After the end of World War II, an iron curtain was erected between the two world powers: the Soviet Union and the United States. The former led the international communist movement, imperfectly and contradictorily, while the latter, among other things, defended the capitalist system and anti-communist regimes, often openly, including conservative or right-wing governments and ideologies. In the international arena, this confrontation was known as the Cold War, openly undeclared combat between the powers that developed through indirect actions in the so-called satellite countries or the disputed periphery.
The ideological clashes between communism and conservative anti-communist currents not only took place on the battlefields that divided nations and peoples but also in academic spaces and centers of knowledge in a dispute for people's consciences. Young people were no strangers to this reality and faced the challenge of discerning between different ideological positions. This situation was exploited by various governments to polarize spaces and form clash groups among the new generations.
Mexico was no stranger to this situation, especially because of its proximity to the United States. Although communist groups had emerged in Mexico in 1919 with the founding of the Mexican Communist Party, they soon had to confront in the streets and with words the consolidation in the power of the triumphant faction of the armed struggle and the use they made of the revolutionary nationalist ideology.
This was expressed in official discourse on issues such as the attention to workers' and peasants' demands, their control and dispute for power through a party, and, years later, the domination over society with corporativism. By arrogating to itself the revolutionary character, the participation of any antagonistic ideology in the political life of Mexico was denied, with a great exception in the period of Lázaro Cárdenas del Río.
The anti-communism that began to be experienced in Mexico, which was accentuated since the 1940s, was not only present in the Mexican government, which began to collaborate with the American authorities, among them the CIA, to crush communism in Mexico. It was also generated within other spaces, especially those of a private nature, among which were the classes that saw their economic and political interests confronted with those of the majority.
One of the most notorious cases was the anti-communist movement that developed in Jalisco within the Autonomous University of Guadalajara (UAG). This private university space emerged as part of the conservative clerical movement that opposed the educational reform of the government of Lázaro Cárdenas del Río and sought to establish a socialist education that, among other things, would contribute to combating all bigotry and prejudice.
At the UAG, a group called Tecos was formed, made up of former Catholic students and extremists who sympathized with the National Socialist (Nazi) worldview and the fascist movement, which promoted the Anti-Communist University Front.
As part of the Front's extremism, direct attacks were promoted against members of the University of Guadalajara (UdeG), where liberal and leftist ideas circulated. This rivalry was the cause of some clashes as happened in January 1950.
The clash began as a result of the publication of the newspaper El Chile, which took up the ideas of Benito Juárez regarding the combat in the press and its first editorial note declared itself anticlerical and defender of the secular state. Although this newspaper did not declare itself communist, several of the students of the UAG associated it with communism because of its progressive ideas, since the newspaper was printed in the office of Luis Vázquez Correa, professor of the Preparatory School of Jalisco integrated into the UdeG.
On the morning of January 18 of that year, about two thousand students from the UAG and other schools sympathetic to the clergy gathered in the temple of El Carmen. Once tempers flared, they went to the office of Luis Vázquez Correa to destroy the printing press that produced El Chile. Not content with that, the extremist groups continued on their way to the UdeG headquarters with the clear intention of attacking its students, who defended themselves at all costs. The balance of this first encounter left about 25 injured.
The aggressors were not detained by the authorities, who kept observing the clash. As was to be expected, the UdeG university students did not remain with their arms crossed when the attacks went unpunished. For this reason, they marched to the UAG to pay in kind. Even though the aggressions had been initiated by the intolerance of the free and independent press by members of the UAG, these extremist right-wing groups within the schools were tolerated. In contrast, leftist groups, including communists, were persecuted by a structure that operated from the Mexican state for several decades.
Full Citation: Archivo General de la Nación. “Pacto, Espionaje Y Cuartelazo: Los Inicios Del Maximato.” gob.mx, 3 Apr. 2023, www.gob.mx/agn/articulos/pacto-espionaje-y-cuartelazo-los-inicios-del-maximato?idiom=es.