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Enrique, Nabor and Carmen


Jose, Father, 2 daughters of previous marriage, Mercedes and Leonor in white.


Alfred Jordan, Olivia Pacheco, Alfred, Gregory and Jason


Children, Olivia and Rudolph, Tumacacori Church, Richard Pacheco Daughter and Niece.

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Incredible times during the first 20 years of the 20th century.



Police Officer-1885-1901
Elected Constable of Tucson-1901-1904
Elected Sheriff of Pima County twice-1904-1906
Lost election in 1908 (split Republican vote)
Appointed Chief of Police Tucson-1909-1917
Has his Colt 45 pistol at the Arizona Historical Society
Personally cut the cord of 2 convicted murderers in a public hanging in 1908

During a recent business trip, I had a chance to stop in the museum. I was looking for the revolvers belonging to Great Grandfather Nabor. They were not on display. I did run across the Sharps Sportman rifle that did belong to Nabor, a sturdy and impressive weapon much like the man. Here's the specs

Eric Pacheco

Sharps rifle
Berdan  Sharpshooter’s Rifle
Type Rifle, Carbine
Place of origin U.S., Union
Service history
In service 1850-1881
Production history
Designer Christian Sharps
Designed 1848
Number built 100,000+
Variants Single set trigger (regular army)
Double set trigger (United States Sharpshooters)
Weight 8 pounds
Length 47 inches (rifle)

Cartridge caliber .52 475-grain projectile with 50-grain cartridge, later converted to 45-70 US government in 1873.
Action Falling Block
Rate of fire 8 - 10 shots per minute
Muzzle velocity 1200 ft/s
Effective range 500 yards
Feed system 1 round
Sights open ladder type

Sharps sporting rifles

Sharps made rifles in sporting versions from the late 1840s until the late 1880s. After the American Civil War, converted Army surplus guns were made into custom rifles, and the Sharps factory produced Models 1869 and 1874 rifles in large numbers for the commercial buffalo hunters and frontiersmen. These largebore rifles were manufactured in some of the most powerful black powder cartridges. Sharps also manufactured special long range target versions for the then popular Creedmore style of 1,000-yard (910 m) target shooting. Many modern black powder Cartridge Silhouette shooters use original and replica Sharps rifles to shoot metallic silhouettes cut in the shapes of animals at ranges up to 500 meters. A company known as Shiloh Rifle Manufacturing Company, of Big Timber, Montana, has been manufacturing reproductions of the Sharps Rifle since 1983. A replica Sharps Rifle was featured prominently in the 1990 western film Quigley Down Under, starring Tom Selleck.

(My favorite President, and it is nice to know that my great grandfather Nabor and grandfather Enrique were in his party at the same time.)

"In the first place we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin.

Primeramente, deberíamos insitir que si el imigrante, quien viene de buen corazon, se convierte en un Americano; y si se asimila a nosotros, el sera tratado igualmente como los demas, porque es un ultraje discriminar contra tal hombre [persona] basado en su credo, lugar de nacimiento, o lugar de origen.

But this is predicated on the man's becoming in very fact an American, and nothing but an American...

Pero esto esta basado en que tal hombre [persona] se convierta en realidad en un americano , y sólo en un americano.

There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn't an American at all.

No puede haber ninguna lealtad dividida aquí. Cualquier hombre que dice ser americano, pero ademas es otra cosa, no es un americano en absoluto.

We have room for but one flag, the American flag, and this excludes the red flag, which symbolizes all wars against liberty and civilization, just as much as it excludes any foreign flag of a nation to which we are hostile...

Tenemos lugar para solamente una bandera, la bandera americana, y ésta excluye la bandera roja, que simboliza todas las guerras contra la libertad y la civilización, asi igual que excluye cualquier bandera ajena de una nación con quien somos hostiles…

We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language...and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people."

Tenemos lugar para solo un idioma aquí, y ésa es el idioma [lengua] inglesa… y tenemos lugar para unicamente una lealtad y esa es una lealtad a la gente americana.

Theodore Roosevelt (26th President of the United States of America, 1901-1909)

Theodore Roosevelt is mostly remembered as the twenty-sixth President of the United States, but this astonishingly multifaceted man was a great many other things as well.

In addition to holding elective office as a New York State Assemblyman, Governor of New York, Vice President, and President, he was also a deputy sheriff in the Dakota Territory, Police Commissioner of New York City, U.S. Civil Service Commissioner, Assistant Secretary of the Navy, and Colonel of the Rough Riders *, all by the age of 42, at which time he became the youngest man ever to hold the office of President.

He was one of the original members of the American Institute of Arts and Letters, and he was one of the first fifteen elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He was a founder of the Boone and Crocket Club, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), and the Long Island Bird Club.

He also established himself as a historian (he was President of the American Historical Association) and as a naturalist (he was considered the world's authority on large American mammals and he led two major scientific expeditions for prominent American Museums, one in South America and one in Africa, each lasting many months). Had he not become President, he would be remembered for his contributions in both of these fields.

In between these busy enterprises, he found time to ranch in the West, hunt on several continents, raise a family of six rambunctious children, read a remarkable number of books (often one a day), write more than thirty-five himself, and develop an extraordinary network of friends and contacts, which he maintained mostly by mail, writing well over 150,000 letters.

Theodore Roosevelt Presidential achievements are impressive. In foreign affairs he led us into the arena of international power politics, thrusting aside the American tradition of isolationism, while on the domestic scene, he reversed the traditional federal policy of laissez-faire, and sought to bring order, social justice, and fair dealings to American industry and commerce. In all his policies as Chief Executive, he expanded the powers and responsibilities of the Presidential office, establishing the model of the modern Presidency which has been followed by most of his successors in the White House.

His specific achievements are numerous. Perhaps his greatest contribution was his work for conservation. During his tenure in the White House from 1901 to 1909, he designated 150 National Forests, the first 51 Federal Bird Reservations, 5 National Parks, the first 18 National Monuments, the first 4 National Game Preserves, and the first 21 Reclamation Projects. Altogether, in the seven-and-one-half years he was in office, he provided federal protection for almost 230 million acres, a land area equivalent to that of all the East coast states from Maine to Florida.

Aside from his conservation efforts, he "busted" trusts bringing the large corporations under the control of the people; he began the Panama Canal (more canal photos); he established the Department of Commerce and Labor; he negotiated an end to the Russo-Japanese War and thereby won the Nobel Peace Prize; he preached a "Square Deal" for all Americans, enabling millions to earn a living wage; he built up the Navy as the "Big Stick," thus establishing America as a major world power; he reduced the National debt by over $90,000,000; and he secured the passage of the Elkins Act and the Hepburn Act for regulation of the railroads, the Meat Inspection Act and the Pure Food and Drug Act for consumer protection, and the Federal Employers' Liability Act for Labor.

In addition, he successfully mediated international disputes over Venezuela, the Dominican Republic and Morocco. He was the first world leader to submit a dispute to the Court of Arbitration at The Hague, and he was the first head of state to call for convening of what became the Second Hague Peace Conference at which he obtained for Latin American nations equal status with the rest of the world, and won the adoption of the Drago Doctrine, which outlawed the use of force in the collection of foreign debts.

Many of the policies he advocated during the Bull Moose years were adopted by Presidents Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt.

Towards the end of his life, he was a major force for military preparedness particularly as World War I loomed. Much of what he achieved affects each and every American today and his name and personality have become part of the collective icon for what America stands for at its best.




















Few people have ever less fitted the conventional image of a revolutionary than Venustiano Carranza. He was a country squire rather than an intellectual, he had been part of a ruling establishment and he took up revolution at an age when most men are contemplating retirement. Yet history placed him among the leading figures in one of the twentieth century's most tumultuous revolutionary movements.

Carranza was one of fifteen children born to Jesús Carranza and María de Jesús Garza. The father began life as a soldier, first fighting Indians and then serving in the forces of Benito Juárez. Retiring from the army as a colonel, he acquired substantial ranching and farming lands in the state of Coahuila, adjoining the small town of Cuatro Ciénegas. There Venustiano was born in 1859. He attended school in Saltillo, the state capital, and then the National Preparatory School in Mexico City. Barred from a professional career by eyes that were abnormally sensitive to light, he returned home and dedicated himself to ranching and farming. He first entered politics at the age of 28 and, through the influence of his family, was easily elected municipal president (mayor) of his home town. He served another term as mayor from 1894-98 and then joined three of his brothers in going into rebellion against Coahuila Governor, José Maria Garza Galán. Garza Galán was a Porfirio Díaz appointee but the rebellion mounted against him by the Carranza brothers can in no way be interpreted as a protest against the Díaz system. The brothers simply believed that Garza's "reelection" was fraudulent. Díaz's proconsul for northeastern Mexico was General Bernardo Reyes, governor of the neighboring state of Nuevo León. Respecting the Carranzas -- who in turn respected him -- Díaz asked Reyes to attend to the matter. He did so by appointing another governor more to the Carranzas' liking. After that, Carranza and Reyes became close friends and political allies. With Reyes's support, Carranza became a deputy in the state legislature, a federal deputy, a federal senator and, in 1908, was appointed provisional governor of Coahuila.

The reason behind Carranza's break with Díaz does not do him much credit. Did he idealistically oppose the corrupt and arbitrary system of diazpotismo? Hardly. Wishing to be formally elected governor of his home state, he needed Díaz's backing. In 1909 Madero had formed his Anti-Reelection party. Carranza, hoping to ingratiate himself with the old dictator, wrote him a fawning letter telling him that he had had Madero removed from a board judging a dispute over irrigation waters of the Nazas River. Concluded the letter: "I hope this action will meet with your approval and will serve as proof of my unvarying adhesion to the good progress of your government -- today criticized by a person (Madero) of no political significance.'"

Flattery got Carranza nowhere as Díaz backed another man for governor. Reacting with the outrage of a spurned lover, he now joined Madero. But their relationship was spotty -- something like an arranged marriage that isn't going smoothly. Though Carranza didn't play a particularly active role in the campaign against Díaz, he did show up at the siege of Ciudad Juárez and Madero named him minister of war. This outraged front-line fighters like Pancho Villa and Pascual Orozco and led to their brief mutiny. Elected governor of Coahuila, Carranza frequently criticized Madero's performance as president. He wanted an important cabinet post but Madero turned him down, privately referring to him as a pachorrudo ("sluggish old man").

Carranza was indeed deliberate and this quality was never more apparent than when Huerta overthrew Madero and connived at his assassination. First he denounced Huerta's coup as unconstitutional, sending telegrams to all the state governors urging them "unfurl the flag of legality (and) sustain the constitutional government chosen in the last election." Then he appeared to be wavering. The U.S. consul in Saltillo, Philip E. Holland, reported to Washington that Carranza had changed his mind. Henry Lane Wilson, the pro-Huerta U.S. ambassador, declared in his report to the State Department that Huerta had refused to accept Carranza's overtures and was sending troops to Coahuila to restore order. If the report is true -- and Wilson was never one to let facts get in the way of his prejudices -- then this was the second time that rejection had pushed Carranza into revolution.

On March 25, 1913, at a similarly named hacienda, Carranza issued his Plan de Guadalupe, charter of what has since become known as the Constitutionalist movement. A frank declaration of civil war, it disavowed Huerta and all state governors who, after thirty days, still recognized the usurper. It also named Carranza First Chief of the Constitutionalist movement.

This was the beginning of the victorious 15 month campaign that ended with Huerta's hasty July 10 resignation and flight into exile five days later. The First Chief's top commanders in this sanguinary civil war were Pancho Villa, with his roistering but superbly equipped Division of the North, and Alvaro Obregón, the chick pea farmer from Sonora who turned out to be the greatest natural military leader in Mexican history. In the south, Emiliano Zapata and his jungle warriors in Morelos made their contribution to bringing Huerta down.

Victory did not bring harmony. Two feuding factions emerged, one led by Villa and Zapata and the other by Carranza and Obregón. Particularly sharp was the antagonism between Villa and Carranza, with Villa enraged by such acts as Carranza holding up a shipment of coal destined for Villa's troop train. Carranza's action enabled Obregón, Carranza's ally, to enter Mexico City before Villa. At a convention, held in October and November at Aguascalientes, it was agreed that the main stumbling block to real peace was the rivalry between Villa and Carranza. Both were eliminated from consideration for the post of interim president as the nod went to a relatively unknown small town politician named Eulalio Gutiérrez.

Villa agreed to recognize Gutiérrez but Carranza did not, raising all sorts of legalistic objections. On November 5 Carranza was given five days to hand over executive power to Gutiérrez. His rejection of the ultimatum (he denounced the Convention as a "junta") was followed by Carranza being declared in rebellion. At the same time, Villa was given command of the Convention's military forces. It was an ironic twist: a former bandit and cattle rustler the legal head of Mexico's armed forces and an ultra-respectable member of the establishment declared a rebel and outlaw. In December, Villa and Zapata had a dramatic meeting in Mexico City as their forces occupied the capital. As a token of respect for Zapata, the teetotaling Villa forced himself to take a swallow of aguardiente while he toasted his ally.

But that was the high point for Villa and Zapata. From then on it was all downhill. Carranza joined forces with the talented Obregón and established a base at Veracruz where he derived a steady source of income from his control of the customs. Obregón, who had studied the trench warfare tactics of World War I, smashed Villa in two decisive battles at Celaya in April 1915. Other victories followed and by the end of the year Villa -- who had once commanded troop trains, artillery and even an air force -- was reduced to what he had been at the beginning of the revolution: a marauder in the Chihuahua sierra. Another bitter blow came on October 19 when the United States extended de facto recognition to Carranza. Villa, who had always been strongly pro-American, was now filled with bitter resentment against the gringos.

Zapata was equally unsuccessful against the Carranza-Obregón forces. The plan hatched between him and Villa had been to strike against Carranza's main base at Veracruz, Villa from the north and Zapata from the southeast. Zapata got as far as Puebla, which he seized in mid-December 1914. But Obregón easily recaptured the city on January 5 of the new year. Many of Zapata's peasant soldiers, effective only in the wild jungles and mountains of Morelos, deserted and returned to their patria chica.

On March 11, 1917, Carranza was elected president with 797,305 votes, as opposed to 11,615 for General Pablo González, main enemy of the Zapatistas, and 4,008 for Obregón, though neither was an official candidate. In September 1916 he had ordered that a convention be convened for the writing of a new constitution. This charter, adopted on February 5, 1917, was based on the 1857 Constitution and is the most radical in Mexican history. In modified form, it is still in effect today. Article 123 was a Magna Carta for labor, Article 27 defined Mexico's rights over her territory and subsoil, and there were several articles further restricting the power of the Church.

On the day of Carranza's inauguration, Obregón resigned as secretary of war and returned to Sonora to raise chick peas. This ought to have told Carranza something -- and maybe it did. Obregón was by far the ablest and most respected figure in Mexican politics. If there's was one man who could play MacDuff to Carranza's Macbeth, it was him. So Carranza was deeply concerned when Obregón announced his candidacy for the presidency on June 1, 1919. Obregón declared that "the First Chief's historical personality will suffer if he does not permit the country to liberate itself from its liberators."

These "liberators" were a ring around Carranza known as the "unconditionals," generals and politicos who had rallied to his standard and were now busy enriching themselves. Though Carranza was personally honest, he seemed indifferent to the rampant corruption around him. In addition, his natural conservatism strongly reasserted himself, as he ruthlessly broke strikes and accomplished little in the area of land reform.

When Obregón made his announcement, Carranza had already designated a handpicked successor. He was Ignacio Bonillas, Mexico's ambassador to the United States. Bonillas, an MIT graduate, had spent most of his life in the United States. His political enemies called him "Meester" Bonillas and there were rumors going around, probably exaggerated, that he had difficulty speaking Spanish. Obregón had a waggish sense of humor and during the campaign some obregonista railroad workers derailed Bonillas's campaign train and caused him to miss a political meeting. Carefully planted reports immediately went out that Bonillas had cancelled the meeting because he was busy taking a Spanish lesson.

Carranza retaliated by launching a reign of terror against obregonista campaign workers. Some were shot while others were arrested and held incommunicado. The campaign got so vicious that Obregón decided that he could not win by legal means. On April 30, 1920, he declared in Chilpancingo, Guerrero, that the only solution was force of arms. There was another candidate in the race, Pablo González, and on May 4 he also went into rebellion. The following day the capital was under shellfire.

Carranza's response was to organize a 31-car train convoy to take him to Veracruz. It was from there that he launched his comeback in 1915. But this time things were different. Instead of having the military genius of Obregón at his side he now had a claque of 10,000 parasites who had looted the city clean prior to boarding the "Golden Train."

The convoy left May 7 but rebel attacks forced Carranza to abandon the train a week later. His party headed into the Puebla sierra, where it was received with exaggerated protestations of loyalty by a local cacique named Rodolfo Herrera. Herrera lodged Carranza and his reduced following into a miserable cluster of huts. That night -- May 20 --Herrera's men crept into the hut and a fired a fatal fusillade of bullets into the sleeping president. Herrera, a double turncoat, had recently declared for Carranza. Obregón denounced the slaying and had Herrera put on trial. He was acquitted.

For all his limitations, Venustiano Carranza accomplished much. Despite initial wavering, he ignited resistance to Huerta's usurpation and defied the tyrant at a time when he only had a handful of followers. His legendary stubbornness and inflexibility served him ill in his undeviating loyalty to plundering subordinates -- but well in his diplomacy as he jealously guarded Mexico's sovereignty. In addition, he was the motivating force behind Mexico's constitution. For these qualities, this flawed but essentially principled man deserves the place in Mexico's pantheon that is his today.


Born Doroteo Arango in San Juan del Río, Durango, in 1877 (1879 according to some sources), the man most of the world knew as Pancho Villa spent much of his life in Durango until, at age 16, he killed a man who had raped his younger sister. Little record exists of the next four or five years of his life, during which time he changed his name to Francisco Villa to evade the law. By the time he was 20, Villa had moved northward to Chihuahua, working on and off as a miner in Parral while selling stolen cattle in Chihuahua (official government biographies list his occupation then as "wholesale meat-seller"). In 1899 he returned to mining, this time in Santa Eulalia near Chihuahua, but he soon tired of the laborer's life and added bank robbery to cattle rustling and murder on the list of crimes for which he was wanted by the Díaz government.

Villa's Robin Hood story began after he established himself and his bandit followers in the sierras in 1900. Officially, the years 1900-09 are "unaccounted for," but it was during this period that he became a legendary hero to the poor for skillfully evading the Porfiriato's oppressive rurales. In 1910 Villa and his men came down from the hills to join Francisco I. Madero's revolutionary forces, thereby making a historical transition from bandidos to revolucionarios. The charismatic figure was able to recruit an army of thousands, including a substantial number of Americans, some of whom were made captains in the División del Norte. Villa even created one squadron made up entirely of Americans under the leadership of Capt. Tracey Richardson, a man who apparently fought with many different insurgent armies around the world at that time.

Following Madero's short-lived victory and assassination, Villa remained in command of his División del Norte army in resistance--along with Coahuila's Venustiano Carranza and Sonora's Alvaro Obregón--against the 1913-14 Victoriano Huerta dictatorship. Around this time Villa also became something of a folk hero in the U.S, and Hollywood filmmakers as well as U.S. newspaper photographers flocked to Northern Mexico to record his battle exploits--many of which were staged for the benefit of the cameras.

Villa's forces were based in Chihuahua, where Villa ruled over northern Mexico like a medieval warlord. Villa financed his army by stealing from the endless cattle herds in northern Mexico and selling beeves north of the border, where he found plenty of U.S. merchants willing to sell him guns and ammunition. Faced with a stagnant economy, he issued his own money; if merchants refused to take it, they risked being shot. Executions, which Villa often ordered on a whim, were usually left to his friend Rodolfo Fierro, best known by his nickname "El Carnicero" ("the Butcher"). In true Robin Hood style, he broke up the vast land holdings of local hacendados and parceled them out to the widows and orphans of his fallen soldiers.

During fiestas the mustachioed legend would dance all night with female camp followers, although he didn't drink. When Emiliano Zapata insisted Villa join him in a toast when their two armies met outside Mexico City in December 1914, Villa gagged on a swig of brandy. He was an avid swimmer and would run to stay in shape. According to one of Villa's last surviving widows, he officially married 26 times.

A split among the revolutionary leaders soon pitted Villa against Obregón and Carranza. When the U.S. government came out openly in support of the Carranza presidency, Villa retaliated by raiding U.S border towns, most notably Columbus, New Mexico. On the U.S. side of the border, Villa's image plummeted while many in Mexico saw Villa as an avenger of decades of yanqui oppression. Despite his popularity, the combined forces of Carranza and Obregón defeated the Villistas in one battle after another After two U.S. Army "punitive expeditions" into Mexico in 1916 and 1919 failed to route Villa, the Mexican government accepted his surrender and retired Villa on a general's salary to Canutillo, Durango. In 1923 he was assassinated while returning from bank business in Parral, Chihuahua.

Today Villa is remembered with pride by most Mexicans for having led the most important military campaigns of the constitutionalist revolution, in which his troops were victorious as far south as Zacatecas and Mexico City, east as far as Tampico, and west as far as Casas Grandes. Because of Villa's Columbus escapade and subsequent evasion of U.S. troops, he is also often cited as the only foreign military personage ever to have "successfully" invaded continental U.S. territory. When speaking with Mexicans--especially norteños--about Villa, don't underestimate the respect his name still garners in Mexico.






















In my humble opinion, this is the type of person we need today, for the survival of the country of Mexico.

(Just a note; He told a reporter after the reporter explained communism to him, that they would have to kill him, in order to share his "hard earned products from his labor".  His family, for about 100 previous years, kept asking any of the governments ruling Mexico (New Spain and Mexico) to return their stolen lands back to their family.  They had clear documentation that they owned the lands. This was never done.  So, that was his rationale for rebelling against Diaz etc.

Born on August 8, 1879, in the village of Anenecuilco, Morelos (Mexico), Emiliano Zapata was of mestizo heritage and the son of a peasant medier, (a sharecropper or owner of a small plot of land).[1]. From the age of eighteen, after the death of his father, he had to support his mother and three sisters and managed to do so very successfully. The little farm prospered enough to allow Zapata to augment the already respectable status he had in his native village. In September of 1909, the residents of Anenecuilco elected Emiliano Zapata president of the village's "defense committee," an age-old group charged with defending the community's interests. In this position, it was Zapata's duty to represent his village's rights before the president-dictator of Mexico, Porfirio Díaz, and the governor of Morelos, Pablo Escandón. During the 1880s, Mexico had experienced a boom in sugar cane production, a development that led to the acquisition of more and more land by the hacienderos or plantation owners. Their plantations grew while whole villages disappeared and more and more medieros and other peasants lost their livelihoods or were forced to work on the haciendas. It was under these conditions that a plantation called El Hospital neighboring Zapata's village began encroaching more and more upon the small farmers' lands. This was the first conflict in which Emiliano Zapata established his reputation as a fighter and leader. He led various peaceful occupations and re-divisions of land, increasing his status and his fame to give him regional recognition.

In 1910, Francisco Madero, a son of wealthy plantation owners, instigated a revolution against the government of president Díaz. Even though most of his motives were political (institute effective suffrage and disallow reelections of presidents), Madero's revolutionary plan included provisions for returning seized lands to peasant farmers. The latter became a rallying cry for the peasantry and Zapata began organizing locals into revolutionary bands, riding from village to village, tearing down hacienda fences and opposing the landed elite's encroachment into their villages. On November 18, the federal government began rounding up Maderistas (the followers of Francisco Madero), and only forty-eight hours later, the first shots of the Mexican Revolution were fired. While the government was confident that the revolution would be crushed in a matter of days, the Maderista Movement kept gaining in strength and by the end of November, Emiliano Zapata had fully joined its ranks. Zapata, a rather cautious, soft-spoken man, had become a revolutionary.

During the first weeks of 1911, Zapata continued to build his organization in Morelos, training and equipping his men and consolidating his authority as their leader. Soon, Zapata's band of revolutionaries, poised to change their tactics and take the offensive, were known as Zapatistas. On February 14, Francisco Madero, who had escaped the authorities to New Orleans, returned to Mexico, knowing that it was time to restart his revolution with an all-out offensive. Less than a month later, on March 11, 1911, "a hot, sticky Saturday night,"[2], the bloody phase of the Mexican Revolution began at Villa de Ayala. There was no resistance from the villagers, who were mostly sympathetic to the revolution, being sharecroppers or hacienda workers themselves, and the local police were disarmed quickly. Not all battles that followed were this quick, however. The revolution took its bloody course with the legendary Pancho Villa fighting in the northern part of Mexico, while Zapata remained mainly south of Mexico City. On May 19, after a week of extremely fierce fighting with government troops, the Zapatistas took the town of Cuautla. Only forty-eight hours later, Francisco Madero and the Mexican government signed the Treaty of Ciudad Juárez, which ended the presidency of Porfirio Díaz and named Francisco León de la Barra, former ambassador to Washington, as interim president.

Under different circumstances, this could have meant the end of the Mexican Revolution. Madero's most important demands had been met, Díaz was out of office, and regular elections were to be held to determine his successor. León de la Barra, however, was not a president to Zapata's liking. While of great personal integrity, his political skills were lacking. The new president could not assuage the peasants, especially since his allegiance was clearly with the rich planters who were trying to regain control of Mexico, aided by the conditions of the Treaty of Ciudad Juárez. Even though Zapata had been ordered to cease all hostilities, he and 5,000 men entered and captured Cuernavaca, the capital of his native state of Morelos.

Zapata riding a horseIn 1911, Madero was elected president of Mexico, and Zapata met with him to discuss the demands of the peasantry. The meeting was fruitless and the former allies parted in anger. The only joy those days held for the thirty-one-year-old Zapata was his marriage to his bride Josefa, only six days after the ill-fated meeting with the president. Officially, the Zapatistas were disbanded and Zapata himself was in retirement. The police forces, in disarray after fighting the revolutionary forces, were no match for the new wave of bandits that were now roaming the land. The situation in Mexico deteriorated, assassination plots against the new president surfaced, renewed fighting between government and revolutionary forces ensued, and the smell of revolution was once again hanging over the cities of Mexico. In the "Plan of Ayala" (the city of his forced retirement), Zapata declared Madero incapable of fulfilling the goals of the revolution and promised to appoint another provisional president, once his revolution succeeded, until elections could be held. As part of his plan, a third of all land owned by the hacienderos was to be confiscated, with compensation, and redistributed to the peasantry. Any plantation owner who refused to cede his land would have it taken from him without compensation. The revolution was once again in full swing, and it was in these days that Zapata first used his now famous slogan of Tierra y Libertad or Land and Liberty.[3]

It was in February of 1913, after almost three years of violent struggle, that the formerly loyal federal General Victoriano Huerta murdered Madero, and the Zapatistas reached the outskirts of Mexico City. Huerta offered to unite his and Zapata's troops in a combined assault on the city, but Zapata declined. Even though Huerta eventually was declared the new president, after a sham of an election, he was forced to abandon the country in 1914, after yet another revolutionary faction, under "constitutionalist" Venustiano Carranza, forced his ouster. At this point there were three major revolutionary powers in Mexico, the army of Pancho Villa to the north (the Villistas), the "Constitutionalist Army" of Carranza, and the Zapatistas to the south.[4] In an attempt to consolidate these forces and become their supreme commander, Carranza arranged a meeting, which was held at Aguascalientes, in which the Zapatistas and the Villistas -- a majority at the meeting -- agreed to a new provisional president, a choice which Carranza rejected. War broke out between Carranza's moderates and the more radical Zapatistas and Villistas.

On November 24, Emiliano Zapata ordered the Liberation Army of the South (the new name for his fighting force of over 25,000 men) to occupy Mexico City. Eventually, Villa and Zapata held a meeting at the national palace and agreed to install a civilian in the presidency. The war had not ceased, however, and Carranza, whose government operated from Veracruz, held a constitutional convention, naturally without inviting Zapata or Villa. After the convention, Carranza's forces managed to defeat Pancho Villa and isolate Zapata in Morelos. "Zapata ruled Morelos; but Carranza ruled Mexico. Morelos could never survive indefinitely alone..."[5] The federal powers under Carranza (a government now officially recognized by the Wilson Administration) and the Zapatistas in Morelos seemed at a permanent stalemate. Carranza knew that he could never fully take Mexico while Zapata was still alive and in charge of his army. To rid himself of his enemy, Carranza devised a trap. A letter had been intercepted in which Zapata invited a colonel of the Mexican army who had shown leanings toward his cause to meet and join forces. This colonel, Jesús Guajardo, under the threat of being executed as a traitor, pretended to agree to meet Zapata and defect to his side. On Thursday, April 10, 1919, Zapata walked into Carranza's trap as he met with Guajardo in the town of Chinameca. There, at 2:10 PM, Zapata was shot and killed by federal soldiers, and as the man Zapata hit the ground, dead instantly, the legend of Zapata reached its climax. Carranza did not achieve his goal by killing Zapata. On the contrary, in May of 1920, Álvaro Obregón, one of Zapata's right-hand men, entered the capital with a large fighting force of Zapatistas, and after Carranza had fled, formed the seventy-third government in Mexico's history of independence. In this government, the Zapatistas played an important role, especially in the Department of Agriculture. Mexico was finally at peace.

Zapata's Ideology

Zapata's revolution was first and foremost an agrarian one. It would in no way be fair to call Zapata a communist, even though his revolution fits into nearly the same time frame as that in Russia. Nevertheless, all throughout Zapata's speeches and writings, a few socialist themes keep recurring, such as agrarian reform in favor of giving some of the lands of the haciendas to the peasants. One of the more "socialist" ideas in Zapata's ideology is the re-establishment of ejidas or communally owned lands with shared use rights -- a system common among the Mexican indios. This was, however, not a contradiction to private property. One might choose to argue that even that attitude was not truly socialist, since Zapata was fighting for the restoration of titles that had been usurped by the planters and not necessarily a full, sweeping redistribution of all hacienda lands. One of the best documents describing Zapata's positions, which have been described as "bourgeois-democratic and anti-imperialist as well as ... anti-feudal"[6], is the 1917 Manifesto of the People. The revolutionary Zapata sounds very conciliatory in this statement of principles:

    To unite Mexicans by means of a generous and broad political policy which will give guarantees to the peasant and to the worker as well as to the merchant, the industrialist and the businessman; to grant facilities to all who wish to improve their future and open wider horizons for those who today lack it; to promote the establishment of new industries, of great centers of production, of powerful manufacturies [sic] which will emancipate the country from the economic domination of the foreigner... [7]

Zapata's main goal was the political and economic emancipation of Mexico's peasantry. Land reform was not an end in itself but a means to achieve this popular independence. Doubtlessly, Zapata argued for the destruction of the reigning feudal system which kept the sharecroppers and small-time farmers in perpetual poverty. Nonetheless, Zapata was, as always, cautious and prudent in not arguing for the dismantling of all haciendas but rather for a kind of coexistence between an empowered peasant population and a number of larger plantation owners. Throughout Zapata's writings, terms such as "economic liberty" and even "growth and prosperity" point out that a Marxist interpretation of the original Zapatista movement would be out of place.

As mentioned before, Zapata's ideology can be described with such inventive terms as "liberal-bourgeois," a very conservative-sounding ideology indeed. According to biographer and political scientist Robert Millon, such a liberal-bourgeois society would be a democracy in which small property owners hold the majority of land, and the government is responsible for preventing foreign imperialism (in the sense of imposition of economic or political control)[8]. The anti-imperialist stance, seen before in Zapata's Manifesto when he proclaimed that the revolution must "emancipate the country from the economic domination of the foreigner," allows for a more modern interpretation of Zapata's ideology, that of the dependency theorists. Simplified, dependency theory states that a nation cannot fully develop economically and socially as long as it remains dependent on or under the control of the "First World" -- in Mexico's case under the influence of its big brother north of the border.

In a chapter called "Misconceptions Concerning Zapatista Ideology," the aforementioned author, Robert Millon, debunks some of the myths surrounding Zapata's beliefs and those of his followers. Many biographers of Zapata as well as chroniclers of the Mexican Revolution explain the Zapatista ideology as "Indianist," socialist, or even anarchist. As mentioned before, there are socialist elements, but they are by no means predominant. As far as "Indianist" ideology is concerned, it would be hard to argue that Zapata, a mestizo who always donned the garb of a small-time farmer and not the traditional white breeches of the Indians, was a racial purist. On the contrary, Zapata's ideology was quite inclusionary, trying to create a feeling of local and national identity among all racial groups. Zapata was, if nothing else, a realist. He certainly read and studied much about communism, calling it a "good and humane" ideology, but ultimately turned away from it, regarding Marxism as "impractical."[9].

Overall, it would be incorrect to state that Zapata had no socialist or communist leanings and did not attempt to implement any of the goals of those ideologies. It would, however, be an equally specious and rather tendentious description of Zapata to paint him as a communist, bent on destroying private property and seeking supremacy for those of pure Indian blood. The Mexican Revolution was in no way a communist one, unlike the Russian revolution that occurred almost simultaneously. Emiliano Zapata was a highly intelligent, rational leader, trying to lead the people of southern Mexico out of extreme poverty. He was a realist who knew when to fight and when to play politics. His legacy lives on today in the contemporary Zapatista Rebels of Chiapas. Their view of Zapata is decidedly different from the one presented here and their ideology differs significantly from that of Zapata himself. Nevertheless, they are attempting to achieve the same goal as Zapata, to lead their people out of despair and into a fair, equal future, free from oppression.

The Myth of Zapata

Throughout history, political and revolutionary leaders have been glorified by their followers in life as well as in death. Few in modern history, however, have experienced the apotheosis that has been bestowed upon Emiliano Zapata. It is no exaggeration to equate the veneration of Zapata with that of a religious figure. Naturally, there is a multitude of poems and songs written about the Mexican Revolution, some dealing with the swashbuckling and ruggedly romantic Pancho Villa, but many more commemorating the heroic life of martyr Emiliano Zapata. Marlon Brando portrayed him on the silver screen in Viva Zapata!, less than forty years after his death. Many revolutionary songs speak of Zapata and of his death (see La Muerte de Zapata from Alberto Mesta's page on Corridos Mexicanos or Mexican Folk Songs).

Even during his lifetime, Zapata was portrayed as a rather bloodthirsty, ham-fisted, and undereducated peasant, hell-bent on finishing his revolution, no matter what the cost. As so often happens, fiction and fact do not correlate very well. The popular image of Zapata, most likely propagated by his enemies, is far from the truth. Zapata led his men into battle only when it was the logical military choice and when he realistically foresaw a victory. When Zapata's forces occupied Mexico City, the infamy that had preceded him caused many of the city's inhabitants to quake with fear, fully expecting to be brutalized or killed by the savage peasants from the south. Many were surprised (and indubitably very relieved) when Zapatista peasants went door to door, merely asking for some food to aid the under-supplied and under-fed forces.

The deification of Zapata is a more recent phenomenon than that of his vilification. It is not at all unusual to find contemporary poetry and literature, especially among the new Zapatistas, that elevate Zapata to a Christ-like state.

    From "The Story of the Questions -- The Real Story of Zapata:"
    "That Zapata appeared here in the mountains. He wasn't born, they say. He just appeared just like that. They say he is Ik'al and Votan who came all the way over here in their long journey, and so as not to frighten good people, they became one. Because after being together for so long Ik'al and Votan learned they were the same and could become Zapata. And Zapata said he had finally learned where the long road went and that at times it would be light and at times darkness but that it was the same, Votan Zapata, and Ik'al Zapata, the black Zapata and the white Zapata. They were both the same road for the true men and women."
    From current Zapatista writing: "The man who assassinated Zapata, Colonel Guajardo, was promoted to General and given a reward of 52,000 pesos for his act, instead of being tried and convicted. After being shot, Zapata was loaded onto a mule and taken to Cuautla, where he was dumped on the street. To prove that he was really dead, flashlights were shown on his face and photographs taken. This didn't destroy the myth of his death, because Zapata could not and would not die! Like Commandante Marcos, he was too smart to be killed in an ambush. Hadn't Zapata's white horse been seen on top of the mountain? Every single person in the valley of Morelos still believes to this day that Zapata is still alive. Perhaps they are right."

As is evident in these words, there is a cult of personality that lives on after Zapata's physical death. Emiliano Zapata has certainly become a messianic figure for Mexico. The modern Zapatistas draw strength from this myth, and they claim to be the true heirs to the tradition started by a peasant revolutionary with a vision of social justice.

THE ACHIEVEMENT OF ALVARO OBREGON (another man that would not allow what is happening today in Mexico)
1880 - 1928 (By the way, he married Maria Tapia Monteverde, daughter of Sara Monteverde Morales)

Revolution is the ultimate test for survival of the fittest. In times of stormy social change, intense competition is generated among leaders of forces seeking that change and, inevitably, one man emerges alone at the top. Sometimes this process is peaceful but that is the exception rather than the rule.

By the time Napoleon assumed power, such earlier revolutionary leaders as Danton, Robespierre and St. Just had all died on the guillotine. The Russian Revolution was even more sanguinary, as Stalin's ascent to the top was played out against the background of a widespread purge and vast man-made famine.

The Mexican Revolution was equally turbulent. Francisco Madero overthrew the old tyrant Porfirio Díaz -- only to have his naiveté and trusting nature set him up for a putsch by another tyrant: Victoriano Huerta. Pancho Villa, Venustiano Carranza, Emiliano Zapata and Alvaro Obregón combined to overthrow Huerta -- only to be followed by civil strife between Villa-Zapata and Carranza-Obregón. With the triumph of the latter faction, the field was reduced to two. Carranza was overthrown in 1920 -- ten years after the Revolution began -- and only Obregón remained. Considering his personal qualities, and those of the other leaders, it seems almost inevitable that Obregón should have triumphed. He was astute where Madero was naive, prudent where Villa was reckless, flexible where Carranza was rigid and, unlike the insular Zapata, he had a vision that embraced all Mexico.

Alvaro Obregón was born on a farm near Alamos, Sonora, on February 17, 1880. There is an intriguing mystery about his ancestry. Some historians claim that he was of part-Irish background and that the family name was originally O'Brien. While his biographer, Linda Hall, makes no mention of this, she does record a rumor that his grandfather was the Irish foreman of a railroad company. Fair-skinned and sporting a walrus mustache most of his life, Obregón could easily pass for a turn-of-the-century Tammany politician. If wit is an Irish characteristic, Obregón had it in abundance. Though his speeches were bombastic, in private he was relaxed and given to making sharp quips, many at his own expense.

Obregón's father died when he was young and the family went to live in Huatabampo, in a marshy coastal area populated mainly by Mayo Indians. The youth became fluent in their language and a strong defender of Indian rights. When he emerged as a military leader, some of his most devoted followers were warlike Mayos and Yaquis from Sonora.

Obregón's formative years see him as a resourceful jack of all trades. Not born to wealth, he scratched out a living as a sugar mill mechanic, barber, painter, schoolteacher, salesman and organizer of a small orchestra. In 1906 he went into garbanzo (chick pea) farming. This proved to be his most successful venture, as he invented a garbanzo seeder and sold his product on the profitable export market.

Obregón's entry into politics came in 1910, when he refused the request of a local political boss that he sign a statement supporting Porfirio Díaz. The following year, with Madero as president, he was elected municipal president (mayor) of Huatabampo.

In his autobiography, Obregón expressed shame that he did not play an active role in the Madero revolution against Díaz. Harshly self-critical, he described his rationalization at the time -- that he had children to support -- as "cunning" and "cowardly."

But he more than made up for this lapse when Madero's government faced its first armed challenge: Pascual Orozco's rising in 1912. Commanding a battalion of irregulars from Sonora, many of them Mayos and Yaquis, he routed an orozquista cavalry detachment at San Joaquin in northern Sonora. It was during this action that Obregón displayed the qualities that would make him such an outstanding military leader: a good intelligence service, realistic assessment of his own resources, mastery of surprise maneuvers and a photographic memory. The latter quality had made him a formidable poker player. He could look at a deck of cards once and then recite their order from memory. In combat, Obregón was able to familiarize himself with every terrain detail of a site that he wanted to select as a battlefield.

Victory over Orozco did not bring tranquility to Mexico. General Huerta, the very man who led Madero's forces against the orozquistas, staged a coup against his president in February 1913, the coup followed by Madero's murder.

On March 5, 1913, the Sonoran Congress refused to recognize Huerta as Madero's successor. Obregón was appointed head of military forces in Sonora and three weeks later Venustiano Carranza proclaimed the Plan of Guadalupe, calling for the forcible overthrow of Huerta. At the same time, Pancho Villa had crossed into Mexico from the U.S. on March 9 and was organizing his famed Division of the North which would play such a decisive role in the movement to oust Huerta.

Thus was born the triumvirate -- Obregón, Carranza and Villa -- that waged the successful 16-month campaign which drove Huerta into exile in July 1914. Obregón, at the head of the newly-created Army of the Northwest, won decisive victories at Culiacán, Sinaloa, and Guadalajara, Mexico's second city. On August 15, 1914, his troops marched into Mexico City.

Still, there was no harmony in Mexico's revolutionary family. From the very beginning, relations between Villa and Carranza were marked by mutual antagonism and hostility. Carranza, who had been a federal senator under Díaz, viewed Villa as an undisciplined bandit; Villa, suspicious of Carranza's upper-class and establishment background, saw him as a "stand patter" who would sell out the revolution at the first opportunity.

Between October 10 and November 18 of 1914 a convention was held at Aguascalientes. Although its avowed purpose was to bring together the feuding revolutionary factions, it only succeeded in hastening the final split. Neither Villa nor Carranza attended though Obregón, to do him credit, did all he could to ease factionalism.

His efforts were in vain. The Zapatistas and Villistas concluded an informal alliance and the convention -- completely torn by the Villa-Carranza rivalry -- ended by choosing a relative unknown named Eulalio Gutiérrez to be provisional president of Mexico. Carranza refused to recognize Gutiérrez and the conventioneers, possibly intimidated by the proximity of Villa's forces, declared Carranza an outlaw and Villa commander of the convention's military forces. From then on the rival factions were known as Constitutionalists (those who followed Carranza) and Conventionists (those who followed Villa and Zapata).

Though Obregón had his reservations about Carranza's authoritarianism and inflexibility (to say nothing of his jealousy of Obregón's military skills), he decided that between Villa and Carranza the latter was the lesser of two evils. Obregón had even less reason to like Villa than he did Carranza. In September 1914, while Obregón was on a mission to Villa's headquarters, Villa had ordered him shot -- but then mercurially changed his mind.

In late November Obregón led the Constitutionalist retreat from Mexico City to Veracruz. In December Villa and Zapata captured Mexico City and there they had their epic meeting. The Zapatistas, in a drive toward Veracruz, captured Puebla in mid-December, 1914, but Obregón re-took the city on January 5, 1915.

The real showdown came in April. At Celaya, in two sanguinary battles, Obregón pitted his grasp of strategy and defensive tactics against Villa's suicidal recklessness -- and won hands down. In May-June he again defeated Villa at León -- an engagement in which he lost his right arm. Steadily pursuing Villa north, winning victory after victory, Obregón was unable to finish off his rival but at least reduced him to what he had been at the start of the Revolution, a bushwhacker in the Chihuahua sierra.

The United States extended de facto recognition to Carranza on October 19. Villa, formerly pro-American but now outraged by what he saw as gringo perfidy, mastermined a March 1916 raid across the border into Columbus, New Mexico, in which several Americans were killed.

This act resulted in the futile U.S. Punitive Expedition into Mexico, which, if anything, enhanced Villa's prestige as he evaded eleven months of efforts to catch him. Obregón's prestige was also enhanced. The presence of U.S. troops on Mexican soil was a great affront to Mexican public opinion and Obregón won high praise for the skill with which he negotiated their removal in talks with General Hugh Scott.

In late 1916-early 1917 a Constitutional Congress was held in Querétaro. Result was the Constitution of 1917, a radical document that restricted the power of the Church, spelled out the rights of labor and declared that Mexico had sovereign rights to such subsoil deposits as petroleum. Two factions emerged at this conclave -- the relatively moderate "Renovators," supported by Carranza, and the radical "Jacobins," backed by Obregón. Carranza, seeing the radicals were dominant, adopted a strategy of "if you can't whip 'em, join 'em" as he submitted leftist proposals of his own. But the convention only served to exacerbate growing tension between Carranza and Obregón.

Obregón had been serving as Secretary of War since March 1916. Carranza was elected president on March 11, 1917 and took office in May. At that time Obregón resigned his cabinet post and retired to private life. Though many were surprised that such an ambitious man would take this step, there were compelling reasons for Obregón's decision. First, he was only 37, and it was to his advantage to build a secure political base in his native Sonora for an eventual return to politics. Second, his profitable garbanzo business did much to restore his finances. Third, Obregón also needed to restore his health, greatly undermined by the terrible wound he had suffered.

Back in Sonora, Obregón lost no time laying plans for his comeback. In late 1917 he made an extensive and highly successful trip to the United States. As far back as 1915 Colonel House, Wilson's closest advisor, had described Obregón to Wilson as "the man of the hour in Mexico." Wilson received Obregón cordially and he was praised in the press and by business and political leaders. He also scored a financial coup by selling most of the 1918 garbanzo crop to the U.S. Food Administration under Herbert Hoover for use in Europe.

Though he knew that Carranza viewed him with suspicion and hostility, Obregón's strategy was to make himself so popular in the country that Carranza would have no alternative but to designate him as his successor in 1920. To that end, he strengthened ties with labor, liberals and agrarian groups. By June 1919 he felt strong enough to openly announce his candidacy in the coming election.

But Carranza remained as inflexible as ever. Though daily losing supporters, and though presiding over a corrupt and repressive regime, he was determined to ram his own candidate down the throats of the Mexican electorate. His handpicked successor, Ignacio Bonillas, was an MIT graduate who was then serving as Mexican ambassador in Washington. Bonillas had spent so much of his life in the United States that political enemies jeeringly referred to him as "Meester" Bonillas. Some even claimed that Bonillas had difficulty speaking Spanish. When a group of pro-Obregón railroad workers derailed Bonillas' campaign train, carefully planted rumors went out that Bonillas had cancelled a meeting to take a Spanish lesson.

To make up for the deficiencies of his chosen candidate, Carranza launched a campaign of harassment and intimidation against Obregón's supporters. Obregón wanted to win legally but daily this was becoming more difficult. As the situation deteriorated, Carranza sent troops into Obregón's home state of Sonora. Obregón was then in Mexico City, testifying at the trial of a subordinate whom Carranza had accused of plotting rebellion. Positive that he was about to be arrested, Obregón escaped into the tropical wilderness south of Mexico City. In Sonora, the state government withdrew recognition of Carranza on April 10. On the 23rd obregonista leaders in Sonora announced the Plan of Agua Prieta, calling for Carranza's overthrow.

His fall was accomplished with breathtaking speed. On May 7 he and his followers evacuated Mexico on the "Golden Train," so named because it was laden down with loot. His destination was Veracruz, which he had used as a base against Villa and Zapata in 1915. Rebel attacks forced Carranza to leave the train. On May 20 he was treacherously assassinated on the orders of a local cacique who had promised to give him shelter.

Obregón was now truly alone at the top. Elected to the presidency on September 5, 1920, he took office in December of that year. During his four-year term, he showed himself to be more a pragmatic reformer than a wild-eyed destroyer of existing political structures. He favored labor but also encouraged foreign investment and domestic private enterprise. Though he distributed almost ten times as much land to campesinos (peasant farmers) as Carranza, he differed from radicals in his administration by arguing that land distribution should be accompanied by instruction in the techniques of farming. Obregón also showed restraint in dealings with the Church. Though personally anticlerical, he followed a policy of enforcing anti-Catholic laws laxly or not at all in areas where religious sentiment was strong.

Obregón's boldest initiatives were in the field of education. His Education Minister, José Vasconcelos, was a brilliant scholar with many innovative ideas. Under his supervision, the ministry held festivals and sponsored hundreds of idealistic young teachers who gladly went into the most remote sections of the country. Vasconcelos also took a lively interest in the arts and his ministry provided initial impetus to such future artistic celebrities as Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros and Gerardo Murillo ("Dr. Atl").

Obregón faced one serious revolt during his term. Adolfo de la Huerta, interim president between Carranza's death and Obregón's installation, went into rebellion in December and took more than half the officer corps with him. De la Huerta had previously served as treasury secretary and resented the fact that his successor, Alberto Pani, had blamed him for the poor state of the nation's finances. (De la Huerta, who prided himself on personal honesty, was a relatively poor man.)

The rebellion was brief but bloody, Obregón winning mainly because he had widespread labor and agrarian support. When it was over, he demonstrated that he could be ruthless if the occasion demanded. Recalling that Madero's fall was partly caused by failure to purge the old regime's officer corps, Obregón ordered every rebellious officer over the rank of major to be executed. One rebel, an attorney, protested that he was a civilian and could not be tried by court martial. Obregón's Secretary of War immediately commissioned him a general -- and shot him the next day.

Obregón was succeeded by another Sonoran, Plutarco Elias Calles. Where Obregón had been a pragmatic anticlerical, Calles was an anti-Catholic fanatic whose persecution of the Church sparked the terrible 1926-29 religious war known as the Cristero ("Christer") Rebellion. Centered in west-central Mexico, it tied up the federal army for almost three years and in the end was only settled through negotiations. Although "no reelection" was a cardinal principle of Mexican politics, Obregón altered the meaning to "no consecutive reelection" as he decided to run again in 1928. Announcing in June 1927 that he would run, he got supporters in Congress to ram through an amendment to the Constitution that a president could be reelected to office after the interval of one term and that the term be extended from four years to six.

To nobody's surprise, Obregón was elected in early July. On the 17th he and some deputies from Guanajuato were seated in an open air restaurant in San Angel called La Bombilla. Sidewalk artists are a common phenomenon in Mexico and nobody thought it unusual when a young man approached Obregón's table and extended his sketch pad. As Obregón reached for it, the artist pulled a pistol out of his pocket and fired five shots into his face. He died instantly.

The Cristero Rebellion was still in progress and the youth was a Catholic fanatic named José de León Toral. Swayed by a manipulative nun named Mother Conchita, Toral had come to the conclusion that Obregón was the Anti-Christ and should be eliminated in any way possible.

Alvaro Obregón was only 48 when he was assassinated. Considering what he accomplished in that relatively short span, it is interesting to speculate on how much more he could have contributed to his country and to the world.



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