The name “machete408”

  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.



One Response

  1. hola from Oaxaca where the spirit of revolution still is alive and kicking.

    I only came to live here in ’08 after living in Morocco and Senegal for 9 years ..from L.A. via Martinique to Paris to Aix en Provence. whew.

    And now so very interested in the amazing political goings on here. Not allowed to participate in any way at all under threat of deportation. SO… loving the amazing political graffiti and the charming old time Stalinist Communist campesino movement with their rallies in the Zocalo , marches waving red flags , singing the Internationale in Spanish (quite rousing) with blockades and more wonderful graffiti.

    Also the lovely tiny little perfect beautiful indigenous Triki “Occupying” the Governor’s Palace on the Zocalo..protesting the murdering of their people..women and children included to facilitate a land grab..for U.S. corporations. Plus the various true radical left wing organizations also often marching and blockading highways.

    Avidly following the OWS events in the states and around the world. We have a tiny OWS of Oaxaca here too. But a bigger one in San Miguel de Allende up by Mexico City.
    Having just found your great blog from FDL article, I wanted to say hola and thanks for your terrific insights and bravery !!

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