November 20th is Revolution Day in Mexico, but in 2016 it will be celebrated on November 21 to provide a 3 day weekend. The day commemorates the beginning of the Mexican revolution that ran from 1910 to 1920. The revolution was begun by the armed struggle against dictator/president José de la Cruz Porfirio Díaz Mori called for by Francisco Madero. Much like the American Civil War shaped the modern United States, the Revolution of 1910-1920 shaped the following century of the fundamental direction of Mexico. <
Things came a little slower to the Baja peninsula and although the revolution began in 1910, the first events to occur in Baja California Sur did so in 1913.
This year expect banks, government offices and some businesses to be closed on Monday, November 16, 2015. Major shopping chains are usually open. Because the holiday falls on a Thursday, look for many businesses and government offices closed on Monday as workers make a 3 day weekend of the holiday. Across Mexico, the weather is cooling and Revolution Day is one of the last of the year for outdoor events. The Dia de Guadalupe, Posadas, and Christmas soon to follow.
The 20th of November is celebrated in Mexico as the beginning of the Mexican Revolution that ran from 1910 to 1920 and was called for by defeated presidential candidate and reform writer Francisco Ignacio Madero. In fact, the day itself represents a misfire.
The Plan of San Luis Potosí
While in exile in San Antonio, Texas Madero wrote a political document that was later published in the Mexican city of San Luis Potosí and hence became known as "The Plan of San Luis Potosí." Madero called for the people of Mexico to rise up and begin a revolution some 45 days later at 6PM on November 20th.
On November 20, 1910, Madero arrived at the border and planned to meet up with 400 men raised by his uncle Catarino to launch an attack on Ciudad Porfirio Díaz, modern-day Piedras Negras, Coahuila. However, his uncle showed up late and brought only ten men. Discretion being the better part of valor, he postpones the armed conflict to begin the revolution.
President José de la Cruz Porfirio Díaz Mori
Diaz had ruled Mexico for 35 years, through puppet surrogates and outright election fraud. In 1910 Diaz suggested in an interview with a US magazine that Mexico was now ready for democracy and he might suggest a new round of general elections. Many parties scurried to present candidates but in the end, Diaz selected Madero as an opponent. The election was an obvious fraud when Diaz claimed Madero received a pitiful number of votes nationwide. The nation was finally outraged at the actions of Diaz.
Francisco Ignacio Madero
Diaz jailed Madero and approximately 6000 of his Maderista, anti-reelectionist compadres. Not allowing Madero to participate in the elections after he and his wife had vigorously campaigned against Diaz and Madero had become known as the “Apostle of Democracy”. After Diaz was elected President; Madero was then allowed some freedoms like to ride around San Luis Potosí during the day under armed guard. He then was able to flee Mexico to San Antonio, Texas via the Mexican U.S. border at Laredo on October 4th, 1910.
The Plan of San Luis Potosí asked for the nullification of the elections of 1910 and to physically take up arms against the Mexican government. Madero explained the necessity of these actions due to the extremity of the situation and the lack of independence that the Mexican people were living in.
Madero was not alone in his revolutionary actions against Diaz. Other well-known names in the revolution were Emiliano Zapata in the south, who championed the struggle to return lands to the people through grants we now know as ejidos. Poncho Villa (left) was also a supporter of Madero's revolution, changed from bandit to revolutionary and was responsible for the revolution in his region, with the Division of the North.
The following 10 years were a brutal struggle within Mexico with failed coups and those that succeeded. General Victoriano Huerta was originally a supporter of Madero until Poncho Villa refused to submit to the orders of Huerta. Huerta called for Villas arrest and execution. Madero commuted the sentence and set Villa free.
Huerta repaid this betrayal as he saw it by Madero by orchestrating a coup. A 10-day siege, known as the "La decena tragica" (the Tragic Decade, or 10 days). US Ambassador Henry Lane Wilson was a key player in supporting the coup of Huerta and the main reason Mexican law forbids foreign nationals from involvement in Mexican political activities.
Huerta (left) seized power from Madero, had Madero's brother murdered and arrested Madero and the vice-president. Madero was forced to resign and 45 minutes later Huerta became 'president'. Madero was murdered days later when an alleged rescue attempt provoked his Huerta loyal guards to behead him and execute the vice president to save them from release by a pro-Madero crowd. The story was so ridiculous it was not taken seriously and uprisings throughout the country began.
Huerta battled Villa with great exuberance, being the foundation of his complaint with the Madero government. Huerta eventually ground Villa down with superior equipment and modern tactics. Villa returned to the mountains as a bandit.
The armed portion of the revolution is said to end with the assumption of power by Carranza (right) although the struggle continued for several more successions. The following years were a parade of 'presidential' office holders that reads like the bible, "when Job begat..." Carranza replaced and exiled Huerta, Carranza had Zapata assassinated , Carranza was overthrown and assassinated by Álvaro Obregón. Obregón was later replaced by Elias Calles who in turn was exiled by his intended puppet successor, Lázaro Cárdenas in 1934.
Viva la Revolución! Viva Mexico!