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The Anti-Imperialist League of the Americas between the East and Latin America Author(s): Ricardo Melgar Bao

and Mariana Ortega Brea Source: Latin American Perspectives, Vol. 35, No. 2, Reassessing the History of Latin American Communism (Mar., 2008), pp. 9-24 Published by: Sage Publications, Inc. Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/27648084 . Accessed: 29/11/2013 15:58
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The Anti-Imperialist League of theAmericas


between the East and Latin America by

Ricardo Melgar Bao Translated byMariana Ortega

Bre?a

AfterWorld War I, Latin America's budding leftist political culture shifted in char acter and outlook and, by the second half of the 1920s, had come to be identifiedas an anti-imperialist force. The communist parties, which stood apartfrom previous socialist and anarchist trends,brought the themeof imperialism to the fore,making ita dominant discourse. The threat became the subject of economic, component of leftist imperialist a and and crucial the political, part of ideological study political agenda. Influenced by Bukharinist tendencies, Latin American communists proceeded to establish the Liga Americas?LADLA) Antiimperialista de lasAmericas (Anti-Imperialist League of the and its various national chapters. The cultural construction of imperialism and anti imperialism in Latin America stood in opposition to theEuropeanized and Orientalist ideologies in vogue at the time. Keywords: Anti-Imperialist league, Latin America, Comintern, Orientalism, China

in Latin America were established between saw 1919 and 1923, and the following decade communist organized expansion into the Andes and the Caribbean. While the Russian Revolution had a pro found impact on the Latin American this was not the case for imagination, The tendencies. Marxism of the Communist International anti-imperialist was even to and the arti few Cominternist (Comintern) just beginning spread, to the region showed cles devoted little interest in imperialism. Luis C. El imperialismo americano, published Fraina's pamphlet in the Library of the Communist International series (Fraina, 1922), was an exception.1 From 1924 came to stand in on, however, a distinctly Latin American Marxism opposition to its European, Orientalist, and vernacular versions, and the issue of imperi to center stage (see, e.g., Harrison, alist oppression moved 1925; Wilenklin, La 1926; Internationale, 1926). Anti-imperialist Correspondance leagues, dissi dent organizations, and socialist and populist alternatives (e.g., the Alianza Americana Revolucionaria [American Popular Revolutionary Alliance? Popular studies began to grow. APRA]) were formed, and the field of imperialism-related As many Latin American nations celebrated their first hundred years of a new desire for fueled U.S. interventionism, independence, sovereignty, by were emerged: Jos?Mart? and Sim?n Bol?var reinterpreted. Gregorio Selser's The first communist groups

National

a historian, is a Peruvian Bao and a researcher forMexico's Melgar anthropologist, numerous Institute of Anthropology and History. He has published articles on the in Latin America. Mariana Comintern Bre?a is a freelance translator based in Canberra, Ortega on this article. Australia. The author thanks Gernardo Leibner for his helpful comments Ricardo LATIN AMERICAN PERSPECTIVES, DOI: 10.1177/0094582X07313765 ? 2008 Latin American Perspectives Issue 159, Vol. 35 No. 2,March 2008 9-24

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10

LATINAMERICAN PERSPECTIVES

with

of the seminal essays of Grigory Zinoviev, Nikolai the appearance Leon Bukharin, Trotsky, and Joseph Stalin (Carr, 1974: 311), Lenin's work and the few available filtered through these versions translations. being an examination of translation calls for the that lies topic Although beyond the limits of this essay, itdeserves attention given its importance to the texts' Latin American

exhaustive chronology of imperialist interventions in Latin America points to a in Nicaragua milestone: the Sandinista resistance the specific impacted of the Comintern's 2001). perception region (Saxe-Fern?ndez, currents of Leninism were established The major 1924 and 1925 between

economy before the 1929 crisis. The organic of Cominternist political factionalism, partisan and union-oriented, development was in to the ebbing of the revolutionary movement on theworld contrast sharp was a in Latin America This evidenced the for search stage. by distinctly The character. of became almost problem regional revolutionary imperialism it consensus. but both lacked intellectual and The all-encompassing, political best and most

reception. We know that the theory of imperialism as a higher phase came via a of capitalism translation, but this is a rather crude ideo Spanish we take into account that all translations are more creative if marker logical and that the reception of ideology is inevitably than heterodox filtered one or more cultural worldviews. and from a Generally speaking through the basic Leninist concepts of revolu Cominternist, post-Leninist viewpoint, tion, party, imperialism, and anti-imperialism were all reconfigured. Thus, the as many versions as there were Cominternist Sandinista struggle generated factions, but all of them shared these basic concepts. This was the case inmany national liberation in the region as well. other instances of Cominternist of the Comintern This second phase characterized (1924-1929) was by intense ideological warfare during a period of relative capitalist stability and the slowing down of the Soviet

toward Bukharin and away from Trotsky, Zinoviev,2 and Stalin, although this was never in factional alignment with international repercussions. expressed on Eastern and led to an emphasis Bukharin's issues, approach agrarian to Latin to of American communists. Needless many subjects great importance were or more mirrors Asiatic Orientalist in the relevant certain countries say, than in others, as the analogies required justification in terms of each nation's currents promoted Eastern and The problematic. reality by Stalin and Zinoviev Bukharin3 gained ground over theWestern of and Trotsky leanings that became evident during the Comintern's and attained a fragile hegemony in 1928 and in the work of various political and intellectual Sixth Congress Latin American The leftists. flexibility of the theses of the Stalinists Yakov Drabkin Davidovich (see Wolfe, 1981: 376-377, 380-389, 508-512; Comintern, 1996: 59) and Vissarion Lominadze 1978; Melgar, (a.k.a. "Pierre," according to Henri Favre, personal communication, 2003, contra Jeifets, Jeifets, and Huber, eclecticism relevant to the indigenous question during the turbulent years 2004) became of 1928 and 1929. The work of the Bukharinist Jules Humbert-Droz also had an area. The varied in this taken these writers positions impact by regarding and

was popular economic study of U.S. imperialism published by in New York in 1925, and by 1926 it had Scott Nearing and Joseph Freeman a inMexico, been translated into Spanish and published eventually becoming Latin American classic (Nearing and Freeman, 1926). this factionalism drove the Latin American During period, vanguard

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ANTI-IMPERIALIST LEAGUE OF THE AMERICAS Melgar / Eastern political tendencies were confrontation blurred

11

between

the by reductionist readings that privileged Stalin and Bukharin. Yet, for reasons that are

the scope of this paper, this triumvirate paved the way for Latin beyond most America's critical communist the Peruvian Jos? Carlos vanguard: the Ecuadorian Ricardo and Mexican the ?rsulo Galv?n, Paredes, Mari?tegui, and anti-landowner all ofwhom advocated anti-imperialist agrarian struggles to socialism. From an Orientalist perspective, and approaches the anemic and were Latin American decimated and therefore the bourgeoisies negligible, communal pursuit of socialism enjoyed varying degrees of legitimacy and fostered (Comintern, 1978). Utopian hopes From another standpoint, the Soviet Union was now forced to develop and commercial and U.S. policy in the face of European foreign diplomatic imperialism. The interests of the Soviet state affected and were

affected by the work of the and this had for Latin Comintern, consequences revolutionary America. The cases ofMexico and Argentina, because of their oil, mining, and it would be unfair issues, are illustrative in this regard. However, agricultural to say that all the chapters of the Comintern were, officially or otherwise, tools of in one country." In fact, the Soviet policy of "socialism relatively autonomous in Marxist-Leninist blossomed Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and parties at until least the of 1930. These Venezuela, groups proved highly beginning as because, out, the term culturally resistant, perhaps Mari?tegui pointed never as in was Latin America it "socialist" was in Europe stigmatized because of the socialist chauvinism of World context the term "communism"

Mella

had considerable presence both at home and abroad. Martinez Villena, Venezuela Libre4"and Am?rica Libre,5 promoted who was behind the magazines some of the league's anti-imperialist campaigns, while Mella, exiled inMexico, was best known for his What Is APRA? The Revolutionary Struggle Against

acquired tradition and communal indigenous and agrarian experience. From a political and organizational theWorld League Against perspective, and autonomous in remained flexible that the other inter ways Imperialism nationals the Educational and the Red) did not. The Workers,' (the Peasants,' inMexico LADLA had been headquartered since its founding in 1925, but in February 1927 the Argentine chapter sought to gain Stalinist hegemony under Codovila's The Cubans Rub?n Mart?nez Villena and Julio Antonio leadership.

War I. Besides, in the Andean cultural meanings that linked it to

a leftistdiscourse of class Although the Comintern adopted struggle at its Sixth was unable to erase the in it union-oriented intellectual 1928, Congress agrarian, and anti-imperialist tendencies assimilated by Latin American communists.

(1928). Imperialism

THE ORIENTALIST
Edward W. Said

PRISM

have

(1979) has written extensively about the colonial and neo but he overlooks the fact that this ideological shaping of Orientalism, on also occurred other America.6 "The East" was continents, process including the non-West, the Other, and it included Latin America. During the period we colonial and Latin American been discussing, American studies were in themetropolitan fields separate from a general current of Orientalism (Cerutti, 2000: 22,28, and 212; NACLA, 1980). Itwas in this ideological not yet nations context

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12

LATINAMERICAN PERSPECTIVES in 1920 had established Second Congress confrontation between Lenin and Manabendra an Eastern line

that the Comintern's after the famous

Roy (Melgar, lens influenced readings of Lenin's and Stalin's ideas 1989). The Orientalist can and what the Said Marx of world, (1979:154) says non-European regarding be said of the Cominternists: The Orient is less important as human material than as an element in the romantic dard Orientalist undertaking even though his humanity and his sympathy for people's misery are clearly engaged. Yet in the end it is the romantic Orientalist
vision that wins out. redemptive project. Marx's economic analyses are thus perfectly suited to a stan

the first communist conference in February 1920, 1919, sponsored September a which approved resolution calling on the U.S. Communist party to "do what was necessary to establish a two bureau for the Americas and organize secondary a Pan-American conference taking advantage of the preparations for the confer ence in Mexico" (Spenser and Ortiz, 2007:15). This initiative, thanks to themedi ation of Fraina, was early given that the strategic priorities of the Little Bureau of the Comintern outlined inAugust 1920 involved eight bases to be reinforced by the sending of cadres: five in Europe, two inAsia, and one inAmerica identified with and Riquelme, 2005: 25). After the Second Sam Katayama (Uli?nova a Moscow became for Orientalists and so-called Congress meeting place and thiswould

The Eastern/Orientalist prism was central to Cominternist interpretations of the Latin American and the and anti-imperialist struggle profiles political actions of its affiliates. The presence of the Hindu Roy and the Japanese Katayama in the was no Bureau of the Comintern first Latin American accident (1919-1921) at the end of Bureau, established (Melgar, 2001). The landmark Amsterdam

Orientals,

while

influence the Comintern's subaltern organizations. are no academic all of there this, Despite explorations of theOrientalist charac ter of the LADLA?its predecessors during the firstcycle of anticolonial uprisings the (1919-1924), anti-imperialist leagues fostered by China's Communist party and students not only in Beijing and Shanghai but also intellectuals among young in Beijing was the start of an anti in Paris and Berlin. The May 4,1919, movement a network within and outside of China. The imperialist struggle that constructed students of 3,000 repression shouting anti-Japanese slogans such as "Return in and "Punish the traitors!" Tiananmen Square had a pervasive Chingtao!" on young Chinese ?migr?s in Europe 1979: (Sin, 6) and Latin American impact students in the United States.7 Zhou Enlai, Li Lisan, Chao Chiyen, Tsai Hosen, Chen Yi, and Deng Xiaoping were some of the young Chinese leaders in Paris, Zhu De

to the Berlin circle (Hsu, 1978: 46-47, and Sun Bingwen belonged was the led by Zhou Enlai and 50). By 1923, anti-imperialist Chinese network in Moscow had connections (Hua, 1979:115). already Babette Gross remembered the (1967), the wife of Willi M?nzenberg, as the first Chinese Anti-Imperialist his World of League being predecessor and writes of the strong bonds that, by 1922, Imperialism League Against existed between him and Liu, the secretary of the Kuomintang (a group of some 100 Chinese students residing in Berlin), Ho Chi Minh, who would stop in Berlin on his way from Paris to Moscow, of the Latin American Bureau, may exchanges between Latin American and Manabendra played and theirAsian youths have a Roy, who, as member a role in the ideological counterparts

residing

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ANTI-IMPERIALIST LEAGUE OF THE AMERICAS Melgar /

13

was also associated in Europe. Another Hindu, Virendranath Chattopadhyaya, was to and married the writer U.S. with Roy and M?nzenberg Agnes Smedley to until 1914, at which point he moved lived in London Chattopadhyaya and Japanese his anti-imperialist work among Hindu (Gross, 1967: 197-198). Carr (1976: 684-685, 707) says, in contrast, that theWorld League Against on was founded July 13, 1924, in Beijing and that the Red Imperialism tomake it an international project on September 5,1924. International decided movements that were in the Red the workers' However, predominant in initiative favor of and the his Cominternist International shifted M?nzenberg Berlin intellectuals organization, in order to pursue

World Gross

The League had contacts among Chinese, students residing in Berlin, Paris and Indonesian, Hindu, as as Arab countries" from the students well London, (Gross, 1967: 197). was able to use sectors of the Cominternist network to expand the M?nzenberg of Luis Gibarbi and Lucie and Peters. Indochinese Imperialism's League Against did not recall a Latin American and the IWA's in America. Studies

International Workers' Aid (IWA), around 1925. Repression of the as well as of Chang in Wu and Peifu movement, Beijing Tsoling anti-imperialist in Europe and Latin America: "With IWA's sup inNanking, had consequences was founded in Berlin under the direction port, the League Against Colonialism

M?nzenberg's and Europe

projects (Gross, 1967: 200), and, although that show presence, there are documents links to Latin American student leaders both in

Iberoamerican

role; he had and some of his tieswent Mexico, Between students had been established

for Alfonso Goldschmidt, director of the Center in Berlin during 1929-1930, also played an important contacts with leaders of university reforms inArgentina, Peru, and back to 1922.8

involving Chinese, Arab, and Latin American in Paris. The latter were grouped under the Latinoamericanos de Paris (Association of General de Estudiantes Asociaci?n Latin American Students in Paris??GELA) Rozas, interview, (Wilfrido April 10, 1989; Vallejo, 1985; Taracena Arri?la, 1980). There were ongoing solidarity such as that supporting Abd el-Krim's war against Spanish and campaigns, 1924 and 1926 networks French

American

Rif leader played with the idea of mirrors and embraced liberators (Abd el-Krim, 1925: 243):

circulated colonialism.9 The Buenos Aires Grupo Renovaci?n widely sent to commemorate the them thatAbd el-Krim had, upon request, themessage inwhich the Spanish colonial forces had been defeated. The Battle of Ayacucho, the path of the South

The heroic Moroccan people are fighting for the same ideals espoused by and Moreno, Bolivar and San Martin. We have always loved and Miranda admired these heroes of yours, and yesterday our hearts followed in the heroic us from remaining as colonies of any European
years homes ago to build today own nation, your to be free. ... in order so we speak are I struggle of the Maceos and the Martis. Our race, our to sacrifice lives and willing to you as brothers, since the Spanish

power. Just as you fought 100

culture,

and

religion

prevent

Arab

Arab blood, just like that of all the blood that runs through your veins is, largely, southern Spaniards who left Palos de Sevilla, C?diz, to plant the seeds of the llaneros, although disguised by a different religion.
soul in your America?the soul that was reborn in the gauchos and

The concepts of race, culture, and religion with which Abd el-Krim ideologically an abstraction of the anticolonial movement to could be appropriated supports

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14

LATINAMERICAN PERSPECTIVES

some extent by the intellectual vanguard of the radical Cominternist and populist left. The symbolism regarding Arab blood was more difficult to grasp as a key to transcontinental brotherhood, and it should be noted that the text limits this llaneros and Argentine trope to Venezuelan gauchos, emerging figures in the not known whether Abd el-Krim actu It 1920s. is narratives of the regionalist some of his advisers did it, or whether was it ally wrote thismissive, whether an Latin American Latin traveler. We do that know by obliging composed Americans such as the Bolivian Tristan Marof took part inAbd el-Krim support in Paris in 192510 and America that several magazines this struggle in publications and writers such as in Latin

movements

with Repertorio empathized Americano, Amauta, and El Libertador. In more general terms, it is possible that the exchanges between radical Latin Americans and their Asian colleagues were brought about by mediators, and was one of Henri Barbusse He these. had substan (1873-1935) probably certainly tial impact on Latin American and Chinese young people. His meetings and cor respondence with the former date back to 1919, when he corresponded with (Milla, 2004), and were followed in 1921 by correspondence with Mari?tegui Marof. During

in Cominternist organizations Abyssinia. He also edited Clart? and participated related to teaching such as the EWI. The EWI magazine articles by published such as the Peruvian Eudocio Ravines 1979: AGELA members (Prieto Celi, 29). It is also documented that Barbusse "made contact with the Chinese students and ongoing events" (Hsu, 1978: 45). in party's policy of creating spaces for propaganda different languages sought to address the issues of Parisian immigrant minorities and establish Cominternist networks and recruitment. Wilfrido Rozas (interview, and APRA, talks about the atmos Lima, April 10,1982), a member of AGELA in in Paris 1926 and 1928: phere prevailing organized weekly meetings The French Communist We would go to the communist demonstrations with Paiva. There, on a grassy field, were 10 or 15 platforms for each language, so that one could choose the language one preferred. Iwent to the French one; we also attended the Spanish one when we We would listen to Le?n Couturier, did not find the speeches very interesting.
Marcel

those years he oscillated between pacifism and anti-imperialism, toward the latter, and this is how he became part of the committee finally leaning in in favor of India's liberation and the struggle against Italian colonialism

to discuss

an African speaker, a young black kid, maybe some 25 years old. Very excited, he stood on theplatform and, looking at all of us, said: "Comrades, after exploiting us, the imperialists are bringing the money here, to their metropolis. We are considered French, but we do not have the political life that you have. We are exploited and
underpaid, want and our

Cachin,

Romain

Rolland,

Henry

Barbusse,

Maurice

Thorez....

There

was

a distinguished black gathering. I have seen those blacks around here; you almost
to tall: they paint were them. There were some from Southern Africa, with Watusis. bony heads, thin,

possessions

are

taken

from us."

The Africans

were

there, shouting:

In this context, it is not surprising that Barbusse, after giving one of the inau at the World first conference (in League Against Imperialism's gural speeches in February 1927), went on to promote meetings between the dele Brussels gates of the peripheral continent (Barbusse, 1927). Still, both M?nzenberg the focus of several Cominternist Barbusse were feuds. The firstwas lenged by Roy and Codovila regarding his plans for the Brussels and chal

conference

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ANTI-IMPERIALIST LEAGUE OF THE AMERICAS Melgar / and

15

the second by the French Communist clan's?and, party The Nehru for the conference changed therefore, the Indian National Congress's?support and Barbusse's the status of M?nzenberg's (Gross, 1967: political allegiances was seen as a the Even the first before conference, 199). organization widely was front and and whose class body political only ideological pluralistic massive international stood idea and this expansion. M?nzenberg by sought on this front (Koestler, 1974: 78). was one of Cominternism's major players The influence of U.S. communists during the firstyears of the anti-imperialist a on our continent undoubtedly led to an Orientalist perspective. As leagues result, the anti-imperialist joined the main body, chapter in the Philippines was on and a certain Orientalist imperialism perspective adopted, especially housed the continental headquarters. The chapter, which by the Mexican as which included the old socialist intellectuals Mark of U.S. such left, legacy Twain and was later revived by Liga Antiimperialista Panamericana (Pan American involved League?LAP), support Anti-Imperialist organizational Puerto Rico, and Cuba after the 1898 of the Philippines, for the independence war. The firstyear of the LAP's existence was marked by the deportation of U.S. communists fromMexico, which resulted in a change of strategy and a more autonomous league. By 1927, during the Brussels conference, the Philippines chapter LADLA, was already under the direction

operating independently different readings and approaches devel leanings of the U.S. Cominternists, Latin American LADLA members of the and APRA. the the oped among During his stay in London during 1927, after the breakup with LADLA, wrote his interactions with the Kuomintang Torre about de la and the Haya a on new anti communist him path. During political speech welcoming October leader, said, "Like the Chinese youth, 11, 1927, Tang Li, the Chinese to struggle for the independence Latin American of our youth will have are the which threatened Like the Chinese nations, by enemy's imperialism. we are learning that force is the only law in the youth fight against imperialism" (Haya de la Torre, 1927: 344, 349).

of the Asian regional branch and the of theU.S. branch. In contrast to theOrientalist

NAMES AND SEMICOLONIAL

REALITY

Jos? Aric? is right when he says that "the very fact thatwe can safely speak thatwe accept its existence?in Latin America but that ofMarxism?provided we find it extremely difficult to define it is no more than the grammatical a expression of genuine historical difficulty" (1981: 156). Even though, in the formalization condenses conceptual case in these the of Latin cannot, planes, as Aric? proposes, no matter how useful be pigeonholed American Marxism, it is for conveying an overall view of the problem of the unique and contradic and Latin America. The relevance and tory relationship between Marxism a term cannot be determined the and differential use of conscious by legitimacy is reinvention. The preposi of itwhen the cultural identity itself undergoing logic of subjective and differentiates every and objective, two articulated

"or" in relation to tions "in," "of," the conjunction "and," and the disjunctive of Marxism-Latin not only America the theoretical-philosophical object the construction of the the of real express conceptual object logical contrariety

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16

LATIN AMERICAN PERSPECTIVES

but also

enjoyed sovereignty American Marxism

in the face of imperialist powers. The concepts of Latin Latin America were not dissociated, and a semicolonial nor were Marxism and imperialism. Names such as "the (in or of Latin America) the and "the of Americas" Pan-American Anti-Imperialist League Anti-Imperialist In its fourth issue, El 2000:121-143). League" were not gratuitous (see Melgar, Libertador printed a brief note about the potential celebration of the First was and American its (El clearly pessimistic viability regarding Congress Libertador, 1925). The only mark left by this project was on intellectual circles, was roundly criticized for its where the term "Pan-American" Monroe-derived the secretary connotations, with the result that in 1925, without explanation, name to themore de the appropriate "Liga Antiimperialista league's changed las Americas" (LADLA). The problems involved in the naming of the league were not merely the prod was of meaning uct of idle discussion: the convention chosen over the lin guistic sign international in response movement and to the dual identity of communism a national construct. This fueled as both an discussions

terms are translatable, essential, or intelligible. not all propositional After the wars of independence won mainly during the first decades of the for Latin America was whether it twentieth century, the fundamental question

context and the cultural, political, and fail to escape the historical in the inherent conditions conception and practice of the Comintern as organic a world party. The Cominternist dilemma of the name may seem less impor we recall that, on the one hand, diversity is rendered the more visible tant if areas such as Latin America of revolution inmultilingual among protagonists more than a means is of communication, and, on the other, because language

to the Latin the German revolution of 1918" and argued that its extension was a mistake: "The American international situation had parties changed, was and a harsh and sad strategic withdrawal the application of beginning; it even harsher and sadder." the 21 conditions made When the league, under the name "Pan-American Anti-Imperialist League," was formed in early 1925, its first continental project was support for massive, InMarch of the same year it Secretariat of the Comintern. the Latin American the first issue of El Libertador, edited by ?rsulo Galv?n and managed published inMexico Xavier who was based Guerrero, City. R. C?rdenas was among by collaborators and wrote an article denouncing the Pan-American themagazine's a as that of Labor Congress. J.Rodriguez congress point Taking departure, Garc?a, Ricardo Mar?n, and Rafael Carrillo wrote about U.S. colonization in Mexico, under the Cuba, and Chile, respectively A Bertrand Wolfe article published race "Audifaz" criticized the erroneous perceptions pseudonym regarding some on the continent. The issue also included scattered notes about problems Honduras, and Guatemala.

issued by the Comintern regarding the controversial 21 criteria for acceptance to join the Comintern had in 1920. Number 18 was that any party thatwished to be called the Communist party of its country. This was not merely a formal 1967: 260). Zinoviev issue but one of great political importance (Mari?tegui, to fight "centrism" and required a that this requirement was meant declared and an emerging Cominternist social democracy Bolshevism choice between in 1975: Aric? underlined that this the fact contrast, 52). (1979: 20), (Comintern, a was clear European bias and for the "failure of requirement had responsible

Nicaragua,

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ANTI-IMPERIALIST LEAGUE OF THE AMERICAS Melgar / InMarch

17

1925, El Libertador reported that therewere only two anti-imperialist and a newer one, led by Manuel leagues allied with the league: one inMexico in theUnited States. The league aspired to become a broad G?mez, organization with a united front including all the anti-imperialist tendencies of the intellectual and agrarian unions. El Libertador's first editorial was circles and the workers'

quite explicit in this regard.11 Yankee imperialism was seen as themain enemy of the peoples of the Americas and as confronting the same circumstances and equivalent when encountered it "entered the by its British predecessor shadow of its eclipse." the second semester During de la Torre and Isidro Fabela. Fabela (1925) underscored of 1925 the league welcomed V?ctor Ra?l Haya In a letter of allegiance to Galv?n, addressed the importance of 100 years of independence: stance in the founding of El Libertador. This
larger homeland, Hispano-America. are comforted and

kind

I congratulate you on your noble


of paper is a real necessity of our America's and and

service

I have always felt and thought like you and put my studies and my pen at the
freedom. I am with conviction, I will Carranza. continue soon to work send you that there proud on the dreams an extensive patriots of Bolivar, list of people

in this, our

who, gallantly de S?enz Pe?a, be useful

who, in my opinion, will be glad to receive El Libertadorand whose


to our cause.

will reading of it

Jos? Vasconcelos joined the LADLA's work between 1925 and 1927, when the sent to travel the continent, understand and organization propagandists strengthen with intellectual the anti-imperialist network circles, project, anti-imperialist inArgentina, Uruguay, and Cuba. and establish national divisions that During time, exiles from Venezuela, Peru, Bolivia, Cuba, and Chile came together in Mexico and Argentina. The links established by the league between these two countries eventually resulted in the First Continental Anti-Imperialist Congress, held in Buenos Aires inNovember 1925. Here the openness and flexibility of the project were were and mass ratified, although partisan organizations to the (Call emphasized Anti-Imperialist Congress, n.d.):
The

which will be subject to discussion

Organizing

Committee

. . . proposes

the

among interested individuals and groups:

following

basis

for representation,

1. Any organization that fights imperialism or manifests to the Congress its intention of participating in this struggle as part of its activities will be entitled to a main delegate and a substitute,who will provide the organi
zation with two voices and one vote in the

2.

in clause 1 that have more than 500 The organizations mentioned members will be entitled to an additional main delegate and substitute
for every 500 members.

Congress.

Clauses

3 and 4 respectively considered the participation of anti-imperialist visitors and personalities but only as nonvoting fraternal delegates and col did not blossom, laborators. This proposal the it little given importance or those of others as ascribed to intellectuals who, using their own magazines to the anti-imperialist their allegiance platforms, openly manifested struggle. had only recently begun to absorb the The mass organizations anti-imperialist Latin American discourse of the Comintern's the chapters, and this weakened overall impact of this first anti-imperialist congress. Additionally, Argentina

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18

LATINAMERICAN PERSPECTIVES its own chapter until March the Argentine 1926, perhaps because no was Latin match the American for Union led party prestigious

did not have Communist

this time, the U.S. Communist Ugarte and Alfredo Palacios. During by Manuel Bukharinist of under the committed itself to Lovestone, party, leadership Jay in 1929, a few months after the thework of the league. Lovestone was expelled purging of opposition Trotskyist members. housed an intellectual movement During the firstyears of Stalinism, Moscow to critical distance from the that sought Orientalist approach to Latin American gain in Center directed by Sergio Ignatof was founded reality. An Iberoamerican in 1928. Its adherents were some of the Russian Cominternists who Moscow them Stanilas Pestkovski, D. Vigodski, to promote intellectual ties with Latin American magazines and Repertorio Americano, which were too heterodox for the reigning political climate. The idea of constructing a spe and /or German-style Latin American cialized field of Iberoamerican studies was a relevant issue given the dominance at the time. of Orientalism the dual identity itself) was The struggle for a dual identity (and within structure and the divergent national intensified by Moscow's rigid hierarchical had traveled and S. Schamsomov. among Ignatof worked such as Amauta in Latin America,

traditions and regional hegemonies. A1927 manifesto by the executive committee the Imperialist Offensive of the United States entitled Against of the Comintern the influence of the Sandinista and paved the showed struggle in Nicaragua a of 1927: for (La Correspondance Internationale, way great variety approaches 228). The 1927 conference in Brussels proved a forum for three diverging stances and Haya de la Torre among the Latin American delegates Mella, Codovila, come in the form of (S?nchez, 1978: 84; Soto, 2002: 89). Another highlight would the Bukharinist and Stalinist confrontations regarding the future of the LADLA in 1928. during the Sixth Congress of the Comintern 11 national In September 1928 the LADLA had chapters: Argentina, Mexico, Peru, Puerto Rico, El Salvador, Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, Honduras, and Uruguay Santo Domingo, Imperialism and forNational (League Against A 1928: the of of the international sec 2). survey regionalization Independence, retariat of theWorld League Against after the 1927 Brussels and Imperialism

policies

will be part of real and vital organisms in the field of revolution." In the context of the LADLA's growth and the Stalinist offense, the issue of the league's became a disputed "nativization" issue, as two statements issued during the is intervention in response to the league's The first Bukharin's show. congress international detractors, on the one hand defending the results achieved by the Brussels congress12 and on the other pointing to Cominternist lack of interest we "I think that the support give the league is not enough regarding the league: an think that this league is not a for organization of this type. Some comrades

and, particularly, theWorld League Against involving the Comintern as a stance against Stalinism, Latin America was Imperialism portrayed, as one an Orientalist of the countries" "other lens, (Comintern, 1978: through 49): "From a general strategic point of view, the more networks we establish in Europe, Asia, Africa, among ourselves and those who support us?whether more we or other countries?the deal with catastrophe: we competently will

1929 Frankfurt congresses and the social composition of itsmembership reaf firmed the contradictory Orientalist perspective with certain internal changes. Sixth Congress, Bukharin spoke in favor of his When, during the Comintern's

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ANTI-IMPERIALIST LEAGUE OF THE AMERICAS Melgar /

19

vital institution. In truth, experience has shown quite the opposite: this organiza tion has ample potential and developmental (Comintern, 1978: 49). possibilities"

The second deals, in thewords of delegate Contreras, with the anti-Buhkarinist attacks on the LADLA. Bukharin had gone on to speak of the lack of support for the as a stance criticized the seeking its dissolution. Contreras potentially league Latin Americanist sought to give the anti-imperialist emphasis thatHumbert-Droz was most Latin American of the that backed delegates, simpli by struggle and 1978: to caricature it the of (Comintern, 374-375): point fying Latin Americanism is the ideology of a petit-bourgeois anti-imperialist struggle Marxism and Leninism are that fights the communist movement and says that plants too exotic for Latin America. These theories charge theAnti-Imperialist
League on behalf of Moscow. with acting the be misinterpreted working by easily is ever-increasing. influence . . . Latin Americanism's masses mottos can and agrarian among which our

Except

case for the controversial Mexican during the Second World in 1929 and the absence of certain chapters named Imperialist Congress 1928 circular, the Latin American groups did not undergo any major related to the Orientalizing approach of the league. came up The subject of imperialism in Latin America again during

Anti in the changes the First

in Buenos Aires Communist Conference a that Codovila's addressed sented paper

move

and semifeudalism. spective including predatory imperialism, semicolonialism, Another notable difference involving the Latin American regionalization of anti can be found in the communist and LADLA debates about Sandino imperialism (La Correspondencia Sudamericana, 1929; La Correspondance Internationale, 1930a). in what was, apparently, a treason was endorsed by Codovila His purported leaders (La Correspondance Internationale, against most of the LADLA's as and Chattopadhyaya such international and 1930a), figures M?nzenberg offered an eloquent response (La Correspondance Internationale, 1930b). cannot simply be in the communist vocabulary The changes of connotation

of foreign capital, the alliance of capitalism with regard to the penetration between capitalists and traditional landlords, and the disputed existence of par ticular continental and national expressions of this (Movimiento Revolucionario scheme was anchored in an Orientalist per Latinoamericano, 1929). Codovila's

in June 1929. Mari?tegui (1969) pre dogmatic stance on the development

in theComintern; the cultural explained in terms of political and doctrinal changes must also be taken and political traditions of its heterogeneous membership various of with the into account, along groups at different political importance not It is and historical moments. surprising that, starting in the 1920s, the the organizations under their control such as region's communist parties and to and culturally appropriate the LADLA regionalize repeatedly attempted names but also political not only organizational projects.

THE LADLA AND COMMUNIST

POLICY ON THE MASSES

The anti-imperialist work of the Latin American Secretariat of the Comintern was in the revolutionary of the colonial awakening shaped by its confidence and semicolonial Latin American nations. The anti-imperialist struggle seemed

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20

LATIN AMERICAN PERSPECTIVES

LADLA

to be a feature of the Latin American revolution, and this explains why the was so intent on itself and extending its influence. firmly establishing was to the since the Propaganda mainly directly working and agrarian masses, intellectual circles were less likely to be affected by itswork and perspectives. Brazilian, and Chilean worker sectors Argentinean, By 1925, the Uruguayan, of the LADLA were growing and becoming InMexico, relatively consolidated. the union movement's General loss of turf and the attacks on the anarchist de Trabajo

of Labor) and the (General Confederation reformist Confederaci?n Obrera Mexicana of Regional (Regional Confederation an Mexican the Mexican character. Labor) gave chapter increasingly agrarian and Veracruz peas Using the agrarian community leagues and theMichoac?n ant unions, Mexican communists were able to extend their influence, and in 1926 they founded the National Peasant League, which, despite its name, did not merely focus on rural issues. Since 1923 Ursulo Galv?n had been in touch with Moscow's to establish a continental communist Peasants' International no accident that theNational It is branch. Peasant League's motto was agrarian "Peasants of America unite!" and that its emblem replaced the sickle with the and director of the LADLA in 1925, Galv?n machete. As a founding member was a link between these two very heterodox Cominternist projects, and this had an important effect on the agrarian nations of theAndes and the Caribbean. and semicolonial Colonial factors greatly impacted the worker and agrarian

Confederaci?n

and political difficulties experienced organizational struggle, and the LADLA when it confronted the continental branch of the Peasants' International and the Red International policies on these fronts. Its project was made clear in theman ifesto Latin Americans, JoinAll of Latin America! (LADLA, n.d.: 2):
Seek to unite all of Latin and and agrarian America's masses anti-imperialist are the who forces, ones and base this union of building on a

the working

ers, agrarian On your Words sterile. You

march of the dollar. We call upon all work fighting force strong enough tohalt the
own have indigenous are you work when to accept

only

capable

become

all intellectual circles. organizations, anti-imperialist are not without the masses. you enough; impotent are hollow the masses rise. Without and them, words their struggles as your own. If the oppressed Indian

has no land, something to defend, he will not fight. Without the freedom to orga nize and strike,without a life worth defending and the product of his labor, the worker will have nothing to defend either. The liberation of Latin America's oppressed masses is an indispensable part of the organizational process capable of resisting the omnipotent advance of Yankee imperialism. As in 1929 approached, the Congress Anti-Imperialist had its was lost adherents and party major agrarian trying to increase itsmembership among peasant and worker organizations. Between 1926 and 1929, theMexican and Argentine in a sections engaged The creation of Latin the American Secretariat and, later, the power struggle. Bureau Caribbean resulted not only in a necessary continental division of the Comintern's work but also in tensions between North and South. (Delegate Contreras's previously mentioned attack on Humbert-Droz during theComintern's Sixth Congress is an example.) The authority conferred on theArgentine section immigrant communist circles was to some extent off by its tieswith European set by the Mexican section's intermittent links with the U.S. chapter. The Communist national components and mobility of the Comintern's European and U.S. the second World

Mexican

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ANTI-IMPERIALIST LEAGUE OF THE AMERICAS Melgar / cadres reinforced

21

North American

division of Latin America. and this geographical European tendencies trends lefta deep imprint on continental communism. were fostered InArgentina, European leanings by immigrant sectors that formed own national their Armenian, Russian, Lithuanian, groupings?Italian, in etc.?and Czechoslovakian, Yugoslavian, published Hungarian, Bulgarian, their own the Comintern languages. When movement and revolutionary denied the particularities of the Latin the Latin American of development and political tensions surrounding these issues

American Marxist
increased.

theory, the theoretical

the continental anti-imperialist Secretariat conceived The Latin American a nationalist, Latin Americanist as stance rooted in the intellectual and project and semicolonial that precluded America col of colonial political vanguards

laboration with the U.S. vanguard. The Comintern's Orientalizing perspective ran counter to the emerging political culture of the Latin American left. In any and the Latin American case, there was little concurrence between the LADLA

branches.

the LADLA and its own national or, for that matter, between and revolutionary phrasebook, The semantics of the anti-imperialist arose from traditions, were not conducive popular along with the tactics that to the reception of imposed Orientalizing prescriptions. Generally speaking, were absorbed the concepts of imperialism and the anti-imperialist struggle Latin American left,but they did not resolve the by the political culture of the of national versus of nationalism, dilemmas revolution, and anti-imperialism, Secretariat continental reality, or of semicolonialism and colonialism.

NOTES
1. This is the more striking when one considers that the Lenin text chosen forces with against by said Stalin He library was

The State and Revolution 2. Grigory Zinoviev, death and then switched power 3. Nikolai in 1927 and was Bukharin, the New

(1921). the Comintern's sides executed Bolshevik in 1925, in 1936. leader

first president, joining and Trotsky's Stalin's

joined battle

after Lenin's lost political

Stalin.

designed 4. Venezuela

was later ousted Policy. He Libre described itself as a "Latin American Economic

in a special A note published anti-imperialist agenda. the U.S. LADLA had three branches: section, led by Manuel Rafael Carrillo, and the Cuban section, led by Julio A. Mella. 5. Am?rica Pavletich such 6. "To believe things happen and Orient Occident and mony, Dominance. Libre was an "American were was and Luis R Bustamante that the Orient as a necessity

the 1924-1928 ally during period, in 1938. by Stalin and executed an revolutionary organ" with explicitly 14 to 18) points out that edition (numbers G?mez, the Mexican Peruvian section, exiles led by Esteban that

main

revolutionary magazine." its contributors. among as I call

created?or,

it, 'Orientalized'?and The

to believe

is a relationship is quite accurately indicated The Orient was Orientalized commonplace is, submitted

is disingenuous. of the imagination of power, of domination, of various in the title of K. M. not only because by the average Pannikar's itwas

between relationship of degrees complex hege classic Asia and Western to be 'Oriental' in all

discovered

considered those ways it could be?that because

7. In a letter sent from Berkeley, editor of Repertorio Americano, Monge, He adds: "We Costa Ricans talked home"

to being?made the Costa Rican about

but also nineteenth-century European Oriental" (Said, 1979: 5-6). Cazorla tells Joaqu?n Garc?a Jorge Orozco

about

of the Chinese movement. John Dewey's witnessing it a lot, and made could be done at plans about what

1919: n.p.). (Cazorla, Imistakenly 8. "Goldschmidt, the Jewish professor of political economy from Buenos brought ... became intellectual faction" (Vasconcelos, 1968: 204). Aires the brains behind a communist

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22

LATINAMERICAN PERSPECTIVES
9.While 10. The in Europe, Haya de la Torre sent the LADLA members met two articles Portal and about Abd Seraf?n el-Krim's rebellion

(Haya de laTorre,1925:16; 1926: 6).


Peruvian exiles day say of Marof: "One he

and APRA

Magda

del Mar during imperialism. Juan Greco,

protest factory workers' 11. "El Libertador is not Fabela, Palacios, Ingenieros, Vasconcelos,

unexpectedly . .. abuses against

Jos? Delteil inMorocco/' against North

in Montmartre American

(1926: n.p.) a Parisian

the first magazine

Ugarte, Pereyra, and books

Roig-Leichsering, Blanco-Fombona,

Henriquez-Carvajal, and many others its stance put

against Yankee El Libertador voice

Vila, Vargas have published

magazines

approach, (1925: 1). a 12. Bukharin: "It has been said that the league's a congress was great demonstration, great an This is because there was need to demonstrate; the revolu political manifestation. objective to unite" 1978: 49). (Comintern, tionary forces felt the need

of any it seeks to foster a movement"

imperialism. but seeks their collaboration, or of all intellectuals intellectual,

is different

from their stance. than take a personal

It is not

the

together. Rather

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