Aguascalientes, Convention of
Aguascalientes, Convention of
The Convention of Aguascalientes was one of the central events of the Mexican Revolution. It was the first and most representative revolutionary assembly during a period in which the Mexican revolutionary process was on the ascent and at its most radical. At this time the three factions that defeated the Victoriano Huerta regime—the Constitutionalists, Villistas (followers of Francisco Villa), and Zapatistas (followers of Emiliano Zapata)—decided to assemble a group of military representatives in order to elect a national government and define a program of reforms that would have the support of all of the revolutionary factions.
The convention had three different phases. The first and most representative phase brought together military delegates from the three main factions between August and October 1914. Held in the city of Aguascalientes, the convention declared itself sovereign, debated the platform for the government, and decided that none of the three leaders—Venustiano Carranza, Villa, and Zapata—should hold power. Carranza did not recognize the convention, however, and decided to fight it, which led to a split between the Villistas and Zapatistas on one side and the Constitutionalists headed by Carranza on the other. Carranza was soon joined by the brilliant military leader Álvaro Obregon. Unable to resolve the differences between the military leaders and incapable of establishing unity among the revolutionaries, the convention was divided, and a bloody civil war erupted between the Villista-Zapatista alliance and the Constitutionalists.
The second phase of the convention took place between November 1914 and June 1915. In this phase the Villa-Zapata alliance was able to occupy the capital of the country, name a government headed by Eulalio Gutiérrez, and prepare to confront Carranza. During this period the destiny of the convention, and that of the Mexican Revolution, was decided militarily in the great battles of el Bajío, where Álvaro Obregón defeated Francisco Villa. Villa's defeat became the defeat of the convention, which had to abandon Mexico City and deal with the dissolution of the Villa-Zapata alliance. Nevertheless this was the most fertile period of the convention in political and ideological terms because while the armies were confronting each other on the battlefield, the revolution's most radical program for social, economic, and political reforms was debated and passed inside the assembly. During this time the convention established a parliamentary system and passed a land distribution law and radical labor reforms.
The third phase of the convention lasted from June 1915 until its formal dissolution in 1916. During this period the convention was exclusively a Zapatista assembly, in which the delegates from the south were able to set forth a clean political proposal for the organization of the national state and to pass radical laws on education, justice, employment, and land. These could not be enforced, however, because Zapata's troops were on the run and would soon be defeated by the Constitutionalists. In spite of its political and military defeat, however, the convention was very significant in that it left a political legacy that was taken up, at least in part, by the new Mexican Constituent Congress in 1917.
Amaya, Luis Fernando C. La Soberana Convención Revolucionaria, 1914–1916. México: Trillas, 1975.
Avila Espinosa, Felipe Arturo. El pensamiento económico, politico y social de la Convención de Aguascalientes. México: Instituto de Cultura de Aguascalientes—INEHRM, 1991.
Quirk, Robert E. The Mexican Revolution 1914–1915: The Convention of Aguascalientes. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1960.