Victoriano Huerta was the president of Mexico from 1913 to 1914. In this lesson, you will learn how a poor child of Indian descent rose through the military ranks to eventually take over an entire country.
Who Was Victoriano Huerta?
If you’re familiar with Mexican history, you may know Victoriano Huerta as the president of Mexico from 1913 to 1914.
He was an incredibly unpopular man, not just politically but among the people he knew him. He was cruel and he had a drinking problem. So how exactly did he wind up in charge of an entire country?
Early Life and Career
Victoriano Huerta was born the day before Christmas Eve on December 23, 1854 in Jalisco, Mexico.
Huerta’s parents were of Indian descent and had very little money. Despite coming from a poor household, Huerta set out to prove himself. As a teenager, he joined the military where he showed his abilities as both a fighter and a leader.
Instead of going to school everyday, imagine joining the military and having to go to war! Thanks to his exceptional abilities, Huerta earned himself a spot at the Chapultepec Military College where he continued to excel. In the years after school, Huerta was rewarded for his fierce reputation.At the time, Porfirio Diaz was the president of Mexico, however, by our standards he was a president in name only. In reality, he was a dictator who repressed the Mexican people and ruled with an iron fist. Diaz liked Huerta’s style as a military leader and moved him up through the ranks to the position of general.
Beginning of the Revolution
After roughly 33 years of Diaz’s harsh rule, revolutionaries in Mexico called for a change.
Although Diaz had announced he would step down from the presidency in 1910, he changed his mind at the last minute and ran against a liberal candidate named Francisco Madero. During the election, Diaz had Madero arrested but the revolution continued under the direction of Emiliano Zapata, Pancho Villa, and Pascal Orozco. While Huerta was leading the Mexican army against these rebels, little did Huerta know that he would be working closely with some of them in the near future.Ultimately, Diaz was forced to resign as president and Victoriano Huerta personally escorted the former dictator to Veracruz so he could escape the country. Seeing a window of opportunity, Huerta decided to join the administration of the newly elected president, Francisco Madero. In an attempt to avoid more armed conflict, Madero actually forced Huerta to retire from the military, but that did not last long! Former allies of Madero, Orozco and Zapata, decided to revolt against the new government and Huerta was on the short list to put down their rebellions.
While fighting against Orozco, Huerta was forced to work alongside Pancho Villa. The two men couldn’t stand each other; for Villa, Huerta was nothing but a mean drunk, on the other hand Huerta looked down his nose at Villa for being a peasant.
Overthrowing the Government
Despite outwardly supporting President Francisco Madero, Huerta had a plan in the works.
In 1912, a man named Felix Diaz, one of the former dictator’s nephews, tried to make a power grab and take over Mexico. Huerta and the U.S. ambassador to Mexico secretly support Diaz. Meanwhile, Huerta continued to reassure Madero that everything was fine and that he would help him to stay safe. Unfortunately for Madero, this was a complete and total lie. In February 1912, fighting broke out in Mexico City when Diaz’s forces attempted to seize the capital.
By February 14, Huerta had double-crossed Madero. He forced Madero to resign, claimed the presidency for himself, and then had Madero shot just four days later.
Huerta the Dictator
Immediately after becoming the president of Mexico, Huerta did what all good dictators do. He got rid of the democratic legislature and held the country under the military’s control.
Two of Madero’s former allies were furious that Huerta had seized the country for himself, including Orozco and Pancho Villa. Along with a man named Venustiano Carranza, the rebels plotted to overthrow the government yet again. This time, they had the backing of the United States. President Woodrow Wilson denied that Huerta was a legitimate president, and eventually sent U.S.
troops to occupy Veracruz. On July 15, 1914, Huerta was forced to resign as president of Mexico, and Venustiano Carranza took his place. In the following months, Huerta lived in Spain then the United States where he was arrested for conspiring to incite a rebellion against the new Mexican government. He died on January 13, 1916 in Texas.
Victoriano Huerta was an accomplished military leader and eventual president of Mexico.
He joined the military as a teenager and attended the Chapultepec Military College before moving quickly through the ranks. Under Porfirio Diaz, Huerta became a general in the army. Known for his fighting and leadership abilities, Huerta led troops against rebel groups in 1910 when they revolted against Diaz’s rule. Diaz was eventually forced to resign, and Huerta escorted him to Veracruz to escape the country.
After the end of Diaz, Huerta supported the new president Francisco Madero and worked to put down various rebellions led by former Madero allies. In 1913, Huerta conspired against Madero with Felix Diaz, and inevitably betrayed the president. Madero was forced to resign on February 17, 1913; when Huerta took over as president, he had Madero shot a few days later. Huerta’s rule as dictator came to an end in 1914 when rebels revolted against his regime with the help of the United States.
Huerta resigned on July 15 of that year, fled to Spain, then was arrested in the United States where he died in 1916.