Flight to the U.S.A.
In 1904, Magón fled Mexico when the courts banned the printing of his writings and he remained in the USA for the remainder of his
life. Half this period was spent in prison. He resumed publication of Regeneración and led the Partido Liberal Mexicano (PLM) (Mexican Liberal Party) from abroad. In 1906, he went to California. Around this time PLM uprisings occurred in Mexico which were crushed by the Mexican government. The US sympathized with the Mexican government
and started taking PLM leaders in the US into custody. Magón was fearful that he would be caught and be returned to Mexico, where he faced the possibility of execution.
In 1907, an American detective by the name of Thomas Furlongwas employed by Enrique Creel, at that time governor of Chihuahua, to locate Mexican dissidents in the U.S. The American
headquarters of the PLM was in St. Louis at that time. There were a large number of expatriates who knew of its whereabouts and as a result, Furlong had no difficulty locating the dissidents in the city. Magón, however, was living in great secrecy in
Los Angeles. He used a pseudonym, and only two other persons in the city knew his real identity. If they needed to see him, they did so between midnight and dawn.The dissidents in St. Louis soon became aware that they were being sought by agents working for
the Mexican government. Librado Rivera left the city in order to evade capture and although he was constantly on alert for agents who might be shadowing him, he failed to elude them. He was followed to Los Angeles and to Magón's place of residence.
Furlong kept the house under surveillance for some time. Finally, on August 23, 1907, Magón, Rivera and Antonio Villarreal were taken into custody by Furlong, two of his assistants and some officers from the
Los Angeles police department.
Magón and other
PLM members had organized a brigade of revolutionaries in Douglas, Arizona in the years preceding his move to Los Angeles. An expedition was sent to the Cananea copper mines about thirty miles from the southern border
of Arizona with the alleged intention of exterminating all Americans employed in and about the mines. The brigade had been pursued by the Arizona Rangers who put them to flight, capturing a few of them. Magón and his companions were extradited to Tombstone, Arizona where they were charged with violating U.S. neutrality laws.
Although the American and Mexican left rallied to their defense, they were convicted and sentenced to eighteen months in Yuma Territorial Prison, later being transferred to Arizona State Prison Complex – Florence.They was released
in 1910 and again resumed publishing Regeneración from an office in downtown Los Angeles. The Mexican civil war began that same year, and the Magonistas, as the PLM forces were known, were involved in combat throughout Mexico, along with the forces of Pancho Villa, Emiliano Zapata and Venustiano Carranza and Francisco I. Madero.
By May 1911, Diaz was defeated. Madero organized an election, which he won by deceiving the Mexican
electorate into believing that he had joined forces with the PLM.Magón continued to oppose the vast American economic presence in Mexico, and Madero's continuing expropriation of peasant lands. He was arrested again. After two years in prison in Washington
state, he was released and settled with brother Enrique in Edendale, just north of the Silver Lake Reservoir. The PLM had no funds by this time, and the brothers and their friends farmed and raised chickens on the rented plot of land. He continued publishing Regeneración and
making speeches in the region. He was again arrested in 1916, accused of sending "indecent materials" through the U.S. Mail. With the help of Emma Goldman, he made bail. In 1918, he published an anti-war manifesto. In this he wrote, "The death of the old order is at hand. It is being whispered
in the bars, theatres, streetcars and homes, especially in our homes, the homes of those at the bottom." For these writings, he was charged with sedition under the Espionage Act of 1917, convicted and sentenced to twenty years for "obstructing the war effort", a violation
of the Espionage Act
of 1917.The Wilson administration conducted what were called the Palmer Raids, a wholesale crackdown on war dissidents and leftists that also swept up notable socialists such as Eugene V. Debs. He died at Leavenworth Penitentiary in Kansas.He had been suffering from diabetes for many years and was losing his eyesight by the
time of his death.
The cause of Flores Magón's
death has been disputed. Some believe that he was deliberately murdered by prison guards. Others contend that he died as a result of deteriorating health caused by his long imprisonment, possibly exacerbated by medical neglect by Leavenworth Penitentiary officials
and staff. Magón wrote several letters to friends complaining of debilitating health problems and of what he perceived to be purposeful neglect by the prison staff.
The Mexican Chamber of Deputies adopted a resolution requesting the repatriation of Magón's body. It stated,
The U.S. authorities denied the request and Magón was buried in Los Angeles.
His remains were finally repatriated in 1945 and interred at the Rotunda of Illustrious Persons in Mexico City.
Flores Magón's movement fired the imagination of both American and Mexican anarchists. In 1945, his
remains were repatriated to Mexico and were interred in the Rotonda de los Hombres Ilustres in Mexico City.In Mexico, the Flores Magón brothers are considered left-wing political icons nearly as notable as Emiliano Zapata; numerous streets, public schools, towns and neighborhoods are named after them.
In 1991, Douglas Day published The Prison Notebooks of Ricardo Flores Magón, a fictional diary covering Flores Magon's life from his birth in Oaxaca until his mysterious death in his cell at Leavenworth.
In 1997, an organization of indigenous peoples of Mexico in
the state of Oaxaca formed the Popular Indigenous Council of Oaxaca "Ricardo Flores Magón" (Consejo Indígena Popular de Oaxaca "Ricardo Flores Magón", or CIPO-RFM), based on
the philosophy of Magón.