Tomás Garrido Canabal: a life dedicated to the Mexican southeast

It traces the political career of Tomás Garrido Canabal through his private archive.

Tomás Garrido Canabal en diferentes actos en el estado de Tabasco (1949) by AGN, Archivos Fotográficos, Tomás Garrido Canabal, General, Actos Públicos, sobre TGC/108.Archivo General de la Nación - México

Tomás Garrido Canabal was born on September 20, 1890 in the Chiapas town of Catazajá, near Tabasco, where he spent most of his life. However, it was in the region of southeastern Mexico where he was formed socially, educationally and politically.

Tomás Garrido Canabal en diferentes actos en el estado de Tabasco (1949) by AGN, Archivos Fotográficos, Tomás Garrido Canabal, General, Actos Públicos, sobre TGC/108.Archivo General de la Nación - México

Despite growing up in a conservative family of wealthy landowners, the young Tomás Garrido sought to show his own ideals related to the socialist, democratic and liberal tendencies that were beginning to awaken the revolutionary spirit of the time.

Tomás Garrido con el general Pérez y Treviño Gutiérrez (1933) by AGN, Archivos Fotográficos, Tomás Garrido Canabal, General, Personajes, sobre TGC/097.Archivo General de la Nación - México

When Francisco J. Múgica established himself as governor of Tabasco in 1915, Tomás Garrido returned to the region after finishing his law studies and managed to get a position as a prosecutor of the Supreme Court of Justice of the State.

Tomás Garrido en su despacho by AGN, Archivos Fotográficos, Tomás Garrido Canabal, Archivo Personal, Retrato de Tomás Garrido Canabal, sobre TGC/019.Archivo General de la Nación - México

At first, Múgica distrusted Garrido when he learned that he came from a family of wealthy landowners; however, Garrido's actions made him change his mind. In fact, Múgica's politics were a great influence for the future Garridista government.

Retrato del general Carlos Greene by AGN, Archivos Fotográficos, Tomás Garrido Canabal, Archivo Personal, Fotografías dedicadas a Tomás Garrido Canabal, sobre TGC/003.Archivo General de la Nación - México

With the resignation of Múgica as governor of Tabasco, General Carlos Greene took office, but, being unknown by his opponents, had to defend his election before President Carranza. This led to Tomás Garrido becoming interim governor.

Las ligas obreras demuestran su adhesión al licenciado Garrido (1925) by AGN, Archivos Fotográficos, Tomás Garrido Canabal, Política, Mítines y manifestaciones, sobre TGC/155.Archivo General de la Nación - México

For this reason, in the second half of 1919, Garrido covered several interim periods, in which he began to integrate policies in agrarian matters. In this way, workers' movements and peasant groups were consolidated.

Tomás Garrido y su gabinete reunido en el Palacio de Gobierno by AGN, Archivos Fotográficos, Tomás Garrido Canabal, Política, Palacio de Gobierno, sobre TGC/159.Archivo General de la Nación - México

When the Agua Prieta Plan was enacted, Garrido was one of the first to raise his hand to join the rebellion led by Adolfo de la Huerta, then governor of Sonora, from the southeast. Both were backed by revolutionary generals, such as Álvaro Obregón.

Propaganda “Vota por Tomás Garrido C[anabal] para gobernador del estado” (1931) by AGN, Archivos Fotográficos, Tomás Garrido Canabal, Política, Campañas Políticas, sobre TGC/130.Archivo General de la Nación - México

When the Agua Prieta Plan was consecrated, Garrido won Obregón's sympathy. He was appointed interim governor of Yucatán in 1920 and, subsequently, was urged to take the reins of the state of Tabasco, a period that was locally known as garridismo.

Tomás Garrido trasladándose en una barca by AGN, Archivos Fotográficos, Tomás Garrido Canabal, Tabasco, Villahermosa, sobre TGC/190.Archivo General de la Nación - México

In mid-1923, as constitutional governor of Tabasco, Tomás Garrido had to leave the state when the forces of Adolfo de la Huerta besieged the region as part of the rebellion against the presidential candidacy of Plutarco Elías Calles.

Grupo de damas votando (1925) by AGN, Archivos Fotográficos, Tomás Garrido Canabal, Tabasco, Villahermosa, sobre TGC/189.Archivo General de la Nación - México

In 1925, after Obregonist troops contained the rebellion, he returned to finish his governorship. He promoted policies to position the agricultural and livestock sector as the main economic activities and decreed that in Tabasco women could vote and be voted.

Maniobras de embarque de roatán para exportación en Villahermosa by AGN, Archivos Fotográficos, Tomás Garrido Canabal, Tabasco, Villahermosa, sobre TGC/190.Archivo General de la Nación - México

The social development of Tabasco was based on the promotion of agricultural activities that would boost local industry from the distribution of land. However, the latifundia and the conditions of the territory only allowed this plan to be consecrated at the regional level.

Credencial de Tomás Garrido como delegado al Segundo Congreso de Ayuntamientos de la República Mexicana by AGN, Archivos Fotográficos, Tomás Garrido Canabal, Tabasco, Centla, sobre TGC/169.Archivo General de la Nación - México

In 1926, when Garrido completed his term as governor of Tabasco, he moved to Mexico City to become a senator of the state itself. At this stage he suffered an attack that kept him exiled in the United States.

Quema en público de fetiches, santos, cruces e imágenes religiosas by AGN, Archivos Fotográficos, Tomás Garrido Canabal, Política, Campaña Anticlerical, sobre TGC/127.Archivo General de la Nación - México

Although Garrido was far from Tabasco, his closeness to the then governor Ausencio Cruz, who was always faithful to his ideology, allowed him to continue interfering in the political decisions of the region. In this context, the anti-religious campaign was implemented.

Quema en público de fetiches, santos, cruces e imágenes religiosas by AGN, Archivos Fotográficos, Tomás Garrido Canabal, Política, Campaña Anticlerical, sobre TGC/127.Archivo General de la Nación - México

This campaign promoted by the Executive Power was imposed in the Tabasco region in a radical way in 1928 to eradicate, censor and completely prohibit everything that was related to the Church and Catholic dogma.

Campaña antialcohólica by AGN, Archivos Fotográficos, Tomás Garrido Canabal, Tabasco, Villahermosa, sobre TGC/189.Archivo General de la Nación - México

Garrido began a new period as governor of Tabasco in 1931 and with it came the possibility of returning and consolidating his power. One of his first measures was the implementation of the anti-alcohol campaign through the imposition of a dry law throughout the state.

Establecimiento de las escuelas, alumnado y profesores by AGN, Archivos Fotográficos, Tomás Garrido Canabal, General, Escuelas, maestros y alumnos, sobre TGC/050.Archivo General de la Nación - México

Garri's policies had four focuses of attention: first, to consolidate educational institutions before religious ones; secondly, to direct social and economic development from the countryside and, thirdly, to considerably reduce crime rates.

Quema en público de fetiches, santos, cruces e imágenes religiosas by AGN, Archivos Fotográficos, Tomás Garrido Canabal, Política, Campaña anticlerical, sobre TGC/127.Archivo General de la Nación - México

The fourth was the creation of the so-called Red Shirts, an organization of socialist political position composed mostly of young people focused on maintaining a social order on the issues of anti-religious and anti-alcoholic laws through violence.

Visita del presidente Lázaro Cárdenas al estado de Tabasco by AGN, Archivos Fotográficos, Tomás Garrido Canabal, Política, Tomás Garrido con Lázaro Cárdenas, sobre TGC/161.Archivo General de la Nación - México

By 1934, Garrido left his position as governor to occupy the Secretariat of Agriculture and Development within the presidential cabinet formed by General Calles for the newly elected Lázaro Cárdenas. With him left a group of Red Shirts for Mexico City.

Bloque de jóvenes revolucionarios conocidos como Camisas Rojas by AGN, Archivos Fotográficos, Tomás Garrido Canabal, Política, Bloque de jóvenes revolucionarios "Camisas Rojas", sobre TGC/125.Archivo General de la Nación - México

Promoting the Red Shirts as an organization to be established throughout the country brought many negative consequences for Garrido, as the group carried out a shootout against some parishioners in the Plaza Coyoacán on December 30, 1934.

Liga de sucursal de resistencia Comalcalco by AGN, Archivos Fotográficos, Tomás Garrido Canabal, Política, Ligas de resistencia, sobre TGC/150.Archivo General de la Nación - México

The shooting left five dead and thirty wounded. One of the attackers was lynched to death and sixty-five members of the Red Shirts were arrested. Formally, there were forty-five imprisoned members plus three who participated in the lynching.

Tomás Garrido a la cabeza de la manifestación de las ligas de resistencia by AGN, Archivos Fotográficos, Tomás Garrido Canabal, Política, Ligas de resistencia, sobre TGC/149.Archivo General de la Nación - México

The acts of the Red Shirts unleashed the discontent of society and increased political tension, because while they appealed to the revolutionary ideal, the speech of Plutarco Elías Calles invited to stop being a country of caudillos to be one of institutions.

Plutarco Elías Calles y Tomás Garrido by AGN, Archivos Fotográficos, Tomás Garrido Canabal, Política, Impreso a color, sobre TGC/162.Archivo General de la Nación - México

The consequences of this incident and the rupture between Cárdenas and Calles ended the political career of Tomás Garrido. True to his ideal, he decided to go into exile in Costa Rica, where Calles was also exiled, to whom he was loyal.

Tomás Garrido en un acto público by AGN, Archivos Fotográficos, Tomás Garrido Canabal, General, Actos Públicos, sobre TGC/149.Archivo General de la Nación - México

This brief review of the political figure of Tomás Garrido is only the surface of the documentary wealth that we can find within his personal archive, which, without a doubt, is a primordial documentary source to create a historical perspective of a character like this.

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