An Excerpt from Jim Conrad's
of September 21, 2007
Issued from Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve Headquarters in
Jalpan, Querétaro, MÉXICO


So what do you do at midday in the desert when it's 95° and sunlight on white limestone hills is blindingly bright? I found a mesquite tree with a breeze and finished a book from Jalpan's library about Mexico's Cristero Rebellion. Now I understand better how this 1926-1929 conflict between the Mexican government and the Catholic Church grew to the point that 90,000 Mexicans died violently and up to 5% of Mexico's population fled to the US. The rebellion is outlined at

The interesting point is that the fervent, understandable but very disorganized outrage of Mexico's religious people was encouraged by landowners and business people. Encouragement took the form of channeling arms and funds to the Cristeros, and by publishing inflammatory propaganda. Landowners sought to destabilize the government because the new Mexican Constitution of 1917 provided for the acquisition, dismantling and redistribution of very large landholdings to small, rural communities as part of the ejido (eh-HEE-do) program. Ejidos are explained at

What fascinates me is that this same theme occurs again and again throughout human history. The theme has two parts. First, a tiny minority stirs up and directs unfocused discontent among the masses. Second, consequences of the resulting violence turn out to be disastrous for the masses, but advantageous to the minority who stirred up the mess.

Even before the Cristero Rebellion Mexicans experienced the full force of the theme when a tiny band of outside-funded Spanish conquistadores manipulated the discontent of the Aztecs' neighboring tribes and led them into rebellion against the Aztecs. The results were that the tiny Spanish minority ended up dominating not only the Aztecs but eventually nearly all of Mexico's indigenous peoples.

It was the same with the Nazis -- their funding by German industry, the way they stirred up the mass's patriotism and appealed to their less noble impulses, the unceasing program of misinformation and propaganda, and the subsequent disaster.

Some would say we needn't look so far back or so far away for other examples.

The historical periodicity, the uncanny way the same elemental forces converge again and again in so many strange and unforeseen permutations... It would be pretty the way a Bach fugue is pretty with its surprising variations on basic themes, were the theme's workings-out not always so very tragic.

That's what I saw so clearly when last Sunday I put my book down beneath the mesquite near Higueras. Facebook Icon.