Villista currency policy - Central and Southern Mexico


On 29 March the Zacatecas government sent a circular to the Jefaturas Políticas that Villa had declared all the Carrancista issues (todas las emisiones de billetes Carrancistas) null and void. The next day the government asked for clarificationAMZ, caja 14, exp 9. folio 1. We perhaps have some indication of the public’s reaction that the same day graffiti attacking Villa appeared on wallsAMZ, caja 14, exp 9. folio 1.

On 6 April the government wrote to the various Recaudores de RentasFresnillo, Ojocaliente, Nieves, Mazapil, Nochistlán, Villanueva, Sánchez Román, Ciudad García, Juchipila, Sombrerete, Pinos and C. del Oro telling them to send all the notes that they and their branches had, with the exception of the dos caritas and cartones, within ten days to the Dirección de Rentas to be exchanged. Henceforth, no other type of note would be paid out or accepted in paymentPeriódico Oficial, 10 April 1915. However, on 7 April the government issued its circular núm. 16 and on 8 April sent to the Jefaturas Políticas and Recaudaciones de Rentas a clarification that the 25c, 50c and $1 sábanas were admissible, and that only the deteriorated notes would be exchanged AMZ, caja 14, exp 14, folio 1. The Sub-Recaudador de Rentas in Guadalupe told the Presidente Municipal that the Dirección General had ordered him to accept only the dos caritas and cartones, and so refused to accept the 25c, 50c and $1 sábanas. People were unable pay their taxes, and businesses in turn refused to accept the sábanas. The Jefe Político passed on the report to the government, asking them to order the public offices not to refuse these sábanas, as it was contrary to circular núm. 16 AMZ caja 14, exp 11, folio 61.

On 6 May 1915 the Zacatecas government told the Recaudadores de Rentas to send all their low value sábanas (25c, 50c, and $1) to the Dirección General de Rentas for them to be exchangedAMZ, Jefatura Política, caja 14, exp. 18, folio 1. On 22 May the state government sent a circular to all the jefaturas políticas. The general public had been refusing to accept $1, $5, and $10 dos caritas with black rubber seals, on the pretext that they were counterfeit, but the government insisted on their acceptancePeriódico Oficial, 29 May 1915.

In June 1915 the authorities in Zacatecas put up notices threatening severe penalties to those shopkeepers who were refusing to accept revolutionary issuesPrensa, 23 June 1915.


In Aguascalientes the Chihuahua notes were less acceptable than Carrancista issues. On 23 February 1915, Filiberto Sánchez and other delegates stated in the Convention that, although Roque González Garza had decreed various issues of forced circulation, merchants in the city refused to accept Villista or Durango notes, on the excuse that they had no change, though they were happy to take Gobierno Provisional de México or Ejército Constitucionalista notes. As the army and some delegates had recently been paid with Villista or Durango notes they hoped the executive would enforce its decree with heavy finesAGN, Fondo Convención, caja 5, exp 2, f 144.

Rather than specifically annul the Carrancista issue the Governor, Benito Díaz, listed the issues that were of forced circulation. On 2 March 1915 he repeated Villa’s circular that these included, as well as the two Chihuahua issues and others undeniably from Villa’s faction, the Monclova and Ejército Constitucionalista issues and the early Gobierno Provisional which, if not REVALIDADO, had to be revalidated in the Oficinas del Timbre del EstadoPeriódico Oficial, 6 March 1915. On 22 March Escudero from Chihuahua, in reply to a query from Díaz, repeated this listPeriódico Oficial, 27 March 1915.

On 17 April 1915, in its first reference to disowning Carranza, the Periódico Oficial reported that since some people thought that the prohibition included the Estado de Durango notes, it was repeating the 27 March telegramsPeriódico Oficial, 17 April 1915. However, this meant that only the later Carranza issues were actually excluded.


In Guanajuato in March 1915 the only money in circulation were the Constitucionalista issues, Villista issues and that issued by Gertrudis Sánchez when he was governor of MichoacánPrensa, 25 March 1915.

On 20 March 1915 the Administración Principal de Rentas of Guanajuato received instructions that notes issued by Villa were to cease circulating, and by the same evening they were being refused. The next day there was panic, as the notes could only be changed in Chihuahua itself, and on 22 March further instructions told them to continue accepting them and reestablished a semblance of peaceCrispín Espinosa, Efemerdides Guanajuetenses, Guanajuato, 1920.

The Villistas abandoned Guanajuato on the night of 18 April and the next day businesses began to refuse to accept their notes. Since these were widespread there was public panic, mainly among the poorer classes, and the next day the Presidente Municipal, J. Paz López, issued notices that they were to be accepted, under penalty of a fineibid..

On 29 May a new attack by Villa on Guanajuato renewed the lack of confidence in Carranza’s paper and holders tried to change it for some other formibid..

San Luis Potosí

In San Luis Potosí the Provisional Governor, Emiliano G. Saravia, received a telegram on 16 March 1915 instructing him to replace the Gobierno Provisional notes with Chihuahua, as funds permitted. On 31 March he forbad all Carranzista currency except the low-value cartones which were to be used until a new issue of fractionals could be madePeriódico Oficial, 3 April 1915. On 13 April circular núm. 14 listed the notes that were of forced circulation including the sábanas of 25c, 50c and $1 and the dos caritas: this was repeated the next day by the Prefecto Regional, A. B. Cortes. Disowning the Carrancista notes must have caused trouble as on 21 April the Administrador Principal de Rentas, Francisco Gandara, announced that the Governor had agreed that in the case of people who were notoriously poor his office would for the next five days exchange the nullified notes for dos caritas. The exchange was to take place in the old Banco de San Luis building. People would need two witnesses to attest to their poverty and confirm that the notes were their own, and a limit of ten pesos (in multiples of five pesos since the office did not have enough one peso notes) was fixed for each personPeriódico Oficial, 24 April 1915.


In late January 1915 interim governor Gustavo M. Bravo, announced that ‘villistas’ were of forced circulation, in an effort to restore confidenceLa Sombra de Arteaga, 28 January 1915. Bravo was governor from 18 January to 2 April 1915.

On 17 February 1915 the Presidente Municipal Interino of Cadereyta de Montes, Querétaro, Coronel Francisco Diaz, telephoned the governor to tell him that businesses were refusing to accept any notes, but particularly the sábanas. He repeated his complaint on 22 February. The next day General Gonzalo Ramírez Carrillo told him that all notes were forced and he should take any measures necessary to punish infractorsAQ, Fondo Poder Ejecutivo Sec 2ª Hacienda C-1 Año 1915 Exp 142.

On 3 March Gustavo M. Bravo issued a notice on the forced circulation of notes but this did not end the difficulties over acceptance so on 12 March he was obliged to threaten a fine of two hundred pesosLa Sombra de Arteaga, 18 March 1915. On 22 March the Administrador Local de Correos in Querétaro was asked to explain why his office was refusing to accept sábanas. He replied that they did accept sábanas, unless they did not have resellos, in accordance with instructions received from the Dirección General de Correos on 16 March. The next day the governor replied that as no one had been authorised to revalidate these notes and 99% of the ones in circulation did not have resellos, he was asking him to reconsiderAQ, Fondo Poder Ejecutivo Sec 2ª Hacienda C-1 Año 1915 Exp 167.

On 22 July the Presidentes Municipales of Vizarrón and Toliman, Querétaro, were told, when selling maize to the public to accept only dos caritas and the 25c and 50c sábanas. Two days before, the Presidente Municipal of Huimilpan had been told the same, but that in order to avoid any ills, he should also accept Gobierno Provisional note unless instructed otherwiseAQ, Fondo Poder Ejecutivo Sec 2ª Hacienda C-2 Año 1915 Exp 204.


On 1 April 1915 the Provisional Governor of Jalisco, Julian C. Medina, decreed all Carrancista currency, including the Ejército Constitucionalista, invalid, even if it had been restamped in the offices of the Jefatura de HaciendaLa Republica, 1 April 1915. The news that all the currency issued by Carranza was prohibited, irrespective of date or resello, with the exception of the 5c, 10c and 20c cartones, had already been published in Guadalajara on 31 MarchPeriódico Oficial, 8 April 1915. This, therefore, superseded the notice that the Oficina de Timbre had posted up on the same date, in which it informed the public that the Departamento de Hacienda y Fomento in Chihuahua, in a telegram dated 22 March, had said that notes of the Gobierno Provisional issued prior to the split which lacked resellos were of forced circulation until they were exchanged for notes of the Banco de Chihuahua (presumably dos caritas)La Republica, 1 April 1915.

On 6 April the Presidente Municipal of Guadalajara, Guilebaldo F Romero, clarified that the notes of forced circulation were the sábanas (which should have a Jefatura de Hacienda del Estado resello), the dos caritas and the Estado de Durango notes signed by F. R. Laurenzana, Pastor Rouaix y M. del Real AlfraroEl Estado de Jalisco, 6 April 1915. However, on the same day, Governor General Julián C. Medina, announced that the only notes of forced circulation were (1) both Chihuahua issues, (2) Constitutionalist cartones of 5c, 10c and 20c, (though not those of Colima or any other state), and (3) the 5c, 10c and 20c notes of the Dirección General de Rentas de Jalisco dated 19 June, 15 August and 24 October 1914El Estado de Jalisco, 8 April 1915.


The Villistas arrived in Morelia at the end of February 1915 andJosé I Prieto named governor They stayed all of March and the first eight days of April. Governor Prieto included the Ejército Constitucionalista with the Villista notes in his list of forced currency published on 4 March 1915Periódico Oficial, 7 March 1915, modified on 10 March and again on 18 March.


On 2 March 1915 Coronel Aurelio Castillo informed Zapata that he had captured Huamuxtitlan, Guerrero. The people were suffering because anyone who had anything refused to accept Chihuahua notes, and Castillo asked whether he could exchange themAGN, Fondo Emiliano Zapata, caja 6, exp 3, f 40.


On 30 September 1914 the Presidente Municipal of Miacatlán, José Hernández, wrote to Zapata that he had received a delegation of people who still had $1 notes of the ‘so-called’ Ejército Constitucionalista. Zapata replied that circulation of the ‘so-called’ Ejército Constitucionalista notes was forbidden but that people who went to buy goods in Mexico City could change them thereAGN, Fondo Emiliano Zapata, caja 17, exp 6, f 69. Zapata, from his head-quarters in Cuernavaca, issued a decree banning the Carrancista issues on 10 October. On 15 October Hernandez acknowledged that Carrancista notes were forbidden but could similarly be exchanged in Mexico CityAGN, Fondo Emiliano Zapata, caja 17, exp 7, f 58.

However, Villista notes were not popular. On 31 January 1915 Colonel Zacarías Terres reported that Villa’s notes were worthless in CuautlaAGN, Fondo Convención, caja 5, exp 4, f 7, telegram coronel Zacarías Terres to Otilio E. Montaño. The same day Roque González Garza replied that they were indeed of forced circulation, since the Convention had not yet decreed otherwise, and the Convention was using them to pay its troopsAGN, Fondo Convención, caja 5, exp 4, f 9, telegram Roque González Garza, Cuernavaca, 4 February 1915. On 29 March 1915 General Francisco Mendoza informed Zapata that the people of Axochiapan were unwilling to accept, amongst other, Villista notes. Again he was instructed to circulate the decrees on forced circulationAGN, Fondo Emiliano Zapata, caja 7, exp 3, f 49. On 31 August General Mauricio Mejia wrote to Zapata that the Hacienda Hospital in Cuautla was refusing to accept the dos caritas with scalloped Tesorería seals (billetes de dos caras con sellos de coronas) which were the commonest type, so troops could not buy goods. He asked for a circular forcing their useAGN, Fondo Emiliano Zapata, caja 15, exp 19, f 41. At the end of the month the Presidente Municipal of Jojutla made a similar reportAGN, Fondo Emiliano Zapata, caja 15, exp 19, f 42.

Chihuahua notes were still being referred to (uncomplimentarily) in February 1916. On 9 February Coronel en Jefe Silviano Lenteno wrote to Zapata from Huehuetlan, that some of his troops had commandeered supplies because all the towns in his zone refused to accept the paper money of the ‘revolución del Sur’, only the Carrancista paper was respected and the Chihuahua money and Revalidados caused difficultiesAGN, Fondo Emiliano Zapata, caja 11, exp 4, f 30 letter SilvianoLenteno, Huehuetlan to Zapata, Tlaltizapan 9 February 1916.

Federal District

On 11 November 1914 General Maximo V. Iriarte, from San Mateo Jalpa, Federal District, informed Zapata that he had copies of the decrees of 8 September and 10 October, the second of which prohibited the circulation of the paper currency issued by the ‘ambicioso y personalista’ CarranzaAGN, Fondo Emiliano Zapata, caja 17, exp 8, f 35.

On 9 January 1915, on the last day for the payment of taxes, the Oficina de Contribuciones Directas, though an error, issued a notice that it would not accept the Monclova or state issues. Though the notice was withdrawn by midday the news, needless to say, had spread throughout the city and businesses began to refuse the notes. Since people had been paid with this money, they were greatly discommoded. Felicitas Villarreal, Ministro de Hacienda, stated that not only the state issues, but Chihuahua, Monclova and all the other Constitutionalist notes were of forced circulation and should be accepted in federal offices, and he had so instructed the Tesorería de la Federación and the Dirección de Contribuciones DirectasEl Monitor, 10 January 1915.

On 14 January Villarreal declared that Chihuahua notes were legal and of forced circulation, as their issue had been authorised by the then Primer Jefe, but various casas comerciales continued to refuse to accept themLa Convención, 14 January 1915 and they continued to be widely refused, by the railway company, banks and banking housesEl Monitor, 16 January 1915. At this time the question of the Villista paper currency was occupying the Convention’s debates. A commission led by Pérez Taylor proposed that the government of the Federal District forced their acceptance and punished those who refused, a motion that was accepted although some delegates opposed it on the grounds that the notes lacked any financial backing and that the imminent threat of the Carrancistas’ arrival explained the public's refusalEl Monitor, 20 January 1915. On 21 January the governor of the Federal District acknowledged the Convention’s disposition that business should accept Villista notes, as well as all the others of forced circulation Fondo Convención, caja 3, exp 4, f 84.

On 16 February Paulino López sent a report to Carranza, in which he stated that on 15 December 1914 the Villista government had set up four bureaux d’echange (casas de cambio) that, according to notices in the newspapers paid the best prices for gold, silver and banknotes, paying in Chihuahua notes. The Villistas also forced the banks to change, so that by the time they left they had taken most of the revalidated Gobierno Provisional, bonds and Constitutionalist currency and left several millions of their paper. The Banco de Londres had more than seven million; the Banco Nacional more than five and the Descuento Español more than eight million AIF, F9-57-27.

In early April in Mexico City it was announced that all Carrancista notes were without value, including the Ejército Constitucionalista issue. Only the cartones for 5c, 10c and 20c were exemptedLa República, 6 April 1915.

The government of the Distrito Federal was enforcing the acceptance of the dos caritas in July 1915El Renovador, 28 July 1915.


On the evening of 16 July 1915 Villistas under the command of Mayor José Kotuscey entered Pachuca and the next day Kotuscey, as Comandante Militar, advised that all notes were to be of forced circulation, whether Villista or Carrancista. However, nine days later, after fights between the factions, Kotuscey was captured by Constitutionalist forces and shot. The Constitutionalists in turn entered Pachuca and on 29 July the new Comandante Militar, General José de la Luz Romero, issued a manifesto that included that the notes known as dos caritas and revalidados altos were null and void. The dos caritas had been widespread.


When the Zapatistas occupied Puebla on 14 December 1914 the foreign merchants, in a fit of rejoicing (according to a Carrancista newspaper), spontaneously lowered their prices and the troops spent their Chihuahua notes on purchases. When the Constitutionalists retook the town on 4 January 1915 the merchants were left with 600,000 pesos in useless moneyEl Democráta, Veracruz, 14 January 1915

On 17 September 1915 Coronel Jesús Alcalde and the Presidente Municipal of Ixcamipla, Puebla, Antonio González Carrillo, told Zapata that nobody wanted Chihuahua or Gobierno Provisional notesAGN, Fondo Emiliano Zapata, caja 10, exp 2, f 31.

Southern Mexico

On 1 December 1915 American agents In El Paso seized three trunks and a small suitcase containing several million pesos of Villista money. The trunks had been shipped from New Orleans by the Villista general Felipe Dussart, who had been arrested there for breaching the neutrality laws. Apparently, Dussart had taken the money to the south of Mexico in an attempt to stir up rebellion but, having failed, had returned the money to the States to be placed in an El Paso bankPrensa, 3 December 1915; SD papers, 812.5157/109 report by Zacary Cobb, El Paso to Secretary of State, 30 November 1915.