Trotsky’s analysis of Mexico
Trotsky arrived in Mexico on 9 January 1937. A longstanding Mexican Trotskyist Manuel Rodríguez originally suggested the asylum to his boss, General Francisco Mujica, a member of the Cárdenas cabinet (and his predecessor as governor of Michoacán). However it became a life-or-death matter in November 1936, when it looked as though the Norwegian government, which had held Trotsky in prison for four months, might hand him over to the USSR.
Thanks to the efforts of other Mexican Trotskyists, such as the muralist Diego Rivera and Octavio Fernández with Mujica, Cárdenas granted asylum on the condition that Trotsky would not interfere in Mexico’s domestic affairs. Trotsky accepted this condition, in a statement on his arrival, promising “complete and absolute non-intervention in Mexican politics and no less complete abstention from actions that might prejudice the relations between Mexico and other countries”. (Statements in Tampico, 9 January 1937 in Writings 1936-37 p.86)
He reiterated the point in his answers to the Mexican press service on 23 January 1937, when he said: “I have decided not to mingle in any way at all in the political affairs of the country which has so generously accorded me hospitality and which has so many difficulties to overcome.” (Writings supplement 1933-40 p.729)
He also made it clear that he took no responsibility for his Mexican supporters, organised in the Liga Comunista Internacionalista (LCI). He wrote in the LCI paper IV Internacional in February 1937 that: “I want to avoid anything, absolutely anything, which could give my enemies an excuse for saying that I am interfering from near or afar in the internal affairs of this country. Your organisation existed even before my arrival here. It will go on existing in the same way now. I cannot take on myself the slightest responsibility for your activity.”
He added: “Our relations will remain personal and friendly, but not political.” (Writings 1936-37 p.196)
However Trotsky was forced to break with the LCI after six months in Mexico. The LCI issued a manifesto calling for “direct action” against the high cost of living, implying that workers should attack shops and other acts of terror. Coming at the time of the Moscow trials and the attacks on Trotsky by the Stalinists in Mexico, this was particularly stupid. After Trotsky’s intervention, the LCI dissolved itself for the remainder of 1937. (Oliver Gall, Trotsky en México, 1991 pp.192-193)