letters 1940-1943

Henry Schnautz said Esperanza Lopez Mateos was B. Traven's daughter. He never indicated to me that was contrary to public knowledge. Why did she lie? Why did Traven lie? Consider - Esperanza and Gabriel Figueroa went to their death believing Traven's lie that his father was the mega-wealthy Emil Rathenau. Gabriel Figueroa also believed the lie that Esperanza's birth mother was not Elena - the birth certificate is online now - but an English woman who left the country and left Esperanza as a baby. Probably Esperanza knew she was not Traven's daughter, but did she know she was Elena's daughter, if her closest friend Gabriel did not know it even in his later years? Henry believed that Esperanza was the daughter of Traven and an English woman who died in childbirth. He was also told that Esperanza was at the finca Santo Domingo when it was attacked and burned by rebels while the household fled into the forest, which is exactly the story in Traven's book General from the Jungle. This is lying raised to an art form.

Wouldn't it have been better for all concerned if the truth had been told? The lying is what it is, but facts should not be changed to make lying a virtue. The young man in this drama is the one who saved the letters, the story and the photos that otherwise would be lost. He did not burn them to save his reputation.

If a man of letters dies, what happens to his letters? They are saved. The survivors acknowledge the worth and save the archive. Where is Esperanza’s archive, this woman of letters who worked with Toledano, Traven, Figueroa, President Lopez Mateos and Cardenas? Some of it was in a 150 year old log farmhouse attic in Indiana.

Esperanza was almost surely a communist before she met Henry. She was probably instructed by Toledano to stay involved. Casual readers do not realize the great divide in perceptions between those who sympathized with Trotsky and those who had a blind spot for Stalin.

Read her last letters in 1950-51 though to get the whole story of the arc with her relationship with Henry. The early letters in this regard seem the least important, though the lies are colorful. The reaction of the young is predictable. The wisdom of a few years is much more honest.

Henry enters Mexico in June 1940. Trotsky dies August 20. Henry meets Esp June 1941. Henry leaves Mexico Feb 1943. Enters the army spring 1943. Returns to Mexico for a month May 1946. Hosts Esp in New York twice, 1947 and 1948.


A caveat - many, perhaps most, of the letters are lost
1940_10_2 - to Marie, other guards leaving
1940_12_? - Cardenas visit
1941_5_15 - told the gal goodbye, working for the G.P.U.

1941_6_24 - first letter from Esp, invitation to Las Penas de las Hadas

1941_7_4 - wreathed in roses

1941_7_13 - The spell has been broken

1941_7_27 Sunday - Toluca


1941 ? - Esp to Henry - "for your sake, good by"

1941_8_11 - letter to Marie, first version of Esp childhood

1941_8_20 - Henry to mom - first anniversary of Trotsky death

Esperanza with her walking companion "the professor"


1941_8_27 - Henry to mom

1941_9_3 to Marie
1941_10_30 to Marie - Esp broods but is tough

Climb up Popocatepetl - Dec 7, 1941

1942_1_13 - to Marie - projected visit

1942_1_28 - Steinbeck, Ford, Figueroa, Traven


Hello Folks - Meet Esperanza - Henry and Esperanza walk into a recording studio, Feb 13-1942

1942_3_22- the record startled the folks, esperanza to descend into popo
1942_4_18 - esp explored a cave


1942_6_10 - listening at the hardware store for buried treasure stories

1942_7_6 - a real cuckoo


1942_11_14 - she is practically a stalinist

1942_11_25 - Esp going to Oaxaca to nurse Traven

1942_12_11 - Henry letter home describing Oaxaca trip

1942_12_18 - Henry - War with Walter - Can Esp visit the compound?

1943_1_16 -going in one month
1943_1_21 - leaving 7th