Political asylees in Mexico through memory

Within the documentation that protects the AGN is the testimony of the events and characters that arrived in Mexico, the country in which they found a new opportunity.

Llegada del barco Sinaia al puerto de Veracruz (1939) by AGN, Archivos Fotográficos, Archivo Fotográfico Hermanos Mayo, Cronológico Primera Parte, sobre HMA/CR1/ 1193.3.Archivo General de la Nación - México

Mexico has been considered one of the countries par excellence in terms of migratory asylum for having provided protection to a significant number of people who, for political, economic or social reasons, have been forced to leave their country of origin.

Desembarque de asilados españoles en el puerto de Veracruz (1939) by AGN, Archivos Fotográficos, Archivo Fotográfico Hermanos Mayo, Cronológico Primera Parte, sobre HMA/CR1/ 1193.3.Archivo General de la Nación - México

From the immigration policies included in the Law of Foreigners and Naturalization of 1886, a favorable panorama was opened to immigration movements, especially on the issue of the so-called political refugees.

Documentación de la tripulación del barco Sinaia (1939) by AGN, Archivos Fotográficos, Archivo Fotográfico Hermanos Mayo, Cronológico Primera Parte, sobre HMA/CR1/ 1193.3.Archivo General de la Nación - México

The aforementioned law protected immigrants entering Mexico, since the right of expatriation was recognized as part of individual freedom. The control of entry records was limited to passenger lists with the date of entry into the country.

Ficha migratoria de Tatsugoro Matsumoto (1896) by AGN, México Contemporáneo, Secretaría de Gobernación Siglo XX, Departamento de Migración, Japoneses, caja 05, 204. Matsumoto, Tatsugoro.Archivo General de la Nación - México

The new immigration laws of the first decades of the twentieth century resumed the system of records of entry of foreigners into the country with the use of files with general information and migratory reasons, but in accordance with the provisions of article 15 of the Constitution.

Llegada de refugiados españoles al puerto de Veracruz (1939) by AGN, Archivos Fotográficos, Archivo Fotográfico Hermanos Mayo, Cronológico Primera Parte, sobre HMA/CR1/7803.Archivo General de la Nación - México

The position of respect for the individual guarantees of political asylees included in all immigration laws brought with it the arrival of immigrants, mainly Europeans, in the interwar period (1919-1938).

Retrato de León Trotsky (1940) by AGN, Archivos Fotográficos, Enrique Díaz, Delgado y García, caja 75/8.Archivo General de la Nación - México

One of the most significant events of political asylum in Mexico was the arrival of the Russian ideologue and revolutionary Leon Trotsky at the beginning of 1937, who had been expelled from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and persecuted in various territories of Europe.

Recibimiento de Diego Rivera a León Trotsky (1937) by AGN, Archivos Fotográficos, Enrique Díaz, Delgado y García, caja 75/8.Archivo General de la Nación - México

After President Lázaro Cárdenas approved the request of members of the International Communist League to receive Trotsky as a political refugee, the revolutionary was welcomed into the home of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera.

Retrato de León Trotsky (1940) by AGN, Archivos Fotográficos, Enrique Díaz, Delgado y García, caja 75/8.Archivo General de la Nación - México

Trotsky lived three years in Mexico; Despite being far from the Soviet regime, on August 21, 1940 he was assassinated in Mexico City by a Stalinist agent of Catalan origin named Ramón Mercader.

Los niños y el Presidente (1937) by Enrique Díaz, Enrique Delgado y Manuel GarcíaArchivo General de la Nación - México

During the mandate of Lázaro Cárdenas another important event of political asylum occurred, since in 1937 a group of approximately 456 Spanish children arrived as the first contingent of refugees for the Spanish Civil War.

Calurosa despedida en el anden (1937) by Enrique Díaz, Enrique Delgado y Manuel GarcíaArchivo General de la Nación - México

The arrival of the children was managed through the Committee for Aid to the Children of the Spanish People, dedicated to safeguarding from the dangers of war the orphaned descendants of combatants, as well as the sons and daughters of sympathizers of republicanism.

Otro lábaro os protege (1937) by Enrique Díaz, Enrique Delgado y Manuel GarcíaArchivo General de la Nación - México

It was planned that they would be in Mexican territory while the intensity of the conflict decreased, but with the fall of the Republicans and the establishment of the Franco dictatorship they were forced to remain in Mexican territory permanently.

Aspectos de la Guerra Civil en España (1936) by AGN, Archivos Fotográficos, Archivo Fotográfico Hermanos Mayo, Cronológico Primera Parte, sobre HMA/CR1/ 1189.Archivo General de la Nación - México

The consolidation of Francoism in Spain caused that between 1939 and 1942 more people left the country and took refuge in Mexico. Within the exodus arrived various personalities who ended up being influential in the field of education and culture.

Julio Souza junto a combatientes españoles (1939) by AGN, Archivos Fotográficos, Archivo Fotográfico Hermanos Mayo, Cronológico Primera Parte, sobre HMA/CR1/ 1193.3.Archivo General de la Nación - México

Among these influential figures were photojournalists Francisco Souza, Cándido Souza, Julio Souza, Faustino del Castillo and Pablo del Castillo, better known as the Mayo Brothers, who arrived in Mexico in 1939.

Retrato de Julio Souza by AGN, Archivos Fotográficos, Archivo Fotográfico Hermanos Mayo, Cronológico Primera Parte, sobre HMA/CR1/ 1193.3.Archivo General de la Nación - México

The Mayo Brothers were consolidated and stood out for documenting the Civil War in Spain, an event that forced them into exile in Mexico. In this country they built a great career and currently their personal archive is protected in the AGN.

Luis Buñuel en la filmación de la película Nazarín (1958) by AGN, Archivos Fotográficos, Archivo Fotográfico Hermanos Mayo, Cronológico Primera Parte, sobre HMA/CR1/ 12590Archivo General de la Nación - México

The film director Luis Buñuel, creator of the iconic film Los Olvidados (1950), was another of the figures who had to go into exile due to the same circumstances, although he did not arrive in Mexico within the first Spanish contingents.

Ficha migratoria de Luis Buñuel (1945) by AGN, México Contemporáneo, Secretaría de Gobernación Siglo XX, Departamento de Migración, españoles, caja 035, 067. Buñuel Portoles, Luis.Archivo General de la Nación - México

Buñuel arrived in Mexico in 1945 in the condition of double exile, since he was forbidden to return to Spain until 1970 and was persona non grata in the United States. Later, he was naturalized as Mexican, nationality he held until his death in 1983.

Aspectos de la Guerra Civil en España (1936) by AGN, Archivos Fotográficos, Archivo Fotográfico Hermanos Mayo, Cronológico Primera Parte, sobre HMA/CR1/ 1189.Archivo General de la Nación - México

The beginning of World War II and the expansion of Nazism in Europe made Mexico open its doors to migration in conditions of political asylum during the governments of Cárdenas and Miguel Alemán (1934-1952).

Tina Modotti durante los interrogatorios sobre el asesinato de Julio Mella (1929) by AGN, Archivos Fotográficos, Enrique Díaz, Delgado y García, caja 31/1.Archivo General de la Nación - México

It was under these conditions that in 1939 the Italian photographer Tina Modotti returned, who had already resided in Mexico from 1923 to 1930, a time in which she made most of her work and resumed after her return.

Ficha migratoria de Remedios Varo (1941) by AGN, México Contemporáneo, Secretaría de Gobernación Siglo XX, Departamento de Migración, españoles, caja 247, 033. Varo Uranga, Remedios.Archivo General de la Nación - México

Remedios Varo, a painter of Spanish origin, was another important artist who entered Mexico in 1941. It was in Mexican territory where he developed his first works and with which he participated in various exhibitions, art galleries and Mexican and Latin American institutions.

Llegada de exiliados brasileños a México (1969) by AGN, Archivos Fotográficos, Revista Tiempo, caja 13, sección Temático, título México, subtítulo Asilados.Archivo General de la Nación - México

In the mid-twentieth century, South American exiles arrived in Mexico. This coincided with the establishment of the General Population Law of 1974, which, although it was enacted for population control, recognized territorial asylum to foreigners who suffered political persecution.

Liberación de presos políticos brasileños (1971) by AGN, Archivos Fotográficos, Revista Tiempo, caja 13, sección Temático, título México, subtítulo Asilados.Archivo General de la Nación - México

One of the most significant cases occurred in 1970 with the arrival of a group of Brazilian political prisoners released in exchange for the subversive groups to which they belonged to the release of the two diplomatic officials of the United States and Japan that they had kidnapped.

Llegada de chilenos exiliados a México (1973) by AGN, Archivos Fotográficos, Revista Tiempo, caja 118, sección Temático, título México, subtítulo Refugiados otros países.Archivo General de la Nación - México

In 1973, with the coup d'état against the regime of Salvador Allende in Chile, anyone who considered themselves an enemy of the government suffered persecution and reprisals. Mexico was one of the countries that opened the doors to any Chilean who wanted to settle in the territory.

Llegada del segundo grupo de refugiados guatemaltecos a Campeche (1995) by AGN, Archivos Fotográficos, Revista Tiempo, caja 118, sección Temático, título México, subtítulo Refugiados guatemaltecos.Archivo General de la Nación - México

In the 80s there was one of the last exoduses to Mexico due to armed conflicts. On this occasion they were citizens of Guatemala, who, taking advantage of the proximity, moved in search of refuge in a massive way. However, this situation surpassed the Mexican State.

Campamento de refugiados guatemaltecos en Chiapas (1995) by AGN, Archivos Fotográficos, Revista Tiempo, caja 118, sección Temático, título México, subtítulo Refugiados guatemaltecos.Archivo General de la Nación - México

The difficulty of providing care to thousands of Guatemalan migrants forced the Mexican State to ask the UN for help, to rethink how to deal with political asylum and to generate new forms of migration in the country that followed international human rights standards.

Credits: Story

Referencias Documentales:



📷 AGN, Archivos Fotográficos, Archivo Fotográfico Hermanos Mayo, Cronológico Primera Parte, sobres: HMA/CR1/ 1193.3, HMA/CR1/7803, HMA/CR1/1189 y HMA/CR1/12590.

📷 AGN, Archivos Fotográficos, Enrique Díaz, Delgado y García, cajas: 75/8 y 31/1.

📷 AGN, Archivos Fotográficos, Revista Tiempo, caja 13, sección Temático, título México, subtítulo Asilados.
📷 AGN, Archivos Fotográficos, Revista Tiempo, caja 118, sección Temático, título México, subtítulo Refugiados otros países.

📜 AGN, México Contemporáneo, Secretaría de Gobernación Siglo XX, Departamento de Migración, Japoneses, caja 05, 204. Matsumoto, Tatsugoro.
📜 AGN, México Contemporáneo, Secretaría de Gobernación Siglo XX, Departamento de Migración, españoles, caja 035, 067. Buñuel Portoles, Luis.

📜 AGN, México Contemporáneo, Secretaría de Gobernación Siglo XX, Departamento de Migración, españoles, caja 247, 033. Varo Uranga, Remedios.

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