Villista attacks on ‘Carrancista’ issues

At the end of February 1915 the Villista government in Chihuahua, cut off from the Conventionists in Central Mexico, began making their own pronouncements. On 28 February a Durango newspaper reported that Villa’s government had declared that only the notes with three signatures, one of which had to be Pastor Rouaix, were of forced circulation. However the newspaper believed that the circular would be corrected and amplified as there was no reason for excluding some other issues, such as the Asociación Durangueña notes, guaranteed by particular interests; the Estado de Durango notes from the 12 December 1913 decree, which had as collateral the property seized from deliquents; and the lithographed issues of Rouaix and Arrieta, which were part of Carranza’s national issues, acknowledged by all Constitutionalists. There were also the lithographed notes printed with just del Real Alfaro’s signature, but nevertheless legitimateLa Voz de la Revolución, Tomo 1, Núm. 48, 28 February 1915. The Durango government resolved that while they lobbied the Secretaría de Hacienda in Chihuahua the issues would still be legal tender. By March businesses were refusing to accept the fractional single signatures notes, so on 18 March Saravia, in a circular, warned the public that they were of forced circulation, as they formed part of the issue authorized by Carranza and recognized by Villa, who has expressly acknowledged the issue made by Rouaix, of which these formed partLa Voz de la Revolución, Tomo 1, Núm. 57, 21 March 1915. Finally, on 23 March Villa’s finance minister, Francisco Escudero, said that legitimate issues included those signed by M. del R. Alfaro and those of three signatures.

On 13 March 1915 Escudero told Saravia that he had just had a conference with Villa in Torreón. Villa had agreed to withdraw the Arrieta issue and had enabled Escudero to send $200,000 to achieve thisADUR, Fondo Secretaria General de Gobierno (Siglo XX), Sección 6 Gobierno, Serie 6.7 Correspondencia, caja 7, nombre 57. On 20 March M. J. Martínez, from Torreón, asked if someone was coming to change the Series A and E notes and was told that the government was only changing notes sent to DurangoADUR, Fondo Secretaria General de Gobierno (Siglo XX), Sección 6 Gobierno, Serie 6.7 Correspondencia, caja 7, nombre 57. The same answer was given to the Presidente Municipal of Gómez PalacioADUR, Libro Copiador 298, Hacienda 23 February 1915 - 26 May 1915, p174.

In March, as part of their ongoing dispute, Villa decided to invalidate all Carranza’s issues (though he excepted fractional notes of 5c, 10c and 20c) so on 30 March Saravia declared all Carrancista issues of paper money null and void within the territory under his commandPeriódico Oficial, Durango, Tomo XL, Núm. 15, 8 April 1915. Such a blanket ban obviously needed clarification, for example the government of Coahuila asked whether Durango notes with Carranza’s authorisation on the back were included. Saravia replied that Estado de Durango notes were not included, with the exception of the Arrieta notes, and this message was repeated in Nuevo León. As for the Arrieta notes, in early March Antonio Gaxiola, Durango’s Secretario General, had gone to Torreón to discuss these with Villa. These had been declared worthless by the incoming Villista government, a declaration that had caused great distress because most people had a large number of them. Gaxiola obtained Villa’a authorisation to exchange these notes in the Dirección General. At the end of April the government in Durango decreed that the Arrieta issues would be legal tender but only for payment of local taxes and not for business transactions. This was applauded as going some way to resolving the problem caused by the fact that when the Arrieta brothers were in Durango the people were forced to accept their money and stood to lose when the Villistas captured the city.

On 29 March 1915 the Provisional Governor of Durango, Emiliano G. Saravia, wrote to Villa acknowledging his instructionsADUR, p442, telegram 294 from Gobernador Provisional to Villa, Torreón, 29 March 1915 and on the same day declared invalid "‘all the issues of paper money made up to this date by Carranza, in his position as Primer Jefe"Periódico Oficial, 8 April 1915. This was copied to all the Jefes Políticos and MunicipalesADUR, p442, telegram 295, 29 March 1915. On 31 March, the Jefatura Política of Ciudad Lerdo (Mapimi) acknowledged the decree and attached three circulars from the Comandancia Militar of Torreón, Coahuila, and asked what he should do in respect of each oneADUR, gaveta 6, nombre 88. These will have included the circular of 4 February banning the Veracruz Gobierno Provisional and possibly the circular of 30 March nullifying the Carrancista issues.

In early April the Jefe de Armas of Torreón declared all Durango issues of forced circulation except for those that had not been approved by the government, namely the Series A and E issued, without authorization, by Domingo ArrietaLa Voz de la Revolución, Tomo 1, Núm. 64, 7 April 1915. The actual disposition is more restrictive..

On 7 April Saravia wrote to Escudero, in Chihuahua, that his government had not suffered any trouble over invalidating the currency and the poorer classes had not complained (Este Gobierno no ha resentido trastornos con motivo de anulacion de papel moneda y la clase proletaria no ha ocurrido en queja, por lo que creo más conveniente esperar)ADUR, p458, telegram 327, telegram 7 April 1915.

On 10 April Torreón asked if Series E notes were acceptedADUR, Fondo Secretaria General de Gobierno (Siglo XX), Sección 6 Gobierno, Serie 6.7 Correspondencia, caja 7, nombre 57 and was told that they were not of forced circulation but being changed in the Dirección General de Rentas ADUR, Libro Copiador 278, Telegramas 13 August 1914 - 23 April 1915, p467 . The same day Saltillo asked if the Durango notes were included in Villa’s prohibitionADUR, Fondo Secretaria General de Gobierno (Siglo XX), Sección 6 Gobierno, Serie 6.7 Correspondencia, caja 7, nombre 57 and was told they were not included, except the Arrieta issues which, however, were being accepted in the Dirección General de Rentas for exchangeArchivo Durango, Libro Copiador 278, Telegramas 13 August 1914 - 23 April 1915, p468. On 12 April Aguascalientes asked about the status of Durango notesADUR, Fondo Secretaria General de Gobierno (Siglo XX), Sección 6 Gobierno, Serie 6.7 Correspondencia, caja 7, nombre 57 and was told that they were of forced circulation, except for the Arrieta issuesADUR, Libro Copiador 278, Telegramas 13 August 1914 - 23 April 1915, p469. On 19 April the Jefe Político of Cuencamé was told that of the issue authorised by Carranza only the notes carrying del Real Alfaro or Rouaix’s signature were of forced circulationADUR, Fondo Secretaría General de Gobierno, Sección Siglo XIX, Serie Correspondencia, Subserie Revolución, gaveta 6, nombre 88 and ADUR, Libro Copiador 298, Hacienda 23 February 1915 - 26 May 1915, p278.

On 28 April the jefe político of San Dimas, Durango acknowledged the Secretaría’s notice, dated 22 April, which stated that, among others, the Ejército Constitucionalista notes were not of compulsory circulation. He listed the notes that the Recaudación de Contribuciones and general public, relying on the circular of 20 March from the Departamento de Hacienda y Comunicaciones, considered to be legal tender and of forced circulation: these included the Ejército Constitucionalista issue. As the Ejército Constitucionalista and Monclova issues were the most abundant in the area, the jefe político felt that to restrict them completely would cause serious difficulties and disturbances amongst the miners and troops etc. and lead to a further shortage of goods. He suggested that people be given the opportunity to exchange them. He felt a sum of $12,000 would sufficeADUR, gaveta 6, nombre 88.

However, on 21 June 1915 Saravia announced that until 26 June the branch of the Banco del Estado de Chihuahua would change at par the $5 Series E and $50 Series A notes signed by Arrieta, Juan B. Fuentes and José ClarkLa Voz de la Revolución, Tomo 1, Núm. 100, 25 June 1915.

The question remains, however, whether in these pronouncements the Villistas were including the Arrieta notes dated December 1914. Overall it seems that the Durango government tried to mitigate the consequences of disowning the Carrancista issues, to the extent of redeeming all but perhaps Arrieta’s rudimentary issues.

On 1 May 1915 governor Emiliano Saravia wrote to Francisco Escudero, the Secretario de Hacienda y Fomento in Chihuahua that a notice in the office of the Ferrocarriles appeared to disown the Rouaix and del Real Alfaro issues which, though authorised by Carranza, had been declared of forced circulation by the Secretaría de Hacienda. As around $3,000,000 had been issued and most remained in the state, this was causing alarmADUR, Libro Copiador 303, Telegramas 23 April 1915 - 10 April 1916, p23.

The Carranzistas captured Durango in early November and the decrees of 27 November and 8 December and circular núm. 48 were published in the Periódico Oficial of 26 December 1915.