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(07/24/2008) The Eagle & The Serpent. New York. 1930. Knopf. Translated from the Spanish by Harriet De Onis. keywords: Literature Translated Mexico Latin America. 360 pages. Originally published as EL AGUILA Y LA SERPIENTE, 1928 - Madrid.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   In order that readers not familiar with the origin and nature of the Mexican Revolution may better understand the spirit of this book, we have thought it advisable to give a brief resume of the political events that took place in Mexico from 1910 to 1913. In 1910 Porfirio Diaz's dictatorship was still supreme in Mexico-a liberal, progressive dictator. ship. That same year, as the time for presidential elections approached-a periodical farce by which the letter of the Constitution was observed-the nation began to give evident signs that it wanted to regain possession of its civic will, which had been lost since 1850s. In opposition to the invariable candidacy of Diaz, which satisfied only the groups in power, the nation put forward another, that of Francisco I. Madero. The dictator, however, paid no attention to these premonitory indications; he and his supporters attempted to continue in power, whereupon Madero, at the head of a rising which was not merely political, but revolutionary in character, overthrew Porfirio Diaz and took over the presidency after new elections held in 1911. Madero was a reformer of gentle, apostolic character. He preached ideals of justice and a faith in the triumph of the right. As head of the government he attempted to divert the revolutionary tendencies he headed into legal channels, He also decided, in order to preserve the material well-being of the country, not to destroy the administrative machinery or the political instruments created by the dictatorship. He maintained the existing army; he respected the courts and the legislative bodies and made no changes in the personnel of the government departments. And in this way he lost the sympathy and support of his friends and delivered himself into the hands of his enemies, with results that were soon to prove fatal, A part of the army, headed by two ambitious generals, Bernardo Reyes and Felix Diaz, rose in February, 1913; another division, under the command of Victoriano Huerta, revolted a few days later, after solemnly swearing its loyalty. And then, all joining forces, Huerta had the revolutionary President assassinated a few hours after usurping his office. The indignation and anger of the populace were so great that the day after Madero's death the real revolution broke out; the ideals of justice and agrarian reform the 'martyr President' had advocated seemed too conservative; a vehement desire to regenerate everything asserted itself, an impulse to transform the whole social fabric of Mexico in its diverse aspects; and before the end of February the conflict had been kindled again. Venustiano Carranza, the governor of Coahuila, a civilian, was named First chief of the revolutionary army; the political purposes of the new uprising were outlined in the Plan of Guadalupe, drawn up on March 27, 1913. This new phase of the revolution was much more widespread than the first. From the beginning there were four principal centres of revolutionary action, three in the north: Sonora, Chihuahua, and Coahuila; and one in the south: Morelos. The military leaders in the various sections of the north were respectively, Alvaro Obregon, Francisco Villa, and Pablo Gonzalez; the leader in the south was Emiliano Zapata. The advance of the four revolutionary armies, which was very slow at first, finally became irresistible, especially after the big battles won by Villa and Felipe Angeles in Torreon and Zacatecas. In the northwest, through the states of Sonora, Sinaloa, Nayarit and Jalisco, Obregon marched from victory to victory, all the way from the American border to the heart of Mexico, After Villa had broken through the main division of Huerta's army, Pablo Gonzalez could move forward from the states of the northeast-that is to say, Tamaulipas, Nuevo Leon, and San Luis. And as Zapata was becoming more and more of a menace from the south-his activities had spread through the states of Morelos, Mexico, and Puebla, surrounding the capital-Huerta fled from the country seventeen months after his crime. After wiping out a part of Porfirio Diaz's former army and discharging from the service those who surrendered, the revolutionary troops marched into the city of Mexico in August 1914. But the revolution was already divided in its hour of triumph. Carranza, whose background and formation were those of the dictatorship, and who was devoid of ideals and eager only for power, from the first moment did all he could to bar the advancement of all those revolutionists whose independence or whose faith in the just character of the revolution might prove a stumbling.block to the new leaders in the race of their personal ambitions. He was supported in this by Obregon and by the groups of Sonora and Coahuila, and he even went so far as to put obstacles in the way of Villa's and Angeles's military operations. This lost him the support of many leaders and large sections of the country; and it brought about a wide breach, which was already evident in December 1913, and of a frankly hostile character by August 1914. To put an end to these dissensions, which threatened to destroy the fruits of the revolution's military victories, the leaders of the different groups decided to call an assembly which should have sovereign authority, to be composed of generals and governors. This was the Convention. It met in October 1914, first in Mexico City and then in Aguascalientes, and voted to remove both Carranza and Villa from their commands, as their quarrels were the principal cause of strife, and to name General Eulalio Gutierrez president pro tern. of the Republic. The generals and governors in favour of Villa submitted to the terms laid down by the Convention; but as Carranza and his adherents demanded, as a preliminary to their obedience of orders, the fulfilment of certain conditions that could not be accepted, the new President had to temporize with Villa while waiting for the Carranza faction to recognize his authority. Finally, dis. owned by the one and at the mercy of the other, he left the power in December 1914 and took refuge with his soldiers. By the beginning of 1915 the revolution had degenerated into a veritable state of anarchy, into a simple struggle between rivals for power. This went on until 1916, when Obregon and Carranza, in great part with the help of the United States, managed to reduce Villa to a position in which he could do nothing, though without ever conquering him. As a guerrilla leader Villa was invincible. In May 1920 he was still lording it in the stronghold of the sierras, His energy and his daring were unrivalled. Even General Pershing's famous expedition.-the ten thousand men that Wilson sent to Mexico, with Carranza and Obregon's approval, 'to get Villa dead or alive'-had to relinquish the undertaking.  

 

 

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