With the publication of six volumes on the Soberana Convención Revolucionaria, the Documentos Historícos de la Revolución Mexicana has been completed, with the exception of indices promised in volume twenty-eight. Almost all of the previously published volumes have been reviewed individually in the HAHR, and a review article in the February 1972 issue analyzed the progress that had been made to that date.
The six companion volumes treating the Convention are among the most valuable of the entire collection. Covering the period from October 1914 to September 1915 they include not only the full debates from Aguascalientes, but also the sessions held in Mexico City, Cuernavaca, and Toluca. Interspersed with the debates themselves are letters, telegrams, and sundry dispatches from many of the principals.
Surely it would be a mistake to consult this latest set only in search of specific information on the Convention. While future Convention historians will find the collection invaluable as a primary source, other historians of the Revolution will want to peruse the documents as well. I know of no better way to begin setting straight the vortex of factionalism that became almost synonymous with the movement during the early years. The motivations of Villistas, Carrancistas, Zapatistas, and Obregonistas, at least those designed for public consumption, are here laid bare. It is most interesting to trace the specific issues that prompted the camaraderie of the early sessions to dissipate throughout the year and ultimately led to a bitter and complex conclusion. As previous studies have shown, ideological dispute was not in short supply, but, as one ponders the debates, it is inescapable that intense personalism also played a crucial role in the disintegration of the incipient revolutionary alliance. In spite of the theoretically open nature of the Convention, the credentials fights, which probed the hygienic orthodoxy of potential delegates, brings to mind the sixteenth century obsession with limpieza de sangre.
Citizen Villarreal: I would appreciate it if any delegate knows Señor Cordero, tell me if he is the same one who was jefe político in Ciudad Camargo, Chihuahua. . ..
Citizen González: Yes, he’s the one. . ..
Citizen García Vigil: And afterwards he joined Pascual Orozco . . . and now he’s a Felicista. . ..
Citizen Villarreal: I ask the assembly not to accept the delegation that the so-called General Cordero has named . . . (Vol. XXII, pp. 88-89).
The Convention was often marked with high drama as the speeches and debates were punctuated with siseos, risas, and shouts of eso no vale, Sinvergüenza!, and Abajo los traidores! But without question the intensity reached its climax with the arrival of the Zapatista delegation, after the proceedings had already begun. Antonio Díaz Soto y Gama’s impassioned speech was the most memorable bit of oratory in the entire Convention. The 30-year-old firebrand gave the delegates a rapid lesson in history and chided those who had placed their signatures on the Mexican flag.
I came here not to attack anyone but to evoke patriotism and stimulate some shame. I come to excite the honor of all of the delegates to this assembly . . . [gesturing to the flag]. Perhaps it is necessary to invoke respectable symbols, but I fear that the essence of patriotism does not lie in symbols which are, afterall, quite similar to the farces of the Church. ... I believe that our word of honor is more valuable than all of the signatures stamped on this flag. In the last analysis this flag represents nothing more than the triumph of the clerical reaction championed by Iturbide. I, gentlemen, will never sign this flag. We are today waging a great Revolution in which we are going to lay bare the lies of history represented by this flag. That which we called independence was not independence for the Indian, but independence for the creole, for the heirs of the conquerors who continue infamously to abuse and cheat the oppressed Indian (Vol. XXIII, pp. 181-182).
Even without the indices, the Fabela documents now comprise 11,267 published pages, and in their soft binding they consume over three feet of library shelf. Not many individual scholars will be able to purchase the 28 volumes, but every research library should have the complete set. Once again, historians of the early Revolution will want to salute the Comisión de Investigaciones Históricas de la Revolución Mexicana and express appreciation for the enormous undertaking that makes our task so much easier.