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Laughter of the People with Its Music Somewhere Else [Risa del Pueblo. Con Su Música a Otra Parte]
The artists of the TGP Taller de Gráfica Popular led many initiatives in support of antifascist causes in Europe. Produced in 1939, toward the end of the Spanish Civil War, this print contains a strong antifascist overtone. The image, which has been attributed to both Isidoro Ocampo and José Chávez Morado, was printed in a popular serial in Mexican newspapers called the “Risa del Pueblo” (Laughter of the People), which often included political cartoons similar to this one. The artist is satirizing the notion of the free press in Mexico and denouncing Mexican journalists and newspapers with pro-Franco inclinations. Sprawled clumsily on the floor is a foul gachupine (an insulting nickname for Spaniards), whose feet are emanating a strong stench. The gachupine has manipulated the body of newspaper editor Miguel Ordorica into a horn, upon whose neck various names of pro-Franco Mexican newspapers have been etched. Fitted with a swastika earring, Ordorica is exposing the crimes that he and other pro-Franco newspapers have committed against the Mexican people, as the gachupine blows words such as calumnia (defamation) and mentiras (lies) out of his mouth. Located lower on the neck of Ordorica are the words prensa libre (free press); the artist ridicules this notion by showing how easily the Mexican press can be manipulated by the gachupines.
Underneath the gachupine and Ordorica, on the lower left, is a poem lamenting the state of the Mexican press. The poem tells the audience that “the name ‘free press’ / which is neither free nor press / is paid by the gachupines / so they can write what they think.” Later, in the second stanza, it asserts that the pro-Franco Mexicans have “robbed us in fine form.” To the right of these verses, more text assures the viewer that the horn’s music is only for the “other side,” not for the Mexicans who oppose Franco. While it may have claimed to be free, the press had become, according to the TGP, a malleable horn used by the Franco sympathizers to spread their fascist beliefs.
from Costa, Para la Gente: Art, Politics and Cultural Identity of the Taller de Gráfica Popular (Notre Dame, 2009)