "revolution" is on the alert. The "party" must be continually lambasting the "interests," "reactionary" individuals, or something.
With the stability of the Mexican Revolutionary government threatened by increasing internal unrest, political expediency demands that the attention of the people must be distracted from that fact. Therefore, religion is brought forth as a sacrifice to the proclaimed revolutionary ideals. The opportunity for the "war on religion" presented itself when the parents of children in public held protest meetings against the liberal sex education program taught in the schools, without regard for the effect on mixed classes of girls and boys. The government claimed that the protests were from the "church people," which was no doubt true. These parents, who sincerely believe that their boys and girls are being taught things that are injurious to their morals, are branded as "reactionary" and their plea that they are entitled to have a voice about the type of education provided their children is ignored.
The Revolutionary constitution of 1917 provides: "Every man is free to profess the religion of his choice and to practice the rituals, devotions or acts of the respective creed in the churches or in his home, provided they do not constitute a crime or an offense punishable by law."
The Supreme Court of Mexico on January 20, 1935, handed down an amazing decision in the case of six individuals who appealed a decision of the courts of the State of Vera Cruz, which denied them the right to practice their religion. The Supreme Court held that the "interests of society" are superior to the "personal rights of the individual" as guaranteed in the constitution. The results of such a decision are far-reaching. Constitutions, like treaties, are becoming "scraps of paper." "The interests of society" may now be employed as the excuse for voiding any clause of the constitution.
Without even awaiting Supreme Court sanction, which he can apparently have for the asking, President Cardenas on February 13, 1935, by "executive order" barred from the mails all publications, printed works and correspondence in general, which imply propaganda or diffusion of any religious creed." This is in direct conflict with article II of the constitution, which provides that "the liberty of writing and publishing writings upon any subject is inviolable. No law nor authority can establish an official censorship." How simple a matter it now is to issue an "executive order" prohibiting the use of the mails to an opposition political party.
Articles on religion in American and British encyclopedias, which have long been recognized as unbiased, are now being interpreted as "implying propaganda." Any book containing a reference to religion or Christian doctrine, whether published in Mexico, England or the United States, is now subject to censorship, and English and American publishers doing business in Mexico are having their troubles.
As a result, books and religion itself, are being "bootlegged" in Mexico. The local politicians have a lucrative opportunity for extorting graft by selling immunity from fines and imprisonment for alleged infractions of the anti-religious laws.
Mexico is practically an economic dependency of the United States. However, its internal affairs are strictly its own concern. Even clever politicians sometimes make mistakes. It is a grave mistake for any politician to alienate the support of the women. That is what Cardenas has done in Mexico. Another revolution is brewing. The rumblings are growing louder. Repercussions are inevitable. A repetition of events that brought about the mobilization of the American army on the border, is both possible and probable. The apprehension of our citizens along the Rio Grande is not without cause. The protection of these citizens is a Federal obligation, and should be provided the moment the need becomes apparent, without awaiting another reign of terror.