Constitutionalists Launch Upising in Mexico; Yanina Falls to Greeks

  • Harriet Tubman, an African American abolitioni...

    Harriet Tubman, an African American abolitionist and conductor of the Underground Railroad. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

    Died: Harriet Tubman, 98, former slave famous for conducting thousands to freedom on the “underground railroad”.

    She was given a burial with full military honors at Auburn, New York.

The First Balkan War continues to wind down, and events in Mexico continue to command center stage.   There, reports appear of Federal soldiers in the northern states bordering the United States.  The anti-Huerta forces, already known as the “Constitutionalists” in honor of Francisco I. Madero‘s attempt to defend the same, begin to gather strength.  The historical irony will be that the constitution they sought to defend was that of the old Porfirio Diaz regime, while the Constitutionalists themselves would write a new constitution for Mexico.

The New York Times, meanwhile, continues to expend many column inches in defense of Henry Lane Wilson, still U.S. Ambassador to Mexico.  This is of course against the now existing historical evidence, but it wouldn’t be the last time for the Times, as seen when it offered its front pages as a platform for a stream of lies manufactured by Judith Miller: http://www.jstudies.com/nacaf/miller/wmd.htm

Let’s see if the Times of 100 years ago feigns similar apologetic.

In contrast, attention is drawn to the penetrating Times of London article below on how the results of the Balkans War has shifted the European balance of power against Germany, provoking another round in the arms race.

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Huerta Moves Against Carranza; Pancho Villa Enters Mexico Against Huerta

  • Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa, who had been living at the Hotel Roma in El Paso, Texas under the alias “Doroteo Arango“, crossed the Rio Grande back into Mexico, along with eight companions, to rebuild his army and to overthrow Mexican President Victoriano Huerta. By year’s end, Villa would have control of the state of Chihuahua, which served as his base for anti-government raids.

    800px-Fierro_Pancho_Villa_Ortega_Medina

    Pancho Villa (3rd from right)

  • The tercentenary of the reign of the Romanov dynasty was celebrated across the Russian Empire, although on the Julian calendar then in use in Russia and 13 days behind the Gregorian calendar used in the rest of the world, the date was February 21. Tsar Nicholas II, the last of the dynasty, would be deposed less than five years later.

Contrary to the tone of faux confidence of the Anglo-American press, Victoriano Huerta faced increasing armed opposition to the stabilization of his rule.  Venustiano Carranza had immediately begun to organize a resistance to the Huerta-Diaz coup from his base in Coahuila state in North Mexico.  Carranza was joined by the arrival of Pancho Villa in Chihuahua state from the United States, to where he had fled in 1912 to escape execution by Huerta when he was at the head of the Federal armies under the Madero presidency.  Here Villa was to reorganize the famous Division del Norte, at its maximum consisting of up to 50,000 soldiers.  Despite their alliance,  Carranza and Villa came from completely different social origins:  Carranza was the son of wealthy ranchers from Coahuila state, politically a liberal of the Francisco Madero type, and would be the key force behind the Constitution of 1917.  Villa, from Durango state, was the son of peones de hacienda,  essentially a post-feudal sharecropping economic institution that could also include mining and ranching operations.  Many were owned by the Catholic Church, explaining the hostility to the Church in the Revolution.  The hacienda system was legally abolished in 1917.  Villa’s army led the expropriation of land for redistribution to  peasants, going beyond the liberalism of Madero and Carranza at that time.

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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.

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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

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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

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.

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Se Empiece La Decena Tragica en Mexico

  • For the first time in more than 110 years, an incumbent United States President personally spoke before a house of the U.S. Congress. President William Howard Taft appeared before a session of the U.S. Senate to deliver a eulogy for the late Vice-President, James S. Sherman, who had died in November.
  • The United States and Nicaragua signed the Wertzel-Chamorro Treaty, with the U.S. paying $3 million to Nicaragua for the option to build a canal across the nation to link the Atlantic and Pacific, and the right to set up bases on Corn Island and the Gulf of Fonseca. Construction of the Panama Canal was almost complete; the U.S. Senate’s session ended before the treaty could be voted on.
  • Mexico’s President Francisco I. Madero was trapped in a siege of the presidential palace by rebels under the command of General Felix Diaz. Former Governor of Nuevo León Bernardo Reyes, who was one of the leaders of the revolt, was killed in the exchange of gunfire
  • Charles Rumney Samson, who had been the first person to fly an airplane off of the deck of a ship (on May 9, 1912) became the first person to fire a machine gun from an airplane in flight. Samson was flying over Eastchurch.
  • At Mucklow, West Virginia, 16 people — 12 miners and 4 mine guards— were killed in fighting between striking coal miners and police.
Kinmochi Saionji (西園寺公望, 1849-1940). Japanese ...

Kinmochi Saionji (西園寺公望, 1849-1940). Japanese Prime Minister 1906-08 and 1911-12. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Two countries with long term pivotal relationships to the U.S., Mexico and Japan, have just now embarked upon a new era in their political histories, decidedly so in the case of Mexico.  In Japan we see the definite end of the Late Genrou period of the Meiji era, one that featured the alternation of the Emperor-appointed prime ministership between the representative of the military, Katsura Tarō, and the “civil” representative, Saionji Kinmochi.  That period dates from the foundation of the Rikken Seiyūkai (立憲政友会, Constitutional Government “Association”, declining to define itself as a party, tō (党)) in 1900.  Saionji and the Seiyuukai were the relatively “liberal” wing of what was then the highly aristocratic and militaristic ruling class of Japan, one, though, seeking to march rapidly towards capitalism.  The Kyoto-born Saionji himself hailed from the traditional kuge (公家, the very characters can be read as “public houses”) ) “imperial court” aristocracy, growing up in the shadow of the Imperial Palace in what was still then the capital of Japan.  In this way the centuries-old rivalry between the kuge and buke (武家, samurai warrior houses) was formally reproduced in the present.  It was Katsura’s turn up at bat for Prime Minister, but this was the first alteration in office since the death of Meiji Emperor in July 1912, when Saionji held the office.  At that time Saionji thought it expedient to push for a reduction in military expenditures, and the military reacted by boycotting appointment to the Army and Navy ministries, required constitutionally to be filled by active-duty officers.  This provoked the political crisis reported here in December, 1912 as the Saionji ministry fell.  The new Taisho Emperor as expected appointed  Katsura, who however also saw the dawn of a new Imperial era as a chance to alter the balance toward the military, suspending the Diet or parliament . Katsura launched his own “constitutional association”, Rikken Doshikai, only to find itself confronted with mass demonstrations targeting this party’s offices as well as the Diet building in Tokyo, on February 10, 1913.   Katsura is shortly to become the first Prime Minister to be removed by a no-confidence vote in the Diet.

Francisco I. Madero, former Mexican president.

Francisco I. Madero, former Mexican president. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In Mexico, Francisco I. Madero, a classical bourgeois liberal reform politician from one of the wealthiest families in the country, wealth derived form agriculture and mining,  had been swept into the Presidency in 1911 by the first phase of what was now a rapidly unfolding revolution.  Madero now found himself  under siege in the Presidential Palace in a military coup led by Victoriano Huerta, a Diaz  holdover currently overall commander of the “Federalist” army.    This event had the direct backing of of the outgoing U.S. President Howard Taft’s ambassador to Mexico, Henry Lane Wilson, and marks a key turning point in the current phase of the Mexican Revolution that began when the Diaz regime lost military control over the U.S.-Mexico border city of Ciudad Juarez in battle with the rebel forces of Pascual Orozco and Francisco (Pancho) Villa on the 21 May of 1911.   With the “Treaty of Ciudad Juárez“, the Diaz regime was replaced with a provisional government that saw Madero finally become President, but only after allowing another Diaz supporter, Francisco León de la Barra, to continue as interm President throughout most of 1911, allowing the Diaz forces to regroup and conspire with Wilson, as de la Barra had been Diaz’s foreign secretary.  Madero was also in a weakened political state as the situation had been altered by the independent actions of the  sectionally based Orozco and Villa rebels.   These latter split off from the Federalists when, together with the peasant militias of Emiliano Zapata in the south, refused to disarm, not trusting the political situation and Madero himself.  The Feburary 1913 coup against Madero only confirmed these suspicions, and Madero was to surrender in 10 days to Huerta, whom Madero had appointed to command the Federalist forces against the rebels.  This was to precipitate a major U.S. military intervention at Veracruz as one of the first acts of the incoming Democrat administration of Woodrow Wilson.