Sunday, April 13, 2014

Sobel Wiki: Guns and Wood

This week's featured article at the Sobel Wiki is on the 1950 Mexican elections, the most important election in the U.S.M. in the 20th century.

Sobel's United States of Mexico had already suffered the consequences of one suspended election in 1881, which resulted in the HermiĆ³n dictatorship of 1881 to 1901. Despite this, incumbent President Alvin Silva chose to suspend the 1944 elections for the duration of the Global War, which he had entered in dramatic fashion by launching a surprise attack against Japan two years earlier.

The people of the U.S.M. did not take kindly to having their elections suspended, and two separate insurrections broke out, one by Mexico's black freedmen, and the other by the country's Mexicano majority. Sobel quotes a Mexican historian who says that if the two groups had cooperated, they might have succeeded in overthrowing Silva, but instead they spent as much time fighting each other as they did the government.

The situation was bad enough when Mexico was winning the war, but by the late 1940s the country had suffered a series of defeats, and Japanese airmobiles were carrying out bombing raids against San Francisco and invading the Mexican states of Hawaii and Alaska. Silva finally found himself compelled to hold the suspended elections, which he announced in July 1949 would be held six months later.

Silva had seized control of the Mexican news media around the same time he suspended the 1944 election, and he had used them to denounce the opposition United Mexican Party as little better than traitors for opposing the war. To insulate themselves from accusations of treason, the U.M.P. chose Admiral Paul Suarez to run against Silva. Suarez had resigned as commander of the Mexican Pacific Fleet in the fateful year 1944, and he became the de facto peace candidate, in spite of his intention to continue the war.

On election day, both sides used violence to intimidate opposition voters, and when Suarez narrowly defeated Silva, the President accused him of stealing the election. Violence between the two sides continued after the election, and threatened to degenerate into a full-scale civil war as Suarez' inauguration approached. To head one off, a group of garrison commanders led by Colonel Vincent Mercator had both Silva and Suarez arrested, and established a military junta.

Despite a sham election held in 1965, Mercator continued to rule the U.S.M. at the time Sobel was writing For Want of a Nail in 1971.

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