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Chalco Agrarian Rebellion of 1868

Chalco Agrarian Rebellion of 1868

The Chalco peasant rebellion of 1868, originating in the Chalco region of south-central Mexico, had its ideological origins in the currents of radical utopian socialism and anarchism espoused by the school of Plotino Rhodakanaty. Texcoco native Julio López Chávez led the uprising, and at its zenith it mobilized a poorly armed force of more than fifteen hundred peasants. The quickly growing militia attacked towns and confiscated haciendas between Puebla and Chalco, in the area to the immediate southeast of Mexico City. A contingent of the national army commanded by General Rafael Cuéllar succeeded in capturing López Chávez in August 1869, after a brutal campaign that included the forced relocation of entire villages. The Juárez government executed López Chávez in September 1869, effectively ending the insurrection.

The Chalco rebellion was the first of the nineteenth century to advance a coherent ideological critique of the Mexican state based on the principles of agrarian socialism. The imported European concept of class struggle gave form to the long-festering grievances of the Mexican peasantry, many of whom had come to see the hacendados as allied with the state and the church to deprive them of their communal land rights. López Chávez, in a manifesto released preceding the major phase of the rebellion, enshrined the ideal of municipios libres, or communally organized and politically autonomous villages. In the decades to come, the municipio libre would become a central demand of the agrarian movement.

See alsoAgrarian Reform; López Chavez, Julio.


Hart, John M. Anarchism & the Mexican Working Class, 1860–1931. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1978.

Valadés, José C. El socialismo libertario mexicano (siglo XIX). Mexico: Universidad Autónoma de Sinaloa, 1984.

                                  James Elliot McBride

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