Friday, May 13, 2016

Jones to Speak on Mexican Anti-Subversion Laws, 1941-70

On Monday, May 16, 2016, 4:00pm - 5:30pm, in the 6th Floor Moynihan Boardroom of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Halbert Jones, St. Antony's College, University of Oxford, will present “Crimes Against the Security of the Nation”: World War II, the Cold War, and the Evolution of Mexico’s Anti-Sedition Laws, 1941-1970:
While, until recently, relatively little attention has been given to the importance of international conditions in accounting for the longevity of Mexico’s post-revolutionary regime, Halbert Jones will show how World War II and the Cold War played a pivotal role in enabling successive Mexican governments to enact, expand, and apply one of its most controversial legal tools, a provision in the federal penal code criminalizing what it described as acts of “social dissolution.”  The legislation, in force from 1941 to 1970, prescribed severe penalties for vaguely defined crimes of subversion, and it was invoked over the course of those decades against striking workers, student protesters, and a famous communist muralist, among others who were said to be spreading “foreign propaganda” and undermining national security.  By the time Mexico’s 1968 student movement called for the repeal of the measure, however, it had become a symbol of what critics saw as the arbitrary nature of the regime.  The removal of the provision from the books in 1970 – and its replacement with a clause introducing the new crime of “terrorism” – therefore highlights the ability of an authoritarian political system to adapt to changing international and domestic political conditions.