views updated


Guerrero, state of southern Mexico (pop. 2,900,000 in 2001) formed in 1849 from portions of the states of México, Michoacán, and Puebla. Guerrero is perhaps best known as the site of violent social movements from Mexico's 1810–1821 War of Independence to the leftist guerrilla campaigns of the 1970s. The capital of the state is Chilpancingo; its largest city is Acapulco (pop. 409,335 in 1980). The state encompasses 24,631 square miles of extremely diverse topography and climate, from warm and humid coastal plains to rugged and arid mountain ranges.

In the colonial period mulatto sharecroppers cultivated cotton on the coast for Mexico's domestic textile industry, and Indian peasants and creole landowners produced food in the mountains and northern valleys for the silver mining center of Taxco. Beginning in 1810, these social groups joined forces in the War of Independence, first under José María Morelos y Pavón and then Vicente Guerrero. Fighting in the area ended when Guerrero and royalist commander Agustín de Iturbide issued the Plan of Iguala in 1821. After independence Guerrero was largely an economic backwater, although it benefited briefly from the demand for cotton generated by Mexico's first protectionist industrial experiments. Federalist movements based on alliances between peasants and local elites led to the creation of the state in 1849 and to the Revolution of Ayutla in 1854–1855. The latter, led by former insurgent Juan Álvarez, began the period of Mexican national history known as the reform.

Subsequently Guerrero faded from prominence. Although peasant rebellions continued, they no longer were strengthened by alliances with local elites. The rapid economic development of the Porfiriato largely bypassed the area. Railroad construction reached only northern Guerrero. However, population growth and the legal assault on peasant village landholdings increased agrarian tensions. During the Mexican Revolution local political activity was intense and confused. A rapidly successful movement against Porfirio Díaz later created a split along class lines, with most peasants eventually supporting Emiliano Zapata and his Plan of Ayala.

Guerrero has experienced little industrial development. Tourism in Acapulco and other coastal sites became the largest generator of income in the 1960s, followed by remittances from those who had migrated to Mexico City and the United States. The area's continuing poverty fueled 1970s guerrilla movements led by Lucio Cabanas and Genaro Vázquez. Although these movements were repressed, opposition to the ruling Revolutionary Institutional Party (PRI) remains strong.

See alsoMexico, Wars and Revolutions: War of Independence .


Moisés Ochoa Campos, Breve historia del Estado de Guerrero (1968).

Francisco Gomez-Jara, Bonapartismo y lucha campesina en la Costa Grande de Guerrero (1979).

Ian Jacobs, Ranchero Revolt: The Mexican Revolution in Guerrero (1982); Ensayos para la historia del Estado de Guerrero (1985); Historia de la cuestión agraria mexicana: Estado de Guerrero 1867–1940 (1987).

Moisés Santos Carrera and Jesús Álvarez Hernández, Historia de la cuestión agraria mexicana, Estado de Guerrero: Épocas prehispánica y colonial (1988).

Additional Bibliography

Guardino, Peter. Peasants, Politics, and the Formation of Mexico's National State. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1996.

Jacobs, Ian. Ranchero Revolt: The Mexican Revolution in Guerrero. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1982.

                                        Peter Guardino