Villista currency policy - North East Mexico


The Tesorería General in Mexico City sent the Pagaduría General in Saltillo great quantities of Constitutionalist state issues to use to pay the troops, so on 23 October 1914 the Comandante Militar, Luis Gutiérrez, issued a circular reminding the public that these were of forced circulation. Gutierrez wrote to the Presidente Municipal of Saltillo on 18 November 1914 that he had learnt that the Tesorería Municipal had instructed its offices not to receive certain of these notes, thus causing a lot of trouble for businesses and innumerable complaints and ordered the Presidencia to rescind its instructionsAMS, fondo Presidencia Municipal, caja 157, leg. 9, exp. 8, letter from Comandante Militar to Presidente Municipal, Saltillo, 18 November 1914. The Tesorero Municipal replied that they had been accepting the notes in payment, but that people had been trying to get the office to change them for billetes constitucionalistas which they did not have, hence their reluctanceAMS, fondo Presidencia Municipal, caja 157, leg. 2, exp. 16, letter from Tesorero Municipal to Presidente Municipal, 19 November 1914.

As the Villistas had moved into the northeast in early 1915 they had reintroduced the use of their currency in that area though it does not appear to have been too common. On 1 February 1915 the Governor and Military Commander of Coahuila General Santiago Ramírez García threatened to fine people who refused to accept Chihuahua notes and the next day repeated the message for traders and businessmenACOAH, exp. 11707. The first circular refers to ‘billetes de los emitidos en el estado de Chihuahua de cualquier valor que estós representan’. The second circular states that the Comandancia was retiring notes that were in bad condition through being repaired, torn or incomplete (en malas condiciones, por estar parchados, rotos o incompletos). Both circulars are typewritten drafts.. On 11 February in answer to a query Ramírez García had told the Presidente Municipal of Ocampo that the paper money issued by Villa in Chihuahua was of forced circulation, in accordance with the various circulars that he enclosed, and that businessmen should therefore accept themACOAH, Fondo Siglo XX, 1915 caja 1, folleto 1, exp. 2. On 24 February the Coronel Jefe de las Armas in Saltillo again had to remind people that whoever refused Chihuahua notes, as well as those businesses that increased their prices when people tried to pay with Villista currency, would be finedACOAH, exp. 11678.

On 29 March Villa sent a telegram to Ramírez Garcia that, in order to further their cause, he should immediately prohibit the circulation of all the Carrancista issues. Ramírez replied the same day, asking whether Villa meant to include all the issues made during Carranza’s Jefatura Militar and the Gobierno Provisional notes. Ramírez had originally drafted a decree nullifying all the Carrancista issues but before he published it he received clarification from Villa that ‘all the notes issued by Carranza at any time were invalid and only the cartonicillos of five, ten and twenty centavos could circulate’. Therefore, by the time Ramírez published his decree (núm 9), on 1 April, he had amended it to except these cartones. On 3 April Ramírez sent a copy to Luis de la Garza Cárdenas, the Secretary for Gobernación y Comunicaciones, in Chihuahua, with a further query as to whether notes from Durango that had Carranza’s authorization on the reverse were to be included in the prohibitionACOAH, exp. 11706.

In Piedras Negras General Hernández, the jefe militar, issued a decree prohibiting the circulation of Carrancista notes throughout the districtPrensa, 4 April 1915.

As soon as Ramírez published his decree he received telegrams from various Presidentes Municipales asking for clarification as to which notes were to be included. For example, on 6 April Coronel Vicente Flores reported from Cuatro Cienegas that they had received no advice, merely rumours, and asked for clarification. The next day he was informed that the Carrancista currency included the Monclova, the Ejército Constitucionalista, the Gobierno Provisional de México and the so-called Obregon issue (though in fact Villa’s circular had specifically permitted the Monclova, Ejército Constitucionalista and some Gobierno Provisional notes). Cartones were excepted and the government were still awaiting instructions on the notes of DurangoACOAH, exp. 11706.

Invalidating the Carrancista currency caused immediate hardship in those areas where up to this time it had predominated. For example, the Presidente Municipal of Múzquiz, a beautiful mining city 130km north of Monclova, reported on 2 April that businesses had closed and that the poor were starving because they did not have any Chihuahua currency and asked the government whether he could change notes. On 3 April Ramírez reported to de la Garza Cárdenas that as a result of his decree in the large area in the north of the state that had recently been recovered from the Carrancistas, where there was no Chihuahua currency, the economy had been paralysed. He asked for their own currency to be sent to be given at least to the poor and to small businessmen. De la Garza Cárdenas raised the matter with VillaACOAH, exp. 11706.

Invalidating Carranza’s currency did not make Villa’s own paper money any more acceptable. On 6 April Piedras Negras reported that local businesses were refusing the series A, B (sic), and C of the dos caritas as they had no dateACOAH, exp. 11706.

The uncertainty over which notes were included in the prohibition also caused some confusion in the Laguna area. On 5 April the Presidente Municipal of Parras reported that he had received both Ramírez’ decree and, via the Comandante Militar of the Comarca Lagunera in Torreón, a copy of Villa’s original Guadalajara circular and asked which he should follow. Saltillo therefore raised the matter with Torreón and received the reply, on 7 April, that Torreón’s circular had been issued prior to, and in ignorance of, Ramírez' decree and that now the latter was in force and Carrancista notes no longer circulated. Similarly, the Presidente Municipal of San Pedro wrote on 5 April that he had received at the same time both the Governor’s decree and Torreón's 30 March circular. However, on 9 April Saltillo could tell San Pedro and Parras to abide by Ramírez’ decree núm. 9ACOAH, exp. 11706.

On 10 April the Secretary General of Coahuila wrote to the Governor of Durango, Emiliano G. Saravia, for guidance on the Durango issues. Saravia replied that the bonos of the Estado de Durango were not included in the ban, except for those issued by Arrieta, and the latter were being exchanged by the government in Durango. Having resolved this matter, Ramírez sent out another circular (núm. 1), on 13 April, clarifying which notes were void.

Nuevo León

In Monterrey, the Provisional Governor and Comandante Militar, Raul Madero, had already received instructions from the Convention to retire the unrevalidated Gobierno Provisional and Ejército Constitucionalista notes. His decree of 13 March 1915 instructed holders to change such notes within ten days for notes of the Estado de Chihuahua at the offices set up in the old Banco de Carralde at calle Hidalgo 66; the Tesorería Municipal; Jefatura de Hacienda; Tesorería General del Estado; Recaudacíon de Rentas del Estado; Recaudacíon de Rentas Municipales and Administracíon Principal de TimbrePeriódico Oficial,19 March 1915. On 20 March José Videgaray, Presidente Municipal of Monterrey, wrote to the Secretario de Gobierno, in reply to a query, that the Tesorería Municipal and Recaudación de Rentas Municipales had told him that they both would require two employees to effect the exchange. The Recaudación de Rentas Municipales would use Alfredo R. Garza and Rufino M. González (ANL, Correspondencia de Alcaldes: Monterrey, caja 131). The Tesorería Municipal used José María González y Juan E. Rivera (ANL, Correspondencia de Alcaldes: Monterrey, caja 131 letter 24 March 1915). On 19 March 1915 Madero decreed the withdrawal of all Carrancista issues. The decree caused a sensation in Monterrey as vast quantities of Carrancista notes were in circulation and the inhabitants believed that the period fixed for exchanging the notes would not be long enoughPrensa, 20 March 1915. When Madero received orders to declare invalid all the Carrancista issues, he listed these in his decree (núm. 7) of 31 March as the Monclova and Gobierno Provisional de México issues and the notes issued by Carranza in VeracruzLa Republica, 1 April 1915. Obviously, he did not consider Villa’s order to include the Ejército Constitucionalista.

On 3 April 1915 Madero reported the turmoil caused by the nullification of Carrancista money, with people having nothing to eat and those arriving from recently conquered territories having only this type of currency. He suggested that notes revalidated by the express order of Chihuahua should be considered good as no order was ever given for their exchange. He suggested giving thirty days to get them changed, and asked for three million pesos to effect thisLG papers, 3-F-7, telegram from Madero, Monterrey, to de la Garza, 3 April 1915. On 6 April J. Cantu Reyna, the Regidor Primero of Montemorelos, telephoned to report that the poorer classes in his town only had Ejército Constitucionalista notes and no dos caritas. He asked for someone to be sent with between 15,000 and 20,000 pesos in exchange. The governor ordered the Tesorería to send someone with $25,000ANL, Hacienda y Tesorería, Cambio de Moneda, caja 1 and on 8 April Carlos Cantú Treviño was dispatched: he returned on 19 AprilANL, Hacienda y Tesorería, Cambio de Moneda, caja 159. On 10 April Madero ordered that Carrancista notes that had been restamped by the Villista government could continue to circulate, and only those that lacked resellos were worthlessPrensa, 15 April 1915.

On 10 May the Inspector Oficial in Monterrey, Alfredo H. Hernández, issued his first circular, advising public offices, commerce and the general public that forthwith, all Chihuahua issues would be forced circulation, including the so-called ‘Villistas viejos’ (sábanas) and the first issue of the dos caritas, which were distinguishable by the fact that the signature extended beyond the design in the one and five pesos: the ten pesos had its sello on the front; and the ten and twenty pesos were hand-signed. Those who refused dos caritas because they did not have a date next to the series letter or did not have letters on the reverse were mistakenPeriódico Oficial, 14 May 1915.

On 31 May the town council of Monterrey agreed to pay its workers in Villista money (billetes de emisión Villista) at double the rate, because of the lack of other currency and the value Villista money itself had in the marketplace AMM, Colección Actas de Cabildo, volumen 101, exp. 1915/024.