Sons of Marx and Coca Cola”: Youth, Morality, and Right-Wing “Culture Wars” in Cold War Mexico

Luis Herrán-Ávila, UNM Department of History

Friday, April 16, 2021 | 02:00 pm

Virtual event


The conflicts of Mexico’s Cold War involved not just rebellious university students and dissenting worker and peasant movements wrestling against an increasingly repressive state. Conservative movements also participated in shaping Mexico’s diverse Cold War landscape, by spawning a range of local organizations, shaping public discourse, and battling their own fights for the “true” soul of the Mexican nation. This talk will address the “culture wars” waged by the burgeoning anticommunist movement in 1960s-1970s Mexico, which included a somewhat oblique critique of consumer capitalism, a deep concern for the harmful effects of youth counterculture, and the development of a right-wing anticommunist global outlook. Based on the analysis of the magazine Réplica, the talk will examine conservative anxieties about the decline of public morality, including fears that the hippies, drugs, rock music, and “decadent” cinema were vehicles of communist (and even Jewish) infiltration seeking to destroy Mexico’s traditions and identity from within.

Dr. Luis Herrán-Ávila is a historian of the Cold War in Latin America, with an emphasis on conservative, anticommunist, and extreme right movements. After researching the comparative history of anticommunism in Mexico, Argentina, and Colombia, his current book project seeks to unveil the national and Latin American dimensions of right wing activism in Cold War Mexico. The book project examines the history and Cold War transformations of right wing dissidence to the Mexican postrevolutionary state, and situates Mexico as a crucial hub for transnational anticommunist activism, shedding light on the various ways in which Mexican anticommunists forged links with Latin American, European, and East Asian fellow travelers. Dr. Herrán Ávila’s publications in both English and Spanish reflect a range of related research interests, such as right wing youth; neofascism in Latin America; the history of political crime in the Americas; and the intersections between banditry and insurgency. He has also been a recipient of various scholarships and grants from Fulbright, Mexico’s National Council for Science and Technology, the New School for Social Research, and the Hoover Institution, and a contributor to the Mexican dailies Reforma and El Norte.


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