Little Bits of History

February 19

Posted in History by patriciahysell on February 19, 2017

1913: Pedro Lascuráin becomes the 34th President of Mexico. He was born in Mexico City in 1856 and graduated from law school in 1880. He was the mayor of Mexico City in 1910 when Francisco Madero challenged then-President Porfirio Diaz and sparked the Mexican Revolution. This led to Madero taking over the Presidency which he held until his assassination on this day. Lascuráin had supported Madero in his rule and served as foreign secretary in his cabinet for two terms. In revolutionary times, the leadership position is often up for grabs by whomever has the power to take control. General Victoriano Huerto was that person.

Huerto used Lascuráin to convince Madero to resign his position while he was being held prisoner in the National Palace. Madero was told his life was in danger if he did not relinquish control. The 1857 Constitution listed who would take over the rule of the country should a President leave office for any reason. The vice president, the attorney general, the foreign minister, and finally the interior minister. As Huerto was getting rid of Madero, he also ousted Vice President Jose Maria Suarez and Attorney General Adolfo Valles Baca. That left Lascuráin as next in line. In order to give some semblance of authenticity to the coup d’état, Lascuráin was made President of Mexico, a post he kept for less than an hour. Some sources say only 15 minutes and some give as long as 56 minutes. Regardless, his is the shortest Presidency in the world.

Huerta called for a late night session of Congress and with his backers holding guns on them, Congress endorsed Huerta’s rise to power. Within days, both Madero and Suarez were killed. Huerta’s regime came immediately under fire and resistance dogged his every stop. He was forced to flee the country in 1914 just 17 months after his coup. He was attempting to meet with German spies when he was arrested in the US during World War I. He died while in custody. Cause of death was cirrhosis of the liver or possibly poisoning, widely suspected at the time.

Lascuráin had been offered a position in Huerta’s cabinet but wisely declined the offer. He retired from politics and began to practice law again. He became the director of the Escuela Libre de Derecho, a conservative law school in Mexico City. He worked there for sixteen years and also published many articles on commercial and civil law. He died in 1952 at the age of 96. Diosdado Cabello of Venezuela, served as President of that country for just a few hours when Hugo Chavez was taking control there, the second shortest Presidency.

Whenever a man has cast a longing eye on offices, a rottenness begins in his conduct. – Thomas Jefferson

Politics: A strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles. The conduct of public affairs for private advantage. – Ambrose Bierce

No real social change has ever been brought about without a revolution… revolution is but thought carried into action. – Emma Goldman

I love power. But it is as an artist that I love it. I love it as a musician loves his violin, to draw out its sounds and chords and harmonies. – Napoleon Bonaparte

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