Mexican Revolution: Álvaro Obregón (1880-1928)

Álvaro Obregón
Figure 1.--Álvaro Obregón was the modst important military figure of the Revolution. He was the military genius behind the victory of the Constitutiinalists. Obregón commanded desimated Villa's calvalry at Celaya (1915). During that campaign an encountered with the Villistas at the Hacienda Santa Ana resulted in the loss of his right arm. Here he is at the Chapultepec Palace during his prsidency, probably in 1921. With him are is wife and two sons. Source: Augustí Víctor Casasola

Álvaro Obregón (1880-1928) rose from a modest farming family. He was the military thinker behind the Constitutionalist military victoty and the new Federal Army that defeated the more radical Zapata and Villa. Carranza appointed General Álvaro Obregón as Minister of War and of the Navy. Caranza and Obregón led the more moderate elements within the Constitunionlista. Carranza led the Liberal wing which was focused on narrow, legalistic reform. Carrabza wanted a liberal, democratic government, but not extensive sicial reform. Obregón was more realistic in seeing that the dynajmic of the Revolution made reform inevitable. He was not, however, for the wide-spread reform advocated by Zapata in the Plan de Ayala. Obregón decisively defeated Zapata at the Battle of Ayala (1916). Zapata was forced back into the rugged north. He was, however, no longerca force in narional politics. Obregón managed to eliminate Zapata (1919). Carranza after his first term attempted to hold power by backing the election of a supporter (1920). When it became clear that Obregón would win the election, Carranza attempted a coup. Obregón escaped and organized a military campaign against Carranza. He was supported by most leading generals, including Plutarco Elías Calles and Adolfo de la Huerta. As Obregón's forces approached the capital, Carranza fled, trying to reach the port of Veracruz where he could leave the country, the traditional route for failed Mexican leaders, There Obregón's forces arrested and shot him (May 21, 1920). Obregón served as the next president (1920-24). Historians debate just when the Revolution ended. The execution of Carranza is the most commonly accepted end of the military phase of the Revolution. The social reforms that Madero has cought, however did not come until later.


Álvaro Obregón was born on a farm in the northern state of Sonora (1880). The fatm was near the small village of Alamos. Unlike some of the other revolutionary figures, Obregó's ancestry is not entorely clear. It seems to have been primsrily European, although not Spanish. At least some of his ancestors seem to have been Irish. Some suggest that the family name was not Obregón, but O'Brien which has a similar ring. One biographer mentions a rumor that his grandfather was an Irish foreman that was working on a railroad construction project in Mexico. {Hall] Looking at the portrait here as a older, portly Obregón, he does remind one of an old-fashioned Irish pol. His father passed away when Alvaro was still quite young. The family moved off the farm to the small coastal town of Huatabampo. The area was swampy and populated by the Mayo tribe. The young AZlvaro learned their language and became an important defender of Native American rights. When later in life, Obregó emerged as an important Revolutionary leader, he found support among Mayo and Yaqui fighters in Sonora.

Early Occupations

Without family wealth, Obregón had to do his best to eke out aiving. Hec tried quite a range of jobs. Growing up on a farm, you wind up doing all kinds of rgings. Obregón was a sugar mill mechanic, barber, painter, schoolteacher, salesman, and even put together a small orchestra. Few Mexican leaders have had such a varied background. Just before the Revolution he took up garbanzo (chick pea) farming (1906). Here he achieved some success. He even invented a garbanzo seeder and profitably exported. Surprisingly for a man who became the military genius of the Revolution, he has no military experience or training as a young man. Nor was he active in politics. He did enjoy playing poker. And he had a photographic memory. He could easily keep track of all the cards that were shown.


Obregón's first political act occurred as Madero began his campaign for the presidency. A local Díaz political crony demanded that he sign aetition supporting the President. Obregón refused, but did not take an active role in ending the Porfiriato. Looking back, he was not proud os this. He rationalized at the time that he had family responsubilities--children to support. He later with an honesty that one does not often find in an autobiography that this was both "cunning" and "cowardly". [Obregón] After the fall of Díaz and with Madero the new president, Obregón was elected municipal president (mayor) of Huatabampo.

Orozco Rebellion (March 1912)

Obregón's pacivity did not last. Pascual Orozco who had fought with the Madero forces, broke with the President. He apparently felt slighted when he did not receive a coveted govenorship. Ge rose up in a well financed challenge to the Government (1912). It was here that Obregón got his first military experience. He commanded a battalion of mounted irregulars from Sonora, including many Mayos and Yaquis. His force defeated an Orozquista cavalry detachment at San Joaquin in northern Sonora. He demonstated at San Joaquin many capabilities that would make him a formidable military commander. He was inteligent and a quick read of the terraine and situation and was careful to chose a favorable battlefield. Obregón found he had aaste for military command. Oroczco was defeated by a force led by Huerta--a Diaz general retained by Madero. His outrage over his reception when he returned to Mexico City appears to have set in in motion a decesion to seize control of the Government.

Vicoriano Huerta

General Victoriano Huerta, after stageing the Decena Tragica and killing President Madero seized control of the Mexican Government (February 1913). He attemoted to reinstiture the Pofririato, but 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 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.

Military Command (1913)

Resistance to Huerta spread rapidly in both the north and south. The Sonoran Congress refused to recognize Huerta as presidemt (Marfh 5). Obregón with his success at San Joaquin had established a military reputation. As a result, the state Congress gave Obregón command of the state forces. Pancho Villa crossed into Mexico from the U.S. (March 9). He began organizing his famed cavalry force which would become the Division of the North. Venustiano Carranza 3 weeks later proclaimed the Plan of Guadalupe which called for a militaru campign ahainst Huerta (March 26, 1913). This brought the three man together who would deffeat Huerta--Obregón, Villa, and Caranza. It was a temprary alliance as they were three very different men, but they did agree on the need to defeat Huerta. There were very real antagonisms, especially with Villa. Villa and Carranza in particular were barely controlled their hostility. Carranza was a man of position and privlidge. He had been a federal senator under Díaz. He saw Villa as dangerously eratic and essentially a glorified bandit. Villa for his part was suspicious of Carranza's upper-class position and former place in the Díaz establishment. He believed that Caranza would quickly turn against the revolution if things did not go right. Obregón had personal experience with Villa that led him to essentially the same opinion as Caranza. Obregón wnt to see Villa at his headquarters (September 1914). Villa ordered him shot, but then sudenly changed his mind. As might be expected, the experience hardened Obregóns view of Villa.

The Constitutionalists

Resistance to Herta was organized by the Constituionalists. The most immportant figure here was Venustiano Carranza, a politician and rancher from Coahuila. He called his movement the Constitutionalists. He like Madero was a middle class lawyer. He wanted a kinf of liberal reform that would install the middle-class formly in power in a democratic Mexico. He understood where Madero did not that this could only be realized by dismateling the Porfirio system and officials that Huerta was fighting to retain. He was not, however, in favor of any deep-seated reform program such as breaking up the large estates. Certainly not Zapata's Plan de Ayala. He received covert support from the United States. Carranza issued his manifesto--the Plan de Guadalupe (March 26, 1913). He refused to recognize Huerta and called for armed rebellion. Leaders such as Villa, Zapata, and Álvaro Obregón joined the fight against Huerta. Where Carranza led the liberal wing of the Constitutionalists, Obregón came to lead the Radical wing which did want major reforms. Obregón understood where Caranza did not that the dymamic of the Revolution required reform, although opinions as to the precise chracter of those reforms varied. Carranza brought organization to the fight against Huerta. Obregón brought a first class military mind.

Peasant Leaders

A major factor in the campaign against Huerta were the two key peasant leaders, Emiliano Zapata in the south and Francisco (Pancho) Villa in the north. The are the two induividuals that come to the popular mind in association with the Mexican Revolution. They played a major role in the defeat of Huerta, but they did not have the education or governing skills to form a government. And they were two very different people with widely different goals. While Zapata was fairly consistent in supporting the Plan de Ayala and land reform, Villa was much less committed to comprehensive social reform. This was in part because, Villa turned large estates over to his grnerals and not the peasants who worked them. They were used to finance his operations. The cowboys who rode with Villa were not committed to lnd reform like the peasants who backed Zapata. Most men were defeated and did not play a major role in the Revolutiin after the defeat of General Huerta. Zapata's Plan de Ayala, resonated throughout the Revolutionary period and influenced the Land Reform of the PRI Givernment which followed it. Villa left not permanent influence on Mexico except for his image in the populsr imsginsation in confronting the United states.


The fighting mostly took place in the north where Obregón's and Villa's forces were based. The primary Constitutionlist commanders were Pancho Villa and Alvaro Obregón. one of Huerta's most important allies proved to be Pascual Orozco, the Chihuahua rebel he had defeated in the service of President Madero. Huerta and Orozcon reconciled. Huerta put him in command of a militia known as the Colorados ("Red Flaggers"). The Colorados were employed in brutal campaigns in rural areas that were seen as supporting the Constitutionalists.

Political Tyranny

Huerta's presidency was notable for political corruption. He essentially ruled by imprisoning preceived enemies and killing a number of them. While fighting in the north, Huerta moved against preceived enemies in Mexici City. He arrested 84 Congressmen. Several were murdered. Belisario Dominguez, a Congressman from Chiapas after denouncing Huerta, was seized, taken into a garden and shot. This reign of terror threw the Mexican government in chaos. Through it all, Huerta himself accompanied by a heavy body guard was observed frequeting Mexico City cantinas, drinking heavily. He was partial to foreign brandy.

Foreign Involvement

Huerta set about recreating the Porfiriato only under his control. He set up a military dictatorship and was not about to make Díaz's mistake of allowing an election. U.S. President Woodrow Wilson came to oppose Huerta when it became clear that there would be no new elections. He recalled Ambassador Henry Lane Wilson who had participated in the conspiracy to overthrow Madero. Wilson demanded that Huerta step aside so that democratic elections could be held. Huerta refused. 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 after the Tampico Affairv 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 he needed to right the rebel forces arayed around him.

Huerta's Defeat (July 1914)

Cut off from foreign military supplies, Huerta's military situation rapidly deteriorated. Obregón and Villa played major roles in the Constitutionalists military campaign. The Constitutionalists won a series of military victories. Obregón led the Army of the Northwest and won important victories at Culiacán, Sinaloa, and further south at Guadalajara-- Mexico's second city. The most important battle against Huerta was the Toma de Zacatecas (Battle of Zacatecas), the bloodiest engagements of the Mexican Revolution (June 23). The city was an old mining town held by Huerta's Federal Army. As a railway junction, it barred the way south to Mexico City. Huerta's commander, General Medina Barrón was confident that he could hold the town. He held the hills surrounding the town that posed a serious challenge to any attacking force. His infantry was supported with artillery. In particular the position seem to preclude the use of calvalry which was Villa's principal force. Garr'n also expected support from General Orozco in Aguascalientes. Zacatecas was taken after fierce fighting taking by Pancho Villa's Division del Norte fighting under the Constititutionalist banner. [Katz, pp. 348-53] Not only did Villa take the city, but the Federal forces there were descimated. After Zacatecas, Huerta saw that defeat was inevitable. He resigned the presidency (July 15, 1914). Huerta at the head of his Armyb of the Northeat triumphantly entered Mexico City (August 15, 1914).

Huerta's Army Disbanded (August 1914)

Carranza and the victorious Constitutionlists disbanded what was left of the Huerta's Federal Army (August 13, 1914). The Army at the time included 10 Generals of Division, 61 Generals of Brigade, 1,006 Jefes, 2,446 Officers, 24,800 other ranks and 7,058 horses. There were also 21 regiments of Rurales with about 10,500 men. The Constitutional Army of Venustiano Carranza became the Army of Mexico. As a result, in subsequent fighting, they became known as the Federal Army or Federales. While they inhereted the name of the Díaz/Huerta Army, Carranza's and Obregon's new Federal Army was a very different force.

Aguascalientes Convention (October-November 1914)

With Huerta's resignation, Mexico was essentially left without a government. The victors had very different ideas about Mexico's future. They held an extended Convention at Aguascalientes in central Mexico to settle their differences (October 10 - November 18, 1914 a Convention was held at Aguascalientes. The convention settled nothing. In fact it resulted in the the break up of the victorious coalition by making it clear just how much they differeed on major issues. Neither Villa or Carranza attended. Obregón did and did attempt to reach compromises. Caranza was disturned by the radical ideas expressed. The fifferenced between Caranza and Villa which was only cosmetically bridged during the fighting against Huerta were permanently broken at the Covention. The Zapatistas and Villistas despite their very real differences reached an informal alliance. Finally the Convention chosen a virtually unknown politican, Eulalio Gutiérrez to be the country's provisional president. Carranza who saw him as a tool of Villa and at any rate wanted to be president himself, refused to recognize Gutiérrez. The Convention delegates who had taken a radical turn and perhaps intimidated by the Villa's men, declared Carranza an outlaw and Villa commander of the Convention's military forces. This divided Mexico into two warring forces. The Constitutionalists were the men who followed Carranza. The Conventionists were those who followed Villa and Zapata. Ideologically, Obregón stood between the two factions. His decesion to bck Caranza was largely settled on personal issues. Obregón in fact had rservations about what he saw as Carranza's tendency toward authoritarianism as well as his inflexibility. He also saw that Caranza was persinally envious of his military achievements. In the end, however, that between given the choice between Villa and Carranza that Caranza was definitelt the lesser of two evils. Villa was both eratic and ruthless and he shared Caranza's view that he was basically a bandit.

Fight Against Zapata and Villa (1914-15)

Carranza defied the Conventioneers. Villa and Zapata decided to crush Caranza the Constitutionalists. They with their Armies of the North and South drove on Mexico City. Obregón oversaw the retreat from the capital (November 1914). Obregón was the military thinker behind the Constitutionalist military army. The Constitunionalist army fell back on Veracruz. This was Mexico's principal port and there they could obtain arms and supplies from abroad. And here Obregón set about reorganizing the Constitutionalist forces that would become the new Federal army. Villa and Zapata entered the capital (December). They had their photograph taken together in the Palacio Nacional--their first and only epic meeting. Villa approprisated the president's chair. The Villistas and Zapatistas held racous celebrations after reaching Mexico City. They did not, however, have the organizational skills to organize an effective government. Zapata moved to destroy the Constitutionalists at Veracruz. The key to the capital was Puebla between Mexico City and Veracruz. He took Puebla (mid-December). Constitunionalist forces under Obregón, however, re-took the city (January 5, 1915). From there he began an offensive to retake the capital. The decisive battle was fought at Celaya northwest of Mexico City (April 1915). In the fighting that followed, Obregón largely destroyed Villa's cavalry at Celaya (1915). Celaya constituted the most massive battle ever fought in Latin America. Obregón commanded a modern force with coherent tactics including the efficent use of artillery and machine guns. Villa's used his tyoical suicidal tactics--recklessness calvary charges. The results were bloody and predictable. Villa's calvalry suffered devestating losses. As the Europeans had already found in Europe, calvalry could bot charge agains defensive positions defended by msachine guns and artillery. Obregón defeated Villa at nearby Leon further north (May-June). Here while winning the bsattle, he lost his right arm. Obregón steadily pursued Villa north, winning victory after victory. Obregón was unable to finish off his rival but did destroy the Division del Norte. Villa would nerver again be a force in Mexican politics. Villa never seriously threatened the government again, although he was a continuing irritation in the North. The United States extended de facto recognition to Carranza and the Constitunionalists (October 19). Villa up to this time had been generally pro-American. He had obtained his arms in the United states by selling cattle from the haciendas his men had seized in the north. He was outraged when the Wilson Administration recognized Carranza. This eventually led to a cross-border raid at Columbus, New Mexico (Match 1916) and the resulting American intervention. The Mexican Government finally dealt with Zapata. Obregón decisively defeated Zapata at the Battle of Ayala (1916). Zapata was forced back into the rugged mountains of Guerrero in the south. After a vicious anti-guerilla campaign weakened his forces, he was no longer a force in narional politics. Obregón managed to eliminate Zapata. Zapata was lured into a trap by a government soldier and shot (1919).

Constitutional Congress (late 1916-early 1917)

Carranza dominated the political wing of the Contitutionalist movement. Obregón was appointed Minister of War (March 1916). Carranza called for a Constitutional convention. The Constitutionalists organized a Constitutional Congress in Querétaro (late 1916-early 1917). They produced the Constitution of 1917. It was a radical departure from past constitutions. The Constitution sharply restricted the influence of religion which in Mexcico meant the Catholic Church. It deleniated the rights of labor. And it declared that Mexico had sovereign rights to such subsoil deposits such a mineral resources and petroleum. Two factions emerged at Constitutional Congress. There were the moderate Renovators supported by Carranza. The other was the radical Jacobins who Obregón supported. Carranza correctly assessing the radicals mood of the Congress decided to seek support from the Jacobins and submitterd som readical (left-wing) proposals of his own. The process, however, tended to widen the rift between Carranza and Obregón.

Venustiano Carranza Presidency (1916-20)

Carranza was elected the first president under the new Mexican Constitution of 1917 (March 11, 1917). He took offuce a few weeks later (May). Carranza led the Liberal wing which was focused on narrow, legalistic reform. Carrabza wanted a liberal, democratic government, but not extensive sicial reform. Obregón was more realistic in seeing that the dynajmic of the Revolution made reform inevitable. He was not, however, for the wide-spread reform advocated by Zapata in the Plan de Ayala.

Obregón Secures his Base (1917-19)

When Carranza became president (May 1917), Obregón resigned as Minister of War and retired to private life. This surprised many in Mexico. They could not understand how a man whjo commsanded the Constitunionalist army and had obvious political ambitions could simply walk away from power. Obregón had a variety of reasons. He was a young man, only 37 years old. He had plenty of time to make his political move. To contest the presidency with Carranza would have nmeant war. Given his role in the Revolution and support within the Constituionalist movement, he would have alear claim to the presidency after Carrranza and the Constitution barred a second term. Thus it was advantageous for him to establish a solid political base in his homestate of Sonora. In addition, his finances had been depleted and focusing on his garbanzo business helped to put him on a better finsncial footing. Health was another concern. In addition, he had been greviously wouded at Leon and needed time to recover. He made headlines throughout Mexico when he made a much accalimed trip to the United states (1917). Col. House, President Wilson's most important political adviser, had been much impressed with Obregón during his military campaigns. He described him to Wilson as the "the man of the hour in Mexico." President Wilson received Obregón as important leader. He was also widely praised in the American press as well as by and by business and political leaders. He even benefitted finanically as aesult of rising food prices resulting from World War I. He sold his 1918 garbanzo crop to the U.S. Food Administration which Wilson had assigned to Herbert Hoover. Carranza was not at all impressed with this he was important in determining his successor. Obregón's approach was to make himself so popular throughout Mexicoi that Carranza would have no choice but to name his as his successor in 1920. Obregón worked diligently to build his ties with labor and agrarian groups. He believed that he wasc in such a strong position that he announce his candidacy (June 1919). This forced Carranza's hand.

Election Campaign 1919-20

Carranza could not run for reelection. It was barred by the Connstitution. And even worse from his prosoective, the rift with Obregón meant that he would be forced to retire from public life. And Carranza unlike Obregón was not a young man. In addition, as president, his authoritative rule had rule had aliennated many Constitutionalists. There were also reports of corruption, although I am not surec to what extent if any this touched Carranza personally. He was losing support as rapidly as Obregón was gaining support. It was clear when he stepped down, it would be the end of his political career. He decided that thec only way that he could retain influence was to hand pick his successor and ram through his choice. He chose Ametrican-educated Ignacio Bonillas. Bonillas was a graduate of the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology abnd sornt many years in the United States. At the time Carranza chose him, he was serving as Mexican Ambassador to the United States. The opposition attempted to turn him into a laughing stock. They began calling him "Meester" Bonillas. Other claim thst he did not speak Spanish very well. Pro-Obregón railroad workers derailed his campaign train and when Bonillas had to cancel an important meeting, rumors spread that he was takeing a Spanish lesson. Carranza seeing that Bonillas' campaign was not going well, decided to use force to determine the outcome of the election. He began a campaign of intimidation against Obregón's supporters.

Carranza Coup and Military Campaign (1920)

When it became clear that Obregón would win the election, Carranza attempted a coup. It appears from available information thst Obregón was committed to an honest election. This became increasingly difficult as Carranza's cammpaign of intimidation intensified. Carranza finally sent troops into Obregón's home state of Sonora. Obregón at the time was in Mexico City, testifying in court for a subordinate who Carranza had accused of plotting armned rebellion. Believing with good reason that he would be targeted next, Obregón fled the city and his in the country. Given Obregón's popularity within the Army, it seems strange that Carranza would have attempted to use it against him. It is probably a reflection of his desire to retain power. His move in Sonora backfired. The Sonora state government withdrew recognition of Carranza as president (April 10). Obregonistas in Sonora announced the Plan of Agua Prieta which called for Carranza's overthrow (April 23). Obregón no only escaped from Mexico City, but he began organizing a military campaign against Carranza. Obregón was supported by most leading generals, including Plutarco Elías Calles and Adolfo de la Huerta. The lack of support for Carranza was quickly evident. As Obregón's forces approached the capital, Carranza and his followers evacuated Mexico (May 7). The left on what has become known as the Golden Train because of all the valuables packed board. The destination was Veracruz. This had used as a base against Villa and Zapata, but by then it must have been clear that there was not future for Carranza in Mexico. Hec surely was now thinking about leaving the country and exile. The route to Veracruz was traditional route for failed Mexican leaders. Attacks along the rail line forced Carranza to leave the train. There a local commander offered him shelter and then ordered him shot (May 21, 1920). There is no evidence that this was ordered by Obregón, but he may well have done so if had the oppoprtunity.

End of the Revolution

Historians debate just when the Revolution ended. The execution of Carranza is the most commonly accepted end of the military phase of the Revolution. The social reforms that Madero has cought, however did not come until later.

Election (1920)

Obregón got his election. It was, however, no longer a contested election. He was elected (September 5, 1920). Sonoran Govdenor Adolfo de la Huerta served as interim president between Carranza's execution and Obregón's installation as president.

Obregón Presidency (1920-24)

Obregón assumed office (December 1920). He proved to be a strong and pragmatic leader. He was both willing and able to enact important social reforms. While he pursued needed reforms, he was no radical. He generally favored labor. He had been seen as an economic ntionalisrs, but encouraged foreign investment. He also promoted domestic private enterprise. He also promoted land reform, distributing almost ten times as much land to campesinos as Carranza. Obregón probably because he was a farmer himself, took a realistic approach to labnd reform. Radicals supported land reform with a near-religious zeal. They were not concerned with the realistic economic consequences. Productive farms required minimum areas of land, depending on the quality of the land and the crop to be raised. Distributing small parcels would guarantee perpetual poverty as well as reduce overall output. Obregón in particular argued that land reform should be include traning in modern agricultural techniques. Obregón also proved to be moderate in religious maters. His persoinal orientation was anticlerical, but did not vigorously enforce anti-Catholic laws in areas with strong religious support. Obregón was especially interested in education. His cchoice as education minister was especially interesting. He chose José Vasconcelos. He was brilliant scholar himslf and as minister pursued a range of innovative ideas to promote education. The Ministry sponsored popular festivals. It also sent idealistic young teachers into the countryside to open schools for the first time. Vasconcelos also saw the arts as an important aspect of national culture to be promoted. Among the fledgling youn artits assisted by the Ministry were Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros and Gerardo Murillo.

De la Huerta Insurection (1923-24)

Warfare in Mexico had not quite ended. Sonoran Govenor Adolfo de la Huerta (1881-1955) had been one of Obregón's major supporters in the war against Carranza. He was responsible for the Plan de Agua Prieta. He rebelled against Obregón. After serving as interim-president, President Obregón appointed his Minister of the Treasury.His successor, Alberto Pani, blamed him Huerta personally for the poor state of the country's finances. Huerta who in an age of political coruption prided himself on personal honesty. He was in fact a man of modest means. Huerta launched his rebellion (December 1923). Surprisingly, much of the Federal army supported him. We are also unsure how he was able to inspire so much support from the officer corps against the major military commanderv of the Revolution. (It seems rather like the U.S. Army stageing a rebellion against Washington or Grant). Obregón had to personally lead the fight against the insurection. . The rebellion was short lived, but especially bloody. Obregón was able to prevail against the army because he had such strong support from labor and agrarian communities. He decided to take heed as toi why Madero failed. He ordered the execution of every rebellious army officer above the rank of major. A lawyer who fought with the rebels protested his sentence, claiming that hec was a civilian and not subject to a military court martial. Obregón's Minister of War proceeded to commission him as a general. He was shot the following day. This was the last time the Mexican Army interfered in national politics. Huerta himself survived his insurrection, peacefully dieing of old age in Mexoico City (1955).

Plutarco Elias Calles Presidency (1924-28)

Obregón was succeeded by another Sonoran politican, Plutarco Elias Calles, without incident. Calles was a long-time political ally. Presidehnt Obregón had goverened pragmatically, especially on religious issues. Calles was more willing to act on his deeply felt ideological principles. He was both vigorously anti-church and adverse to foreign capital investment. Calles was like Obregón anti-clerical, but as president he proved to be an anti-Catholic fanatic. He forcefully moved aginst the Church. The result was the Cristero Rebellion (1926-29). It was centered in the conservative stronghold of west-central Mexico. The Federal Army strugged for 3-years to put down the rebellion. It was finally settled through negotiations. Foreign diplomatic pressure eventually persuaded Calles to reopen the churches that he had closed. He also became less hostile to foreign investment.

Reelection Campaign (1927-28)

"No reelection" after the Porfiriato became a central principle in Mexican politics. Meican currency contains the slogan "Sufragio efectivo, no reelecion". Even Carranza had not tried to run for reelection. Obregón decided to run for a second term. He interpreted the meaning of the phrase to be "no consecutive reelection". Obregón announced his intentions (June 1927). His supporters in Congress passed an amendment to the Constitution that a president could run for a non-consecutive term and that presidential terms be extended from 4 to 6 years. Obregón was still popular and won the election (July 1928).

Assasination (1928)

President-elect Obregón was dining with some deputies from Guanajuato in an open air restaurant at San Angel--La Bombilla. Sidewalk artists are populr in Mexico. A young man approached Obregón's table with a artist's sketch pad, seemingly to show his work. Obregón reached for it just as the artist pulled out a revolver and fired five shots into his head. Obregón died instantly. The Cristero Rebellion was raging at the time. The artist was a young Catholic fanatic, José de León Toral. A Catholic nun, Mother Conchita, had convinced Toral that Obregón was the Anti-Christ. Alvaro Obregón was only 48 years old when he was shot, the last of the great figures of the Revolution.


Hall, Linda Biesele. Alvaro Obregon : Power and Revolution in Mexico, 1911-1920

Katz, Frederich. The Life and Times of Pancho Villa

Obregón, Alvaro. Autobiography.

Tuck, Jim. "Usurper: The Dark Shadow of Victoriano Huerta (1999).


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Last updated: 6:28 PM 6/27/2008