In Combat: The Life of Lombardo Toledano

Buy from publisher haymarket-imageBuy softcover (Haymarket)
Published Oct 2019
ISBN: 978-90-04-41000-8

Historical Materialism Book Series, Volume: 193

Daniela Spenser

Vicente Lombardo Toledano was the founder of numerous labour union organisations in Mexico and Latin America between the 1920s to the 1960s. He was not only an organiser but also a broker between the unions, the government, and business leaders, able to disentangle difficult conflicts. He cooperated closely with the governments of Mexico and other Latin American nations and worked with the representatives of the Soviet Union when he considered it useful. As a result he was alternately seen as a government stooge or a communist, even though he was never a member of the party or of the Mexican government administration. 

Daniela Spenser’s is the first biography of Lombardo Toledano based on his extensive private papers, on primary sources from European, Mexican and American archives, and on personal interviews. Her even-keeled portrayal of the man counters previous hagiographies and/or vilifications.

Biographical note

Daniela Spenser, Ph.D. (1994), University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, is a professor at Centro de Investigaciones у Estudios Superiores en Antropología Social in Mexico City. Her research focuses on the history of communism and the Cold War in Mexico and Latin America.


All interested in the history of labour in Mexico and Latin America, US-Latin American labour relations, Mexican post-revolutionary history and the left. The book examines these themes through the biographical approach.

Table of contents

List of Illustrations 
Part 1 Changing Times and Ideas

1 Family 
 1  The Village 
 2  Children 
 3  Vicente Lombardo Toledano 
 4  The Wise Man 
 5  The Family 

2 Knowledge and Power 
 1  Renewal 
 2  The Break 
 3  On the Campaign Trail 
 4  From the Government Palace 
 5  On the Road to the Chamber of Deputies 
 6  The Trip 
 7  The Polemical Dispute 
 8  Ideological Passion 

3 Exodus 
 1  In the CROM 
 2  Collapse 
 3  The Labour Law 
 4  The Road to the Left 

Part 2 Crusades

4 A Journey into the World of the Future 
 1  The Preparations 
 2  The Trip 
 3  Different Perspectives 
 4  Back in Mexico 
 5  The President and the Leader 
 6  The Gide Case 
5 The Foundations of the Nation 
 1  The Preparations 
 2  The First Pillar 
 3  Into Action 
 4  The Schism 
 5  Disunity 
 6  The President and the Leader 
6 A Continental Feat 
 1  In Santiago de Chile 
 2  The Planning 
 3  In the United States 
 4  In Europe 
 5  The Founding Congress 
 6  To the Attack 

Part 3 War: Threshold of a Better World?

7 Fight Fascism! 
 1  The Defeat of the Spanish Republic 
 2  Exile 
 3  Face to Face with Leon Trotsky 
 4  The Pact and Its Violation 
 5  In Soviet Intelligence 
 6  The Undesirable Anti-fascists 
8 The Illusory Unity 
 1  On the Campaign Trail 
 2  The Victory 
 3  The Farewell 
 4  The Re-election 
 5  The Elusive Unity 
9 The Fragile Harmony 
 1  The Latin American Panorama 
 2  The Congress 
 3  The Celebrated Trip 
 4  The Catavi Massacre 
 5  Coups and Blows 
 6  From Montevideo to Caracas 
 7  From Philadelphia to Cali 
 8  The Elusive Harmony 

Part 4 Animosities and Confrontations

10 For the Renewal of the Nation 
 1  The Future 
 2  On the Campaign Trail 
 3  The Roundtable 
 4  Elections in the CTM 
 5  The Expulsion 
 6  The Crisis of the Nation 

11 For the Spilled Blood 
 1  The Postwar Map 
 2  In London 
 3  In Paris 
 4  In the Other Europe 
 5  Confrontations 
 6  In People’s China 

12 Emancipation 
 1  Removing Obstacles 
 2  On an Inspection Tour 
 3  In Lima 
 4  The Third Congress 
 5  The Oil Workers 
 6  Failed Emancipation 
Part 5 On the Fronts of the Cold Peace

13 Rearmament 
 1  The People’s Party 
 2  UGOCM 
 3  Back on the Campaign Trail 
 4  Aftermath of Defeat 
 5  The Succession 
 6  The Cold Peace 

14 Mission Completed 
 1  Anti-communist Liberalism 
 2  Liberal Internationalism 
 3  In Decline 
 4  The CTAL Dies in Bucharest 
 5  The CTAL Completed Its Historic Mission 

15 The Road to 1968 
 1  PPS 
 2  Against the Current 
 3  On the Final Campaign Trail 
 4  Schism in the Party 
 5  1968 

Epilogue: Testament and Testimonies 

Bibliography and Works Cited