front cover of The Impossible Triangle
The Impossible Triangle
Mexico, Soviet Russia, and the United States in the 1920s
Daniela Spenser
Duke University Press, 1999
During the 1920s, Mexico was caught in a diplomatic struggle between the ideologies of two strong states. In The Impossible Triangle Daniela Spenser explores the tangled relationship between Russia and Mexico in the years following their own dramatic revolutions, as well as the role played by the United States during this turbulent period. Bringing together Mexican, Soviet, and North American (as well as British) perspectives, Spenser shows how the convergence of each country’s domestic and foreign policies precluded them from a harmonious triangular relationship.
Based on documents from the archives of several nations—including reports by former Mexican diplomats in Moscow that have never before been studied—the book analyzes the Mexican government’s motivation for establishing relations with the Soviet Union in the face of continued imperialist pressure and harsh opposition from the United States. After explaining how Mexico established diplomatic ties with the Soviet Union in 1924 in an attempt to broaden the spectrum of its alliances after several years of uneven relations with the United States, Spenser reveals the troubled nature of the relationship that ensued. Soviet policy toward Mexico was characterized by a series of profound contradictions, varying from neglect to strong involvement in Mexican politics and the belief that Mexico could become a center of world revolution. Working to resolve and explain these contradictions, Spenser explores how, despite U.S. objections to Mexico’s relations with the Soviet Union, Mexico continued its association with the Soviets until the United States adopted the Good Neighbor Policy and softened its stance toward Mexico’s revolutionary program after 1927.
With a foreword by Friedrich Katz and illustrated by illuminating photographs, The Impossible Triangle contributes to an understanding of the international dimension of the Mexican revolution. It will interest students and scholars of history, revolutionary theory, political science, diplomacy, and international relations.


front cover of In from the Cold
In from the Cold
Latin America’s New Encounter with the Cold War
Gilbert M. Joseph and Daniela Spenser, eds.
Duke University Press, 2008
Over the last decade, studies of the Cold War have mushroomed globally. Unfortunately, work on Latin America has not been well represented in either theoretical or empirical discussions of the broader conflict. With some notable exceptions, studies have proceeded in rather conventional channels, focusing on U.S. policy objectives and high-profile leaders (Fidel Castro) and events (the Cuban Missile Crisis) and drawing largely on U.S. government sources. Moreover, only rarely have U.S. foreign relations scholars engaged productively with Latin American historians who analyze how the international conflict transformed the region's political, social, and cultural life. Representing a collaboration among eleven North American, Latin American, and European historians, anthropologists, and political scientists, this volume attempts to facilitate such a cross-fertilization. In the process, In From the Cold shifts the focus of attention away from the bipolar conflict, the preoccupation of much of the so-called "new Cold War history," in order to showcase research, discussion, and an array of new archival and oral sources centering on the grassroots, where conflicts actually brewed.

The collection's contributors examine international and everyday contests over political power and cultural representation, focusing on communities and groups above and underground, on state houses and diplomatic board rooms manned by Latin American and international governing elites, on the relations among states regionally, and, less frequently, on the dynamics between the two great superpowers themselves. In addition to charting new directions for research on the Latin American Cold War, In From the Cold seeks to contribute more generally to an understanding of the conflict in the global south.

Contributors. Ariel C. Armony, Steven J. Bachelor, Thomas S. Blanton, Seth Fein, Piero Gleijeses, Gilbert M. Joseph, Victoria Langland, Carlota McAllister, Stephen Pitti, Daniela Spenser, Eric Zolov


front cover of Stumbling Its Way through Mexico
Stumbling Its Way through Mexico
The Early Years of the Communist International
Daniela Spenser, translated by Peter Gellert
University of Alabama Press, 2011
Stumbling Its Way through Mexico records the early attempts by the Moscow-based Communist International to organize and direct a revolutionary movement in Mexico. The period studied, from 1919 to 1929, was characterized at the beginning by a wave of revolutions in Europe that the Bolsheviks expected to grow into an international phenomenon. However, contrary to their expectations, the revolutionary tide ebbed, and the new age they had expected receded into an uncertain future. In response, Moscow sent agents and recruited local leaders worldwide to sustain and train local revolutionary movements and to foment what they saw as an inevitable seizure of power by Communist-led workers.
Unlike the Soviet seizure of power in Russia, the Mexican Revolution of 1910–1920 had not changed the fundamental character of the nation-state. However, it did represent a sea change in the relationship between the state and society. When the Bolshevik Revolution broke out in Russia in 1917, Mexican workers already had generations of experience in the struggle against oppression, in forming class solidarity, in organizing strikes, and had tasted both success and failure. For decades in their workplaces, Mexicans had debated how to end the exploitation of labor and practice international solidarity. Mexico had an indigenous labor movement acting with some success to establish a place in a new Mexico. The agents that Moscow chose to lead the Communist movement in Mexico lacked an understanding of the local situation and presumed a lack of indigenous confidence and experience that doomed to failure their efforts to impose external control over the labor movement.
Based on documents found principally in the Soviet archives recently opened to the public, Stumbling Its Way through Mexico is an invitation to rethink the history of Communism in Mexico and Latin America.
Copublication with the Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en Antropologia Social.

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