Mexico gave the appearance of order and prosperity during Porfirio Díaz’s long dictatorship, but behind the façade most of its citizens were facing ever-greater hardship. The Porfirian economy began to sputter in 1907, undermining Díaz’s legitimacy, and the liberal Francisco Madero’s quixotic campaign for the presidency in 1909-1910 opened the floodgates of public discontent. Díaz’s attempt to steal the election was the last straw; the Maderistas rose in November 1910, and after six months of intensifying revolt, Díaz was toppled in May 1911.
But the mild reforms Madero intended to pursue were no longer enough. Mexico had destabilized, and the new government was faced with recurrent revolts from the left and the right. Most dangerously, the radical peasant leader Emiliano Zapata was driven into a fierce rising in Morelos beginning in September 1911, and the revolutionary hero Pascual Orozco - who had sold out to conservative interests - launched a massive revolt in Chihuahua in March 1912. By the beginning of 1913 the chaos finally seemed to be easing and Madero was starting to move on serious reforms, but in February the ‘Ten Tragic Days’ revolt exploded in the capital and Madero was betrayed, overthrown, and executed by the ruthless conservative General Victoriano Huerta.
Almost instantly, the north rose against Huerta…and the Constitutionalist Revolt proved to be far more bloody and destructive than anything that had come before. The determined Huerta soon found himself up against even more determined opponents: the stubborn Venustiano Carranza set himself up as the Constitutionalist political chief, while Pancho Villa in Chihuahua and Alvaro Obregón in Sonora provided brilliant military leadership - and in Morelos the independent Zapatistas grew ever stronger. An unwise US intervention in Veracruz in April 1914 briefly encouraged Huerta to try to rally anti-American outrage, but by late spring his situation was hopeless. In July 1914, Huerta resigned and fled.
The way was now clear for the revolutionaries to begin fighting amongst themselves.
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Photo of Rebel Girl from
Cantando de Revolución