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What Greater Glory?

28 June 2012

The village maestros or maestras — teachers — were to be the “vanguard of the Revolution”. Official propaganda equated teachers with soldiers: ignorance and poverty were the enemy…books and knowledge the weapons. Although poorly paid, the teachers were dedicated and tough. During the Cristero War, when religious fanatics were likely to assassinate village teachers as representatives of the secular state, sometimes the village “schoolmarm” was armed.

(Gods, Gachupines and Gringos, page 325)

Or should have gone armed against the reactionaries opposed to public education:

“Professor Arnulf Sosa Portillo, killed April 4, 1937, in San Andrés Xochimilca, Puebla.” – Leopoldo Méndez. Lithograph. 1938. 

Sombrero tip to Sterling Bennett, for a link to Mark Vallen’s fine essay on the historically inaccurate  film “The Greater Glory” (an attempted whitewash of the career of mercenary Enrique Gorostieta, and the Cristeros in general) and on the artistic response in Mexico to the Cristero War.

For Greater Glory: In The Name of Christ (

… For Greater Glory, the latest film by director Dean Wright […] purports to tell the ‘true story’ of the Cristero War, the armed uprising of Catholics against the Mexican government that began in 1926 and lasted until the late 1930s. Touted as a ‘sweeping historic epic’, the film presents only the viewpoints of the fundamentalist Cristeros (Fighters for Christ), an outlook that distorts a complicated period in Mexico’s history.

[…] Mexican artist Leopoldo Méndez, who opposed the armed uprising … treated the Cristero War as a subject for his artworks. In particular I am featuring the artist’s lithographs En nombre de Cristo, han asesinado a más de 200 maestros (In the name of Christ: they have assassinated more than 200 teachers), a 1938 portfolio of prints by Méndez that portrayed the violent fanaticism of the so-called ‘Fighters for Christ’.

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