In October 1931, Governor Bartolomé García Correa and Socialist Party activists violently closed Carlos R. Menéndez’s Diario de Yucatán for being reactionary. Defenders of the Diario denounced the governor for illegally silencing the voice of what today we would understand to be civil society. After a seventeen-month struggle in the courts, the national press, and in Mexico City’s bureaucracy, Menéndez prevailed. This article closely examines the conflict, using regional and national archives and abundant contemporary press coverage, paying careful attention to discursive expression of socioethnic inequalities. It reveals significant limits on the regional independent press and the concept of civil society during the formative period in postrevolutionary Mexico known as the Maximato (the 1928–35 era dominated by Plutarco Elías Calles as hyperexecutive or Jefe Máximo). During the Maximato, the postrevolutionary state employed authoritarian measures to centralize power. The Maximato state, however, could not govern without acknowledging both the Constitution of 1917’s classical liberal civil rights, such as freedom of the press and guarantees of associational life, and the revolutionary political legacy of popular action against “reaction.” In the Yucatecan case, the muzzling of the regional independent press was not simply top-down illiberalism. Yucatecan socialists believed it would help create a more egalitarian and inclusive socio-political order to supplant civil society. The Diario ’s exclusivist definition of civil society and the national press’s personal attacks on García Correa reflected widespread beliefs that people of indigenous and African descent were incapable of taking part in civic life. While Menéndez eventually prevailed in the courts, it was due more to his economic and cultural capital and prominent Mexico City allies than to legal protections for press freedom or civil-society resistance. The case helps us to understand how the latter two varied so significantly over place and time in postrevolutionary Mexico, and why Tocquevillian notions of civil society require careful qualification when applied to poor, overwhelmingly indigenous regions of Mexico.