Mexican Exodus: Emigrants, Exiles, and Refugees of the Cristero War
Author: Julia G. Young
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
Release Date: August 01, 2015
In July of 1926, an army of Mexican Catholics launched a war against the Mexican government. Bearing aloft the banners of Christ the King and the Virgin of Guadalupe, they equipped themselves not only with guns, but also scapulars, rosaries, prayers, and religious visions. These soldiers were called cristeros, and the war they fought, which would continue until the mid-1930s, is known as la cristiada, or the Cristero war. The most intense fighting occurred in Mexico's west-central states: Jalisco, Guanajuato, and Michoacan. For this reason, scholars have generally regarded the war as a regional event, albeit one with national implications. Using previously unexamined archival materials from both Mexico and the United States, Julia Young investigates the intersections between Mexico's Cristero War and Mexican migration to the United States during the late 1920s. In doing so, she reframes the war as a transnational conflict, and underscores the deep religious devotion that informed the political affiliations of Mexican emigrants.
Mexican Exodus traces the formation, actions, and ideologies of the Cristero diaspora, a network of tens of thousands of Mexican emigrants, exiles, and refugees across the United States who supported the Catholic uprising from beyond the border--countering a longstanding belief that Mexicans "lost" their religion once they reached the supposedly more modern, secular culture of the United States. This group participated in the conflict in a variety of ways; they took part in religious ceremonies and spectacles, organized political demonstrations and marches, formed associations and organizations, and planned strategic collaboration with religious and political leaders in order to generate public sympathy for their cause. A few of them even launched militant efforts that included arms smuggling, military recruitment, espionage, and armed border revolts. Ultimately, the Cristero diaspora aimed to overturn the anticlerical government and reform the Mexican Constitution of 1917. Although they were unable to achieve these political goals, Young argues, these emigrants - and the war itself - would have a profound and enduring resonance for Mexican emigrant community formation, political affiliations, and religious devotion throughout subsequent decades, and up to the present day."