Mexican Revolution, 1910

Porfirio Díaz came to power in 1876 and ruled as an autocrat for the next three decades, either directly or through puppet leaders, despite his own “No Re-election” policy. Díaz was notorious for using violence and intimidation among the rural population to ensure his long succession of re-elections. In 1910, a young political opponent – Francisco Madero – emerged who would call for an end to the “Porfiriato” era. Rather than allow the scheduled election to take place, Díaz had Madero arrested and declared himself the winner. Madero escaped from jail, fled across the border to San Antonio. In October 1910, he issued an open letter, the Plan of San Luis de Potosí which declared the Díaz regime illegal and called for the revolution to begin on November 20 under the slogan “sufragio efectivo, no re-election” (effective suffrage, no re-election). The call worked, uniting rebel leaders such as Pancho Villa and Emiliano Zapata with rural peasants, miners, and native Indian groups across the country. Early military successes against the federal forces compelled Díaz to resign and elevate Madero to the presidency. Although he succeeded in ending the Porfiriato era, Madero’s rule would not last long. The various rebel factions that he succeeded in bringing together could not be kept together; Madero would be overthrown in a coup by his own general, Victoriano Huerta, in 1913 and the country would be ravaged by civil war for the next decade.

Tierra y Libertad

Thousands of peasants fought for Madero with the hopes that his presidency would bring much needed land reform. When he failed to deliver, most turned against him to fight for Zapata who declared that “the land belongs to those who work it.”

President Diaz’s Speech at Banquet, 3 July 1910
Protest to the Citizen President of the Mexican Republic, General Profirio Diaz, 1910
Mexican: Your Best Friend is a Gun! (Atonio I. Villareal) 3 September 1910
The Plan of San Louis Potosi, October 1910
Madero’s Proclamation to the Mexican Army, October 1910
Platform of the Francisco I. Madero Party in Mexico, 1910
Permanent Commission of the Congress of the Union Decree on the actions of the revolutionaries, 15 March 1911
Letter to the Governors of Mexico issuing a decree suspending constitutional guarantees, 23 March 1911
Profirio Diaz: An Efficacious Remedy for Revolution and Banditry, 1 April 1911
Open Letter to Madero: You Must Extinguish the Revolution, 27 April 1911

President Diaz’s Speech at Banquet, 3 July 1910 Top

Source: Gene Z. Hanrahan, ed. 1976. Documents on the Mexican Revolution. Salisbury, NC: Documentary Publications.


I owe to the kindness of all of you, and to your love of peace and your enthusiasm for progress, this beautiful feast with which you have honored me so much, and which brings to my soul most agreeable impressions on account of it democratic from and political significance.

Here are found represented all the classes of the great Mexican family, and principally those who, by their labor, high spirit of honor and patriotism, have contributed much to national progress.

After my already long experience as a public man, in which I have had the fortune to pick out the good Mexicans and estimate their energy, their valor, and their zeal for the welfare of their country, both in war and in peace, I can now say that it is they, with the help and unceasing labor of the noble populace of Mexico, who have brought about our present progress – that progress to which our ancestors aspired and to which they contributed with such patriotism and heroism.

At my age, and having ended this Presidential term, it pleases me very much to receive from my countrymen the approval of my conduct, because they have a perfect right to judge it, and with their favorable judgement I can with lightened heart retire to private life. But if, for certain reasons, the public claims my services again, I will end them, consecrating to my country my remaining energy.
The Programme of my Government will be the same; but will be fitted as far as possible to the evolution of social and political progress, to the end that the free exercise of the rights of the citizens and the respect for the law by the governed and governing, may maintain that balance and harmony which makes for a great people and a powerful nation.

The principal basis of this programme will be the preservation of peace, and I shall be always on the alert to guarantee it to society.

Fortunately, peace is now the normal condition in which we live. I tis the conviction of the populace, it is the aspiration of all, and it is sustained by the schools, railroads, factories, banks and all industrial activity, as well as by the prosperity of all classes.

But if, on the other hand, any public disturbance should occur, as it might occur in any civilized country, the Government has the necessary means for quelling it at once, as has been proved in the recent case of Valladolid.

The high credit of Mexico in foreign countries, to which you have referred, is truly a sympathetic note, since it reflects the judgement of the outside world concerning our present and future conditions; and this judgement is the more valuable when it is expressed without emotion, frankly and without partiality and rests on a sound economic basis, a constant observation and scientific studies.

I am very pleased with the approval you have given to my good collaborator, the Vice President of the Republic, whose prudent and patriotic conduct also deserves my praise.

Gentlemen: I am deeply obliged by all our favors and by your high expressions of confidence, and I invite you to drink to the progress of Mexico, under a sky of prosperity and prestige.

Protest to the Citizen President of the Mexican Republic, General Porfirio Diaz Top

Source: Gene Z. Hanrahan, ed. 1976. Documents on the Mexican Revolution. Salisbury, NC: Documentary Publications.

Distinguished Sir: –

Those who subscribe; expatriated Mexicans, because they could not live under that heavy Government of yours, which does not give any guarantee to the working people, desperate by our placonta condition, we have united with the Organizing Junta of the Mexican Liberal Party in this Country, to see that if united, all honorable Mexicans could not finish with your weighty Dictature.

Alas, because of the lack of Unity in action in our Country we could not go ahead with the enterprise, and there some of our friends fell into the jaws of the Baliffs who sustain you.

So far good; no one nowdays desputes the right citizens in any Civilized Nation have to change the whole Personale of a Government which has become corrupt, particularly as corrupt as yours.

But as tyrants have no other law except that of their caprice, you do not recognize the rights of anyone; and you not only punish, but you torture, those that fall under the surveillance of the spy system which is now imperative in the so called Republic of Mexico; and it is against those tortures, against those uncivilized men around you, that we come to protest before the Civilized World.

We do not ask impunity for what has been given named Political Crime, but we want the law applied, which even though absurd at times, is always the Law. We want things done.

At the commencement of the year 1907, Venancio Aguilar was named by the Organizing Junta of the Mexican Liberal Party to go to Zacatecas and organize and opposition to that bad Government of yours.

Through the system of spies and violation of correspondence there was discovered the work which had been commissioned to the cited Venancio Aguilar, and he was apprehended and conducted to the General Jail of Mexico, where a dummy Judge formed a process against him, charging him with the crime of Rebellion.

For this crime they could not judge, or presume culpable, Aguilar, and he proved that neither before nor after he arrived had there been installed a Rebellion on his account.

Perhaps he could have been judged for attempting a Rebellion, but in that case, the penalty applied by the first District Judge, four years seclusion in the penitentiary, was and is completely without precedent, and proper only for savages and hangmen, not for Judges who render Culture to Justice.

Passing over the three years the process covered, and it is in like manner the martyrs suffer processes in the Jail at Belem, to concrete them to the repugnant notion of a sentence dictated by odium and lowness, where all sentiment of humanity is suffocated, and there is completely blotted out the notion of Justice.

Through this protest we make known our protest, to the end that you do not live in the deception that Society applauds all you do.

We condemn the action of any man, whosoever he may be, when that against is against Truth and Justice.

We are, and here are the signatures of 2562 expatriates, signatures not published, to avoid the consequent persecution.

Mexican: Your Best Friend is a Gun! (Atonio I. Villareal) 3 September 1910 Top

Source: Gene Z. Hanrahan, ed. 1976. Documents on the Mexican Revolution. Salisbury, NC: Documentary Publications.
They have called us insensates because we have appealed for revolution; they have called us illusionists because we have wanted the Mexican people to break with their own hands the yoke that now binds them, freeing themselves triumphantly.

Peace has given Mexico credit and respectability on the outside, and railroads, industries and sumptuous palaces inside. Words, subtle words of the prestidigitators, pen writers, who encounter in deception and adulation the only means of maintaining themselves in this prodigious game of sophism.

Peace is the unmovable base of all national greatness; Diaz is the omnicipient artifice of Peace.

To oppose Porfirio Diaz is equivalent to opposing the interests of the Country, and opposing peace is a National Crime. That kind of reasoning has caused our labor to be pronounced criminal; and into our faces has been lanced the epithet: “Traitors.”

The insults of the Mexican clique of officialdom have never had the power to irritate us; but the Mexican rank and file have, by elevating, much to their disgrace, individuals of ambiguous convictions and conduct who, through their incapacity to adopt candid and frank situations, or insufficient of necessary energy to free their minds, confused as they are, of the suggestions in the writings of the mercenary writers, have united with those who vilify us for pay.

Those who attack us for calling for extreme action to correct an extreme condition are either ignorant or cowards. Our quiet and cool logic tells us “that to save humanity from the pest Sodom, there is no other remedy than the fire of the Saings.” We have said before, and repeat again, that silence is the virtue of idiots. To rid ourselves of the arrogant despots who have been imposed upon us by bayonets and terror, there does not exist, there can never exist, a more effect tool than the anger of the masses when disposed to fight to chastise the ardor of their oppressors with the heroic ardor of armed revolutionaries.

Incidents have recently taken place to strengthen our position, and pitifully confound the referred to “independent gentlemen,” whose greatest desire was to find a way to peacefully obtain their ideal: the transformation of a country by turning the property of the “Profirio Diaz-ists,” into a Free Republic.

Peaceful means in Mexico have ceased to work. That we know from painful experience. Such means have brought in the past, and will bring in the future, ruin to all who depend upon them.

The independent political parties in Mexico were scrupulously and moderately conducted during the whole of the recent Presidential Campaign; and the independent political parties respected the official authorities despite the fact that their arbitrariness itself transcended all lines of reason. But what practical results did they obtain?

Who will reply for the exiling of Paulino Martinez, Juan Sanches Azcona, Martinez Baca and hundreds of others? What did they say, even at the entrance to the jails, the hundreds of martyrs, anti-reelectionists and democrats, who in their moments of anguish and deception doubtless detested the siren callings that they should wait until Diaz, the senile beast of ferocious rancors, transformed the republic into one of light and liberty. And who will speak up for the peons who were impressed into military service simply because they asked for the rights guaranteed them by the Constitution? What of the dead – those assassinated in odious jealousy or at public order by the bullets of the Pretorians? Let their mourners and their friends reply. All sincere men and women who took part in the recent election in Mexico, or sympathized with it, should now meditate on the events it brought forth and the results so obtained. Compare the order and moderation of the assassins of the Executive. Then tell us in all frankness and honor, “Who are the insensates, the illusionists, who appealed to violence to repel violence?” Those who through caution or fear advised us to be peaceful, should be enlightened by the sight of citizens being dragged to jail or assassinated in public places, of the slavery that exists in the haciendas and workshops, while the agonized Mexican race groans in misery under horrible vilification. Meanwhile the oppressors, roaring above, encouraged by their triumphs, add arrogance to their attacks because they encounter no resistance.

Who are the illusionists? Who are the insensates?

In this important issue we have no doubt. We are convinced that Mexico will never know or reach liberty except by the revolutionary route. For that reason we earnestly entreat our fellow patriots to prepare to fight.

Today, with all the ardor of our rebel tenacity, we cry out:

Mexican! If the struggle for liberty draws you, and you are a man of energy, arm yourself! HOwever, if you are a coward, destroy this paper, which was not written for the faint of heart, and divorce yourself from the Revolutionists. We want to call on “ONLY BRAVE MEN.”

To each and every brave Mexican we say: Mexican, your best friend is a gun. Buy it. Let it be a Winchester 30-30. Make sure you have the greatest possible number of bullets. Take care of the gun and learn carefully and skillfully how to use it. It is your ticket to liberty. “Liberty is within the reach of your hand if your hand rests on a gun.”

Antonio I. Villarreal

The Plan of San Louis Potosi, October 1910 Top

Source: Modern History Sourcebook. Francisco Madero: the Plan of San Luis Potosi.
Peoples, in their constant efforts for the triumph of the ideal of liberty and justice, are forced, at precise historical moments, to make their greatest sacrifices.

Our beloved country has reached one of those moments. A force of tyranny which we Mexicans were not accustomed to suffer after we won our independence oppresses us in such a manner that it has become intolerable. In exchange for that tyranny we are offered peace, but peace full of shame for the Mexican nation, because its basis is not law, but force; because its object is not the aggrandizement and prosperity of the country, but to enrich a small group who, abusing their influence, have converted the public charges into fountains of exclusively personal benefit, unscrupulously exploiting the manner of lucrative concessions and contracts.

The legislative and judicial powers are completely subordinated to the executive; the division of powers, the sovereignty of the States, the liberty of the common councils, and the rights of the citizens exist only in writing in our great charter; but, as a fact, it may almost be said that martial law constantly exists in Mexico; the administration of justice, instead of imparting protection to the weak, merely serves to legalize the plunderings committed by the strong; the judges instead of being the representatives of justice, are the agents of the executive, whose interests they faithfully serve; the chambers of the union have no other will than that of the dictator; the governors of the States are designated by him and they in their turn designate and impose in like manner the municipal authorities.

From this it results that the whole administrative, judicial, and legislative machinery obeys a single will, the caprice of General Porfirio Diaz, who during his long administration has shown that the principal motive that guides him is to maintain himself in power and at any cost.
For many years profound discontent has been felt throughout the Republic, due to such a system of government, but General Diaz with great cunning and perseverance, has succeeded in annihilating all independent elements, so that it was not possible to organize any sort of movement to take from him the power of which he made such bad use. The evil constantly became worse, and the decided eagerness of General Diaz to impose a successor upon the nations in the person of Mr. Ramon Corral carried that evil to its limit and caused many of us Mexicans, although lacking recognized political standing, since it had been impossible to acquire it during the 36 years of dictatorship, to throw ourselves into the struggle to recover the sovereignty of the people and their rights on purely democratic grounds….

In Mexico, as a democratic Republic, the public power can have no other origin nor other basis than the will of the people, and the latter can not be subordinated to formulas to be executed in a fraudulent manner. . . ,

For this reason the Mexican people have protested against the illegality of the last election and, desiring to use successively all the recourses offered by the laws of the Republic, in due form asked for the nullification of the election by the Chamber of Deputies, notwithstanding they recognized no legal origin in said body and knew beforehand that, as its members were not the representatives of the people, they would carry out the will of General Diaz, to whom exclusively they owe their investiture.

In such a state of affairs the people, who are the only sovereign, also protested energetically against the election in imposing manifestations in different parts of the Republic; and if the latter were not general throughout the national territory, It was due to the terrible pressure exercised by the Government, which always quenches in blood any democratic manifestation, as happened in Puebla, Vera Cruz, Tlaxcala, and in other places.
But this violent and illegal system can no longer subsist.

I have very well realized that if the people have designated me as their candidate. for the Presidency it is not because they have had an opportunity to discover in me the qualities of a statesman or of a ruler, but the virility of the patriot determined to sacrifice himself, if need be, to obtain liberty and to help the people free themselves from the odious tyranny that oppresses them.

From the moment I threw myself into the democratic struggle I very well knew that General Diaz would not bow to the will of the nation, and the noble Mexican people, in following me to the polls, also knew perfectly the outrage that awaited them; but in spite of it, the people gave the cause of liberty a numerous contingent of martyrs when they were necessary and with wonderful stoicism went to the polls and received every sort of molestation.
But such conduct was indispensable to show to the whole world that the Mexican people are fit for democracy, that they are thirsty for liberty, and that their present rulers do not measure up to their aspirations.

Besides, the attitude of the people before and during the election, as well as afterwards, shows clearly that they reject with energy the Government of General Diaz and that, if those electoral rights had been respected, I would have been elected for President of the Republic.

Therefore, and in echo of the national will, I declare the late election illegal and, the Republic being accordingly without rulers, provisionally assume the Presidency of the Republic until the people designate their rulers pursuant to the law. In order to attain this end, it is necessary to eject from power the audacious usurpers whose only title of legality involves a scandalous and immoral fraud.

With all honesty I declare that it would be a weakness on my part and treason to the people, who have placed their confidence in me, not to put myself at the front of my fellow citizens, who anxiously call me from all parts of the country, to compel General Diaz by force of arms, to respect the national will.

Madero’s Proclamation to the Mexican Army, October 1910 Top

Source: Gene Z. Hanrahan, ed. 1976. Documents on the Mexican Revolution. Salisbury, NC: Documentary Publications.

The long and infamous tyranny of General Porfirio Diaz, which the people have endured in their anxiety to preserve the peace, has resulted in the calumnious statement that the people are serivil and cowardly; and you, who wear the uniform, have also been slandered, considered as the scourge of the people, as the supports of the Dictator.

But the day of freedom has arrived; on the 20th of this month all of th epoeple and a large part of the army which is in sympathy, will arise in arms to overthrow the unlawful and turannical government of General Diaz.

The triumph of the revolution is certain, but with you it rests whether it shall be quickly or slowly gained, whether there shall be a greater or a less degree of bloodshed, whether you yourselves will gain for us more quickly our liberty, for it is well known that you are those who suffer the most from the dictatorship; the soldiers because you are carried into military service against your will; the officers and chiefs, because you find yourselves constantly kept down, for under an autocracy such as ours, merit is always placed below influence and in order to rise in the army it is necessary to know more of the handling of the incense cup than that of the sword.

I therefore invite all soldiers and all the chiefs and officers, deserving and patriotic, to unite with us in this movement. In this manner you will give the lie to the calumnies which you have borne that you are the scourge of the people, and you will prove that if you are proud of belonging to the Mexican Army it is because the army is the child of the people, the defender of its institutions and the incarnation of its patriotic glory.

I know very well that on coming to our side in the defense of the cause of the people you are not actuated by any other motive than that of defending its institutions, but owing to the critical conditions now existing in our country, these are represented by men, chosen as I am by the popular will to govern the Republic. Therefore as the revolution will require a large number of chiefs and officers, and as a recompense to those who join our ranks in order to more wuickly triumph in the principles which we proclaim, all military chiefs who take command of greater forces than now of their rank there will be given the rank corresponding to the number of forces they command. To all other officials, whether they accompany these latter mentioned chiefs, or whether they pass into an independent command of their own free will, and before December 5th, there will be bestowed a rank immediately superior to that now held. To those officers who join the army of liberation after the mentioned date there will be recognized only their regular rank and place, as well as those who do so in the presence of superior independent forces.

Upon the termination of the revolution those soldiers who have been induced to join against their will, and who wish to be discharged from the army, will be given a low grade.

Soldiers of the Republic! Remember that the mission of the army is to defend the institutions and not that of being the conscienceless supporter of tyranny! For this reason, listen! Either you will continue to support the tyrannical government of the usurper General Diaz which promises to the country an era of mourning, of sorrow and of ignominy, or you will join me, embodying as I do in this moment popular aspiration, who by the will of my fellow citizens would be your legitimate governor, and who aided by you and by all my fellow countrymen, and complying faithfully my political program, will most certainly obtain peace and happiness for our country and through the Constitution, through LIberty and Justice we will carry her to the high place which she deserves among the civilized nations.

Soldiers! It is true that I do not belong to the noble military fraternity, but neither is Mr. Corral a military man, who is in fact the Governor of Mexico at this time. Above all, be sure that on the day set for the Mexican People to arise as one man against their oppressors, I will be among you and I will know how to prove that although I do not belong to your body, I admire our virtues, and I will know how to put into practice the example of those of our heroes who brought us independence and liberty, and, like them, I shall know how to fight bravely, if I am not destroyed by the bullets of the enemies of our people, and finally I shall know how to die a glorious death, defending, at your side, the institutions of a Republic.

Come then to our side, enter the ranks of the revolution and turn your arms against our common enemy, against the tyrant of our nation, instead of making war upon your brothers, in place of continuing, against your will, to be scourges in the service of the Dictator.

Remember that General Diaz has dishonored your flag, emblem of our country and symbol of military honor, causing it to be the emblem of tyranny and the symbol of oppression of our people, for which he has forced you to assassinate in Veracruz, Orizaba, Valladolid, Tlaxcala, and so many other parts of the Republic!

Take as your example the brilliant attitude of the Portuguese army, which, working faithfully with the people, was able to drag down a decadent monarchy and to substitute for it a glorious republican regime.

The example you have at hand: You can see how with its admiration for the action of the Portuguese army, the entire world approves its conduct and demonstrates that above the military countersign are the noblest interests of a country.

Follow, then, this worthy example, and remember that you are Mexicans, before you are soldiers!


SAN LUIS POTOSI, October 5, 1910.

FCO. I. Madero.

Platform of the Francisco I. Madero Party in Mexico, 1910 Top

Source: Gene Z. Hanrahan, ed. 1976. Documents on the Mexican Revolution. Salisbury, NC: Documentary Publications.
1. To re-establish the sovereignty of the constitution, making effective the duties and rights which it prescribes, making independent the entities of the federation and forcing the responsibility of the public office.

2. To procure the reform of the constitution, establishing the principle of non-election of a president or vice president; to procure equal reforms in the political constitutions of the States; making it obligatory that candidates for governor, senator or deputy reside in the district from which they are elected.

3. To procure the reformation of the electoral law, to the end that popular suffrage shall be made effective, and to abolish the political mayors and other appointees.

4. To regulate Article 7 of the Federal Constitution with the object of giving freedom to the Press.

5. To add to and increase public education, and to do away with the difficulties under which knowledge may now be acquired.

6. To improve the material, moral and intellectual conditions of the workingmen, creating industrial schools, procuring more expedition in the workings of the pension laws and laws governing indemnities for injuries to laborers, and fighting traffic in intoxicants. Providing equal rights to the indigenous races, especially the Maya and Yaqui Indians, bringing back he expatriated citizens and founding agricultural colonies where they may work. Also accelerating the Mexicanization of the railroads in all branches, and instituting centers of education where they may learn their duties.

7. To favor the right of use of public wealth to see that taxes are levied with equity, to abolish the system of favoritism, and to combat monopolies and privilege; and, above all, to spend the public funds to the end that they may benefit all.

8. To increase agriculture and irrigation, which are destined to be of national importance. In like manner, to aid mining, commerce, and all the sources of public wealth.

9. To study and utilize the most practical and efficacious measures for bettering the condition of the armed forces, so that it may be more able to discharge the duties imposed on it, to be the guardians of the nation’s institutions and defenders of the honor of the country, and the integrity of the republic. To effect this, one of the principal measures would be to make military training obligatory.

10. To favor more cordial relations between Mexico and all foreign nations, especially the Latin American nations, and to prudently direct the aims of the government to from a Central American Union.

Permanent Commission of the Congress of the Union Decree on the actions of the revolutionaries, 15 March 1911 Top

Source: Gene Z. Hanrahan, ed. 1976. Documents on the Mexican Revolution. Salisbury, NC: Documentary Publications.

Profirio Diaz, Constitutional President of the United Mexican States unto its inhabitants hereby makes it known that the Permanent Commission of the Congress of the Union has decreed, as follows:

The Permanent Commission of the United Mexican States in the exercise of the power conferred upon it by the 29th article of the Federal Constitution and by virtue of the determination of the President of the Republic, arrived at in a council of his ministers, Decrees:

Art. 1. That the guarantees provided for in the first part of Article 13, in the first part of Article 19 and in Articles 20 and 21, of the Federal Constitution, be suspended exclusively for those guilty of the crimes enumerated in the 2nd Article of this law.

Art. 2. That those subject to the provisions of this law are, 1st. Highway robbers, there being comprised among these those who without the right to do so detain or derail trains on railways, those who take away, destroy or damage the rails, ties, and spikes, screws, plates which hold them (rails) switches, bridges, tunnels or grades or any other part of a railway; those who place on railway tracks obstructions which may cause or produce accidents, those who separate, put out of use or destroy locomotives, cars or vehicles of the service, those who change signals, those who discharge firearms or cast stones or throw objects at the trains or place explosives destined to destroy them, and in general, those who perform any act against railways or against their operation.

2nd. Those who without the right to tod so cut or interrupt communications, destroying or putting out of use posts, wires, apparati or any part or accessory of mission of electric energy or who performs any act contrary to the security or integrity of the installations destined to produce such energy or who impedes its exploitation.

3rd. Those who by any means commit the crime of kidnapping as defined in Art. 626 of the Penal Code of the Federal District.

4th. Those who commit the crime of robbery with violence upon persons in solitary places or by means of an attack upon a town or country estate.

Art. 3. That those guilty of the deeds enumerated in paragraphs 1 and 3 of the preceding article, irrespective of whether or not they result in death or lesion, as well as those guilty of the crimes enumerated in paragraphs 2 and 4 of the same article, provided they are carried out on the public road, whether a railroad or not are preceded, accompanied or followed by the crime of homicide with evil intent, premeditation, or with the hope of profit or by treachery or of the crime of incendiarism, shall be punished by the penalty of death.

Those acts comprised in Article 2 of this law shall be punished with the penalty of from five to twelve years in prison according to the circumstances.

Art. 4. That to those taken in flagrante delicto and for whom capital punished is provided, this punishment shall be meted out without any other requirement than the formation of a record by the chief of the force capturing them, in which shall be stated the fact of the crime, fact of the apprehension in flagrante delicto and the identification of the persons of those guilty.

Art. 5. That those guilty who are not taken in flagrante delicto and are not subject to he penalty of death shall be judged summarily and verbally by the authorities who agents have affected the arrest, irrespective of whether the political authorities or military chiefs be those of the Federation or of the states.

That the period for the verification shall be eight days (which may not be extended), reckoned from the day upon which the guilty party is placed at the disposal of the authority which is to judge him. During the first seven days those who are to be tried may present such proofs and defense as are commensurate with their rights.

On the eight day sentence shall be pronounced and in case of condemnation, the penalty shall be fixed in accordance with the provisions of Article 3.

The cases formulated by the political or military authorities, as the case may be, shall be published in the official publication of the state, district, or territory in which the crime was committed.

Art. 6. That the sentences pronounced by virtue of this law, provided the guilty ones are not taken in flagrante delicto, shall be carried out with no other recourse than that of pardon. This recourse being granted, the execution of the sentence shall be suspended and the record of the case, either in original or in copy shall be sent to the President of the Republic by the safest and most rapid means for his decision. Pardon being granted the President may commute or reduce the penalty.

Art. 7. That the suspension to which Article 1 of the present law refers shall last for six months, reckoned from the date upon which it is promulgated.

Art. 8. That the Executive is hereby authorized to issue, within the limits prescribed by this law, all the necessary regulatory measures which he may deem necessary for its exact execution.

A Hall of Session of the Permanent Commission of the General Congress, Mexico, March 15, 1911.

Letter to the Governors of Mexico issuing a decree suspending constitutional guarantees, 23 March 1911 Top

Source: Gene Z. Hanrahan, ed. 1976. Documents on the Mexican Revolution. Salisbury, NC: Documentary Publications.
The fact that under the shadow of the revolut which has been initiated in several of the northern states of the Republic, bands have formed whose principal and sometimes only work is that of interrupting communications, destroying railways, telegraph and telephone lines and attacking the security of persons and property, has obliged the Executive to promulgate suspension of certain constitutional guarantees. The Permanent Commission of the Congress of the Union having recognized the necessity of such a measure, a decree was issued on the 16th instant, of which I had the honor to forward you copies.

The President deems the issuance of this decree a regrettable necessity, but considers that the circumstances demand that no efforts shall be spared to reestablish that inestimable good – security, and that on the other hand, this measure will be one among other elements which will contribute efficaciously to such a result. On account of its character, the enforcement of the decree should be restricted exclusively to those cases enumerated in it and be carried out with the greatest care and exactitude, so that its rigor will fall only upon those evil doers who perform acts therein provided for and so that no suspicion shall arise that it is being converted, in the hands of those who carry it out, into an instrument for the attainment of any other end than that of social security and justice.

To this end, by order of the President, I have the honor to address you and to request that you will especially and energetically recommend to the political authorities under your supervision that the carrying out of the decree of the 16th instant in the matter of the suspension of constitutional guarantees will be performed in every case with the greatest prudence and be fully warranted, instructing them to communicate to your government by telegraph or by the most rapid channel of communication which they may have at their disposal, the arrest of any one guilty of the crimes provided for in the decree, so that the government under your worthy charge can, without prejudice to the execution of the decree, exercise the necessary vigilance.

The Executive of the Union will also appreciate it if you will communicate by the telegraph to this Department as soon as you shall have received advice of any arrest, so that the President may have knowledge as soon as possible of the various cases which may have arisen under the carrying out of the decree.

I convey to you the assurances of my consideration.


Mexico, March 23, 1911.

Porfirio Diaz: An Efficacious Remedy for Revolution and Banditry, 1 April 1911 Top

Source: Chris Frazer. 2010. Competing Voices from the Mexican Revolution. Santa Barbara, CA: Greenwood Press.

Gentlemen of the Congress: a group who at the recent elections presented candidates for the presidency and vice presidency of the Republic, without having polled more than a small minority of the votes, not limiting their action to the legitimate exercise of popular suffrage, resorted to arms when the elections were over, disturbing the peace enjoyed for long ears in this country. The leaders of the group sought, by activities conducted on foreign as well as on Mexican soil, to organize an revolutionary movement to break out on a prearranged date.

The protection afforded by the mountains, and effective cooperation in men and war supplies received from foreign parts as well as from Mexicans who have for years conspired against the present Government and against social order, explain how the revolut has extended throughout Chihuahua, and several points in Sonora and Durango, in spite of the efforts to limit it by the Federal Government and the States.

At the same time, unfortunately, numerous bands have sprung up without any political motive, and, animated solely by a spirit of banditry which has begun to develop afresh, is spreading greater terror, perhaps, than that caused by the revolt.

In Baja California another movement began, caused by groups of communists, among them many American filibusters, with the fantastic project of forming a Socialist State. So unspeakable a purpose must provoke the greatest indignation, and I am sure that if necessary the Mexican people, always patriotic and jealous of their autonomy, will hasten to the defence of the national territory.

Some time later there was an extraordinary concentration of American forces on the frontier. The Executive instructed his ambassador at Washington to request an explanation of the manoeuvre. The instructions crossed a message from President Taft in which he gave assurances that the concentration had no significance that might alarm us, friends of the United States. The withdrawal of ships which that Government mobilized, and the fact that the Army is about to conduct manoeuvres, are the best testimony to the sincerity of those assurances, which have been repeated on subsequent occasions.

Gentlemen of the Congress, it might be inferred that notwithstanding the revolt – started by a group of Mexicans who are labouring under lamentable misconceptions or have been grossly deceived – the country has kept on progressing economically and intellectually, but in truth such progress is now obstructed by the political situation which demands of the Government and of the sensible mass of the Nation, each in its own sphere, the greatest solicitude and the most strenuous efforts to apply some prompt and efficacious remedy. The Executive therefore thinks it fitting to make known the measures which he believes ought to be taken.

The recent change of government ministers aims at satisfying a general aspiration, which is that political personnel be renovated from time to time. If I have not hesitated to part with the services of capable, loyal and honest advisers, who for a length of time had given me their valued cooperation, my single aim has been to show that room should be made, from time to time, for new energies in the direction of public affairs.

Furthermore, measures will be taken that give heed to reasonable complaints made against some authorities, especially those in closest touch with the people. It is to be hoped that this policy will be seconded by the States, which are better able to remedy the evil in question.

The principle of no re-election for executive functionaries chosen by popular suffrage had not of late been broached in any legislative assembly, and for that reason the Executive had not thought to express an opinion. But seeing that the issue has recently been brought up in some state legislatures and has been discussed in the press, the executive manifests his hearty assent to the principle and declares that the administration will give its earnest support. Intimately bound up with the principle of no re-election is reform of electoral laws, for it is indispensable to insure the effective participation of those citizens who are considered capable of voting with a full consciousness of what they are doing.

In view of the unsatisfactory results of measures hitherto taken for the division of large rural estates on fair terms, the executive is determined to carry out this important project in the most efficient manner possible.

At different times endeavours have been made to reform the administration of justice, and these alone demonstrate the importance the executive attaches to this vital function. At the same time much remains to be done to correct defects which observation brings to light and public opinion points out. The various measures proposed will aim at insuring the independence of the judiciary by securing better personnel and lengthening their term of office.

In carrying out these reforms, the executive trusts that the legislative chambers will give them their support and bring their ripe experience to the consideration of these arduous problems. At the same time, the executive appeals earnestly to the patriotism and good judgment of the Mexican people, trusting they will prove equal to the task of extricating the Republic from the difficulties by which it is surrounded and maintaining unimpaired the ideals of progress and civilization which have won our country so high a reputation and respect of other nations.

Open Letter to Madero: You Must Extinguish the Revolution, 27 April 1911 Top

Source: Chris Frazer. 2010. Competing Voices from the Mexican Revolution. Santa Barbara, CA: Greenwood Press.
My distinguished and esteemed friend: I cannot discuss whether you were right in taking up arms to assert the principles of no re-election and effective suffrage, that is the task of History. It is enough to say that the Revolution is a fact and the country finds itself enveloped in a conflagration more powerful and much vaster than you expected or desired.

Mr. Madero, you have an immense responsibility. Having unleashed social forces, you also implicitly assumed the obligation to restore peace and to satisfy the grievances that led to the war, so that the sacrifice of the homeland will not be sterile.

Revolutions are always painful operations for the social body; but before closing the wound the surgeon must clean the gangrene. Do not be intimidated by the sight of blood or distracted by the moans of our homeland, otherwise you will close the wound precipitously, without disinfectant and without curing the illness you set out to extirpate. The sacrifice will have been in vain and History will curse your name. Not because you opened the wound, but because the homeland will continue to suffer the same evils as before – and it will be exposed to increasingly dangerous relapses, threatened with new operations, each time more exhausting, each time more painful. To speak without metaphors: you have caused the revolution, and you must extinguish it.

However, the desire for peace can be frustrated by a lack of accord or ineffective remedies. The rupture of the armistice will be a bad outcome; but perhaps it is worse to obtain preace too quickly or by healf measures. A definitive peace must satisfy the grievances that constitute the discord between General Diaz and the people, and not just those expressed by the Revolution.

The Revolution must look beyond its own goals and satisfy national interests. Peace will be more lasting to the extent that the representatives of the Revolution are firm in their demands – and to the extent that General Diaz is liberal. Conversely, if the revolutionary negotiators are too lenient, or if General Diaz insists on narrowly-defined freedoms and reforms, peace will be incomplete or temporary.

The demands of the Revolution, namely amnesties, indemnities, conditions of submission, disarmament, and so on, must take into account the conditions of each region in rebellion. Only then can you end the revolution promptly. The demands in Chihuahua and Coahuila are different from those of Guerrero and Yucatan. Hence, southern rebels will not accept a deal that only satisfies Chihuahua or Coahuila. This will leave you exposed to repression, and a bloody and painful extermination.

After this, you must address the country’s economic and political needs and suppress the causes of social unrest. This is tantamount to a vast program of government.

Your responsibilities are serious. If you fail to grasp the political and economic reforms required, you risk future disruptions. You can consult writers like Molina Enriquez who have catalogued the country’s needs, and have discerned that political and democratic interests as basically manifestations of economic necessity.

From an economic standpoint the urgent need is restoring a balance between the many small interests (agricultural, industrial and commercial) who are oppressed by disadvantage, and the few big interests (agricultural, industrial and commercial), which are uniquely privileged.

In politics, the main requirement is guarantees to protect people’s lives and their civil and political liberties. For this, we need political change, a point which is the most difficult to solve. The first and easiest way is to dictate legislation that reduces executive abuses, ensures meaningful electoral reform, and establishes the principle of no re-election. The second way – and this seems more practical – is to introduce men of the Revolution into federal and lcoal governments, and even the cabinet, to monitor the government. But we are convinced that neither one is a strong guarantee, if Diaz remains.

Congress could reform the Constitution and tie the hands of the Executive, as it is now doing in a puerile way; it could proclaim new systems and fill state governments – and even the Cabinet – with anti-reelectionists. But this would not prevent General Diaz from restoring the old system. He is already seeking ways to circumvent the new laws, to nullify them, or to convince new men to do so. And within six months, when your revolution is perfectly suffocated, its leaders will be dismissed or discredited, or corrupt or tired, and the laws will be repealed or relegated to oblivion.

No. There is only way to ensure the regeneration of government, and that is the resignation of General Diaz and the appointment of a Vice-president committed to the concessions won by the Revolution. Over the last two months, the idea of General Diaz’s resignation has gained ground to the degree that few doubt that this radical remedy will relieve our political situation.

After proposing this to General Diaz, and by renouncing your own claim to the Presidency, the Government will have no reason to oppose the resignation, other than official scruples that this will reflect poorly on the dignity of the government.

Peace and the future of the country are above self-esteem and the propriety of governments. A country which does not hesitate to sacrifice the lives of its children when necessary, should not hesitate to sacrifice decorum if this guarantees its tranquillity, sovereignty and existence.

The resignation of General Diaz constitutes a personal act that does not reflect on the decorum of Government. Not everyone sees it this way. But if it was decent for General Diaz to remove state governors through local coups, why is a resignation unseemly when done constitutionally? If it was decent to dismiss six secretaries of state without due cause, why is it unseemly for the head of state to resign, when this can restore peace?

Some see changing banners as unworthy. However, the entire Government – the executive and legislative houses – did not believe it undignified to declare against re-election even after supporting re-election in order to keep power. Why so mayn scruples for a resignation that is justified by the incompatibility between the republic system of the REvolution and the ssytem of dictatorship practised by General Diaz?

There is no reason to stop insisting on the resignation of the General Diaz. This is not only necessary and patriotic, but the most decent act that the REvolution can impose.

Government compliance will be ensured by completely transforming the dictatorial government into a democratic one composed of new people. To allow some revolutionaries to enter the Cabinet is a sort of vigilance that does not imply control over the government, and would lead to constant struggle. Real control will mean anti-reelectionists in the federal and local chambers and the renewal of legislatures throughout the country with truly independent representatives of popular origin.

Given the origins of every member of congress, and the loyalty they still show to General Diaz, perhaps we can dissolve the current Congress without causing a big scandal. However, this seems utopian, and less dignified for the Government than the resignation of General Diaz, for it would mean the sacrifice of power en masse. But separating them from Diaz will only affect the Chief Executive.

Another means is to keep the rebel forces under arms, but this would be the most dangerous mistake you and General Diaz can make. Political parties must control the government, always by orderly and peaceful means. Weapons in the hands of a political party are tantamount to establishing a system of force and endemic revolution rather than a constitutional regime.

The only sensible way to ensure a change is through one or more officially recognized and independent political parties whose relations with power are defined in law.

Your victory, or that of General Diaz, is only weeks away. One of you will triumph, depending on how long the truce lasts. If the truce breaks within a week, the fall of General Diaz is inevitable. But if the truce continues more than fifteen days without spreading to the rest of the Republic, this will strengthen the ability of General Diaz to fight the Revolution, which will have relaxed and divided its energies. Upon the renewed outbreak of hostilities, the government will easily win.

Weighing upon you are the greatest political responsibilities any man has had for thirty years in Mexico – not because you launched the revolution, but because a failure to satisfy the legitimate interests of the nation will plant the seeds of future revolutions.


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