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Pablo González Garza

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Title: Pablo González Garza  
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Subject: Mexican Revolution, Battle of Ciudad Juárez (1919), Governor of San Luis Potosí, Pancho Villa
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Pablo González Garza

Pablo González Garza
Born 1879
Lampazos de Naranjo, Nuevo León, Mexico
Died 1950
Monterrey, Nuevo León, Mexico
Years of service 1911–1920
Rank General
Battles/wars Mexican Revolution

Pablo González Garza (born in Emiliano Zapata.[2][3]

Early life

He grew up in the town of Nadadores, Coahuila where his parents owned a store. He was orphaned at six years old.[4] Eventually, he received a scholarship to the military academy in Chapultepec but decided not finish his studies. In the early years of the twentieth century he worked in a foundry, on the railroad and for an oil company, in various places in northern Mexico and southern United States.[1]

Early part of Mexican Revolution

In 1907, through his cousin, he met the anarchist Enrique Flores Magón.[1] Pablo participated in Francisco Madero's insurrection against Porfirio Diaz in 1911. His forces occupied Monclova and Cuatro Ciénegas for Madero. Subsequently, in 1912, he fought against the rebellion of Pascual Orozco.[1] Later, after Victoriano Huerta's coup d'état against Madero, Gonzalez fought against Huerta and Pascual Orozco in Coahuila. While at the time Gonzalez was considered a rising military star, Orozco beat him in every encounter, which contributed to Gonzalez eventually becoming known as "the general who never won a victory".[5] This ill reputation followed him in subsequent years.[5] In a later interview with Blasco Ibanez Carranza stated that "General González commanded the largest forces in the Revolution and he came out of it with the unique honor of having lost every battle in which he was engaged."[6]

Under Carranza

Pablo Gonzalez in 1914

Later on he was appointed chief of the Army of the Northeast in the government of Venustiano Carranza and in 1914 occupied Monterrey, Tampico and other places for him.[7] Gonzalez's occupation of Monterrey, along with the Battle of Zacatecas, was crucial in Huerta's defeat and subsequent decision to go into exile.[1] At the same time, Alvaro Obregon was appointed to lead the Army of the Northwest, which was a position equivalent to that of Gonzalez. Since Obregon viewed Gonzalez as an incompetent general, this contributed to his resentment of Carranza which was going to bear fruit later.[8]

Against the Zapatistas

He was also in charge of pacification of the Zapatista rebellion in Morelos during the fighting between Emiliano Zapata and Carranza, where he earned a reputation for brutality and ruthlessness.[2] Gonzalez' manifesto of July 19, 1916 explicitly stated that Morelos civilians, including women and children, who were perceived as supporters of Zapata, were going to be massacred (though officially counted among those who died in battle). In his pacification campaigns, Gonzalez reinstitute the practice of Victoriano Huerta and Porfirio Diaz of shipping captured peasants to Yucatan for heavy forced labor.[9] To combat Gonzalez Zapata decided to provide arms to individual villages, even those not directly under his control, so that they could form effective self-defense units. This policy eventually back fired on Zapata as after Gonzalez left, the villagers used the weapons against Zapatista foraging parties which in turn led to numerous conflicts between the peasants and the rebel troops that were supposed to represent their cause.[10]

Gonzalez was mostly successful in squashing the rebellion in Morelos for the time being, mostly because of help from a turncoat Zapatista general Sidronio Camacho (who had killed Zapata's brother, Eufemio) who provided him with crucial intelligence. However, after the break out of another revolt in Coahuila, led by Lucio Blanco, Gonzalez was recalled and Zapata reclaimed his home state.[11]

Assassination of Zapata

He was the mastermind behind the assassination of Emiliano Zapata, which was carried out by his Colonel, Jesus Guajardo.[2] In early 1919 disagreements arose between González and Guajardo, and after learning of these, Zapata wrote a letter to Guajardo, asking him to join the Zapatistas. The letter was intercepted by González who blackmailed Guajardo and used it as an opportunity to set up an ambush for Zapata.[2] Guajardo, after making a show of loyalty to Zapata by executing a turn coat Zapatista chief, Victoriano Barcena, arranged a meeting with Zapata at Chinameca Hacienda at which he was supposed to deliver badly needed ammunitions. After Zapata arrived,on April 10, 1919, a guard of honor presented arms to him, but on the third signal of the bugle they opened up fire at point blank range, killing Zapata.[2]

Break with Carranza

In the election of 1920, President Carranza promoted the civilian Ignacio Bonillas as his successor, to the great displeasure of his generals, particularly Álvaro Obregón, who wanted the presidency for himself. After Carranza attempted to arrest him, Obregon led a military revolt.

Initially González remained loyal to Carranza. However, most officers in his army supported Obregon, and his ally, Plutarco Calles and vehemently opposed Bonillas. As a result Gonzalez declared his own candidacy for the presidency. In April 1919, Carranza demanded that Gonzalez drop his election bid and give his full support to Bonillas. On April 30, Gonzalez officially broke with Carranza, although instead of arresting him and immediately occupying Mexico City (most of the troops in the region supported him), he allowed Carranza to escape to Veracruz and he himself withdrew to nearby Texcoco.[12]

During the interim presidency of Adolfo de la Huerta, Gonzalez was accused of treason and sedition and arrested. He was initially sentenced to be executed, but was pardoned and instead went into exile in the US.[13]

Later life

After Obregon's victory over Carranza and then presidency, Gonzalez returned to Mexico. He retired from active duty and politics and went into business. He was left almost destitute by the collapse of his bank, and died in 1950 in the city of Monterrey.


  1. ^ a b c d e Rutas de la Revolucion (Routes of Revolution), Ruta de Pablo González, (last accessed on Feb 1, 2010), [1]
  2. ^ a b c d e Enrique Krauze, "Mexico: biography of power : a history of modern Mexico, 1810-1996", HarperCollins, 1998, pg. 302, [2]
  3. ^ John Womack, Jr., "Zapata and the Mexican Revolution", Vintage Books, 1970, pg. 322-3
  4. ^ John Womack, Jr., "Zapata and the Mexican Revolution", Vintage Books, 1970, pg. 258
  5. ^ a b Frank McLynn, "Villa and Zapata", Basic Books, 2000, pg. 138
  6. ^ "Pablo Gonzalez Garza, Instrumental in Emilano Zapata's murder"
  7. ^ Robert L. Scheina, "Latin America's Wars: The age of the professional soldier, 1900-2001", Brassey's, 2003, pg. 23, [3]
  8. ^ Frank McLynn, "Villa and Zapata", Basic Books, 2000, pg. 179
  9. ^ Samuel Brunk, "Emiliano Zapata: revolution & betrayal in Mexico", UNM Press, 1995, pg. 190, [4]
  10. ^ >Frank McLynn, "Villa and Zapata", Basic Books, 2000, pg. 350
  11. ^ Frank McLynn, "Villa and Zapata", Basic Books, 2000, pg. 355
  12. ^ René De La Pedraja Tomán, "Wars of Latin America, 1899-1941", McFarland, 2006, pg. 271, [5]
  13. ^ Frank McLynn, "Villa and Zapata", Basic Books, 2000, pg. 387
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