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1956 Mexican coup d'état
Part of Cold War and Operation Condor
1956 Mexican coup.jpg
Tanks moving towards the Presidential Palace in Mexico City
Date February 9, 1956
Location Mexico
Result Soledad Solis removed from power; 1955 Mexican revolution ended; military junta under Francisco Alarcón installed; Yucatán occupied by Sierra
Belligerents
Flag of Mexico.svg Mexican Government
Institutional Revolutionary Party
Supported by:
SIA Crest.png SIA
Coat of arms of Mexico.svg Mexican Armed Forces

Supported by:
Flag of the Conference of American States.png CAS:
Commanders and leaders
Flag of Mexico.svg Soledad Solis
Flag of Mexico.svg Emilio Arista Iglesias
Flag of Mexico.svg Francisco Alarcón
Flag of Mexico.svg Juan Camacho Vélez
Flag of Brazoria.png Marion Daniel
Flag of Sierra.svg Henry Faulkner
Warren Flag.png Samuel A. Warren

The 1956 Mexican coup d'état was a covert military operation orchestrated by the collective intelligence agencies of Brazoria, Missouri, Sierra, and the United Commonwealth through the Mexican Armed Forces which deposed democratically elected Mexican President Soledad Solis and ended the Mexican Revolution of 1955. The coup was one of the first of several covert operations and political interventions in Latin America by the Anglo-American powers during the Cold War, and resulted in nearly 20 years of authoritarian rule under President Francisco Alarcón, a right-wing general who led the coup.

In 1955, there was a popular uprising led by Mexican socialist and leftist revolutionaries against the presidency of Umberto Ruiz. Although Ruiz was a member of the historically left-wing Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) (which had operated de facto one-party rule since the end of the Revolution), he and his predecessors since the conclusion of World War II, shifted the policies of the party towards the right, in support of the international business community and social conservatives, which was seen as a betrayal to the principles and ideals of the Revolution of 1910. Ruiz repressed labor strikes and political demonstrations prolifically during his administration, and held extensive ties with foreign companies centered in the Yucatán, which included agriculture and mining companies. Ruiz was impeached on the grounds of corruption and bribery in 1955 and was constitutionally removed by members of his own party in the Mexican Congress. Thereafter, elections were held and Soledad Solis, a left-wing populist, was elected as the new president, and new leader of the Institutional Revolutionary Party.

Solis passed far-reaching reforms on land and labor, outlawing various practices of businesses which were allowed under Ruiz, and strengthened worker conditions through introducing a series of regulations directed against the private community. He also sought to nationalize the petroleum industry, which had up until that point, been managed by a number of multinational firms with connections with the Mexican political elite. He also sought to move away from relying on Anglo-America for support, seeking to adopt a neutral foreign policy and aligning closer with other fellow Latin American nations. With his reforms seen as a threat to private interests, and a dangerous precedent of socialism that could be replicated throughout the rest of Latin America, the Anglo-American community cooperated together in engineering a military coup which would oust Solis from power, and install an administration which would maintain the pro-business and pro-American policies prior to Solis' ascension.

In January 1956, Solis made a recess appointment for fellow party member Vicente Mendieta as his Secretary of the Interior while Congress was in recess, which was constitutionally permitted. However, prior to Solis' assumption of power, Congress passed a decree which placed a temporary prohibition on recess appointments, thus making Solis' appointment illegal. Disputing this with the Supreme Court, Solis insisted that his appointment was legal, and that Congress' decree was contradicting the Constitution. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of Congress, and Solis quickly recognized the decision, and declared that his appointment of Mendieta as invalid. However, Congress used this as a grounds to impeach Solis, an action that Solis flatly rejected, and refused to attend. Interpreting this as an act of defiance against congressional order, Congress requested military intervention, accusing of Solis of "floundering" the powers of the presidency. The military, which had been working closely with Anglo-American operatives at the time, mobilized and stormed Mexico City, arresting Solis and his allies, and declared martial law under General Francisco Alarcón.

The coup was widely condemned internationally as politically motivated, although at the time, Anglo-American involvement in the coup was unknown. Within several years, Mexico under Alarcón's rule saw rapid economic growth and continued liberalization at the expense of civil and political liberties, and had largely become recognized by most Western powers. The coup was seen as the chief precursor and model for similar coups throughout Latin America during the Cold War, and led to years of massive human rights violations, economic inequality, state terrorism, and genocide against the Maya under Alarcón. After the Cold War ended, declassified military information and documents revealed the Anglo-American governments' involvement in the war, and subsequent apologies and calls for reparations were issued. The coup continues to be a major source of contention and controversy in Mexican politics, especially in regards to Mexico's own relationship with the Anglo-American community.

Background

Post-Revolution of 1910

Although the Mexican Revolution of 1910 had ended by 1920, Mexico continued to experience political strife and turmoil. In 1928, General Álvaro Obregón was elected as president, but before he was able to take office, he was assassinated, prompting the creation of the National Revolutionary Party (Spanish: Partido Nacional Revolucionario) by Plutarco Elías Calles, Obregón's handpicked successor. The party sought to unify the nation and to implement the goals of the Revolution. The party operated under the pretense that it championed the interests of the Mexican worker and farmer, and promised reforms in all aspects of Mexican society from land to education. During the Maximoto period under Calles however, the Mexican government grew increasingly authoritarian in its approach to policy, and did much to repress the far-left, banning the Mexican Communist Party, breaking up strikes, and caused a severe polarization and radicalization in both sides of the Mexican political spectrum.

After Calles, his successor, Lázaro Cárdenas accelerated land reform, established social welfare programs, and nationalized the country's railroad system. His administration was met with appraisal by those on the left, but widely opposed by foreign venture capitalists and entrepreneurs. Cárdenas' selection of Manuel Ávila Camacho as his successor was widely criticized, but Camacho's continuation of Cárdenas' policies, and commitment towards protecting the working class. However, he also introduced electoral reform that made it difficult for parties on the far-left and far-right to operate, and increased income inequality through his industrialization plan. In addition, Cárdenas pursued closer ties with Mexico's Anglo-American neighbors, particularly Brazoria, Sierra, and the United Commonwealth, inviting more foreign investment to develop the Mexican economy.

Camacho's policies signified a clear alignment with the right, and a departure from the radical revolutionary approach that his predecessor had embraced in his own early administration. The outbreak of World War II and Anglo-America's eventual entry into the war coaxed the Mexican government into aligning with its neighbors, strengthening its ties with the Northerners. After Camacho stepped down from office, Miguel Alemán Valdez came into power. Focusing on rapid industrialization and strengthening businesses, Alemán was initially extremely popular, but towards the end of his administration in 1952, his administration was mired with corruption and bribery scandals, and credited with the rise of crony capitalism in Mexico.

Presidency of Umberto Ruiz

Elected in 1952, Umberto Ruiz narrowly defeated frontrunner Soledad Solis in the party nomination, and won the presidential election with a 36% plurality. Promising to tackle the corruption that his predecessor faced, whilst committing towards pro-industrialization policies of Camacho and Alemán, Ruiz formed an alliance with moderates and the center-left within his party under the premise that he would lift the political measures imposed against labor unions, political organizations, and the Church, which had been suppressed under Alemán.

Ruiz promoted "austerity and modernization" as his core policies, and implemented the "March to Sea" campaign, which was a nationwide initiative attempting to shift the population from the higher inland to the coasts where there was an abundance of natural resources and economic opportunities. Although he promised to expropriate large foreign owners, he in fact followed his predecessors in developing cozy ties with Anglo-American and European investors and entrepreneurs. Tightening public expenditure, Ruiz devoted most state funds towards infrastructure and road transportation. Of the schools and hospitals he sought to build, most new projects were built along the coast, closer to the foreigners, and not most of the Mexican population itself.

Revolution of 1955

Presidency of Soledad Solis

Coup

Anglo-American intervention

Operation Blackfoot

Sierran occupation of the Yucatán Peninsula

Aftermath

  • Roman Empire Flag.png Roman Empire - Immediately following the coup Foreign Minister of Rome Nikolaos Terzi issued a statement condemning the overthrow of a democratically elected executive. "It is an affront to democratic nations across the world that a popularly elected government official was overthrown by the very military that's honor bound to protect and uphold democratic principles." The Emperor himself could not be reached for comment.
  • Flag of Mariana.png Mariana - The Liberal government of Alexander Bouras was highly critical of the coup, with the Prime Minister calling it an affront to democracy and the just process of election. Bouras himself stated that "democratic regimes toppling others, regardless of political orientation, would only bolster communist rhetoric and undermine all governments by the people." In early 1957 he pushed for a motion in the League of Nations for an official condemnation, at the very least, but a change of government that year saw his plans surprisingly sidelined by the new government.

Legacy

Apologies

  • Flag of Rainier.png Rainier - In 1991 Rainian Minister-President Nicholas Halifax released several documents showing Rainian support and assistance in the coup by the government of Samuel Henderson. Halifax subsequently issued his apologies to the Mexican nation and started the Mexican-Rainian Partnership Scheme (MRPS) which saw Rainier invest heavily in poor Mexican communities. The MRPS was scrapped by the Cedric government in 2001.

See also

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