Richard H. Peterson, Book Reviews Editor
Revoltosos: Mexico’s Rebels in the United States, 1903-1923. By W. Dirk Raat. College Station: Texas A and M University Press, 1981. 344 pages. $22.50.
Reviewed by Richard Griswold del Castillo, Professor, Mexican American Studies, San Diego State University, author of The Los Angeles Barrio 1850-1890 (1980).
Revoltosos is a detailed account of how the most progressive factions in the Mexican revolution of 1910 were suppressed in the United States. The American government and private business interests felt threatened by the radical revolutionaries who fled to the border region for sanctuary. The oppressive Díaz regime and subsequently the governments of Madero and Carranza worked closely with U.S. immigration officers, secret service agents, the Texas Rangers and the U.S. Army to stamp out those revolutionary organizations which threatened the status quo. Professor Raat’s thesis is that the Americans’ attitudes of nativism, anti-radicalism, and wartime hysteria had a profound effect on Mexico’s political development, the Chicano community, and civil liberties in the United States.
The book brings together a wealth of little known information on Mexican political exiles in the U.S., but focuses mainly on the radical and moderate factions while omitting a discussion of reactionary and conservative exiles. Raat’s treatment of the Magonista movement is broader in scope than the studies by Blaisdall in The Desert Revolution or Gomez-Quiñones in Sembradores. he describes the Cananea strike of 1906, the American radical community, the activities of the Creel Detective Agency and the deportation of Mexican radicals, using a wealth of new documentary evidence.
Included in Raat’s history is the little known leadership exerted by Mexican female revolutionaries in the U.S., mainly within the P.L.M. We learn that Maria Talevera, Flores Magon’s common law wife, played a key role in martialing local Mexican-American support for the Magonista cause in Los Angeles and that several revoltosas fought with the P.L.M. in Baja California. Isidra Cardenas published the first Mexican radical newspaper aimed at women, La Voz de la Mujer, in El Paso in 1907 and Señora Flores de Andrade established the semi-secret “Daughters of Cuauhtémoc” in that city. Raat’s analysis of Teresa Urrea, the revolutionary Saint of Cabora, is not as complete as it could have been, given the several books and many articles which have been published on the Teresita movement.
It is fair to say that more than half of the book is devoted to the Magonista struggle with U.S. and Mexican authorities. Francisco Madero’s revolutionary activities in the U.S. are described in only one chapter. Raat agrees with most scholars that Madero’s financial links with Standard Oil and other American interests were only superficial. American authorities were less than vigilant in enforcing immigration and neutrality laws when dealing with the middle-class revoltosos like Madero. When Madero became president he counted on American aid in crushing competing revolutionary groups, particularly in suppressing the Magonistas.
Revoltosos is based on extensive research in a large number of archives in Mexico and the United States. The most important American, Chicano and Mexican newspapers published during the revolution have been consulted. An excellent bibliographic essay at the end puts it all in perspective. This book fills a void which has existed in our knowledge about the interface of American and Mexican politics during the revolution. It should be required reading for State Department officials, multi-national business executives, scholars and anyone interested in U.S./Mexican relations.