The revolution in Coahuila
On 15 February 1914 General Pablo González, at Matamoros, had declared the Constitutionalist paper money of forced circulation throughout Coahuila, Nuevo León and TamaulipasPeriódico Oficial, Tamaulipas, 18 February 1914; Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 22 February 1914.
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. Monclova published Ramírez’ decree on 2 AprilAMonclova, Fondo Presidencia Municipal, caja 414, Libro copiador de oficios, pag. 135 and 142 but asked for clarification of what constituted “Carranzista” issuesAMonclova, Fondo Presidencia Municipal, caja 414, Libro copiador de oficios, pag. 136. The next day its Presidente Municipal wrote to say that people were asking which notes were included and which notAMonclova, Fondo Presidencia Municipal, caja 414, Libro copiador de oficios, pag. 137, Jacintu Cantú to J. Mena, Secretario General, Saltillo, 3 April 1915. 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.
After the publication of Ramírez’ decree the Tesorería Municipal of Monclova listed the notes that it held, which gives an indication of the wide range of national and local Carrancista issues in circulationAMMon, Fondo Presidencia Municipal, caja 414, Libro copiador de oficios, pag. 138:
|Gobierno Provisional de México||$4,278.00|
|Gobierno Provisional de México – Veracruz||5.00|
|Estado de Durango (Arrieta)||148.00|
|Bonos de Durango||7.00|
|Banco de Coahuila||25.00|
|Banco Oriental de México||1.00|
|Banco de la Laguna (drawn on Banco de Coahuila)||51.00|
|Ejército Constitucionalista de Parras||1.00|
|Ejército Constitucionalista de Torreón||0.50|
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.
Monclova published circular núm. 1 in its own circular dated 15 April 1915AMonclova, Fondo Presidencia Municipal, caja 414, Libro copiador de oficios, pag. 152.
By 25 September 1915 some businesses in Monclova were demanding American banknotesAMonclova, Fondo Revolución (1900-1921) caja 3, telegrama, Gustavo Espinoza Míreles, Saltillo, to Presidente Municipal, Monclova, 25 September 1915. The Governor repeated his demand that this practice be stopped and infractors sent to the capital on 22 NovemberAMonclova, telegrama, Gustavo Espinoza Míreles, Saltillo, to Presidente Municipal, Monclova, 22 November 1915
In May 1916 the soldiers of Coronel Carlos Cardenas, among other atrocities, forced businesses to accept counterfeit Veracruz notes, even though they had been paid in infalsificables. When judge Andrés B. Bueno protested he was arrested. Coronel Jesús Gloria, Jefe de Armas in Monclova, ordered the judge’s release but Cardenas at first refused. The judge was made to resignAMonclova, Fondo Presidencia Municipal, Caja 414, Libro copiador de oficios, Pág. 495, Presidente Municipal Alberto Villarreal to Coronel F. Peraldi, C. M. de los D. de M. y R. Grande, Piedras Negras, 14 May 1916 and also to Governor, Saltillo, 14 May 1914; Fondo Revolución (1900-1921), Siglo XX, caja 2 and Fondo Presidencia Municipal, Caja 415, Libro copiador de oficios, Pág. 176, 15 May 1916 Alberto Villarreal, Monclova, to Governor.