How Mexican and Chicanx Activism Flourished in 20th-Century Los Angeles | Hyperallergic

LOS ANGELES — “La constitución ha muerto” (The constitution is dead), declared a photograph published in a 1903 edition of the satirical Mexico City newspaper El Hijo del Ahuizote. In the image, funeral wreaths and Mexican flags hang from the periodical’s offices, while staff writers and editors flank a faded portrait of former president Benito Juárez, whose democratic and liberal reforms were being undone by the dictatorship of President Porfirio Díaz. Banned from publishing writings critical of the Díaz government, two of the men in the mock funeral, brothers Ricardo and Enrique Flores Magón, would flee the country months later and continue their political agitation in the United States.

Life in the US for the Flores Magón brothers was spent fomenting revolution while evading arrest. In Los Angeles, the anarchists from Mexico found a base of operations and many allies willing to host their activities. La Aurora, an anarchist bookstore and library on 654 North Spring Street, disseminated copies of the Flores Magón’s newspaper, Regeneración, while the Italian Hall, on 644 North Main Street, was a meeting place for not just Italian immigrants and radicals, but also the Flores Magóns and other exiled members of their far-left Partido Liberal Mexicano (PLM).

Regeneración, which ran in Spanish, English, and Italian editions for 18 years, ceased operations in 1918 after the Flores Magóns and the PLM suffered setbacks in the form of surveillance, arrest, and imprisonment. The newspaper’s influence on Mexican and American political movements, however, would extend over nearly a century by inspiring successive generations of artists, writers, and activists. The cultural production and political activism that emerged during that time is the subject of Regeneración: Three Generations of Revolutionary Ideology at the Vincent Price Art Museum.