Jan 8, 1907 - Sept 19, 1951
Esperanza is as mysterious a character as B. Traven.
Gabriel Figueroa II (the son of the cinematographer)
- Todo Mexico, 1996, Poniatowska
Esperanza Lopez Mateos is best known as the translator, business agent and close personal friend of B. Traven, the Mexican novelist. Esperanza's brother, Adolfo Lopez Mateos, was president of Mexico from 1958-1964. Esperanza was married to her second cousin, Roberto Figueroa, brother of the cinematographer Gabriel Figueroa. The three of them lived in the same house at 1106 Coyoacan in Mexico City. She had a working relationship with the powerful labor leader Vicente Lombardo Toledano. Gabriel won many awards and is remembered as a great Mexican cameraman. He worked with many of the leading directors of Mexico and Hollywood, despite being blacklisted. B. Traven is estimated to have sold 30 million books. He is best known in the U.S. for "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre," made into a film by John Huston, starring Humphrey Bogart. It is on many lists of top films.
Esperanza's early life though was a mystery with elaborate and shifting legends. Henry Schnautz thought he finally got the real story, his third version, but that turned out not to be true either.
On May 8, 1941 Henry went to the Mexican Dept of Education. In a letter home he wrote -
...enter Henry in office asking for course of study for summer school for Elda - Esperanza speaks English. Henry sees a luscious but very business like blonde of 26, 6 ft 6, 121 lbs who fears not God and is more than her match for the average man - who for a 3 day vacation hikes (not hitch hikes) 90 miles thru the mountains, rides horses for relaxation, swims in lakes of Volcano craters - temperature 40 degrees, owns a 7 room house, beautiful furniture with garage and servants quarters - all modern - .220 swift Winchester 22 rifle with scope sight - .38 special detective model Colt. Rifle, saddle and sombrero decorating her boudoir.
- letter to sister Marie Aug 11, 1941
Henry thinks she is 26. She is actually 34. Her height is 5'-2". Henry is joking about that. When he wrote the letter in August he had seen Esperanza a dozen times. He made notes of her mountain climbing/hiking schedule for the year -
Of Esperanza's mysterious childhood, Henry wrote home two letters in the summer of 1941 -
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.
- letter from Henry to his sister Marie 8-11-1941
- letter from Henry to his mom 8-27-1941
in its most essential fact - the father died after the birth or at least the conception of the child - this is also the official history of Esperanza's brother Adolfo, elected President in 1958. The father Mariano died in 1915 - according to the official history. Enrique Krauze, esteemed historian of Mexico furthered this version as late as 1997 -
The date and place of his birth are uncertain, but it is most probable that the fourth son of Mariano Lopez , a dentist, and Elena Mateos, a teacher, was born in Atizapan de Zaragoza in the state of Mexico on May 26, 1909. Following the strange common denominator of many Presidents of Mexico, Lopez Mateos as well lost his father when he was young.
- Mexico, Biography of Power, 1997, Enrique Krauze
In 2015 Ancestry dot com put online Mariano's death certificate from 1904. Esperanza was born in 1907, Adolfo in 1908. Esperanza and Adolfo were illegitimate and the stories were meant to protect them. And it worked. Their mother Elena raised two extraordinary people of great achievement.
But in Esperanza's first version of childhood to Henry, she has blended an element of truth. Her actual father, and Adolfo's, was a Spaniard, Gonzalo de Murga, who lived on a sugar plantation in the south of Mexico. This is not proven but it is generally being accepted. Murga was born in Spain. Until late in the 20th century, the President of Mexico was required to have both parents full Mexican citizens born on Mexican soil. To be illegitimate would have possibly prevented his Presidency politically, but to have a father born in Spain would have disqualified him legally.
As for the artful detail that the Spaniard's plantation was burned to the ground, there is a coincidence here so strong I think we can detect Traven's fictional hand even in this early summer before any drama occurs in the life of Henry and Esperanza. In Traven's book, "General from the Jungle," the last of his Mahogany cycle, first published in 1939 in German, no other editions as of 1941, the rebels are gaining strength. The first "damned great and fine finca" (plantation) they come to is Santo Domingo. They do indeed burn it to the ground. "The finquero, together with his family and house servants, had fled."(p.61) Murga's finca in Oaxaca - also named Santo Domingo.
Close and even not-so-close family members would have heard that Mariano died in 1904 not 1915. Adolfo was stuck with his official story, but Esperanza could be an adoption, and if she were born later than Adolfo instead of earlier, it might explain in a non-specified way why she was adopted but Adolfo was not. In the introduction to the Traven short story collection "The Night Visitor" Charles Miller quotes Adolfo at a press conference in 1960 saying he was a year older than Esperanza.
Gabriel Figueroa was close to Esperanza. In two books, he said that Esperanza was adopted by Elena. Esperanza was not, he said, even a half-sister of her brother Adolfo.
Gabriel Figueroa, 2005, "Memorias" published after his death -
(also similar in Poniatowska, 1996, "La Mirada que Limpia") -
(83) Esperanza López Mateos was my fourth mother, the one who awakened in me the social conscience. Adopted by the López Mateos family, this is her story... Her father was Don Gonzalo de Murga y Suinaga, Marquis of Alcázar and Viscount of Mondragón. The Marquis had eloped with his wife, who was of the English nobility, and with her he had two children: Clara and Blue. Clara later became Esperanza, a name she acquired because my aunt Elena López Mateos had lost a daughter of that name. Don Gonzalo was a friend of the family and, when he separated from his wife, she stayed with Blue, the son, and he, with Clara. Not knowing what to do with the girl, he begged my Aunt Elena to adopt her. My aunt accepted parental authority as long as there was definitely no longer any family relationship, and making it a condition that Don Gonzalo never give a single penny to Esperanza.
It isn't long after Henry meets Esperanza that he also has the adopted story. He never writes that down but he mentions it in passing in his letters to Esperanza. "Just because you were adopted does not make you a slave," he writes sometime in 1942. 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. Elena is her true mother, and Henry thinks she is not. Traven is not her father, and Henry thinks he is. Henry's final story, that he writes in 1992, has a great similarity to Figueroa's final story that he tells in 1996 and later. Murga and Traven switch places. Esperanza had to tell Henry in person this great lie. She again refers to Traven as her father in two letters in 1943, and another in December 1946. Traven writes Henry a letter in June 1946 referring to his daughter throughout.
Here is Henry's story in 1992. He admits it is all from memory, but it appears to be pretty close to what he was told.
from 1992 letter to Franz Friedrich (Henry tells it better. I am paraphrasing.) -
Traven is in Mexico and marries a blond English woman in the British embassy then leaves to serve in the German navy during WW2. Esperanza is born 9 months later, 1914 or 1915. The English mother died in childbirth. Mariano the attending doctor (not dentist) kept the child. Both Mariano and Figueroa's father find work far to the north in Zacatecas. Federales shot Mariano and both parents of cousin Gabriel and Roberto Figueroa for being suspected Revolutionists. Elena is left to care for 6 children. Esperanza was sent to live with a Spanish friend at his sugar plantation deep in the jungle of Chiapas. (Henry correctly says Oaxaca in a 1990 letter.) Revolutionists burned the sugar mill. The Indian housekeeper took the child Esperanza to her tribal homeland. Esperanza was about 12 years old when Elena found her and brought her back to Mexico City. Meanwhile Traven had returned from war and had been searching the jungle for his lost child. At her 16th birthday party Esperanza learns she is adopted and not Elena's daughter. Traven eventually finds Esperanza, but does not reveal he is her father until December 1942. The End.
One of Traven's stories about himself is that he ran away from home at 10, became a cabin boy on a ship, never spent a day in school, yet became the world famous author. Perhaps the unlikely aspect of being raised by Indians til 12 then becoming a woman of letters was because of the difficulty of maintaining continuity with the previous story. Perhaps Traven was more concerned with his own role. Here we have Traven retelling his favorite story about himself - the lifelong sailor who is in Mexico at the beginning of the 1910 revolution. Esperanza did not invent that. Every version has the Spaniard in the south with the sugar plantation. We also have Esperanza being born to married parents.
The best explanation for this overly elaborate lie was that it was an experiment by Traven to see if he could invent a story that puts him in Mexico and proves he is not the German Ret Marut. It makes him some other German, a sailor, but at least in this version he is a sailor not a political refugee. Germany was at war in 1939 and formally with Mexico in 1942. Traven is under pressure from German emigres who are calling him Bruno and some are saying Traven is Marut. Mexico has a noxious foreigners act which allows them to expel foreigners who are using Mexico as a base for political activity. The FBI is conducting surveillance with Mexican government help on German communists. Traven pointedly calls them Communazis in his introduction to the 1941 Spanish edition of Puente, translated by Esperanza, where he also says he is an American. Henry wrote in 1990, and the early letters back this, both Esperanza and he knew that Traven was German. The American story did not work with them. They had a German nickname for him. Ret Marut was under a death sentence, not this other German. There is no reason to believe that Traven told Esperanza the truth. He told nobody the truth. That is at least a partial hypothesis.
But we know now from recently released birth records that Elena was Esperanza's mother. And its not proven but strongly believed that Murga was the father of both Esperanza and Adolfo. Elena became the director of an orphanage, per both Figueroa and Krauze, and it is assumed Esperanza was never separated from her. Esperanza knew Murga was her father. Figueroa says he attended the funeral wake with her in 1934.
Esperanza did not have an easy childhood. Her mother Elena was a widow with 4 children, Mariano, Elena, Esperanza and Adolfo. The Figueroa boys were orphans and Elena was like a mother to them, Gabriel says in Memorias. Gabriel says that Esperanza went to work in the hospital at a young age because of the economic hardship of the family. He said she was a trained nurse (La Mirada que Limpia). She worked at the English Hospital as anesthesist and administrator. She eventually had to leave because of her bad reaction to chloroform (Memorias).
Henry wrote in a letter to his mom Aug 27, 1941 that Esperanza went to convent school, then she went to work at age 14 for 3 years at Hospital de Jesus operated by nuns. Later she worked at English Hospital for 5 years. She went to Columbia U. in New York to study hospital technique for 6 months in 1934.
In 1941 Henry wrote -"During the last 5 yrs she has worked in the Education Dept." That would place her at the Dept of Education from 1936 to at least the beginning of 1944 (when she is still typing letters on department letterhead to Henry).
Elena was a teacher of French in the secondary school, says Henry (letter 8-27-41). Gabriel - Esperanza "had a magnificent education. She learned perfectly English, French and Spanish. (When she left the hospital) to her education she added parliamentary stenographer's career"(Memorias 83) Henry - "She has read worlds of literature."(letter 10-30-41)
The election of Lazaro Cardenas to a six year term in 1934 was a move to the left for Mexico. Esperanza entered the Dept of Education early in his term, perhaps 1936. In 1941 Henry says she is one of the chief secretaries in the Dept of Education (letter 8-20-1941). From the letterhead she uses, she is working for the head of publications. Fritz Pohle ("Das Mexikanische Exil") says - "the educational system and the Ministry of Education itself became the stronghold of the Left under the Cárdenas administration. ...The new state textbooks were filled with revolutionary pathos, the schools sang the 'Internationale' and raised the red flag next to the national flag."
In 1940 a more moderate President Manuel Avila Camacho was elected. The new minister of education Octavio Vejar Vazquez soon became involved in a fight to eliminate marxist ideology from Mexican schoolbooks. He eventually resigned December 1943 over differences with the powerful labor leader and Stalinist Vicente Lombardo Toledano.
Figueroa, Memorias, p.89 -
I knew the teacher Lombardo Toledano by means of Esperanza, who was his collaborator and she went to all the conferences, meetings and acts that he participated in, to transcribe his speeches. He had a lot of respect for her, because Esperanza was a militant with much confidence, who had worked all her life in the social field. The relationship with her connected me to Lombardo, and he began this way to ask me to participate in the production of several documentaries and movies.
The earliest known reference to a professional relationship between Esperanza and Lombardo Toledano is from 1938. The Liga Pro Cultura Alemana convened a series of lectures from April to June 1938 of six Mexican intellectuals on the subject of the True German Culture. Vicente Lombardo Toledano led off with Goethe. A compiled book resulted. The stenographer was Esperanza Lopez Mateos (per Wolfgang Kießling, "Brücken nach Mexiko").
The SEP, Secretaria de Educacion Publica, where Esperanza was a secretary, loaned many resources to the LPC, the Liga Pro de Cultura Alemana. Liga Pro was a League of German culture, actual translation, in Mexico, specifically anti-nazi. It held a series of lectures at government expense with many government speakers on real German culture as opposed to the nazi aberration. It was strongly supported by Lombardo Toledano. It was founded by Heinrich Guttman, a German immigrant, inspired by the communist Popular Front, an attempt to ally all political groups against naziism. In Mexico Gutmann was a journalist and photographer who had photos published in Life and other American magazines. In Germany he had been an editor of a tabloid. He claimed to be an editor of Vorwarts, Traven's early publisher.(Pohle)
In 1937 Ernst Toller visited Gutmann, spent a month with him and gave a speech promoting the Popular Front, a unified stand across all ideologies against the Nazis. Out of the Toller visit Gutmann founded Liga Pro de Cultura Alemana. Toller may have also revived Gutmann's interest in B. Traven. For six days in 1919 Toller was President of the Bavarian Soviet Republic, the failed Munich government which Ret Marut a.k.a. B. Traven supported and caused him to flee to Mexico to avoid execution for treason. Another member of the short lived Bavarian Republic was Erich Muhsam, murdered by the Nazis, and personally known to Marut. In the later 1920s he had openly speculated that Ret Marut was now writing under the name B. Traven.
Before he started Liga Pro, in 1937 Gutmann founded Editorial Masas, a communist allied publisher. He used the same post office box for both organizations, Apartado 8092, 30 Donceles.
Figueroa ("La Mirada que Limpia" p.35) -
In the mornings she was a secretary ... in the afternoons she made translations. She didn't leave the house. She went to neither dances or dinners. She never went anywhere. She stayed working the whole time. She had a fabulous vitality. She managed a small publisher, Editorial Masas, S.C.L. with her mother, my aunt Elena, in a small house at 30 Donceles.
One of the authors that Editorial Masas had published was a Salvadoran named Geoffrey Rivas who had translated a text of Marx and Engels from German to Spanish in 1938. Also that year he translated from German to Spanish and published, with a previously unknown publisher, possibly his own imprint, an unauthorized version of Traven's "Rebellion of the Hanged." Bruno Traven is listed as author. It was on Editorial Masas letterhead in 1939 that Esperanza first inquired of Alfred Knopf about film rights to the B. Traven novels Bridge and Rebellion, which by all published accounts was the beginning of her relationship with Traven.
Traven's first public alliance with Esperanza Lopez Mateos was his first authorized spanish translation, "Puente en la Selva," ("The Bridge in the Jungle") in spring 1941. Traven for the first time in any of his books includes an introduction, a dedication and not just a translation credit but Esperanza gets her own logo and likeness on the title page. In the introduction Traven complains bitterly about the pirate spanish editions and without naming him publications owned and controlled by Lombardo Toledano. The named and denounced translator, Pedro Geoffroy Rivas, had translated and published, with his own introduction mocking Traven, "La Rebellion del los Colgados" (The Rebellion of the Hanged) and "La Rosa Blanca" (The White Rose). These were serialized (according to Traven) in Lombardo's magazine El Popular and published by Editorial CIMA under the name Bruno Traven.
From the Puente introduction by Traven -
His first name is not Bruno ("Su primer nombre no es Bruno"), name given to him by the communazis to whom the generous governments of Mexico and Argentina have given refuge. The author has no connection with these people, does not share their ideas or creeds...
But Traven does have a connection with them, not only are they his old comrades, but Esperanza is their office manager and stenographer. Esperanza is surrounded by communist influences, Liga Pro, Editorial Masas and Lombardo Toledano. Lombardo is strongly promoting German communists and probably behind or at least aware of the publication of Traven's work in spanish. Esperanza's association with Lombardo as well as the leftist Education ministry also promoting German marxism pre-dates her association with Traven. Whoever coined Bruno probably did so as a humorous way to blow Traven's cover. And it worked. Out he comes. Traven's new translator and business partner could hardly be any closer to the very people he is denouncing.
Traven cannot take credit for his phrase "communazis." For most of the 1930s Stalinists were principled anti-nazis, but not for the 22 months between Aug 1939 to June 1941 when the Hitler-Stalin pact was in effect. The German communists in Mexico during this period were in mortal danger in Germany, and yet Germany and Russian were allies. The leftist Cardenista sexenio had turned to the right with the election of Avila Camacho in 1940. The protection and warmth German communist emigres felt under Lombardo was replaced with FBI agents reading their mail and opening dossiers on them. The noxious foreigners act required non-interference in local politics. Traven is trying to stay out of sight and unaffiliated. Traven is hurling back an insult at those who outed him as Bruno. Traven is distancing himself, at this time, 1941, from communists and Germans. He does not want to be known by them or be under their banner.
In June 1940 Henry Schnautz traveled to Mexico from his home in southern Indiana to become one of Trotsky's American guards
The same 1941 spring that her name and likeness appeared on the title page of Traven's "Puente en la Selva," with the promise of more books to come, Esperanza met Henry Schnautz. After the unsuccessful attempt to kill Trotsky in May 1940, Henry hitchhiked to Laredo from Indiana, then took a bus to Mexico City on June 30, 1940. His first noted guard duty was on July 14. He was there the day of the murder, August 20. Most of the guards left afterwards, but he stayed on with Natalia Trotsky and grandson Seva. Stalin had killed nearly everyone in Trotsky's family, and there was no guarantee that Natalia was not in danger. The following year Henry went to the Dept of Education and talked to Esperanza. They dated and had a relationship until he left Mexico in early February 1943 then corresponded regularly and saw each other 3 times after that until her death in 1951.
Trotsky had been killed in his study on August 20, 1940 by a lone assassin directly authorized by Stalin. There had been a previous elaborate attempt on May 24, 1940 that nearly succeeded by two dozen attackers led by the artist David Alfaro Siqueiros. Several of the attackers were members of LEAR, the artist's collective, and they used the LEAR workshop as a staging area. Trotsky and Toledano had been in a bitter hostile press feud since the moment he arrived in 1937. Trotsky without any reservation considered his main enemy in Mexico to be Lombardo Toledano creating the political environment of assassination.
The American liberal magazine The Nation had printed an article by Harry Block with the GPU (Stalin's secret intelligence) cover story that the botched assassination was actually a fake attack instigated by Trotsky himself -
...Harry Block is a close collaborator of Lombardo Toledano, the notorious political agent of the GPU in Mexico. Harry Block is the managing editor of Futuro, the foul, slanderous monthly of Lombardo Toledano....Harry Block is the confidential go-between for two agents of the GPU, Oumansky and Lombardo Toledano.
- Leon Trotsky - June 18, 1940
Fourth International June 1940
Lombardo Toledano, whose job it is to function in the trade unions as a mask for GPU activity and an exponent of Stalinist policy without holding a membership card in the Party.
The continued clamor in the Stalinist press (ie Toledano who is otherwise named 18 times in this article) is nothing more nor less than the preparation for a second, still better prepared assault by the GPU. Such a second attempt on Trotsky is absolutely certain. Stalin having suffered all the moral and political damage of guilt in the first attempt must now show at least that he is powerful enough to carry out his will. Where he spent at least $10,000 for the technical preparation of the first attempt, he will now spend incomparably more. Trotsky’s life is in mortal danger.
- Joseph Hansen, aide to Trotsky - August 1940
Fourth International August 1940
Henry could speak German. All his grandparents were born in Germany. Traven has insisted he was American to his publisher since he entered Mexico. "Su primer nombre no es Bruno." According to a letter Henry wrote in 1992 -
(Traven) identified himself to her as Traven's agent. At that time the Mexican Postal System, for a price, would deliver a letter immediately. About 1942 Esperanza received a note from Traven's agent asking to meet her immediately after work. The note had been written hurriedly, in English. She did not know German but instead of "you" the note used the German formal "sie", so I reassured her that her guess was correct. No native-born American would have made that error; that probably "Traven's agent" was Traven himself.
Traven had seen me waiting for Esp. at the Secretaria of Education in Mex. City - but didn't reveal himself.
In late 1942 Henry lets it be known at the Trotsky compound that he intends to have Esperanza visit him. There is a heated discussion. Eventually Grandizo Munis a senior aide is called in and he okays it. Somebody distrusted her but if it had been known that Esperanza had a close working relationship with Toledano, I do not think there would have been any discussion. Toledano is not mentioned in any letter between Esperanza and Henry, though Henry knows from the very beginning about her transcribing union speeches. Its hard to summarize a scenario how she can be so close to the well known Toledano, how bitter the enmity was with Trotsky, how she can date a Trotsky guard, and it never comes up.
The Esperanza visit to the Trotsky compound never happened. In November 1942 Esperanza was allegedly called to nurse a dying Traven. She supposedly brought him back to Mexico City and nursed him for several days. Soon after the hospital episode ended the relationship with Henry was off. This is when the big father story was told. As far as I know, Henry believed it all his life. He is in good company. Gabriel Figueroa believed Esperanza was adopted and not even half-sister to Adolfo. If Traven's real name is not Rathenau, Esperanza believed a lie. Traven's wife told two different authors that he was the illegitimate son of the Kaiser. Enrique Krauze with all his resources does not know the President's father many years later.
Henry letter to his parents Dec 11, 1942
Esp...received an urgent telegram from the Am. writer for whom she translates to hurry to a village in Oaxaca where he was dying. The village is in the tropical jungle bordering the Pacific. She went 18 hrs. by narrow gauge R.R. then 17 hrs. more on horse-back. In the village of 7 native huts there was no water, (they ate fruit instead), nor was there bread or corn. They live on fruit and fish. The only medicine the fellow had was a bottle of mescal (like brandy). He had a cot and a table for furnishings (no chairs) and had lived there for 5 yrs. She gave him injections, drained his liver and prevented him from getting up and wandering off into the jungle. They traveled 27 hours by ox-cart to get him to the city of Oaxaca then 1hr 40min. by plane to Mex. City. She has been caring for him day and night and swears she hasn’t slept more than 2 hrs. any night since Nov. 25. They had vacation from Dec. 1st to 10th so today she went back to work. The old fellow is out of the gravest danger so she has a nurse now caring for him. I’ve seen her for only a few hours in the last 2 wks. She says big blue scorpions 4 or 5 inches long scampered over the dirt floor of the old man’s hut so even had there been an extra bed or chair she would not have dared to sleep. Monkeys chattered in the trees outside and looked in thru the door or windows. Orchids more beautiful than those they sell in New York for hundreds of dollars, bloom and fade – admired only by the animals and insects inhabiting the wilderness
This is the Traven lived in the jungle myth translated and re-told by Esperanza but it's Traven's story. Traven owned a house and some land in Acapulco.
Whatever happened, by Christmas it is all off between Henry and Esperanza and he has the rest of the story all of which is untrue in the most spectacular way. The later version (1992) Henry told was undoubtedly altered by the years but the basic fact that Esperanza was Traven's daughter would be repeated to Henry by both Traven and Esperanza in letters in later years. I don't know why. Esperanza clearly loves and cares for Henry in her 1950-51 letters. She fondly remembers the month she spent in his apartment in New York in 1947. Perhaps it started disingenuously but it didn't entirely end that way.
It was the illegitimate births and the public view of them that drove the story to hide the beginnings to protect the children. Apparently when Adolfo got into politics his story and Esperanza's had to diverge. Or maybe there were always multiple stories. Into this situation walks the master and compulsive storyteller B. Traven. Traven by this time in his life is putting the energy that used to go into books into maintaining public fictions for himself (the American agent) and Esperanza.
In 1946 Adolfo is a Senator. Gabriel Figueroa's career is soaring. The classic film Treasure of the Sierra Madre is still a year away from being filmed in Mexico. Esperanza is translating Traven books and short stories. She translated at least 8 Traven books during the 1940s. In May-June 1946 Henry takes a couple of photos of her outside the Instituto Nacional de Cardiologia building dressed for work. She began working there sometime during or after 1944. She works there until possibly 1949, the last time she uses their stationery.
In 1948 she has an accident. It's not clear when or what. She says June 23rd was the day she began to die, whether that was the initial accident or some unfortunate medical disaster. The Figueroas in Poniatowska's book are pretty clear she was in a jeep or a truck that overturned on the side of Mount Popocatepetl. Henry wrote in a letter that she was on a horse that stumbled on Popo and she fell over his head. Traven thought it happened in Switzerland while skiing six months earlier. A very difficult period began for her. Her spine severely injured, misdiagnosed, she finally has an operation and a long recovery. The Figueroas say she lost her job at the Cardiologia because of her illness. In 1950 she even writes to Henry that she has to return his $25 while she still can. She is not able to walk for many months but writes in 1950 that she can walk perfectly.
The end of her life was September 19, 1951. She was shot in the head in her bedroom, discovered later. The ruling was suicide, but the doctor who filled out the death certificate did so in an ambiguous way and later told the Figueroa children that he thought she made enemies with her union activities. She had participated in a high publicity strike of miners of Nueva Rosita in 1950-51. There is not enough evidence to hardly have an opinion. The mystery of her birth has been cleared up, but not of her passing.
Searching documentary traces of a Mexican presidential family: Lopez Mateos
The year after Esperanza died, B. Traven had this to say in 1952 about her old boss in his self-publicizing newsletter BT News
Guthke, Karl, "B. Traven, the Life Behind the Legends", Lawrence Hill, 1991, p.321 -
Gutmann was - "the first to circulate the mischievous Traum-Traven-Marut story and directly upon his arrival in Mexico he published extensive articles about it, and also told this story to every newly arrived emigre."
Traven also noted Gutmann's death, his body found on the street and labeled the story, "The Mills of God Grind Slowly But..."