Esperanza and Adolfo were illegitimate at a time when that was a social stain. To protect the children, when they were a little older, a story could be told that Mariano died somewhere far away when they were young. When the inevitable question is asked, how, details could be provided, blending fiction with some truth. Esperanza's father did have a sugar plantation in the far south.
Esperanza is born 2 months after her father Doctor Mariano Lopez is killed by Rurales in northern Mexico in 1913. Elena and the children go to live at the sugar plantation of a friend in Chiapas. The plantation is burned to the ground and the owner killed. The mother and 4 children (and 2 nephews) go to live with Indians. At 14 Esperanza goes to work in the hospital.
- letter from Henry to his sister Marie 8-11-1941
- letter from Henry to his mom 8-27-1941
Henry's first (not accurate) story he sent home
People closer to the family would have heard that Mariano died, for them a story better suited was that the children were adopted. Adolfo’s mysterious birth became an issue in 1946 when he stood for the Senate. Politically it would not work for him to have been born with a Spaniard father. It may have been then that a document postdating Mariano’s death to 1915 was created. Figueroa in his writings never directly addresses Adolfo’s birth, but he lived with Esperanza. Poniatowska’s last quote from Figueroa in her book, the last words in the book - “I have always sought and found happiness.” You get what you concentrate on. He achieved his remarkable creativity by concentrating on the things he wanted and not the inessential. Again the truth is blended with fiction. Murga was the father. His wife left him and took their boy to England. Elena did have a child who died, a one year old boy in 1905.
Esperanza was adopted by Elena. She was the daughter of Gonzalo de Murga, a Spaniard with a sugar plantation in southern Oaxaca, and an English woman. Her birthname was Clara. She was adopted by Elena when Don Gonzalo separated from his wife. Elena renamed her Esperanza for a child with that name who had died. Elena consented to take the girl on condition that Don Gonzalo give up all parental influence. Esperanza was not even a half-sister of her brother Adolfo.
- Gabriel Figueroa (2005 "Memorias" published after his death - also 1996 in Poniatowska "La Mirada que Limpia" )
Gabriel Figueroa's (not accurate) story
It isn't long (1942) before Henry also has the adopted story. And then in late 1942 he receives the amazing news that Traven is Esperanza's father. He is not able to deal with either Elena or Traven knowing their true role.
The price of finding a father was paid by my losing you. Your new plans....
- draft from Henry 1-14-1943
the months of December and January were extremely distressing for me, because on the one hand I was worried about my father's health who, as you know, had left the hospital when he was still very ill to return to his lands...
- letter from Esperanza to Henry 3-18-1943
My father has returned to the jungle but at least his health is good. He looks like he's writing a new book that has absorbed all of his attention...
- letter from Esperanza to Henry 12-16-1943
"My daughter delivered your amazing letter.
...all the animals which crowd this funny world come to it by the same mechanism, so, where is de difference? This man who is writing to you never knew his parents, but he is sure they were nice stuff, since they begoted a grand-daughter as wonderful lovely and damn intelligent as my girl."
- letter from B. Traven to Henry 6-19-1946
P.S. Don't tell Gay that I am the daughter of "the old one" not him or anyone else but you and I know it.
- letter from Esperanza to Henry 12-10-1946
Esperanza and Traven both maintained she was his daughter.
In 1946 Henry sent Traven a letter through Esperanza (now lost) in which Henry evidently called Traven a psychologically disordered bastard. Everything Henry knows about Traven comes from Esperanza. Perhaps Henry has noticed Traven is not acting fatherly. Traven replied (found in a deep dark corner of an Indiana farmhouse attic) to Henry's amazing letter, threatening to kill him. They got off to a rocky start.
Esperanza and Adolfo were the children of Gonzalo de Murga and Elena Mateos
- Regina Santiago Núñez 2005 "Un Quijote en México")
Esperanza and Adolfo were the children of Gonzalo de Murga and Elena Mateos. The father in the official history, Mariano, died well before she was born.
- Adriana González Mateos (2014 "Otra Máscara de Esperanza")
The women in the family kept the true story alive for over 100 years
Esperanza was born in 1907, Adolfo in 1908. The official father, Mariano, died in 1904. No father is listed for Esperanza or Adolfo. Apparently when Adolfo began his high political career, records were changed to show Mariano still alive and his father. The new records made news in Mexico.
Searching documentary traces of a Mexican presidential family: Lopez Mateos
Jorge Benitez on 7-6-2015 sent me the photocopy of the Baptism certificate of Maria Esperanza Adolfina. It contains the name of the godfather, very interesting because it is Adolfo Artabe. Jorge also knew that Mariano had died in 1904.
Jorge's transcription below (and my machine aided translation) -
Partida N° 153, María Esperanza Adolfina.
En la Parroquia de San Cosme a diecinueve de enero de 1907, el presbítero Basilio Laca, con autorización del señor cura de la mencionada Parroquia, bauticé solemnemente a una niña que nació el día ocho del presente mes, en la Calle Sur 38 número 426 a quién puse por nombres María Esperanza Adolfina, hija natural de Elena Mateos. Fueron sus padrinos Don Adolfo Artabe y Natalia Vilar de Enríquez, a quiénes advertí sus obligaciones y parentesco espiritual. Doy fe.
Item No. 153, Maria Esperanza Adolfina.
In the parish of San Cosme on January 19, 1907, the priest Basilio Laca, with permission of the priest of that parish, solemnly baptized a baby girl born on the eighth day of this month, at Calle Sur 38 number 426 whose name is Maria Esperanza Adolfina, natural daughter of Elena Mateos. Godparents were Don Adolfo Artabe and Natalia Vilar de Enriquez, whom I advised of their obligations and spiritual kinship. I attest.
Author Adriana González Mateos comments -
"the phrase: "hija natural". This means illegitimate daughter. The phrase is not used any more, since for several decades this difference disappeared from the law and all children are considered equal, regardless of whether their parents are married or not. But, back in 1907, this meant Esperanza's parents weren't married; as we had seen before, the name of the father isn't even mentioned."