Álvaro Obregón Salido (1880 – 1928) was a Mexican revolutionary, military and politician. He came to occupy the presidency of the country between 1920 and 1924 and is considered as the man who put an end to revolutionary violence. Likewise, he is recognized for his favorable management towards the peasants and workers, being faithful to the ideas that had promoted the Mexican Revolution .
As a military man, he already stood out in the fight of the constitutional movement against the dictatorial government of Victoriano Huerta. Overthrown this, Obregón obtained important victories against Pancho Villa, who had not accepted some of the decisions of the new government. In one of these battles, he lost an arm when a bomb exploded near where he was.
He participated in the drafting of the Constitution of 1917 and, under pressure from the more conservative sectors to back down some social achievements, decided to run for president. He faced Carranza, who wanted to name a successor and managed to win the elections.
Four years after his first legislature, already in 1928, he ran again and won other elections. However, he was assassinated by a militant Cristero and could not get to occupy the position.
Álvaro Obregón’s childhood and early years
Álvaro Obregón Salido was born in Siquisiva, in the state of Sonora on February 19, 1880. His early childhood and youth did not presage the great military and political career that he was going to develop.
His father was a farmer and died the same year that the future president was born. During his primary school studies, he spent part of his time working in the fields.
After finishing school, he continued working in the same sector, this time on a farm in Huatabampo until he was 18 years old. It is then that he changes profession, although for a short time, since he soon returned to work in the fields.
Being very young, at 23 years old, he married and bought a ranch to live with his family. However, his wife died very soon, in 1907 and he would remarry years later, when he had already become involved in the political life of the country.
Perhaps because of his humble origins linked to agricultural work, Obregón showed sympathy for the revolutionary movement started by Francisco I. Madero.
Although, at first, he did not participate in the events that led to the fall of Porfirio Díaz and the coming to power of Madero, he was soon involved in the new stage of the country.
As soon as the new constitution was proclaimed and municipal elections were called, Obregón presented himself and became mayor of Huatabampo in 1911.
The support of the “Yaqui” indigenous community was fundamental in their victory and it would also be so in the first steps towards national politics.
Campaign against Orozco
Not everyone in the country accepted the Madero presidency. One of those who took up arms against his government was Pascual Orozco, who had previously supported him.
On this occasion, Obregón decides to take a step forward and recruits a significant number of men, many of them Yaquis, to defend the constitutional government.
It is remarkable that it was he himself who was in charge of paying the men under his command, although it is true that he was later reimbursed. In this way, already in 1912, the good performance in the military field that he demonstrated made him better known on the national scene.
During that campaign he met who would be one of his later collaborators, Plutarco Elías Calles. Troops loyal to Madero, including those led by Obregón, manage to defeat Orozco. Obregón returns to his farm, to continue his agricultural work, without wanting to accept any position in the executive.
Tragic decade and Huerta government
The tranquility for Obregón would not last long. In 1913, the coup led by Victoriano Huerta took place. After the so-called Tragic Ten and betraying and murdering Madero, this military man manages to seize power and establish a dictatorial regime in the nation.
Right from the start, supporters of legal government prepare to fight. The first to fail to recognize Huerta’s presidency is Venustiano Carranza, who calls his supporters to arms. Obregón immediately took sides and was appointed military chief of Hermosillo.
The effectiveness of his command was enormous. In just a few months, at the end of 1913, it managed to occupy all of Sinaloa and Culiacán. Later, it heads south, advancing unstoppable to Jalisco. There, after some important battles, he managed to take control of Guadalajara.
Arrival in Mexico City
After those victories, it only remained to enter the capital. Huerta had already admitted his defeat, fleeing the country. His men tried to reach an agreement with Obregón, but he set out with his army and entered Mexico City on August 14, 1914. Days later, Carranza would arrive, who decorated Obregón and began the regime change.
The establishment of the new government was not easy. Villa and Zapata did not accept Carranza as president and kept their militias against him. Álvaro Obregón tried to resolve those differences, but to no avail.
Appointed head of the Army, his task was precisely to finish off his former revolutionary allies. In 1915, he managed to defeat Villa, although he lost an arm in the effort.
Apart from these military victories, he began to become very popular by, for example, enacting a minimum wage law in some northern states. Carranza appointed him Secretary of War and Navy, but in 1917 he resigned and returned to occupy his lands.
Agua Prieta Plan and presidency
However, Obregón’s political career would not end there. Even from a distance, he observed that Carranza’s movements could undermine the revolutionary principles he had supported.
Some historians point out that the president was only trying to unite the divided nation more, but Obregón and other former fighters were not convinced by some concessions to the more conservative sectors.
That is why it participates in the so-called Agua Prieta Plan, which was aimed at ending the Carranza government. The insurrection that followed this plan, with which some governors did not recognize the authority of the government, ended with the assassination of Carranza and the calling of elections.
In them, despite previous movements that tried to undermine Obregón’s popularity, he managed to win and take over.
Presidency (1920 – 1924)
Álvaro Obregón was sworn in as president in November 1920. Faithful to his program, he carried out an important agrarian reform, as well as another labor reform. Likewise, it undertook a profound change in educational policy.
At first, it found numerous support among peasants, workers and intellectuals. In international politics, he resumed relations with the United States and changed the way of acting of diplomats and consuls.
Among his opponents, he highlighted the Catholic Church. Both the agrarian reform and the educational reform affected the traditional influence of the church in Mexican politics.
Especially virulent was his reaction to Plutarco Elías Calles, first Secretary of Education and then Obregón’s successor in the presidency. In fact, Elías Calles suffered the so-called Cristero War, carried out by Catholic believers and that left many dead in the streets.
In 1924, after finishing the legislature, Obregón returned to his agricultural work, although without ceasing to follow the political situation.
Return to politics and murder
For Obregón to run again, the Mexican Constitution had to be amended, since reelection was prohibited. However, Elías Calles and other supporters convinced Obregón to accept.
This time, however, there was much opposition. Both his former Yaqui allies and old comrades in the revolution tried to take up arms against him, but without success.
Once the elections were held, Obregón triumphed again. However, he would have no chance to regain power. A Cristero, who were against the policy that weakened the Church, assassinated him on July 17, 1928.
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