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The Red Shirts (Spanish: Camisas Rojas) were a paramilitary organization, existing in the 1930s, founded by the virulently anti-Catholic and anticlerical Governor of Tabasco, Mexico, Tomás Garrido Canabal during his second term. [1] The group, created to carry out the governor's orders, takes its name from its uniform of red shirts, blacks pants, and black and red military caps and it consisted of men aged 15 to 30 [1].

Apart from religion, the Red Shirts also attacked other things they considered to be detrimental to progress, most notably alcohol. They have been described as fascist [2][3][4] by some authors.

The Red Shirts have been described as "shock troops of indoctrination for the intense campaign against 'God and religion.'"[5] The Red Shirts were also used to attack and suppress the Cristeros, an uprising which rebelled against the persecution of Catholics. [6] In 1934 Garrido was named secretary of Agriculture by the new president Lázaro Cárdenas, hoping to contain the Red Shirts that way. However Garrido took the Red Shirts with him Mexico City at the National Autonomous University of Mexico to intervene in student politics. [1]

On December 30, 1934, the Red Shirts opened fired on Catholics as they were leaving Mass at the Immaculate Conception Church in Coyoacán, killing five and wounding many others. [7] Garrido sent the murderers a case of Champagne in jail and declared that they were under his protection. [8] Garrido was fired and exiled shortly after. Not much later the Red Shirts were disbanded.

The Red Shirt regime in Tabasco is the setting for Graham Greene's 1940 novel The Power and the Glory.


  1. ^ a b c Mabry, Donald J. Tomas Garrido Canabal Historical Text Archive (2001)
  2. ^ "Garrido Canabal, Tomás". The Columbia Encyclopedia Sixth Edition (2005).
  3. ^ The New International Yearbook p. 442, Dodd, Mead and Co. 1966
  4. ^ Millan, Verna Carleton, Mexico Reborn, p.101, 1939 Riverside Press
  5. ^ Krauze, Enrique THE TROUBLING ROOTS OF MEXICO'S LÓPEZ OBRADOR: Tropical Messiah The New Republic June 19, 2006
  6. ^ The Calles Presidency, 1924-28 Country Studies, Mexico, U.S. Library of Congress
  7. ^ Parsons, Wilfrid Mexican Martyrdom, p. 238, 2003 Kessinger Publishing
  8. ^ Parsons, Wilfrid Mexican Martyrdom, p. 239, 2003 Kessinger Publishing

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