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Portrait of Bernardo Reyes
|Died||February 9, 1913
Mexico City, Mexico
|Years of service||1865-1913|
Bernardo Reyes (August 1850 – February 9, 1913) was a Mexican general and politician. Born in a prominent liberal family in the western state of Jalisco, he served in the army, rising to the rank of general. Like his political patron, General and then President Porfirio Díaz, Reyes was a military man who became an able administrator. Reyes was one of the state governors that Díaz appointed, serving as governor of the northern state of Nuevo León. He implemented Porfirian policy, particularly eliminating political rivals, but also building his own power base. He helped in the modernization of that state, enabling local industrialization, improving public education and health, and supporting improvements in the lives of workers. While governor of Nuevo León, Reyes approved a workers compensation law. Followers of Reyes were known as Reyistas.
Reyes served in the cabinet for two years as Minister of War, and there he created an expanded military force, the Second Reserve which had some 30,000 men and a significant budget. The force came to be considered Reyes's private army by the Cientificos. Reyes was emerging as a counterweight to the influence of the Científicos. As Díaz aged and the presidential succession became an open topic of discussion, he was emerging as a potential candidate. Díaz disbanded the Second Reserve and Reyes returned to Nuevo León as governor, and his popularity grew. A way to manage the presidential succession would have been to have a viable candidate run in the 1910 elections as Díaz's vice president. Clubs supporting Reyes were organized in a number of major cities, although Reyes himself did not openly court political power and actively supported Díaz's run for the presidency despite his published statement that he was not going to seek re-election.
The center of Reyes's political power was in his home state of Jalisco; Díaz's supporters closed Reyes clubs and jailed their leaders. His main support came from the middle class, many of whom had connections to the now disbanded Second Reserve. Reyes was seen as a reformer, anti-Científico, pro-business, with a strong following among professionals such as doctors and lawyers, and a viable candidate of the old order with both military and political experience who could manage a presidential transition. He was not an outsider or radical agitator.
Together with José Yves Limantour, he was considered as one of the potential successors of Porfirio Díaz. With Francisco Madero's latter challenge to the dictator in the 1910 elections and, afterwards, initiation of the Mexican Revolution, previous notions of who should succeed Díaz were discarded.
For a time Reyes was a supporter of Madero, but he later led the first rebellion against Madero. After this rebellion failed, Reyes was imprisoned.
On 9 February 1913, Manuel Mondragón's forces freed Reyes from prison. Then, they marched on to the National Palace in the beginning of the Decena trágica. Reyes was killed in the initial assault on the palace.
- Alan Knight, The Mexican Revolution, New York: Cambridge University Press 1986, vol. 1, p. 49.
- Bernardo Reyes (Mexican politician) - Britannica Online Encyclopedia
- The National Palace
- Knight, The Mexican Revolution, vol. 1, p. 49.
- Knight, The Mexican Revolution, vol. 1, p. 52.
- Lyle C. Brown, Review of El Gran General Bernardo Reyes by E. V. Niemeyer Jr. (translated by Juan Antonio Ayala) in Hispanic American Historical Review Vol. 47, no. 3, p. 422
- Scheina, Robert L. (2004). Villa: Soldier of the Mexican Revolution. Potomac Books. ISBN 978-1-57488-513-2. Retrieved 10 January 2015.
- Articles: Reyes, Alfonso (1889-1959) - Historical Text Archive
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