On the Subject of the Mexican Revolution

Today in history …. 20th November, 1910

The Mexican Revolution (Spanish: Revolución mexicana) was the result of coups and civil struggles that occurred in Mexico between 1910 and 1920. It is not to be confused with the Mexican War of Independence (Spanish: Guerra de Independencia de México) which took place from 16th September, 1810 – 27th September, 1821.

The revolution began on November 20, 1910 with the call by Francisco I. Madero for an insurrection against the re-election of General Porfirio Daíz as president. After a difficult beginning, the uprising, which had had its first successes in the north of the country, spread to other regions, notably In Morelos, where Emiliano Zapata was fighting for the restitution of communal lands looted by the large landowners. This turn of events led to the resignation of President Daíz in May 1911.

After being elected president, Madero had to face both the disillusionment of some of his supporters and the opposition of the porfirists (supporters of Porfirio). In February 1913, he was assassinated after a military coup orchestrated by General Victoriano Huerta. The latter, after becoming president, quickly had to face the determined opposition of Venustiano Carranza, federal deputy and provisional senator governor under the state of Coahuila (formally Coahuila de Zaragoza), Pancho Villa (link contains some graphic images of the war) in the state of Chihuahua and Emiliano Zapata in the Morelos. After several defeats by the federal army in the spring of 1914, Huerta left the country in July. Dissensions quickly emerged between the various revolutionary; carrancist, vilistic and Zapatista factions.

Meeting at the Convention of Aguascalientes in October 1914, these factions failed to reach a lasting agreement and fighting resumed. In 1915, the best general Carrancista, Alvaro Obregon, faced and challenged Pancho Villa in several bloody battles in the center and then the north of the country. Emiliano Zapata was also reduced to the defensive.

In 1916, Venustiano Carranza, a self-proclaimed primer jefe máximo, was the only one who could claim supreme power, even though he did not control the whole country and faced enormous socio-economic problems. After the enactment of a new constitution in 1917, Carranza was elected president. Gradually becoming unpopular, he was overthrown in 1920 by the last coup d'état of the revolution, organized by supporters of Obregon, who was later elected president.

On May 24, 1920, the congress elects Adolfo de la Huerta as interim president.

Despite Obregón's opposition, he entered into negotiations with Pancho Villa and managed to convince him to lay down his arms and lay off the last troops who were still loyal to him by offering him a lifetime pension in exchange for his corporation, recognition of his rank of divisional general of the Federal Army and the ownership of the Canutillo hacienda. The same was true of the Zapatista leaders, who were incorporated into the army.

In the presidential election of September 1920, Álvaro Obregón was elected with more than one million votes. On December 1, 1920, he officially became president. Obregón was the last revolutionary leader to overthrow his predecessor in a coup d'etat and the first to exercise control over the entire country. He demonstrated that he was a deft politician, relying on trade unions under the Regional Confederation of Mexican Workers (CROM).

He wanted to be re-elected, contrary to the provisions of the 1917 Constitution, but he was assassinated in 1928 by a Catholic extremist. His successor was General Plutarco Elías Calles, who, by applied the 1917 Constitution to the letter and the resulting laws on the secularism of society, provoked the reaction of conservatives and Catholics who waged the Cristero War (La Cristiada).

In March 1929, Calles founded the PNR, which later became the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI). This party has governed the country to the present day, except for a 12-year interval during which the PAN was in power (from 2000 to 2012).

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