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  • ICAA Record ID
    Vidali, Vittorio
    Contra una canallesca mentira : Tina Modotti es una luchadora / Enea Sormenti
    El Machete : Periódico quincenal (México, D. F., México). -- Ene. 19, 1929.
    p. 2
    Newspaper article – Letters
    Sormenti, Enea. "Contra una canallesca mentira: Tina Modotti es una luchadora." El Machete: Peródico quincenal (Mexico City), January 19, 1929.
Editorial Categories [?]

The Liga pro-luchadores perseguidos [League for Support of Persecuted Fighters] objected to a letter written by Enea Sormenti [a.k.a. Vittorio Vidali] to the Editorial Department of El Machete. Sormenti was Secretary of the Liga Antifascista de México [Antifascist League of Mexico] and a representative to the International Antifascist Conference. The purpose of the letter was to defend the reputation of Tina Modotti, accused of being a Fascist spy by José Magriñá. Maintaining that [members of] the Modotti family were well known antifascists, he listed the jobs Tina had performed for organizations linked to the Comité de Defensa de las Víctimas del Fascismo [Fascist Victims Defense Committee] and the International Red Aid. He also reiterated the antifascists’ support for the libeled Italian activist.


On January 10, 1929, the Communist Julio Antonio Mella was murdered in Mexico City. The press proceeded to unleash an insidious harassment campaign against the photographer Tina Modotti (1896-1942), girlfriend of the Cuban activist. The murder of Mella, the founder (along with Carlos Baliño) of Cuba’s Communist Party (PCC), led to a mountain of exaggerated speculation. Some commentators even saw Tina as the perpetrator of (or reason for) the crime of passion. With all the rumors flying at the time, it is interesting that Vittorio Vidali, alias “Enea Sormenti,” (1900-83) chose to defend Modotti by responding to the statements of [José] Magriñá. This Italian hired killer had been identified by the Mexican Communist Party as one of the people who actually carried out the murder. There are two aspects of Vidali’s letter that stand out: first, the writer’s effort to clarify, to the Mexican communists, a matter that none of them had even suggested (that is, some secret Fascist affiliation of Modotti). The second aspect was the writer’s omission of any reference to the Mella case whatsoever. 

Although studies of Vidali’s work in Mexico have barely scratched the surface, one of the reasons he came to Mexico in 1927 was to coordinate the regional activities of the International Red Aid. This was an organization undertaking secret operations for the Third Communist Internationale. His obscurity had led some investigators to consider Vidali as a possible murderer of Mella. However, the more accepted hypothesis was that Gerardo Machado (1871-1939), Cuban dictator from1925 to 1933, had ordered the elimination of Mella. In any case, the event enabled Vidali to pull Tina into his orbit of influence, from which the photographer would not escape until her own death.

Adela Cedillo
CURARE, Espacio crítico para las artes, Mexico City, Mexico

Biblioteca José María Lafragua de la Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla