Inter-Anglo-American Suspicions of U.S. Motives in Mexico

Today’s feature at the top left is the New York Times reprint of a (London) Daily Mail article that “assails our good faith” and one that is treated to more or less outraged reactions in the U.S. press.

Also recommended is the Times of London‘s retrospective article on the legacy of the U.S. Taft Administration at the top right.  Inter-imperialist rivalries reveal much more from the point of view of an antagonist or competitor.  And France, Britain and Germany  were anxious that the Huerta-Diaz coup not tilt the investment playing field even further to the advantage of the North Americans.  In particular, “It is noted that ‘colonists’ are beginning to pour back from the country to the town, and that the exploitation of labor is ousting as a source of wealth the exploitation of natural resources.   It is feared that in a community where the premise of Marx’s gloomy generalizations exist, organized capital may be able, as things are, to entrench itself in the high places of government”.

The N.Y. Times reportage continues to get it quite laughably wrong on events in Mexico.




Taft’s Mexico Policy Ends in a Bloodbath

  • U.S. Secretary of State Philander Knox proclaimed that the Sixteenth Amendment had been ratified by the necessary three-fourths of the states, officially making a federal income tax part of the Constitution.

The Huerta coup in Mexico has become, as the English say, “Bollocksed”, with the double murder of the President and

English: Francisco I Madero arriving on the fi...

English: Francisco I Madero arriving on the first day of the Decena Tragica Febrary 1913 author unknown (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Vice-President, Francisco Madero and Pino Suárez.  This was a huge public international embarrassment for United States foreign policy, producing expressions of shock and disgust throughout the “civilized” world, however much these expressions were hypocritically and racially projected upon the Mexicans themselves.

It is now a matter of historical fact, based on the record of official telegraph communications between the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City and Washington D.C., that Taft’s U.S. ambassador to Mexico, Henry Lane Wilson, had been up to his neck in a direct conspiracy with both Huerta and Diaz to “peacefully” remove Madero and his Cabinet.  The fly in the ointment proved to be the “dreamer” Madero’s insistence on carrying out the duties of the executive office that he had been democratically elected to and had sworn an oath to defend.  This act of resistance prompted much angst in the embassies of the “civilized” states of Western Europe and the U.S., who showed their respect for “democracy and the rule of law” by incongruously blaming Madero for the bloodshed and demanding that he resign in the face of a lawless armed coup, acting as if the Ambassadors of the U.S., Britain, France and (interestingly enough) Germany were the true electors of Mexico rather than the Mexican people themselves.

Decena_trágicaAs the Wikipedia article on La Decena Tragica puts it, on the 18th of February “Félix Díaz, the leader of the mutiny, Victoriano Huerta, the commander of Madero’s forces, and the American Ambassador, spent the next three hours in conference in the smoking room of the American embassy, framing up a plan for a new government to succeed that of the betrayed and imprisoned President Madero. Díaz pressed his claims for the presidential office, on the grounds that he had fought the battle. But Huerta’s claims were stronger, for in truth, if he had not turned, the revolt could not have succeeded. (At this time, also, Huerta had command of more troops than Díaz.) Three times they were on the verge of parting in anger, said Ambassador Wilson, but his labors kept them together and they finally worked out what was represented as a compromise: Huerta would become the “Provisional President,” but would call for an election in October and support Díaz for the permanent presidency. A cabinet was agreed on, Ambassador Wilson taking a leading part in this matter. The Ambassador approved the appointment of Enrique Zepeda as Governor of the Federal District, and stipulated for the release of Madero’s ministers. Ambassador Wilson made no stipulation concerning the President and the Vice President”.

One should not wonder too much why the outgoing U.S. President Howard Taft and his Ambassador would want to back a coup in Mexico right before the incoming President, Woodrow Wilson, assumed office; the presentation of fait accomplis to the next President as problems to be handled has been de rigueur for quite some time in the U.S. system, continuing up to this day, as with the 2008 TARP swindle handed off by Hank Paulson to Barak Obama – with Obama’s full support, of course – at the end of the Bush Presidency.


U.S. Moves Military to the Borders of Mexico

English: c.1890 sitting portrait of Henry L Wi...

c.1890 sitting portrait of Henry L Wilson while in business in Spokane, Washington, a copy of which may also be found in the Library of Congress. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  • The first survey stake for what would become the city of Canberra, capital of Australia, was driven into the ground by King O’Malley, the Minister for Home Affairs.
  • The State of Arkansas outlawed the practice of convict leasing.
  • Four days after their forced resignations, former Mexican President Madero and Vice-President Pino Suarez, were shot to death after being transported from the presidential palace to a prison. The official explanation by President Huerta was that the two men were being transported in automobiles and “two-thirds of the way to the penitentiary, they were attacked by an armed group…and the prisoners tried to escape. An exchange of shots then took place in which one of the attacking party was killed, two were wounded and both prisoners killed.” Other accounts were that Major Francisco Cardenas, who was escorting the prisoners, shot both men and that President Huerta was told by U.S. Ambassador Henry Lane Wilson to do “whatever he thought best for the country”, after which “Huerta did just that”, having the two men executed at the prison.

Note that only recently (1901) had Australia  been federated under the British Crown as the Commonwealth of Australia by the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act a.k.a. a Dominion of the British Empire.  Canada had become the first successful Dominion of that Empire in 1866, all those previous having been failures today known as the United States of America.  This included the first attempted English Dominion – before the union with Scotland – in the attempted combination of present-day New Jersey, New York and all of New England into a “Dominion of New England” in the 1690’s that quickly fell apart.

The First World War was the proving ground for the mythic blood foundation of the new Twentieth Century Dominion. But right now it is staking down its own Distrito Federal.

The “Wilson” spoken of here is of course not that of the newly elected but not yet acting President Woodrow Wilson, but Henry Lane Wilson, then Taft’s ambassador to Mexico.  Here the New York Times correspondent catches more than a whiff of ambassadorial involvement in the events of La Decena Tragica, as that correspondent discretely conveys to us.


Fall of Madero, Ships Set Sail by Night

  • U.S. President Taft assured Mexican President Madero that the U.S. had no plans to intervene in the Mexican Revolution other than to protect U.S. citizens

    Francisco I. Madero, former Mexican president ...

    Francisco I. Madero, former Mexican president (front row, with papers in his pocket) with rebel leaders. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  • After fighting against the rebels, federal troops in Mexico arrested President Francisco I. Madero and Vice-President José Pino Suárez. General Aureliano Blanquet ordered his soldiers to enter the palace and arrest the President and his cabinet. The President and Vice-President both resigned at 10:24 pm, and Foreign Minister Pedro Lascuráin, second in line for succession, became the interim President. When the Mexican Congress confirmed General Victoriano Huerta as the new leader, President Lascuráin resigned at 11:20 pm, having served for 56 minutes.
  • Raymond Poincaré was inaugurated as President of France.
  • Born: Artur Axmann, German leader of the Hitler Youth from 1940 to 1945, in Hagen, Germany
  • Gustavo A. Madero, brother of the deposed President, was executed on orders of General Félix Díaz. Gustavo was “subjected to the ‘fugitive law'”, where prisoners were released and given a chance to flee while guns were fired at them



“Our Destiny to Be Imperial”

  • China‘s Minister of Education opened the Conference on Unification of Pronunciation, the first attempt to create common standards for the Chinese language, with 44 delegates meeting in Beijing.
  • The Welsh Church Disestablishment bill was rejected by the British House of Lords, with only 52 in favor and 252 against.
  • Emilio Vasquez Gomez crossed the U.S.-Mexican border at Columbus, New Mexico into Palomas, and proclaimed
    Defensa Revolucionaria

    Defensa Revolucionaria (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

    himself as President of Mexico, with plans to journey to the capital to take office.

  • A nine hour armistice in the Mexican Revolution went into effect in Mexico City.

So the New York Times proclaimed in connection with Mexico: “It has ever been thus in the history of the American Republic, which has had greatness thrust upon it rather than achieved greatness”.  One hundred years on, this false humility rings truer than the authors intended.

Events in Mexico continue to dominate the international Anglo-American press, overshadowing even the resumption of war in the Balkans.  Rumors of Madero’s death are yet premature.  Estimates of $1 million per day and 200,000 soldiers are made to acting President Taft for any intervention into Mexico.  Francisco De La Barra, another Diaz holdover, is favored in New York and London.



Street Battles in Mexico City

Official photograph of the victors of the Batt...

Official photograph of the victors of the Battle of Ciudad Juárez. Madero is seated in center, Orozco on the far right, and Villa is standing on the far left. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As promised, clips for the first time from the New York Times on the Mexican Revolution, after sorting out some technical problems.  Judging from the tone of its reportage, it is apparent that Madero had committed the crime of defending the constitution of Mexico with armed force.  The Orozquistas (Colorados) and their leader, Pascual Orozco, whose family were Basques from Chihuahua involved in mining in the north of Mexico, adjoining Texas and New Mexico, were beginning their realignment with the forces of Victoriano Huerta.  Orozco together with Pancho Villa had been instrumental in the downfall of the Diaz dictatorship in 1910, however Madero had appointed  Venustiano Carranza, a wealthy landowner like Madero to be Ministerio de Guerra rather than Orozco. He also refused to move against the Zapatistas as Madero had commanded.  By March 1912 imagesOrozquistas  were in armed rebellion against the Madero government.  Madero sent Huerta to command a Federal force against the Orozquistas that captured Cuidad Juarez and forced Orozco to take refuge in the U.S. where he spent some months in Los Angeles with relatives.  Orozco was able to return to Mexico in exchange for support for Huerta’s Presidency.

  • Mary Harris Jones, the 83 year old labor activist remembered as “Mother Jones“, was arrested in Charleston, West Virginia after leading a group of miners to confront Governor Transported to an area of Charleston that was under martial law because of confrontations between striking coal miners and company police, Jones would be tried by a military court in March, on charges of conspiracy to commit murder. Convicted on the charges, she would be sentenced to three years imprisonment, but released by the new Governor after 85 days.
  • Outgoing U.S. President Taft vetoed the Burnett-Dillingham Immigration Bill, that would have turned away immigrant heads of families who were unable to pass a literacy test. The veto would survive an attempt at an override; a historian would note later that, “Following his conscience and the advice of Charles Nagel, [Taft] defended his long-standing belief that immigration was an economic boon to the country and that Southern and Eastern Europeans could asimilate as readily as Northern and Western Europeans… Taft left the gates of America open for many immigrants as he left the White House.”
  • Born: Jimmy Hoffa, American Teamsters Union leader, in Brazil, Indiana (disappeared 1975)


The “Bandit” Zapata

Español: Emiliano Zapata

Español: Emiliano Zapata (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  • Count Gombei Yamamoto became the new Premier of Japan. The new premier, 60 years old, was a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, one of the Class of ’77.
  • Turkey requested the Great Powers to intervene to end the Balkan War.

The events of the Decena Tragica in Mexico hold center stage for the time being despite the renewal of hostilities in the


Morelos (Photo credit: alexmontjohn)

Balkans.  For this purpose, “real time” clippings from the New York Times will be introduced for the first time. As expected the NYT slant differs little from that of the Times of London, although a difference in a certain coarseness of language can be noticed between the two sides of the North Atlantic.  Thus for example we are immediately introduced to the “Morelos bandit”, even “murderous bandit” (this being the aforementioned American twist), Emiliano Zapata.   The general sense of is of contempt for the “vain dreamer” Francisco Madero, and irritation at the fact that Madero at least mounted a military defense of the Presidency and Constitution, as this was seen as only extending the crisis of the “inevitable” transition to the brother of the deposed dictator Porfirio Diaz, Félix Díaz together with his military allies, Bernardo Reyes and Victoriano Huerta.  Said the NYT, “Mexico required ‘strong central government'”.

The NYT has the advantage in bringing a close-up of the battle in Mexico City as it unfolds.  We also see more details of an extensive military mobilization of ships and troops, in preparation for a possible military intervention, undertaken by the outgoing Taft Administration.

Needless to say, the “revolutionists” described herein are actually the counterrevolutionaries seeking to restore some part of the status quo ante.