21 September 2011 | kayaker36
Mexico Through a Red Lens
As you might expect from a documentary of Marxist orientation, all of Mexico's manifold problems are laid at the feet of the **gringo**.
As history this film is both biased and selective. For example, for all the mention it gets in, the Christero Revolt of 1927-29 against the atheist President Plutarcho Calles might as well never have occurred. As to bias, even Francisco Madero, a man of undoubtedly good intentions and unquestioned integrity, is rated as not sufficiently radical to suit the documentarian because Madero did not want to break up the **haciendas** into tiny, uneconomical plots. Yet when Madero is overthrown and murdered by the generals, that, too is the fault of the United States, we are told.
The two most often seen talking heads are Alex Saragoza of the Ethnic Studies department at UC Berkley and the late Friedrich Katz who established and headed up the University of Chicago's department of Mexican Studies. Neither are authentically Mexican.
The Austrian-born Prof. Katz was an actual Communist Party member as an adult, his refugee family having settled in Mexico in the 1930's after having been refused entry to the USA due to his father's Communist affiliation. Prior to coming to America, Friedrich Katz held a professorship at Humboldt University in the former East Berlin, an institution so closely wedded to the Communist regime that it had to be made over after unification of the two Germanies.
The radical-Chicano-chic Prof. Alex Saragoza has shown a knack for grabbing headlines and going up against the System but his knowledge of Mexican history is weak. He never attended school in Mexico, having been born (of Mexican parents) in California's San Joaquin Valley.
There are some minor contributors of Mexican nationality, one a participant in the Communist-inspired student revolt that paralyzed Mexico City in 1968, another a professor at the mammoth, thoroughly politicized National Autonomous University. Former presidential candidate and Mayor of Mexico City Cuautemoc Cardenas, makes a brief and noncommittal appearance near the end, supplying some details about the 1934-40 presidency of his father Lazaro Cardenas who persecuted priests and nationalized the oil industry,
The documentary is strongest in its first half, covering the **Porfiriato** and early, revolutionary period, supplying some little-known details on the lives, activities and deaths of its two most colorful figures: Zapata and Villa. Gen. Francisco "Pancho" Villa, operating in the north, had a policy of allowing the wives or girlfriends of his soldiers to accompany his army on campaign. These much-photographed **Soldaderas** became famous in their own right. Emiliano Zapata with his base in the province of Morelos just south of the capital, was apparently not in favor of having a huge mass of camp followers weighing down his fast-moving troops.