Alvarado, Salvador (1880–1924)

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Alvarado, Salvador (1880–1924)

Salvador Alvarado (b. 1880; d. June 1924), military leader of the Mexican Revolution and social reformer. Alvarado, the son of a printer, was born in northwest Mexico. After opposing the Porfiriato in the anarcho-syndicalist Mexican Liberal Party (Partido Liberal Mexicano—PLM) and participating in the brutally suppressed workers' strike at Cananea in 1906, he transferred his allegiance in 1909 to the more moderate, broader-based movement of Francisco I. Madero. His organizational and tactical skills elevated him rapidly in the military hierarchy during the revolutionary campaigns against Porfirio Díaz and Victoriano Huerta. In 1914, Madero's successor, the Constitutionalist leader Venustiano Carranza, promoted him to division general. Then, following a brief stint as military commandant of the Federal District, he became Carranza's proconsul for the conquest and administration of the state of Yucatán.

Subduing a powerful regional oligarchy with his 7,000-man army in March 1915, Alvarado immediately attempted to make Yucatán a model of what the Mexican Revolution could accomplish, to transform the region into a social laboratory. His three-year governorship (1915–1918) was characterized by an effective blend of populist reform and authoritarian military rule. Buoyed by a swell in henequen revenues generated by World War I, Alvarado established more than a thousand new schools, the majority of them in remote, previously untouched hamlets and hacienda communities. He enforced an earlier, moribund decree "freeing" the debt peons who worked in slavelike conditions on the henequen estates and attempted to redress labor abuses through state-run tribunals. Under Alvarado's aegis, Mexico's first feminist congresses were convened, and special feminist leagues were organized. Alvarado was also responsible for the creation of a small but powerful urban labor movement, based in Mérida, the state's capital, and in Progreso, its principal port. In 1916, seeking to institutionalize his regional movement, Alvarado incorporated the workers and campesinos into a nascent state party, the Socialist Workers' Party (Partido Socialista Obrero). Its name was changed a year later to the Socialist Party of Yucatán (Partido Socialista de Yucatán). Many now regard it as a forerunner of Mexico's present-day corporatist edifice, the Institutional Revolutionary Party (Partido Revolucionario Institucional—PRI).

Carranza removed Alvarado as governor in 1918; although Alvarado harbored presidential aspirations, he never regained the renown he had known as Yucatán's revolutionary caudillo. In 1924, with fellow Sonoran Adolfo De La Huerta and an important segment of the Mexican army, he rebelled against Carranza's successor, Alvaro Obregón Salido, and was killed by Obregonistas in El Hormiguero, Chiapas, in June 1924.

See alsoMexico, Wars and Revolutions: Mexican Revolution .


Francisco J. Paoli Bolio, Yucatán y los orígenes del nuevo estado mexicano: Gobierno de Salvador Alvarado, 1915–1918 (1984).

Gilbert M. Joseph, Revolution from Without: Yucatán, Mexico, and the United States, 1880–1924, rev. ed. (1988).

Additional Bibliography

Chacón, Ramón D. "Salvador Alvarado and the Agrarian Reform in Yucatán, 1915–1918: Federal Obstruction of Regional Social Change." In Land, Labor & Capital in Modern Yucatán: Essays in Regional History and Political Economy, Jeffrey Brannon and Gil Joseph, editors. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1991.

Fallaw, Ben W. "Dry Law, Wet Politics: Drinking and Prohibition in Post-Revolutionary Yucatán, 1915–1935." Latin American Research Review 37 (2002): 37-64.

Herrera y Cairo, Othón. Salvador Alvarado: Vida y obra. Sinaloa[?]: Gobierno del Estado de Sinaloa, 2004.

                                     Gilbert M. Joseph

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Alvarado, Salvador (1880–1924)

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Alvarado, Salvador (1880–1924)