Eduardo del Río, Political Cartoonist Known as Rius, Dies at 83

He also worked for publications of various political persuasions, among them the Mexico City dailies La Jornada and El Universal.

At the newspaper Ovaciones, he told The New York Times in 1979, “I’d have to do two or three cartoons each day before the editor would accept one that was bland enough.” He lasted 14 months. Ovaciones was one of five papers that fired him.

“With the death of Rius,” Mexico’s culture secretary, María Cristina García Cepeda, said this week, “a period of political caricature and popularization has come to an end.”

Mr. del Río was an early supporter of Fidel Castro’s Cuban revolution, but soured on the regime’s repression and corruption. He was a card-carrying Communist for seven years until 1968, when he renounced his membership to protest the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia.

But he reserved his most splenetic rants for the political shenanigans and growing materialism he found at home. A society’s degree of civilization, he said acerbically, could be measured by the numbers in four categories: cars, televisions, heart attacks and cancer patients.

Eduardo Humberto del Río García was born on June 20, 1934, in Zamora, an epicenter of conservative Roman Catholicism in southwestern Mexico. Before he was six months old, he recalled, his father died after squandering what little money the family had on gambling.

His widowed mother moved with her two sons to Mexico City, where Eduardo secretly devoured comic books, consumed the classics at a secondhand bookstore and completed his secondary school education at a seminary run by the Salesian order.

Photo

“Marx for Beginners” by Eduardo del Río, who used the pen name Rius.

Credit
Culture Club, via Getty Images

He worked as a messenger and a cashier, sold soap and finally landed a job answering phones in a funeral home, where he had plenty of time to practice his drawing. (His older brother was a commercial artist.) He was recruited by Ja Ja, a humor magazine, after his doodles were noticed by a mourner who was familiar with the magazine’s editor.

A self-described Marxist-masochist, Mr. del Río founded the Mexican Workers Party’s magazine Popular Insurgency. He Latinized his surname to Rius, he said, in case his family considered his irreverent cartoons too incendiary.

Indeed, his work was so caustic that it caused him…

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