October 4, 2004

A Mexican savior

Gilberto Bosques Saldívar was born on July 20th, 1892 in Villa de Chiautla de Tapia, in the State of Puebla.

He studied in the Normal School of the State and, while a student, he became a member of the 1910 Revolutionary Movement under the leadership of Aquiles Serdán Alatriste.

Once the armed struggle was finished he took part in the Constituent Congress of Puebla. His legislative work in favor of the workers was decisive to include the social rights which had been just enacted in Querétaro in the Law of Puebla. Between 1922- 1923 and 1934-1937, he represented Puebla as a Federal Deputy.

He founded the left wing of the National Revolutionary Bloc and, in 1938, he edited the newspaper ”The National”. This period was one of the richest moments in the life of the late governmental newspaper.

He abandoned politics because he wanted to devote his time to the Mexican Diplomatic Corps.

The then Mexican President, Lázaro Cárdenas, appointed him Consul General in France during the years of the Nazi occupation.

Between 1939 and 1943 Bosques fulfilled his diplomatic mission before the Collaborative Government of Marshal Petain in the Port of Marsella and, from that position, he encouraged the flee to Mexico of a large number of Jews, leaders of the Austrian and French Resistance, Spanish Republicans and other chased people of different signs.

In 1943 his work as a Consul was interrupted when the Nazi army deprived him of this freedom, banishing him together with his family to the German village of Bad Godsenberg for a year, in a clear violation of the International Conventions for Diplomatic representatives in war times.

An agreement between the Mexican Government and the crumbling Reich Regime took him back to Mexico just before the war confrontation came to an end.

In 1944 Bosques, the author of a large literary work, wrote in one of his innumerable articles: ”I followed the policy of my country, helping, giving material and moral support to the heroic advocates of the Spanish Republic, of the brave paladins of the struggle against Hitler, Mussolini, Franco, Petain and Laval.”

Later on, Bosques was the Ambassador of Mexico in Portugal, Finland, Sweden and Cuba, where he lived during the years of fall of the Fulgencio Batista Regime and the rise of Fidel Castro.

As an Ambassador he turned the desire to be free he had learnt from his forefathers into a reality. His strenuous and profitable work to help humanity made him worthy of being one of the Mexicans with more international acknowledgements.

The people of Puebla rendered him a well deserved homage when they engraved his name on the walls of the Congress of the State of Puebla.

In a letter addressed to Bosques on March 23rd, 1941, Dr. Alfred Kantorowicz, a Jewish survivor, full of gratefulness, wrote: ”I have the pleasure to announce that we shall be leaving tomorrow- via Martinica- to Mexico. I cannot leave Marsella without repeating the sincere thanks, both my wife’s and mine, for everything you have done for us. If we can leave, it is thanks to your protection and help”.

Since June 4th, 2003 a street in Vienna has been named after Gilberto Bosques , thanks to the joint initiative of the authorities of the city, the Mexican Embassy in Austria and the Raoul Wallenberg Foundation.

* Baruj Tenembaum is the Founder of the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation.
Excerpt from the conference ”The Saviors of Humanity”

Translation: Nora Bellettieri