Soldiers and Military Caciques in Modern Mexico
When Mexico first became a nation, its military and militias were two of the country’s few major institutions besides the Catholic Church. The army and local provincial militias functioned both as political pillars, providing institutional stability of a crude sort, and as springboards for the ambitions of individual officers. Military service provided upward social mobility, and it taught a variety of useful skills, such as mathematics and bookkeeping.
In the postcolonial era, however, militia units devoured state budgets, spending most of the national revenue and encouraging locales to incur debts to support them. Men with rifles provided the principal means for maintaining law and order, but they also constituted a breeding-ground for rowdiness and discontent. As these chapters make clear, understanding the history of state-making in Mexico requires coming to terms with its military past.
“A challenging and thought-provoking collection of essays.”—American Historical Review
“This is a highly significant contribution to a field that is surprisingly underworked.” —Tim Henderson, author of The Worm in the Wheat: Rosalie Evans and Agrarian Struggle in the Puebla-Tlaxcala Valley of Mexico, 1906–1927
“A first-rate anthology filled with innovative essays that challenge traditional interpretations of the Mexican military, caciquismo, and the enduring pervasiveness of violence in Mexican Society.”—Allen Wells, author of Tropical Zion: General Trujillo, FDR, and the Jews of Sosúa