A detachment of Rurales in field uniform during the Diaz era.
|Active||1861–1914 (first stage)|
1920s–1950s (second stage)
|Engagements||Historic mounted police force: |
Mexican War on Drugs
in Mexico, the term Rurales (Spanish) is used in respect of two armed government forces. The historic Guardia Rural ('Rural Guard') was a mounted rural police force, founded by President Benito Juárez in 1861 and expanded by President Porfirio Díaz (r. 1876-1911). It served as an effective force of repression and a counterweight to the Mexican Army during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The rurales were dissolved during the Mexican Revolution.
Spanish or Castilian is a Romance language that originated in the Castile region of Spain and today has hundreds of millions of native speakers in the Americas and Spain. It is a global language and the world's second-most spoken native language, after Mandarin Chinese.
Benito Pablo Juárez García was a Mexican lawyer and president of Mexico, of Zapotec origin from Oaxaca.
José de la Cruz Porfirio Díaz Mori was a Mexican general and politician who served seven terms as President of Mexico, a total of 31 years, from February 17, 1877 to December 1, 1880 and from December 1, 1884 to May 25, 1911. A veteran of the War of the Reform (1858–60) and the French intervention in Mexico (1862–67), Díaz rose to the rank of General, leading republican troops against the French-imposed rule of Emperor Maximilian. Seizing power in a coup in 1876, Díaz and his allies, a group of technocrats known as "Científicos", ruled Mexico for the next thirty-five years, a period known as the Porfiriato.
The modern Cuerpo de Defensa Rural ('Rural Defense Corps') is a part-time voluntary militia, generally used to support Federal forces.
The Guardia Rural was established as a federal constabulary by the Liberal regime of Benito Juárez in 1861. This mounted rural police force became best known during the long rule of President Porfirio Díaz (1876–1911).
Constabulary may have several definitions:
The President of Mexico, officially known as the President of the United Mexican States, is the head of state and government of Mexico. Under the Constitution, the president is also the Supreme Commander of the Mexican armed forces. The current President is Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who took office on December 1, 2018.
As originally constituted under Juárez the Rurales lacked the numbers and organization to effectively control the banditry widespread in Mexico during the 1860s and 1870s. The concept of an armed and mobile rural police organized on military lines, was derived from Spain's Civil Guard (" Guardia Civil "). Established in 1844 the Spanish Guardia Civil had quickly won a reputation as an effective but often oppressive force.
In historical legal systems, an outlaw is declared as outside the protection of the law. In pre-modern societies, the criminal is withdrawn all legal protection, so that anyone is legally empowered to persecute or kill them. Outlawry was thus one of the harshest penalties in the legal system. In early Germanic law, the death penalty is conspicuously absent, and outlawing is the most extreme punishment, presumably amounting to a death sentence in practice. The concept is known from Roman law, as the status of homo sacer, and persisted throughout the Middle Ages.
On May 6, 1861 four corps of Rural Police were authorized by the Juárez government; each having an establishment of 20 officers and 255 other ranks. Recruitment was intended to be by voluntary enlistment. Pay was set at a higher level than that of the conscript based army. Control of the new force was divided between the Ministers of the Interior and of War - a policy intended to maintain a balance of power within the government.
The existing Corps of Rurales was absorbed into the Republican Army and irregular forces opposing the French intervention of 1862–1867. However the Imperial regime of Archduke Maximilian (1862–1867) created a parallel force known as the Resguardo, which by October 1865 numbered 12,263;indicating that the concept of a rural mounted police force had become well established. Following the Republican victory, Los Cuerpos Rurales were re-established.
Maximilian I was the only monarch of the Second Mexican Empire. He was a younger brother of the Austrian emperor Franz Joseph I. After a distinguished career in the Austrian Navy as its commander, he accepted an offer by Napoleon III of France to rule Mexico, conditional on a national plebiscite in his favour. France, together with Spain and the United Kingdom, invaded the Mexican Republic in the winter of 1861, ostensibly to collect debts; the Spanish and British both withdrew the following year after negotiating agreements with Mexico's republican government, while France sought to conquer the country. Seeking to legitimize French rule, Napoleon III invited Maximilian to establish a new pro-French Mexican monarchy. With the support of the French army and a group of Conservative Party monarchists hostile to the Liberal Party administration of the new Mexican president, Benito Juárez, Maximilian was offered the position of Emperor of Mexico, which he accepted on 10 April 1864.
The rurales were reestablished in 1869 as part of the reconstruction of the Mexican Republic following the Franco/Maximilian episode. The corps was placed under the Ministro de Gobernación and specifically tasked with providing mounted patrols for rail and road links, escorting gold and other valuable shipments, providing support for the Federal Army when called upon, and ensuring security when local elections were held.
By 1875 the corps numbered about one thousand members, organized in forty-two squads primarily responsible for patrolling the Mexico valley region. While their performance was uneven - with charges being made of both aggressive behavior against the public and slackness in enforcing their responsibilities - the rural guards had been successful in eliminating a number of bandit groups.
Following his accession to power in 1877, President Porfirio Díaz expanded the Rurales to nearly 2,000 by 1889 as part of his programme of modernization and (eventually) repression. Initially some captured bandits were forcibly inducted into the Rurales, as had been the case under Juárez. The system of recruitment however subsequently became a more conventional one of volunteer enlistment. Officers were usually seconded from the Federal Army. The Rurales were heavily armed; carrying cavalry sabers, Remington carbines, lassos and pistols.They were divided into ten corps, each comprising three companies of about 76 men.
The Porfirian regime deliberately fostered the image of the Rurales as a ruthless and efficient organization which – under the notorious ley fuga ("law of flight") – seldom took prisoners and which inevitably got its man. However, research by Professor Paul J. Vanderwood during the 1970s involving detailed examination of the records of the corps indicated that the Rurales were neither as effective nor as brutal as regime publicists had suggested. The daily pay of 1.30 pesos was not high and up to 25% of recruits deserted before completing their four-year enlistments. This term of service was extended to five years after 1890. Only one rurale in ten re-enlisted after completing his first term; a low proportion that may have been influenced by slow and limited promotion.
Never numbering more than about 4,000 men and located in small detachments, the Rurales were too thinly spread to ever completely eliminate unrest in the Mexican countryside. They did however impose a superficial order, especially in the central regions around Mexico City, which encouraged the foreign investment sought by Díaz and his científico advisers. To a certain extent the regime saw the Rurales as a counterweight to the much larger Federal army and in the later years of the regime they were increasingly used to control industrial unrest, in addition to the traditional task of patrolling country areas.While in theory a centralized organization, the rural guards often came under the direct control of local politicians or landowners.
The Rurales achieved a high profile internationally,rather like that of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police or the Texas Rangers, whose roles they paralleled. They wore a distinctive grey uniform braided in silver, which was modelled on the national charro dress and included wide felt sombreros, bolero jackets, tight fitting trousers with silver buttons down the seams, and red or black neckties. Senior officers wore elaborate rank insignia in the form of Austrian knots and sombrero braiding, which cost hundreds of pesos. The corps number appeared in silver on both the headdress and a leather carbine cross-belt.
This dress, their frequent involvement in ceremonial parades and their general reputation, invariably drew the attention of foreign visitors to Mexico during the Porfiriato. They were variously described as "the world's most picturesque policemen" and "mostly bandits".The former may have been true but the latter was a distorted memory of the rough-and-ready early days of the corps. Some of the Mexican states maintained their own rural mounted police forces and a separate city police force operated in Mexico City, but none matched the Federal Rurales in notoriety or glamour.
|A graphical timeline is available at|
Timeline of the Mexican Revolution
During the early stages of the Mexican Revolution of 1910, detachments of Rurales served alongside Federal troops against the rebel forces. While retaining an elite image (one revolutionary fighter commented to a US writer that Rurales never surrendered "because they are police"), the force was too weak in numbers and dispersed in deployment to play a decisive role.
After the overthrow of Díaz in 1911, the Rurales continued in existence under Presidents Francisco I. Madero (1911–1913) and Victoriano Huerta (1913–1914). Madero left the force essentially unchanged, although introducing legislation intended to prevent corpsmen, other than senior officers, from carrying out summary executions without due trial process. In practice the induction of large numbers of Maderista fighters on a temporary basis while awaiting discharge simply diluted such efficiency as the corps had retained. Huerta saw a more central role for the Rurales and directed officers of the Corps to murder Madero after the "Ten Tragic Days" of 1913. During the fighting that marked this internecine conflict, part of the rurales remained loyal to the Madero government. Three hundred rural guardsmen of the 18th Corps were ambushed by rebel machine gunners in the centre of Mexico City, losing 67 dead and wounded. It remains uncertain whether the destruction of the 18th Corps was the result of a tactical blunder or a measure deliberately arranged by General Huerta to weaken the Madero forces.
Huerta then proposed to expand the existing Rurale units into a field force of over ten thousand men serving alongside the regular Federal troops. Recruiting and desertion problems prevented this ever becoming a realistic project. The remains of the Guardia Rural were finally disarmed and disbanded during July–August 1914, along with the old Federal Army, when Huerta fled into exile.
The modern Rurales are a part-time militia called the Cuerpo de Defensa Rural (Rural Defense Corps).
Originally formed as village self-defence groups during the agrarian disturbances of the 1920s. They do not have any functions that parallel those of the paramilitary mounted police force of the 1861–1914 era. This corps was formally organized under army jurisdiction according to the Organic Law of 1926. Its origins, however, date back to the period when the revolutionary agrarian reform program was first implemented in 1915. In efforts to protect themselves against the private armies of recalcitrant large landowners, rural peasants organized themselves into small defense units and were provided weapons by the revolutionary government. Until 1955 enlistment in the Rural Defense Force was restricted to peasants working on collective farms (ejidos). After 1955 participation in the Rural Defense Force was expanded to include small farmers and laborers. All defense units, however, were attached to ejidos, possibly as a means to guarantee control.
The Rural Defense Force (Rural Police Force) numbered some 120,000, 80,000 mounted and 40,000 dismountedin 1970, but was being phased out in the 1990s. The IISS's The Military Balance listed the corps as having only 14,000 members in 1996. The volunteers, aged eighteen to fifty, enlist for a three-year period. Members do not wear uniforms or receive pay for their service but are eligible for limited benefits. They are armed with outmoded rifles, which may be the chief inducement to enlist. Rudimentary training is provided by troops assigned to military zone detachments.
The basic unit is the pelotón of eleven members under immediate control of the ejido. Use of the unit outside the ejidos is by order of the military zone commander. One asset of the corps is the capacity of its members to gather intelligence about activities within the ejidos and in remote rural areas seldom patrolled by military zone detachments. Corps members also act as guides for military patrols, participate in civic-action projects, and assist in destroying marijuana crops and preventing the transport of narcotics through their areas.
Currently Rural Defence Force members are being utilized in the Mexican war on Drugs. This is the case in the State of Michoacán, where the Government has attempted to restrict civilian vigilantism (such as the creation of unregulated armed security groups) by deploying rurales against local drug cartels.
Francisco Ignacio Madero González was a Mexican revolutionary, writer and statesman who served as the 33rd president of Mexico from 1911 until shortly before his assassination in 1913. He was an advocate for social justice and democracy. Madero was notable for challenging Mexican President Porfirio Díaz for the presidency in 1910 and being instrumental in sparking the Mexican Revolution.
Emiliano Zapata Salazar was a leading figure in the Mexican Revolution, the main leader of the peasant revolution in the state of Morelos, and the inspiration of the agrarian movement called Zapatismo.
Francisco "Pancho" Villa was a Mexican revolutionary general and one of the most prominent figures of the Mexican Revolution.
The Mexican Revolution, also known as the Mexican Civil War, was a major armed struggle, lasting roughly from 1910 to 1920, that radically transformed Mexican culture and government. Although recent research has focused on local and regional aspects of the Revolution, it was a genuinely national revolution. Its outbreak in 1910 resulted from the failure of the 35-year-long regime of Porfirio Díaz to find a managed solution to the presidential succession. This meant there was a political crisis among competing elites and the opportunity for agrarian insurrection. Wealthy landowner Francisco I. Madero challenged Díaz in the 1910 presidential election, and following the rigged results, revolted under the Plan of San Luis Potosí. Armed conflict ousted Díaz from power; a new election was held in 1911, bringing Madero to the presidency.
José Victoriano Huerta Márquez was a Mexican military officer and 35th President of Mexico.
Pascual Orozco Vázquez was a Mexican revolutionary leader who rose up with Francisco I. Madero late 1910 to depose Porfirio Díaz. Sixteen months later he revolted against the Madero government and ultimately sided with the coup d'état that deposed Madero.
Venustiano Carranza Garza was one of the main leaders of the Mexican Revolution, whose victorious northern revolutionary Constitutionalist Army defeated the counter-revolutionary regime of Victoriano Huerta and then defeated fellow revolutionaries after Huerta's ouster. He secured power in Mexico, serving as head of state from 1915–1917. With the promulgation of a new revolutionary Mexican Constitution of 1917, he was elected president, serving from 1917 to 1920.
A charro is a traditional horseman from Mexico, originating in the central-western regions primarily in the states of Jalisco, Michoacan, Zacatecas, Durango, Chihuahua, Aguascalientes and Guanajuato. The Spanish terms vaquero and ranchero are similar to the charro but different in culture, etiquette, mannerism, clothing, tradition and social status.
The Federal Army, also known as the Federales in popular culture, was the military of the Mexican state. Under Porfiriato, the long rule of President Porfirio Díaz, a military hero against the French Intervention in Mexico, the Federal Army was composed of senior officers who had served in long ago conflicts. At the time of the outbreak of the Mexican Revolution most were old men and incapable of leading men on the battlefield. When the rebellions broke out against Díaz following fraudulent elections of 1910, the Federal Army was incapable of responding. Although revolutionary fighters helped bring Francisco I. Madero to power, Madero retained the Federal Army rather than the revolutionaries. Madero used the Federal Army to suppress rebellions against his government by Pascual Orozco and Emiliano Zapata. Madero placed General Victoriano Huerta as interim commander of the military during the Ten Tragic Days of February 1913 to defend his government. Huerta changed sides and ousted Madero's government. Rebellions broke out against Huerta's regime. When revolutionary armies succeeded in ousting Huerta in July 1914, the Federal Army ceased to exist as an entity.
The United States involvement in the Mexican Revolution was varied and seemingly contradictory, first supporting and then repudiating Mexican regimes during the period 1910-1920. For both economic and political reasons, the U.S. government generally supported those who occupied the seats of power, whether they held that power legitimately or not. A clear exception was the French Intervention in Mexico, when the U.S. supported the beleaguered liberal government of Benito Juárez at the time of the American Civil War (1861-1865). Prior to Woodrow Wilson's inauguration on March 4, 1913, the U.S. Government focused on just warning the Mexican military that decisive action from the U.S. military would take place if lives and property of U.S. nationals living in the country were endangered. President William Howard Taft sent more troops to the US-Mexico border but did not allow them to intervene in the conflict, a move which Congress opposed. Twice during the Revolution, the U.S. sent troops into Mexico.
José María Pino Suárez was a Mexican statesman, jurist, poet, journalist and revolutionary who served as the seventh and last Vice President of Mexico from 1911 until shortly before his assassination in 1913. In 1969, he was awarded the Belisario Domínguez Medal post mortem. He dedicated his short life to fighting for democracy and advocating against social injustices in Mexico.
Federales is a Spanglish word used in an informal context to denote security forces operating under a federal political system. The term gained widespread usage by English speakers due to popularization in such films as The Wild Bunch, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, and Blue Streak. The term is a cognate and counterpart to the slang "Feds" in the United States.
The Ten Tragic Days was a series of events that took place in Mexico City between February 9 and February 19, 1913, during the Mexican Revolution. This led up to a coup d'état and the assassination of President Francisco I. Madero, and his Vice President, José María Pino Suárez. Much of what happened these days followed from the crumbling of the Porfiriato system of repressive order giving way to chaos, and as such, these days' events have been among the most influential of the Revolution's history. Madero's martyrdom shocked a critical portion of the population, and the unwelcome foreign intervention prepared the way for the growing nationalism and anti-imperialism of the Revolution. In many ways, then, it set the tone for the Revolution's most violent period, but it also prepared the way for an agenda of profound political and social change.
The Cananea strike, also known as the Cananea riot, or the Cananea massacre, took place in the Mexican mining town of Cananea, Sonora, in June 1906. Although the workers were forced to return to their positions with no demand being met, the action was a key event in the general unrest that emerged during the final years of the regime of President Porfirio Díaz and that prefigured the Mexican Revolution of 1910. In the incident twenty-three people died, on both sides, twenty-two were injured, and more than fifty were arrested.
Heraclio Bernal (1855-1888) was a bandit from the Sinaloa region of Mexico. He is widely known as the "Thunderbolt of Sinaloa."
The Treaty of Ciudad Juárez was a peace treaty signed between the then President of Mexico, Porfirio Díaz, and the revolutionary Francisco Madero on May 21, 1911. The treaty put an end to the fighting between forces supporting Madero and those of Díaz and thus concluded the initial phase of the Mexican Revolution.
The First Battle of Ciudad Juárez took place in April and May 1911 between federal forces loyal to President Porfirio Díaz and rebel forces of Francisco Madero, during the Mexican Revolution. Pascual Orozco and Pancho Villa commanded Madero's army, which besieged Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua. After two days of fighting the city's garrison surrendered and Orozco and Villa took control of the town. The fall of Ciudad Juárez to Madero, combined with Emiliano Zapata's taking of Cuautla in Morelos, convinced Díaz that he could not hope to defeat the rebels. As a result, he agreed to the Treaty of Ciudad Juárez, resigned and went into exile in France, thus ending the initial stage of the Mexican Revolution.
Aureliano Blanquet was a general of the Federal Army during the Mexican Civil War. He was a key participant in the coup d'état during the Decena trágica. Blanquet has been identified "as one of the major villains of the Mexican Revolution".
The Río Blanco strike of January 7 and 8, 1907 was a workers' riot related to a textile strike, near Orizaba in the Mexican state of Veracruz.