PNR-PRM-PRI (Mexico) Collection

Biographical / Historical Note

The course of obtaining this material directly violated Mexican regulations in the 1960s. Amazingly, the PRI state party, which by 1967 had already been in power for 37 years, granted me access to the PRI archive in the state of Tlaxcala, because the local PRI president, also a historian, was interested in my work about farmers’ movements during the Mexican Revolution between 1910 and 1940. I was authorized to work in the archive of the trade union for industrial workers (the infamous CTM) as well and was given the key to the archive of the CNC, the PRI-affiliated official national trade union for farmers. Established at the order of President Lázaro Cárdenas, this CNC was required to absorb all individual farmers’ unions. In some cases this led to serious clashes, including considerable coercion. All their archives had to be placed in the CNC one as well. I received a key and was allowed to go about my work unsupervised, although all this was against official regulations. I could have copies made of anything I wanted, which my assistant (a Mexican coed student) did day after day. The archive was in deplorable condition; the warehouse had no lighting or furniture, and chickens were running around everywhere. I obtained much original material (i.e. not copies) from the personal papers of the politician Ruben Carrizosa, who had served in the Congress and the Senate and was president of the PRI and the CNC in the state where I was working. By 1967, already seriously ill, he invited me to his home to select the items I wanted in his courtyard. I found dozens of packages filled with correspondence, as many politicians took the archive sections relating to their activities home with them. While this procedure was of course unauthorized, it was commonplace. I later told the director of the state archive that they should try to acquire this material from Carrizosa, who was terminally ill. Since my advice went unheeded, the collection has now been lost, except for the items I selected. The material is important, because over the past twenty years several publications have revealed that between 1934 and 1940 President Cárdenas became a hero among farmers and workers thanks to social legislation and land reform. He is also credited, however, with merging the many existing trade unions of workers and farmers – through coercion if necessary – in two confederations to be controlled by the state via the party. In the late 1930s in the most important district of the large landowners, Carrizosa was responsible for organizing the farmers to demand land and served as the mediator between the authorities and the landowners. Mexican land reform was a maze of political intrigues, and Carrizosa was pivotal. Some of the material in my collection has already been used in publications about this process in the state of Tlaxcala, where large landownership and also the textile industry abounded. I published my work on this topic outside Mexico, because I did not want to cause problems for those involved (now deceased). After all, several of the former landowners still retained substantial holdings and later served as governor of the state (text by Raymond Buve).

The PNR-PRM-PRI: Partido Nacional Revolucionario (1929) - Partido de la Revolución Mexicana (1938) - Partido Revolucionario Institucional (1946) ruled Mexico uninterrupted from 1929 until the year 2000.

This collection on the PNR-PRM-PRI was brought together by Raymond Buve (born in The Hague, 1933), head of the Department of Caribbean Studies of the Royal Institute of Linguistics and Anthropology in Leiden, The Netherlands, professor of history of Latin America at the University of Leiden and specialized in the contemporary history of Mexico.


Raymond Buve 2016


Correspondence from the state party there (the PNR-PRM-PRI), from its trade union for industrial workers, and from the trade union for all farmers and agricultural workers (1937-1954). These documents instruct farmers to obey the president by joining the state party farmers' union; other items include official circulars for meetings and elections, membership lists for different communities, and the like; there is also a wealth of material about industrial conflicts, as the CTM generally resorted to hostile means to take over the opposing unions; agrarian conflicts erupted not only between landowners and farmers but also between farmers and small family businesses, as they wanted this land as well. Binder 5 contains the copies from a delegate, later a senator, who is requested to help assemble the farmers in the state trade union to prevent them from voting for candidates from the opposition in the 1940 and 1946 elections. Binder 6 contains the personal papers of the politician Ruben Carrizosa and reveals the extent of his camarilla (personal cronies) and contacts with large landowners, who want 'quid pro quo': they will surrender some land but want to retain a lot, which happens and greatly angers the agricultural workers, who are viewed by the village farmers as unwanted competitors. This situation gave rise to a great many conflicts, which the landlords cunningly instrumentalized (text by Raymond Buve). See also On the Waterfront (2017) 34, p. 11-12.

Processing Information

This EAD-record has been edited by Bouwe Hijma, IISH, 2017.

List by Camila PuigIbarra, 2019