Mexican Communist Leader’s Papers Open to Public

Monday, February 24, 2014
Miguel Aroche Parra papers, Box 55, Hoover Institution Archives
Miguel Aroche Parra papers, Box 55, Hoover Institution Archives
Miguel Aroche Parra papers, Box 55, Hoover Institution Archives

The Hoover Institution Archives has acquired the papers of Miguel Aroche Parra, a Mexican railroad unionist, Communist Party leader, and poet.

Aroche Parra, born in 1915, was an active member of the Partido Comunista Mexicano until 1950, when he helped found the Partido Obrero Campesino Mexicano, which became part of the Partido Popular Socialista in 1963. Aroche Parra, who played a leading role in the famous 1959 railroad strike, was imprisoned for more than seven years for taking part in that movement. In prison Aroche Parra began writing poems that were eventually compiled and published under the title 28 Poems of Love and Life.

The Aroche Parra papers are made up mostly of correspondence, serial issues, and his writings, including original drafts of essays, poems, and his many articles written both for the organs of the political parties he was associated with and for publications such as Excelsior and Política with a wide audience in Mexico. Aroche Parra's articles and columns thus offer a running commentary on Mexican and international politics during a period of more than half a century.

An orthodox Marxist-Leninist, Aroche Parra criticized the Partido Revolucionario Institucional’s (PRI’s) long rule in Mexico. He wrote often about the labor movement in his country and criticized what he saw as the political repression of dissent by the Mexican government, especially the student movement of 1968. On international issues, Aroche Parra was a dedicated "anti-imperialist" who opposed what he saw as the malign influence of US power in Latin America and elsewhere in the world. In contrast, he wrote favorably about North Vietnam and North Korea.

Aroche Parra's papers also contain position papers and other internal documents relating to his participation in radical politics, including those pertaining to the issues that led to his expulsion from the Communist Party of Mexico. In his later years, Aroche Parra served as a deputy representing the Partido de la Revolucion (PDR) in the Chamber of Deputies of the Mexican Congress; his papers contain a number of documents relating to the PDR’s formation.

The collection contains drafts of many of Aroche Parra's poems. Inspired by the work of Pablo Neruda, they are often political in nature, although some are of a more personal, romantic nature.

“The Miguel Aroche Parra collection,” says John Lear, professor of history at the University of Puget Sound, “finally gives researchers access to a central figure in the history of the left in 20th century Mexico as well as to the key struggles he helped define, from his union militancy with the railroad workers and their definitive 1959 strike, to his political activism in the Communist Party and, post-expulsion, the parties of the democratic left that challenged the rule of the PRI.”