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MEXICO: The Army

The situation in Yucután is very serious. The PRI and the PRD are defying the fedeal government and have occupied some official buildings. The trouble is timed to create confusion prior to the visit of President Bush to Mexico. While the government may have to use force, Interior Secretary Santiago Creel stressed that it will obey the constitution (which allowed the PRI to monopolize power! Its reform will have to wait). The government wanted also to stress that the army will not act irresponsibly.

On February 8 there was in the courtyard of Chapultepec Palace a ceremony which many people had not even hear of: Loyalty Day. The Army swore to obey the President and be loyal to him. In the past the important ceremony at the castle was the celebration of the Niños Héroes, the cadets who died defending it in 1848 during the American invasion. The ceremony had anti-yanqui overtones.

Loyalty Day marked the 88th anniversary of an incident which in the past was seldom mentioned. In 1913, Félix Díaz (the nephew of Porfirio Díaz), who has been imprisoned, plotted a military coup while in jail and on February 8 seized the National Palace on the Zócalo. The commemoration this year said that, accompanied by loyal troops, Madero walked from Chapultepec to the National Palaceand arrested the plotters It did not mention that the "loyal" troops were those of Victoriano Huerta, who then staged a coup against Madero and seized both him and Vice President José María Pino Suárez. On February 21 both were assassinated. The coup was made with the knowledge of US Ambassador Henry Lane Wilson in what was known as Pact of the Embassy. Huerta turned out to be one of the villains of Mexican history.

This was clearly a strange thing to celebrate. Was Fox trying to say that the Army would not betray him as it had Madero? Perhaps Fox was uninformed of the real story of 1913. Do Mexicans know anything about it? I invite Mexican readers of this posting to tell me how much they knew aboutg these events of 1913. Do Mexican history textbooks ell the story?

Ronald Hilton - 2/11/01