Monday, May 9, 2011

Mexican Rebels Capture Border City of Juarez

The Washington Times is reporting this evening that Mexican insurgents, led by rebel president Francisco I. Madero, have captured the key city of Ciudad Juarez after a desperate firefight.  The rebels gained control of the city by 8 A.M. this morning.  Federal troops, led by a now wounded Gen. Juan Navarro, have abandoned Juarez, though they anticipate the arrival of reinforcements from the south.  At least 12 are confirmed dead in the city, but the list of casualties is expected to climb with deaths being reported as high as fifty this evening.

On the American side of the border, at least five are reported killed including Antonio Garcia who was standing next to an Associated Press reporter when he was struck down by a stray bullet; R. H. Ferguson, a U.S. soldier in the 3rd U.S. Cavalry; W. D. Chandler, a cattleman from Duncan, Arizona; and bartender Vincente Pasedes.  At least a dozen others were injured during the attack across the Rio Grande.

Reports from the attack suggest that Madero did not order the attack, but was instead the result, according to the insurrecto leader, of taunting by federal troops garrisoned in Juarez.  According to Bisbee Daily Review, this taunting, a possible attack by federal troops, "insubordination in the ranks of Madero's army and a lust for the fight which the concessions from the federal government apparently deprived them of" led to the assault of the town.  At the head of the initial insurrecto attack was a Canadian, W. H. McKenzie, who wore a pink shirt was "plainly visible."  However, it is clear that Cols. Francisco Villa and Pascual Orozco were coordinating the rebel assault.

The federals then fired a heavy artillery assault at the rebel camp, forcing the insurgent leadership to take cover along the Rio Grande riverbank, as the federals were under orders not to fire into El Paso.  By late yesterday afternoon, the rebels had advanced as far as the Santa Fe Bridge, which crosses the Rio Grande into El Paso, took possession of the customs house, and were pushing the federals back into the city.

Confusion reigned within the rebel camp as Madero continually tried to call a halt to hostilities, but the rebel attack continued to progress.  A rebel truce flag bearer, sent into Juarez to obtain an armistice from Federal Gen. Navarro, was greeted with bullets.  During the afternoon, Madero was said to have ordered a general attack on the city after receiving a response from President Diaz that he would not resign until order had been restored in the country and that he did not think Madero was firmly in control of his men, particularly those fighting in southern Mexico.  However, Madero quickly changed his mind and the federals briefly stopped firing.  Fighting resumed around 5:15 P.M., with the rebels taking control of all the customs houses save one, the bridges, and the bull ring.  Madero claimed that those who were in the attack had disobeyed orders and that he was doing everything in his power to stop the attack.  He also denied that the assault was a general attack.

However, according to the Washington Times, Gen. Navarro refused a surrender request sent by Madero last night, at which a general attack was ordered by Madero, which resulted in the capture in the city.

It remains to be seen what the response will be from Mexico City, though it is clear now, with the capture of one of Mexico's most prominent border cities, that Diaz may be on the losing side in this fight and that he needs to resign to save his countrymen from further bloodshed.  Washington's response continues to be that intervention is a matter for Congress to take up and that Taft will not unilaterally cross the border.

Link: Rebels Capture Juarez After Desperate Battle [The Washington Times]
Link: Rebels Attack Juarez--General Navarro Wounded [The Bisbee Daily Review]

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