A machine in the barrio: Chicago’s conservative colonia and the remaking of Latino politics in the 1960s and 1970s

Mike Amezcua

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The rise of the Latino population in Chicago during the 1960s and 1970s appeared to coincide with the inevitable breakdown of an aging political machine hobbled under the weight of the urban crisis. Instead, that old machine—defined by a patronage system, corruption, and voter intimidation—continued functioning, even as the city’s wards became browner. Through an examination of the relationship between Mayor Richard J. Daley, the political boss of the Democratic machine, and Mexican Chicagoans, this article demonstrates how the machine endured and maintained white political control in Mexicanized wards long after white constituents fled the city in large numbers. Contrary to previous understandings of the time, Daley’s machine did not neglect Latinos—or at least not all of them. Instead, it incorporated proactive moderate and conservative elements of the community to help Daley endorse his agenda and quell protest. These supporters, known as “Amigos for Daley,” stewarded changes to a revised machine in the barrio that became critical to its survival. In exchange, they were given the power and license to profit from the business of white flight and brown place-making. By shifting the focus from cultural nationalism and the New Left to the more moderate and conservative influences of the Latino Daley Democrats, this article expands our understanding of the range of Latino political mobilization during the 1960s and 1970s.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)95-120
Number of pages26
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2 2019


  • Chicago
  • Latinos
  • Mexican Americans
  • conservatism
  • democratic party
  • political machines
  • politics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science


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