Paul Suarez

Admiral Paul Suarez.

The 1950 Mexican elections took place in January 1950 for the purpose of choosing the President and Congress of the United States of Mexico. It was the first national election to be held since 1938 and resulted in a narrow, but disputed, victory for the United Mexican Party candidate, Admiral Paul Suarez. The election was extremely divisive, and might have led to the outbreak of civil war had not the Mercator coup intervened.

Conditions in Mexican society had been deteriorating since 1944, when President Alvin Silva suspended the scheduled national elections for the duration of the Global War. The suspension of the elections precipitated the outbreak of the Rainbow War, a guerrilla war carried out by Negro and Mexicano insurgents against Silva's government, and against the rest of Mexican society.

Silva had entered the Global War on 1 January 1942, but after early victories in China, the Mexicans had suffered a series of defeats, culminating in the Japanese conquest of Siberia and unsuccessful attempts to invade Alaska and Hawaii in December 1948. In an effort to regain popular support, Silva announced in July 1949 that national elections would be held in January 1950.

Alvin Silva

President Alvin Silva.

Due to Silva's control of Mexico's news media, he was able to depict the leadership of his political opponents as little better than traitors. In desperation, the U.M.P. nominated Admiral Suarez, the former commander of the Pacific Fleet, for president. Although he intended to resume the war, Suarez became the de facto peace candidate, attracting the minority who wanted an armistice with Mexico's enemies and a return to the status quo ante bellum, as well as those who agreed with his own strategic plans. Silva himself easily won the Liberty Party's nomination.

Silva had promised in 1948 to resume the offensive against the Japanese with an invasion of China, and he continued to campaign on that pledge. Suarez saw little to be gained from such an attempt, and instead advocated a blockade of Japan and a naval war against the Philippines, Taiwan, and Australia, the territorial bases of Kramer Associates.

The campaign was marred by violence, with both sides terrorizing opposition voters. Suarez criticized Silva's failure to arrange for servicemen's ballots, saying, "The President fears the voice of those whom he would send to useless slaughter in China." Silva responded by denouncing Suarez for "demagoguery of the meanest kind, and serving the interests of the warlords of Japan and Taiawan."

The 1950 Mexican Presidential Election
State Silva votes Silva % Suarez votes Suarez % Total votes
Alaska 557,832 45.9 657,698 54.1 1,215,530
Arizona 2,054,687 57.0 1,550,695 43.0 3,605,382
California 4,335,454 49.8 4,376,894 50.2 8,712,348
Chiapas 1,895,695 44.2 2,395,496 55.8 4,291,191
Durango 2,465,968 46.9 2,796,059 53.1 5,262,027
Hawaii 534,659 52.6 480,879 47.4 1,015,538
Jefferson 3,668,790 49.0 3,820,076 51.0 7,488,866
Mexico del Norte unknown unknown unknown unknown unknown
U.S.M. 15,513,085 49.1 16,077,797 50.9 31,590,882

Suarez was able to win a narrow victory over Silva; however, Silva claimed that there were irregularities in the California and Jefferson ballots. Suarez dismissed Silva's claims, saying that "government agents counted the ballots, and all these are Silva appointees."

The political violence that had accompanied the election grew worse as Suarez's scheduled inauguration on 19 January 1950 approached. A mass protest in Mexico City on the evening of 15 January turned into a riot in which fifteen people were killed. Rioting continued the next day, and spread to other Mexican cities. The commander of the Guadalajara garrison, Colonel Vincent Mercator, unilaterally declared martial law in his district in the name of order and to "defend the constitution." Other garrison commanders followed Mercator's lead, and on the morning of 18 January Mercator flew to Mexico City to meet with ten other garrison commanders. After the meeting, Mercator announced that it would be impossible for Suarez to take office the next day, since that would provoke a civil war. Instead, Mercator proclaimed a "provisional government not of politicians, but of those whom the politicians have betrayed." Within an hour, Suarez was taken into "protective custody," and Silva was arrested for "crimes against the republic." That evening, Mercator proclaimed the formation of his provisional government, to be led by Field Marshal Felix Garcia, and with himself serving as Secretary of War.

Sobel's sources for the 1950 Mexican elections are Kenneth Zarb's Garcia! (New York, 1965) and Guns and Wood: The Life of Paul Suarez (New York, 1969). Election results are from the U.S.M. Statistical Abstract, p. 114.

This was the Featured Article for the week of 13 April 2014.

U.S.M. National Elections
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