In this preface I intend to tell the story of how I discovered that the simpático gringo journalist, Juanito Reed -- whom I had met in Chihuahua in 1914 -- was none other than John Reed, author of the extraordinary Ten Days That Shook the World.
Francisco I. Madero overthrew the dictatorship of General Porfirio Díaz without much struggle, following a tempestuous electoral campaign and a brief armed movement between November 1910 and May 1911. After thirty years in power the Díaz dictatorship was crumbling and totally discredited. The campaign slogans had been "Positive Voting" and "No Re-election."
Madero, son of wealthy landowners, was a kind and generous man, but he lacked the vision to see the tremendous political and social problems created by Díaz's prolonged dictatorship. Upon achieving the presidency with an overwhelming and enthusiastic popular vote, his first move was to abandon those very masses who had put him in power. He wouldn't hear of the urgently needed agrarian reform, and those peasant guerrilla chiefs who demanded the reform were quickly dismissed and sent home. Madero was getting ready to rule with the same bureaucratic and military establishment of the porfirista dictatorship. As discontent began undermining the strength of revolutionary cadres responsible for his victory, ambition and hopes of recovering lost power grew among reactionary groups.
On November 27, 1911, peasant leader Emiliano Zapata rose against Madero's government. At Villa de Ayala, in the southern state of Morelos, to the cry of "Land and Liberty," Zapata launched the Ayala Plan, calling for agrarian reform. In a few months the reactionary cattlemen and latifundists of the northern state