David Alfaro Siqueiros
David Siqueiros is well-known as a master of Mexican revolutionary mural art as well as a combatant in the defence of the Spanish democratic republic from fascism. His role in the assault of the house of Leon Trotsky in May, 1940 has long been clouded in obscurity. Siqueiros’ speech in court which is published here for the first time, from the archives of the siqueiros foundation in Mexico, elucidates the political motives of the artist in this bizarre event. Siqueiros felt impelled to this act after experiencing at first hand the negative role of the Trotskyite POUM during the anti-fascist war in Spain. He wanted to vindicate the honour of Mexican democracy which had been besmirched by the presence of Trotsky in Mexico. With Hitler’s army poised to strike to the east Siqueiros found it necessary to mount an act of protest to stop Trotsky from using Mexico as a springboard for his attacks on the Soviet Union. The protest was designed to gather, without bloodshed, documentary proof about the money which Trotsky was getting from the reactionary Hearst newspaper chain and to precipitate a scandal which would oblige the Cárdenas government to close down Trotsky’s headquarters in Mexico. The armed protest ended in fiasco. Trotsky lay hidden under his bed shielded by his wife, in the confusion of the attack the documents which siqueiros hoped to find were not hunted for; Trotsky remained firmly ensconced in Mexico. The Communist Party of Mexico categorically stated that it had nothing to do the action. Three months later in an attack unrelated to the activities of Siqueiros Trotsky was assassinated. For Siqueiros the protest resulted in months of hiding, jail and years of exile. Details of this may be found in the biography of Siqueiros by Phil Stein recently issued by International Publishers, New York. The Court deposition of Siqueiros at a broader level gives a picture of the problems faced by the communist and democratic movement from Trotskyism in the 1930s in Spain and elsewhere. At that time Siqueiros was not to know that Trotsky was supplying information to the FBI about the international communist movement through the US consulate in Mexico. After the Twentieth Congress of the CPSU in 1956 the critique of Trotskyism was gradually toned down. This was not a matter of surprise for, as has been pointed out by Kaganovich in his memoirs, Khrushchev had been a supporter of Trotsky in 1923-24 so that his ‘secret speech’ represented a return to his political roots.
Political reasons that made it possible and inevitable. The psychological-political process in which it incubated. The reason for my participation.
To public opinion in general.
To the Mexican proletariat in particular.
To the Judge of the Court of the First Instance in Coyoacán.
The Assault on the House of Leon Trotsky
When the Mexican combatants, in the first days of January 1937, arrived in Spain to fight for the Republic in the ranks of the Popular Army, we met with the overbearing reproach that ‘President Cárdenas gave arms to the Spanish people in order to fight for the Revolution, but at the same time he gave arms to Leon Trotsky in order that from revolutionary Mexico he can struggle against the Revolution, and the corollary to this, no less cruel that ‘before this passed the incalculable passivity of the Mexican labour movement.’
In vain we the Mexicans pledged to erase so deep a resentment. To our arguments about the ‘traditional political Mexican hospitality’, we were answered with the logic of ‘yes; traditional political hospitality for the revolutionaries, for Marti, for Julio Antonio Mella, for the mother of Prestes, and no hospitality and protection to the most significant general headquarters of the international counterrevolution.’
Already in the ranks, in the Spanish units as well as the Internationals, we encountered the same vehement condemnation. Combatants from all the countries asked us to explain to them the ‘abstruse Cardenista paradox.’ And everyone, over our poor arguments, concluded with a ratification of the affirmation – that it constituted a grave dishonour of the revolutionary labour movement of Mexico. Our reply that President Cárdenas had proceeded against the opinion of the majority of the labour unions – did nothing more than to increase the reprobative energy against the Government of Mexico, and against the incomplete, the anaemic, action of the organized masses of our country.
For all, that was inexplicable. It was not able to fit within the limits of unconscious politics. In effect it was about a precise form of counter-revolutionary activity, doubly grave arising from a progressive movement.
Leon Trotsky, meanwhile, had taken possession of a functioning tribune, which against all legal practice for political refugees, had been given to him, and this is a contradiction, by the most progressive President of Mexico, President Cárdenas, in the very Capital of the Mexican Republic. From that insuperable tribune, permanently protected by the police, the prevaricator, disguised as a heroic caudillo of the communist extreme left, with spiteful delirium, raises an attack against the Mexican and international revolutionary movement, in the historic moments of a greater reactionary offensive in every country.
The most backward sector of the Mexican bourgeoisie, as well as the bourgeoisie of all countries, continue considering Trotsky of the initial period of the Russian Revolution, Trotsky as a member of the party of Lenin and Stalin, rancorously, but they extend a fraternal hand to Trotsky the anti-Stalinist, ‘to the greatest enemy of your greatest enemy,’ who supports the local counter-revolutionary struggle, and the world counterrevolutionary struggle, helped by an unprecedented use of an ample baggages of sophistry. For this object, his first step was to open fully the doors of publicity.
We did not conceive then that this error would have been able to plant roots. ‘The Mexican Labour Movement (it was affirmed) was powerful. The greatest of Latin America. The influence of the Mexican Communist Party and its sympathizers within the labour unions was considerable. Also important was its prestige – among those that formed the Partido de la Revolución Mexicana, without there yet being a Popular Front, it constituted the base of a true popular Front – for in it would be tied workers, peasants, soldiers, craftsmen, intellectuals and an evidently progressive sector of the new national bourgeoisie.’ President Cárdenas, the most advanced public man of the Mexican Revolution, could not deny, that is, without contradicting the very nature of his Government, that which with such fervour he was asked, which already, the masses of workers and peasants, the revolutionary movement together, have reclaimed, for which they have given you the power in the energetic struggle against the ‘maximatura’ of Calles. (1)
From Mexico, unfortunately, we received pessimistic news. There was opposition to the decision of Cárdenas, but in a form that seemed more like the mournful cry and filial demands of the deer, then the exigency and combative determination of the popular proletarian and revolutionary masses before a functionary who was the formal democratic representation of these masses – in power. That president Cárdenas remained immovable in his resolution as a patriarchal caudillo of these masses.
Then later the tearful letters were received, of whom it was supposed were the bold directors of the Mexican Revolution. They dealt with intimate trembling censures (in this respect, secret) of the ‘Maderismo (2) suicide of President Cárdenas,’ of his ‘strange mixture of romantic and popularist chief.’ ‘He had much of your Azaña in his liberal governmental methods, the best President that the Mexican Revolution has given,’ we were told with a vehement desperation.
But with the illusion of finding some exception in the Mexican political reality that we were already intermingled with, we pressed to inquire more. ‘The Mexican Communist Party in solidarity with the political platform of Cárdenas, with his popular reforms, had made one of the fundamental points of its tactic, the Popular Front.’ ‘The Communist Party considered thus, that anything that could put in danger or break the unity of the group of progressive forces of Cardenismo, is contrary to their present position.’ ‘Very well,’ we replied, ‘but proletarian solidarity, communist solidarity, with the group of labour-progressives of Cárdenas, does not mean subordination of the proletarian class, – of its vanguard’ (silence, which is the same in the dynamics of politics) ‘to each and every one of its determinations.’ ‘No’ (we argued), ‘only the immense individual susceptibility of President Cárdenas can produce a fatal break that would inevitably redound in damage of the revolutionary unity of Mexico.’ That which cannot be dislodged from our mind is the conviction that the censure – loyal, jointly, with whatever energy, not only will not divide, but would oblige more – firmness of unity.
Of the former we have not the slightest doubt, it is called: an initial act of capitulation of the labour movement of Mexico before the new progressive bourgeoisie that governs the country. It was a grave injury to the democratic forms that should have normalized the relations between a Government of popular impulse and the popular masses that gave it the power. It was the start of the aggravation of the then embryonic patriarchal caudillismo of President Cárdenas. The point of departure of the progressive loss of the political independence of the revolutionary proletarian movement of Mexico, and the origin, deadly, ‘following.’ In sum, it was the beginning of a series of victories for reaction in our land over the organized proletarian and popular forces, independent of the ascendent programme of advanced Cardenista reforms. But above all it was the opposite road of the Popular Front, or that is the retrogression of the Revolution of Mexico in its primordial aspect, which is the political potential of its mass organizations.
The conditions in which the civil war in Spain unfolded, in which we were among its actors, was not a compensation for the moral damage which the news from Mexico had produced. Under the circumstances of Civil War, they governed, astonishingly, with the legal procedures of the state of alarm. The Republican governments that had been incapable of smothering the civil war during the time of peace, seemed impotent in transforming themselves into Governments of Civil War. One year after the initiation of the military struggle, no decree of the state of war had been issued. There were no signs that it would be decreed in a more or less short space of time. Under these conditions, the indispensable martial law, both in the rear and at the front, was lacking. The Republican political parties, with the exception of the Spanish Communist Party, to a greater or lesser degree, did not show signs of understanding, in all its magnitude, the immense error that that somnambulist method of governing signified, those liberal procedures in the avalanche of the civil war.
Thus, espionage, sabotage, treason and the provocation of Trotskyism, the most efficacious nucleus for the demagogy of the Fifth Column of Franco in the Loyalist zone, had arisen and developed without any obstacle, in the same entrails of the political, union, agrarian and military organizations with the precise economic knowledge of the Republican State, under the shadow of the governments of the Popular Front. In effect, the Republican authorities, although it seems inconceivable, needed thirteen months (from July 18, 1936 until June 16, 1937) in order to discover that the political party of Trotskyism in Spain was a dependency of espionage, sabotage and provocation, at the direct service of the Headquarters of the so-called Nationalista Army. It was not enough to read in the newspapers and magazines of these agents of enemy espionage, slogans such as ‘Madrid, tomb of fascism! Catalonia, tomb of the Government!’, that is, the tomb of the popular Front, the tomb of the unity of the proletariat and Spanish people against the armed assault of reaction.
Naturally this tree had to give its fruits: The 3rd of May, 1937, that is, two-and-a-half months after having discovered the true political physiognomy of the so-called ‘Marxist-Leninist’ orthodoxies of the P.O.U.M. (3), two-and-a-half months after the most inexplicable liberty for their organs of publicity (sufficiently darkening that which it could!): La Batalla, Alerta, etc. etc. exploded in the city of Barcelona, which is to say the extreme rearguard of the Republican front, an armed uprising directed BY THEM, with the complicity of all those ambushers of the rear, of all the disguised anarchist rabble, of all those whiners demanding capitulation, of the bourgeois that wanted peace at any price, and in their treason using the trick of the ‘transformation of the civil war into proletarian revolution,’ over the conciliators of the Popular Front.’ An uprising that cost the Spanish people 850 lives and 2,600 wounded. The masterpiece, in the end, of our refugee of Coyoacán; of ‘the poor persecuted politician,’ romantically isolated in Mexico by President Cárdenas, by virtue of the torpor of the combative will of the organized masses.
But in Mexico things were not going any better. ‘President Cárdenas (according to the latest information) is brought each time more to the concept of the neutral Government, in the daily struggle against the progressively more violent assaults of the reaction reinforced by demagogic Trotskyism. Thus he seems to fulfill in part that which the counter-revolutionary forces of the country urge. Like Azaña (for the bloody experience of the Spanish Republic), he believes that the army, physically guaranteeing the Mexican Revolution, should be an entity that is politically neutral. Its chiefs, officers, non-commissioned officers and troops, could, according to his definition, serve the very ranks of the counter-revolutionary parties, in the ranks of the political parties contrary to the Mexican Revolution. Like Azaña (for the anguish of the betrayed Spanish Republic), President Cárdenas believes that the creation of a political police, of a service of political information, would constitute a stain on his Government. Like Azaña (also for a bitter experience of the Spanish Republic), President Cárdenas believes that the diplomatic and consular service is outside the border of political considerations and only subject to technical rules. But the most serious is that President Cárdenas proceeds thus while he dictates parallel to his most radical reforms, as that of the liquidation of the latifundias in Yucatán, the official intervention in the previously untouchable latifundias of the Yankees or of prevailing personalities in Mexican politics, etc., so, it seemed logical that the more transcendent the popular reforms there was greater violence against this offensive by reaction and imperialism. This attitude is developing terribly in the wings of our economically powerful enemies, through the whole territory of the Nation. A panorama very similar to that of the Spanish Republic in the years before the blow of the hand of reaction.
The news completed the dramatic picture. In face of such serious facts the revolutionary movement of Mexico hardly attained a little answer. Nothing serious enough to stop the march to the defeat of the Civil War or the not impossible capitulation, with the living document of the liberalism that made possible the ‘takeover’ of Franco. One of their most characteristic passions was called: ‘Campaign against the Minister of the Exterior, Engineer Eduardo Lay, for having proven his connivance with international Fascism.’ A passion, in sum, that President Cárdenas ended in a maternal manner, like in other very serious cases of Mexican politics.
Perhaps in this ‘democratic’ neutrality, and in this infantile anaemia of the Mexican labour movement, the explanation is found of the tolerance by the Government of Cárdenas of the continuing political activities of Leon Trotsky in Mexico. But the objective fact is that the greatest of the dissemblers of the Revolution, the born chief of ‘poumista’ (of the P.O.U.M.) espionage in Republican Spain, managed in a short time to transform the tribune that President Cárdenas gave to him into a general-headquarters of national and international counter-revolutionary politics, protected on the outside, day and night, by the pistols, rifles and bayonets of ten members of the Mexican police, and on the inside, day and night also, by the arms of ten foreign gunmen. A political centre, with secretaries and typewriters, with daily connections from within their place to outside the city, and from within their place to lands abroad by the means of free transit through the United States. All of this, naturally, within the view and with the approval of the Secretary of Gobernación of Mexico, that is, with the illegal consent of the Mexican Government, for legal consent was impossible. That is to say, under the illegal protection of the most legalistic Government that Mexico has had. It is evident that to charge ignorance on the part of the Mexican authorities would be to utter an insult.
The real fact is that to one truth you have to add another : President Cárdenas gave arms to Trotsky, in order that from revolutionary Mexico, he can fight against the Mexican Revolution and the international Revolution, but in addition, his subalterns were anxious because these arms rendered the greatest efficacy possible.
It was clear, even from a distance, that in Mexico the Revolution was being made from above. Its destiny depended fundamentally on the will of a good patriarch, but nothing more. Very advanced popular reforms were realized by the President of the Republic, but these reforms were seriously threatened by the lack of a true social force at the base. For us it was unquestionable that its life could be precarious. This was the palpable reality that emerged from the political and union movement of Mexico. The feeble revolutionary forces of our country did not seem to have made any progress of importance in the (then) three and a half years of the most friendly regime. The political foundations of the masses had not yet been built to the point where its backward motion could be affirmed, for in politics, standing still, static, signifies regression. The Popular Front, the only materialization possible of the Democratic Revolution of Mexico of today, continues being in the long run a possible fact and nothing more. Its chrysalis, the Party of the Mexican Revolution, gravely suffered from all the ills that its predecessor, the old National Revolutionary Party (the party of the new-rich reactionaries of Calles), suffered from and it only attained the discovery of its loquacity in more advanced and better formulated propositions. In substance it continued being a bureaucratic satrap of a circumstancial political arm in the effective hands (nominal ones don’t count) of sub-caudillos of the new-rich class, and not always corresponding to its progressive sector.
The deadly direction that things took in Spain and the alarming news that we received from Mexico, impelled me to make a rapid trip to the Capital of my country. An eloquent and documented presentation, I thought, of the causes that precipitated the fascist turn in Spain, would serve President Cárdenas as a magnified experience in order to alter the suicidal liberal processes that he seemed to be adopting in the face of the development of the reaction. This experience, above all, I considered, should be fully known by the revolutionary labour movement of Mexico in its fullness, since, of our war in Spain they seemed to be only interested in its heroic aspects, but in no way of the tremendous errors. In addition, this conviction, I imagine, will permit support of its prestige to the elimination of the shortcomings and complacency that in Spain is speeding up the arrival of defeat.
For this object, I requested and obtained from the Minister of Defence, Señor Indalecio Prieto, a two-months leave, given the nature of my being Chief of the 46th Mixed Brigade, then based in the Extremadura front. And on the 10th of November, 1937, with the added task of buying complimentary military parts, I departed for the United States and Mexico.
I wanted to speak clearly with President Cárdenas. To demonstrate to him, with the bloody Spanish experience in each and every one of its objective details, the fatal consequences of a political complacency that was falsely democratic with the enemies of Democracy, with the boisterous reaction, ready to take power. I wanted to point out the fatal error of giving refuge to Trotsky in Mexico, by exhibiting the documents of the work that this renegade had brought to the fore in Spain. I wanted to demonstrate in sum, how already in the civil war those errors, many times puerile in their exterior aspect, were amplified by the seriousness of the military circumstances, translated into lack of discipline, into inaction, into routine or creative inventiveness, in delivering slowly to the enemy within, for the later criminal ends of the entire enemy.
With this object, with sympathy, I asked for a special meeting of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of Mexico. But the Political Bureau of the CPM, on approving my intervention, disapproved of the ‘style’ in which it was proposed. It did not want to have to injure the known susceptibility of the President. It did not want to wound his hidden but passionate criterion of independence. Dramatic proof of the political feebleness, my painful anticipation of ‘following,’ was for me that useless strategy of reverence! I had already heard it said in Spain that the revolutionaries in Mexico do not want to touch President Cárdenas, ‘not even with the petal of a rose.’ Already I had heard said in Spain about this sui generis proletarian ‘diplomacy.’
I was then in the presence of the patriarchal caudillismo of President Cárdenas and in the same brain of partial capitulation of the Mexican Labour Movement, facing this patriarchal caudillismo. I was before the failure of the independence of the Mexican Labour Movement and in the same centre of the reason of their failure of combativeness. The authentic proof of the lack of a Popular Front of Democracy in the land. The central reason for the impotency of the Mexican revolutionaries in the ‘affair Trotsky,’ that so rudely condemned the native and international fighters in the Spanish Civil War.
I had, in consequence, to enter the business by the skylight, instead of doing it normally through the door. I had to fabricate with a paste of protocol, a Spanish mirror that would transmit to President Cárdenas, indirectly, symbolically, the dangers of Mexican reality. A mirror with the superimposition of the two phenomena, and thus in the long run was my intention, and metaphorically I wrote a report of 40 pages, that I gave to him personally. Thus I also sought in conversation during various hours of intimate talk in which the roundabout course and evasions dried my throat and must have vexed the President. Naturally I mentioned the affair Trotsky with all the necessary ‘subtlety’, for this case seemed to be the uncovered nerve of his sensibility.
After remaining three days in the Capital of my country, I returned to Spain. I went full of hope, for such was my poor faith in the power of eloquence objectively demonstrated. I returned to the command of my Brigade, the 46th Mixed Brigade, then situated in the Sierra Herrera Sector and I waited confident that in time, more or less distant, the news from Mexico would change and the methods of governing would be transformed in our great contest. That which I had done was very little, insignificant, but the development of events could increase, perhaps to the necessary limits for a solution. After a long period of absolutely no news the war opened between Mexico and Spain. Seven months passed. That would be (what had already been?) the effects of my rapid and distant effort? Those long months of military activity that followed my return from Mexico were for me long months of silence in that which was in respect to my country and long months of inevitable despair concerning the fatal development that military events in Spain had taken.
Already twenty months of military strife had passed, but in Republican Spain the state of alarm continued being the legal rudder of the war. Twenty months of war but no sign appeared of martial law, notwithstanding the powerful development of the Fifth Column, made up of Falangist ambushes, of false anarchists and Trotskyites that organized the acceleration of the overthrow of the Republic.
Before the Spanish Civil War, as it has been seen, Trotskyism for me was an obvious form of political apostasy and a dangling of provocation in the camp of revolution. But it was in the course of this war when it scarcely remained to be proven, that it had the means to qualify as the most appalling demagogic arm of the counterrevolution in every country. I saw, I felt in the very same ranks of the military units I commanded (the 82nd and 46th Brigades of a defined character, and the 87th, 88th, 109th and the 62nd, in addition the 29th Division, of makeshift character), its daily hypocritical alliance with the spies, the saboteurs, provocateurs, defeatists, deserters and surrenderers of the Fifth Column of Franco within the ranks of the Republicans. Their incommensurable treason of May in Barcelona was near enough to me that I didn’t have to see their faces well to be convinced that they were the true authors!
I was not able, in consequence, to agree with what in Mexico, my country, under the most progressive of its regimes, under the government of President Cárdenas, that had given so many moral and material proofs of solidarity to the cause of the Spanish people; that such advanced reforms have been put forward and continue to be put forward, could shelter in its territory, nothing less then the general headquarters that conceives, organizes and executes these iniquities, covering it with a Tartuffian cloak of a supposed Marxist orthodoxy. I ought to know, I categorically made clear, that the principal target of the attack of such traitors was the Spanish Communist Party, the only force that really, that with integrity, made war, the only force that positively worked for victory, the only force that was determined to weld, under a government transformed into a true Government of War, all the proletarian, popular and progressive units of Spain against the common enemy; the Republican Sector that was most villainously attacked by France, his fascist allies and international reaction.
In these conditions the painful order arrived for all the foreigners who had fought in the ranks of the popular Army, to leave Spain. Thus, the Second Republic innocently thought, that it would be able to expel the invading armies of the Italians and the Germans. A little later the operations of the Italo-German factions were precipitated over the northwest of Spain, and with this the loss of Barcelona and catastrophe for the heroic people. The natural epilogue is of the betrayal by the ‘great Democracies’, but also of the natural result of the already cited chain of uninterrupted errors and absurd indifferences with the ambushes of all the political formality and between these the so-called Marxists-Leninists of the international band of provocateurs directed by Leon Trotsky from his General-Headquarters of Coyoacán, Mexico.
We went from Spain with the conviction that our defeat was not only the result of the cowardice of the great ‘democracies’, as is said by some. Neither was it the exclusive result of the failure of international revolutionary solidarity, as many say. Nor the unique consequence of the impotency of the political parties of the left to construct a unity of the entire people of the Nation. Nor was it the primordial consequence of the ‘anarchy of the masses’ as Prieto and his disciples supposed. For us the initial cause of the defeat, the starting-point, has to be found in the incommensurable weakness of the Republican Governments, in legal suicide, that did not know how to make the war (civil and militarily speaking) with methods of war, and much less a civil war with the method of civil war.
In Mexico, we say it formally, the same thing began to happen, for the same and perhaps more puerile reasons. But would it be possible with simple polemic eloquence and tenacious energy to halt there the mortal course to the same abyss? We intended to do it. But if our power was fruitless the obstacles would have to be knocked down by means, that there would be room. In such a manner the bitter experience of Spain had been eloquent for us! In February 1939 we arrived in Mexico. We found a political panorama that was very dispiriting. The pessimistic news we received from Europe was very brief. Perhaps because of the situation that prevailed in Republican Spain in the last years before the takeover by Franco.
The Mexican leftists in power for some four years (what sarcasm!), were on the defensive, ‘agorzomadas’ (4) by their bold competitors of the right. The Government for its caudillismo and neutral liberalism, deaf and dumb; however a paradox difficult to explain, for President Cárdenas, uninterruptedly, continued with his popular, and anti-imperialist reforms! the Communist Party of Mexico, because of the opportunism of its then National Committee, suffered a grave lethargy; the worker and peasant movement, because of its Moronista (5) remnants and for reasons of its compadrazgo (6) politics, followers without revolutionary fire, almost inert; the Party of the Mexican Revolution, as it has been seen before, sunk in the most dark and impersonal bureaucracy and in the hands of the sub-caudillo satraps of the new-rich governing class.
In return, the counter-revolution, Porfirioism, Huertaism, Callism, Almantism, in process of developing, and their imperialist and fascist friends, petulantly strut about inside the entire official apparatus and all over. The Spanish Falange, in the land of a Government that is in solidarity with the Republic, functions with absolute liberty, ostentatiously and with impunity exhibiting their fascist uniforms and emblems in the cafés; the ‘Golden Shirts’, defeated in 1935 by the anti-fascist people, have been resurrected; new factious organizations have appeared in political life; the ‘Sinarquista Party,’ the ‘Anti-Communist Revolutionary Party’ and many others of national scale or of simply the state, that visibly develops the means of the daily aggression against the Mexican Communist Party, the Unions, the Agrarian Communities — with an abusive demagoguery of a Hitlerian type; Callism, that is, the luckiest of the new-rich ‘revolutionaries’ that arose from the speculation which their economic power had conserved intact notwithstanding the collapse of their ‘MAXIMATURA’, of their caudillo challengingly took out the leader in the field of militant politics, and from the very same ranks of the Mexican Revolutionary Party. It was without doubt that there was a manifest current in favour of the liquidation of the Revolution in Mexico, it rose impetuously in all the managing and backward sectors of the population with the evident support of fascism and the ultra-reactionary groups of the North American bourgeoisie. In their design they all used the hypocritical sophistry of exclusive anti-communism, anti-Stalinism, but their true objective was to kill at the same time Cárdenism and the Revolution in general.
And, naturally, Leon Trotsky, the leader and maestro of the denominated, Fourth International, occupied his spot, performing his special task, his exceptional task!, in the battle of this great reactionary and imperialist concentration. ‘The orthodox Marxist-Leninist’, simultaneously supported his anti-Stalinist offensive with the common anti-Stalinist front of reaction and interpreted it with brilliant demagoguery in his mendacious calumnies to the only Parties, Union organizations and Leaders that took into account Cárdenism and the Revolution in Mexico.
But without ceasing Trotsky affirmed that he was not attacking Cárdenas (what nonsense!). Trotsky only attacked the Cárdenists, the Parties, the Leaders, the persons of the union and agrarian political movement that supported Cárdenas. Trotsky attacked only what Cárdenas had done for the defence and development of his policies. His pick-blows were not against the arch, yes, not against the columns. Trotsky was not against Cárdenas, against the person of President Cárdenas, against the First Magistrate of the Republic as an absolute individual, but yes, against the political privileges of the proletarian — popular and bourgeois — progressive concentration that formed Cárdenism, that formed the political structure of Cárdenism, all the time articulating in high and low theory (!) — against the tactic of the Popular Front and the political coalition that supports the political platform of Cárdenas, which is no more than a Popular Front — the Popular Front that in the process of construction, Trotsky and all the bourgeoisie fight with all their strength. Trotsky, therefore, is not against the person of President Cárdenas, but yes, against the support of the proletarian class, against the proletarian revolution, against the progressive politics of President Cárdenas, as he was, to the point of ignominy, in the case of the Second Spanish Republic.
In practice, in the dynamic of revolutionary national politics of Mexico, Trotsky was in this sense against Cárdenism as a political platform, as the political practice of the national Revolution in Mexico, as the tactic of the Revolution in the present historical stage of Mexico. And this, in the Mexican political life of the present, I wish to mathematically state, to be with reaction is to be against the Revolution; therefore, Trotskyite theory, the Trotskyite simplistic theory, the perfidious Trotskyite theory, of proletarian revolution at all costs, is in present-day Mexico, as in Republican Spain — more than a stupidity, it is a precise reactionary demagogic manifestation. Stupid of Trotsky? Doubtless a cretin, Trotsky? No the intelligent, very intelligent work of a counter-revolutionary provocateur.
Trotsky asserted that he would not intervene in the internal politics of the country, respecting his legal position as a refugee. He maintained that the targets of his attacks were only agents of the G.P.U., and for that reason, actors of a specifically international politic. But Trotsky took very good care to say that these ‘agents of the G.P.U.’ were the only precise political supports, as it has been before noted, of the governmental conduct of President Cárdenas, of the democratic-bourgeois Revolution in Mexico, in consequence, and for that reason, the only victims of the blows of each-and-every-one of the diverse sectors that make up the political unity of the anti-Revolution of today.
For Trotsky, for the renegade Trotsky, his blows originated in a specie of high politics that was situated in the stratosphere of the Revolution and not on the ordinary political surface of the others. In this virtue, the invariable synchronizing of the anti-Stalinist diffusing of the national and international counterrevolution, responded only to its own knife thrusts, to the stabs of Trotsky, besides, for their Trotskyite dialectics to be of any importance, they in fact fired at the same flesh that merited the common and unanimous reactionary aggression. For Trotsky the politician, the simultaneity of the attack meant nothing, nothing, the political personality of the victim, nothing, the nature of the politics of the band of aggressors nor of the motive of the attack. His knife was red and this was enough… so, what more can I give you of all the others that were dagger targets?
When the activities of the Dies Committee against Mexico became visible and with it was accentuated the volume of reactionary fire against Stalinism, against Cárdenism (‘el Cardenismo stalinizante,’ as the imperialists labeled it), against the parceling of land, against the right to strike, against the expropriation of the Petroleum Enterprise, Trotsky, the Trotsky that would not intervene in Mexican national politics, the Trotsky of the olympian revolution, he advanced as much as he could, in order to demonstrate that by treating of anti-Stalinism, he was the invincible champion face-to-face with the most vigorous bourgeois anti-Stalinist gladiators of any country. And who can deny that Stalin is the cause of the greatest hatred for the bourgeoisie everywhere? Now then, the intelligent Trotsky could not hide the fact that the anti-Stalinism of Dies was no more then an immediate method of attacking Cárdenism, that is, the Mexican Revolution, and by this road the revolution in general. It was then only concerned, as is known, with unmasking his Iscariotism. The remains of modesty? Sophistry of a traitor! For the object he used the generous voice of Diego Rivera – the political answer on the Mexican scale – purposefully to inform of imagined Stalinist ambushes in the Mexican government apparatus, that Ultimas Noticias published sensationally. Thus he tried to fulfil two tasks: to hit Stalinism one more time and tell Dies that Cárdenism was the incubator and the nourisher of Stalinists… this he told for the subsequent end of a greater imperialist pressure against Mexico and in favour of reaction. However the Pharisee assured that he had absolutely nothing to do with the activities of the lynching Texas Representative; and the great ‘eagle’ demanded documentary proof about his relations with that great enemy of our Nation and its people.(?) In this case, lower than his traitorous objective, must have been his mental self-justification; only attack the Stalinist bureaucrats and their Stalinized allies. It is of little importance that his firing coincides with that of Dies, the most perfect symbol of the ultra-reactionary circles of the United States. ‘His platform, the platform of Trotsky was different.’ Worse for his sole enemies, that wanted to do so bad with the entire world; the same for the global counter-revolution as well as the most purified and rectilinear of the Marxist-Leninist revolutions!
Trotsky repeated in Mexico the sequences of his crime that the P.O.U.M. had consummated in Spain. Only his tactic here was more hypocritical by reason of his status of political refugee; there he was able to do it sufficiently barefaced. In Spain, in the name of the Proletarian Revolution at all costs — a stupid and pharisaical doctrine — the opposition politics to the Popular Front — tied the arms of the Republican coalition in order that Francoism and international Fascism could shoot them in the back. In Mexico, fighting indirectly the united forces of the left that were grouped around the Cárdenist program of the Mexican Revolution, he repeated his feat.
That Trotsky is dead and now cannot defend himself? Elizondo, Picaluga, Santa Anna, Victoriano Huerta, Guajardo, are also dead, but this is not significant in what is referred to as the necessary execration of their treasons. Trotsky is surely dead, but the putrification of his politics of his perverted madness lives just for spite. They live on, his proselytes, his disciples, the heirs of the miraculous capacity of the maestro who knew how to make the bourgeoisie of Mexico and of the entire world furiously applaud, when he spoke precisely of the ‘true revolution and of the true Marxism-Leninism,’ that is, of what most offends the counter-revolution. Leon Trotsky, then, the Marxist-Leninist mathematically synchronized with the counter-revolutionary diffusers of the interior and the exterior of the ‘red’ echo of all the calumnies against the International Communist Movement the fecund creator of constant and new calumnies in the international reactionary market, the ‘revolutionary’ of invariable simultaneity of the anti-Stalinist with international counter-revolutionary anti-Stalinism, the hypocrite who paid gratitude to Cárdenas filled with mocking precisely for the only political supporters of Cárdenas, in harmonious parallel with Mexican reaction and foreign anti-Cárdenism, the orator of the proletarian revolution in the midst of the invariable applause of the pro-Porfiristas, of the pro-Huertistas, of the Almazanistas, of the Fascists of Mexico… he finds himself more and more comfortably entrenched in his fortress in Coyoacán, gratuitously protected by the public force of the progressive Mexican State.
Thus, only a debilitated revolutionary could self-sabotage the inevitable duty to struggle against this inconceivable reality. But how to do it? How to accomplish that which the labour organizations of Mexico had not been able to do in a period of three years?
The Mexican labour movement considered as an accomplished fact the sojourn and political activities of Trotsky in his headquarters in Mexico. The C.T.M. (Confederación de Trabajadores Mexicanos) had completely confined its struggle by virtue of the following declaration (Leaflet of the C.T.M. titled: ‘The C.T.M. and Trotsky,’ February 1938, page 17): ‘In the concrete case of Trotsky, the C.T.M. leaves the responsibility of his sojourn in Mexico to the Government of Mexico, who had conceded the permission and who corresponds to the exercise and the application of the political rights that are the exclusive business of the State.’ Has any disapproval more approving been seen? Has any ineffable diplomatic form of washing the hands ever been seen? In any events, it deals with a ‘tactic’ that has nothing to do with the combativeness of the labour movement. The Mexican Communist Party, the only possible vanguard of the proletarian revolutionary movement of Mexico, the only possible vanguard of the Mexican Revolution, however, owing to the opportunism of its leadership at that time, was only a little bit more energetic, but in no way sufficient to consider that it had, at least badly, fulfilled its duty.
Was it possible to end the political paralysis that such reality implies? Was it possible to extirpate from the C.T.M. the political torpor? Was it possible to tear out of the Communist Party the semi-inertia it was coming to suffer from? Our duty was to try it, though deluded the purpose would seem. Our duty was to exhaust all possible recourse within moral discipline. Thus we would be able to struggle parallely against the marasmus that immobilized the Mexican labour movement, against its officialism (so eloquently made manifest in the declaration before cited), against its political dependence, Against its ‘strategic’ friendships, against all those scars inherited from Moronism, that still destroys the political workers and union movement of Mexico, in spite of the progress made in the area of puny corporate organization and in the field of oratorical terminology.
It was then when I lived the dramatic struggle of which I spoke in my investigatory declaration before the First Court of Justice of Coyoacán. Ten, twenty, thirty of participations of mine in meetings of the Mexican Communist Party, in search of an agreement to organize the mobilization of masses of workers, peasants and the people against the caustic habitation of the counter-revolutionary headquarters of Trotsky in Mexico. Ten, twenty, thirty failures were suffered in my intention. How could not the Mexican Communist Party at least understand the public disapproval of one of the most persistent resolves of President Cárdenas when the National Leadership of the Mexican Communist Party damaged its own independence and revolutionary combativeness by supporting a narrow official political solidarity of them? Of Lombardo Toledano and his group, one does not have to speak. The weaknesses and errors of President Cárdenas deserve only very intimate and secret rebuffs, or at most, humble consultations or demands. Trotsky’s activities were bad and detestable for them but the tyranny of relations with the President of the Republic was worse. Inclusive of the great amount of anti-Trotskyite polemics, more then anything it seemed inconvenient for them for reasons of ‘strategy’. The old Moronista concept, fatal for the education of the proletarian masses. And the National Campesino Federation? And the rest of the central unions of Mexico? And the other professional and industrial unions of the country? And in sum, all the rest of the worker, farmer and popular organizations that exist in the land? Impossible!
An insulated action, absolutely independent of every political or union organization, completely autonomous, was the only solution. An action was only possible insulated from the Franco-snipers. A serious decision, but an indispensable and inevitable decision.
So it went, but the headquarters of Trotsky had to be exposed. It would demand the fundamental interests of the Mexican people and the fundamental interests of the Mexican Nation.
In consequence it did not confound me of having to have participated in this task. On the contrary, I considered that as a Mexican revolutionary nothing would be of greater honour than to have contributed to an act that tended to expose the treason of a political centre of espionage and provocation, seriously contrary to the National Independence of Mexico, the Mexican Revolution — that counted me among its soldiers and militants from the year of 1911 – and of the international struggle for the cause of Socialism.
My truth, then, the truth that will appear in my conclusions before this court, simultaneously with the publication of this preamble of the same, will be displayed in a full and final manner.
1. Maximatura refers to President General Plutarco Elias Calles who was called the Maximum Leader, the Supreme Leader. He ran the country from behind the scene when he was out of office.
2. Maderismo was the term used by Siqueiros to criticise Cárdenas. Francisco I. Madero was the acclaimed leader of the Mexican Revolution who had relentlessly attacked U.S. imperialism and was murdered by the General Victoriano Huerta with the connivance of the U.S. ambassador Henry Lane Wilson. In later years Siqueiros used the word Maderismo to signify the ‘romantic populist’ that he considered Madero to be, and Cárdenas to be the same.
3. The Trotskyites’ Partido de Obrero de Unificación Marxista (POUM) had been notoriously unreliable in the Spanish Civil War both in bearing their share of fighting against the fascists and in supporting the Popular Front.
4. Agorzomados, Siqueiros uses the word ‘agorar’ or ‘agorgojarse’ ‘The Mexican leftists in power …. were on the defensive’ from the ominous predictions (agorzomados), of the right, Or the left being eaten by weevils (agorzomados) of the right.
5. Moronista. From Luis N. Morones, corrupt labour leader of the CROM, Confederación Regiónal Obrera Mexicana. Also a secretary of Labour.
6. Compadrazgo. From compadre, godfather, here used sarcastically, it also means conspiracy.
Translated from the Spanish by Philip Stein