Rafael Buelna

Rafael Buelna was an exception to the normal run of revolutionary leader, in his upbringing, intelligence and age. He was born in Sinaloa in 1890. Having been expelled from a Jesuit high school in Culiacán, Sinaloa in 1909 for organizing student demonstrations against the Porfirian state governor, he worked as a cub reporter for the Mazatlán Correo de la Tarde and headed the local pro-Madero Club Democrático. In 1910 he fought in northeast Jalisco and was appointed Coronel and Secretario de Gobierno. During Madero’s presidency he went back to college but after the decena trágica took up arms again. While Alvaro Obregón was fighting his way down the west coast, Buelna and his faction managed to capture Tepic (again). In the same month that Riveros established his government in San Blas (June 1913), Rafael Buelna was named chief of the Revolution in the south of Sinaloa and the territory of Tepic. He dedicated himself to harassing the federal forces in that area. On 16 October 1913 his forces took Rosario, throwing out the Huertista forces that held the city, and because of the lack of funds, he issued his own paper money in denominations of 10c, 20c and 50c and $1, $5 and $20 (so there was probably also a $10 note).

Buelna 10c A 4114

Buelna 1 C 540

Buelna 5 C 0635

Series A were of 'Del Territorio de Tepic' while later series were of 'Del Territorio de Tepic y del Estado de Sinaloa', either because Buelna extended his command or because questiona arose about the legality of the notes within Sinaloa. In addition to Buelna’s printed signature these notes carry the signatures of either Juan Jones S., P. León Cañedo or A. Rendón as Comisionado de Hacienda and L. Manga as Secretario.

   Series  from to total
   Comisionado Secretario  
10c A           Cañedo Manga includes number 4111CNBanxico #6327
C           Jones Manga includes number 2975
20c A           Cañedo Manga  
50c C           Jones Manga  
$1 A         Buelna Jones Manga includes number 1077CNBanxico #6239
B         Buelna Jones Manga  
C           Jones Manga includes numbers 0366 to 540CNBanxico #6238
          Rendón Manga includes number 1710
$5 C           Rendón Manga includes number 0635CNBanxico #6240
$20 C           Rendón Manga  


On 28 February 1914 in his decree no. 21, Carranza made the paper money issued by the Constitutionalist governments in the states of Sonora, Chihuahua, Sinaloa, Durango, Nuevo León and Tamaulipas, with his authorisation or approval, obligatory throughout the territory dominated by Constitutionalist forces but these primitive productions are unlikely to have travelled far and were probably not included. On 2 April Carranza, from Ciudad Juárez, wrote to Buelna, at the time visting Nogales, Sonora, in reply to a letter of 21 March, that as the new Constitutionalist notes were expected in a few days, he did not believe that Buelna needed to issue paper money in Tepic, since, as soon as the new issue arrived, he would let Buelna have enough money for his expensesAIF, RM/V 1-015.

However, in January 1915 Carranza’s Secretaría de Hacienda again listed these notes amongst the Constitutionalist issues that had to be accepted in any form of payment as being of forced circulationEl Correo de México, 21 January 1915; El Sol, Núm. 159, 22 January 1915; AQ, Fondo Poder Ejecutivo Sec 2ª Hacienda C-1 Año 1915 Exp. 144.

The wily Obregón sought to limit Villa’s power but left Tepic out of his own plans to control Jalisco, effectively leaving Buelna as governor of what would, in 1917, become the state of Nayarit. After the Convention at Aguascalientes Buelna decided to support Villa and was nominated Comandante Militar of northern Jalisco, Tepic and the south of Sinaloa. In 1915 he authorised an issue of low-value notes (10c, 20c, 50c and $1) that carried the legend that they would be redeemed upon presentation in the Administración de Rentas of the territory.

The one peso note is dated 27 July 1915 and carries an undecipherable signature of the Coronel Chief of Staff  (El Cor[onel] J[efe] de E[stado] M[ayor]) as well as the printed name of Buelna, as Column Commander (Jefe de la Columna).

  series from to total
10c           includes numbers 03705 to 07581CNBanxico #11686
20c C 00001 09999 10,000 2,000 includes numbers 00901CNBanxico #5443 to 09291CNBanxico #5442
50c           includes number 06668CNBanxico #11690
C         includes numbers 07297 to 24665CNBanxico #11688
$1 A 00001       includes numbers 00194 to 04479CNBanxico #11678

There is another type of 50c note known, though it might be a more modern fantasy.

  series from to total
50c C         includes numbers 26608CNBanxico #5447 to 33191CNBanxico #5444


Finally, another issue also carries Buelna’s name. This is a military issue, of the Pagaduría General of the Columna de Occidente, and is datelined Acaponeta, 1 August 1915 and is signed by the same Coronel Chief of Staff.

Columna de Occidente 5 reverse

  series from to total
$5   00001       includes number 00894


All these issues are simply affairs, showing that, unlike Obregón or Diéguez, Buelna did not access to sophisticated printing presses.

Following Villa’s defeat at the battle of León, and not ready to make his peace with Obregón, Buelna moved to the United States, where he could, at the very least, finish his studies. He returned to Mexico in 1919, still an opponent of Carranza and Obregón. He took part in the de la Huerta rebellion in 1923, dying from a bullet wound in January 1924 at the early age of 33.