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Good Neighbors, Good Friends [Buenos Vecinos, Buenos Amigos]
The state of international relations between Mexico and the United States in the early 1940s is reflected in this print, which depicts Benito Juárez (Mexican president, 1861–63 and 1867–72) and Abraham Lincoln (United States president, 1861–65) in front of their respective national flags. Although no historical evidence suggests a political friendship between Juárez and Lincoln, their kinship as liberators of the common man had become symbolic of accord between the neighboring countries. Between the depictions of the presidents in O’Higgins’s print, two figures representing the working classes of Mexico and the United States shake hands in a gesture of goodwill.
O’Higgins uses this “historic” unifying iconography to express the current attitude of the Mexican Communist movement, which corresponded with that of the TGP Taller de Gráfica Popular, toward the United States. Since the end of the Stalin-Hitler pact and the establishment of the Sixth Period of the Communist International in 1941, the Taller had begun to engage more with the capitalist United States. Members of the workshop actively participated in Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Good Neighbor Policy during the years of World War II. Designed to create an open, positive exchange between the United States and Latin America, the cultural programs of the Good Neighbor program allowed the TGP artists to make connections with American artists, particularly in New York and Chicago. O’Higgins’s print symbolizes the Taller’s interest in establishing a dialogue with like-minded artists across the border.
from Costa, Para la Gente: Art, Politics and Cultural Identity of the Taller de Gráfica Popular (Notre Dame, 2009)