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The 19th century version of the Ché tee-shirt

11 November 2022

Today being… besides the 104th anniversary of the end of”War to end all wars” (were it that it was), it is also the 205th anniversary of the end of Francisco Xavier Mina, before a firing squad in Pénjamo, Guanajuato.

In 1808, when Mina was 19, eh’d begun a career as a guerilla fighter in his native Navarre, fighting Napoleon’s occupaton forces in Spain. Mina’s force — at least according to apocryphal sources — were the first “guerilla” fighters, or the first to be referred to as such — the term meant as something of an insult… “little soldiers”, ie. amateurs, which they were, being recruited mostly from Mina’s fellow students.

However, they were, like other irrugulars in Spain, effective in eventually forcing out the French (although the English professional army had quite a bit to do with that, too) and restoring Ferdinand VII to the throne. Which was supposed to be a liberation, during Ferdinand’s absence, the junta claiming to be the legitimate Spanish government having pushed through a liberal constitution with a parliament that included colonial representation, like that of “New Spain’s” Fray Serviendo y Mier.

Mina had been a POW of the French at the end of the occupation, but upon release, and Ferdinand’s first act as the new constitutional monarch having been to stage a coup, making himself absolute monarch (it’s good to be king, in his way of thinking) Mina took his crew to Mexico, expanding what had started as liberation for his one coutnry into the anti-clonialist movement of his time.

With the Mexican independence movement not receiving the same sort of foreign support other American anti-colonialist revolts had (the French, Spanish, and Prussians in the United States; the English and Spanish in Haiti; the Haitians and English in Gran Colombia, etc.) Mina was as close to a foeigner fighting for the broader goal of self-dermination of the oppressed colonials as you were going to find in that movement.

And… being young, handsome… and dead… and tee-shirts not invented yet… cheap woodcuts and lithographs of Mina were popular accessories for students and radicals in early 19th century Mexico.

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