Exiled in Mexico: Evo Morales, Trotsky, and Rigoberta Menchú

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Exiled in Mexico: Evo Morales, Trotsky, and Rigoberta Menchú
Evo Morales resigned as President of Bolivia after widespread protests and criticism - Photo: Taekn from Claudia Sheinbaum's Twitter account

Exiled in Mexico: Evo Morales, Trotsky, and Rigoberta Menchú

Newsroom & Agencies
Mexico City
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Mexico has a long history of granting asylum to refugees

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One of Mexico's tradition is to offer shelter to refugees and political exiles. This week, the country's long history of offering shelter was in the spotlight after former Bolivian President Evo Morales was granted asylum and flown to Mexican City on Tuesday.

Mexico granted asylum to Bolivian ex-president Evo Morales

In previous days, Morales declared his electoral win in the midst of a widely disputed presidential election but on Sunday, after Bolivia was swarmed by protests and clashes between his supporters and the opposition, he resigned.

After Evo Morales' resignation, Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard offered asylum to the former Bolivian President and after Morales agreed, a Mexican air force plane was deployed to bring him to Mexico after a series of diplomatic gaffes between Latin American leaders who refused Mexico permission to use their airspace.

On Wednesday, Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum presented Evo Morales with the Distinguished Guest for reducing poverty in Bolivia and his government's efforts to reduce economic and social inequality.


However, the exiled Bolivian is not the first prominent figure who has been granted asylum in Mexico, other famous figures include:

1. Jose Martí
The Cuban revolutionary, poet, and essayist was a central figure in the country’s independence and was exiled during the 1870s and by 1875, he had settled in Mexico. In Mexico City, he wrote for several newspapers but after a few years, he left for Guatemala. He later lived in France, Venezuela, Spain, and the U.S. before returning to Cuba.

2. Leon Trotsky
The Russian leader of the Bolshevik revolution and prominent communist theorist was exiled from the Soviet Union in 1929 after losing to Joseph Stalin. After living in Turkey, France, and Norway, Trotsky was granted asylum in Mexico in 1936. He later died in Mexico City’s Coyoacán neighborhood after a Stalinist spy killed him.

3. Jewish refugees
Between 1933 and 1945, Mexico welcomed 1,850 Jewish refugees. Moreover, diplomat Gilberto Bosques Saldívar also played a key role in rescuing Jews. As the Mexican consul in Marseilles, Bosques directed consular officials to issue visas for any refugee who wanted to flee to Mexico. His efforts saved tens of thousands of Jews and refugees fleeing the Franco regime. Bosques also rented a castle and a summer holiday camp near Marseilles to house refugees and claimed that under international law, the property was Mexican territory. In 1943, the Gestapo arrested Bosques, his family, and 40 consular workers and detained them in Germany for a year until the Mexican government obtained their release.

4. Spanish refugees
In 1940, President Lázaro Cárdenas announced that he would grant asylum to Spanish refugees following the 1936-1939 civil war. Around 20,000 Spaniards were granted exile in Mexico, including politicians, intellectuals, and luminaries such as filmmaker Luis Buñuel.

5. Mohammad Reza
Reza, the deposed shah of Iran fled his country in early 1979 after the Islamic revolution swept Ayatollah Khomeini to power. Then-President José López Portillo approved his stay in the city of Cuernavaca.

6. Rigoberta Menchú
Menchú, the winner of the 1992 Nobel Peace Prize was granted asylum in Mexico in the 1980s. The Indigenous humans rights activist was persecuted by Guatemala’s military government, which she denounced for committing atrocities against Indigenous people. In 1988, Rigoberta Menchú returned to Guatemala after a civilian government took power.


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