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Military


President Victoriano Huerta

Born in Colotlán, Jalisco, Victoriano Huerta enters the Military College and distinguishes himself in mathematics and astronomy. In 1910, he fights against Zapata's followers in the state of Morelos. The following year, after Porfirio Díaz' resignation, he escorted him to Veracruz.

Revolutionaries from around the country challenged the government, and an offensive launched in March 1912 by Pascual Orozco. The unscrupulous commander of the federal forces, Victoriano Huerta, was put in charge of the column that fought him. Huerta defeated Orozco and his followers and returned to Mexico City.

Félix Díaz and other counterrevolutionaries plotted a military coup from inside prison and proceeded to take the National Palace on February 8, 1913. Madero made him military commander of Mexico City when the rebellion erupted on February 9, 1913. With the aid of loyal troops under Huerta, Madero initially resisted the Díaz forces, but street fighting and chaos overtook the city. On February 18, Huerta, seeing an opportunity to seize power, joined the coup against Madero and had both the president and Vice President José María Pino Suárez arrested.

After a conference with United States Ambassador Henry Lane Wilson and other opponents of the revolutionary government, Huerta joined the rebels and betrayed Madero, whom he arrested along with Vice President Pino Suárez. Huerta's decision to change sides was made with the knowledge and assistance of United States ambassador Henry Lane Wilson in what became known as the Pact of the Embassy, which states that Huerta will assume power. Huerta extracted resignations from both Madero and Pino Suárez and had himself appointed secretary of interior, which made him the heir to the presidency, according to the provisions of the constitution of 1857. The Chamber of Deputies accepts Madero's resignation and names Pedro Lascuráin as president, who in turn makes Huerta secretary of government. Immediately thereafter, Lascuráin resigns and Huerta was made president of Mexico in a legal maneuver carried out in less than an hour on the night of February 18, 1913.

On the night of February 22, 1913, Madero and Pino Suárez were assassinated as they were moved from the palace to the penitentiary in Mexico City. With this crime, Huerta tried to avoid a revolt against him.

Opposition to Huerta began to emerge once he assumed power. Of greatest concern, however, was the rebellion that erupted in the north; Sonora and Coahuila rebel, and Francisco Villa entered Chihuahua to spread the revolution throughout the entire northern part of the country. Venustiano Carranza in Coahuila, Villa in Chihuahua, and Álvaro Obregón in Sonora formed a front against the dictator under the Plan of Guadalupe, issued in March 1913. Zapata preferred to maintain his troops' independence from the northern coalition, but remained in revolt against Huerta. The latter responded by increasing the size of the military by forced conscription. Federal forces terrorized the countryside and looted villages, and political assassinations became a trademark of Huerta's rule. The country faced other problems. The federal treasury was empty, and each faction began issuing its own currency. Huerta's government had not been recognized by the United States, which considered him a usurper of the previously elected government.

Seeking a return to constitutional rule, the administration of President Woodrow Wilson channeled aid indirectly to the northern coalition. In October 1913, in the midst of the revolution, Huerta dissolved Congress. Huerta ran as a candidate for the presidency and he won, but Villa's forces achieve many resounding victories and most of the country was in upheaval.

By early 1914, Huerta was clearly losing on all fronts, but there was one specific event that precipitated his resignation. On April 9, 1914, seven American sailors disembark in Tampico from the warship Dolphin and were arrested by Huerta's troops for having entered an off-limits area. Although the sailors were released almost immediately, Admiral Henry T. Mayo, the commanding officer, demanded that the United States' flag be given a 21-gun salute by the Mexican troops as amends for the arrest. General Morelos Zaragoza, in charge of defending Tampico, refused. This incident was used as a pretext to invade Mexico, and on April 21, American marines disembark in the port of Veracruz. The federal troops abandoned the site, but the students of the Naval School and some army troops defended the port against orders. When the United States demands were not met, United States troops occupied Veracruz. Indignation brought about a series of reprisals against United States citizens and their flag throughout Mexico.

The federal army defending Huerta's government suffered its final defeat at the hands of Villa's followers in Zacatecas. In the face of growing disorder, Huerta resigned on July 15 [July 8, 1914] and fled the country. He went to England and then to Barcelona, Spain, and finally leaft from Cádiz on March 31, 1915 for New York, where he was received by a group of Mexicans with political and military influence who were interested in returning him to power in Mexico.

While in Spain, Huerta had made contact with agents of the German government who offered him weapons and funds. In the United States, he was in close contact with the military and naval attachés at the German Embassy in Washington, Franz von Rintelen and Franz von Papenm. The US government - alarmed by these contacts and by his many discussions with other Mexican military men and politicians - put Huerta under strict surveillance. Finally, when he and Pascual Orozco got off the train in Newman, New Mexico, on June 26 on their way to El Paso, Texas, they were arrested and taken to El Paso. They were released on bail, but Huerta was jailed again, first in the county jail and then in the Fort Bliss military prison.

He fell seriously ill with cirrhosis while in prison and was taken to his family, who were with him when he died on January 13, 1916. Meanwhile, the American government had compiled a voluminous file on Huerta's activities in the United States and summoned him to appear in court before the Grand Jury late in the same month in which he died.

In 1920 just as Carranza was about to nominate a loyal subordinate, Ignacio Bonilla, to serve as a puppet president, Adolfo de la Huerta and Plutarco Elías Calles rose in opposition. Under the Plan of Agua Prieta, they raised a constitutionalist army of northerners and marched to Mexico City. Carranza fled the capital and was assassinated in May while on the road to exile. De la Huerta served briefly as provisional president, but was replaced in November 1920 by Obregón, who was elected to a four-year term. Shortly thereafter, Villa accepted a peace offer from the federal government.



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Page last modified: 09-07-2011 13:01:24 ZULU