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Papel moneda

By 1863 the French had invaded Mexico, a Regency Council had been established to rule until the arrival of the Emperor, Maximilian, and adherents of the former President, Benito Juárez, had risen arms in various parts of Mexico. In Tabasco the Liberal Army of Tabasco (Ejército Liberal Tabasqueño) had defeated the French at the battle of El Jahuactal on 1 November 1863 and since December had besieged the capital San Juan Bautista (now Villahermosa) where the French troops, under governor General Eduardo González Arévalo, were entrenched. Arévalo had created a minor fortress out of the Casa de Gobierno, the building called the Principal, and the city blocks that immediately surrounded them. Heavily fortified breastworks lined the streets, while windows were boarded up or else modified for marksmen.

The Regency nominated General Manuel Díaz de la Vega to replace Arévalo and he sailed for San Juan Bautista by the only route open to the French, the river Grivalja. Guerrillas harassed him along the way, but his boat, the Conservadora, managed to disperse them with deadly discharges of scrap metal fired from a cannon. Díaz de la Vega arrived on 18 January, uninjured but facing a nearly impossible situation. To begin with, Arévalo was smouldering over his loss of command and by the time Díaz reached the plaza of San Juan Bautista he discovered that the small resistance army led by Gregório Méndez had grown considerably.

The US consul, James Mansfield, reported: Ingress or egress from the place is now a matter of impossibility. Cruel reprisals are made on both sides and the state of the city or rather that part of it in the possession of the imperialists can hardly be worse as leaving one side the danger of the shot and shell which are continually flying in all directions, there is a complete dearth of the common necessaries of life. For instance, bread is sold at a rate which is equivalent to a price of $200 per bbl. for flour and everything else in the same ratio. Private individuals considering themselves fortunate when they obtain any even at these costs.

Díaz de la Vega immediately imposed martial law, decreeing the death penalty for anyone who stole as much as a single peso. Arévalo had already imposed forced loans to pay for his defence and Díaz now demanded a forced loan of $12,000 from the major merchants and property owners. Tabasco was not a wealthy state and these extortions cost the imperialists their last remaining support. Díaz also appointed José Julián Dueñas (who had been assessed at $1,000) along with Juan Ruiz and José Sánchez Roca as a "reconciliation commission" to treat with the rebels but these measures had little effect. Resistance leaders answered by assassinating two Spanish and two Mexican collaborators, and almost killed the commissioners themselves.

The imperialists controlled almost nothing except the Principal, which lay a short distance from the Grijalva's west bank. Ensconced in redoubts throughout the town, the enemy pelted the Casa de Gobierno with a fierce if undisciplined fire. Under these bleak circumstances interventionists could muster the strength for one more offensive measure. On 2 February Díaz threw a column against the republicans fortified in the Iglesia de la Concepción, not far from the Casa de Gobierno. The engagement quickly degenerated into gruesome hand-to-hand combat of machetes against bayonets, and while the latter was decidedly the superior weapon, the republicans' superior numbers eventually forced a withdrawal.

Díaz managed to fortify his position with additional soldiers and two cannons from Veracruz but, unfortunately, one of the two weapons' carriage broke apart in the first fifteen minutes of firing.

On 11 February the resistance fighters staged a frenzied raid on the Principal and at last succeeded in hacking open some of the doors. Once inside, they discovered that the interventionists had covered the floors with nail-studded boards, points upward, to check the invaders' mobility. But this primitive obstacle was easily circumvented by tossing down an improvised gangway. Moreover, a simultaneous attack on the cavalry's headquarters ultimately settled the battle in republican favour. With the fall of the Principal, the rebels also came into control of a modest supply of arms and several crates of ammunition.

The situation was now clearly out of reach. Arrival of some fifty to sixty dejected interventionists from Chiapas simply compounded the hardship. Díaz received orders from French contra-admiral Bosse to evacuate all troops and material from San Juan Bautista; without their support further occupation was impossible, and 28 February Díaz organised a general retreat to Frontera. The battle for San Juan Bautista had lasted exactly forty-five days, from 14 January to 27 February, and the republicans had recovered the state even before Maximilian arrived in Mexico..

The notes were authorised by a decree[text needed] dated [                ]AHSDN, xi/481.4/9536, 5 February 1864, f. 255. Of the $12,000 demanded, half was to be paid in currency, and half in 'papel moneda' which the government would allow to circulate. The government would collect the paper currency and repay the lenders within six months. The list of businesses and their assessment wasLa Sociedad, 6 March 1984:

Juan Ruiz $ 1,700
Miguel Payró 1,300
Ramón Boix 1,300
Romano Hermanos 1,000
José Julián Dueñas 1,000
J. Rondan y Compañía 1,000
Nicanor Paniagua 600
Angel Ghigliazza 600
Juan Sanchez Roca 600
Welsh, Allen y Compañía 600
Francisco S. Balboa 500
González y Gutiérrez 200
Nicolás Calacich 200
José Sainz Pardo 150
Señora Viuda de R. de la Peña 150
Manuel Manegat 150
Pedro Sánchez y Compañía 150
Evaristo Trujillo 80
Miguel Lomasto 80
Gutiérrez y Glori 70
Francisco Loul 60
Juan Royna 60
García y Cueva 60
Miguel Olive 60
José L. Priego 60
Riera y Beverino 50
Francisco Clemente 50
Bonifacio Ramírez 50
Felipe Alfaro 40
Juan Barba 40
Antonio Noriega 40


Not surprisingly, given the circumstances, these have a very simple design with the legend 'Papel moneda. / VALE UN PESO' inside a frame, and were personalised with a signature, handstamp(s) and occasionally a number.

Known issuers included:

Juan Ruiz 1with handstamp of JUAN RUIZ - TABASCO and signature of Juan Ruiz

Juan Ruiz was a Spanish businessman, and extremely wealthy, considering his assessment at $1,700. He (along with José Julián Dueñas and Juan Sánchez Roca) was part of a delegation that the Imperialists sent to treat with the Liberal attackers on 20 January 1864 and was lucky to escape with his life.

During the siege, on 11 February, he arrived in the brigantine San Juan with a large quantity of food and goods from the United States and Cuba.

sig Juan Ruiz


Papel moneda 3

with a handstamp "RAMON BOIX – TABASCO." and signature of Juan Oliver.

Ramon Boix, a Spaniard, was a shipping agent in Tabasco in 1852. He died in 1888Periódico Oficial, 27 June 1888.

Juan Oliver sig Oliver


papel moneda 7

papel moneda 7 reverse

Nicanor Paniagua

He died in San Juan Bautista on 27 June 1877El Organo de los Estados, Año I, Núm. 61, 20 July 1877.

sig Paniagua


Papel moneda 4

with a square stamp, a round "A.G." and signature of Angel Ghigliazza.

Angel Ghigliazza was an Italian merchant.

He was father-in-law to Manuel Mestre Gorgoll (governor of Tabasco 1883-1884) and grandfather of Manuel Mestre Ghigliazza (governor of Tabasco 1911-1913).

sig Paniagua


with a handstamp "SANCHEZ HERMANOS  - TABASCO." and signature of Juan Sánchez Roca.

Juan Sánchez Roca, a Spaniard and major capitalist in the state, was president of the town council in 1857 and a deputy to the state congress in 1875.

He was the father of Juan Sánchez Azcona.

sig Sanchez Roca


Papel moneda 8

with handstamp "RAMON BOIX - TABASCO" and signature of Juan Ruiz on behalf of Welsh, Allen y Ca.

Juan Ruiz sig Ruiz


Papel moneda 6

with handstamps "M. M. C." and "[  ]CO" and signature Manuel Manegat p.p. Luis Manegat.

Manuel Manegat was a Spanish businessman. sig Manegal


In summary

  issuer from to


$1 Juan Ruiz    
Juan Oliver         includes numbers [ ]12 to 326
Nicanor Paniagua     300 300  
Angel Ghigliazza  1  300 300 300 includes numbers 96 to 235CNBanxico #6751
Juan Sánchez Roca     300 300  
Welsh, Allen y Compañía 1 300 300 300 includes number 55
Manuel Manegat 1 75 75 75 includes number 57


There is a reference to Díaz decreeing the circulation of $2,104 in promissory notes, which the city merchants were forced to acceptAHSDN, D/481.4/9536, 19 February 1864, f. 274, which might indicate the total value of this 'papel moneda' issued.

Again, given the circumstances, we can presume that these were short-lived and probably not redeemed.