Ricardo Flores Magón

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Ricardo Flores Magón
Born(1874-09-16)September 16, 1874
DiedNovember 21, 1922(1922-11-21) (aged 48)
  • Journalist
  • Activist
  • Revolutionary
  • Theorist
Known forInvolvement in the Mexican Revolution and introducing anarchism to Mexico

Cipriano Ricardo Flores Magón, (Spanish pronunciation:  [riˈkaɾðo ˈfloɾes maˈɣon] , known as Ricardo Flores Magón; September 16, 1874 – November 21, 1922) was a noted Mexican anarchist and social reform activist. [1] His brothers Enrique and Jesús were also active in politics. Followers of the Magón brothers were known as Magonistas. He has been considered an important participant in the social movement that sparked the Mexican Revolution. [2]

Enrique Flores Magón Mexican journalist and politician

Enrique Flores Magón was a Mexican journalist and politician, associated with the Mexican Liberal Party and anarchism. His name is most frequently linked with that of his elder brother, Ricardo Flores Magón, and the political philosophy they espoused, magonismo. Another brother was Jesús Flores Magón.

Jesús Flores Magón Mexican politician

Gaspar Jesús Melchor Flores Magón was a Mexican politician, journalist, and jurist. The more moderate middle brother of Ricardo and Enrique Flores Magón, he served in the cabinet of Francisco I. Madero.

Magonism is an anarchist, or more precisely anarcho-communist, school of thought precursor of the Mexican Revolution of 1910. It is mainly based on the ideas of Ricardo Flores Magón, his brothers Enrique and Jesús, and also other collaborators of the Mexican newspaper Regeneración, as Práxedis Guerrero, Librado Rivera and Anselmo L. Figueroa.



Brothers Ricardo (left) and Enrique Flores Magon (right) at the Los Angeles County Jail, 1917. Ricardo and Enrique Flores Magon.jpg
Brothers Ricardo (left) and Enrique Flores Magón (right) at the Los Angeles County Jail, 1917.

Ricardo was born on 16 September 1874, in San Antonio Eloxochitlán, Oaxaca, an indigenous Mazatec community. His father, Teodoro Flores, was a Zapotec Indian and his mother, Margarita Magón was a Mestiza. [3] The couple met each other in 1863 during the Siege of Puebla when both were carrying munitions to the Mexican troops. [4]

Oaxaca State of Mexico

Oaxaca, officially the Free and Sovereign State of Oaxaca, is one of the 31 states which, along with Mexico City, make up the 32 federative entities of Mexico. It is divided into 570 municipalities, of which 418 are governed by the system of usos y costumbres with recognized local forms of self-governance. Its capital city is Oaxaca de Juárez.

Zapotec peoples ethnic group

The Zapotecs are an indigenous people of Mexico. The population is concentrated in the southern state of Oaxaca, but Zapotec communities also exist in neighboring states. The present-day population is estimated at approximately 800,000 to 1,000,000 persons, many of whom are monolingual in one of the native Zapotec languages and dialects. In pre-Columbian times, the Zapotec civilization was one of the highly developed cultures of Mesoamerica, which, among other things, included a system of writing. Many people of Zapotec ancestry have emigrated to the United States over several decades, and they maintain their own social organizations in the Los Angeles and Central Valley areas of California.

Mestizo Term to denote a person with European and Native American blood

Mestizo is a term traditionally used in Spain, Latin America and the Philippines that originally referred to a person of combined European and Indigenous American descent, regardless of where the person was born. The term was used as an ethnic/racial category in the casta system that was in use during the Spanish Empire's control of its American and Asian colonies.

Magón explored the writings and ideas of many early anarchists, such as Mikhail Bakunin and Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, but was also influenced by anarchist contemporaries Élisée Reclus, Charles Malato, Errico Malatesta, Anselmo Lorenzo, Emma Goldman, and Fernando Tarrida del Mármol. He was most influenced by Peter Kropotkin. He also read from the works of Karl Marx and Henrik Ibsen. [5]

Mikhail Bakunin Russian revolutionary, philosopher, and theorist of collectivist anarchism

Mikhail Alexandrovich Bakunin was a Russian revolutionary anarchist and founder of collectivist anarchism. He is considered among the most influential figures of anarchism and one of the principal founders of the social anarchist tradition. Bakunin's enormous prestige as an activist made him one of the most famous ideologues in Europe, gaining substantial influence amongst radicals throughout Russia and Europe.

Pierre-Joseph Proudhon French politician, mutualist philosopher, economist, and socialist

Pierre-Joseph Proudhon was a French politician and the founder of mutualist philosophy. He was the first person to declare himself an anarchist, using that term and is widely regarded as one of the ideology's most influential theorists. Proudhon is even considered by many to be the "father of anarchism". He became a member of the French Parliament after the Revolution of 1848, whereafter he referred to himself as a federalist.

Élisée Reclus French geographer and writer

Jacques Élisée Reclus was a renowned French geographer, writer and anarchist. He produced his 19-volume masterwork, La Nouvelle Géographie universelle, la terre et les hommes, over a period of nearly 20 years (1875–1894). In 1892 he was awarded the Gold Medal of the Paris Geographical Society for this work, despite having been banished from France because of his political activism.

He was one of the major thinkers of the Mexican Revolution and the Mexican revolutionary movement in the Partido Liberal Mexicano. Flores Magón organised with the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) and edited the Mexican anarchist newspaper Regeneración , which aroused the workers against the dictatorship of Porfirio Díaz. [6]

Mexican Revolution major nationwide armed struggle in Mexico between 1910 and 1920

The Mexican Revolution, also known as the Mexican Civil War, was a major armed struggle, lasting roughly from 1910 to 1920, that transformed Mexican culture and government. Although recent research has focused on local and regional aspects of the Revolution, it was a genuinely national revolution. Its outbreak in 1910 resulted from the failure of the 31-year-long regime of Porfirio Díaz to find a managed solution to the presidential succession. This meant there was a political crisis among competing elites and the opportunity for agrarian insurrection. Wealthy landowner Francisco I. Madero challenged Díaz in the 1910 presidential election, and following the rigged results, revolted under the Plan of San Luis Potosí. Armed conflict ousted Díaz from power; a new election was held in 1911, bringing Madero to the presidency.

Industrial Workers of the World International labor union

The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), members of which are commonly termed "Wobblies", is an international labor union that was founded in 1905 in Chicago, Illinois, in the United States. The union combines general unionism with industrial unionism, as it is a general union whose members are further organized within the industry of their employment. The philosophy and tactics of the IWW are described as "revolutionary industrial unionism", with ties to both socialist and anarchist labor movements.


Regeneración was a Mexican anarchist newspaper that functioned as the official organ of the Mexican Liberal Party. Founded by the Flores Magón brothers in 1900, it was forced to move to the United States in 1905. Jesús Flores Magón published the paper, while his brothers Ricardo and Enrique contributed articles. The Spanish edition of Regeneración was edited by Ricardo, and the English version by W. C. Owen and Alfred G. Santleben.

Kropotkin's The Conquest of Bread , which Flores Magón considered a kind of anarchist bible, served as basis for the short-lived revolutionary communes in Baja California during the "Magonista" Revolt of 1911.

<i>The Conquest of Bread</i> Book by Peter Kropotkin

The Conquest of Bread is an 1892 book by the Russian anarcho-communist Peter Kropotkin. Originally written in French, it first appeared as a series of articles in the anarchist journal Le Révolté. It was first published in Paris with a preface by Élisée Reclus, who also suggested the title. Between 1892 and 1894, it was serialized in part in the London journal Freedom, of which Kropotkin was a co-founder. In the work, Kropotkin points out what he considers to be the defects of the economic systems of feudalism and capitalism and why he believes they thrive on and maintain poverty and scarcity. He goes on to propose a more decentralized economic system based on mutual aid and voluntary cooperation, asserting that the tendencies for this kind of organization already exist, both in evolution and in human society.

Baja California Federal entity in Mexico

Baja California, officially the Free and Sovereign State of Baja California, is a state in Mexico. It is the northernmost and westernmost of the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. Before becoming a state in 1952, the area was known as the North Territory of Baja California. It has an area of 70,113 km2 (27,071 sq mi), or 3.57% of the land mass of Mexico and comprises the northern half of the Baja California Peninsula, north of the 28th parallel, plus oceanic Guadalupe Island. The mainland portion of the state is bordered on the west by the Pacific Ocean, on the east by Sonora, the U.S. state of Arizona, and the Gulf of California, and on the south by Baja California Sur. Its northern limit is the U.S. state of California.

Magonista rebellion of 1911

The Magonista Rebellion of 1911 was an early uprising of the Mexican Revolution organized by the Liberal Party of Mexico, which was only successful in northern Baja California. It is named after Ricardo Flores Magón, one of the leaders of the PLM. The Magonistas controlled Tijuana and Mexicali for about six months, beginning with the "liberation" of Mexicali on January 29, 1911. The rebellion was launched against the rule of Porfirio Díaz but was put down by forces loyal to Francisco I. Madero. Acting on a tip from Madero's agents, leaders of the Magonista movement were arrested in the United States.

The Magón brothers were from a family of modest means in Oaxaca and all three studied law at the Escuela Nacional de Jurisprudencia (today Faculty of Law of the UNAM). [7] Ricardo initially attended the Escuela Nacional Preparatoria. During this time, he participated in student opposition to President Porfirio Diaz and he was jailed for five months. Nevertheless, he graduated and then transferred to the National School of Law. While there, he worked as a proofreader for the student newspaper El Demócrata and narrowly escaped arrest when the entire staff was arrested by the police. He was in hiding for three months but continued his studies and received his law degree in 1895 and passed the examination of the Barra Mexicana-Colegio de Abogados (Mexican Bar and Advocate's College). [8] He practiced law for a short time and continued to study for a higher degree but was expelled from the school in 1898 because of his political activities. In 1900, he and his brother Jesús founded the newspaper El Regeneración in which Ricardo wrote numerous articles attacking Diaz. He also wrote articles for the opposition periodicals Excelsior, La República Mexicana, and El Hijo del Ahuizote. He joined the PLM in 1900. [8]

Flight to the United States

In 1904, Magón fled Mexico when the courts banned the printing of his writings and he remained in the United States for the remainder of his life. Half this period was spent in prison. He resumed publication of Regeneración and led the Partido Liberal Mexicano (PLM) (Mexican Liberal Party) from abroad. In 1906, he went to California. Around this time PLM uprisings occurred in Mexico which were crushed by the Mexican government. The US sympathized with the Mexican government and started taking PLM leaders in the US into custody. Magón was fearful that he would be caught and be returned to Mexico, where he faced the possibility of execution.

In 1907, an American detective by the name of Thomas Furlong [Note 1] was employed by Enrique Creel, at that time governor of Chihuahua, to locate Mexican dissidents in the U.S. The American headquarters of the PLM was in St. Louis at that time. There were a large number of expatriates who knew of its whereabouts and as a result, Furlong had no difficulty locating the dissidents in the city. Magón, however, was living in great secrecy in Los Angeles. He used a pseudonym, and only two other persons in the city knew his real identity. If they needed to see him, they did so between midnight and dawn. [9] The dissidents in St. Louis soon became aware that they were being sought by agents working for the Mexican government. Librado Rivera left the city in order to evade capture and although he was constantly on alert for agents who might be shadowing him, he failed to elude them. He was followed to Los Angeles and to Magón's place of residence. Furlong kept the house under surveillance for some time. Finally, on August 23, 1907, Magón, Rivera and Antonio Villarreal were taken into custody by Furlong, two of his assistants and some officers from the Los Angeles police department. [9]

Magón and other PLM members had organized a brigade of revolutionaries in Douglas, Arizona in the years preceding his move to Los Angeles. An expedition was sent to the Cananea copper mines about thirty miles from the southern border of Arizona with the alleged intention of exterminating all Americans employed in and about the mines. The brigade had been pursued by the Arizona Rangers who put them to flight, capturing a few of them. Magón and his companions were extradited to Tombstone, Arizona where they were charged with violating U.S. neutrality laws. Although the American and Mexican left rallied to their defense, they were convicted and sentenced to eighteen months in Yuma Territorial Prison, later being transferred to Arizona State Prison Complex – Florence. [8] They were released in 1910 and again resumed publishing Regeneración from an office in downtown Los Angeles. The Mexican civil war began that same year, and the Magonistas, as the PLM forces were known, were involved in combat throughout Mexico, along with the forces of Pancho Villa, Emiliano Zapata and Venustiano Carranza and Francisco I. Madero. [10]

By May 1911, Diaz was defeated. Madero organized an election, which he won by deceiving the Mexican electorate into believing that he had joined forces with the PLM. [8] Magón continued to oppose the vast American economic presence in Mexico, and Madero's continuing expropriation of peasant lands. He was arrested again. After two years in prison in Washington state, he was released and settled with brother Enrique in Edendale, just north of the Silver Lake Reservoir. The PLM had no funds by this time, and the brothers and their friends farmed and raised chickens on the rented plot of land. He continued publishing Regeneración and making speeches in the region. He was again arrested in 1916, accused of sending "indecent materials" through the U.S. Mail. With the help of Emma Goldman, he made bail. In 1918, he published an anti-war manifesto. In this he wrote, "The death of the old order is at hand. It is being whispered in the bars, theatres, streetcars and homes, especially in our homes, the homes of those at the bottom." For these writings, he was charged with sedition under the Espionage Act of 1917, convicted and sentenced to twenty years for "obstructing the war effort", a violation of the Espionage Act of 1917. [11] The Wilson administration conducted what were called the Palmer Raids, a wholesale crackdown on war dissidents and leftists that also swept up notable socialists such as Eugene V. Debs. Magón died at Leavenworth Penitentiary in Kansas. [2] He had been suffering from diabetes for many years and was losing his eyesight by the time of his death. [12]

The cause of Flores Magón's death has been disputed. Some believe that he was deliberately murdered by prison guards. Others contend that he died as a result of deteriorating health caused by his long imprisonment, possibly exacerbated by medical neglect by Leavenworth Penitentiary officials and staff. Magón wrote several letters to friends complaining of debilitating health problems and of what he perceived to be purposeful neglect by the prison staff. [13]

The Mexican Chamber of Deputies adopted a resolution requesting the repatriation of Magón's body. It stated,

The undersigned Deputies, animated by the desire of rendering posthumous homage to the grand Mexican revolutionary, Ricardo Flores Magón, martyr and apostle of libertarian ideas, who has just died poor and blind in the cell of a Yankee prison, propose that this honorable Assembly pass the following resolution: That there be brought to rest in the soil of his native land, at the expense of the Mexican Government, the mortal remains of Ricardo Flores Magón. We request that this be acted upon immediately without reference to committee. (Signed) Julian S. Gonzalez, Antonio G. Rivera, E. Baron Obregon, J. M. Alvarez Del Castillo, A. Diaz So'ro Y Gama, and others

Hall of the Mexican Congress, Mexico, D.F., November 22, 1922 [14]

The U.S. authorities denied the request and Magón was buried in Los Angeles. His remains were finally repatriated in 1945 and interred at the Rotunda of Illustrious Persons in Mexico City. [8]


Flores Magón's movement fired the imagination of both American and Mexican anarchists. In 1945, his remains were repatriated to Mexico and were interred in the Rotonda de los Hombres Ilustres in Mexico City. [2] In Mexico, the Flores Magón brothers are considered left-wing political icons nearly as notable as Emiliano Zapata; numerous streets, public schools, towns and neighborhoods are named after them.

In 1991, Douglas Day published The Prison Notebooks of Ricardo Flores Magón , a fictional diary covering Flores Magon's life from his birth in Oaxaca until his mysterious death in his cell at Leavenworth. [15]

In 1997, an organization of indigenous peoples of Mexico in the state of Oaxaca formed the Popular Indigenous Council of Oaxaca "Ricardo Flores Magón" (Consejo Indígena Popular de Oaxaca "Ricardo Flores Magón", or CIPO-RFM), based on the philosophy of Magón. [16]

See also


  1. "Late Chief of the Secret Service of the Missouri Pacific Railway, known as the Gould System; The Allegheny Valley Railway of Pennsylvania and first Chief of Police of Oil City, PA"

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El Hijo del Ahuizote newspaper

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  1. INAFED. "Teotitlán de Flores Magón". Enciclopedia de los Municipios de México. Archived from the original on 2007-05-29. Retrieved 2008-10-24.. However, he is invariably known to posterity as "Ricardo".
  2. 1 2 3 Lee Stacy (2002) Mexico And The United States pp. 329-30, Marshall Cavendish, ISBN   978-0761474029
  3. Poole, David, ed. (1977). Land and Liberty: Anarchist Influences in the Mexican Revolution. Black Rose Books. p. 5. ISBN   978-0-919618-30-5.
  4. Flores Magón; Chaz Bufe, Ricardo; Mitchell Cowen Verter, eds. (2005). Dreams of Freedom: A Ricardo Flores Magón Reader. Stirling: AK Press. p. 339. ISBN   978-1-904859-24-6.
  5. Stephen P. Reyna, R. E. Downs. (1999) Deadly Developments: Capitalism, States and War p. 101, Taylor & Francis Group, ISBN   978-9056995898
  6. MacLachlan, Colin (1991). Anarchism and the Mexican Revolution: The Political Trials of Ricardo Flores Magón in the United States. University of California Press. ISBN   978-0-520-07117-9.
  7. John Mason Hart (1987) Revolutionary Mexico: The Coming and Process of the Mexican Revolution, University of California Press ISBN 0-520-05995--6
  8. 1 2 3 4 5 "Ricardo Flores Magón", Dictionary of Hispanic Biography (1996), Gale, Detroit
  9. 1 2 Thomas Furlong (1912) Fifty Years a Detective, C.E. Barnett, St. Louis, Missouri
  10. Clayton, Lawrence A.; Conniff, Michael L. (2005) A History of Modern Latin America pp. 285–286, Wadsworth Publishing ISBN   0-534-62158-9
  11. "Son of Anarchy" (Dec 2013) Los Angeles magazine
  12. "Death of Ricardo Flores Magón" (December 1922) Freedom Vol.XXXVI No.402 p.82
  13. Rivera, Librado (1922-11-25). "Letter to Raúl Palma" . Retrieved 2007-11-30.
  14. "Mexico's Martyr" (December 18, 1922) The Nation Vol.CV No.2998 p 702
  15. Douglas Day (1991) The Prison Notebooks of Ricardo Flores Magón, Harcourt, ISBN   978-0151745982
  16. Kolhatkar, Sonali (2005-12-02). "An Interview with Raúl Gatica". Z Magazine Online. ZNET. Archived from the original on 2007-11-09.

Further reading