Not So Neighborly

September 15, 1914

President Woodrow Wilson is continually ranked in the top ten most popular presidents in United States history. The Democratic governor of New Jersey won the White House in 1912, taking office in 1913. President Wilson is remembered for cracking down on child labor, avoiding a major railroad strike, the Clayton Anti-Trust Act, the Federal Farm Loan Act, and his peace statement entitled “Fourteen Points.” Wilson was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his 1919 efforts to promote the formation of the League of Nations.

Throughout his first term in office, President Wilson kept the United States in a neutral position regarding World War I. At the same time, our neighbors to the south were experiencing turmoil of their own. General Victoriano Huerta had assumed leadership of Mexico through a coup d’état after assassinating Francisco Madera. Wilson declared “I will not recognize a government of butchers,” and kept a “watchful eye” on the country.

In early April of 1914, the Tampico Affair would spark events that led to the Battle of Veracruz. Nine US sailors entered an off-limits area in Tampico, Tamaulipas and were arrested. Though the sailors were released, the commanding officer demanded an apology and a Twenty-One Gun Salute. Huerta allowed for the apology but recognized that a salute would not be politically wise for him, in turn infuriating President Wilson.

On April 21, newspapers reported that the Germans had delivered a stockpile of weapons to Huerta, and Wilson ordered them to be immediately seized. The papers were not correct, however; the arms had actually been supplied by a wealthy American businessman together with a Russian arms dealer, not the German government.

The arms seizure began the Battle and occupation of Veracruz, an event that nearly brought the US and Mexico to war. General Huerta was eventually overthrown by his own people, and on September 15, 1914, President Wilson ordered the evacuation of Veracruz.

The occupation fueled an anti-American sentiment throughout Mexico, Central and South America. Several revolts were staged and US citizens were expelled from Mexican territory. England was also put off because President Wilson had agreed to notify them in the case of military action.

The Battle of Veracruz kept Mexico in a position of neutrality throughout World War I. Wilson asked Congress to declare war when German submarines created a world stage deemed unsafe for democracy to flourish.  Mexico refused to cooperate with the US military actions in Europe and allowed German companies to keep operations open throughout Mexico.

Guacamole Autentico

4 fresh avocados, peeled and seeded
1/2 t ground cumin
1 diced Roma tomato
1/2 cup minced sweet white onion
2 Serrano chiles, seeded and minced
1/2 cup chopped cilantro leaves
4 T fresh lime juice
Hot pepper sauce
Sea salt
White pepper

Cut avocados in large chunks and mash coarsely with a fork in a large bowl. Add remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly, leaving some chunks for texture. Taste and adjust seasoning with more pepper sauce, salt and pepper. Serve in a molcajete if possible.

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