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Shady character

23 March 2010

Drunk, sadistic and treacherous — that’s how we  remember today’s birthday boy (23 March 1850), Victoriano Huerta.

Rosa King, whose “Tempest Over Mexico” is required reading for any student of the Mexican Revolution, was his landlady during his stay at her Cuernavaca hotel, while he hunted down Zapatistas (and anyone who looked like they might be a Zapatista — meaning, basically — everybody), stringing them up and engaging in a scorched earth policy across Morelos State said of him:

He himself drank heavily, and nearly every evening had to be led off to bed; but he was always up in the morning bright and early, looking as though he were not even acquainted with the odor of drink.

Pancho Villa, who had to work with Huerta during the early months of the Madero Administration when Huerta was badly commanding the Mexican Army in Chihuahua and Villa was leading irregular forces, was a tee-totaler, so may have been slightly exaggerating when he said that “Huerta is a good soldier… when he’s sober. Which he is, from the time he wakes up until about 7 A.M.”

When U.S. Ambassador Henry Lane Wilson decided that President Madero was just too open to raising extraction taxes on foreign mineral deposits, and decided the Mexican government needed replacing, he worked it out with Felíx Díaz to take control. Huerta, in a convincing show of loyalty to Madero needlessly lobbed shells from the National Palace in the vague direction of Diaz loyalists in the Ciudadela, mostly succeeding in slaughtering a few hundred civilians who had nothing to do with the political struggle. Then for good measure double-crossed Diaz and took over the government himself, while his men murdered Madero after stomping Madero’s brother Gustavo into an unidentifiable mass of bloody tissue.

Forced out of Mexico in July 1914, he was a useful idiot in several plots to keep Mexico in turmoil (and the United States out of the First World War). He died of cirrosis of the liver while under house arrest in El Paso Texas where he was detained as an undesirable alien after attempting to return on yet another mission of mayhem.    His well-pickled corpse was planted in El Paso’s Everygreen Cemetery, within staggering distance of Rosa’s Cantina. Perhaps the dark glasses hid eyes like Farina’s: ;”wicked and evil while casting a spell”.

The only good thing one can say about the guy signed off on some of the first modern labor reforms (including the first 8-hour work day and weekly paid rest day, as well as maternity leave for women workers). However,  that’s due more to progressive bureaucrats who recognized there was an opportunity for quick regulatory reform when the leader is busy clinging to power through  murder, assassination and wholesale terrorism but is too shit-faced to be bothered with the trivial details.

Anyway,  I guess somebody liked him… Edith O’Shaughnessy and… his family, or some of them.  The little girl look kinda scared of the guy.  Maybe you shouldn’t raise a glass (or twenty) to his memory, but a small toast to maternity leave and the eight-hour work day might be in order.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. 23 March 2010 9:17 am

    this was excellent. thanks. that guy looks like Satan.

  2. Mary O'Grady permalink
    23 March 2010 7:58 pm

    Thanks for this wild little slice of history. By the way, I always thought it was “wicked Felina” with the eyes, and farina was a hot breakfast cereal.

  3. 26 March 2010 3:29 pm



  1. Victoriano Huerta in history | Lat/Am Daily

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