A short biography of Mexican anarchist Esteban Mendez Guerra who fought with Pancho Villa and was a close associate of the outstanding anarchist Librado Rivera
Esteban Mendez Guerra was born on the 3rd August 1896 in Concepcion del Oro, in the northern Mexican state of Zacetecas state. He started working in the mines from a very young age. In 1914 he joined Pancho Villa’s militias and the following year fought at the battle of Ebano. In his early 20s he moved to Villa Cecilia (now Ciudad Madero) in the state of Tamaulipas. This working class enclave was built around the petrol industry and he got a job in El Aguila Refinery. In 1924 he took part in the strike at El Aguila and joined the anarchist network Hermanos Rojos (The Red Brotherhood) set up by Librado Rivera, one of the closest associates of the Magon brothers, and others. This grouping was extremely active on the propaganda and cultural level and had laid the foundations for the attempts of the Mexican working class to organise anarcho-syndicalist unions, the Confederacion del Trabajadores. He directed the theatre pieces of the group including two pieces by Ricardo Flores Magon, one piece by the great Italian anarchist Pietro Gori and one piece by the French anarchist writer Octave Mirbeau. He set up the anarchist group Luz del Esclavo (Light of the Slave). The plays were put on on a daily basis in one of the theatres of Villa Cecilia and were extremely popular with the working class of the area. He was a close personal friend of Librado Rivera and worked with him on the anarchist papers Sagitario and Avante between 1924 and 1930 in Villa Cecilia. These had been initiated by the Hermanos. Sagitario (1924-1927) had a wide circulation, not just in Villa Cecilia but throughout Mexico and abroad. It was mainly concerned with spreading anarchism among the petrol workers of the area. When Sagitario was closed down, the anarchists responded by bringing out the paper under a new title Avante (1927-1930). At the end of October 1927 together with Pedro Gudino, Gonzalo Ruiz Carrillo and Santiago Vega ( other members of Hermanos Rojos) he went to Monterrey for the Sindicato Metalurgico de Obreros del Acero de Monterrey which had joined the Local Federation of the CGT of this town. They published the first 3 issues of Avante but were then threatened by the police and had to return to Villa Cecilia. Rivera then assumed editorship of Avante in Villa Cecilia.On the 14th July 1929 he was imprisoned with his eight year old son and with Librado Rivera and Jose Ines Mena and tortured by the brutal General Eulogio Ortiz in Tampico military prison. He was released a week later, after the petrol workers organised protest meetings. He himself edited La Voz Antifascista (1938-1940) and Ruta (1940-1943) During the petrol expropriation he was delegate of Section 1 (El Aguila) of the Sindicato del Trabajadores Petroleros of the Mexican Republic. He died in an accident on the 10th January 1979.
Sources: Librado Rivera y los Hermanos Rojos en el movimiento social y cultural anarquista en Villa Real y Tampico, Tamaulipas, 1915-1931 www.bib.uia.mx/tesis/pdf/014723/014723_05.pdf