Pre-conquest, some of the indigenous peoples of what is today Mexico had decision-making structures based on participation, discussion, and consensus, hallmarks of modern anarchism. Today, indigenous community assemblies and collective decision making inform some Mexican social movements of the left 'and below,' such as the Zapatista Army of National Liberation, and these practices have a large influence both on Mexican anarchism and anarchists in the United States and internationally.
In 1824, the utopian socialist Robert Owen unsuccessfully tried to acquire a district of fifty leagues to develop a colony in the Mexican provinces of Coahuila and Texas along the same principles set forth in New Harmony. His request was eventually denied by the Mexican government.
In 1861 the Greek Plotino Rhodakanaty tried to implement the ideas of Fourier and Proudhon during the administration of President Comonfort. He published Cartilla Socialista a manual explaining the ideas of Fourier. Some of his adepts like Francisco Zalacosta, Santiago Villanueva, and Hermenegildo Villavicencio, became the first worker's rights activists in Mexico. Other students of Rhodakanaty founded a school called "La Social, Sección Internacionalista" following Bakunin. These activists organized one of the first mutualist societies in Mexico. Mutualism is the preferred term for anarchism by the Mexican authorities.
Around 1882 another anarchist group was founded by the brothers Enrique and Ricardo Flores Magón. They published the newspaper Regeneración in 1901. Their movement is oft-cited as a precedent for the Mexican Revolution of 1910. Other famous leaders of the Magonista movement were Práxedis Guerrero, Camilo Arriaga, Juan Sarabia, Antonio Díaz Soto y Gama and Librado Rivera.
Anselmo L. Figueroa was a Mexican-American anarchist political figure, journalist and member of the Organizing Council of the Mexican Liberal Party (MLP). He was imprisoned in the United States between 1911 and 1914 due to violations of U.S. neutrality laws. He published Regeneración, the official newspaper of the MLP, before and after his imprisonment. At the time of the uprisings, Regeneración generated about US$1,000 per week in subscription fees. Even after covering its publication costs, several hundred dollars per week were made available for MLP revolutionary causes. Smaller sums of money were received from outside donors to the organization. Regeneración was published until 1918. It was distributed in Mexican communities in the United States and used in literacy lessons there, as books were often scarce.
Juana Belén Gutiérrez de Mendoza was an anarchist and feminist activist, typographer, journalist and poet born in San Juan del Río, Durango, Mexico. While many women contributed in the Mexican Revolution 1910-1920 by fighting alongside their husbands, others wrote against the injustices of the Díaz regime. In May 1901 she found an anti-Díaz newspaper called Vésper. She attacked the clergy in Guanajuato and wrote against foreign domination in Mexico. She also wrote against the Díaz regime and criticized Díaz for not carrying out the requests and needs of the people. As a result, her newspaper was confiscated and she was also put in jail several times by Díaz between 1904 and 1920. She established a new newspaper called El Desmonte (1900-1919) and continued her writings. She translated the works of Peter Kropotkin, Mikhail Bakunin, and Pierre Joseph Proudhon to Spanish. She was also a Caxcan Indian from the state of Durango.
In 1869, student Chávez López wrote one of the earliest anarchist manifestos. The motto of the manifesto: "soy socialista porque soy enemigo de todos los gobiernos y comunista porque mis hermanos quieren trabajar las tierras en común translates as "I am a socialist because I am an enemy of all governments and I am a communist because I want to work our common lands with my brothers". Dispossessed peasants in central Mexico supported these ideas.
The Confederación General de Trabajadores (General Confederation of Workers, CGT) was a federation of labor unions in Mexico. It was founded in February 1921 by anarchists, syndicalists and others on the far left who opposed the more moderate, pro-government Confederación Regional Obrera Mexicana (CROM). In particular, the founders of the CGT criticized the CROM's close relationship with the conservative American Federation of Labor (AFL). Briefly after its formation, the CGT allied with the Mexican Communist Party (PCM), but disputes ended the relationship almost immediately. In the decades that followed, the CGT became increasingly anti-communist. The CGT remained far smaller than the CROM, and by the 1930s both federations were dwarfed by the Confederation of Mexican Workers (CTM).
Russian anarchist exilees Mollie Steimer settled in Cuernavaca with Senya Fleshin, her lifelong companion, where they ran a photographic studio. They continued to advocate anarchist ideals and correspond with various comrades around the world. In 1938, at the beginning of the German economic crisis and the rise of Nazism and fascism in Europe, the German individualist anarchist philosopher Horst Matthai Quelle moved to Mexico. There, he began studying philosophy at the National Autonomous University of Mexico where he took classes with writer Carlos Monsivais and philosophers Leopoldo Zea and Emilio Uranga. Quelle earned his undergraduate degree, master's and doctorate in philosophy at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, where he returned as a professor of philosophy in the 1980s. He also taught at the Universidad Iberoamericana and since 1986, the Universidad Autónoma de Baja California.
The Mexican Anarchist Federation (sp: Federación Anarquista Mexicana) was a Mexican anarchist organization that existed from December 28, 1945 until the 1970s. It appeared as the Anarchist Federation of the Center joined with the Anarchist Federation of the Federal District. It published the periodical Regeneración. It received the energy of recent Spanish anarchists who sought refuge in Mexico escaping from Francisco Franco´s dictatorship.
Shortly after its establishment it gained the attention of the Mexican police forces and the Mexican government after some Spanish exiled anarchists along with members of the Mexican Anarchist Federation were arrested after trying to rob a truck that carried large amounts of money from a beer industry. Also linked to the Mexican Anarchist Federation was the Libertarian Youth (sp:Juventudes Libertarias) and the publication Tierra y Libertad.
These attempts at revolution started the anarchist movement in Mexico, which eventually fused with the Mexican communist party, which was outlawed during the height of the Cold War. Remnants of these organizations survive as part of the Frente Popular Francisco Villa which is and urban areas. Formed in 1997, the Popular Indigenous Council of Oaxaca "Ricardo Flores Magón" (CIPO-RFM) is a grassroots organization based on the philosophy of Ricardo Magón.