Empodera | Elvia Carillo Puerto | Drop 2

by Christian Barraza | Mexican History

Elvia Carrillo Puerto was born in Yucatan, Mexico on December 6, 1878. Little did she know that she would eventually help lead the fight against sexism and change Mexican History for all women! Although there hasn’t been much reporting on her early childhood, we know that she was heavily influenced by her mentor Rita Cetina Gutierrez. Rita was a remarkable educator who focused on women education and opened Mexico’s first secular secondary school for girls in 1870.

Elvia’s Brother Felipe

In 1913, Felipe joined the revolutionary fight alongside Emiliano Zapata in the mountains of Morelos and earned a promotion to colonel within a year. In 1915, Felipe returned to Yucatan and was arrested for supporting Zapata. With the help of his sister Elvia, he became a propagandist, labor organizer and agriculture commissioner in Alvarado’s government. Within the next 5 years Felipe, with the help of Elvia and others, built the political party that became known as the “Partido Socialista Del Sureste.” On February 1st, 1922, Felipe Santiago Carrillo Puerto overlooked the people of Yucatan as he began his inaugural address. He made history as the first governor to speak the native Mayan language and won the election with 95% of the votes.

Resistance Leagues

Resistance Leagues were highly organized self help associations that included labor unions, political, social, economic aid and education clubs. In 1912, Elvia created the first resistance league for women in Motul. Within the next 7 years, Elvia traveled the countryside to organize campesina women and to launch campaigns for literacy and birth control. In 1918, a conference granted women the rights to vote and hold office in resistance leagues and called for full civil voting rights which was a huge step forward. In 1919, Elvia helped create her most prominent league, “Liga Rita Cetina Gutierrez.” The women in the league held talks regarding child care, economics and hygiene, inspected schools, hospitals and helped launch the states first orphanage.

Sitting At The Table

In 1923, Elvia, (and 2 other women) won election to the state legislature. The victory was short-lived due to the rise and revolt led by Adolfo De La Huerta. This led to the killing of Felipe in 1924 and roughly 7,000 Mexican lives. After the revolt many of Felipe’s reforms, including women’s rights, were rolled back and the 3 women who just won election in the state legislature were prevented from serving. Elvia fled Yucatan after suffering two physical attacks. In 1925, Elvia ran for Federal Deputy in San Louis Potosi where she was shot at 8 times during her campaign. In Mexico City, the Chamber of Deputies refused to seat her, so she moved to Mexico City continued to fight for women’s rights. In 1941, an automobile accident left her almost blind but she kept moving forward and in 1952 she began to regain political favor. One year later, women finally achieved full voting rights in Mexico. Elvia was 89 years old when she passed away in 1968. She lived long enough to vote in a presidential election.


Elvia who was also known as, “The Red Nun” risked her life on many occasions to gain the fundamental rights that men had. She embodied resilience, passion, purpose and an absolute love for her fellow women. In a time where women were not even considered citizens, Elvia and many others took it upon themselves to stand up and fight for what they felt was right. Gracias por todo hermana.


“The Yucatan Governor Who Empowered Women.”

“Elvia Carrillo Puerto Wikipedia”

“La Monja Roja”