THE INSURGENCE of CHAN SANTA CRUZ

 

BOOK EIGHT:  THE SECOND of the BOOKS of CHANGE

 

CHAPTER SIXTEEN 

 

          But, by 1915, there would be no more time for the separados to plot in their parlours and cafes.

          On January 4th, inspired (and perhaps motivated) by the rapidity of the Constitutionalist collapse, following Zapata's taking of Puebla, and Villista victories in Saltillo and Monterrey... even skirmishes in the suburbs of Veracruz, itself... the "Cepeda Peraza", the largest of Yucatan's militia battalions, revolted of its own accord. The Governor's Palace was attacked, the City Hall, Police Department and blame was placed upon a shadowy "Pino Suarez battalion". Only the presence of a Carrancista agent, General Toribio de los Santos, inspired Avila to reinforce the Constitutionalists - after a short midnight engagement, the batallón Cepeda Peraza, under Jesus Carranza... who was neither friend nor kinsman to the First Chief... and rebel commander Patricio Martinez retreated towards Temax.

          A furious Carranza recalled Governor Avila back to Veracruz "to attend a conference" appointing, in his stead, de los Santos. This person was not entirely foreign to the peninsula... he had, in fact, been undercover in Merida for some time, gathering evidence that Avila lacked both military competence and sufficient revolutionary sentiment (meaning that he had not squeezed Yucatan's montes as zealously as Carranza desired). Forbearing, for the moment, pursuit of the insurgent militiamen, de los Santos loyally followed Carranza's directive in raising the henequen taxes and sending these revenues off to the straitened First Chief.

          The campaña was on!

          "Is there any word from your brother?" Major Navarette asked of Rigoberto as the Federals, upon de los Santos' orders to Argumedo, finally pursued Martinez deeper into the bush.

          "Any word?" Professor Salazar beseeched when word arrived from Navarette that Argumedo and Martinez had settled their affairs, with the former to be recognized as Governor over de los Santos, again, when the combined forces crushed the Federals and conscripts from Constitutionalist labor unions; de los Santos fleeing to Campeche.

          "Were I another of the vain chocolateros who afflict Mexico by presumptuousness," Navarette told the Licenciado, on Argumedo's triumphal return, "I would have grounds to disdain this worthless conspiracy. Unfortunately, the struggle is but half-completed. We have plucked Carranza's purse and, unless a Zapatista bullet finds him or the Americans decide to enter this war, he will set one of his creatures against us. All of the rest of us have done our duties... why young Salazar's gallo on behalf of Argumedo was finer, even, than that which he organized for the Guatemalans. What word is there from your brother, the Colonel?"

          And Rigoberto had to tell him there was none.

          "Then we are likely to soon face a Constitutionalist army, perhaps small in numbers but better armed and equipped, by virtue of our own which wealth Don Venus has confiscated from Yucatan. If we are fortunate," the Major further admonished Rigoberto, "the First Chief will himself leave Veracruz and take the field at the head of his troops. In that circumstance we may yet prevail."

          Could Venustiano Carranza be so foolish?

 

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