by Mario Ojeda Revah
Eastbound, Eng.: Sussex Academic Press / Chicago: Independent Publishers Group, 2015. Pp. xii, 306.
Notes, biblio, index.. $74.95. ISBN: 184519666X
Mexico and the Spanish Republic
In this, his first major work published in English, Prof. Ojeda (National University of Mexico), gives us a ground breaking and interesting account of the largely overlooked role of Mexico in the Spanish Civil War. In reaching out to the beleaguered Spanish Republic, Mexico, under Pres. Lazaro Cardenas, made its first extra-hemispheric appearance on the world diplomatic scene.
Ojeda opens by exploring the complex roots that shaped Mexico’s policy. There were, of course, natural historic ties between the two nations. While as a former colony which had only attained independence after a decade of war, by the 1930s Mexico had more in common with Spain than historic antagonisms. In the early decades of the new century both countries were beset by quite similar problems, reaction, poverty, clericalism, political inequality, dictatorship, regionalism, right-wing militancy, left wing radicalism, and foreign intervention. In effect, aiding Republican Spain strengthened liberal Mexico against its own rightist threats, and helped quiet a domestic Marxist revolutionary threat. In addition, Mexican intervention in the Spanish Civil War surprisingly helped improve relations with the United States, which was worried about both fascist and Marxist threats in Latin America. So while shipping Mexican-made arms to Spain, Cardenas also helped move American airplanes through Mexico to Spain.
Ojeda also examines the impact of the Spanish Civil War on Mexico’s domestic politics, the role of Mexican volunteers for both the Spanish Republic and the Nationalists, and the postwar settlement of Spanish refugees in Mexico.
A volume in the series “Sussex Studies in Spanish History,” this is an excellent read for anyone interested in Mexican history, and is also valuable for serious students of the Spanish Civil War or U.S. relations with Latin America in the era of the Second World War.