Working- class Mexican men have hard lives. On that point at least, most
everyone agrees. In a pioneering 1901 study of the “genesis” of crime in
Mexico City, for example, lawyer- cum-sociologist Julio Guerrero ex-
pressed concern for the poor jornalero (day laborer): “moral instincts
extinguished in the dark night of misery and an intimate acquaintance
with cold; dignity spent in fruitless pursuit of work; the future turned
into expectations of jail; and his suffering and desperation into a forced
vagrancy, that many times ended with pulque or tequila.”1
Even self- styled defenders of the working class couldn’t resist portray-
ing their protégés as miserable drunks. A 1904 issue of La Guacamaya—
“whip of the bourgeoisie, staunch friend of the working class,” and the
most pop u lar of Mexico City’s penny press weeklies— featured a front-
page illustration that could have served equally well for Guerrero’s
gloomy assessment (see fig. I.1).2 Appearing under the title “La resur-
rección de Lázaro” (The Resurrection of Lazarus), the image depicts a
prone, still groggy worker rousted by an erect, scowling policeman with
raised nightstick. The poem beneath reads:
Se encontraba medio muerto
Lázaro José Trujillo
A consecuencia del pulque
que en la tarde había bebido,
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