The Prison Report Of The Day A Former President Visited The Great Muralist Siqueiros

By Archivo General de la Nación - México

In the year 1961, the renowned muralist David Alfaro Siqueiros was completing his prison sentence at the Lecumberri Prison. He was charged with the crime of social dissolution under article 145 of the Criminal Code. While in prison, he received a visit from Mexico's former president, the General Lázaro Cárdenas del Río. General Lázaro Cardenas was a supporter of the cause for which Siqueiros and others became political prisoners and with whom he shared great friendships.

Álbum conmemorativo de la construcción e inauguración de la Penitenciaría de México (1900) by AnónimoArchivo General de la Nación - México

The visit of Cárdenas to Lecumberri Prison took place on December 6 around 10:15am, accompanied by his son Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas and his assistant, the engineer Rivera. The three were received by the then director of the penitentiary, Carlos Martin del Campo, who would take them to the office of public defenders where Siqueiros and the journalist Filomeno Mata were already awaiting their arrival.

This is the actual entrance of the former Lecumberri Prison and today it serves as the current headquarters of the General Archive of the Nation.

Informe sobre la visita del general Lázaro Cárdenas a Siqueiros en prisión (1961) by Dirección Federal de SeguridadArchivo General de la Nación - México

Mata expressed his thanks for the visit and his discontent for being imprisoned without a valid legal basis. He argued that him and the muralist Siqueiros had only raised their voices in support of those who fought for their cause. He also asked Cárdenas to be do something for their cause, as they planned to go on a hunger strike that would put pressure on the authorities and to push for a positive ruling in favor of the political prisoners.

Informe sobre la visita del general Lázaro Cárdenas a Siqueiros en prisión (1961) by Dirección Federal de SeguridadArchivo General de la Nación - México

For his part, Siqueiros expressed his disappointment in the country's politics, as he viewed Mexico to be the only democracy that upheld an article that repressed syndicates and workers and their efforts to improve their unions. He also mentioned that he would put a stop to the strike that was planned for January of the next year only because a figure like Lázaro Cárdenas had requested it, but that it didn't mean that the struggles and injustices liberal minded people lived though in the country should be ignored.

Informe sobre la visita del general Lázaro Cárdenas a Siqueiros en prisión (1961) by Dirección Federal de SeguridadArchivo General de la Nación - México

Cárdenas said goodbye to Mata and Siqueiros and after embracing them, he immediately went to the prison polygon where he would meet other representatives of the social movements, such as the leaders, Demetrio Vallejo and Valentín Campa Salazar, who formed part of railroad movement. The former president expressed his support for the situation and presented the actions he would take to shine a light on the injustices made against political prisoners.

Álbum conmemorativo de la construcción e inauguración de la Penitenciaría de México (1900) by AnónimoArchivo General de la Nación - México

A view of what the prison used to look like

View of what the famous Lecumberri polygon looks like today.

Informe sobre la visita del general Lázaro Cárdenas a Siqueiros en prisión (1961) by Dirección Federal de SeguridadArchivo General de la Nación - México

Upon finishing his speech, the former president was assailed by those present, who raised their voices expressing the injustice of being detained. In the case of Demetrio Vallejo, he said he was arrested for voicing his disagreement on the management of the railroad administration and that many of the accusations made against him and his movement were invented by the authorities.

Informe sobre la visita del general Lázaro Cárdenas a Siqueiros en prisión (1961) by Dirección Federal de SeguridadArchivo General de la Nación - México

Valentín Campa emphasized that from the presidential mandate of the General Plutarco Elías Calles to the current mandate he had been imprisoned for his ideals, with the exception of Cárdenas' period. He said that while Lázaro Cárdenas had been president, he had never stepped foot on any jail, and while he felt he had a habit of living behind bars, he maintained that he would never stop fighting for his dreams of freedom and the respect for human rights.

After listening to the testimonies, Cárdenas was taken to the auditorium where he admired the mural that in the report was erroneously attributed to Siqueiros himself, but was made by the prisoners Cuauhtémoc Hernández Ochoa, Rolando Rueda de León and Franco Muguini Salini.

Informe sobre la visita del general Lázaro Cárdenas a Siqueiros en prisión (1961) by Dirección Federal de SeguridadArchivo General de la Nación - México

General Cárdenas left the prison around 2:00 p.m, and at the door he came across the wife of Siqueiros, Angelica Arenas de Alfaro and his lawyer, Mr. Juan José Ortega.

Informe sobre la visita del general Lázaro Cárdenas a Siqueiros en prisión (1961) by Dirección Federal de SeguridadArchivo General de la Nación - México

This report was drafted days after the event by an agent of the now defunct Federal Directorate of Security. The report also mentioned that there was a division between the railroad union that didn't recognize Demetrio Vallejo as their leader. Mata and Siqueiros requested a space where they could carry out a meeting with other political prisoners to organize the hunger strike. In addition, it was reported that the daughter of Valentin Campa was found with a manifesto supporting the political prisoners in the San de Dios prison in Puebla.

Pinta en Lecumberri (1940) by unknownArchivo General de la Nación - México

This report and other documents related to the Federal Security Directorate fund can be found in the exhibition "Siqueiros, imprison the flare", which is permanently displayed in the General Archive of the Nation.

Credits: Story

Reference:
Dirección Federal de Seguridad
6 de diciembre de 1961
México
AGN, Dirección Federal de Seguridad, Versión pública, Alfaro, Siqueiros David

Anónimo
1900
México
Álbum conmemorativo de la construcción de la penitenciaría

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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