The Illusory Quest
for a Better Way
AND NEAR ANARCHY
The years following Victoriano Huerta’s ouster are the most chaotic in Mexican revolutionary history as the quarrels among erstwhile allies began. In 1914 First Chief Venustiano Carranza allowed that a convention should be held to determine, among other questions, who should be the provisional president of Mexico until such time as national elections could be scheduled. A proper choice, he believed, could finally put an end to the fragmentation that had characterized the Revolution almost from the beginning. The town of Aguascalientes, in neutral territory, was selected to host the convention, and invitations were extended to all the important revolutionary factions, the number of delegates being apportioned according to how many troops had been deployed in the recent anti-Huerta campaigns.
The military delegates, in a wide array of uniforms and most carrying rifles with full cartridge belts, began to arrive in Aguascalientes in early October. At one of the early sessions Alvaro Obregón, the First Chief’s official spokesman, presented the Convention with a Mexican flag inscribed with the words, “Military Convention of Aguascalientes.” Each of the delegates then went to the podium, placed his signature on the flag, and swore allegiance to the Convention, some offering a few garrulous remarks. The impressive display of confraternity was not destined to last for long, however. When the Zapatista delegation arrived, a few days late, its leader Paulino Martínez asked to speak. In a deliberate affront to Carranza and Obregón he recognized Villa and Zapata as the genuine leaders of the Revolution. Manifesting the typical Zapatista aversion to gradualism, he argued that “effective suffrage and no-re-election” had no meaning for the vast majority of Mexicans. The Revolution had been fought for land and liberty. The speech presaged a serious schism in the Convention between Villistas and Za