Exactly 100 years ago, Victoriano Huerta, the Mexican general who had usurped power in February 1913, removed the last vestiges of democracy in war-torn Mexico. Ongoing pressure from Mexican parliamentarians to explain the details of the murder of President Francisco Madero led to the arrest of the entire liberal wing of delegates.
President Wilson who had fired the US ambassador to Mexico Henry Lane Wilson in July remained aghast at the role of the United States in the removal and murder of the democratically elected president of Mexico. He sent his friend and biographer William Bayard Hale to Mexico to investigate the facts of the coup. Hale's report, although devastating for Ambassador Wilson did not solve the murder of Madero. President Huerta of course never admitted to having given the order. The actual assassin Francisco Cardenas had fled to Guatemala. Pancho Villa did send a group of his personal guard to apprehend him but did not succeed.
Did General Huerta order the assassination of President Madero and his Vice-President Jose Maria Pino Suarez? The only indication we have that he indeed ordered the murders comes from Francisco Madero's widow, Sara Perez de Madero. When she visited Ambassador Wilson two days before her husbands assassination to plead for her husband's life, Wilson alluded to having been asked for permission. In a 1916 interview with the American journalist Robert Hammond Murray, Sara recalled the conversation: "He said that General Huerta had asked what should be done with the prisoners. 'What did you answer?' I [Sara] asked. 'I told him what was best for the interests of the country,' said the ambassador. My sister-in-law, who accompanied me, could not help but interrupt saying, 'How could you say that? You know very well what kind of man Huerta and his people are, and [he] will kill them all.'"