The Course of Mexican History

By Michael C. Meyer; William L. Sherman et al. | Go to book overview
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33
Huerta and the Failure
of Dictatorship

HUERTA

Victoriano Huerta was born of a Huichol Indian mother and a mestizo father in a small Jalisco village. Attending a poor local school run by the parish priest, he learned to read and write and showed some natural talent for science and mathematics. As a teenager he was taken on as an aide by General Donato Guerra, a career officer who had fought against the French. Guerra used his influence in Mexico City to have Huerta accepted at the National Military Academy. Despite his mediocre educational background, he did well as a cadet and received his commission in 1876 as a second lieutenant assigned to the army corps of engineers.

Huerta’s prerevolutionary career coincided almost exactly with the Díaz dictatorship, and he became an effective agent of Don Porfirio’s system of enforced peace. During the thirty-four-year Porfiriato Huerta fought in the north against the Yaqui, in the south against the Maya, and in the central part of the country against other Mexicans unhappy with the autocratic regime. Encountering much success on the field of battle, he rose rapidly in the ranks and by the turn of the century had been awarded his brigadier-general stars. National prominence and some notoriety engulfed him for the first time in the summer of 1911 when interim President León de la Barra dispatched him to Morelos to enforce the demobilization of the Zapatista troops. His relationship with Madero was never good again.

When Bernardo Reyes and Félix Díaz planned the military coup of February 1913, their emissaries approached Huerta and solicited his support. He refused the invitation, however, not out of loyalty to the Madero administration but rather because he wanted the leadership for himself. When Bernardo Reyes was killed during the first major encounter, the situation changed. Huerta dallied for a week and, having determined that he would be able to control Félix Díaz, made his

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