The Daughters of La Malinche:
Gender and Revolutionary
Woman is a living symbol of
the strangeness of the universe and
its radical heterogeneity.
—Octavio Paz,
‘‘Los hijos de la Malinche’’∞
In late January 1936, some 250 peasant women and their children invaded
the Hacienda Santa Bárbara, the estate of Mexico’s former president and
political puppeteer Plutarco Elías Calles. Led by the intrepid activist and
erstwhile Communist Party militant Concha Michel, the campesinas (rural
women) claimed the ranch for a women’s school for vocational and political
skills, delivering the benefits of Mexico’s 1910–17 revolution. They imme-
diately faced Calles’s menacing guardias blancas, the private militia charged
with preventing such challenges. According to Michel’s account, she as-
suaged the women’s fears by explaining that Calles would find it ‘‘inconve-
nient’’ to massacre women and children.≤ A general in the revolution’s Con-
stitutionalist army and the jefe máximo (supreme chief) of postrevolutionary
politics, Calles publicly aligned himself with the masses; surely he would
not allow this encounter to degenerate into bloodshed by campesinas stand-
ing up for their revolutionary rights. As tensions mounted, Calles o√ered
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