1 What Makes Peasants Counterrevolutionary?
1 San juan's entry into the cristero rebellion is described by Moheno (1985:
141-43) and Meyer (1973/74a: 189). The quote is from an interview con-
ducted by Moheno with an unidentified resident of San Juan. The Lord of
the Miracles was San Juan's most important Christ-saint and was venerated
throughout the Purepecha highlands (see chapter 6). Most sources estimate
that the number of active rebels ranged from 20,000 to 50,000.
March of
1928, the National League for the Defense of Religious Liberty (LNDLR, or
League) claimed to wield an army of 50,000 rebels, almost half of them in the
states of Jalisco and Michoacan (INAH, CR, Reel 16, LNDLR special bulle-
tin, March 1928). Enrique Gorostieta, the chief military commander of the
cristeros, estimated that he had 20,000 rebels under his command in mid-1929
(INAH, CR, Reel 30, Enrique Gorostieta to "Val," 16 May 1919). U.S. diplo-
matic and military intelligence sources reported that the number of rebels
ranged from a low of 5,000
a high of 25,000 in 1927 and 1928 (DS,
812.00129215.5, Dwight Morrow, U.S. Ambassador to Mexico, to U.S. State
Department, 16 July 1928; USMI, U.S. Military Attache, Mexico, to U.S. War
Department, Reports on Stability of the Government, 17 April, 22 May,
7 August, and 14 August 1928).
2 This incident is described in David, 22 June 1959, p. 179, a magazine pro-
duced by veterans ofthe cristiada between 1952 and 1968.
3 The term agrarista will be used here to refer to peasants who gave active
political or military support to the state or to individual revolutionary leaders.
These would constitute only a minority of those peasants who had applied for
either land grants or for the restitution of communal lands under the agrarian
reform program. The mobilization of agrarista peasants varied according to
military necessity;
Meyer (1973/74a: 159-60) estimates that their numbers
ranged from 5,000 to 20,000 over the course of the rebellion.
4 The term cristero was not employed until 1929, when the government began to
use it in a pejorative sense to imply that any military movement led by Christ
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