Small Town Politics:

Continuity and Change in Cuencamé, Durango, 1895-1930



Paper Presented at the Annual Meeting of the Rocky Mountain Council on Latin American Studies

Colorado Springs, Colorado, February 18-20, 1999



Introduction

This essay explores the evolution of local politics in the small towns and villages of the ex-Partido of Cuencamé in the decades immediately before and after the Mexican Revolution. Reconstructing, in as much detail as possible, the content and structure of local politics before 1910, it argues that although there were significant changes, the essential qualities of local politics in settings such as Cuencamé were not fundamentally altered during or immediately after the Mexican Revolution, even though Cuencamé itself was the setting for a series of intense agrarian uprisings between 1911 and 1913 that devastated and destroyed large-scale estate agriculture in the region. Although the radical inversion of political logic and structure in the early years of the Revolution might have permanently altered political culture, the military defeat of agrarian revolutionaries in 1915 and afterwards the triumph of Carrancismo and official agrarian reform precluded that possibility.(1) Although revolutionary violence brought immediate, radical, and sometimes lasting changes in land tenure and in the distribution of rural wealth, political culture in the towns and villages of rural Cuencamé was more resilient. There were some structural adjustments in local politics, but in terms of its authoritarian content, the changes in local politics that Cuencamé experienced between 1895 and 1930 were largely superficial and mostly cosmetic. Even though the Revolution created new openings and opportunities for individual office holders and political appointees, for the whole of this period between 1895 and 1930, there was as much continuity as there was change.

The Setting

During the Porfiriato, the partido of Cuencamé was composed of the municipios of Cuencamé, Peñón Blanco, and Santa Clara, towns which were founded as Spanish settlements in Nueva Vizcaya as early as the late sixteenth century. In this arid region of extensive plains and rugged mountain ranges, droughts are commonplace, and along with the threat of wind and hailstorms, early frosts, and insect plagues have always made agriculture a risky and uncertain endeavor in the region. Adding to the natural perils, the region was subject to periodic incursions by nomadic Indians from the era of the first Spanish settlements in the late sixteenth century until the final pacification of the Apaches in the 1880s. So serious was the Indian menace in most of the nineteenth century, that the large estates which were a predominant form of landholding in this region by the end of the colonial period went into a long period of stagnation and decline, with many properties virtually abandoned by their absentee owners. Meanwhile, as the populations of towns like Cuencamé and Peñón Blanco slowly expanded, especially in the second half of the nineteenth century, townspeople and villagers began to work abandoned estate lands as their own and to pasture their animals on the vast and empty plains. Some lands were claimed as individually-held parcels, others became town commons or ejido lands. The completion in 1892 of the International Railroad extension which passed through this region to connect Durango city with Torreón, a major junction on the Mexican Central Railroad, provoked the abrupt revival of large-scale commercial agriculture in the region. Figure 1 shows Cuencamé as it appeared in 1910, with the major towns and villages of the partido surrounded by the large estates that after the 1890s once again dominated the region.



Cuencamé and Peñón Blanco were originally founded as Spanish settlements, alongside separate, designated Indian settlements at Santiago and Ocuila. By the end of the nineteenth century, the entire population was nominally mestizo in character, and although the townspeople and villagers of communities such as Santiago and Ocuila continued to define themselves as "Indigenous", in physical appearance, language, and dress they would to an outsider have seemed identical to their mestizo neighbors in Cuencamé or Peñón Blanco. These physical and linguistic similarities, however, only masked distinctive social and cultural traits that gave the "Indios" of Santiago and Ocuila an ethnic identity different from that of their mestizo neighbors.

By 1900 the population of the Partido of Cuencamé had increased from about eight thousand residents at the beginning of the nineteenth century to nearly thirty thousand, with the Villa of Cuencamé, the cabecera (head town) of the partido, reporting a municipal population of 15,953; with Peñón Blanco reporting 10,271 residents; and with Santa Clara, whose population was continuing to decline, reporting 2,446 residents. A decade later, on the eve of the Madero Revolt, the partido population had increased to nearly forty thousand. None of the other nearby partidos (San Juan del Río and Nazas) shared in Cuencamé's unusual demography in terms of place of residence. Slightly less than half of the population of the municipio of Cuencamé resided on haciendas or ranchos like Sombreretillos or Atotonilco, with the balance of the population split roughly equally between residences in towns or in the mining centers (especially in and around the Velardeña smelter). Nearly one out of every three residents of the municipio of Cuencamé resided in the mining center. In Peñón Blanco slightly more than half the population resided on haciendas or ranchos like Santa Catalina del Alamo or Purísima while roughly two-thirds of the balance of the population lived in towns (mostly Peñón Blanco or Sauces) and roughly one-third of the balance lived in textile factories like Guadalupe, Belén, and La Concha.(2)

Because historically only insignificant amounts of land had been formally owned by small property holders since the early colonial era, the towns and villages of Cuencamé were effectively surrounded and smothered by the revived Great Estates before 1910. The town of Peñón Blanco lay wholly encysted within Santa Catalina del Alamo--between Santa Catalina on the West and North, Covadonga on the North and East, and Alamo on the East and South. The congregación (village) of Sauces, with no lands of its own, was sandwiched on the boundary separating Santa Catalina del Alamo and Juan Pérez. The town of Cuencamé, wedged uncomfortably between Santa Catalina del Alamo and Sombreretillos, was the cabecera for the partido. Land conflicts between estates and local residents were resolved by force, litigation, stealth, and negotiation. In most of these encounters, estates won and local farmers and ranchers lost. Although they held no titles, the residents of communities like Sauces, El Pasaje, and Covadonga claimed ownership of land their families had lived on for generations. The townspeople and villagers of Peñón Blanco, Cuencamé, Santiago, and Ocuila had ancient titles to their lands, but with vaguely defined boundaries. These lands had never been surveyed, until after the 1890s when they were surveyed by engineers working for the estates, not for the townspeople and villagers. Although hostilities between villagers and townspeople and the Great Estates originated with and fed upon disputes over property rights, contests between the estates and town and village residents to control local governments intensified the bitterness as estate owners and managers, especially those of Santa Catalina del Alamo, Sombreretillos, and Juan Pérez, exploited their influence with the state government to impose local political officials to defend and promote estate interests.(3)



The Political Realm

The salient characteristic of the practice and structure of local politics in Cuencamé was its authoritarian content, a Colonial legacy of three centuries of royal absolutism and bureaucratic centralism that remained largely intact, if sometimes dormant, during the turbulent decades following Mexican Independence when Northern states like Durango and regions such as Cuencamé were often isolated and effectively beyond the reach of the central government. This anomalous situation of defacto political autonomy ended gradually after 1876 as the modernizing government of Porfirio Díaz consolidated national political power. Behind the facade of a federal republic, real political power was remarkably centralized in the person of Porfirio Díaz. The political genius of Díaz was that he transformed personalism and clientelism, traditional features of social organization in Mexico, into powerful tools for state-building and so was able to create a formidable and, for a time, a stable national political structure. All political functionaries at the national and state levels, whether appointed or elected, held offices at the behest of Díaz. Like their colonial counterparts, they held office not to serve the interests of local constituents, but those of their powerful patron, Porfirio Díaz. In theory, state governors, themselves autocrats, even despots in the context of purely state politics, possessed minimal autonomy from the central government and needed Díaz's approval of routine, and sometimes even trivial appointments or other political processes at state and local levels. In practical terms, however, Díaz's control over his subordinates, much like that of the Spanish Crown over the Colonial bureaucracy, was far from absolute. At state and local levels, compelling economic interests competed with and sometimes superseded those of the central government. In the case of Cuencamé, the subversion of state and local politics and the administration of justice by the owners and managers of the Great Estates, gradually undermined the great reservoir of good will and political loyalty exhibited by the populace here for Porfirio Díaz and provoked them into a violent armed rebellion against the state and central government by 1910. In many ways, the process in rural Durango paralleled that recently described for Chihuahua by Friedrich Katz in his epic work on Pancho Villa.(4) In both Chihuahua and Durango during and after the 1890s, large landowners, no longer needing the goodwill and support of local free villagers and townspeople as a defensive bulwark against nomadic Indian raids, and, conversely, responding to the new, unprecedented opportunities for profit in large-scale estate agriculture, began an unprecedented campaign of illicit land seizures which threatened the social and economic survival of small-scale property owners and rural entrepreneurs in these states.

Governors

As was common elsewhere, Porfirio Díaz permanently removed former supporters of Benito Juarez and Miguel Lerdo de Tejada from positions of power in Durango. Most affected was Francisco Gómez Palacio (Sr.), a partisan of both Juarez and Lerdo, who after being elected governor in 1880 was forced to resign from office in December 1883. His successor, Juan Manuel Flores, represented one of the state's largest and wealthiest landowning clans, traditional conservatives who had been politically ascendent in Durango for most of the nineteenth century until displaced by victorious liberals like Gómez Palacio after the French withdrawal from Mexico in 1867. Flores sought a political comeback for the ex-conservatives that he represented by supporting Porfirio Díaz's revolts in both 1871 and 1876, and, with the triumph of the latter, was rewarded with the governorship of Durango until 1880. Perhaps because of his conservative roots, and because it suited the needs of his paternalistic style of governance, Flores was somewhat more predisposed to respect traditional, corporatist town and village political and property rights and there was no major assault on small-property holders and those who occupied land without formal titles until after the strongman's death in January 1897. Afterwards, state politics underwent an abrupt reformulation as power was redistributed away from the personal control of powerful clans like the Flores or the Gómez Palacios or the other major landowning families of Durango. Francisco Gómez Palacio (Jr.), the son of the late liberal governor, campaigned to succeed Flores, but Díaz refused to permit him to be elected. Instead, beginning with Flores' successor, interim governor Leandro Fernandez, an engineer by training, Díaz continued to select professional functionaries to govern Durango: the attorneys Juan Santa-Marina from 1898 to 1904 and then Estéban Fernandez, from 1904 to 1911. Before becoming Governor themselves, each of these individuals had received practical on-the-job training as the private secretary of their predecessor. The new functionaries' mandate was to govern impartially on behalf of all the great interests and enterprises of Durango, and so they ushered in a new era of political tranquility, at least in terms of the historic rivalries pitting the Great Families, liberal and conservative, clerical and anti-clerical, one against the other, that had structured state-level politics here since the Independence era. As the traditional caudillos of nineteenth-century Durango like Juan Manuel Flores disappeared and as the new political consolidation dispensed with historic factionalism among the great landed families, in the countryside the townspeople, villagers, and rancheros who formerly had always been able to protect their interests by forming useful alliances with the political outs of one kind or another now became political orphans, victimized by the determination of the landed elite to recover effective possession of extensive properties abandoned earlier in the nineteenth century.(5)

Just as Porfirio Díaz supervised the selection of state governors, the Governors of Durango chose officials at the partido or district level who, in turn, determined (with the approval of the Governor) who governed at municipal and even sub-municipal levels. Playing a role not much different from corregidores, intendants, or sub-delegados in the Colonial table of political organization, the Jefe Político of Cuencamé ideally represented the interests of national and state political functionaries, and never those of townspeople, villagers, or estate residents. On the contrary, by determining the composition of both appointed and elected positions at the municipal level, it was intended that even the lowest levels of the political bureaucracy governed at the behest of their superiors rather than a local constituency. Unlike the Colonial regime in which centralism was functionally-integrated into the bureaucratic structure itself, self-interest and personal networks of clientelism, and paternalism tied individual local functionaries in Cuencamé more directly with the person of the Governor than with the formal bureaucratic agencies of the state government. Their relationship to the national government and its bureaucracy was even more ephemeral and indirect than in the Colonial model, channeled as it was through the person of the Governor, and functioning informally in direct contravention of the stated, formal political norms of a nominally Federal and Republican form of government prescribed by Mexico's Constitution of 1857.

There was remarkably little content in the official correspondence between functionaries and their superiors and subordinates or between citizens at large and political functionaries to support the notion advanced in the recent works of Florencia Mallon, Peter Guardino, and others that the rural masses here transformed official ideology into anything like popular liberalism or popular federalism.(6) In terms of the political discourse between subjects and functionaries in the years between 1895 and 1910, there was remarkably little discussion of the notion of popular sovereignty-that government derived from the will of the majority. Instead, more often it was the more traditional discourse of patron and client, with an emphasis not on natural rights, but on the responsibilities of the just ruler caring for his subjects as a good father looks out for the welfare of his family. Paternalism, not popular liberalism, remained the preponderant element in political discourse in Cuencamé as late as 1910.

In the most significant conflict of all, that between the villagers of Santiago and Ocuila and the owners of the Hacienda Sombreretillos, representatives of the villagers consistently used the language of clientelism and paternalism in their attempts to persuade the governors and other high officials to intervene on their behalf. Protesting the refusal of the Cuencamé tax collector, Cristófilo Padilla, to accept tax declarations for the approximately ten thousand hectares claimed by the villagers, the representatives prefaced their appeal:

Juan G. Machado, Calixto Contreras, Nicasio Espinoza, y Vicente Gámez, nativos de los Pueblos Unidos de Yndigenas, de Santiago y San Pedro de Ocuila, en este Municipio de Cuencamé, y con el poder juridico otorgado por todos sus hijos y vecinos á nuestro favor, ante Vd. con el debido acatamiento y conforme en derecho proceda, exponimos: que sumisos y obedientes hemos acatado siempre todas las disposisiones y mandatos de nuestros gobernantes, y con tanta más razón ahora que se trata de la division territorial, y engrandesimiento de todas las poblaciones que forman el rico y floresiente Estado de Durango. Nunca hemos sido rebeldes; siempre pacificos y laboriosos....(7)

Later, in 1901 the villagers, again using the language of clientelism and paternalism, appealed directly to President Díaz for protection against continuing attempts by Sombreretillos to take their lands. After describing the long history of conflict, the villagers concluded their appeal by noting: El día en que en nuestro país se consumen atentados como el que nos amenaza, será porque habrá dejado de flotar sobre el suelo mexicano la sombra inmensa del General Díaz...(8) When the villagers of Santiago and Ocuila did finally rebel against Porfirio Díaz in 1910 it was not until after repeated and desperate attempts to appeal to the paternalistic sensibilities of the President.(9) Only after Díaz had failed in his traditional responsibilities did they rebel, and even then they fought in the beginning not for local political autonomy, not even for democracy, but for the return of usurped lands and for the ideal of serving a more generous and just patron, Francisco Madero.

Like Díaz, the Governor of Durango presided over an extensive clientelistic network composed largely of appointed and elected officials as well other state employees such as postmasters and school teachers. Apart from controlling access to patronage jobs, governors routinely provided their clients with services including, but not limited to, letters of recommendation to prospective private employers, arbitration and mediation of personal disputes, salary advances, and other kinds of special favors. In return, loyal clients provided their patrons with political support (including service in the political clubs routinely organized as part of the formal electoral process), and they often furnished gossip, information, and other intelligence relating to the informal workings of the state and local political bureaucracies. In practice, these clients constituted an army of eyes and ears and allowed governors to maintain a constant and cost-effective surveillance over most local functionaries.

A few examples illustrate how the process worked, virtually unchanged for the whole period from the early 1890s until 1910. In February 1895 the jefe de cuartel of Sauces, Pedro Herrera, wrote his patron, Governor Juan M. Flores. Although few groveled as eloquently as Herrera, the content (if not the language) of communications from most clients to their patrons was similar:

Señor, es verdad que ante su eminente presencia y distinguido nombre soy un víl guzano; pero como me acojo á su noble corazon para manifestarle que por mi incapacidad no puedo describir las grandes esperanzas que abrigo al intentar dirijirme a su bientrechora mano implorando sus auxilios que aunque llegue el día de que Vd. no puede prodigarmelos, por el hecho de carecer yo de todo mérito para su benevolencia aun así día por día y en union de mi familia dirijo mis humildes oraciones al Ser Supremo porque sea imperecedera su existencia y que su elocuente nombre prebalesca hasta la eternidad.(10)

Herrera wanted Governor Flores to use his influence with the Banco de Durango so that Herrera might obtain a $300 loan that would allow him to hold 125 fanegas of corn until prices went up the following June. Herrera also pleaded illness to explain why he had not already reported to a new assignment at Velardeña, as previously arranged by the Governor. After arriving tardy at Velardeña, Herrera remained as the mining center's jefe de cuartel until 1904.

In September 1900, after a request from María Gila Reyes de Padilla, the wife of Cuencamé's tax collector, Cristófilo Padilla, Governor Juan Santa-Marina found employment for the couple's eldest son, Cristófilo, as a clerk in the Jefatura Municipal of Canatlán.(11) Four years later, soon after her husband's death from illness, Gila Reyes again wrote the Governor to tell him of her husband's last moments: "y como hasta sus últimos momentos conservó su .... conocimiento me encargó diera a Vd. su despedida, y que esperaba de su bondad impartiria á los hijos la protección con tantos años contó el padre.''(12) Subsequently, the Governor appointed Cristófilo Padilla's other son, Julio, to succeed his father as tax collector. Later in 1904, when Julio Padilla was publicly drunk and disorderly in Cuencamé, the Governor intervened to persuade the Jefe Político, Benigno Díaz Couder, not to punish him.(13) Hoping to replace Julio Padilla the following year, Benigno Díaz Couder, wrote Santa-Marina's successor (and Díaz Couder's compadre) Estéban Fernández:

Algunas personas me han asegurado que Julio Padilla no seguira encargado de la Recaudación de contribuciones de este Partido, si asi fuere mucho le estimaré extienda el nombramiento en mi favor, pues el sueldo de Jefe Político no me alcanza para cubrir mis más urgentes gastos...."(14)

Governor Fernández acquiesced. In the language of a generous patron, he advised Díaz Couder: ''en obsequio á los deseos que vd. me había expresado, lo nombrara Recaudador de Contribuciones de ese Partido.''(15)

In 1905 Benigno Díaz Couder wanted Fernández's intervention to secure an early discharge or a reassignment for his eldest son, Manuel Díaz Couder, who was serving as a sub-teniente in the 5th Regimento Caballeria in Sonora.(16) He also sought employment in Durango that would allow his son-in-law in Mexico City, Agustín Reyes, to relocate closer to home, "para tenerlo más cerca, y no estar con tanto cuidado para mi hija y por él."(17) In the years that followed, like Pedro Herrera and others, Benigno Díaz Couder secured from his compadre Fernández various letters of recommendation for the purpose of persuading lenders to finance Díaz Couder's agricultural enterprises, comprised principally of the rancho "El Refugio," a property which he rented from the hacienda of Juan Pérez. He asked for and received salary advances to finance his operations at "El Refugio" because, like other cultivators in this region, he suffered successive crop failures after 1906 that left his personal and family finances as devastated as the sun-baked temporales where he planted corn and beans.(18) Although Fernández ignored Díaz Couder's pleas that he cosign and guarantee repayment of new loans for him in 1908, the Governor did respond sympathetically to a request for help from Díaz Couder's wife in May 1910:

Siento mucho que le haya ido mal á mi compadre en su negocio de rancho; y, atendiendo los deseos que me expresa en su grata del 21 que contesto, voy á ver en que puedo utilizar los servicios de mi citado compadre lo más pronto posible.(19)

While most other elected or appointed officials did not enjoy a relationship cemented by compadrazgo, functionaries in all levels of government understood explicitly that they held their offices-whether appointed or elected--not as representatives of a larger community of interests or of a particular political constituency, but as favored retainers of powerful patrons. For example, when informed of his reappointment as jefe político for Cuencamé in 1901, José María Rosales offered profuse expressions of gratitude and promised "recibiré con gusto sus buenos consejos, seguro de que con ellos podré llenar debidamente mi cometido."(20) Similarly, as he sought reappointment as jefe político of Nazas for another term in 1905, Luís Estevané, attempted to cultivate a relationship with a new governor, Estéban Fernández, by explaining, in self-effacing language that he understood his role as a client:

''Como V. sabe, hace mucho tiempo que estoy al frente de la Jefatura política de este partido, no porque sea capaz de desempenar cargo tan delicado, porque mi inutilidad es bien notoria, sino más bien por la confianza que, sin merecer, depositó en mí el anterior Señor Gobernador [Juan Santa-Marina], y porque en todo tiempo he estado dispuesto á prestar mis inutiles servicios á la administración pública.''(21)

Ambitious individuals, including those not yet part of the existing web of political clientelism, also sought protection and favors from the governors of Durango.(22) Even those who after 1910 would emerge as notoriously radical agrarian leaders like Antonio Castellanos of Peñón Blanco were as late as 1909 still attempting to better themselves by cultivating the patronage of Durango's governor. Soon after advising Estéban Fernández that he had organized a political club in Peñón Blanco that could deliver three thousand votes for Fernández's reelection in 1908, Antonio Castellanos wrote the Governor asking for funds to publish a newspaper to be called El Precursor. Inspired by Porfirian positivism's continuing fascination with measuring and reporting material progress, Castellanos proposed that his newspaper would publish informative, statistically-based articles about all the partidos of Durango. Although Governor Fernández promised to seek funding for his project for the following year, Castellanos, who was unemployed, abandoned his plans for a new career as a journalist when it was apparent that funding would not be immediately forthcoming. The following year Castellanos proposed a new scheme. He wanted the state government to publish two of his book manuscripts. One of these, Fundamentos y el porqué de la septima relección del General Díaz, Castellanos promoted as a tool to publicize Díaz reelection campaign in 1910. In the other work, La muerte por el crimen, Castellanos proposed that Mexico should impose the death penalty for major crimes as a measure to deter criminality. More to point, Castellanos sought to use this project to cultivate powerful patrons. He praised Fernandéz and sought his assistance with the language of clientelism:

Desde el minéro audáz que atrevido se lanza á las entreñas de la tierra para encabar las riquezas de nuestro suelo, hasta el humilde amante de las letras que se agita en la dificil senda del periodismo en la cual procura difundir en el espiritu del pueblo los hechos más culminantes de hombre que ha sido y es modelo de gobernantes...Mis humildes producciones literarias Sr. Gobernador y que avós he dedicado, han emanado de la simpatia adhesión que siempre le he profesado; camino y prosigo en la senda de mi deber solamente seguro de su suficiencia, esa es mi base...me encuentro aislado y solo: comprendo sus bondades y ellas me animan para suplicar á usted se digne interponer su valiosa ayuda, para que mis obras aunque sin ningun mérito sean inpresas en la imprenta del gobierno.(23)

Although a similar letter to Porfirio Díaz won Castellanos no more than a photograph of Díaz for inclusion in the proposed book, Fernández was sufficiently swayed to promise to seek state funding for Castellanos's two manuscripts.(24)

Durango's paternalistic governors also played the role of patron and protector by arbitrating and mediating disputes and conflicts of interests. Often all parties in a conflict were clients of a governor, or even if they were not, they could not easily refuse an arranged settlement proffered from above. For example, in 1904 Benigno Díaz Couder sought Fernández's intervention to expedite recovery of a debt by Santo, Astiz y Compañía.(25) Two years later, again at Díaz Couder's request, Governor Fernández arranged an out-of-court settlement of a suit brought by Matías Rodríguez against Díaz Couder's son, Jesús.(26) Similarly, in 1905, at the request of Juan Francisco Flores, Estéban Fernández mediated an out-of-court settlement of a conflict between Manuel Valenzuela and Francisco García, both past or present functionaries and both residents of Peñón Blanco.(27) The provision of these kinds of services also created and sustained patron-client relationships, even as they helped to keep the peace.

The Jefe Político

In the era of Governor Flores jefe políticos usually were local residents who possessed the appropriate personal ties of political loyalty and also demonstrated the personal toughness required of the Governor's representative in partidos like Cuencamé. Manuel María Ugarte served as the jefe politico of Cuencamé from early in the Flores era until he was removed from his office by Juan Santa-Marina in January 1898. Santa-Marina and his successor, Estéban Fernandez, imposed a new, more bureaucratic, and more centralized system of administration. From 1898, continuing until Estéban Fernandez was forced from office in 1911, the appointed jefe político was always an outsider with few, if any local ties, at least initially. Annually, usually at the beginning of a new calendar year, the Governor in Durango City appointed or reappointed a jefe político for Cuencamé and the other partidos. Appointments were for one year terms and might or might not be renewed. Although local residents like Felipe Alemán often sought appointments, successful candidates during the governorship of Juan Santa-Marina and afterwards were usually drawn from a pool of experienced professionals who were regularly rotated in their partido assignments so as to ensure that jefes políticos would not be encumbered by local ties and interests. For example, before his assignment to Cuencamé in 1902, Benigno Díaz Couder served as the jefe político of San Juan del Río. Afterwards, his brother, Luís Díaz Couder filled that vacancy. Table 1 lists the appointed jefes políticos of Cuencamé for the period 1890 through 1910.

Table 2. The Jefes Políticos of Cuencamé, 1890-1910
Manuel María Ugarte Jan. 1890 - Jan. 1898
Francisco Escobar y Vasquez Feb. 1898 - Dec. 1898
José María Rosales Jan. 1899 - May 1901
Felipe Alemán (Acting) Jun. 1901 - Dec. 1901
Benigno Díaz Couder Jan. 1902 - Dec. 1904
Miguel Breceda Jan. 1905 - Jun. 1906
Felipe Alemán (Acting) Jul. 1906 - Aug. 1906
Angel Morales Aug. 1906 - Dec. 1908
Felipe Alemán (Acting) Jan. 1909 - Jun. 1909
Lic. Onésimo Borrego Jun. 1909-Dec. 1909
Ismael Miranda Jan. 1910 - Jun. 1910
Felipe Alemán (Acting) Jun. 1910 - Oct. 1910
Jesús N. Nájera Oct. 1910 - Feb. 1911



The duties and responsibilities of a jefe político were extensive, as were his executive and judicial powers. He was the personal representative of both the national and state governments and served specifically to implement their political agenda in the partido of Cuencamé. He had responsibility for supervising elections of national, state, and local officials and, especially, for producing the desired electoral outcomes. Typically, prior to every election the Governor furnished him with a list of Senators, Deputies, and Magistrates (both national and state). Typically, the list of winning candidates given to the jefe político in Cuencamé by the Governor in Durango originated with Porfirio Díaz in Mexico City. For example, in preparing for the election of a successor for the late Juan Manuel Flores in a special election in 1897, the state government instructed the jefe político of San Juan del Río, Benigno Díaz Couder, to form political clubs to oppose the candidacy of Francisco Gómez Palacios, but without announcing support for a nominee. Instead, Díaz Couder was to wait until Porfirio Díaz himself determined who would be the official candidate. Eventually, Díaz selected Juan Santa-Marina, who, in turn, assured the President that in the election of 1900 in Durango: "pues las personas indicadas serán electas en la misma forma y órden que lo desea."(28) Likewise, Santa-Marina's successor, Estéban Fernández, pledged to guarantee the election in 1906 of everyone on Díaz's wish list in 1906: "y puede Vd. tener la seguridad de que será un hecho la elección en favor de estos señores."(29) To fill other elected positions unspecified by Díaz, Fernández pledged to select only those who were "adictos amigos de la actual administration" and, of course, to furnish Díaz with their names.(30)

Informally and extralegally, the jefe político also usually determined (with the approval of the governor) who occupied all local elected positions such as the town councils (ayuntamientos). With the approval of the governor, he appointed his own subordinate officials, such as the secretary of the jefatura política who processed most of the paper work. Further down the political table of organization, he named the jefes municipales, the jefes de cuartel, and jefes de manzana, who in an earlier era led local efforts to defend against Indian raids and bandit attacks, but who now performed mostly police functions. In nearly all cases, estate owners determined which of their employees would be designated by the jefe político as a jefe de cuartel or as a jefe de manzana. This gave the estate owners effective control over police activities on the estates themselves. In the case of the congregación of Sauces de Salinas, the owners of Santa Catalina and Juan Pérez jointly designated a jefe de cuartel there who would have police jurisdiction on lands belonging to both estates. In the cabecera town of Cuencamé, the jefe político supervised municipal affairs (along with the Ayuntamiento). In Santa Clara and Peñón Blanco, the other two municipalities in the partido, jefes municipales played a role analogous to that of the jefe politico in municipal politics in Cuencamé. All municipal jails and police forces were under the effective control of the jefe político or jefe municipales.

Historically, the jefes políticos organized and supervised the defense of the partido against Indian raids and bandit attacks. After the 1890s, as those threats diminished, he continued to be the official immediately responsible for policing and public safety. He also organized (or he instructed his subordinates to organize) patriotic celebrations as ordered by his superiors in the state and national governments. Like his Colonial antecedents, he could jail or otherwise punish individuals for minor infractions without benefit of formal judicial process, as long as those affected did not secure a writ of amparo (injunctive relief) against his actions. Major infractions might be punished informally and non-judicially, through application of the ley fuga or forced conscription into the Federal army. Depending upon the determination (or ruthlessness) of a given jefe político, his real powers within the partido were formidable, with few substantive local institutional checks, especially if a jefe político was able to form an alliance with other local political notables.

Angel Morales, the jefe politico of Cuencamé from August 1906 until December 1908, exemplified many of the best and worst qualities of the jefes políticos who ruled Cuencamé in the decade before the Revolution. Like other jefes políticos, he had previously served in the state's rural police force (rurales). Moving up through the ranks, in 1900 he commanded the rurale detachment garrisoned at Pasaje. Subsequently, before coming back to Cuencamé as its new jefe político, he also served as Inspector General for the Durango rurales and then as the Chief of Police for the City of Durango. As a policeman he had a reputation for being brutally efficient. As the jefe político of Cuencamé, he immediately alienated local functionaries and citizens, while also profitably aligning himself with key political figures in the town. In many ways, the complaints leveled against Morales echo those made centuries before against abusive corregidores in Colonial Spanish America.(31)

Amador Mesta complained in 1907 that he, like other vecinos of Cuencamé, had been jailed repeatedly without cause and that most citizens in town shared his fear of Morales:

...esto se teme por ser el referido Morales tan abuso como lo es, ya sea que asi sea su manera de ser, ó ya por que se le nota pésima voluntad para estos habitantes, por cualquiera causa que sea, Morales se vale de mil pretextos para tener en la Cárcel, con razón ó sin ella, gente para dar morrongos y peones para las labores ("Gratis") á los casiques....En esta Jefatura política no hay libertad de hablar, nadie puede exponer sus razones aún cuando sean justisísimas: ya cayendo á la Cárcel hay que cumplir con la pena que se le imponga por cuantos delitos falsos acomoda Morales...por lo que al referido Jefe no se le debía llamar Jefe Político, sino "Jefe Impolítico."(32)

Even Morales's relations with the police force of Cuencamé were troubled. After he fired seven different jefes de policia, no new replacement could be induced to accept the position. Mesta, himself, claimed he was fired as Inspector de Abastos because he complied with an order from the Recaudor de Rentas to keep a tally of the previously, surreptitious slaughter of cattle belonging to María Gila Reyes de Padilla. His replacement, named by the Ayuntamiento, was José María Rivas, a nephew of Cristófilo Padilla's widow. Adding insult to injury, Morales closed a public bath in the arroyo and reserved it for the exclusive use of himself and his friends.(33) Morales' friends were strategically chosen: Benjamín Rios, the Juez de letras, and, Felipe Alemán, the ambitious President of the Ayuntamiento. Mesta indignantly compared their schemes to that of the infamous "Triple Alianza". He described how Morales and his friends in town diverted the labor of prisoners for private profit:

Angel Morales, no respeta las sentencias del Supremo Tribunal de Justicia, supesto que si el trabajo de los presos rematados pertenece á los servicios públicos, no debía decirles como le dije á Domingo Mota: ''los seis meses que te faltan para cumplir tu condena, les cumplirán en lo que te ocupe la casa de Doña Gila de Padilla"...En efecto así sucedió, el pillo de Mota de acuerdo con Morales, no volvió á entrar á la cárcel, pero en cambio Gila Reyes Vda de Cristófilo Padilla, lo trajo de vaquero, como élla y Morales acostumbran traer á los presos.....á precio nunca visto.(34)

Until his arrest in January 1905 for stealing and selling sheep that were in his care, Mota had worked as a shepherd at Santa Catalina del Alamo.(35) His punishment was to work for six months as an unpaid vaquero caring for cattle and horses belonging to María Gila de Padilla, who had apparently become one of Morales' closest associates in Cuencamé.

Governor Fernández paid scant attention to the complaints of Mesta. A year later, however, Morales took wood from the Pasaje rail station without paying the shipping fee owed to the International Railroad. When the railroad agent attempted to collect the charges owed, Morales abused and attempted to intimidate the railroad agent and his employees. This time Morales was immediately reprimanded. An outraged Fernández warned: "...el hecho es grave...no volver a dar motivo para quejas de tal magnitud que desprestigian mucho á la administración."(36)

Clearly, what mattered and what brought official censure was not the nature of abuse, but the inappropriate target of the abuse. Despite his protests of innocence, Morales was forced to accept a transfer to the partido of Inde in 1909. By 1911, Morales had moved again, closer to Cuencamé, as the jefe político of Nazas.(37) That would be his last assignment. Described by some observers as the toughest and most capable of all the jefes, Morales was killed during an attack on Nazas on April 15, 1911 by a large contingent of Maderista rebels (many of them Cuencamé natives).(38)

Informally, in the system of political administration engineered by Juan Santa-Marina and Estéban Fernandez, the jefe político was expected also to give precedence to the needs and interests of the owners and managers of the Great Estates and the other grand enterprises that were rapidly transforming the economic landscape of Durango. In practice, few of jefes políticos of Cuencamé could or would play the role of simple puppets for the Great Estates, and more than one of these functionaries was removed from office and transferred to other partidos at the behest of estate owners and managers. The owners of Juan Pérez, Santa Catalina del Alamo, and Sombreretillos all opposed the reappointment of Benigno Díaz Couder as jefe político after 1904. In their eyes, Díaz Couder was too sympathetic to local interests, and too lax in his support of the needs of estate owners, especially in regards to the dispute between the villagers of Santiago-Ocuila and Sombreretillos. As the Francisco Gómez Palacio, the administrator of Santa Catalina del Alamo, explained: "...debemos procurar vener en la cabecera del Partido un Jefe que sea hechura nuestra, y si Vd. aprueba la idea, me pondré á trabajar en eso sentido en cuando vuelva Estéban Fernández."(39) In this instance, Governor Fernandez reconciled the demands of estate owners with his desire to favor his compadre, by appointing Díaz Couder as the new tax collector of the partido.

The Ayuntamientos

Although the elections of state and national functionaries were always arranged, before 1898 most ayuntamientos seem to have enjoyed considerable local autonomy, much to the consternation of jefe políticos and governors alike. Usually, usually when the state government did intervene in local politics it was to arbitrate or mediate the sometimes violent conflicts that occurred as opposing factions contested for control of local governments. For example, in Santa Clara politics revolved around a continuing feud between the Galindo and Guangorema clans.(40) Similarly, in the municipio of San Luís de Cordero, the jefe político of Nazas complained about the difficulty of finding a suitable jefe municipal because all potential candidates belonged to either the Reyes faction or the Borrego faction, "y tanto una cosa como otra son poco convenientes por razones bien clares."(41)

Local political autonomy in both Cuencamé and Peñón Blanco came under concerted attack in 1898 and afterwards. The intervention occurred first in Peñón Blanco early in the governorship of Juan Santa-Marina and followed attempts by town officials there to use litigation to recover possession of disputed lands occupied by Santa Catalina del Alamo. In July 1898 the Governor congratulated the jefe politico of Cuencamé, Francisco Escobar y Vasquez for his help in fixing local elections: "Celebro saber que en las Municipales de Peñón Blanco y Santa Clara fueran votadas unanimento las candidaturas que me permité recommendarle."(42) Soon afterwards, the Governor also began determining the composition of the Ayuntamiento of Cuencamé to prevent municipal officials from undermining attempts by the hacienda of Sombreretillos to seize disputed lands that lay immediately to the South and West of the town. Efforts by Benigno Díaz Couder to keep the membership of the Ayuntamiento more consistent with the wishes of local voters were rebuffed. In April 1904 Díaz Couder advised Santa-Marina that he had consulted "algunos de los vecinos más influentes con la gente del pueblo" who said that they could support all of the Governor's proposed candidates for the Ayuntamiento except for Felipe Alemán and Amado Aceval. The jefe político reported that there was no support for Alemán and Aceval "porque se han hecho odiosos al pueblo."(43) Díaz Couder also sought to block the reelection of these two functionaries because both of them were politically ambitious and wanted to succeed him as jefe político.(44) The Governor refused to accede to Díaz Couder's recommendations and, instead, instructed him to guarantee the election of Felipe Alemán as President of the Ayuntamiento for the new term, 1905 to 1906. The chastised functionary pledged to cooperate: "y de una manera muy eficaz al triunfo de su candidatura: haré cuanto esté de mi parte para que sea relecto el Sr. Alemán."(45) In like manner, the jefe político of Nazas, Luís Estevané, signaled his willingness to determine the outcome of municipal elections there: "empeñosamente se trabajará porque las próximas elecciones salgan en todo de conformidad con sus deseos...."(46) Usually, with the cooperation of local officials the outcome of any local election was seldom in doubt. In late June 1904, after the polls closed in the municipal elections in Cuencamé, the unenthusiastic Díaz Couder assured the Governor: "Respecto á la elección de Ayuntamiento...ha sacado mayoría la lista de candidatos recomendada por el Gobierno de su digno mando. Sin esta recommendación indudablemente no habría salido."(47)

Two years later in the municipal elections in Cuencamé in June 1906 there were similar outcomes. Felipe Alemán, President of Ayuntamiento, promised to cooperate with the jefe político in assuring the election of all candidates favored by Governor Fernandez. In the partido of Nazas, however, there were problems. Estevané reported:

Todo resultó de entera conformidad segun se lo indiqué ya por conducto del señor secretario de Gobierno, con excepción de lo relativo á Ayuntamiento de San Luís de Cordero, pues segun tengo informes variaron por completo el personal que yo le indiqué á Vd., por no convenir á los principales de aquel punto.(48)

As was true in Cuencamé and Peñón Blanco, the candidates whom the state government wished to impose in San Luís de Cordero were unacceptable to the most influential local citizens. San Luís de Cordero, however, was able to assert its independence in local elections because it was distant from the cabecera of Nazas, and because there were few interests there that merited the Governor's full attention. It was different in Cuencamé, of course, and until the very end of the pre-revolutionary period the state government, acting through the agency of the jefe político continued to determine local outcomes there. On the eve of the last municipal election in June 1910 before the outbreak of the Madero Revolt, the jefe político Ismael Miranda reported that all was arranged: "Pondré todo mi empeño á fin de que los nombramentos resulten á favor de las personas indicadas que, realmente por su honradez y dedicación serán una garantía para el Gobierno y la Administración."(49)

As the state government acquired the capacity to manipulate and control local town councils, traditional local political elites, like those of Peñón Blanco and Cuencamé, whose own interests conflicted with those of the Great Estates, were displaced or marginalized and local organs of government atrophied. Elsewhere, in the neighboring partido of Nazas local elites, themselves the owners of the many small haciendas that were clustered along the Nazas River, continued to dominate local government with the approval and support of state officials. Everywhere, however, the quality of municipal government seems to have degenerated during the Fernandez administration. In Nazas, the jefe politico, Juan N. Treviño, complained about the apathy and lack of interest and civic-mindedness the characterized the Ayuntamiento in 1908. He noted that the President of the Ayuntamiento, José Campos, cared little about the quality of town life because he lived in his hacienda outside of town. Other council members often failed to come to Ayuntamiento meetings or, when they did attend, were not prepared for the tasks at hand. Treviño, upset with the Ayuntamiento's unwillingness to help him organize celebrations mandated by the national government, complained:

Este Ayuntamiento no se ocupa de nada, ni se precupa por nada, las fachadas de esta Ciudad estan en un estado lamentable de desases, no hay banquetas, y ya se hace necesario una disposición; pero dada, no puedo iniciar á los Municipios por las razones que dejo expuestas.(50)

Those complaints were echoed in Peñón Blanco in 1906, when José Pesquera complained to Governor Fernandez that because of the indifference and ineptitude of local officials: "...este pobre pueblo está en la mayor decadencía, debido á la completa falta de energia de su autoridad."(51)

In the municipios of the Cuencamé district, a relatively compact group of functionaries occupied most of the seats on the ayuntamientos after 1900. In Cuencamé, this group included Amado Aceval, Francisco Aceval, Antonio María Alemán, Felipe Alemán, Manuel G. Bocanegra, José Castro, Benigno Díaz Couder, Francisco Gómez, Ancelmo Gonzalez, and José María Rivas. Peñón Blanco's regidores and sindicos included Jesús Acosta, Ladislao Ayala, Pablo A. Moreno, Francisco García, Salvador Moreno, and José Pulido. Apart from managing municipal government, certain members of the ayuntamientos also presided over municipal courts. The majority of these municipal functionaries were merchants who owned properties worth from two to ten times the average worth ($300) of Cuencamé property owners (Amado Aceval, Felipe Alemán, Antonio María Alemán, José Castro, and José María Rivas), although a significant minority, especially in Cuencamé, were public employees (Francisco Aceval, Manuel G. Bocanegra, Benigno Díaz Couder, and Ancelmo González) who depended largely upon the income and opportunities generated by one or more official appointments or elected office. Although not a merchant, another functionary (Francisco Gómez) also owned other property (livestock) worth three times the local average. In Peñón Blanco, because of the smaller size of the municipal government and the relative paucity of opportunities for employment, many of the members of the ayuntamiento there derived most or all of their income as merchants (Jesús Acosta, Ladislao Ayala, Francisco García, and José Pulido) or were prominent local owners of land and livestock (Salvador Moreno, Pablo A. Moreno). Although their salaries as municipal functionaries were nominal in comparison with the income derived from commerce or agriculture, they competed just as ruthlessly as their counterparts in Cuencamé for the fruits of political office holding.

In occupational terms, merchants were clearly the most overtly politically-active group within the partido, but they did not constitute the economic elite of the partido. Although some of these merchants were among the wealthiest individuals in their communities, all their fortunes combined would not have matched the wealth of any one of the absentee owners of the Great Estates. Compounding their probable sense of relative inferiority, was the understanding of many merchants that commerce was a declining sector in the local economy by 1900. The majority of the partido's population lived on the Great Estates or in mining company compounds where the only stores permitted were company stores, tiendas de raya. Merchants in the towns had direct commercial access to only a fraction of the partido's consumers. The largest enterprises--estates and mines--had become enclave economies by the late 1890s, managed by their owners and managers who traded directly with large commercial houses in Torreón or Durango City, or even farther afield. Virtually all of the net profits generated by the large enterprises were exported, spent, and reinvested far from Cuencamé. Complicating and worsening the prospects for local commerce, after 1892 town residents could easily board a train for the short ride to Torréon and trade directly with the larger merchants there.

Perhaps because of the paucity of commercial opportunities, the merchants of Cuencamé aggressively dabbled in politics. Perhaps also because of their literacy skills in a rural society that was largely illiterate, they were over-represented as appointed or elected officials in the municipios where they resided. In social and political terms, then, these merchants were an especially important group of decision-makers. Far from being stodgy defenders of the grand agricultural and mining enterprises of Cuencamé, merchants, like most of the rest of the population, were an economically insecure group frustrated by the new status quo. After 1895, various merchants supported litigation, including lawsuits, that would have stripped the Great Estates of a significant portion of their lands. In these activities, or later after 1910 when merchants supported the use of violence to breakup the Great Estates, or, at a minimum, endorsed government proposals to impose a ban on tiendas de raya, they were advancing their own immediate economic interests as well as promoting the larger social interests of their communities.

A prominent merchant and one of the wealthiest of the resident property owners in Cuencamé in 1903, Felipe Alemán was driven by political ambitions that were never fully realized. Like others among the merchant community of Cuencamé, Alemán also bought, sold, and rented urban properties in Cuencamé, but after the early 1890s he began shifting more of his interests away from urban commerce and real estate and into the business of livestock raising. Although he owned four hectares of temporales in Cuencamé, the most substantial share of his rural wealth in 1903 derived from his ownership of 90 head of ganado mayor (cattle) and 20 horses which he pastured on Sombreretillos. He paid nothing for this privilege, which was extended as a courtesy by the estate owner, and was paid back many times over by Alemán's energetic defense of Sombreretillos interests. Already by 1900 Alemán was well-regarded by estate owners, and detested by most town and village residents. Without any local political base of his own, and greatly disliked by most of the town's residents, Alemán's only allies and supporters were his compadre, Zenón Vidaurri, the wealthiest merchant in town, and his kinsman, José María Rivas, another ambitious municipal employee.

In a political style reminiscent of an appointed colonial bureaucrat who was expected to be insensitive to local interests, sometimes as President of the Ayuntamiento or other times as an acting jefe político, Felipe Alemán kept Governor Santa-Marina and his successor, Estéban Fernandez, well-informed about town politics and faithfully obeyed their instructions for the whole period from the late 1890s until 1911. Felipe Alemán represented the exception among Cuencamé's políticos who saw his interests better served by allying with absentee estate owners and state and national political authorities against the rancheros and labradores of the municipio. For Alemán, personal ambition, as well as the special considerations from Sombreretillos and the other lucrative rewards for collaboration, outweighed social pressures, moral concerns, or conflicting material interests.

A more typical municipal functionary, Manuel G. Bocanegra in 1900 was a 46 year-old resident of Cuartel 1 of Cuencamé and a member of the large Bocanegra and Gonzalez clans. A prominent citizen, a regidor, and a municipal judge of Cuencamé, he owned cultivated property consisting of one hectare of riego and seven hectares of temporales at Ocuila, where he also pastured his three oxen. His combined properties were worth about $230, slightly below the $300 average worth for the municipio's resident property owners. As the municipal judge of Cuencamé for most of the first decade of the new century, Manuel G. Bocanegra frequently sided with townspeople against the interests of the large estates, and in 1910 was jailed as part of a larger conspiracy to control the administration of justice in Cuencamé.

In Peñón Blanco, Salvador Moreno, the fifty-two year-old President of the Ayuntamiento in 1900 was also the town's wealthiest resident. He owned 13 hectares of riego, 17 hectares of temporales, and 180 hectares of agostadero, where he kept 10 horses and 10 burros. Rural investments (and inheritances) provided him with a substantial share of his income. He lived with his wife, Tomasa Aguirre, fifty years old, in a large town residence with ten rooms. Here he also conducted most of his business which involved the buying, selling, and renting of urban properties in the town. Frequently elected to the Ayuntamiento during the 1890s, he had served alternate terms as Jefe Municipal and Juez Municipal. His dominant role in Peñón Blanco's political pecking order did not go unchallenged. One critic, the town's priest, J. L. Bustamante complained that Moreno, whom he characterized as a "viejo estuto y enemigo de todo progreso," ran the town as a "Cacicazgo".(52) Because of Moreno's support for litigation against Santa Catalina del Alamo, Governor Juan-Santa Marina, who previously had been employed as the estate's principal legal representative in Durango, tried to prevent Moreno from exercising a prominent role in town politics after 1900. Despite explicit instructions to the contrary, Moreno was elected as President of the Ayuntamiento of Peñón Blanco in 1900 and, afterwards, even when not an officeholder, he continued, informally, to wield considerable local power until 1908.

The principal local rival of Salvador Moreno was sixty-two year old Pablo A. Moreno, also a wealthy resident property owner and frequently a member of Peñón Blanco's ayuntamiento. The appointed jefe municipal of Peñón Blanco from the late 1890s until 1904, Pablo A. Moreno was eventually removed from his position because he too supported townspeople in their litigation with Santa Catalina del Alamo. In 1905, with clandestine support from Salvador Moreno, José R. Pulido, became Jefe Municipal until 1908, when, because of a local scandal (reported to the Governor by Pablo A. Moreno and his associates), Pulido was replaced by Flaminio Agassini, who was neither a resident nor a property owner of Peñón Blanco. The selection of Agassini seems to have been a deliberate decision by the state government to exclude both of the town's principal political factions, neither of which had good relations with Santa Catalina del Alamo, from farther participation in local government. Agassini, an outsider, did not favor either faction, but instead during his tenure as jefe municipal made enemies of everyone. The imposition of Agassini marked the end of meaningful active participation in municipal government by the town's traditional, property-owning elite. Agassini was forced out of Peñón Blanco during the Madero Revolt in early 1911. Afterwards, local politics were dominated by the leaders of the Sociedad de Condueños, an organization created in 1900 to sponsor litigation to recover lands seized by Santa Catalina del Alamo. By 1911 this organization, like its counterpart in Santiago-Ocuila, had evolved into an armed agrarian militia.

The Judges

Through the early 1890s, there is good anecdotal evidence that the local judiciary in Durango remained relatively independent and effective. The intervention of the state government in the selection of the Ayuntamiento profoundly affected the composition of the municipal judiciary in that these positions were usually filled by elected members of the town councils (if their nominations were approved by the state Supreme Court). Because these municipal judges had to be local residents, however, and because so many local residents were hostile to the Great Estates that surrounded the towns and villages in this partido, in practice it was virtually impossible to ensure that municipal judges would act in the best interests of the Estates over those of local residents. In the period between 1895 and 1910, many of the members of the Ayuntamientos of Cuencamé and Peñón Blanco served as municipal judges or were designated substitutes for a sitting judge. In Sauces, a congregación (an unincorporated community with no legal identity of its own) under the jurisdiction of the municipio of Peñón Blanco, the jefe municipal of Peñón Blanco nominated the judge of Sauces and a substitute judges from a pool of Sauces residents. These nominations were also subject to the approval of the Supreme Court. Local and municipal judges were required to be literate and to have some understanding of law, but nearly usually lacked formal education or credentials. Prominent among this group of local justices were such individuals as Manuel G. Bocanegra, Francisco Aceval, Antonio María Alemán, Alejandro Lugo, Aurelio Gonzalez, and Ancelmo Gonzalez (Cuencamé); Francisco García (Peñón Blanco); and Rutilio Moreno, Miguel A. Moreno, and Eutiquio Dávila (Sauces).

Municipal judges in particular were often the targets of complaints from the owners and managers of Cuencamé's Great Estates because they usually had the primary responsibility for trying cases involving the theft of hacienda livestock or trespass on hacienda lands for the purpose of illicitly pasturing livestock belonging to town residents. The owners of both Santa Catalina del Alamo and Juan Pérez demanded and secured the removal of Miguel A. Moreno as the municipal judge of Sauces in 1903.(53) For that end, Governor Santa-Marina instructed the Jefe Municipal of Peñón Blanco, Pablo A. Moreno, to persuade his brother, Miguel, to resign his position in Sauces.(54) Two years later, the estate owners demanded and secured the removal not only of Rutilo Moreno, who had replaced Miguel A. Moreno as the municipal judge of Sauces, but also of his secretary and scribe, Francisco Ibarra, also deemed hostile to Santa Catalina and Juan Pérez.(55) In Cuencamé, municipal judges fared no better. Manuel G. Bocanegra was targeted for removal by both Santa Catalina del Alamo and Sombreretillos.

The cabecera of the partido was the seat of the Juez de Letras, usually a titled licenciado with a formal degree and legal training. The Juez de Letras had jurisdiction for the more serious categories of crimes that were committed within the partido and handled civil as well as criminal cases. Apart from his other duties and responsibilities, a juez de letras and his staff also witnessed and recorded notarized documents and transactions. Like the jefe políticos, the various jueces de letras that served in Cuencamé after 1900 seem to have originated primarily from a pool of qualified judges who were shuffled around the various partidos on an annual basis according to the whims of Durango's Governor. For the most part, they seem to have been lawyers who preferred the security of an appointed position as a judge to the uncertainty of working as independent attorneys. Like jefe políticos, the jueces de letras were seldom residents of the district over which they presided, although more than one judge chose to retire here to set up private law practices. A juez de letras was invested with extensive powers within the partido. Acting at times more like a prosecutor than a judge, he could jail any individual, including police officers, and with the collusion of the jefe político and higher state authorities, those wrongly imprisoned might be held months, even years without trial. Continuing through the Flores governorship, a juez de letras exercised considerable independence and frequently frustrated attempts by both local and state officials to circumvent the legal processes and guarantees offered citizens in the legal code.

By 1900, that also had changed, and as was true for nearly all other political appointments in the partido of Cuencamé, the basis for the selection or removal of a juez de letras by the Governor was his willingness to favor the interests of the Great Estates over those of local residents. Reginaldo Chavez was not reappointed as the Juez de Letras of Cuencamé by Governor Santa-Marina after Chavez issued a writ of amparo in 1900 against the expulsion by state rurales of Peñón Blanco residents from lands claimed by Santa Catalina del Alamo.(56) His successor Francisco Vasquez del Mercado (1901-1904), whose verdicts were more consistent with the demands of the owners and managers of the Great Estates, used his tenure as a juez de letras as a platform for returning later to the private and lucrative practice of law in Cuencamé. After 1905 Vasquez de1 Mercado worked as an attorney representing both Santa Catalina del Alamo and Sombreretillos.(57) Through the whole of period, Vasquez del Mercado maintained good relations with Governor Fernandez, and when it was useful he sought the Governor's intervention on behalf of his clients. Like Benigno Díaz Couder, he remained linked by clientelistic ties to the Governor even after he returned to his private practice. In 1911 he thanked Governor Fernandez for a letter of recommendation that allowed his sons to be admitted into a prestigious private school in Guadalajara.(58) Ignacio Fernandez Moreno, named to succeed Vasquez del Mercado in 1905, spent much of his time drinking in the company of Ancelmo Gonzalez, his secretary in the juzgado de letras. This led to complaints not only from the jefe político, but also from the many prisoners in the Cuencamé jail who, after months in detention, were still awaiting trial.(59) His replacement in 1907, Apolonio de Jesus Niño appears to have been barely competent to perform his duties and suffered from debilitating illnesses. Despite his health problems, Juez Jesús Niño, like some of his other predecessors, did develop local ties during his tenure in Cuencamé. In March 1908 announced his engagement to Cármen Padilla, daughter of the late Recaudador de Rentas, Cristófilo Padilla. Seeking an assignment away from Cuencamé, almost certainly because the insistent demands from Sombreretillos conflicted with the interests of his friends and neighbors in Cuencamé, Jesús Niño secured a transfer to Nazas as its new juez de letras. Had he not died precipitously in 1908, Jesús Niño's replacement, Lic. Benjamín Rios would have been removed from office anyway because of his unwillingness to favor the interests of the owners of Sombreretillos over those of the villagers of Santiago and Ocuila.(60)

Other Functionaries

The ordinary workings of local government also required the employment of literate individuals as scribes to write or to copy the correspondence, regulations, minutes, summons, and judgements as well as to maintain the voluminous paper archives associated with the Juzgado del Partido, the Juzgado Municipal, and the Juzgado de letras. Indeed many of those who eventually practiced law in a rural setting like this began their careers with this kind of practical, on-the-job training. Even after securing election to the Ayuntamiento, many continued to practice their trade as scribes or secretaries in the various juzgados. Described by their detractors as tintorillos, they also informally practiced law as legal representatives for a variety of clients, especially those too poor to afford the fees charged by a licensed attorney. For example, Severino Ceniceros, the offspring of a notable family of Cuencamé miners that had fallen on hard times in the 1890s, worked as a scribe and as a secretary in the juzgado de letras of Ignacio Fernandez Moreno. Apart from the preparation and maintenance of legal correspondence and proceedings, he recorded notarized documents and transactions. In this way, he gained a practical education in law and politics and by 1905 was earning a living as a scribe, as a tintorillo, and occasionally as a political functionary. In the course of the decade, he transformed himself from an unsuccessful miner into an agrarian activist, initiating litigation several times after 1905 that attempted to seize a portion of the lands claimed by Santa Catalina del Alamo. As the administrator of Santa Catalina del Alamo explained, functionaries like Ceniceros often undermined attempts by the Great Estates to impose their version of justice in the towns: "Desde aquí [Durango] no es gran cosa lo que puede hacerse para contrarestar las influencias de los tintorillos con los jueces locales, á quienes generalmente mueven á su antojo en los pueblos pequeños.''(61)

Informal Politics

Mostly invisible to the casual observer, there existed in Cuencamé an informal political system that coexisted uneasily with the formal power structure at the dawn of the twentieth century in Cuencamé. The roots of that system of informal politics stretch back to the early colonial period and was historical and situational in character. Confirmation for Santiago's land grants from the Crown date to at least as early as 1698. Ocuila's lands, given in a private donation by the owners of the latifundia of Santa Catalina del Alamo, were acquired in the eighteenth century. Although little is know about the workings of their town governments, undoubtably they existed as far back as the late sixteenth century when the ancestors of the Santiago and Ocuila villagers were first concentrated by Franciscan and Jesuit missionaries. Like their descendants in the nineteenth and early twentieth century, the Indios of Santiago and those of Ocuila deftly used litigation to advance and defend their interests against the encroachments of hacendados and mine owners alike. In 1761 Santiago was composed of fourteen families totaling 100 persons; Ocuila had 176 persons divided among twenty-six families. As late as 1815 Santiago still maintained an independent Indian town government, with the town's residents electing their own Governor, alcaldes, regidores, capitanes, and alguaciles. At this time Ocuila had no separate government of its own, but was a political dependency of Santiago.

Independence brought not only a recurrence of Apache and Comanche raids, but also, as early as 1824, new attempts by the owners of the large estates which surrounded Santiago and Ocuila to usurp the villagers' lands. Although the Indian town government of Santiago was absorbed into and combined with that of the former Spanish town of Cuencamé, the traditional leadership of the "Pueblos Unidos de Santiago and Ocuila" continued successfully to defend their lands against repeated incursions by the neighboring haciendas of Atotonilco and Sombreretillos. Although the official Indian town government no longer existed, informally it continued to function in the late Porfiriato as the Junta Directiva de los Condueños de los Pueblos Yndigenas Unidos de Santiago y San Pedro de Ocuila. The official stamp and seal of that organization is shown in Figure 2. Much of the nominal symbolism of its stamp and seal (a Masonic emblem and mechanized farm equipment) seems incongruous with the powerful and traditional social bonds that preserved communal solidarity in the face of extraordinary adversity. The key to this community's remarkable unity seems to have been, more than anything else, the persistance of a separate indigenous identity, associated as it was with a long history of shared struggles against outside forces.

The head of the Junta Directiva, Juan G. Machado, exercised informally many of the powers of a local functionary and still enjoyed the preeminence that in earlier times would have accrued to a governor of the Indian towns. Jesús Salinas Irungaray, himself involved in litigation against Santa Catalina del Alamo, jealously resented Machado's domination of the Santiago and Ocuila villagers and claimed:

El apodero único de los Naturales y vecinos de Santiago y Ocuila, lo és el indígena Juan G. Machado....se ha declarado dictador de los pueblos de Indígenas...Además es voz general que el....no cede ni un millimetro de terreno como transacción y que ántes va a ver de que manera engancha más y más sus dominios.(62)

Machado may or may not have been a "dictator," but he and the other informal political functionaries of the Junta Directiva demonstrated a remarkable ability to maintain internal unity and the will to resist among their friends and neighbors in Santiago and Ocuila. The other members of the Junta, Vicente Gamíz, Nicasio Espinosa, and Calixto Contreras played roles analogous to those of regidores in another era as the Junta Directiva continued to lead local resistance to Sombreretillos' various attempts to take the Santiago-Ocuila lands during and after the late 1890s. In 1905 this informal leadership was the target of intense persecution. Calixto Contreras, an especially outspoken and energetic agrarian activist, was imprisoned in San Juan de Ulua in Veracruz before being conscripted, along with two of his cousins, into the Federal Army. By 1908, although Juan G. Machado remained President of the Junta, the others were casualties of repression and had been replaced by Juan Rodríguez, Pedro Rodríguez, Felipe Gonzalez, and Martín Martínez.

In communities like Sauces, which grew and developed spontaneously without outside direction and without ever having town lands or governments of their own, strong-willed and capable individuals, often derived by their critics as "caciques", led their neighbors and sometimes defended their communities against outside forces just as effectively as the Indian governors of Santiago and Ocuila, even when they lacked formal precedents or political credentials of any kind. By 1900 the pioneering founder of the rapidly growing congregación of Sauces de Salinas, Jacinto de la Joya, fifty-three years of age, had become one of the wealthiest merchants in the municipio of Peñón Blanco. His properties included 80 head of ganado mayor, mostly oxen, a large building of seventeen rooms, used simultaneously as a residence, a general store (El 5 de Mayo), a warehouse for trade goods valued at $4,000, an inn, and as a saloon. He pastured his animals on and cultivated the lands of a rancho claimed by Santa Catalina del Alamo, but which Jacinto de la Joya and his family occupied as their own. Sauces' strategic location, close to the railroad, in a fertile agricultural zone where De la Joya and other merchants and saloon keepers were within easy walking or riding distance of thousands of hacienda workers and sharecroppers who resided at estates such as Tapona, Juan Pérez, and Santa Catalina, gave irresistible momentum to its continued expansion, even as the town of Peñón Blanco, which was farther from the principal agricultural zone, stagnated

As the Cacique and Patriarch of Sauces, De la Joya effectively defended and promoted his interests, and those of his neighbors. There was no legal basis for Sauces' existence, but the owners of the haciendas of Santa Catalina del Alamo and Juan Pérez failed anyway in their many attempts to dissolve the squatter community. In 1897 the new owner of Santa Catalina del Alamo schemed, like others before him, to evict De la Joya and other intransigents. The estate owner, a prominent Mexico City corporate attorney, arranged for the use of Federal troops to carry out the evictions, but his plans were undone when Porfirio Díaz became aware of the operation. Díaz feared the political costs and consequences that a violent federal intervention in a rural land conflict would incur, especially on the eve of his reelection in 1898, and so he refused to allow the use of Federal forces. Responding to pleas from the inhabitants of Sauces for his protection, Diaz also forbid the use of violent coercion of any kind to remove them, and so the community of Sauces survived, much to the dismay of the owners of both Santa Catalina del Alamo and Juan Pérez..(63)

The Political Clubs

Although virtually all state and federal elections conducted in the partido of Cuencamé during this era were staged affairs, with the outcome always assured by the intervention of the jefe político and other cooperative functionaries, neither Porfirio Díaz nor any of the various Governors of Durango were unconcerned or apathetic about public opinion, for or against the official candidates. Few, if any, of the favored candidates themselves ever traveled in or around the partido to address crowds or to promote their election directly with voters. Instead, as was previously explained, Porfirian functionaries and clients organized and participated in election campaigns on behalf of favored candidates or against unfavored candidates. Since the final vote tallies themselves were nearly always artificial anyway, the purpose of campaigning was not to mobilize the public to vote for specific candidates, but rather was intended to generate popular support for, or at least to assure acceptance of, the outcome of elections. Given the nature of the populace, overwhelmingly rural, parochial, and illiterate, political clubs played the role of information disseminators and opinion-shapers in their communities. Newspapers and the other printed media of the day could only be accessed by a minority of the populace. Political clubs provided a medium for tapping the labyrinth of family, personal, and business networks that the members of these organizations placed at the service of their patrons. The purpose behind the repression of anti-Porfirian political clubs was not merely to prevent the regime's enemies from doing well at the polls, but more fundamentally to deny to them the ability to shape local political attitudes and beliefs.

By favoring the interests of those who controlled the state and national governments, the organizers and constituencies of political clubs in rural towns like Cuencamé and Peñón Blanco advanced their own self-interests and careers, since such service was itself one of the fundamental prerequisites for access to the rewards of patronage from above. Consequently, the membership of these political clubs was composed of nearly all the politically-active and politically-ambitious individuals within a community, including all local functionaries, as well as others who informally represented various individual and composite political interests and constituencies within the partido.

These clubs were an already well-established feature of the political landscape in Cuencamé before the 1890s. Until the death of Governor Flores in 1897 and the reconfiguration of state politics that followed, the political clubs were used not only by Flores, but also by his opposition, those liberal elements that had been purged from state politics earlier in the 1880s. Governor Flores complained in October 1890 to Manuel María Ugarte, his jefe político in Cuencamé, that Enrique G. Saravía and Martín Gómez Palacios "faltando á sus compromisos solemne" had broken relations with the network of political clubs that were controlled by and were supportive of the Governor's administration, and instead were "promoviendo la oposición de una manera tonta y descartada."(64) In attacking Flores, Saravía, who was Cuencamé's diputado in the state legislature, broke the terms of a political truce that had been brokered between the state's conservative clans led by Flores and liberal clans like those of the Saravía, López Negrete, and Gómez Palacios families. In retaliation, Flores ordered his jefe político in Cuencamé to persuade local residents to sign a statement denouncing the attacks by Saravía. In the 1892 election, acting under instructions from the Governor, Ugarte organized a Club Porfirista in Cuencamé to support the reelection of Díaz. At the same time, Ricardo G. Saravia and José Castro organized a club on behalf of the Comité Central and the Union Liberal of Durango. Ugarte reported that those in Cuencamé who joined this new organization "fueron las del pequeño circulo que han hecho la oposicion al Gobierno establecido [i.e. Governor Flores] y en la casa del Señor Castro instalaron su mesa, con solo el caracter de trabajar por la candidatura del Señor Gral. Díaz para Presidente).

The membership of the Club Guadalupe Victoria, organized in Cuencamé in December 1895 to support the reelection of Governor Flores, provides a glimpse into the local political establishment in the mid-1890s. Among its members were Col. Catarino Armendaríz, a hero of the war against the French, and a local political notable in the 1870s and 1880s, but now advanced in age and nearing the end of his active participation in local politics. Armendaríz and his many offspring epitomized one of this district's unique social-economic groupings, the llaneros of Cuencamé, relatively-wealthy rancheros who owned large numbers of livestock, but were landless. The future of local politics was represented by a younger generation of ambitious functionaries who would be dominant figures in the municipal government through 1910: Felipe Alemán, Pedro Rosales, Manuel G. Bocanegra, Alejandro Lugo, Amador Aceval, and Francisco Gómez. Local economic luminaries like Juan Francisco Meneses, one of the wealthiest merchants and ranchers in the partido, also attended, along with local professionals like Ing. Atanacio C. y Astrain. Others like Magdaleno Ibarra and Pablo A. Mesta would also be politically active in the years to come, but mostly as political aspirants whose ambitions remained mostly unrealized.

Often, factions and rival groups within the towns formed separate clubs, usually with the intent not only of currying favor from above, but also to wage war on their local rivals. Nearly all of these clubs, however, claimed to support the reelection of Díaz and the other official candidates. The political reformation of state politics after 1898, which led to the effective suppression of the old rivalries between the state traditional political elites, especially dampened divisions in the makeup of local political clubs as former partisans of the Saravía's and the Gómez Palacios' rejoined those who were formerly Flores' clients in supporting the candidacies of Juan Santa-Marina and Estéban Fernández.. Their principal differences nearly always derived from personal jealousies and rivalries as local functionaries competed aggressively against one another for access to the relatively limited rewards made available to them by their patrons. For example, in February 1904 Benigno Díaz Couder, as the jefe político of Cuencamé, complained that in accordance with instructions from Governor Santa-Marina he had headed the Junta Directiva for the Cuencamé chapter of the Círculo Nacional Porfirista in order to proclaim support for the candidacy of Estéban Fernandez. Before Díaz Couder could convene a meeting of his club, however, Felipe Alemán, convened another círculo for precisely the same purpose in the house of his compadre, Zenón Vidaurri, and then quickly staged a political spectacle on the Plaza Principal complete with speeches, music, and other festivities paid for by the Ayuntamiento. According to Díaz Couder, Alemán, who was already the Secretary of the organization headed by Díaz Couder, formed the other club so that he could be its President and "se resolvió á mejorar de representación."(65) Díaz Couder complained that when he approached the Ayuntamiento to request funding for his club's celebration to promote Fernandez's candidacy, the city council refused. Díaz Couder explained in his letter to Governor Santa-Marina that he was providing this detailed information "para que conoscan las intrigas de las personas á que me he referido."(66) In another example, in Peñón Blanco in 1908 the former jefe municipal José R. Pulido presided over one club, Guadalupe Victoria, while Antonio Castellanos organized a rival organization, the Club Político Releccionista Francisco Zarco. Both clubs, however different their leadership and constituencies, worked only on behalf of Governor Fernandez's reelection.

Anti-Porfirista clubs made their first appearance in Cuencamé in 1903 when a dissident group broke ranks with the Liberal Union controlled by Porfirio Díaz, and founded the Partido Liberal Mexicano.(PLM) This short-lived Cuencamé branch of the PLM, the Club Liberal Ignacio Zaragoza, had been organized by residents in the Cuartel One district, in the part of the municipio where the original Spanish town of Cuencamé was located. Across the state, initially the new party attracted the interests of Juarista/Lerdista liberals like the Saravía's, but that interest waned as the PLM pursued more a more radical agenda after 1903. Severino Ceniceros was among the principal organizers of the new group in Cuencamé. His links with the PLM almost certainly originated from his many acquaintances among the mining workers in the Velardeña district of Cuencamé. The call for economic nationalism voiced by the PLM would have appealed to Ceniceros whose family, traditional mine and smelter owners here since the Colonial era, had been driven into bankruptcy after large foreign companies took control of Velardeña in the early 1890s. Although the few pronouncements of the Club Liberal Ignacio Zaragoza in Cuencamé seem to have been limited to traditional liberal anti-clericalism (For example, they denounced an unlicenced religious procession of a priest and more than five hundred persons "con velas encendidas" in Cuencamé in April 1903), the dissidents unwisely attracted the attention of local authorities in Cuencamé when they refused to sign a petition in support of the reelection of Porfirio Díaz that Governor Santa-Marina had ordered Díaz Couder to circulate among the partido's residents.(67) Always the proper Porfirian functionary, the jefe político composed a list of the most prominent residents in each cuartel and instructed each of the jefes de cuartel to ensure that everyone on the lists signed the petition, whether or not they could write their names.(68) However appealing the ideology of the PLM to those like Ceniceros, the new political club did not prosper in Cuencamé, not because of official persecution, but principally because it had no powerful local sponsor or patron to reward participants for their services and so most local functionaries and other politically-ambitious individuals, including Severino Ceniceros, eventualy lost interest in the organization.

In 1908 nearly all of the politically-active residents of the municipio of Cuencamé belonged to the Club Estéban Fernandez, founded for the singular purpose of promoting the reelection of Governor Fernandez. Meeting in the house of regidor Francisco Aceval on May 10, the group elected the Recaudador de Rentas, Benigno Díaz Couder as President. Juez de letras Benjamín Ríos was Vice-President. Francisco Aceval, José Castro, Francisco Gómez, José María Rivas, Severino Ceniceros, José María Rivas, and Pedro Rosales, all of them municipal functionaries or public employees, were selected as the other officers and members of the club's junta directiva. Not only did the club's membership include all of the functionaries of the municipio of Cuencamé (with the conspicuous exception of Felipe Alemán), but at least half of the club's membership was composed of prominent Santiago and Ocuila villagers. All of the leaders and much of the constituency of the Pueblos Unidos de Santiago y San Pedro de Ocuila participated in a club whose nominal purpose was to secure the reelection of Estéban Fernandez, who since 1904 had done little or nothing on behalf of the Santiago-Ocuila villagers, but instead, like Juan Santa-Marina, had only served the interests of the Great Estates like Sombreretillos, Santa Catalina del Alamo, and Juan Pérez.From the point of view of its officers and members, the real purpose of the club, however, was not as much to secure Fernandez's reelection, which in any event was already guaranteed, as it was to cultivate the Governor's patronage and protection. Their participation demonstrated that most functionaries and citizens of Cuencamé were still loyal to the unwritten, traditional rules of politics. The broadly-inclusive composition of this club's membership (listed in Table 3) suggests that locally the Porfirian political structure, built as it was upon the principles of personalism and clientelism, was still intact as late as 1908 and that most of the partido's politically-active elements still were loyal supporters of the state and central governments, despite incessant assaults on the interests of local small-property owners and local political functionaries alike by the owners and managers of the Great Estates. After more than a decade of serious conflicts, as late as 1908 Cuencamé was still not on the threshold of revolution.

The Breaking Point: 1909-1910

In February 1909 the conflict between Sombreretillos and Santiago-Ocuila escalated as the estate's owners sought to establish de facto possession of the disputed lands, and as the villagers struggled with equal determination to prevent those same acts of possession. At about 6 p.m. on February 18 Hilario Machado, Candelario Machado, Marcelino Galván, and José Cruz Quezada led a group of about twenty riders from Ocuila that detained five peons who were returning to Sombreretillos with twenty-two burros loaded with wood cut from the Ocuila lands. As the Ocuila riders were returning to Cuencamé with the apprehended woodcutters, they were met by Manuel Díaz Hernández, a gunman employed by Sombreretillos to supervise its operations in the disputed lands. An argument ensued, shots were fired, and Díaz Hernandez and his associate were disarmed and forcibly escorted to Cuencamé where they were turned over to the acting jefe político. Felipe Alemán jailed both Díaz Hernández (who allegedly had assaulted the Ocuila riders) and Marcelino Galván (who had fired his pistol at Díaz Hernandez) as material witnesses until an investigation resolved who was culpable.(69)

The following day, capitulating to the demands of an angry group of Ocuila residents at about noon on February 19, Alemán freed Marcelino Galván. Later that day he also released Díaz Hernandez on a fianza (bond) furnished by Lic. Onésimo Borrego, an attorney who represented Sombreretillos. Early the next morning at 9:00 a.m., at the request of Severino Ceniceros, the legal representative of the Santiago and Ocuila villagers, Manuel G. Bocanegra, acting as juez de la primera instancia, issued orders citing the appearance at the juzgado of the persons building a house at a place known as "Tierra Azul". Subsequently, Jesús Achá, the jefe de manzana of Ocuila, accompanied by nine other riders from Ocuila, encountered a foreman, Alejandro González, and a work gang from Sombreretillos constructing the house in question. They presented the summons to González, who sent the work gang back to Sombreretillos and agreed that he would return with them to Cuencamé, but pleaded that he needed to wait until someone came to collect and return a tool cart to the estate. A short time later, at about 11 a.m., Manuel Díaz Hernandez and a band of gunmen rode into Tierra Azul and, without warning or provocation, opened fire on the group from Ocuila, which fled in disorder, leaving behind two dead riders and two dead horses. The survivors, joined by an angry crowd of about three hundred Cuencamé and Ocuila residents, gathered outside of the office of the jefatura política two hours later. Felipe Alemán claimed later that he was ordered at gunpoint to accompany the group to Sombreretillos to arrest Díaz Hernandez and Gonzalez, who had tried to destroy evidence of the murders by burning the body of the murdered Ocuila policeman, Jesus Achá. By the time the group from Cuencamé arrived at the estate, the principal gunmen had already gone into hiding, but nine other Sombreretillos employees involved in murders were apprehended and jailed. Complaining that he was the victim of an armed uprising by local residents, Felipe Alemán fled Cuencamé early the next morning for the Pasaje railway station, where he boarded the train for Durango City.(70)

Soon afterwards, Governor Fernandez appointed Lic. Guillermo Castillo, an attorney without prior experience on the bench, as Cuencamé new juez de letras. It is probable that prior to his appointment, Castillo had already entered into an understanding with Sombreretillos and was working for a pecuniary inducement, probably shares in a mining company in Western Durango. Similarly, Angel Morales' eventual successor in 1909, Lic. Onésimo Borrego, was not drawn from the pool of experienced jefes políticos that Governor Fernandez usually relied upon. Instead, Lic. Borrego was a practicing attorney who had represented Santa Catalina del Alamo and, more particularly, Sombreretillos interests in the partido since 1905. In the aftermath of the February 1909 incidents, Borrego had acted as the attorney for the Sombreretillos gunmen, and quickly secured their release from jail under bond.(71) With Lic. Onésimo Borrego as the Jefe Político and with Guillermo Castillo as the Juez de letras, the Sombreretillos gunmen were never tried for their crimes, while Juan G. Machado and the other principal leaders of Santiago and Ocuila along with others who had acted to secure the arrest of those who murdered the Ocuila villagers languished in jail.

The selection of Borrego and Castillo represented the determination of an evolving Fernandez-López Negrete partnership to press on with the attempt to take the Santiago-Ocuila lands, even in the face of persistent resistance by the villagers. The scheme revolved around the expectation that with enough pressure the resolve of the villagers would crumble, and they would accede to the loss of most of their lands in exchange for the return of a fraction of what they once owned. What was at the heart of the conflict was guayule, a wild desert shrub that could be refined to produce a latex rubber substitute. Guayule grew abundantly on the 120,000 hectares of arid wastelands belonging to Santiago and Ocuila. Formerly nearly worthless, these lands were now valued at hundreds of thousands of pesos.(72) Lic. Borrego, a practicing attorney, not a strongman like Angel Morales, was placed as the jefe político of Cuencamé in June 1909 so that he might negotiate a "compromiso," the formal recognition by the villagers of Sombreretillos' ownership of the disputed lands, as perhaps the only means by which the conspirators could eventually legalize the patently criminal nature of their enterprise.

To deny effective legal representation to those jailed and to increase the pressure on the villagers to capitulate, Castillo eventually imprisoned Severino Ceniceros on spurious charges, cubiertura de sedición, after it became apparent to the conspirators that he could not be removed by conscripting him into the army because he was a cripple.(73) The prisoners served two real purposes. It was understood that they might be released and the charges dropped if the villagers accepted the compromiso, just as it was understood that their lives would be forfeited if the villagers rebelled. For his part, Governor Fernandez intervened to instruct the district judge in Durango to refuse all requests by the prisoners for a writ of amparo against the actions of the Guillermo Castillo. Denied access to due process and facing dismal prospects for success, in the Autumn of 1909 the villagers, now represented by Francisco Gómez, signaled their willingness to negotiate a compromise, but the owners of Sombreretillos, who controlled the jefe político and the juez de letras and who continued to have the complete cooperation of the Governor, refused to offer anything more than a tiny fraction of the disputed lands. Unable to arrange a deal and anticipating the violence which soon would engulf the partido, Lic. Borrego resigned as jefe político and wisely abandoned Cuencamé in December 1909.

Fernandez appointed an experienced, professional functionary, Ismael Miranda, to replace Borrego in January 1910. As jefe político, Miranda soon found himself trapped between the seemingly irresistible force of Sombreretillos' determination to take the disputed lands and their bounty of guayule and the villagers' equally grim resolution not to be moved, whatever the cost. Abandoning the strategy to legalize its acquisition of the Ocuila lands through a compromiso, the owners of Sombreretillos pressed Castillo to issue a judgement granting Sombreretillos immediate possession of the disputed lands in early 1910.(74) To overcome local resistance and to enforce the eviction of villagers from their homes and the formal transfer of ownership to the hacienda (and to prevent local residents from practicing vigilante justice on Guillermo Castillo), Fernandez dispatched the state rurales. Fernandez also intervened again to make sure that the district court in Durango would not overturn Castillos' rulings. Fearful that the rurales sent to enforce his judgement might be too few to offer effective protection, Castillo threatened to leave town as soon as he turned over the land to Sombreretillos: "...creo que yo no he de seguir bien aquí, me permito suplicarle, que tan luego como termine este asunto, se sirva aceptarme mi renuncia."(75) Perhaps responding to prompting from Castillo, the owners of Sombreretillos complained to Governor Fernandez that the new jefe político, Miranda, was not acting aggressively enough to protect the estate as it sought to forcibly occupy the Santiago-Ocuila lands. Laureano López Negrete hoped to persuade Governor Fernández to name his brother, Adolfo López Negrete, the manager of Sombreretillos, as Miranda's successor.(76) As a last resort, Laureano López Negrete proposed to name Guillermo Castillo, the suborned juez de letras, as the new jefe político to execute his own ruling to evict the villagers and to deliver possession of the land to the hacienda:

...en el momento actual nuestros negocios necesitan un apollo fuerte de parte del Jefe Político y con el actual, nunca lo podremos tener. Este nombramiento de Guillermo solo se lo pido á Vd. por un mes ó dos, creo que en este tiempo quedará todo terminado, pero nos encontramos ahorita en mucho peligro de perdo todo lo aventajado que, como Vd. sabe, ha sido bastante y sería muy triste que por torpeza de un individuo como este Sr. Miranda volvamos á quedar en las mismas malas condiciónes que estabamos ántes en éste mismo asunto.(77)



In demanding Miranda's removal, Laureano López Negrete addressed Fernández and asked for his intervention, not as the Chief Executive of the state government, but as his partner in a lucrative enterprise:

...con ésta actitud del Jefe Político no es posible que logremos nada, sino por el contrario, perder todo lo que, en primer lugar por la buena disposición con que Vd. se ha servido ayudarnos y después por tantos gastos y constancia, hemos llegado á obtener, y podemos perder en un momento unicamente por éste Señor...(78)

As Miranda began the first evictions in late February 1910, women and children were carted away their homes, only to return immediately once the police left the area. By early March 1910, however, the passive resistance of the villagers ended as Miranda and his rurales were confronted by a force of more than three hundred villagers led by Antonio Contreras and Calixto Contreras who told the jefe político that they would not permit evictions: "...diciendo que no sacaban las familias, que primero se morían todos antes que deocupar los ranchos." Outnumbered, Miranda and the rurales retreated, but even within the town of Cuencamé, tensions rose as villagers filled the streets and the town plaza. According to Miranda, they shouted warnings: "...que ellos no salían de sus tierras, que los mandaran fusilar inmediateamente, que á todo estaban dispuestos antes que abandonar sus propiedades. Hubo que hablarles bastante para calmar los ánimos y al fin obedicieron, dispersandose en seguida.'' A shaken Miranda later reported to the Governor that even the Cuencamé police were unreliable. He claimed that there had been a plan to assassinate him at "Ojo Seco" on the previous day, and that during the confusion in the town on March 7, when Miranda had tried to use the threat of force to calm the crowd: "un gendarme de la montada á la hora que se creia habría alguna escaramusa, le dió el rifle á un indio y se alió con la multitud."(79)

The defection of one Cuencamé policeman was symptomatic of a serious, more generalized breakdown in the political structure as the violent and unrelenting confrontation with Sombreretillos and the incessant and heavy-handled political interventions by Governor Fernandez's appointees demonstrated the impossibility of reconciling the demands of the state government with local needs and interests and so finally and irrevocably undermined the allegiance of local functionaries and the politically-active segment of the municipio's populace (listed previously in Table 3) to the state government headed by Estéban Fernandez. By now, Guillermo Castillo was alone in the juzgado de letras as the secretary of the juzgado along with other functionaries resigned in protest. To process his paperwork, Castillo was obliged to hire a non-resident and to offer him a much higher salary.

To salvage their enterprise, the López Negrete's used their ties with Ramón Corral, the Vice-President, to secure the intervention of the Federal government and the sending of a squadron of cavalry to escort Castillo and Miranda as they evicted residents from their homes and completed the formal act of delivering possession of the Ocuila lands to Sombreretillos in early May 1910. In their wake, work crews from Sombreretillos burned the empty houses and drove off their livestock. Soon afterwards, contractors and their peons began harvesting the bounty of guayule on the Ocuila lands. As before, Governor Fernandez, following the instructions of Sombreretillos' owners, intervened to assure that the district court in Durango would not grant a writs of amparo to block the evictions and act of possession.(80) Ramon Corral assured favorable decisions from the Supreme Court in Mexico City. A peaceful resolution of the conflict was no longer possible. At this time, most of the remaining Ocuila and Santiago leaders including Nicolás Espinosa, Mariano Gutierrez Ochoa, and Andrés Gonzalez were arrested and jailed with the others. Calixto Contreras and a few others, however, evaded capture and went into hiding as Federal cavalry continued to garrison Cuencamé through the Summer and Autumn of 1910.

The intervention of the Federal troops on behalf of Sombreretillos, illuminated the failure of Porfirio Díaz to act as a just ruler and patron to protect loyal subjects like the indigenous property owners of Santiago and Ocuila, and immediately undermined the previously strong support for Díaz that had been demonstrated by local functionaries and the politically-active population in Cuencamé as recently as 1908. The seizure of the Santiago-Ocuila lands created a broad political reaction among nearly all the propertied residents of Cuencamé. Many Cuencamé residents such as Manuel G. Bocanegra and Pablo A. Mesta lost parcels of land they had purchased privately in Ocuila. Whether or not they lost cultivable lands in 1910, almost all resident property-owners were seriously prejudiced by the usurpation of the Santiago and Ocuila lands because that was the principal grazing range for the thousands of goats, sheep, burros, and horses that belonged to the town's residents. Alternative grazing sites were either unavailable or too expensive. Livestock, not land, was the basis for rural wealth for most people in this region. Consequently, in a material sense, the livelihoods of Cuencamé's residents were every bit as affected by the usurpation of the Santiago and Ocuila land as were the residents of those villages.(81) As one observer accurately reported, it was this one "bad land grab" (and the intolerable political abuses that accompanied it) that precipitated the rebellion in Cuencamé.(82)

The demoralization of local politics was immediately apparent. Even the usually obtuse Felipe Alemán recognized the decay and disintegration of Cuencamé's municipal government: that Amado Aceval had died but had not been replaced, that Benigno Díaz Couder never attended meetings, and that the other three members, Francisco Gómez, Francisco Aceval, and Manuel G. Bocanegra were now unrelenting in their hostility towards higher authorities: ''ponen muy en duda sus procedimientos por la actitud que han obserbado como mienbros de esta Corporación Municipal.''(83) The owners of Sombreretillos, however, continued to be uneasy about the presence of even these few remaining functionaries. In July 1910 they instructed Fernández to remove Bocanegra as municipal judge and to replace him with their nominee, José Aguilar, explaining that their enterprise might yet be undone by Bocanegra "...es un individuo de lo más partidarios de los indios, y que algún día, por cualquier motivo, puede algún negocio nuestro ir á dar á sus manos y perjudicarnos altamente...."(84) To prevent Bocanegra from hearing cases, Guillermo Castillo imprisoned the municipal judge on fabricated charges and Governor Fernandez immediately ordered Felipe Alemán to nominate Aguilar.(85) The Supreme Court of Durango, however, refused to approve the nomination of Aguilar, or that of three other individuals recommended by the owners of Sombreretillos because none of the nominees were Cuencamé residents. Apparently, apart from Felipe Alemán, who would soon be retired as acting jefe político, there was no one else in the town who could or would serve as municipal judge, who was also acceptable to Sombreretillos.

To succeed Ismael Miranda, who at the insistence of López Negrete also had been removed from Cuencamé and reassigned to the partido of Inde in June 1910, Governor Fernández eventually selected Jesús N. Nájera, previously the jefe político at El Oro. Nájera arrived in Cuencamé in October 1910, on the eve of the Madero Revolt. Judge Bocanegra, the tintorillo, Severino Ceniceros, Juan G. Machado, and most of the rest of the leadership of the Santiago and Ocuila villagers remained imprisoned until they were freed by their jailers, the Cuencamé police, when they defected to join rebel forces led by Calixto Contreras that were massing outside of Cuencamé in February 1911. When the Federal garrison in Cuencamé was withdrawn soon afterwards, Nájera fled the partido along with Judge Castillo and the López Negrete clan. As early as March 1911 the new rulers of Cuencamé, the agrarian rebels of Santiago and Ocuila, controlled the entire region and began to take back from the Great Estates all that had been lost since the 1890s.(86)

Conflict of Interests

As the preceding pages have demonstrated, the intervention of the Great Estates in local politics during and after the late 1890s affected the careers and livelihoods of most local functionaries at one time or another, from prominent jefes politicos in Cuencamé down to the obscure jefes de manzanas who kept order on the ranchos and haciendas of the partido. By 1910, before the Madero Revolt began, the system of paternalism and clientelism that linked the political functionaries of the partido to their patrons in the state and federal government had broken down. Apart from the jefe político and the juez de letras, who were outsiders, most of the other functionaries of Cuencamé maintained and cultivated extensive networks of local social and economic relations. The material self-interests of these functionaries and those of their friends and neighbors in the towns and villages of the partido dictated their willingness to resist not only attempts by the Great Estates to seize disputed lands, but also to oppose attempts by the Great Estates to control political decision-making and political decision-makers in town and village governments.(87) Not only was what they owned jeopardized by the Great Estates, but also their lives and livelihoods as political functionaries. Consequently, the great majority of Porfirian officeholders in Cuencamé and Peñón Blanco and in the other towns and villages of the partido usually resisted the demands of the Great Estates and, eventually, as new political alternatives emerged with the coming of the Madero Revolt, enthusiastically joined the agrarian insurgency. For the most part, with a few notable exceptions like Felipe Alemán, the local Maderista functionaries who administered Cuencamé after 1911 were same local Porfirista functionaries like Manuel G. Bocanegra and Severino Ceniceros who worked in the district before 1911 or they were previously active within the informal political realm like Calixto Contreras, an important figure in Santiago-Ocuila's shadow government before 1910 and after 1910 the principal commander of the agrarian militia in Cuencamé. The inhabitants of the partido of Cuencamé in the years between 1911 and 1915 were more able than at any time since the 1880s to chose their own officials and, more often than not, they chose the same experienced individuals who had served them in the decades before the Revolution.

The Madero Regime

If this were an official history, of the sort learned by generations of Mexican school children since the 1920s, or if this was one of the laudatory biographies of Francisco Madero written by North American scholars in the 1950s that continued to inform the work of their students and successors through the 1980s, the story of politics in Cuencamé in the Madero years, 1911 to 1913, might be one in which Madero, the Apostle of Mexican Democracy, returned to the virtuous inhabitants of Cuencamé the lands and the political rights stolen from them during the evil reign of Porfirio Díaz.(88) In fact, the Madero presidency did not bring about a radical change in either the culture or structure of politics, on the contrary, in 1911 and afterwards, Madero and his agents tried, but failed to make local politics in Cuencamé the servant of state and national governments, as it had been during the Porfiriato. Those heavy-handed attempts to roll back the political autonomy that the Cuencamé populace had gained during the short-lived Madero Revolt only provoked new waves of political violence that undermined the stability of both the state and national governments.

For all of its remarkable effects in local politics, neither the Madero Revolt nor the inauguration of Francisco I. Madero as President changed the privileged treatment and favored status that since the 1890s had characterized the relationship of Durango's Great Estates with the state government. Not unlike Porfirio Díaz, to please the traditional landed interests in Durango, Francisco Madero's administration assured the election of Dr. Alonso y Patiño as Governor in August 1911. Through the Governor's private secretary, Carlos Patoni, formerly the Porfirian engineer and surveyor had drawn and marked the boundaries of Durango's largest estates (including those of Cuencamé), Francisco Gómez Palacios, the administrator of Santa Catalina del Alamo, continued to enjoy the same easy, intimate access to the Governor's Office that he had enjoyed in the Santa-Marina and Fernandez administrations, with one important difference. The sympathies of state officials could no longer automatically be imposed on Cuencamé, Peñón Blanco, and the other towns and villages of the partido. Attempts to remove the new agrarian leaders in these localities was met by fierce resistance. Over the protests of Santa Catalina del Alamo's adminsitrator, the inhabitants of Cuencamé elected Severino Ceniceros as their jefe politico in June of 1911. Calixto Contreras, the new military chieftain of the region, commanded a rurale detachment composed of two hundred loyal followers, most of them friends and family from Ocuila. Antonio Castellanos, who sought Governor Fernández's patronage as recently as 1909, had reinvented himself in 1911 as an agrarian revolutionary, and now commanded the agrarian militia of Peñón Blanco, the Sociedad de Condueños.

Frustrated by the impotence of Alonso y Patiño's government, the owners of Santa Catalina del Alamo sought the protection of the national government. By awarding a contract to cut and process the hundreds of thousands of tons of guayule that were still available for harvest on this estate to the Compañía Exportadora Coahuilense, S.A., owned by the Madero family, Santa Catalina del Alamo acquired friends in government who were potentially even more powerful than Sombreretillos' supporters in 1909-1910. In October 1911 Emilio Madero, the Jefe Militar in Torreón, dispatched two detachments of federal rurales to protect the estate's guayule lands in the partido of Nazas. These forces immediately and summarily executed all suspects they encountered, including those denounced on a list provided by the manager of Santa Catalina del Alamo's Cruces division, Patrick O'Hea. Soon afterwards, Madero ordered Calixto Contreras to remove his unit from Cuencamé and to report for a new assignment in Torreón. Apart from garrisoning the cascos of Santa Catalina and Cruces, Emilio Madero sent three other detachments to occupy Cuencamé, Pasaje, and Peñón Blanco. After Contreras' followers had been forcibly disarmed, the state government ordered the removal of the jefe políticos in Nazas and Cuencamé. An experienced and brutal Porfirian functionary who had previously served as jefe político in various partidos for both Governors Santa-Marina and Fernandez, Calixto Antuña was imposed on Nazas, but in Cuencamé threats of rebellion forced the state government to back down in its initial attempt to take control.(89) These federal troops were abruptly withdrawn and redeployed to combat unrest in Chihuahua in January 1912. Early the next month, on the first anniversary of the rebel attack and uprising in Cuencamé against Porfirio Díaz, the residents of Pasaje, Peñón Blanco, Cuencamé, Cruces, and other communities declared themselves in rebellion against the state government and, in reprisal for its collusion in the campaign of political repression, staged coordinated, devastating attacks on Santa Catalina del Alamo's principal cascos. After securing Alonso y Patiño's resignation, the rebels agreed to cease hostilities in return for recognition by state authorities of their seizure of disputed lands at Peñón Blanco, Pasaje, and Mercedes. Brokering a peace, Calixto Contreras, who had returned to command the agrarian militia of Santiago-Ocuila, was reinstated as Cuencamé's jefe político.

Apologizing profusely to Santa Catalina's owner for the Madero regime's inability to protect Santa Catalina del Alamo in the Spring of 1912, Gustavo Madero promised that when the situation improved he would personally go to Durango with machete in hand to "throw out" troublemakers like Calixto Contreras. The crackdown came abruptly and without warning. After defeating Orozco's forces in the early Summer of 1912, General Blanquet returned to Durango in August with 350 federal soldiers to reimpose the old rules of politics on the populace of Cuencamé. General Blanquet ordered Calixto Contreras to Morelos to fight the agrarian rebels led by Emiliano Zapata. Contreras refused and was arrested and immediately transported in chains to a Mexico City prison. In Cuencamé, his rurale detachment was dissolved and two hundred of his followers disarmed. Federal troops also occupied Peñón Blanco, arrested Antonio Castellanos, imprisoned him in Torreón, and dissolved and disarmed the town's agrarian militia. The assault on ex-Maderista agrarian rebels coincided with the imposition of Carlos Patoni as the Governor in new elections in August 1912. Given his long history of service and his extensive network of personal relations with Durango's large landowners, Patoni was their preferred choice. A group composed of the wealthiest hacendados in the state immediately furnished Patoni with a large loan to purchase arms and equipment and to pay salaries for a vastly expanded state rurale force to crush agrarian resistance in settings like Cuencamé. Thus fortified, Patoni resumed Alonso y Patiño's abortive effort to take back control of local politics in Cuencamé and in other partidos like Nazas where communities also were demanding the right to select and elect their own functionaries. Repression by the state government and by the private police of estates like Santa Catalina del Alamo only further polarized the growing rift between local communities and the state and federal governments. On the second anniversary of the Cuencamé uprising against Díaz in early February 1913, the populace throughout the partido rose again in a series of violent attacks against Santa Catalina del Alamo. The private guards contracted to protect the estate stood aside, and either fled for safety, or in most cases joined the attackers in completing the devastation of estate agriculture in the partido.

The Constitutionalist and Villista Eras

Given the curious coincidence of General Huerta's coup against Madero with the events in Cuencamé, the uprising there was spontaneously transformed from an anti-Maderista rebellion into a "Constitutionalist" struggle. Calixto Contreras returned to Cuencamé and with more than one thousand armed followers soon took control of most of rural Durango. As Contreras's forces joined those of Pancho Villa in the broad Constitutionalist coalition, the agrarian militias of Cuencamé, Peñón Blanco, Pasaje, and Ocuila were reorganized as combat brigades of the Division del Norte. Generals Calixto Contreras and Severino Ceniceros commanded the Brigada Juárez and the Brigada Severino Ceniceros, respectively. As early as the Summer of 1913, their forces controlled all of the state, including the capital. In a complete inversion of the old political structure, it was now the townspeople and villagers of Cuencamé acting through the agency of their agrarian militias that installed a new Provisional Governor in Durango, Pastor Rouaix. Following a well-established precedent, Rouaix had served as Governor Patoni's private secretary, as was customary for a governor's successor in Durango since the late 1890s (and would be again throughout the 1920s). That was the only thing that had not changed, because now the Governor was the servant of agrarian interests in Durango, as much or more so than any of his predecessors had served as instruments of the state's hacendados. Reversing the political priorities of Porfirian and Maderista Durango, Rouaix's agrarian decree of October 3, 1913 ordered the expropriation of large estates to create pueblos libres and ejidos. Promoted to tangibly demonstrate the revolutionary government's commitment to rural social justice, the decree was first and foremost a political project, laying out the terms of an unlikely political marriage between ex-Maderista functionaries like Pastor Rouaix and the armed agrarian militias of Durango.

It was this first-hand, practical experience with agrarian politics, that Rouaix afterwards brought to bear on the side of his conservative allies in the Carrancista movement, allowing Venustiano Carranza to use his agrarian decree of January 6, 1915 to preempt support from rural populations in Central and Southern Mexico that had not been affected by the agrarista mobilizations that previously had swept portions of Northern Mexico during the Madero era. For Rouaix and like-minded Carrancistas, agrarian reform originated and evolved as an instrument to be wielded from above and was designed primarily to satisfy immediate and practical political necessities. This kind of official agrarian reform was consistent with the larger scheme of traditional political organization in Mexico in that it was based on many of the same kinds of paternalistic and clientelistic relationships and understandings that had always bound together state and society. Its logic was not unlike that associated with royal grants and other official recognitions of communal lands in colonial Mexico. Officially dispensed patronage assured the continuing loyalty of villagers who constituted the broad base of colonial society, as this earliest variety of 'official land reform' efficiently enmeshed and integrated rural people into an asymmetrical, uneven power relationship with a centralized, authoritarian political system.

Grassroots agraristas practiced a very different brand of agrarian politics based on local initiatives, preferring direct action to legislated reform, relying upon their own strength and resources instead of those of political patrons or state agencies. Beginning in 1911, and acting under purely local initiative, they took possession of disputed lands in Ocuila, Cuencamé, Peñón Blanco, Pasaje, Sauces, and in other haciendas, towns, and villages throughout the region. By 1913 they had already undermined and destroyed the Porfirian regimen of expansive, large-scale capitalist agriculture throughout the state.(90) Constitutionalist and Villista municipal and state officials recognized these occupations and defacto expropriations in the years between 1913 and 1915 and their official correspondence identified agrarista communities like Pasaje as pueblos, as opposed to their Porfirian designation as private hacienda cascos where residents lacked defined corporate legal and property rights.(91) These agrarista revindications demonstrated the autonomy and sovereignty of aggrieved rural communities that forcefully resolved local agrarian conflicts with their own resources and without recourse to state supervision, participation, or intervention. In many ways, Durango society had devolved to an experience not unlike that of the nineteenth century, when both national and state governments were weak and distant and where local political and economic disputes were resolved internally without outside intervention.

In state-level politics, even before the departure of Pastor Rouaix in August 1914, agrarista leaders wielded decisive political power from July 1913 through October 1915. Governor Rouaix made few decisions even on relatively trivial matters without consulting Calixto Contreras, the most powerful rebel chieftain in the state. The U.S. Consul in Durango complained in 1914 that ''the forces of General Contreras which are encamped at Pedriceña, Asarco, and Velardeña are in absolute control of that section of the state and General Contreras will not brook the interference of another authority whatsoever in matters which pertain to his own little kingdom."(92) The product of many years of struggle against the forces of Porfirian political and economic modernization, Contreras' evolving political concerns mirrored those of other grassroots agraristas, rejecting paternalistic subservience and instead emphasizing the ideals of local political self-determination, equality before the law, and economic justice. In an August 1914 newspaper interview, Calixto Contreras outlined his political program, insisting on the importance of:

...dejar al pueblo que libremente nombre sus mandatarios para que estos lo lleven al bienestar.... elevar al proletariado á la categoría de gentes para que como los de mejor condición social disfruten de los mismos derechos y se les imparta justicia al igual que á todos, tratándololos bajo las mismas leyes y abolir por completo las preregotavas especiales que gozaban los ricos... También predicamos y ofrecimos el reparte de tierras y, en mi concepto, esto debe cumplirse por que de esta manera el pueblo que no ha seguido á la lucha vería que no se trataba de engañarlo y con ello se le abriria un camino más amplio la vida á la clase pobre que es en verdad la que ha luchado; de otra manera nacería un nuevo pretesto, y sin réplica justo, para derramarse más sangre.(93)

Domingo Arrieta, who represented an agrarian movement based in Santiago Papasquiaro, pushed Rouaix aside and ruled Durango as its new Governor and Military Commander in August 1914. Following the precedents of Rouaix's governorship, Arrieta's Agrarian Law of August 24, 1914 created new pueblos libres throughout the state and promised to distribute land to the landless.(94) Later, in the Autumn of 1914, Severino Ceniceros assumed the governorship of Durango as Arrieta and his followers were driven from the capital after declaring their allegiance to Venustiano Carranza in the new civil war that was engulfing Mexico. In a paternalistic gesture, the last Villista Governor and Military Commander of Durango, General Máximo García, concluded his administration (and that of the whole Villista era) by decreeing on October 5, 1915 "en consideración de que uno de los fines principales del movimiento revolucionario de 1910, fue el mejoramiento de las clases trabajadores" that henceforth minimal wages for peones de campo would be one peso daily while other employees and hacienda servants were also entitled to a 25% wage increase.(95)

Unlike the governors of the Porfirian and Maderista eras or the Carrancista, Obregonista, or Callista governors of the post-1915 era, none of the governors of Constitutionalist, Villista, or Convencionalista-era Durango from Rouaix in 1913 through García in 1915 forcefully intruded into local town and village political spheres. Self-determination and municipal autonomy seem to have been generally and genuinely respected by both the Constitutionalist and Villista regimes in Durango as rural people throughout Durango politically empowered themselves by taking control of their own municipal governments and courts. Freely elected by his neighbors, Manuel G. Bocanegra presided as Jefe Político of the partido from 1913 until 1915. Peñón Blanco's vecinos chose Prisciliano Reyes, a popular local agrarista leader since 1911, as their Jefe Municipal. By popular acclaim, Jacinto de la Hoya, the cacique of Sauces de Salinas since the 1890s, was formally recognized as the community's jefe de cuartel.(96)

In contrast to the relative calm of the Villista Durango, the Carrancista era which began when pursuing Carrancista military forces invaded the state from every direction in the Autumn of 1915 was experienced by most residents as a time of war, famine, and pestilence. Unlike the Villista armies, the Carrancista forces that invaded Cuencamé were foreign armies of occupation with no local ties, affiliations, or loyalties, except for the Arrieta forces who were nominally loyal to Carranza and garrisoned Durango City and the towns of western Durango. No admirer of Pancho Villa, even the British Consul in Torreón, Patrick O'Hea, complained bitterly about the loathsome nature of the Carrancista occupation:

These are vast problems and extremely difficult of solution, and whilst clubbed rifles and bayonets may temporarily keep these turbulent people in place, such methods make the Government troops now more than ever before as much of a foreign garrison in these parts as ever the old federal forces were....These relations between the Carrancista soldiers and the populace, make the essential difference between the evils of our plight here [in Durango and in the Laguna] and in other Eastern and central towns. The populace is Villista to the last man, woman and child, and turbulent and treacherous as probably are the inhabitants of no other centre in the Republic. If Villa before was their idol with his perpetual promise of rapine and disorder, now it can be understood that he is a very demigod to them, and that only the opportunity is lacking for them to openly show themselves to be impregnated with the same ideas as have recently been manifested in the man that represents their ideal.(97)

If it retained great popular support, especially in the face of a universally unpopular and foreign military occupation, why then was the Villista movement in eastern Durango unable to recover from the reverses of 1915? It seems that rural people here had the will, but lacked the means to resist the imposition of Carrancista authority. Paradoxically, the principal reason for the defeat after 1915 of militant agrarianism as represented in the person of Calixto Contreras as well as by other prominent Villistas of the period lay in the previous and definitive success of Durango's localized agrarian movements. The destruction of the rural estate system and the devastation of commercial agriculture in Durango denied agrarian rebels predictable access to the concentrated sources of food, munitions, supplies, and cash that had sustained successive waves of revolutionary outbreaks between 1911 and 1914. After 1915, Carrancista garrisons in Durango consumed war materials and provisions brought from outside the region, but agrarista forces relied upon local sources for their supplies. By thoroughly demolishing the hacienda system in Durango during the early years of the revolution, agraristas unwittingly destroyed the primary logistical base for localized agrarian revolts as well.(98)

In years of mass starvation like those from 1916 through 1918, however much the rural people of Durango might sympathize with the Villista movement, they were reluctant to share with roving Villistas the very limited supplies of corn and beans that were crucial to survival. The U.S. Consul in Durango reported with some surprise in March 1916 that:

The sentiment on the ranches is getting so strong against all so-called soldiers of all factions, that small bands are no longer safe. The people are facing starvation or, at least, a serious situation and they are not disposed to stand quietly by and be robbed of the last grain of corn they have, when a harvest is seven to eight months away.(99)

Moreover, because more rural people now had land of their own or access to land, as well as houses, tools, and livestock of their own, they also had more to protect and sometimes resisted Villista incursions as much as those of the predatory Carrancista armies.(100)

Other factors also contributed to the inability of Durango's Villistas to convert local sympathy for Villa and local animosity against Carranza into a decisively victorious campaign that could replicate the successes previously won in rebel offensives in this region through 1913. First, although arms remained plentiful, ammunition was nearly impossible to find after 1915. The effects of World War I on the munitions trade combined with imposition by the United States of an arms embargo against Mexico hampered rebel access to the most basic element of modern warfare, small arms ammunition. Even the Carrancista garrisons in Durango possessed only very limited supplies, paradoxically making them unattractive targets because attackers usually expended more ammunition taking these garrisons than could be replaced with captured ammunition stockpiles. Secondly, internal divisions undermined and weakened the ability of agraristas to ward off Carrancista military offensives in the region. As Carrancista military units converged on the partido of Cuencamé from all directions after 1915, local Villista forces in eastern Durango were overwhelmed by hostile and experienced armies that were much larger and far more dangerous than those dispatched by Díaz, Madero, or Huerta. Unable to defeat their foes, lacking arms and ammunition, poorly clothed, and on the verge of starvation, crucial elements in Calixto Contreras' forces, including those composed largely of Pasaje, Cuencamé, and Peñón Blanco residents, local militia leaders and Villista commanders like José María Carreón Rodríguez, Severino Ceniceros, Canuto Reyes, Hilario Rodríguez, and others responded to the international emergency created by Villa's raid on Columbus, New Mexico, by making a separate peace with the Carrancistas in May 1916. Subsequently, eighteen-hundred amnestied soldiers, most of them veterans of the Brigada Ceniceros, were rearmed and resupplied by their former Carrancista foes and then were promptly shipped north to Chihuahua to confront the invading U.S. forces.(101)

Fatal to Calixto Contreras, the arrangement facilitated a reconciliation of sorts with the Carrancista regime, which promised to respect the agrarian status quo at Ocuila, Pasaje, Peñón Blanco, and Cuencamé. In turn, tacitly conceding the legitimacy of Carranza's government in Mexico City and its agents in Durango, local leaders like José María Carreón Rodríguez (a former paymaster of the Brigada Ceniceros) acting as a representative for Pasaje, asked for the restitution of community lands under the auspices of the Carrancista program of land reform. In this way, as agraristas nominally shifted their political allegiance, many local militias, formed during the Madero Revolt in 1911 and still committed to Villismo as recently as 1916, were able to survive the hazards of the Carranza era. By continuing to bear arms, rural people in communities like Pasaje and Peñón Blanco remained empowered, even when they sometimes lost control of nearby town governments. Agraristas still guarded the land, livestock, and water resources in rural settings like Pasaje and Mercedes and they could still thwart all efforts by estate owners to once again expel them from disputed lands.

A final, crucial, and obvious reason why Villistas were unable to bring down the Carrancista regime in Durango was that their enemies did not repeat the past mistakes of the Díaz, Madero, and Huerta regimes in eastern Durango. The Carrancista agrarian policy implemented in Durango was that formulated by Rouaix. Although Carranza formally returned confiscated and intervened estates to their nominal owners in 1916, neither the Carrancista governments in Durango nor national authorities permitted the use of force to dislodge agraristas from occupied lands. With no immediate threats to vital interests, Villistas found it impossible to mobilize a broad agrarian front against their Carrancista foes.

Isolated, with his movement fragmented and his followers reduced to a small number of friends and family from Ocuila, Calixto Contreras fought on, until he was murdered in a treacherous ambush by Carrancista agents on August 5, 1916.(102) Yet neither Pancho Villa's defeat in the Bajío nor even the loss of the beloved Contreras in Cuencamé brought an immediate end to agrarian radicalism in Durango. Instead, localized de facto agrarian gains of the period 1911-15 only gradually came to be supplanted by centralized de jure agrarian reforms after 1916. As substantive local political resources were eroded, however, and with less and less power of their own with which to defend and promote their interests, the rural people of Durango during the Carranza years, 1916 to 1920, had no choice but to rely increasingly upon state and national agrarian reform bureaucracies and political functionaries to regularize the seizures and informal occupations of the pre-1915 period. In Rouaix's version of agrarian reform, now enshrined as national policy, those at the top of the state and central governments in Durango City and Mexico City decided the land tenure question for the landless and powerless at the bottom of rural society in Durango. Ejidatarios became clients and pawns of powerful political patrons who controlled state and national political machines. Rural people sometimes got at least a limited access to land, but at the price of rural pacification and political subordination. In political terms, the relationship between society and the state in rural Durango had again been inverted, resembling in many ways the old political model of late Porfirian Mexico, especially as Carrancista state governments in Durango after 1915 replicated Porfirian (and even Colonial) methods not only in determining the selection and election of town and municipal officials, but in imposing the leadership of popular and political organizations as well.(103) One keen observer described the problems of the Carrancista regime in Durango in May 1916:

For the present, however, the administration is essentially a political faction, segregated in its aims and interests from the different classes of the population of the country, and not from one of them alone...The petty authorities now in power are as harsh and stern with the poorer classes as ever the old masters were, the only difference being that they are equally arbitrary and over-riding with the wealthier and more educated section of the community. Men, such as Presidentes Municipales, are 'caciques' to be approached with fear and trembling by high and low, with menaces ever present on their lips of imprisonment and punishment, without even a pretense of invoking the articles of the law. Governors are autocrats in their own sphere, and military chiefs are no less so, and on top of this astonishing social structure, astonishing when considered as the child of a popular revolution, is a personage, who, whatever the purity of his private aims may be, is none the less living and acting in defiance of the constitution which he nailed to the mast as the banner of his cause.(104)

Bureaucratic Authoritarianism

Compounding the wrenching transition from the decade of revolutionary politics to a decade of increasingly bureaucratic authoritarianism, most the older functionaries who had dominated local governments during late Porfiriato as well as much of the revolutionary decade, now gave way in the early 1920s to a new generation of younger functionaries like Alberto Terrones Benitez whose political careers began after the central government had employed brute military force to reassert its control over state and local governments in Durango. Alvaro Obregon's agrarian reform decrees of 1921 and 1922, designed purposely to cultivate popular support and to achieve a more lasting political peace based on patronage from above, officially validated most of the principal agrarian occupations that had occurred in eastern Durango between 1911 and 1913. Private and common lands taken from the residents of communities like Ocuila, Pasaje, Cuencamé, and Peñón Blanco by the modernizing owners and managers of estates like Sombreretillos and Santa Catalina del Alamo in the late Porfiriato, that had been reclaimed as privately-owned and common lands by localized movements in these communities during and after the Madero Revolt, now became ejidos, consigned to the jurisdiction of the Comisión Nacional Agraria in Mexico City and its bureaucratic appendages in Durango. As the decade of the 1920s continued, the agrarian movement in this region was increasingly fragmented and divided between elements drawn into campesino organizations controlled by state or national political functionaries, between those who joined rival, ideologically-driven agrarian organizations organized by communist party functionaries, or between those linked more directly to local concerns like those of Pasaje or Peñón Blanco. Inevitably, as national and state governments consolidated their power during the 1920s, the situation of localized agrarian radicals in the Cuencamé region grew increasingly precarious.

In the towns and villages of Cuencamé the resurrection of the old system of authoritarian politics continued throughout the 1920s as successive governors were selected and imposed from above, as before, in prearranged, meaningless elections. In turn, those governors decided the composition of local governments, dismissing unwanted municipal slates of candidates by overturning local election results and imposing new slates of candidates more aligned with the changing composition of the state government. Higher up the political table of organization, the autocratic and increasingly bureacratized central government in Mexico City continued to determine who would occupy the most important positions in national and state government. Favored by Obregon, Severino Ceniceros served during the early 1920s as one of Durango's diputados to the national congress. Playing a role similar to that in the Club Estéban Fernández in Cuencamé, but at the level of national rather than local politics, he was also active in the National Agrarian Party, organized to mobilize popular support for Obregon's Presidency.

The problem with bureaucratic authoritarianism and official agrarianism, as opposed to local political autonomy and grassroots agrarianism, was that what a patronizing state disburses is something that the state can also take back, because it (rather than local people) has the power. Acting on a proposition delivered by Santa Catalina del Alamo's owner to him during a campaign visit to Torreón in 1924, when he was the official Presidential candidate, President Plutarco Elías Calles used official agrarian reform as an instrument with which to complete the destruction of the movements at Peñón Blanco and Pasaje. Calles' agrarian decrees of 1926 superceded those of Obregon and gave back formal possession of the estate's most cultivable lands to its nominal, pre-revolutionary owner. In exchange, ejiditarios in Pasaje, Peñón Blanco, and other affected communities received a few thousand hectares of worthless, dry, and uncultivable lands donated by the Hacienda Santa Catalina del Alamo to the cause of agrarian reform. Much to the chagrin of the latifundio's owner, continuing, armed resistance, even in defiance of the stationing of a detachment of federal troops at Pasaje, made enforcement of the new decrees impossible, however, until 1929 when the Escobar Revolt gave national and state authorities an opportunity to intervene decisively. José María Carreón Rodríguez at Pasaje along with some residents at Peñón Blanco sided with the Escobaristas or Cristeros in 1929. Others, including agrarista organizations led by a communist ideologue, José Guadalupe Rodríguez, supported the government. In March 1929, as Federal army units in a sweep through the region, a cavalry detachment acting under orders from General Calles apprehended and executed Carreón Rodríguez and his principal followers at Pasaje, marking the end of localized, autonomous, independent, and authentic agrarian radicalism in this region. In the wake of the abortive Escobar Revolt, agrarista militias across Durango were disarmed and dissolved or integrated into state police forces, eliminating the possibility of armed resistance in some parts of the countryside for the first time since 1910. Ironically, the agrarian radicalism in Cuencamé that was energized by a national political crisis in 1910 was snuffed out by another national political emergency only two decades later.

Despite his display of loyalty, José Guadalupe Rodríguez, whose followers fought with the government against the Escobaristas (although with less enthusiasm when thrown afterwards into new offensives against the Cristeros), himself fell victim to a summary military execution in May 1929, perhaps because the acting Governor of Durango, Alberto Terrones Benítez, was Rodríguez's principal rival in a fierce struggle to control organized agrarianism in Durango. Following in a pathway blazed by Pastor Rouaix, Terrones Benítez had worked as an attorney for foreign mining companies doing business in Durango during the most violent years of the Mexican Revolution, sometimes managing his clients' affairs from the relative security of offices in El Paso, Texas. Only later, after his selection in 1917 as Cuencamé's diputado in the Carrancista state legislature, was Terrones Benítez (who was not a native son of Cuencamé) reincarnated as an agrarian reformer, to emerge by 1925 as the principal organizer of government-sponsored campesino organizations in Durango. The fortuitous, simultaneous elimination of local leaders like José María Carreón Rodríguez and radical ideologues like José Guadalupe Rodríguez left agrarianism in Durango exclusively in the hands of government functionaries like Terrones Benítez, who not coincidentally was the founder of the Partido Nacional Revolucionario in Durango in 1929.(105)

The dramatic agrarian reforms of the Cardenas regime later in the 1930s were redundant or even irrelevant in Durango, where a state-level corporatist structure of political control, based on government-sponsored rural organizations and official agrarian reform, had already emerged as the final waste product of a spent agrarian revolution. Before 1930, the rural people of eastern Durango had already lost the political autonomy gained between 1910 and 1915. Although it was unwilling to share real political power with the rural masses, the Mexican state that emerged after the Revolution was obliged to assume the clientelistic and paternalistic responsibilities that an aging Porfirio Díaz and the suborned judges and governors of Durango had forgotten or ignored. The relative importance of security as a most desirable commodity in traditional rural communities, as opposed to more modern and abstract notions like self-determination, political freedom, or economic autonomy cannot be underestimated, as the subsequent political acquiescence of rural Cuencamé to a return to rule from above would seem to corroborate.

1. David W. Walker, "'Y hay que quedar conforme porque á nadie se le puede exiguir nada': The Villista Legacy & Agrarian Radicalism in Eastern Durango, Mexico: 1913-1930," Paper Presented at The Revolution of the Vanquished/La revolución de los vencidos, University of Chicago, May 10-12, 1996

2. For the demographics of Cuencamé, see David W. Walker, "Una gran familia...: The Social Topography of Cuencamé, Durango, Mexico, 1890-1930," Paper presented at the XXI International Conference of the Latin American Studies Association, Chicago, Illinois, September 24-26, 1998.

3. David W. Walker, Homegrown Revolution: The Hacienda Santa Catalina del Alamo and Agrarian Protest in Eastern Durango, Mexico, 1897-1913," Hispanic American Historical Review (May 1992), pp. 239-273.

4. Friedrich Katz, The Life and Times of Pancho Villa (Stanford University Press, 1998), pp. 17-40.

5. In this regard, the political history of Durango in the 1890s parallels the Chihuahua experience chronicled by Katz, except that in Durango no single large landowner dominated this state the way that Luis Terrazas did in Chihuahua. Instead, resentment and alienation in state level politics was more diffuse in Durango, aimed as it was at specific estate owners in various municipios and partidos throughout the state. For example, in the municipios of Cuencamé and Peñón Blanco, the owners of Santa Catalina del Alamo and Sombreretillos were the focus of grievances. In the municipio of Santiago Papasquiaro, Juan Santa-Marina, who owned a large estate there, was the focus of outrage and resentment. The dictum that all politics are local seems an especially apt description for pre-revolutionary Durango.

6. Florencia Mallon, Peasant and Nation: The Making of Post-Colonial Mexico and Peru (University of California Press, 1995); Peter F. Guardino, Peasants, Politics, and the Formation of Mexico's National State: Guerrero, 1800-1857 (Stanford University Press, 1996).

7. Juan G. Machado, Calixto Contreras, Nicasio Espinosa, and Vicente Gámez to Governor of Durango, Cuencamé, 2Sep1897, in Recaudaciónes (Cuencamé), 1898, AGD

8. Juan G. Machado, Vicente Gámiz, Nicasio Espinosa, Calixto Contreras. Carta abierta que al Sr. Presidente de la república general don Porfirio Diaz dirigen los indigenas de los pueblos unidos de Santiago y San Pedro de Ocuila de la Municipalidad de Cuencamé, Estado de Durango, exponiéndole los atentados de que han sido objeto por parte de algunas autoridades de aquel estado. ( Tipografía de A. Pardo, México, D.F.: 1901)

9. Porfirio Díaz to Estéban Fernandez, México, D.F., 17May1910, CPG-AGD; Estéban Fernández to Porfirio Díaz, 2Aug1910, Durango, CPGC-AGD

10. Pedro Herrera to Juan M. Flores, Sauces, Durango, 8Feb1895, CPGC-AGD

11. Juan Santa-Marina to Cristófilo Padilla, Durango, 19Sep1900, CPGC-AGD

12. Gila R. de Padilla to Juan Santa Marina, Cuencamé, 15Mar1904, CPG-AGD

13. Benigno Díaz Couder to Juan Santa-Marina, Cuencamé, 14Jun1904, CPG-AGD; Juan Santa-Marina to Gila R. de Padilla, Durango, 16Jun1904, CPGC-AGD

14. Benigno Díaz Couder to Estéban Fernández, Cuencamé, 28Oct1904, CPG-AGD

15. Estéban Fernández to Benigno Díaz Couder, Durango, 4Jan1905, CPGC-AGD

16. Benigno Díaz Couder to Estéban Fernández, Cuencamé, 28Mar1905, CPG-AGD

17. Benigno Díaz Couder to Estéban Fernández, Cuencamé, 26Jan1905, CPG-AGD

18. Benigno Díaz Couder to Estéban Fernández, Cuencamé, 5Jan1907, 18Aug1907, 11Feb1908, 6Mar1908, 30May1908, 8Jun1908, 31Jul1908, CPG-AGD; See also the request by the Jefe Político of Nazas, Juan N. Treviño, that his son Esequiel be placed in the Sub-Recaudación de Contribuciones of San Luís de Cordero, Juan N. Treviño to Estéban Fernández, Nazas, 12Jun1908, CGP-AGD.

19. Estéban Fernández to Sra. Jovita R. de Díaz Couder, Durango, CPG-AGD

20. José María Rosales to Luís Casas, Cuencamé, 1Feb1901, CPG-AGD.

21. Luís Estevané to Estéban Fernandez, Nazas, 20Sep1904, CPG-AGD

22. For examples, see Pablo A. Moreno, et al. to Juan Santa-Marina, Peñón Blanco, 1Jan1904, CPG-AGD; Juan F. Armendaríz to Estéban Fernández, Cuencamé, 31Dec1904, CPG-AGD; Manuel Valenzuela to Estéban Fernández, Peñón Blanco, 29Mar1905, CPG-AGD; Jesús Peyro to Estéban Fernández, Peñón Blanco; Joaquín Borja to Estéban Fernández, Peñón Blanco, 9Oct1905, CPG-AGD; Francisco Gómez to Estéban Fernández, Cuencamé, 15Jan1906, CPG-AGD; Jesús Valenzuela to Estéban Fernández, Peñón Blanco, 17May1906, CPG-AGD; Catarino Armendaríz to Estéban Fernández, Durango, 4Jan1907, CPG-AGD; Jesús Salinas Irungaray to Estéban Fernández, Cuencamé, 17May1907, CGP-AGD; Pedro N. Reyes to Estéban Fernández, Peñón Blanco, 1Jun1907, CPG-AGD; Jesús Reza to Estéban Fernández, Peñón Blanco, 25Apr1908, CPG-AGD; Domitila Mesta V. de Castro to Estéban Fernández, Cuencamé, 25May1910, CPG-AGD.

23. Antonio Castellanos to Estéban Fernández, Peñón Blanco, 30Jun1909, CPG-AGD

24. Estéban Fernández to Antonio Castellanos, 7Jun1909, Durango, CPGC-AGD

25. Benigno Díaz Couder to Estéban Fernández, Cuencamé, 28Sep1904, CPG-AGD

26. Benigno Díaz Couder to Estéban Fernández, Cuencamé, 20Jun1906, CPG-AGD

27. Estéban Fernández to Manuel Valenzuela, Durango, 3Mar1905, CPGC-AGD

28. Juan Santa-Marina to Porfirio Díaz, Durango, 25May1900, CPGC-AGD.

29. Estéban Fernandez to Porfirio Díaz, Durango, 13Jun1900, CPGC-AGD.

30. Ibid.

31. Steve J. Stern, Peru's Indian Peoples and the Challenge of Spanish Conquest (University of Wisconsin Press, 1993), pp. 92-106.

32. Amador Mesta to Estéban Fernández, 31Jul1907, Cuencamé, CPG-AGD

33. Ibid

34. Amador Mesta to Estéban Fernández, Cuencamé, 7Dec1907, CPG-AGD

35. Francisco Gómez Palacio to Eduardo Triguëros, Durango, 21Jan05, CMRFH

36. Estéban Fernández to Angel Morales, Durango, 5Sep1908, CPG-AGD

37. Cipriano Guerrero to Angel Morales, 10Dec1908, Durango, CPGC-AGD

38. W.W. Graham to Hohler, Durango, 18Apr1911, FO204:391

39. Francisco Gómez Palacio to Pablo Martínez del Río, Durango, 29Nov1904, CMRFH.

40. Benigno Díaz Couder to Juan Santa-Marina, Cuencamé, 4Apr1904, CPG-AGD.

41. Luís Estevané to Estéban Fernandez, Nazas, 29Mar1906, CPG-AGD.

42. Juan Santa-Marina to Francisco Escobar y Vasquez, Durango, 11Jul1898, CGP-AGD.

43. Benigno Díaz Couder to Juan Santa-Marina, Cuencamé, 13Apr1904, CPG-AGD.

44. Benigno Díaz Couder to Juan Santa-Marina, Cuencamé, 2May1904, CGP-AGD.

45. Benigno Díaz Couder to Juan Santa-Marina, Cuencamé, 20May1904, CPG-AGD.

46. Luís Estevané to Juan Santa-Marina, Nazas, 28May1904, CGP-AGD.

47. Benigno Díaz Couder to Juan Santa-Marina, Cuencamé, 29Jun1904, CPG-AGD

48. Luís Estevané to Estéban Fernández, Nazas, 3Jul1906, CPG-AGD

49. Isamel Miranda to Estéban Fernández, Cuencamé, 2Jun1910, CPG-AGD

50. Juan N. Treviño to Estéban Fernández, Nazas, 7Feb1908, CPG-AGD

51. José Pesquera to Estéban Fernández, Peñón Blanco, 22May1906, CPG-AGD.

52. José Leopoldo Bustamente to Juan Santa-Marina, Peñón Blanco, June 1, 1903, CPG-AGD

53. Pablo Martínez del Río to Juan Santa-Marina, México, D.F., 10Jan, 16Jan, 1903, CPG-AGD.

54. Juan Santa-Marina to Pablo A. Moreno, Durango, 28Feb1903; Juan Santa-Marina to Benigno Díaz Couder, 9Mar1903, CGPC-AGD.

55. Estéban Fernandez to Miguel Breceda, Durango, 22Sep1905, CPGC-AGD; Miguel Breceda to Estéban Fernández, Cuencamé, 23Sep1905, 23Apr1906, CPG-AGD.

56. Estéban Fernandez to Pablo Martínez del Río, Durango, 14Aug1900, CPGC-AGD

57. Francisco Gómez Palacio to Francisco Vasquez del Mercado, San Lorenzo, 13Jul1907, C MRFH; Juan Santa-Marina to Lic. Francisco Vasquez del Mercado, Durango, CPGC-AGD; Francisco Gómez Palacio to Dionicio Salas, Durango, 27Feb1909, CMRFH.

58. Francisco Vasquez del Mercado to Estéban Fernandez, Cuencamé, 15Jan1911, CPG-AGD.

59. Ignacio Fernandez Moreno to Estéban Fernandez, Cuencamé, 25May1906, CPG-AGD; Angel Morales to Estéban Fernandez, 27Feb1907, CPG-AGD; Angel Morales to Estéban Fernandez, Cuencamé, CPG-AGD.

60. Estéban Fernandez to Angel Morales, Durango, 30Jul1908, C PGC-AGD.

61. Francisco Gómez Palacio to Antonio Herrán, Durango, 5Jan1909, CMRFH.

62. Jesús Salinas Irungaray to Estéban Fernández, Cuencamé, 3Mar1908, CPG-AGD.

63. Learning from his failure at Sauces, when Santa Catalina del Alamo's owner planned and executed the violent eviction of Peñón Blanco, Covadonga, and Pasaje residents from disputed lands in 1898 and afterwards, he used his influence with the lawyer who had recently represented the estate's interests in Durango, the new Governor, Juan Santa-Marina, to secure sufficient state and local police forces to do his bidding and to assure a favorable outcome in the litigation that came after the land seizures. In using state-sanctioned violence to seize disputed lands, the owner of Santa Catalina del Alamo always acted without the knowledge or approval of Porfirio Díaz and the national government.

64. Juan M. Flores to Manuel María Ugarte, Durango, 16Oct1890, CPG-AGD.

65. Benigno Díaz Couder to Juan Santa-Marina, Cuencamé, 18Feb1904, CPG-AGD.

66. Ibid.

67. Benigno Díaz Couder to Juan Santa-Marina, Cuencamé, 20May1903, CPG-AGD.

68. Benigno Díaz Couder to Juan Santa-Marina, Cuencamé, 13May1903, CPG-AGD.

69. Jefe Político of Cuencamé to Secretario de Gobernación, Cuencamé, 23Feb1909, transcribed in Juzgado de Distrito, Amparo of José Refugio Herrera y Socios, Exped. 1061, 1909, AGD

70. Jefe Político of Cuencamé to Secretario de Gobernación, Cuencamé, 23Feb1909, transcribed in Juzgado de Distrito, Amparo of José Refugio Herrera y Socios, Exped. 1061, 1909, AGD; Testimony of José María Rivas y Ortíz, 26Feb1909, Cuencamé, transcribed in Juzgado de Distrito, Amparo of José Refugio Herrera y Socios, Exped. 1061, 1909, AGD; Testimony of Francisco Aceval, 4 Mar1909, Cuencamé, transcribed in Juzgado de Distrito, Amparo of José Refugio Herrera y Socios, Exped. 1061, 1909, AGD; Testimony of Santos Mata, 6Mar1909, Cuencamé, transcribed in Juzgado de Distrito, Amparo of José Refugio Herrera y Socios, Exped. 1061, 1909, AGD; Testimony of Manuel Castañeda, 9Mar1909, Cuencamé, transcribed in Juzgado de Distrito, Amparo of José Refugio Herrera y Socios, Exped. 1061, 1909, AGD.

71. Severino Ceniceros to Estéban Fernández, Cuencamé, 4Jul1909, CPG-AGD

72. Demanda civil, promovida por los indígenas de Santiago y San Pedro de Ocuila, representados por el Sr. Severino Ceniceros, en contra de la Sra. Petra Salsido Vda de López Negrete, no expediente, undated, 1912, AGD

73. Andres Gómez to Estéban Fernandez, Cuencamé, 23Jul1909, CPG-AGD; Candelario Machado and Vicente Favela y Peimbert to Juez de Distrito, Ciudad Lerdo, 26Oct1909 in Juzgado de Distrito de Durango, Amparo of Severino Ceniceros, Exped. no. 69, 1909, AGD

74. There was no basis in fact for the judgement. Santiag-Ocuila had previously defended its ownership of the land with a successful appeal to the Supreme Court of Mexico as recently as 1900. Apart from their possession of titles to the land dating back to the late eighteenth century, the villagers owned the land by prescription, having occupied the land continuously throughout the nineteenth-century.

75. Guillermo Castillo to Estéban Fernandez, Cuencamé, 2Feb1910.

76. Laureano López Negrete to Estéban Fernández, México, D.F., 14Feb1910, CPG-AGD

77. Laureano López Negrete to Estéban Fernández, México, D.F., 17Feb1910, CPG-AGD

78. Laureano López Negrete to Estéban Fernandez, México, D.F., 21Feb1910, CPG-AGD.

79. Ismael Miranda to Estéban Fernandez,Cuencamé, 8Mar1910, CPG-AGD

80. Laureano López Negrete to Estéban Fernández, México, D.F., 18May1910, CPG-AGD; Laureano López Negrete to Estéban Fernández, México, D.F., 30May1910, CPG-AGD; Estéban Fernández to Laureano López Negrete, 2Jun1910, Durango, CPGC-AGD

81. For the economic basis for the agrarian revolt in Cuencamé after 1910, see Walker, "Not A Moral Economy."

82. ''Conditions in Durango,'' as incl. to W.W. Graham to Hohler, Durango, 19Apr1911, FO204:391

83. Felipe Alemán to Estéban Fernandez,Cuencamé, 22Jun1910, CGP-AGD

84. Laureano López Negrete to Estéban Fernandez, México, D.F., 4Jul1910, CPG-AGD.

85. Estéban Fernandez to Felipe Alemán, Durango, 8Jul1910, CPGC-AGD.

86. Walker, "Homegrown Revolution," pp. 256-273; Walker, "Villista Legacy."

87. For a detailed analysis of the material origins of the agrarian uprising in Cuencamé, see David W. Walker, "Not A Moral Economy: Property-Ownership and Agrarianism in Cuencamé, Durango, 1895-1915," Paper presented at "Revolutionary Frontiers: Popular Forces in the Mexican Revolution from a Comparative Perspective," a conference sponsored by the Mexican Studies Program at the University of Chicago, Franke Institute for the Humanities, Chicago, November 5-7, 1998.

88. Stanley Ross, Francisco I. Madero: Apostle of Mexican Democracy (Columbia University Press, 1955); Charles C. Cumberland, Mexican Revolution: Genesis Under Madero (University of Texas Press, 1952).

89. For the Madero's role in attempting to throttle the developing local revolution, see Francisco Gómez Palacio to Guillermo Espejo, Durango, 20 Oct. 1911; Francisco Gómez Palacio to Barbara Martínez del Río, Durango, 22 Oct., 12, 22, 26 Nov., 17 Dec. 1911; Francisco Gómez Palacio to Patrick O'Hea, Durango, 2, 6, Nov. 1911; Francisco Gómez Palacio to Gustavo A. Madero, Durango, 14 Nov. 1911; Francisco Gómez Palacio to Domingo Valdez Llano, Durango, 17, 23, 28 Nov. 1911; Patrick O'Hea to Francisco Gómez Palacio, Cruces, 25 Nov. 1911; Francisco Gómez Palacio to Emilio Madero, Durango, 17 Dec. 1911; Barbara Martínez del Río to Francisco Gómez Palacio, Mexico City, 21 Dec. 1911, 1911, CMRFH.

90. The division of Pasaje and Mercedes into private and communally-owned lands in 1913 is described in detail in various collective and individual demandas de amparo sought by Pasaje's residents in October 1926 to prevent the Calles government from returning possession of their lands to Santa Catalina del Alamo. For example, see Emerenciana Carreón, Demanda de Amparo, Juez de letras, Cuencamé, Mexico, Oct. 18, 1926 in Pasaje Correspondence File, vol. I, ff. 220-220, SRA(DGO); Lista de avalúos definitivos de la propiedad rústica manifestada y no manifestada de la municipilidad de Cuencamé, hechos por la junta central inspectora, Dirección de Catastro, [Durango, Mexico, 1914], AGD;Map of Pasaje Ejido, encl. in José María Carreón Rodríguez to Governor, Durango, Mexico, Aug. 3, 1917, Annex F, SRA(GP)23:705(724.1); .

91. For the pueblo of Pasajee, see Manuel G. Bocanegra to Secretario del Gobierno, Cuencamé, Mexico, Oct. 14, 1913, Oficio no. 26, RGG, 1913, AGD.

92. Theodore C. Hamm to Secretary of State, Durango, Mexico, Mar. 21, 1914, 812/11353, R39, M274, NARA.

93. Copy of A. Puente to Editor, Vida Nueva, Durango, Mexico, 27Aug1914, 1914, AGD.

94. Periódico Oficial (Durango, Mexico), Sep. 27, 1914; Venustiano Carranza placated Rouaix, and astutely assured his political loyalty to the Carrancista cause, by offering the displaced functionary a cabinet-level appointment in his government. See Everardo Gamíz, La revolución en el estado de Durango (Mexico, 1963), pp. 52-54.

95. Periódico Oficial (Durango, Mexico), Oct. 7, 1915.

96. Col. Severino Ceniceros to Secretario de Gobernación, Asarco, Durango, 19Jul1913, in RGG36, 1913, AGD; Enrique de la Hoya & Miguel A. Moreno to Secretario de Gobernación, Sauces de Salinas, Mexico, RGG 44, 1913, AGD.

97. Patrick O'Hea to Hohler, Gómez Palacio, Durango, Mar. 30, 1916, FO371:2700:90401.

98. Walker, "Legacy," pp. 12-13, 21-25.

99. Homer C. Coen to Secretary of State, Durango, Durango, Mar. 25, 1916, 812/17733, R52, M274, NARA.

100. For example, residents of Sauces de Salinas like many other communities formed their own local defense force to combat marauders. See Vecinos of Sauces de Salinas to Governor of Durango, 6Sep1916, Sauces de Salinas, Durango, in Expediente s/n, [RGG], 1916, AGD.

101. Report of O.V. Seifert (ASARCO) to Capt. Sanders (Texas Ranger), cited by Intelligence Officer to Department Intelligence Officer, Camp Eagle Pass, Texas, May 19, 1916, RG 165, 8529-47, NARA.

102. Report of A.G. Reese, cited in Intelligence Officer to Commanding General, Arizona District, Douglas, Arizona, Sep. 18, 1916, MID 8534-127, RG165, NARA.

103. With these points in mind, it is useful to reread the preamble to Rouaix's agrarian decree of 1913, partially reproduced on page 4-5.

104. Patrick O'Hea to E.W.P. Thurston, Gómez Palacio, Mexico, May 29, 1916, FO371:2702:133407.

105. "Por Conveniencia Social....": The Demise of Agrarian Radicalism in Cuencamé, Durango, 1924-1930," Paper Presented at the 1998 Annual Meeting of the Rocky Mountain Council on Latin American Studies, April 23-25, 1998, Missoula, Montana