Back when I was more on my Mexico kick, I read Barry Carr’s Marxism and Communism in Twentieth Century Mexico (which is the key rendering of the communist movement and has some excellent discussion on the PCM [Partido Comunista de Mexico]on issues of development, its relations with the PRI and anarchism in Mexico generally) and was I stuck on an excerpt of a poem by poet and actress Graciela Amador:
“The machete serves to cut cane, to open up paths in shady woods, to decapitate snakes, to cut down weeds, and to humble the pride of the impious rich” (37)
The poem describes the choice of name for a publication Amador and other artist and intellectuals surrounding the PCM launched. El Machete was formed by artist/intellectuals Rivera, Siqueiros and Orozco (and I imagine Khalo, but she always is brushed to the way side in history) as a fortnightly publication of their Union of Technical Workers, Painters and Sculptors. It waas the de facto unofficial organ of the PCM in the early twenties and with its original artwork, the most successful Communist publication in Latin America at its time. I once read of a 1960’s Chicano movement paper in San Jose of the same name as well.
Moving away from historical digression, I was caught by the imagery evoked in the name and the brief poem. The machete is used for daily work, to cut down the oppressor, clear your path when surrounded by obstructions and to uproot and kill the snakes that block your way and the weeds that stop your seeds from growing. What could be more revolutionary?
The numbers 408 is of course because “machete” by itself was taken and what better to complement that than a little of my San Jose nationalism.