viernes, 21 de agosto de 2015

Fiesta por aniversario 90 del Estadio Xalapeño

Fiesta por aniversario 90 del Estadio Xalapeño
Ciudadanos organizan actividades artísticas y culturales para el próximo 20 de septiembre

"Su constructor, Modesto Rolland, revolucionó  la arquitectura y 20 años después construyó con la misma técnica (un colado de una sola pieza) la Plaza de Toros México."

martes, 11 de agosto de 2015

Research notes:

Research notes: I've really been delving into the network of Mexican propagandists, spies, lawyers, and businessmen working for "First Chief" Venustiano Carranza in the United States during the Mexican Revolution from 1914 to 1917. Historian Michael M. Smith has best explored this vast network to date, but there is still much to do to clarify its operations. It was truly impressive and had a huge impact on how the Wilson Administration and U.S. public viewed Carranza's Constitutionalist forces. It shows in many ways that it was the Constitutionalists' organizational capacities, not only in Mexico, but also abroad, that gave them the greatest edge and led to their ultimate victory. Modesto C. Rolland was crucial in this network as a founder of the Latin-American News Association and the Mexican Bureau of Information, which published books, pamphlets, spoke at public events, and sent weekly articles to over 500 U.S. newspaper, President Woodrow Wilson, the U.S. Congress, U.S. periodicals, and Mexican expatriates. I find it fascinating that engineers played such a prominent role in this network. Rolland was not the only one. For example, Francisco Urquidi, who Rolland initially worked under (and fought with) in New York, was a former classmate of Rolland's in the National School of Engineering in the early 1900s. They had an excellent capacity in organization and distribution, but they were also clever writers. There talents went beyond engineering the physical environment. A number of Mexican engineers during the revolution became prominent propagandists, essayists, newspaper editors, and political advisors, roles not typically attributed to engineers in the United States.

--Justin Castro

lunes, 10 de agosto de 2015

The Journal of the Southwest accepted my article "Modesto C. Rolland and the Development of Baja California." But as of now, it is not slated to come out until summer 2016. The publication of scholarly articles is most often a slow one.

The book is coming along nicely. I am now well into the third chapter, tentatively titled "Engineering in War Time." I may change it. I like the title, but the chapter is about Rolland's life during three of the most intense years of the Mexican Revolution, 1914-17, when he was working more as a propagandist, informant, and writer as much as doing actual engineering. He did help build a small telegraph and radiotelegraph network as a communications official in late 1914. He also worked as an advisor to Gen. Salvador Alvarado in Yucatan on agrarian, petroleum, and general development issues in 1916. But most often, he was in the United States writing on behalf of First Chief Venustiano Carranza.

Jorge M. Rolland C., Modesto's grandson, recently published a number of articles in popular magazines in Mexico about his grandfather. I will post something about them next time. He is also working with other engineers and scholars on the 90th anniversary of the Xalapeño stadium, as the name suggests, in Xalapa, Veracruz. Modesto Rolland designed the stadium, which was built in 1926.

Saludos from Jonesboro, AR,
Justin Castro

sábado, 28 de marzo de 2015


During the last couple months Jorge M. Rolland C. and I have made some significant headway researching and writing about the life of engineer Modesto Rolland.

I recently submitted my essay "Modesto C. Rolland and the Baja California Peninsula to the Journal of the Southwest. It is a scholarly, peer-reviewed journal, which means that even if accepted, it will be some time before it comes out. But, hopefully, good things will come to those that wait. I will also be presenting on this topic at the Rocky Mountain Conference on Latin American Studies Conference being held this year in Tucson, AZ, April 8-12, 2015.

I have also made some progress on the book. I am still working on the first chapter, but I am pleased with how it is developing so far.

Jorge has been more successful at getting his work published in popular journals in Mexico. He recently published "Ingeniero Modesto C. Rolland: Pionero del uso de prefabircado de cement Armando México" in the February 2015 edition of Contrucción y Technología en Concreto. It looks like the widely read Relatos e Historias is going to publish segments of Jorge's "La vida de Modesto C. Rolland," which would be great.

Justin Castro

viernes, 19 de diciembre de 2014

    A Little More from "Modesto Rolland and the Baja California Peninsula"

      Modesto Rolland was born and baptized in La Paz, but he spent most of his childhood in the small but bustling mining community of Santa Rosalía.[1] His family was part of a contingent of fifty Mexican and sixteen foreign, mostly French, families with which the company El Boleo founded the townsite.[2]  Santa Rosalía was a mix of ugly and beautiful. The miners stripped the hillsides, filled the air with smoke, and contaminated the soil with heavy metals and processing chemicals. Boats came and went regularly, bringing new people and supplies. These ships also brought wood from Canada and the United States, with which carpenters, including Rolland's father, built stylish French-style buildings along the coast and hillside. Many of these structures still stand today as homes, hotels, and a museum, giving the city a look unique to most of Mexico. The miners and mixed-ethnic community breathed a rough but always interesting life into the community. Bajacalifornianos mixed daily with Mexicans from other parts of the country and French, German, American, and Chinese immigrants. The sun was hot. The air was humid next to the water, but dry beyond the hills. The stars in the night sky pulsed with an amazing brilliancy, their light reflecting off the Sea of Cortez.

                [1] Baptismal record of José Modesto Rolland Mejía, Catedral de Nuestra Señora de La Paz, Libro de baptismos, no. 4, pg. 337, part. 1942; Pablo L. Martínez, Guía familiar de la Baja California, 1700-1900 (México: Ediciones Baja California, 1965), 479, 502, 549, 553, 577; Max Calvillo Velasco, “Prólogo,” Informe sobre el Distrito Norte de Baja California (México: Secretaria de Educación Pública y la Universidad Autónoma de Baja California, 1993), 5-7.  Although baptized as José, Modesto Rolland never publicly went by that name.
                [2] Juan Preciado Llamas, En la periferia del regímen: Baja California Sur durante la administración porfiriana (La Paz: Universidad Autónoma de Baja California Sur, 2005), 179.

The old El Boleo post office, now a museum. It is typical
of the carpentry work of French immigrants. Photo by author.

Justin Castro