The weekly newsletter of the México Solidarity Project


March 16, 2022/ This week's issue/ Meizhu Lui, for the editorial team

An Irish Mexican Association San Patricio Battalion re-enactment in San Francisco

A Perfect Time for Identifying Our Real Snakes

St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, drove all the snakes off the Emerald Isle. Or so we know from Ireland’s folk history. Unfortunately, in the Mexican-American War that stretched from 1846 into 1848, the heirs of St. Patrick — the Irish Americans who would make up what came to be known as the San Patricios battalion — had no such luck driving the snakes out of México. But they did succeed in identifying the real snake.


Those Irish Americans came to México as conscripts in the US army, all instructed to force México, at gunpoint, to hand over a vast swath of its territory. They soon realized their US commanders were using them to perpetrate a grave injustice. They switched sides.


The Irish had originally come to the US, in massive numbers, to escape the genocidal British colonialist policies that had driven a million Irish people to starvation. That history gave the Irish a distinctive label, the only “white people of color.” But the US the Irish entered rested on white supremacy, and, after a generation, most Irish immigrants became fully white-identified. Many started enjoying the privileges of whiteness. They would go on to join in on the violence against Chinese immigrants. They opposed equal rights for African Americans, hooked up with vigilantes preventing Mexican immigration, and eventually donned MAGA hats. They lost the ability to identify the real snake.


Becoming white had its price: losing Irish identify. But today we also have many Irish Americans who fondly remember their homeland’s heroic history and see solidarity with oppressed people as part of their heritage. Count Bruce Hobson, a co-editor of this Bulletin, as one of these revolutionary-minded activists with Irish roots that go deep enough to touch the San Patricios. With Bruce’s help, we’ve updated our coverage from last year’s St. Patrick’s Day to take into account the imperial land grab that’s currently dominating all our headlines.


To build cross-border movements for justice, our interview this week with Bruce reminds us, we all need to sharpen our ability to identify a real snake when we see one. Otherwise, we’ll find ourselves filled with that snake’s deadly venom.


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The St. Patrick’s Battalion: Faith in Action

Some four decades ago, in the jungles of Chiapas, Bruce Hobson trained Guatemalan refugees in orthopedic diagnosis and rehab. A few years later, the Zapatista uprising erupted in 1994, and Bruce would soon bear the distinction of becoming a deportado from México! The Mexican government deported him, charging that his work amounted to “a front for gathering international support” for the Zapatista army. A member of Liberation Road and a co-editor and translator for the México Solidarity Bulletin, Bruce now calls the historic central Mexican city of Guanajuato his home.


In 1846, the US invaded México. Do you see comparisons to the current invasion of Ukraine by Russia?

Yes. The actions of Russia as it attempts to annex more and more territory must be condemned as a blatant violation of the right of a country to self-determination. Imperialist expansion also drove the 1846 US invasion of México. Top US leaders stood determined to expand their domain across the entire continent, “from sea to shining sea.” But the Southwest all belonged to México — and had been part of México long before the United States even existed.


As a first step toward gaining the Southwest, the US annexed Tejas in México, and then, when México refused to sell the rest of its Southwest territory, the US made war to take it by force.


Large numbers of immigrants from Ireland had arrived in the US just before the war started, and many found themselves conscripted into the US cavalry. What did they find when they reached México?


Two things led to the roughly one million Irish emigrating to America from the 1840s through the 1860s. The first: their impoverishment, after the loss of their land under British colonial rule. The second: the Potato Blight, the famine that left a million people starved to death. The British landlords exported crops even during the famine. Irish farmers, in other words, suffered from an oppression similar to what Mexicans experienced under Spanish rule.

The Irish immigrant soldiers in the US army began to understand, as they moved south deep into México, that they were invading a country that had done the US no wrong — and whose people culturally were much like them.

Celtic Life International

The Mexican villages reminded the Irish soldiers of their own villages. Mexican peasants were poor, as were their families. The Mexicans were Catholic, as were they. The profound connections the Irish made with the peasants they met eventually led them to tear off their uniforms and join the Mexican side.

What happened to the San Patricios?


The US won the war in short order. The San Patricios, captured in Mexico City, would be tried by the US Army. Fifty were hanged in the largest — official — mass execution in US history, others flogged and branded with a D for deserter on their cheek. México has memorialized these Irish patriots who gave up their lives in opposition to an unjust war.


Unfortunately, many in México today know little about this history. In 1992, the criminal Salinas regime made Education Secretary Ernesto Zedillo approve the removal of all “anti-American” references in 4th and 5th grade history textbooks throughout the country. In one fell swoop, Zapata no longer appeared as a revolutionary hero. The San Patricios did not exist. In response, tens of thousands of teachers struck, refusing to teach.


As someone with Irish-American roots, why do you see solidarity with México as so important?

Let me tell a story. Riding the bus in México City a few decades ago, I found myself sitting next to an older man dressed in a worn suit. We started talking, and
my left political background intrigued him, and I was fascinated by his deep knowledge of US and Mexican history. I asked him if he knew about the San Patricios. The man, nearly crying, told me the San Patricios gave proof that the US had citizens who believed in justice. The San Patricios, we agreed, represent the finest in the tradition of international solidarity.

Just as the
San Patricios recognized the fight of the Mexican people as their own fight, we need to do the same today. We need to be San Patricios.


Throughout México, Feminists Take Back the Streets

Last week, on International Women’s Day March 8, some 50,000 women in México City — and thousands more all across México — took to the streets to protest violence against women. Read one telling placard: “I march because I’m alive and I don’t know for how long.” We asked Tania O. Valadez George, an activist with the Voz de Maíz feminist collective, to place the massive March 8 protests in the context of the ongoing struggle to advance women’s rights.

Los Angeles Times

Over recent years, in the streets of México’s most important cities, the Mexican feminist movement has been growing and making important gains for women’s rights. Thanks to the movement’s demands, initiatives, and strength, Mexican women in 2008 won approval in México City for the decriminalization of abortion. And they kept on organizing for the right to decide, finally winning, last September, a huge victory when the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation unanimously ruled the criminalizing of abortion unconstitutional.


But we still must march. The struggle getting waged today in the streets is bringing women from different political perspectives together to denounce the violence against us.  Every day brings ten more murders of women in México. Last year saw the most femicides murders of women because of their gender in Mexican history, over 1,000 cases, and this total doesn’t count the more than 2,700 murders of women registered as ordinary “intentional homicides.” In addition, between 2006 and 2021, almost 22,000 women simply disappeared, with girls and adolescents the main victims.


Sexist and patriarchal violence has worsened in a México plagued by organized crime. The Narco-State governs large stretches of the country and treats women’s bodies as disposable property for sexual slavery.


This tragic picture has led thousands of women to see feminism as a means of self-defense, both because the movement generates relationships of care and sisterhood between women “The police don't take care of me, my friends take care of me,” we shout as well as for the cultural and political transformations against patriarchy the movement is pointing us toward. With the new organizing to recover our streets and public spaces, a new generation of young people is continuing the historic feminist struggle to make visible unequal and unjust social relations, be these relations at home, school, or work or in bed and political spaces. This new generation is bringing renewed dynamism, creativity, and strength to the women’s movement.


Without a doubt, México is experiencing a new stage in the vindication of women’s rights. The thousands of women in 32 Mexican states who marched last week make this new stage irrefutably clear.



Recent news reports and commentaries, from progressive and mainstream media,
on life and struggles on both sides of the US-México border


Lorena Rios, How A Feminist Uprising Reshaped México City, Bloomberg. Activists against gender violence have left their imprint on the capital’s streets and monuments.


Fidel Martinez, Latinx Files: The helplessness of watching the tragedy in Querétaro, Los Angeles Times. Coming to grips with “images of unconscious men lying naked in pools of their own blood, all because they were wearing the wrong jersey.”


Katu Arkonada, US interference in México, Milenio. The National Endowment for Democracy, a agency the Reagan administration created, has spent $8.4 million on programs in México just since 2016 alone. But we have no specifics on where those and other US dollars are going.


John Ackerman, Ovaciones en gran estreno del nuevo documental sobre el neoliberalismo. Con la narración de Damián Alcázar, escenas y animaciones sobre acontecimientos del pasado y contemporáneos, el documental El proyecto cultural del neoliberalismo plantea un riguroso análisis histórico, político y social de las más de tres décadas de ese modelo “que tanto ha lastimado a México”.


Ulises Rodríguez López, AMLO alerta que hay en marcha un golpe blando contra su gobierno, Polemón. López Obrador aseveró que el estado mexicano lucha tanto con los grupos delictivos como contra los “criminales de cuello blanco”.


Nick Miroff and Maria Sacchetti, ICE report shows sharp drop in deportations, immigration arrests under Biden, Washington Post. ICE officers in the interior US made just over 74,000 administrative arrests during the 2021 fiscal year, down from 104,000 in 2020 and an average 148,000 annually the three previous years.


Juan Garcia, Mexican president to tour Central America and Cuba, Prensa Latina. AMLO has confirmed his plans to visit Central America and Cuba to strengthen bilateral ties and address issues around migrants who seek to enter the US through México.


The Mexico Solidarity Project brings together activists from various socialist and left organizations and individuals committed to worker and global justice who see the 2018 election of Andrés Manuel López Obrador as president of México as a watershed moment. AMLO and his progressive Morena party aim to end generations of corruption, impoverishment, and subservience to US interests. Our Project supports not just Morena, but all Mexicans struggling for basic rights, and opposes US efforts to undermine organizing and México’s national sovereignty. 


Editorial committee: Meizhu Lui, Bruce Hobson, Bill Gallegos, Sam Pizzigati, Courtney Childs, Victoria Hamlin, Agatha Hinman, Steven Hollis. To give feedback or get involved, email us!


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