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Published on Dec 7, 2015
The assassination of Alvaro Obregón: jury trials and the problem of truth in post revolutionary Mexico
A public lecture by Professor Pablo A. Piccato (Columbia University).
When José de León Toral killed president elect Álvaro Obregón in July 1928, president Plutarco Elías Calles decided that the case would be tried in a penal court, to show the world the impartiality of the Mexican justice system. In the middle of a growing religious conflict, Calles wanted to avoid the demonstrations of Catholic popular support that followed the extrajudicial execution of other would-be assassins the year before. The jury trial against León Toral and his alleged accomplice, Concepción Acevedo, became an unprecedented media event, however, in which multiple conspiracy theories about the death of Obregón and the justice of tyrannicide were discussed in national radio broadcast, and fully transcribed in the newspapers. The case contributed to the elimination of jury trials in Mexico City and opened an era of popular skepticism toward the judicial system in general.
Pablo Piccato, professor, specializes in Mexican history. He has worked on the political and cultural history of Mexico, and on the history of crime. He is currently working on an overview of crime in Mexico during the twentieth century.