Myths of Demilitarization in Postrevolutionary Mexico, 1920-1960

Myths of Demilitarization in Postrevolutionary Mexico, 1920-1960

by Thomas Rath

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At the end of the Mexican Revolution in 1920, Mexico's large, rebellious army dominated national politics. By the 1940s, Mexico's Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) was led by a civilian president and claimed to have depoliticized the army and achieved the bloodless pacification of the Mexican countryside through land reform, schooling, and indigenismo. However, historian Thomas Rath argues, Mexico's celebrated demilitarization was more protracted, conflict-ridden, and incomplete than most accounts assume. Civilian governments deployed troops as a police force, often aimed at political suppression, while officers meddled in provincial politics, engaged in corruption, and crafted official history, all against a backdrop of sustained popular protest and debate.
Using newly available materials from military, intelligence, and diplomatic archives, Rath weaves together an analysis of national and regional politics, military education, conscription, veteran policy, and popular protest. In doing so, he challenges dominant interpretations of successful, top-down demilitarization and questions the image of the post-1940 PRI regime as strong, stable, and legitimate. Rath also shows how the army's suppression of students and guerrillas in the 1960s and 1970s and the more recent militarization of policing have long roots in Mexican history.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781469608358
Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
Publication date: 04/22/2013
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 256
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

Thomas Rath is lecturer in the History of Latin America, University College London.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

This defining work on the Mexican military in the twentieth century casts familiar events and dynamics in a profoundly different light and forces readers to rethink a number of important topics.—Ben Fallaw, Colby College

Wide-ranging, original, and well-researched, Rath's book charts the history of the Mexican army since the revolution and shows how, after the mayhem of the 1910s, it was domesticated by the revolutionary state, even as it retained substantial political power and engaged in recurrent violence, corruption, and rent-seeking. This important book fills a major historiological gap and tells us a great deal about postrevolutionary politics and state building in Mexico.—Alan Knight, Oxford University

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