31 October 2018

On 5 FEBRUARY 1913, the Mexican president Francisco I Madero and the vice president José María Pino Suárez attended a ceremony at the Benito Juárez Hemicycle—a monument in Mexico City. It was the last official event presided by the two before they were assassinated just over two weeks later.

Before they came to power in 1911, both politicians had led a political revolution for the establishment of democracy in the regime. During the 35-year-long dictatorship of Porfirio Diaz, the president who preceded Madero, large-scale modernisation, economic growth and urbanisation had benefitted only the elite, and had further marginalised the peasant community. Demonstrations that opposed the Diaz regime were quelled, including in 1903, when police fired on protestors at a massive public rally.

In 1908, Diaz declared that he would retire in two years. Madero, who was alert to the inadequacies of Diaz’s regime, created the Partido Anti-Reeleccionista—the Anti-Reelectionist Party—that lobbied for the renouncement of Diaz’s power. However, Diaz then changed his mind and had Madero arrested in an attempt to stymie his rise to power.

Madero fled to San Antonio, Texas in the United States and issued a call for an armed uprising that sparked the Mexican Revolution. He declared himself the winner of the election, returned to Mexico in 1911, and instituted various polices after assuming office, including the abolishment of the death penalty and granting freedom to certain political prisoners. But Madero was fiercely opposed by large sections of society, including conservatives and supporters of the revolution, and armed rebellions broke out. In 1913, during a takeover led by a military general José Victoriano Huerta Márquez, both Madero and Suarez were assassinated. They are remembered for having paved the way for dissent in a regime that was largely feudal.