Venustiano Carranza

Venustiano Carranza
Portrait of Venustiano Carranza (cropped).jpg
37th President of Mexico
In office
1 May 1917 – 21 May 1920
Preceded byFrancisco S. Carvajal
Succeeded byAdolfo de la Huerta
Head of the Executive Power
First Chief of the Constitutionalist Army
In office
14 August 1914 – 30 April 1917
Governor of Coahuila
In office
1911–1913
Preceded byJesús de Valle
Succeeded byIgnacio Alcocer
Personal details
Born(1859-12-29)29 December 1859
Cuatro Ciénegas, Coahuila, Mexico
Died21 May 1920(1920-05-21) (aged 60)
Tlaxcalantongo, Puebla, Mexico
Cause of deathAssassination
NationalityMexican
Political partyDemocratic Party of Mexico & Liberal Constitutionalist Party
Spouse(s)Virginia Salinas
Ernestina Hernández

Venustiano Carranza Garza (Spanish pronunciation: [benusˈtjano kaˈransa]; 29 December 1859 – 21 May 1920) was one of the main leaders of the Mexican Revolution, whose victorious northern revolutionary Constitutionalist Army defeated the counter-revolutionary regime of Victoriano Huerta (February 1913 – July 1914) and then defeated fellow revolutionaries after Huerta's ouster. He secured power in Mexico, serving as head of state from 1915–1917. With the promulgation of a new revolutionary Mexican Constitution of 1917, he was elected president, serving from 1917 to 1920.

Known as the "Primer Jefe" or "First Chief" of the Constitutionalists, Carranza was a shrewd politician rather than a military man. He supported Francisco I. Madero's challenge to the Díaz regime in the 1910 elections and Madero's Plan de San Luis Potosí to nullify the elections and overthrow Díaz by force. He was appointed the governor of his home state of Coahuila by Madero. When Madero was murdered in February 1913, Carranza drew up the Plan de Guadalupe, a purely political plan to oust Huerta. Carranza became the leader of northern forces opposed to Huerta. He went on to lead the Constitutionalist faction to victory and become president of Mexico.

Carranza was from a rich, northern landowning family; despite his position as head of the northern revolutionary movement, he was concerned that Mexico's land tenure not be fundamentally restructured by the Revolution. He was far more conservative than either Southern peasant leader Emiliano Zapata or Northern revolutionary general Pancho Villa. Once firmly in power in Mexico, Carranza sought to eliminate his political rivals. Carranza won recognition from the United States but took strongly nationalist positions. During his administration, the current constitution of Mexico was drafted and adopted. Carranza did not implement its most radical elements, such as empowerment of labor, use of the state to expropriate foreign enterprises, land reform in Mexico, or suppression of the Roman Catholic Church in Mexico.

In the 1920 election, in which he could not succeed himself, he attempted to impose a virtually unknown, civilian politician, Ignacio Bonillas, as president of Mexico. Northern generals, who held real power, rose up against Carranza under the Plan of Agua Prieta, and Carranza was assassinated fleeing Mexico City.[1]

Early life and education, 1859–1887

Carranza was born in the town of Cuatro Ciénegas, in the state of Coahuila, in 1859,[2] to an upper middle-class cattle-ranching family.[3] His father, Jesús Carranza Neira, had been a rancher and mule driver until the time of the Reform War (1857–1861), in which he fought against the Indians and on the Liberal side.[4][5] During the Franco-Mexican War (1861–1867), Jesús Carranza became a colonel[5] and was Benito Juárez's main contact in Coahuila. A strong personal connection existed between the two, with Carranza lending Juárez money while Juárez was in exile. Following the ouster of the French, Juárez rewarded Carranza with land, which became the basis of his fortune in Coahuila.[4]

Because of his family's wealth, Venustiano, the 11th of 15 children, was able to attend excellent schools in Saltillo and Mexico City.[4] Venustiano studied at the Ateneo Fuente, a famous Liberal school in Saltillo. In 1874, he went to the Escuela Nacional Preparatoria (National Preparatory School) in Mexico City, where he had aspirations to be a doctor.[4] Carranza was still there in 1876 when Porfirio Díaz issued the Plan of Tuxtepec, which marked the beginning of Porfirio Díaz's rebellion against President Sebastián Lerdo de Tejada under the slogan "No Re-election" (Lerdo had served one term as president). Díaz's troops defeated Lerdo's, and Díaz and his armies marched into Mexico City in triumph.

Upon completion of his studies, Carranza returned to Coahuila to raise cattle, since he had an eye disease that prevented him from becoming a doctor.[4] He married Virginia Salinas in 1882, and the couple had two daughters.

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