Redeeming the Revolution


Redeeming the Revolution

The State and Organized Labor in Post-Tlatelolco Mexico

Joseph U. Lenti

The Mexican Experience Series

402 pages
23 photographs, 1 table, index


August 2017


$70.00 Add to Cart

August 2017


$35.00 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)

August 2017


$35.00 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)

August 2017


$35.00 Add to Cart

About the Book

A tale of sin and redemption, Joseph U. Lenti’s Redeeming the Revolution demonstrates how the killing of hundreds of student protestors in Mexico City’s Tlatelolco district on October 2–3, 1968, sparked a crisis of legitimacy that moved Mexican political leaders to reestablish their revolutionary credentials with the working class, a sector only tangentially connected to the bloodbath. State-allied labor groups hence became darlings of public policy in the post-Tlatelolco period, and with the implementation of the New Federal Labor Law of 1970, the historical symbiotic relationship of the government and organized labor was restored.

Renewing old bonds with trusted allies such as the Confederation of Mexican Workers bore fruit for the regime, yet the road to redemption was fraught with peril during this era of Cold War and class contestation. While Luis Echeverría, Fidel Velázquez, and other officials appeased union brass with discourses of revolutionary populism and policies that challenged business leaders, conflicts emerged, and repression ensued when rank-and-file workers criticized the chasm between rhetoric and reality and tested their leaders’ limits of toleration. 

Author Bio

Joseph U. Lenti is an assistant professor of Latin American history at Eastern Washington University.


"Lenti's account illustrates the selectivity of labor-friendly legislation by showing how patriarchal ideas structure who is seen as a unionized worker or as a breadwinner. Redeeming the Revolution therefore makes visible the gendered divisions among unionized workers."—Alejandra Gonzalez-Jimenez, Latin American Research Review

"Lenti's study makes important contributions to labor studies and post-1940 Mexican history in anticipation of the fiftieth anniversary of the Tlatelolco massacre."—Alexander Aviña, Journal of Interdisciplinary History

“An important new book that every Mexican historian should read. Joseph Lenti has delved deeply into the archives to document the vitality of the Mexican labor movement for much of the twentieth century [as well as] its weaknesses.”—John Mason Hart, John and Rebecca Moores Distinguished Professor of History at the University of Houston and author of Empire and Revolution: The Americans in Mexico since the Civil War

“Pathbreaking. Joseph Lenti challenges previous interpretations of Mexican authoritarianism and suggests a multiplicity of ways that workers negotiated their relationship with the state and shaped the course of modern Mexican history. Redeeming the Revolution will help students of Mexican politics and labor history rethink prior assumptions.”—Gregory S. Crider, professor and chair of the Department of History at Winthrop University

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
List of Abbreviations
Introduction: A Revolution to Redeem the Nation
1. Tlatelolco!: The Need for Revolutionary Redemption
2. On the Redeemer’s Trail: Luis Echeverría and the Campaign of the Revolution
3. “The Government of the Republic Thus Pays Its Debt”: “Mexicanizing” the National Patrimony
4. Restoring the Revolutionary Corpus: Unity, Class, and Paternalism in Tripartite Relations
5. “Años de Huelga”: Business and State-Organized Labor Conflict in Monterrey, 1973–74
6. “The False Redemption of May 1”: Testing the State’s Alleged Preference for Organized Labor
7. “Beautiful Little Compañeras” and “Shameful Spectacles”: Gender Complementarity in the Workers’ Movement
8. “Yes This Fist Is Felt!”: The Independentista Challenge and Repression
9. “The Mexican [Redeemer] Never Asks for Forgiveness!”: Sectoral Friction in the Late Echeverría Presidency
Conclusion: The Revolution Redeemed (But for Whom?)
Epilogue: Death and Resurrection

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