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Hic! transit vita

23 January 2023

Today’s the anniversary of the 1916 demise of Victorian Huerta… President, by the grace of US Ambassador Henry Lane Wilson.. of Mexico from February 1913 — in what would in later US policy be descibed as a “Constitutional coup” (President Madero was forced at gunpoint to resign, Vice-President Pino Suarez had already been murdered, and third in succession, Justice Minister Pedro Lascurain has gone down in history as having one of the shortest administrations in all history… never reminding whether the forms appointing Heerta as next in line… as Minister of War… or his resignation letter, or is swearing in came first during his 45 minute presidency).

Huerta hadn’t been the US Ambassador’s first choice (he prefered former Mexico City police chief, and Con Porfirio’s nephew, Felix Diaz), but anybody who might stop the threat to increase the modest extraction taxes on Mexico oil would do. Alas, for Wilson, Huerta was as much a drunk as he was. Even more so.

NEVER LET A DISASTER GO TO WASTE. While Huerta was universsally despised, desperately clinging to guns (i.e., foreign weapons imports) and religion (as of the “kill them all, let the Lord sort em out” was of dealing with dissent), there was one important faction that found a use for a drunken president. Get him looped, toss some a decree or two in front of him, and say “sign here… have another drink”. .

Or, so one imagines. He did decree a paid day off a week and set the work week at 46 hours — highly progressive at the time, and unheard of north of the border.

Of course, with a new Administration and a shift in US policy towards Germany… with President Woodrow Wilson (no relation to Henry Lane Wilson) pushing for “stability” in Mexico and with the support of teetotaling, “born again” Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan in full support, Huerta was undone by the US “intervention” in Veracruz.

He fled first to Spain, then with German support, moved to the United States (living in suburban Long Island) plotting a return to Mexico. The Germans really didn’t care one way or the other, they just wanted instability in Mexico to keep the US busy during their imperialist squabble with Britain and France (aka “World War I”). . Two years out of power, after meeting with German agents in New York (spied on by Czech dissidents, British intelligence and the US Treasury and War Departments), he set off for the Mexican border, reaching El Paso before he was “detained” for violating the US Neutrality Act.

Never actually tried, he was kept under house arrest at Fort Bliss, drinking his days away while cirrosis did the Mexicans a favor and finished him off.

He’s buried in Evergreen Cemetery… the only Mexican president buried in the United States.

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