Birthday: December 29, 1859
Died At Age: 60
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Also Known As: Venustiano Carranza Garza
Born Country: Mexico
Born in: Cuatrociénegas Municipality, Mexico
Famous as: Politician
Spouse/Ex-: Virginia Salinas (m. 1882)
father: Jesús Carranza Neira
mother: María de Jesús Garza
siblings: Jesús Sebastian Carranza
children: Jesús Carranza Hernández, Leopoldo Carranza Salinas, Rafael Carranza Hernández, Venustiano Carranza Hernández, Virginia Carranza
Died on: May 21, 1920
place of death: Puebla
Cause of Death: Assassination
education: Escuela Nacional Preparatoria
Venustiano Carranza was a main leader of the 20th-century Mexican Revolution, or the Mexican Civil War, and had served as the president of Mexico. He was known as the "Primer Jefe" ("First Chief") of the ‘Constitutionalists.’ Carranza was initially made the governor of Coahuila by Francisco I. Madero, after Porfirio Díaz refused to back him. After Madero’s murder in 1913, Carranza formed the ‘Plan de Guadalupe’ to crush Victoriano Huerta. However, after Huerta’s defeat, Carranza fell out with his own associates, Emiliano Zapata and Pancho Villa. He thus crushed his fellow revolutionaries later. He served as the head of state of Mexico from 1915 to 1917. With the declaration of the new Mexican constitution in 1917, Carranza was elected as the president of Mexico and served in the position till 1920. He later wished to place Ignacio Bonillas in his position, but faced a rebellion under the ‘Plan of Agua Prieta,’ led by Álvaro Obregón, one of his previous associates. Carranza was eventually killed on his way to Mexico City.
Childhood & Early Life
Venustiano Carranza was born José Venustiano Carranza de la Garza, on December 29, 1859, in Cuatro Ciénegas, a town in the state of Coahuila, Mexico, to José de Jesús Carranza Neira and María de Jesús de la Garza Garza.
His was an upper middle-class ranching family. His father, Jesús, was a rancher and mule driver initially. Jesús then fought against the Indians in the Reform War (1857–1861).
Jesús also served as a colonel in the Franco-Mexican War (1861–1867). Jesús was associated with Benito Juárez, too.
Carranza was the 11th of the 15 children of his parents. He attended the Liberal school ‘Ateneo Fuente’ in Saltillo. In 1874, he joined the ‘Escuela Nacional Preparatoria’ (‘National Preparatory School’) in Mexico City.
He initially wished to be a doctor. Carranza was at the school when, in 1876, Porfirio Díaz introduced the ‘Plan of Tuxtepec,’ spelling the beginning of Díaz's revolt against President Sebastián Lerdo de Tejada.
After completing his studies, Carranza returned to Coahuila to work on his farm, as an eye disease had stalled his plans of becoming a doctor.
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Introduction to Politics
His family, with their wealth, managed to get him elected as the mayor of his hometown in 1887. In 1893, Carranza and his brothers joined a revolt against Coahuila governor José María Garza, a corrupt associate of dictatorial president Porfirio Díaz.
They secured the nomination of another governor. In course of time, Carranza became acquainted with Bernardo Reyes, who was a close friend of Díaz. Carranza soon climbed up the political ladder and became a congressman and then a senator. By 1908, he was touted as the next governor of Coahuila.
Association with Madero
Díaz refused to back Carranza when he decided to run for governor. Thus, Carranza joined Francisco I. Madero’s movement. Madero had started a revolt after the farcical 1910 election. On May 3, 1911, Carranza was made the minister of war in Madero's cabinet. The cabinet also consisted of revolutionaries such as Pascual Orozco and Pancho Villa.
However, Carranza did not genuinely believe in reform and he felt someone stronger than Madero would be able to rule Mexico more efficiently.
As the Governor of Coahuila
Carranza then went to Coahuila and became the governor after the elections in August 1911. Following this, Carranza introduced many reforms, which included making workplaces safer, preventing mining accidents, and controlling alcoholism and prostitution.
Rebellion against Huerta
In February 1913, Madero was overthrown during ‘La decena trágica’ (the ‘Ten Tragic Days’). Carranza offered him refuge in Coahuila.
However, Madero was soon assassinated by Victoriano Huerta, one of his generals. Huerta then declared himself the president.
Following this, Carranza launched a formal rebellion against Huerta's government, forming the ‘Plan de Guadalupe.’ Carranza's force was not too big and refrained from fighting during the initial days of the rebellion against Huerta.
In early March 1913, Carranza’s army faced defeat and was forced to retreat to Monclova. On his way, he came across a group of young officers, Francisco J. Múgica, Lucio Blanco, and Jacinto B. Treviño, who had a plan to rebel against Huerta and requested Carranza to become the “Primer Jefe” ("First Chief") of the ‘Constitutionalist Army.’
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Carranza then formed a draft of a constitution, which he called the ‘Plan of Guadalupe’ and started building an army.
He created a shaky alliance with Emiliano Zapata, Pancho Villa, and Alvaro Obregón. Obregón, an engineer and farmer, formed an army in Sonora.
Their fight against Huerta ended on August 15, 1914, after Obregón signed several treaties in Teoloyucan, through which the last of Huerta's armies surrendered. On August 20, 1914, Carranza marched into Mexico City.
However, after their combined army ousted Huerta, they clashed with each other, as they had nothing in common except their hatred for Huerta.
As the President of Mexico
After Huerta’s fall, Carranza (now supported by Obregón) was touted as the next best option to fill the void. Carranza thus formed a government and declared himself the head. The government passed new laws and minted money.
However, Carranza soon clashed with his previous associates Villa and Zapata. A convention met in Aguascalientes on October 5, 1914, and demanded Carranza’s resignation. The political unrest continued, as no unanimous decision was reached. Obregón sided with Carranza.
Although Villa had a dependable army, Obregón was a good strategist. Carranza made Villa look like a villain in the media. Carranza also controlled two of Mexico's prime ports and thus collected more revenue than Villa. Soon, clashes followed.
In April 1915, Obregón crushed Villa at the Battle of Celaya. Zapata’s forces, too, were defeated.
The United States government declared Carranza as Mexico's next head of state. Carranza officially took charge on May 1, 1915.
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Toward the end of 1915, Villa escaped. However, Carranza was still just a head of the “Preconstitutional Government.”
In September 1916, Carranza declared that a ‘Constitutional Convention’ was to be held in Querétaro. He also stated that the 1857 Constitution of Mexico would be mostly followed, with some minor modifications.
A new constitution came into existence on February 5, 1917. Carranza won the presidential election without any significant opposition. In May 1917, Carranza officially became the constitutional president of Mexico.
However, he did not bring about any significant reform. People who had expected a liberal Mexico, following the revolution, were disheartened. Obregón went back to his ranch, but the clashes continued, particularly against Zapata.
Clash with ObregÃ³n
Obregón wished to run for president in 1919. Carranza, however, had already chosen Ignacio Bonillas as his successor and thus launched a campaign against Obregón. Carranza’s opposers formed the ‘Plan of Agua Prieta’ to counter him.
Carranza crushed Obregón's supporters and killed them. Obregón was convinced that Carranza would not leave his post peacefully.
Obregón thus marched into Mexico City with his forces, forcing Carranza and his supporters to retreat. Carranza then went to Veracruz to regroup. However, his forces were attacked.
He then retreated in the mountains of Tlaxcalantongo, Puebla, where the men of local chieftain Rodolfo Herrera opened fire on Carranza while he was sleeping, around 3 o’clock in the morning on May 21, 1920.
The attack killed Carranza and his top advisors. Carranza’s body was moved to Mexico City on May 23. On May 24, he was buried in the ‘Panteón de Dolores’ (‘Pantheon of Dolores’).
Obregón put Herrera to trial, but Herrera was later acquitted. In the end, Carranza did not have any staunch sympathizers left.
Family & Personal Life
Carranza had married Virginia Salinas Balmaceda in 1882. Virginia was a highly educated woman and supported Carranza in his fight against Huerta. They had two daughters, Virginia and Julia, and a son, Leopoldo. Virginia died in November 1919.
Ernestina Hernández was Carranza’s other wife, whom he had married years after his first marriage. He had four sons with her, namely, Emilio, Rafael, Venustiano, and Jesús.
Carranza was often referred to as "the billy goat" by his enemies, owing to his long beard.