The programme of the new party made reference to the middle classes as victims of capital and the labor movement. It also advocated freedom within the workplace, and promoted the idea of small land holdings against an official tendency to create ejidos (collective ownership along socialist lines), within a broadly “liberal” programme. […] The party’s official periodical was appropriately titled “El Fascista”.
It is significant that the PFM regarded the middle-class as the basis of the movement, as opposed to unionised workers. In rural areas, they were landowners, whether great or small, that were attracted to the party as a means of opposing the “agraristas”, who were in favour of a collective property system along the lines of the ejido. This resemblance with Italian Fascism, nevertheless, was attenuated by two completely divergent elements: the PFM was not a violent movement and was openly Catholic. The government and the labour unions suspected that behind the PFM were Catholics and conservatives hostile to the revolution.An American journalist described the PFM as “an amateurish movement” with “no meaningful social program”, while the Italian ambassador to Mexico dismissed the failed party as “not anything else than a bad imitation of ours”. Saenz de Sicilia’s group, like Mussolini’s, does not appear to have had any particular animus toward the Jews, but later Mexican nationalist groups would be different.
Nicolas Rodriguez, a general who had served with Pancho Villa during the Mexican Revolution, was inspired by Italy’s Blackshirts and Germany’s Brownshirts to found an equivalent Mexican group, the ill-fated Green Shirts, which were outlawed in 1932. Rodriguez next formed the Camisas Doradas – Gold Shirts – which proved to be much more influential. The Canadian Jewish Chronicle, waxing droll in 1934, had this to say about the new kids on the fascist bloc:
It was thought that every known colour had been exhausted by now for the shirt business. Black shirts in England and in Italy, brown shirts in Germany, blue shirts in Canada and in Ireland with green shirts in Hungary and silver shirts in the United States, had about run the gamut of hues, when hey presto! news comes from Mexico that the golden shirt has made its appearance. What delayed the debut of this most alluring colour it is difficult to say, unless it is because the world in general has gone off the gold standard.
Speaking in the parlance of the textile industry, the “staples” have been pretty well grabbed by the various beshirted brigades. It will now devolve upon specially-trained artists to evolve new colour schemes which might appeal to the youth of those countries who are still shirtless.
Mexico City, Mexico – A semi-military “gold shirt” organization, whose immediate aim is to drive out of Mexico all Jews, Chinese, Arabs, Turks, Armenians and other “undesirable foreigners” under the slogan “Mexico for Mexicans,” is being developed here by former army officers as the “A.R.M.”
Those are the initials of the Spanish words for “Mexican Revolutionary Action.” It is a mere coincidence that they spell the English word “arm.”
Beyond this first objective, leaders of the movement say, the purpose is to “organize the people of Mexico so that they may achieve their social and economic independence,” by directing forces of public opinion.
Members are divided into uniformed groups and taught military maneuvers. “Not,” it is explained, “because we are militaristic but because military training is the best way to teach discipline and unity.”
The idea of the golden shirts was taken from Pancho Villa’s favorite corps, the “Camisas Doradas.” The hat is a “huichol” straw which looks something like a Texas sombrero.
The coat of arms is an Aztec shield and club decorated with symbols of the Indian war god. The salute – right arm upraised with fist clenched – is the old Aztec victory salute.
Writes John W. Sherman in The Mexican Right: The End of Revolutionary Reform, 1929-1940:
Their hatred of Jews prompted them to advocate the seizure of all Jewish-owned businesses in Mexico […] and some Gold Shirts even suggested a Mexican-Nordic racial link. Their founder, Nicolas Rodriguez, quoted a letter from a German sympathizer which contended that “serious studies by ethnologists … prove the racial equality of Mexicans and Nordics, and this can be shown today even by blood tests.”
Rising anti-Semitic feeling throughout Mexico was climaxed Friday night with a demand by the Mexican confederation, strongest labor group in the country, for the deportation of Jewish owners of small silk and rayon establishments.
Confederation leaders asked the department of interior to take action against the Jews under Article 33 of the constitution, which permits the executive to order any undesirable foreigner to leave Mexico.
The confederation’s demand accused the Jews of “being responsible for the crisis prevailing” in the strikebound silk and rayon industry.
In 1941 the Gold Shirts paraded together in Mexico City with a similar group, the Union Nacional Sinarquista, or National Synarchist Union, which had been founded in 1937. Whereas Rodriguez’s group’s activities were centered in urban areas of the northern states, the Sinarquistas were more provincial and found support among the Mexican peasantry in the center-western portion of the country. Also unlike the Camisas Doradas, the Sinarquistas were militant Catholics, political successors to the cause of the Cristeros.
A bemused profile of the group that was syndicated through the Newspaper Enterprise Association service described the Sinarquistas as “strange” and “mysterious”.
Some critics say the Sinarquista movement may be the forerunner of totalitarian rule. Its leaders say it will be the salvation of faction-torn Mexico.
President Manuel Avila Camacho of Mexico recently warned the Sinarquistas to watch their step.
The word Sinarquista means “without anarchy,” an end to rightists and leftists and in-between factions and a “united front” of the “Mexican family.” In other words: One party – and one leader. […]
The union has its fuehrer, a lawyer named Salvador Abascal; who demands and apparently receives blind obedience. […]
The Sinarquistas refuse to carry arms; they believe in nonviolence – and even court martyrdom. “Hate an easy and comfortable life,” says one of their “Rules of Synarchist Life.” “We have no right to it as long as Mexico is unhappy. Love discomfort, danger and death.” […]
“We refuse all symbols foreign to our nationality. The Nazi swastika, the Communist Red Star are not ours […]
Synarchism condemns race hatreds. We urge close collaboration between labor and capital.”Despite what the “Rules of Synarchist Life” might say about rejection of racial hatreds, the group’s weekly newspaper struck a different note, as labor historian Zaragosa Vargas reveals:
El Sinarquista constantly touted the glories of colonial Mexico and pointed out to its readers that the destruction of Spanish power in Mexico was the result of an American Masonic-Protestant conspiracy. The Sinarquistas presented the fantasy of a new Spanish empire, El Gran Imperio Sinarquistas, whose capital city, “Sinacropolis,” was to be built on the plains of west Texas. The newspaper’s other themes struck a familiar and shrill fascist and anti-Semitic tone: Jews, Bolshevists, Masons, and international bankers centered in Washington controlled “Democracy.” It is especially interesting in this connection that the Sinarquistas warned that this cabal was attempting to dominate the Western Hemisphere without regard to Latin Americans. To put an anti-Anglo agenda in motion, the movement alleged that the Anglo world was corrupt, godless, and immoral and that it granted rights only to the moneyed class.
Four hundred colonists equipped with Bibles and a little farm machinery set out to apply the Sinarquista doctrine of prayer and hard work. To cope with drought they prayed for rain and dug a big well which they named “Holy Cross.” A cross was pressed into each brick made in the community kiln.The Baja California project foundered – historian Michael J. Ard observing that the colonies “were poorly conceived and lacked such necessities as water to make the settlements a success” – and the 800,000-strong party organization was rent by internal friction between Salvador Abascal and rival Manuel Torres Bueno. Whatever its failures, however, the Sinarquista movement’s power was greatly feared during these years. Jack Starr-Hunt of The Milwaukee Journal, citing “Bloody Facts”, characterized the wartime activities of this “most sinister fifth column movement in the Americas” as follows in 1943:
Sinarquism’s following consists of a half million gaunt, underfed Mexican peasants, whose eyes burn with the fanaticism of Torquemada, and whose benightedness makes them easy dupes of master propagandists beyond the ocean. More than a political party it is a crusade. […]
It has taken the Sinarquistas less than five years to grow into one of the most powerfully organized bodies in Mexico. […]
They are against capitalism, but preach the doctrine of “joyful poverty.” They would make every man an independent land owner, but have assassinated hundreds of peasants who dared accept a plot of land from the government. They have sought out the vulnerable point of Mexican democracy – the corruption of its politicians and the racketeering of its labor leaders – and turned their knife in that wound with diabolic cunning.
They have avoided the error of putting their members into colored shirts – the tattered serape of the peasant is more effective propaganda. Their only uniform is a red arm band in which a white circle encloses a green map of Mexico. […]
Their leader, they claim, is appointed by God. […]
Since Mexico’s entry into the war, the Sinarquistas have back watered; they deny all connection with the Axis. But declarations of their national leaders serve largely the purpose of camouflage. More important is the insidious agitation conducted in the villages. There the Mexican army has been attacked as godless because of the absence of Catholic chaplains; the rumor has been sedulously spread that conscripts will be sent overseas to fight a war in the interests of Jewish capital.Starr-Hunt noted that fifth-columnist attempts to derail trains were “being reported” – a vague assertion typical of the conflicting accounts of the Sinarquistas’ attitude toward militarism. United Press International in 1942 cited “reports” of a quelled “uprising” by the Sinarquistas involving “bloody street fighting” in multiple towns, but then went on to add that “government officials declined to verify these reports, or to offer any comment.” One politician even accused the Sinarquistas of having “had a hand in the recent ‘zoot-suit’ trouble in Los Angeles.”
Other accounts of the group depict them as the victims of organized violence. Ard, for instance, claims that the party’s “nonviolent approach, however, failed to prevent violence from being perpetrated against the movement” and notes that “confrontations during the Cardenas years resulted in the deaths of several sinarquista members.” Alistair Hennessy, in his essay “Fascism and Populism in Latin America”, even suggests that, “unlike the cristeros, the sinarquistas lived more by a non-violent ethic, which in the context of Mexican politics and combined with their lack of grasp and perhaps even of interest in the realities of power and their absence of any economic programme, accounts for the gradual decline of their influence.”
The colorful, arm-thrusting species of Mexican anti-Semites might, perhaps, have drifted beyond the recesses of the collective memory and faded into the mists of historical obscurity, but leaders are advised not to make the mistake of assuming that such irrational hatred of the Jews has finally been eradicated like the virulent disease of the mestizo mind that it is. The Associated Press implicated Mexico in the “worldwide wave of anti-Semitism” sweeping the planet in January of 1960. “The first swastikas appeared in Latin America, painted on the gateposts of a Mexico City synagogue and the building housing the Zionist Federation of Mexico.”
Can there be any doubt, furthermore, that the rabid reception with which the celebrated Judeo-Chilean director Alejandro Jodorowsky’s film Fando y Lis was met at the 1968 Acapulco Film Festival was nothing more than a manifestation of the most depraved and animalistic pogrom-impulses?
Director Alejandro Jodorowsky had to leave the theatre by sneaking outside to a waiting limousine. When the crowd outside the theatre recognized him, the car was pelted with rocks. The following week, the film opened to sell-out crowds in Mexico City, but fights broke out in the audiences and the film was banned by the Mexican government. Jodorowsky himself was nearly deported and the scandal provided a lot of fodder for the Mexican newspapers.Even worse, Mexico voted to approve a 1975 United Nations resolution equating Zionism with racism – a fascist faux pas that resulted in Jewish tourists boycotting south-of-the-border vacation destinations, with Mexico becoming “the first nation to receive an economic blow dealt by the Jews in the international side-taking in the Mideast.”
The size of the Hispanic population in the United States is now larger than it’s ever been. The new migrants act as a bridge with South America. The interesting question, which in my more utopian moods I sometimes ponder is whether the changes in South America might travel across this bridge via the Hispanic populations in the United States and produce something which none of us can foresee.Ali is thinking here of some progressive upheaval effecting a new egalitarian democracy; but is he correct to allow for such optimism concerning the future contributions of Latin American immigrants? Is the American Jewish Committee, to cite only one of many examples of Jewish organizations, well-advised to continue to in its commitment to the flow of Mexican bodies into the United States? Or ought its Elders, rather, to exercise a cautious wisdom – lest they serve as the midwives of un Cuarto Reich?