Mexican Revolution: La Decena Tragica (February 1913)

Francisco Madero
Figure 1.--Here President Madero guarded by a loyal group of youthful military cadets as Diazupporters launched attacks ikn Mexico City (February 9, 1913). He was betrayed a few days later by General Victoriano Huerta. Source: Augustí Víctor Casasla

Victoriano Huerta, the commander of the armed forces, conspired with Félix Díaz (Porfirio Díaz's nephew) and Bernardo Reyes to get rid of the troublesome president. What followed was a 10-day battle in Mexico City known as La decena tragica (the Tragic Ten Days). Fighting occurred between Madero's suporters and the Díaz/Reyes forces. Madero accepted Huerta's offer of protection. Huerta betrayed him. He had him arrested. Meanwhile. Huerta had Madero's brother and close advisor, Gustavo A. Madero, kidnapped off the street. Huerta had the President's brother tortured and murdered. Huerta had in effect executed a coup d'état (February 18, 1913). He forced Madero to resign. The plotters declared Pedro Lascuráin president, but Huerta claimed the presidency for himself. Huerta ordered Madero shot On the same day Madero was shot four days later February 22). Huerta claimed that bodyguards were forced to shoot both Madero and his Vice President Pino Suárez as a result of a rescue attempt by Madero's supporters. Few believed the claim. Huerta controlled the capital, but Mexico is a large country and establishing control of the entire country was a very different matter. Madero had many supporters. Madero's death launched the most violent phase of Mexican history since the conquest.

Madero Presidency (1911-13)

Madero became president after Díaz tried to reverse the results of the 1910 election. Madero entered Mexico City (June 7, 1911). He was elected president by a landslide in a free democratic election (October 1911). Madeo won with a higher percentage of the voye thar Díaz had ever achieved in rigged elections. Despite his electoral mandate, problems soon developed. Madero had suceeded in forcing Díaz out by temporarily unifying various democratic and anti-Díaz forces. This included elements that were mutually incompatable and that were no committed to democratic government in Mexico. Madero attempted a series of moderate reforms. The reforms were a disappointment to the revolutionaries who wanted more drastic action. They were even more vehemently opposed by the conservatives who were adament about preserving the existing order. Madero was an idealistic lawyer without the political or leadership skills capable of controlling the reaction to his reforms. Madero did not last long as president. Mexico soon spun out of his control. After Díaz was forced from Mexico, Madero did not replace the Porfirista military with his supporters. Huerta pledged allegiance to the Madero administration. Huerta was one of many officers whob supported Díaz that Madero retained. Huerta was instrumental in supressing revolts by rebel generals, especially one led by Pascual Orozco.

Conspiracy

Victoriano Huerta, the commander of the armed forces, conspired with Félix Díaz and Bernardo Reyes to get rid of the troublesome president. Félix Díaz was the former president's nephew and not willing to accept his fall from power. Bernardo Reyes was a cashiered Díaz general. What followed was a 10-day mock battle in Mexico City known as La decena tragica (the Tragic Ten Days). Apparently they agreed to remove President Madero and make Huerta president. Huerta after a term of office would support Díaz as president. U.S. Ambassador Henry Lane Wilson was involved in the plot. I think this was apersonaol involvement and not orders fro Washington, but I do not yet have the details. Wilson and Madero openly diisliked each other. Wilsonwas a corporate lawyer who saw Madero's reformist coats as an attack on business. He saw in the idealistic Madero a "disorganized brain". Madero as president wasc offended by Wilson's "impertinences" and was prepared tonask the newly elected American president to recall him, calling him an alcoholic. While alcohol offended Madero, it was in fact a bond between Wilson and Huerta. oNe historian writes, "Both regarded Madero with the distaste of a barroom bully for the prissy Sunday school teacher who doesn't drink."

Fighting in Mexico City

Fighting occurred between Madero's loyalist suporters and the Díaz/Reyes rebel forces. It was a confused period. Much of the combat was staged, although Madero was not fully aware of this. An artillery duel was conducted by Huerta's forces and units loyal to Felix Diaz, the deposed dictator's nephew. They were not aiming at each other, but rather at civilians. Next they carried out a fake battle. The objectivecwas to create chaos during whivh President Madero could be removed.

Huerta's Betrayal (February 18)

Madero accepted Huerta's offer of protection. Huerta betrayed him. He had him arrested. Huerta had in effect executed a coup d'état (February 18, 1913). Huerta imprisoned Madero and Vice-president José María Pino Suárez in the National Palace. The conspirators next met at the U.S. Embassy and agreed to the Pacto de la Embajada (The Embassy Pact). The Pact provided for Madero and Pino Suárez's to be exiled and forv General Huerta's to take command of the Mexican government. Meanwhile. Huerta had Madero's brother and close advisor, Gustavo A. Madero, kidnapped off the street. Huerta had the President's brother tortured and murdered.

Presidency

Huerta forced Madero to resign. The plotters declared Foreign Minister Pedro Lascuráin president. This was to give the coup a thin veneer of legitimacy. The foreign minister under the the provisions of the 1857 Constitution was third in line for the presidency, after the the vice-president and attorney general. The coup plotters had had ousted Madero's Attorney General. Lascuráin appointed Huerta as interior minister, thus making him in line for the presidency. After less than an hour as president, Lascuráin resigned, and Huerta had the presidency. Huerta convened a late-night special session of Congress and surrounded the Congress with his own troops. The legislators quickly endorsed Huerta as president.

Madero's Murder (February 22)

Madero was shot four days later (February 22). Madero and Pino Suárez were taken from the Palacio Nacional to a prison at night. There they were shot by a detachment of Rurales (a Federal mounted police force) loyal to Huerta. It has never been proven, but most Mexican historians have not doubt that they acted on Huerta's orders. Huerta claimed that bodyguards were forced to shoot both Madero and his Vice President Pino Suárez as a result of a rescue attempt by Madero's supporters. Few believed the claim at the time or to this day.

Huerta's Struggle for Mexico (1913-14)

Huerta controlled the capital, but Mexico is a large country and establishing control of the entire country was a very different matter. Madero had many supporters. Madero's death launched the most violent phase of Mexican history since the conquest. Mexico's Revolution came a century after independence. General Victoriano Huerta, after killing President Madero, was forced to fight the Revolution on many fronts. He benefitted from a strong central position. He incorporated the Rurales into his Federal military forces. He faced a formidable if tenuous alliance including Venustiano Carranza, General Álvaro Obregón, Emiliano Zapata (in the south) and Pancho Villa (in the north). These are many of the the most esteemed names in Mexican history and both Carranza and Obregón went on the be presidents. The Mexican Revolution was the bloodiest period in Mexicam history since the Conquest. Resistance to Herta was led by Venustiano Carranza, a politician and rancher from Coahuila. He called his movement the ta, calling his forces the Constitutionalists. He received covert support from the United States. Carranza issued his manifesto--the Plan de Guadalupe (March 26, 1913). He refused to recognize Huera and called for armed rebellion. Leaders such as Villa, Zapata, and Álvaro Obregón joined the fight against Huerta. While the United States supported Carranza, Huerta also had foreign supporters--the German Empire which was providing him arms and equipment. He also imported arms from other countries. U.S. opposition to Huerta developed to the point that the United States seized the port of Veracruz (April 1914). Veracruz was Mexico's primary port supplying Huerta's forces based in Mexico City. This cut off Huerta from the arms hev needed. Cut off from foreign military supplies, Huerta's military situation rapidly deteriorated. He resigned and fled to Spain (July 1914). Eventually Huerta attempted to renter Mexican politics by organizing acounter-revolution. The Germans provided some funding, hopeing that Huerta back in the presidency would distract the United States and discorage Anerican intervention in World war I. Huerta attemoted to enter Mexico through the United States. American authorities arrested him in El Paso as he tried to enter Mexico.







CIH







Navigate the Children in Historyn Web Site:
[Return to the Main election of 1910 page]
[Return to the Main Mexican Revolution page]
[Return to the Main Mexican history page]
[Return to the Main Mexican page]
[Return to the Main Latin American history page]
[[Introduction] [Biographies] [Chronology] [Climatology] [Clothing] [Disease and Health] [Economics] [Geography] [History] [Human Nature] [Law]
[Nationalism] [Presidents] [Religion] [Royalty] [Science] [Social Class] [Royalty]
[Bibliographies] [Contributions] [FAQs] [Glossaries] [Images] [Links] [Registration] [Tools]
[Boys' Clothing Home]




Navigate the HBC Mexican pages
[Mexican choirs] [Mexican Scouts] [Mexican school uniforms] [Mexican communions]





Created: 4:09 AM 6/22/2008
Last updated: 4:32 AM 3/12/2014