Al Grito de Guerra: the Second Mexican Revolution

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by Roberto El Rey, Jan 1, 2019.

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  1. Roberto El Rey Minister-Chairman of the Chief Directive Executive

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2017
    Location:
    Tukhachevskiburg, Bavarian SSR
    AlGrito.png
    Well, well, well. Would ya look who it is.

    Oh, God, not you again.

    I could say the same to you, Mister Started-a-timeline-and-then-ended-it-within-twenty-four-hours! What country are you the "Rey" of? Quittersland?

    Well, you know what? I'm not a quitter, because I'm bringing it back right now.

    Oh, yeah, that's definitely going to last. Why even bother, anyway? You said you didn't feel confident writing this story last week, when you unceremoniously had a mod lock the original thread after less than a day.

    It's not that I don't feel confident telling the story at all, it's just that I don't think my writing skills are up to the task of doing a whole timeline in novelistic form. Besides, I had already put so much time and research into this idea that I couldn't just throw it all out. So I'm restarting it, but instead of making it a narrative work like I was originally going to do, I'm doing a wikibox timeline instead!

    A wikibox timeline?

    Yeah, in the style of No Southern Strategy by Nofix and Gonzo, and A True October Surprise by lord caedus. (Go and read both of those timelines, by the way. They're incredible!)

    I just might. It'll certainly be better than this.

    I beg to differ! Most of the entries on here won't be written like a novel, they'll just be encyclopedic overviews of events supplemented by top-notch wikiboxes courtesy of yours truly.

    So every update on here is just going to be a dry, objective summary?

    Well, I'll probably throw in a few narrative pieces here and there, just because I like writing them.

    That might just make it marginally tolerable.

    Awww, that's the nicest thing you've ever said to me!

    Hey, I said it might make it marginally tolerable. Don't get any illusions.

    (sheepishly) Yes, master.

    Is it just going to cover Mexico?

    Initially, yes, but after the main thrust of events there is over I'll expand the focus to the rest of the world, à la NSS. I hope to make this into an interesting case study of the weird ways the butterfly effect can influence events on the other side of the world in completely unexpected ways!

    If you even get that far. Lots of luck, and don't quit this time.

    I'll do my best!

    • Opening Mexico: The Making of a Democracy by Julia Preston and Sam Dillon. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2004
    • "The Mexican Foreign Debt and the Sexennial Transition from López Portillo to De la Madrid" by Henry C. Schmidt. Estudios Mexicanos, Vol. 1, No. 2, Summer 1985.
    • "A Gendered Economic History of Rural Households: Calvillo, Aguascalientes, Mexico, 1982-1991" by María de los Angeles Crummett, 2001
    • "The Mexican Oil Boom: 1977 to 1985" by Michael Gavin. Inter-American Development Bank, 1996
    • The Oil Market in the 1980s: A Decade of Decline, edited by Siamack Shojai and Bernard S. Katz. Praeger, 1992
    • "The Political Constraints on Economic Policy in Post-1982 Mexico: The Case of Pemex" by George Philip. Bulletin of Latin American Research, Vol. 18, No. 1, January 1999.
    • "Mexico at a Crossroads: The 1988 Election and Beyond" by Andrew Reding. World Policy Journal, Vol. 5, No. 4, Fall 1988.
    • "Measuring Legitimacy in Mexico: An Analysis of Public Opinion during the 1988 Presidential Campaign" by Franz A. von Sauer. Estudios Mexicanos, Vol. 8, No. 2, Summer 1992
    • "Rebellion in Chiapas: Rural Reforms, Campesino Radicalism, and the End of Salinismo" by Neil Harvey. Transformation of Rural Mexico, No. 5, published in 1994 by the University of Southern California at San Diego.
    • "The Chiapas Uprising" by Luis Hernández Navarro. Transformation of Rural Mexico, No. 5, published in 1994 by the University of Southern California at San Diego.
    • "Indigenous Autonomy and Power in Chiapas: Lessons from Mobilization in Juchitán" by Jeffrey W. Rubin. Transformation of Rural Mexico, No. 5, published in 1994 by the University of Southern California at San Diego.
    • "The Politics of Labor Legislation Reform in Mexico" by Viviana Patroni. Capital and Class, Vol. 20, No. 65, Summer 1998.
    • "Decentering the Regime: Culture and Regional Politics in Mexico" by Jeffrey W. Rubin. Latin American Research Review, Vol. 31 Issue 3, 1996.
    • Statistical Yearbook 1988, General Planning Directorate of the National Autonomous University of Mexico, 1988.
    • "Human Rights in Mexico: A Policy of Impunity" by Ellen L. Lutz, published by Americas Watch in June 1990.
    • "Learning the Limits of Power: Privatization and State-Labor Interactions in Mexico" by Mark Eric Williams. Latin American Politics and Society, Vol. 43, No. 4, Winter 2001.
    • AJG Simoes, CA Hidalgo. The Economic Complexity Observatory: An Analytical Tool for Understanding the Dynamics of Economic Development. Workshops at the Twenty-Fifth AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence. (2011)
    • The Chiapas Rebellion: The Struggle for Land and Democracy by Neil Harvey. Duke University Press, 1998.
    • "Blood on the Corn, Pts. I, II and III" by Chuck Bowden and Molly Molloy, published by Medium on November 17, 2017
     
    Last edited: May 10, 2019
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  2. Threadmarks: POD: Assassination of Celeste Batel

    Roberto El Rey Minister-Chairman of the Chief Directive Executive

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Tukhachevskiburg, Bavarian SSR
    Note: This was the first post on my original thread. I'm reproducing it here because I already have it pre-written, but the rest of the updates will have a different tone.
    July 2, 1988
    Mexico City

    A great city is never silent.

    Of course, no city is ever silent in the literal sense. No matter the hour, engines groan in Xianjiang, dogs bark in Kananga and pistons pound in Magnitogorsk. But beneath the cursory activities of their inhabitants, those cities are lifeless. Blinded by smoke and smog, choked by soot and ash and drowned out by screams and cries, a lifeless city has no rhythm and no soul. Its every inch is caked in mud that dulls its native shine, its residents share nothing but the dirt and grit and grime. And on those vibrant nights when a great city flaunts its feathers and dances to its own music, a lifeless city is silent, too stifled by the taste of its own atmosphere to make a single sound.

    This was a great city. Just as a city of gold is pure to the smallest speck, Mexico City expressed its vivid history in every brick and riverbed. Any errant cobble might have once been trod by Cortés or Moctezuma; every transient fleck of dust carried within it seven centuries of struggle and solidarity. Every structure was a story, from the frailest hovel to the grandest palace. Every street was an open book, a folk anthology of secrets and sagas that a longtime inhabitant could read as easily as Nervo or Cervantes. And from every crack in age-old asphalt, through every alleyway and mountain pass, there wafted a melody: the music of Mexico, the music of a people who, for countless generations, had felled tyrant after tyrant with the blood in their hearts and the resilience in their arms.

    Never in her life had Celeste had much trouble making out the music as it echoed off the stony edifices of Mexico City. But as she leaned forward to adjust her position in the leather cushion of the passenger seat, she suspected that the battered Toyota’s air conditioning system wasn’t the only thing deafening her to the national mood.

    Scanning the adjacent building through the corner of her eye, she encountered the face of her husband leering down at her from a poster through the unwelcoming orange glow of a streetlamp. It did not blink and, though the corners of its lips were turned upward, it certainly did not smile. Ever since Cuauhtémoc had announced his presidential candidacy the previous year, Televisa had practically made a weekly segment out of mocking his ever-present grimace. Still, after twenty-five years of marriage Celeste had thought she knew every hidden route and secret passage to the pensive smile he always carried with him just beneath his skin.

    But the campaign was changing him. As months of constant abuse from the establishment to which he’d devoted his life took its toll, the hidden grin receded deeper and deeper until some nights, she couldn’t find it anywhere, no matter how long or how desperately she searched. And with him gone so often for interviews or speaking tours, many nights she had no one to cure her loneliness but that ever-present image. It was a ghost, a perverse contortion of the real Cuauhtémoc. The real Cuauhtémoc frowned outwardly but smiled inwardly; this feeble cameo that could be found on every street corner smiled outwardly, but inwardly could think of nothing but how tired he was, and how it dismayed him that the system his father had built and held together with his own two hands was devouring its children. Every time she looked upon that weary shadow of her husband and sensed the exhaustion in his eyes, Celeste felt warm tears gathering behind her own as she felt one more piece of her heart drop away. She inwardly prayed that Cuauhtémoc would lose the election, just so that he might be spared from six years of administrative agony.

    She knew that it was selfish of her to entertain such wishes. For the first time in six decades, the Mexican people had a genuine chance to cast off the authoritarian class that ruled them. If they chose him, it was Cuauhtémoc’s national duty to serve as the first opposition President in living memory. But Celeste couldn’t help but ask whether it would be so terrible for the system to survive for just a few years longer so that the most kind-hearted and conscientious man she’d ever known could escape the mental ravages of the most stressful office a Mexican could ever fulfill.

    She couldn’t tell with any certainty how Wednesday’s election would go. It seemed that for every peasant farmer she’d met who supported Cárdenas’s call for a return to the deepest roots of the Revolution, she’d encountered a zealot whose allegiance to the ruling regime was stronger than his allegiance to God, to Mexico or to his own mother. The previous months had been a dramatic crescendo, a dizzying upward spiral of violins and trombones and drumbeats all building toward…something. But what exactly? How would the 1988 Overture conclude—with the crashing of drums and the triumphant jubilation of trumpets, or with the collapse of so much outward momentum into the typical monotony of history? Celeste strained her ears listening for any hidden clues within the elaborate harmony that might deliver the answer.

    She, Francisco, and Román had been anxiously discussing this subject an hour earlier when the dullish grey Toyota had blown a tire. [1] None of them were familiar with this neighborhood, so Celeste had stayed behind to watch the car while the other two went out looking for a repair shop. Her diversionary reflections on Mexican history complete, she began to worriedly wonder how much longer she would have to wait beside the poorly-lit street before her companions returned from their automotive odyssey. The sight of a figure walking directly toward the car so relieved her that she barely had time to realize that it was neither that of Francisco nor that of Román. This realization, in turn, so confused her that she did not have any time at all to realize what sort of object the figure was pointing at her head. When Francisco and Román returned eighteen minutes later with a spare jack and a fresh tire, there was no figure, no object, and no Celeste. There was nothing but a body with a once-beautiful face that had been blown to bloody chunks by the superfluous force of five bullets.
    ~

    Three hours later, when Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas opened the front door to his residence to see two uniformed Mexico City beat cops, he was dismayed at the government’s brazenness. To arrest him now, just four days before the election? That was just poor sportsmanship, and a bit low even for the PRI. But he had no opportunity to say as much.

    Señor Cárdenas,” one officer began with a well-concealed edge of indignation, “your wife…she has been shot.”

    Cárdenas had already lost all feeling by the time his body hit the ground.​


    CelesteBatelAssassination.png



    [1] This is our point of divergence. In OTL, Francisco Javier Ovando Hernandez and Román Gil Heraldez (two very high-ranking officials in Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas's campaign for President of Mexico) were both assassinated on this night and in this manner. The most likely perpetrator seems to be the government, but the murder has never been solved. ITTL, Celeste Batel stayed late at the campaign office, asked for a ride home and, because it's dark and she's sitting inside the car, the assassin mistakes her for one of his targets. As a result, she is tragically murdered.
     
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2019
  3. Threadmarks: Part 1: Mexican general election, 1988

    Roberto El Rey Minister-Chairman of the Chief Directive Executive

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2017
    Location:
    Tukhachevskiburg, Bavarian SSR
    The killing of Celeste Batel was an appalling blow to the Mexican people.

    For decades, the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) had maintained its uninterrupted, sixty-year stranglehold over Mexican politics through unsavory methods: rigging elections, buying off voters, intimidating and even occasionally arresting opposition figures. But this was different. Assassinating the wife of a presidential candidate just four days before the election would have been monstrous enough in any case, but Celeste Batel de Cárdenas was royalty. Her late father-in-law was Lázaro Cárdenas, the beloved former President who had nationalized the oil industry, distributed land to the deprived peasants and pioneered the PRI organization. He was universally revered as a hero of Mexican history, and now his son, Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas, was running for President to mop up the excesses of the system his father had created. Cuauhtémoc himself was so adored that older Mexicans burst into tears of joy just by looking at him, and Celeste was practically on par with Jackie Kennedy or Princess Diana as a living symbol of Mexican political history.

    The PRI government, of course, vehemently denied that it had had any part in the killing of Celeste Batel, but practically no one believed it. Claims that Celeste's death had been a botched robbery rather than a political assassination were mooted when it was found that nothing had been stolen from the car [1], and although the state-run media declined to show the gruesome pictures taken of her corpse, the more rebellious journals quickly got hold of them and printed them in full color, horrifying the millions who saw them.

    Up until then, the Presidential race had genuinely seemed up in the air. The very idea of a presidential election of which the result was uncertain would have been unthinkable six years before, because throughout its sixty-year history, the PRI had won every single presidential election in a landslide. But its handpicked nominee for the 1988 election—the owlish, squeaky-voiced, unpopular Budget Secretary Carlos Salinas de Gortari—seemed increasingly likely to lose to the dynastic dauphin Cárdenas. After Celeste's murder, public sympathy for Cárdenas and horror at the PRI's perceived brutality eliminated any chance that the so-called "official party" might eke out a legitimate win. But that didn't mean it would accept defeat. The PRI knew it was heading to a defeat in the polls, but it could still manufacture a victory through its beloved pastime of electoral fraud.

    On polling day, July 6, 1988, PRI operatives resorted to their usual roster of fraudulent tactics: stealing ballot boxes at gunpoint from terrified poll watchers, equipping loyal PRI voters with enough false ID cards to cast five ballots each, and recruiting teams of children to mark thousands of ballots for the PRI. But the opposition had other ideas. Francisco Javier Ovando Hernández, a high-ranking ex-PRI official in Cárdenas's campaign (who owned the car in which Celeste had been brutally slain), had assembled a nationwide federation of independent poll watchers, who reported Cárdenas leading by a shocking margin [2]. Opposition officials had been invited to the offices of the Government Secretariat to witness the results as they flowed into the central computer system; the computer had been rigged to only display the vote tallies from precincts loyal to the PRI, but the system malfunctioned and instead showed Cárdenas with a sizable advantage [3]. When Salinas declared victory the following morning, it was obvious to all that the PRI had once again tried to steal a presidential election, and had done an embarrassingly poor job of it.

    Armed with mountains of evidence, the opposition set out to have Cárdenas recognized as the victor, but they were frustrated at every turn. The PRI had majorities on all of the local vote-tabulating committees, enabling it to certify tainted results and vote down all complaints of fraud. The ballots from the election were eventually transported to the basement of the Palace of San Lázaro, the building in which the federal Congress of the Union was housed; when opposition legislators attempted to gain access to the ballots, they were told that it would be illegal to count them again. Eventually, the "official" results were announced: Salinas had won with 47.7% of the vote, Cárdenas and the Frente Democratico Nacional (the leftist coalition Cárdenas had engineered for his campaign) had come in a distant second with 34.8%, and businessman Manuel Clouthier of the National Action Party (a conservative party that had been the main opposition to the PRI since the 1930s) in third with 16.5%.

    These results were a pack of lies, and no one believed them. The figures gathered by Francisco Ovando's independent poll-watching network indicated that Cárdenas had won with at least 48% of the vote, and that Salinas had barely exceeded 40%. But in the end it didn't matter: the final authority on the results was the lower house of the Congress, the Chamber of Deputies, in which the PRI had managed to engineer for itself a continued majority. The PRI deputies, following the iron law of obedience to the party line, voted to certify the election after a twenty-hour-long debate on September 11, 1988. The man who lost the election had won the presidency; the people had spoken, but their words had been deliberately mistranslated [4].

    MexElection1988 (unspoilered).png
    EventsUnspoilered1.png
    Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas himself was conspicuously silent as all of this went on, having sequestered himself in his home to mourn his beloved wife of twenty-five years. The few people who saw him during this time reported that the man's infamous frown had only grown longer, and that he barely said a word to anyone as he dealt with his grief. As the weeks wore on, Cárdenas's loyal devotees grew increasingly restless for a word from their leader. After the fraudulent results were certified, the Cardenistas' feelings of impotence and anger threatened to spiral into violence and unrest if not properly assuaged. Finally, at the urging of his campaign aides, Cárdenas agreed to make a public address. On September 15, Cárdenas greeted 270,000 angry, volatile supporters in the Zócalo, Mexico City's central square. His words on that day would shape the course of Mexican history...
    __________
    [1] IOTL, when Ovando and Gil were killed, nothing was stolen from the car, leading to the same conclusion that it was not a robbery.
    [2] IOTL, because Ovando was killed, this network of poll watchers did not operate effectively, robbing the opposition of their own reliable account of the vote totals. Here, with Ovando alive, the independent system kicks into action and does its job well.
    [3] As happened OTL. Mexicans call this malfunction of the PRI's fraud mechanisms se cayo el sistema—"the system crashed".
    [4] As essentially happened in OTL—the Chamber of Deputies voted to confirm results that had obviously been tampered with. Miguel de la Madrid, who was President at the time, admitted in 2004 that IOTL, Cárdenas would have won if not for the fraud. And that's without the sympathy factor of his wife being brutally slain just days before.
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2019
  4. Gonzo Grumpy Poujadist Norn Person

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    Even being rigged that's an awful result for the PRI. I guess it all depends how Salinas' term goes and who the PRI nominate in '94.
     
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  5. Roberto El Rey Minister-Chairman of the Chief Directive Executive

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    Tukhachevskiburg, Bavarian SSR
    Even in OTL, Salinas’s rigged result was less than 51%, so officially this is barely a worse result for the PRI.

    And as for the nomination in ‘94, well, let’s just say that certain intervening events will change political circumstances surrounding that election enough to make it thoroughly unpredictable.
     
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  6. CountDVB Dual Emperor of the Aztech and Maychanical Empires

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    As a proud Mexican-American, you have my interest. Please continue.
     
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  7. Roberto El Rey Minister-Chairman of the Chief Directive Executive

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2017
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    Tukhachevskiburg, Bavarian SSR
    I’m so happy to have piqued your intrigue! I’ve gained a huge admiration for Mexican culture and history while researching for this timeline, and I hope to honor that history with the struggle I’m about to portray. The next update should be up tonight with luck.
     
  8. Threadmarks: Part 2: Fountains of Blood speech

    Roberto El Rey Minister-Chairman of the Chief Directive Executive

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    Years later, when asked by Elena Poniatowska during an interview whether he regretted his remarks in the Zócalo on September 15, 1988, Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas merely stated that while his "message was extreme" and his choice of words "perhaps poorly attuned to the moment", the upheavals that resulted from his address were "beneficial in the long term to the social and political development of the Mexican nation”. After all, Cárdenas's initial intention had not been to incite his supporters to violence, but to calm them down. As he gazed upon the central square of Mexico City, the sight of a thousand uniformed police officers reminded him that the authorities would pounce on any pretext to lash out at the people with unspeakable brutality. He knew that he had to restrain his horde of supporters before they gave the government a reason. [1]

    Cárdenas began by drably recapping the myriad ways in which the PRI had spit on democracy in its mad drive to hold on to power. He maintained to his audience that he and his National Democratic Front had won a majority of votes. He called on Salinas to resign as President-elect, but warned his followers not to agitate a government that was simply waiting for an excuse to unleash “a devastating wave of repression”. He tried to maintain a subdued demeanor, but as the speech wore on, those close enough to the podium could sense Cárdenas’s composure deteriorating. Atop the swirling sea of humanity floated a hundred banners displaying the image of his wife under the words Justicia para Celeste. As he gazed upon the banners, Cárdenas’s voice became increasingly choked as her winsome face slowly melted into the mess of blood and brain that had scarred Cárdenas’s retinas in July.

    Of the 270,000 people who stood in that square on that day, enough would endure the upheavals of the subsequent years to provide a reasonably detailed account of at least the next part of the speech. As Cárdenas wound his way around a paragraph decrying the frequent occurrence of murder and low distribution of justice, he struck a phrase that seemed almost to surprise him: “Let the whole weight of the law fall on the murderer of…” [2]

    As he trailed off, the microphones picked up what sounded very much like a sob. Cárdenas’s throat was garroted by sorrow, and for twenty seconds he could not make a sound. Finally, he spoke again: No."

    Fearing that no one had heard him, he raised his voice. "No! NO, NO, NO, NO!" the assembled populace became alarmed and energized by the sudden change of tone.

    "The tyrants, the public thieves, the government terrorists, the goddamned priístas, they don’t want us to agitate the foundation of their power. No matter what we do, they will still oppress us, they will still enslave us, they will still slit the throats of our loved ones and pillage the wealth from our pockets!”

    The assembled throng began to scream in fury as Cárdenas’s tirade continued. “They want us to stand around and mutter about peace and civility. They want us to channel our fears into worthless chatter they can wave away like candle smoke! Did the people of Manila stand around when action was required of them?” he asked, referring to the revolution that had toppled Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos in 1986. “No! They stormed the fortresses of their oppressors and broke the tyrants’ power within a week!”

    Many of the assembled thousands had barely even heard of the Philippines, but the point was clear. Several policemen made a dash to tear the wires out of the sound system, but could not penetrate the fuming, rumbling mass of humanity. “In 1910, when our grandfathers were deprived of their democratic rights, did they simply stand around and curse the name of Díaz?”

    This time, everyone knew which revolution Cárdenas was referencing. “No!” the throng screamed as an unstable whole.

    No!” their leader affirmed. “They took up arms and forced him out by the points of their bayonets! Change has only ever been won in Mexico through the blood of tyrants, and now the tyrants would have us forget that lesson and go about our liberation with words and peace marches! Will we allow ourselves to forget that lesson?”

    It is presumed that most of the crowd shouted “no” at this prompting. By this point, the coherence of the crowd was dissolving. The distraught candidate’s dignified demeanor was degenerating into the hysterical ravings of an aggrieved widower, and his words were being drowned out by individual shouts for revenge and rebellion. Most of the rest of the speech has not been reliably recorded; the last passage upon which all the historians agree is as follows:

    “Mexicans of true democratic conviction, now is your moment to rise up! Reclaim San Lázaro, Chapultepec and the National Palace, for they are the halls of the people and they belong to you! The Institutional Revolutionary Party have betrayed the ideals of the Revolution, and the only way to redeem them is with a new Revolution, one that will only be complete when fountains of blood—fountains of blood—spray from the necks of every priísta in this country!”

    Once that last sentence was uttered, all illusion of control disappeared. The simmering crowd exploded into a riotous cacophony of screaming voices and cracking bones as policemen and protesters went to battle. Within minutes, the seething mob had taken to the streets, leaving agitation and blood in its wake as it barreled toward the most prominent symbols of the federal government and everything it stood for. Their "leader" was soon overtaken by grief and collapsed into a mess of sobbing incoherency, before being dragged off the podium by several policemen. But even at the height of his composure, he couldn’t have coaxed them back into civility. For decades, the PRI had been pilfering their wealth and clamping down on their freedoms, and now their beloved President had finally given them the permission to strike back and unleash years of pent-up resentment. There would be no going back now.

    As Enrique Krauze would write: "The order from Cárdenas sent Mexico up in flames, but the fuel had been laid gradually, over generations, by the failings and excesses of decades of PRI rule." [3]

    FountainsOfBlood.png
    EventsUnspoilered1.png
    __________
    [1] IOTL Cárdenas did give a speech on September 15, 1988 in the Zócalo before 250,000 supporters (ITTL, an extra 20,000 show up because it's his first public appearance in months). But rather than degenerating into a frantic incitement to violence and bloodshed, the speech called for Cárdenas's followers to change the system through peaceful means and not give the authorities a reason to unleash "a bloodbath and a devastating wave of repression". The speech is widely recognized as an important moment in Mexico's successful shift toward democracy, as the people were encouraged to channel their resentment of the system into productive, nonviolent democratic measures. The full text of the speech (in Spanish) is available here.
    [2] Up until this point, the speech is the same. IOTL, the equivalent line was "Let the whole weight of the law fall on [slain politician Inocencio Romero's] murderers and on those of Ovando and Gil, of Del Arco and his young companions". Since Ovando and Gil are still alive at this point ITTL, Cárdenas instead calls for justice for his brutally-murdered wife, causing him to snap and lose his calm quite spectacularly.
    [3] IOTL, Krauze (a prominent Mexican historian and intellectual) made this remark about Cárdenas's speech advocating for peace: "an order from [Cárdenas] would have sent Mexico up in flames. But perhaps in memory of his father, the missionary general, a man of strong convictions but not a man of violence, he did the country a great service by sparing it a possible civil war."
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2019
  9. CountDVB Dual Emperor of the Aztech and Maychanical Empires

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    Aug 26, 2017
    Sorry Krauze, but not this time.

    This time... Viva La Revolucion!
     
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  10. CountDVB Dual Emperor of the Aztech and Maychanical Empires

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    I’m also wondering how the USA will react to this
     
  11. The Congressman Well-Known Member

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    Good ol' USA
    Ok, this is very interesting.
    The US will be immediately affected, and calls for militarization of the border will be huge.
    I wonder which side the PAN will take. They are conservative but opposed to the PRI. I envision a fractured Mexico out of this
     
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  12. Threadmarks: Part 3: Los Pinos Massacre, San Lázaro Fire

    Roberto El Rey Minister-Chairman of the Chief Directive Executive

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    Tukhachevskiburg, Bavarian SSR
    It is an oft-documented oddity that an enormous crowd—even one with no eminent leader—can display enough singularity of mind to commit truly horrifying amounts of destruction. The “revolutionaries” of September 15 may have been angry, disorganized mobs, but they certainly seemed to know where they were going and what they were going to do once they got there.

    The National Palace was directly adjacent to the Zócalo, so it was the first to fall. In centuries past the Palacio Nacional had served as the seat of imperial power, but by 1988 it only housed parts of the Treasury and National Archive. Nevertheless, a massive crowd began banging at the doors of the building as soon as Cárdenas mentioned it by name, and after twenty minutes of pummeling and pounding, the ancient oak gave way and a thousand angry Mexicans poured in. A few tried to reach the Archive, desperately seeking answers about the fates of family members who had disappeared in the 1970s amid the government’s “Dirty War” against leftist guerrillas. But all the important offices were locked behind iron gates and security doors, so most of the stormers settled for simple pillaging. Glass bookcases were smashed and delicate volumes yanked off the shelves, covers cracking as they hit the floor. Fine china was stuffed into pockets for resale, desk drawers were forcibly ripped out and documents haphazardly scattered about luxurious offices. All told, the Palacio suffered almost three million pesos’ worth of damage at the hands of the rioters.

    A far greater tragedy occurred outside Los Pinos, the official home of the President of Mexico. Shortly after Cárdenas’s speech, a few thousand fired-up Cardenistas began an impromptu pilgrimage to the Presidential palace, intending to voice their outrage to President Miguel de la Madrid. Most of the marchers would leave midway through the journey, but many stayed on until the end so that, at approximately 6:47 that evening, 483 disaffected Mexicans arrived at the gates of Los Pinos, face-to-face with seventy-four army regulars, to demand a public audience with the President.

    There is some historical disagreement over what exactly happened next. Some claim that the crowd charged directly at the palace gates while brandishing daggers and handguns, leaving the soldiers no choice but to fire back in self-defense. Others contend that the unarmed crowd threw rocks and broken bottles in the general direction of the soldiers until one officer got fed up and started shooting, prompting his seventy-three colleagues to do the same. The weapons found clutched in the hands of many dead rioters clearly disprove the latter theory (provided one disbelieves the eyewitnesses who claim to have seen officers planting pistols on corpses).

    What no one disputes is that, when the shooting died down, 64 marchers were dead or wounded. And yet, horrifyingly, the Los Pinos Massacre is not the most infamous legacy of September 15, 1988.

    LosPinosMassacre.png

    Unlike Los Pinos, the Legislative Palace of San Lázaro (in which the federal Chamber of Deputies convened for legislative sessions) was only a few blocks away from the Zócalo, and the marchers arrived there in less than half an hour. By that point, nearly all of Mexico City’s uniformed policemen had been diverted elsewhere, allowing the unruly crowd to march right into the seat of the legislative branch with very little impediment.

    It was a well-known fact that all of the ballots cast during the tainted Presidential election were being stored in San Lázaro's basement [1]. Once inside, several dozen rioters attempted to reach the basement, apparently intending to count up all twenty million ballots and overturn the election all by themselves. Scores of heavily-armed policemen arrived outside the building within a quarter of an hour, but the rioters barricaded the doors with heavy electoral machinery and hunkered down for a siege. The officers were wary of breaking in because they did not know whether the infiltrators were armed; meanwhile, the Cardenistas passed the time by pretending to be levantadedos [2], taking turns making impassioned speeches from the podium and staging mock votes on resolutions to criminalize the PRI and install Cárdenas as President (all of which passed unanimously). When that kind of activity began to wear on them, they went to work dismantling the electronic voting buttons on PRI lawmakers' desks.

    No one knows for sure exactly how the fire started. In its final report in February of 1989, the federal investigative commission blamed the "dangerous and violent rebels" for starting the fire, either by accident while handling the flammable paper ballots, or intentionally "out of disrespect for the physical manifestations of Mexican democracy". But this finding was thrown into doubt when several of the experts who testified before the commission later admitted to having accepted government bribes. Many historians allege that the authorities started the fire in order to flush out the rioters, but there is no proof of this assertion, and the hurried manner in which the building was cleaned out prevented the gathering of any further evidence [3].

    In any case, one thing is undeniable: 681 Mexicans perished in the fire, prevented from escaping by the blocked-off doors. And despite the solemn memorial service held the following week in the Catedral Metropolitana, many have noted how it fortunate it was for the government that the Presidential ballots—the only potentially concrete evidence of electoral fraud—died with the protesters.

    SanLazaroFire.png
    EventsUnspoilered1.png

    Tragic though this event was, it was far from the government’s most pressing concern that night. The 270,000 enraged Cardenistas fanned out across Mexico City in packs, prompting rioting and street fighting in each of the city’s sixteen boroughs that lasted all through the night and well into the morning. Most of the city’s policemen were busy restoring order by use of nightsticks and teargas while ordinary firefighters handled the inferno. But as images of the legislature burning bright against the night sky were beamed across the world live by satellite, the San Lázaro Fire became the defining event of El Otoño Terrible. Tom Brokaw asked NBC viewers to imagine turning a corner in Washington to see Capitol Hill ablaze; Nicholas Witchell reporting for the BBC drew similar comparisons to the Palace of Westminster. This was a shocking display from a country that most westerners had counted among the most "civilized" in Latin America.

    By the next morning, the entire world had a wonderfully exaggerated conception of a Mexico embroiled in full-scale civil war, its capital in the hands of violent guerrillas and its government struggling and failing to maintain order. de la Madrid had hoped that the protests would wear off in a few days as they always had, but instead, the capital city had figuratively and literally gone up in flames, and—worst of all—the whole world had seen it.
    __________

    [1] That is all OTL. All of the ballot boxes from the election were being stored in the basement of the Chamber of Deputies by the time the legislative session began in August 1988. Why? Heck if I know. Thirty opposition congressmen (including one PAN deputy from Guanajuato named Vicente Fox) attempted to go down into the basement to get the ballots, but found the door blocked by soldiers who said the only person with a key to the warehouse was the head of the PRI congressional delegation. Later in OTL 1988, President de la Madrid struck a deal with the opposition to have all of the ballots burned, erasing any evidence of fraud.
    [2] Levantadedo is (was?) hip Mexican slang for a PRI congressman. The word literally means "finger-lifter"—a reference to the fact that, in the proud tradition of rubber-stamp legislatures, priístas in Congress did little but lift their fingers to press the little green button and approve the President's latest edict.
    [3] IOTL the building actually did burn down on May 5, 1989, due to an electrical issue. As for what happened ITTL? I leave it up to you to decide.
     
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2019
  13. Unknown Member

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2004
    Location:
    Corpus Christi, TX
    Yeah, this is like tossing a lit road flare into a barrel of gasoline...

    Wouldn't it be interesting (and boring) if the fire were just an accident?
     
  14. Bookmark1995 Bookmark95 Reborn!

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2016
    Oh man.

    This is like the 1980s Mexican version of the Bastille.

    In all seriousness, I like this TL.

    As a proud Spanish speaker, I resent the mistreatment of Mexicans by their government, and the American government. I felt Cardenas was one of those people who were shafted by history, and was surprised he wasn't elected during the Pink Tide.

    Can't wait for more.

    History can change due to the smallest of coincidences. That's why the genre of alternate history exists.

    I bet ITTL they'll wonder what would happen in the fire didn't happen all.
     
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  15. Roberto El Rey Minister-Chairman of the Chief Directive Executive

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2017
    Location:
    Tukhachevskiburg, Bavarian SSR
    I'm writing these responses with the next few chapters in mind, so my words here reflect the context of TTL's political situation as it develops over October and November of TTL 1988. (No spoilers, though, so don't worry!)

    US and other world reactions will be displayed within the next few updates. In the U.S., the sudden unrest south of the border will become a surprise issue in the upcoming Presidential election.

    I really appreciate your interest, from one talented writer & wikibox enthusiast to another! :D

    Calls for greater militarization and border security will definitely become a major issue soon in American politics, but aside from the Election it won't be a front-and-center issue just yet. As of September, the violence is mostly contained within Mexico City, hundreds of miles from the Rio Grande, and the northernmost states will not be the first ones outside the capital to see upheavals. The U.S. is startled, but not panicking (yet), because the Mexican government has dealt with unrest of this sort (though perhaps not of this scale) before. For the moment, Washington is waiting to see how good a job Los Pinos does of getting it all under control before reacting.

    As for the PAN, they are in a unique position here. They, of course, had no part in the PRI's electoral fraud and have been around for ages, so they have a reputation as the clean, sensible opposition to the PRI, in contrast to the new and increasingly volatile Frente Democratico Nacional. If the PAN leadership successfully maintains this reputation by preventing the party grassroots from rising up and joining the violence, the international community will view the PAN as the "good guys" of this conflict once it dies down, and they will be in an excellent position to form the government if the PRI is no longer in power by the time this is all over.
    A barrel that really, really doesn't need any flares right now.

    Profoundly interesting and profoundly boring. That's why I'm leaving it up to you!

    That was the exact example I had in mind as I wrote this update!

    I'm so incredibly glad you feel this way, and the more people with links to Mexico and its culture I impress with this TL, the more satisfying it will be to write, and the more vindicated I'll feel about the research I've put into it. While I am happy to say that I don't think Cárdenas is underused in alternate history (at least for a non-Anglosphere politician), I also feel like there isn't enough interesting stuff done with this period of Mexican history. Mexico's transition to democracy could have been thrown off course by so many little coin flips—like Donaldo's assassination, the success of the campaign finance reforms of 1997, and of course, Cárdenas's speech in the Zócalo. I was actually inspired to write this TL by the Krauze quote I cited in Part 2, and I'm surprised no one's tried this scenario on here before.

    The fire will indeed have some very real and tangible consequences, as the next update shall reveal.

    They may even ask what would have happened had Celeste Batel never even been assassinated in the first place...;)
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2019
  16. Gonzo Grumpy Poujadist Norn Person

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2015
    Location:
    Béal Feirste, Tuaisceart Éireann
    This continues to be a fascinating and horrific timeline. I really like the detail and footnotes here which show the great detail you're going into here. As someone with family in Latin America (granted on completely the other end down in Chile) I've long been fascinated by politics and history of the region. This TL continues to be a fun read and I honestly can't predict what will happen next, which is great (well, I sort of can - the sh*t's going to hit the fan). Great work!
     
  17. Roberto El Rey Minister-Chairman of the Chief Directive Executive

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2017
    Location:
    Tukhachevskiburg, Bavarian SSR
    You don’t know what that means to me coming from Gonzo le Grand! As with everyone else who has left a positive comment here, I’m so happy to see that you’re interested in this, but I’m especially flattered at your positive feedback because I’m partially modeling this off of your timeline! And while I won’t give anything away at the moment, I will say that the main story will involve some hopefully-surprising tand that you are right—the sh*t will indeed hit the fan.

    I appreciate how you noticed the footnotes. As we get further away from actual history, there will be fewer OTL historical oddities and details I can pull from, but I’ll still do my best to include interesting things in my research!

    You may have also noticed that some of the updates make mention of disagreement among TTL historians about certain aspects of the Second Mexican Revolution. The historiography of this world regarding the Revolution will become an important aspect of this timeline—for example, some TTL historians will consider the conflict to be a civil war, others will consider it more of a Revolution than a civil war. As will be seen, there will be enough ambiguity about the nature and outcome of this conflict to support either, or both, conclusions. At some point I will also do an update covering what Mexico’s prominent intellectuals du jour are up to and what they think of the conflict.
     
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  18. EnvarKadri Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2018
    That's awsome imagine when the EZLN joins the fire, jijiji.
     
  19. Roberto El Rey Minister-Chairman of the Chief Directive Executive

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2017
    Location:
    Tukhachevskiburg, Bavarian SSR
    Oh, you have no idea (yet)!
     
  20. Unknown Member

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2004
    Location:
    Corpus Christi, TX
    Or, shit, the drug cartels...
     
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