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The revolution in Sonora

Villa’s agents in El Paso sent governor José María Maytorena Villista currency, with the aim of withdrawing from circulation the Carrancista notes that were most commonly being usedPrensa, 1 October 1914. On 23 September 1914 $500,000 was received at Nogales and notices were posted to the effect that the Constitutionalista money that has been used (Monclova and Ejército Constitucionalista issues) would no longer be acceptedEl Paso Herald, 23 September 1914: El Paso Morning Times, 24 September 1914: San Antonio Express, 24 September 1914.

On 11 November 1914 it was reported in Nogales, Arizona that the so-called Carranza money was to be outlawed in Sonora and that a number of the Sonora merchants and business men were endeavouring to dispose of the Carranza money which had fallen very low in valueDouglas Daily International, 11 November 1914. On 21 November Maytorena instructed his secretary, Lorenzo Rosado, to formulate a circular prohibiting Carranza’s new issue of Gobierno Provisional notes, and this was copied to all the districts two days laterAGHES, tomo 2993; El Estado de Sonora, 27 November 1914. On 21 December 1914 Maytorena asked for a decree prohibiting Carranza's Gobierno Provisional notes from the time that he was disowned and the Huertista issues. The request was acknowledged but put on hold by Rosado until he received fuller instructionsAGHES, tomo 2993.

In February 1915 Maytorena decreed that, because of the large number of counterfeits, the Chihuahua notes should be withdrawn and only notes issued by the local government (the Estado de Sonora issueIronic, considering that the Estado de Sonora issue was also widely counterfeited) should be allowed to circulate. The news caused alarm among the many holders of Chihuahua notes, and many businesses asked Maytorena to be permitted to exchange Villista notes for Estado de Sonora notes, but Maytorena refusedPrensa, 20 February 1915. By March Prensa reported great discontent and desperation in Nogales because both the Chihuahua notes and those issued by the Carrancistas when they dominated Sonora (the Monclova and Ejército Constitucionalista issues(?)) had been disowned. It seemed that Maytorena was going to amend his decree so that in future all notes would be accepted, provided that they had been restamped by the finance department (departamento de Hacienda del Estado)Prensa, 17 March 1915.

In February 1915 the Agencia Comercial y Financiera del Cuerpo de Ejército del Norte, under instruction from Villa, sent one million pesos in Chihuahua paper currency via Wells Express from Ciudad Juárez to Nogales $100,000 on 9 February, $100,000 on 10 February, $720,000 and $80,000 on 26 February. JMM papers, box 5, folder 2, item 24. On 23 March the Tesorería General of Sonora was sent $300,000.00 in dos caritas, and on 29 April another $500,000AGHES, Fondo Oficialidad Mayor, tomo 3024. However, these remittances to an ally became increasingly difficult: “Real money is the cause of Maytorena’s fall from grace, as funds in his army have been exceedingly short for months past. A soldier’s pay at this time is hardly sufficient to secure one meal, to say nothing of clothing and other supplies. A remittance from General Villa has been expected, but a short message received here from Juarez stated that there would be no funds available for the Sonora campaign and that the governor must provide himself with money from some other sourceDouglas Daily Dispatch, 21 April 1915, though there was the consignment on 29 April”.

On 30 March Maytorena issued his decree núm. 67 which prohibited the introduction into the state of any notes issued by Carranza, whatever their denomination or date of issue, and even when they were ‘REVALIDADO’El Estado de Sonora, 2 April 1915: Vida Nueva, 6 April 1915.

On 1 April Salvador Díaz, in Nogales, informed Maytorena, in Guaymas, that Villa had ordered the suspension of revalidating all the Carrancista issues (Monclova, Gobierno Provisional, etc.). As these seemed to be the issues that the circular of 21 March said should be changed, he wanted to know if he should continue taking them in for amortisation or refuse them. He was only revalidating Chihuahua and Sonora issues. Needless to say, the news had caused great alarmJMM papers, box 5, folder 5, item 2.

On 3 April the Prefecto of Nogales, E. Woolfolk, reported that El Correo del Norte and other newspapers had published Villa’s decree nullifying all Carrancista issues and that, as a result, the public and businesses were refusing to accept such notes, even when they were revalidated. As he had received no instructions from the state government, he was writing for instructions. On the same day the Administrator Principal (del Timbre) at Nogales, H[eriberto(?)] Borunda, also informed Maytorena that he had learnt of such a decree but he did not have the text or any particular instructions. He asked whether he should refuse Carrancista paper currency so that he could instruct his branches. On 4 April the government instructed the Prefecto to ensure that the Aduana at Nogales (and the other Aduanas) took every precaution posible to prevent the introduction of Carrancista notes, whatever their denomination or dateJMM papers, box 5, folder 5.

This decree of [ ] was sent to the various officials in Hermosillo, Nogales, Naco, Cananea and Guaymas on 7 April JMM papers, box 5, folder 5, sent to Tesorero General del Estado, Hermosillo; Prefecto del Distrito, Administrador de la Aduana, and Director General de Correos, Nogales; Comisario de Policía, Administrador de la Aduana, and Administrador de Correos, Naco; Prefecto del Distrito, Cananea; and Prefecto del Distrito, Administrador de la Aduana and Administrador de Correos, Guaymas. The decree was acknowledged by Guaymas, Naco and the Comisionado of the Fuerzas del Estado de Sonora, F. J. Cabezud, at Nogales on 8 April 1915AGHES, tomo 3024). Once again, people asked for clarification: for example, on 8 May Francisco Porras, from Cocorit, asked whether the Ejército Constitucionalista and Monclova issues were Carrancista. Maytorena replied that his decree referred to all the issues authorised by Carranza, including the Ejército Constitucionalista and Monclova notesJMM papers, box 5, folder 9.

In Nogales on 7 April it was rumoured that the military authorities had decided that the notes that Maytorena’s latest decree had declared null should be accepted again for a short period, so that the poorer classes could buy provisionsPrensa, 13 April 1915. A couple of days later the authorities in Nogales announced that they were suspending completely the revalidation of Carrancista issues, whatever the denomination, date, or whether they were already revalidated. Carrancista notes that were already stamped would continue in use until they could be withdrawn in a manner that would not harm their holdersPrensa, 15 April 1915. The government dispatched to Nogales someone empowered to say, once and for all, which notes could be accepted as forced in Sonora and received without fear of being considered falsePrensa, 17 April 1915.

On 7 May 1915 Maytorena telegraphed the inspectors in Hermosillo, Nogales, Cananea and Guaymas, ordering that immediately to stop revalidating all the issues authorised by CarranzaJMM papers, box 5, folder 9, item 5 Telegraphic circular: to C. E. Ortiz, F. F. Porras, and Remigio Montoya [typewritten transcript] 7 May 1915.

Maytorena did backtrack on what nullification implied. On 9 May, in response to a query, he told Porras in Cocorit to limit himself to not restamping Carrancista currency but not to make any declaration as to whether it was good or not, and on the same day told the Presidente Municipal of Cocorit, C. Luga, that the Carrancista notes had been declared null by the Convention, but that holders would not suffer as they could change their notes and meanwhile use them without a reselloJMM papers, box 5, folder 9. On 11 May Maytorena told the Tesorero General to instruct public offices to accept Carrancista notes whilst they set about changing themJMM papers, box 5, folder 10.

By 11 May Maytorena had ordered that the Carrancista notes issued before his 20 September 1914 decree should continue to be revalidated and once revalidated would be of forced circulation. On that date he also instructed the Tesorero General to tell the public offices, both federal and state, to start gradually to retire these notesJMM papers, box 5, folder 10.

On 18 May 1915 businesses in La Dura were refusing sábanas because they could not spend the money JMM papers, box 5, folder 11, item 20.

During the fighting near Del Rio and Villa Verde the Carrancista general Calles captured the office, on board some box cars, of General Acosta and found 500,000 pesos in Villa currency, part of the four million issued some time before by Governor Maytorena. Several thousand pesos were sent to Ives G. Lelevier, the Constitutionalist agent in Douglas, who declared that an unlimited supply could be secured for half a cent on the dollarThe Bisbee Daily Review, 22 July 1915. Later Calles sent $30,000 to Gustavo Padres, the Carrancista consul in Nogales, to distribute among the poor people of Nogales to relieve as much suffering as possibleDouglas Daily Dispatch, 11 August 1915.

By September 1915 the Jefatura de Hacienda in Sonora still had not received enough funds to change the old Gobierno Provisional and Ejército Constitucionalista notes and told the public that they were still legal tenderPeriódico Oficial, 22 January 1916.