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Streets of Manzanillo - Aquiles Serden

Aquiles Serden

by Terry Sovil

Aquiles Serdan Bicentenario Photo Aquiles Serdán Alatriste (November 1, 1876 - November 18, 1910), was born in the city of Puebla, Puebla. He is known as a politician who opposed Porfiro Díaz in the Mexican Revolution. He supported Francisco I. Madero and Emiliano Zapata.

Serdán is important because of his support for Madero. He was Madero's first martyr in the revolution. Madero was an unlikely revolutionary as he came from one of Mexico's richest families. But he mounted opposition against Porfiro Díaz's after his 35 year rule with an iron fist. Madero was a small man, five foot three, and was referred to by Diaz as "the little madman" (el loquito). Madero was a teetotaler, spiritualist and a vegetarian in a culture where drinking and meat was the macho thing to do. Madero's objections to another six-year term by Diaz were met with scorn.

Díaz finally jailed Madero, whom he regarded as a pest, in June, 1910. His family got him out on bail. In October Díaz was declared the winner of the presidency in a rigged election. Madero had taken refuge in the United States of America making plans to return to Mexico at the head of an armed revolution. This was the November 20th movement annually celebrated as Revolution Day.

Aquiles Serdan In Chihuahua The first engagement took place two days before Madero crossed back into Mexico. The central figure was a 34 year old balding merchant named Aquiles Serdán. Serdán was a leader in the Anti-Reelectionist movement. In 1908 Madero had published a book that called for honest elections. The book didn't advocate removing Díaz but of removing his very unpopular vice-present; chosen to make keeping Díaz more palatable. The book became the match that ignited reformers all over Mexico who began forming Anti-Reelectionist clubs and calling for the end of the long reign of Díaz.

Aquiles Serdán was a very active member. He boldly promoted Madero's cause. He was joined by his sister, Carmen, who used a pseudonym of Marcos Serrato while distributing anti-government pamphlets to throw off Díaz's security teams.

Aquiles Serdan Portrait Photo In the planning of the revolution, Serdán worked with Emiliano Zapata along with Madero. Serdan enlisted a follower that was a medical student and fellow Puebla citizen, Juan Andrew Almazán, to act as liaison between Serdán and Zapata.

Serdán traveled to San Antonio, Texas on the eve of the revolution to confer with Madero. They agreed that Serdán should return to Puebla and stockpile arms in his home. He disguised himself as a grieving widow as he made his way home from the meeting. The Serdán family had converted their home at 4 Santa Clara Street into an arsenal. On November 18, Puebla police Chief Miguel Cabrera got a tip that arms were being held in their home. He organized a force of 400 soldiers and 100 police officers. He led a raid on Serdáns home. There were six defenders: Serdán, his wife, his mother, his sister Carmen, his brother Máximo and a family friend, a student named Jesús Nieto. Despite the odds the defenders did not give up.

Carmen was wounded and went up to a balcony to challenge the crowds that were watching. Serdán was killed after holding up in the basement fighting to his death. Máximo and Jesús were also killed and the women were taken prisoners. Carmen survived her wounds and was released from prison after Madero's victory over Diaz. When General Huerta staged a counter-revolution and overthrew Madero, Carmen served as a nurse in a field hospital. She then returned to Puebla to raise the children of her two slain brothers. She died in 1948.

Aquiles Serdan Death Photo The Serdán home was converted to a Regional Museum of the Mexican Revolution in 1960 to mark the 50th anniversary of Madero's rising. It commemorated the deeds of Aquiles Serdán and his family. The house is still a museum with everything as he left it when he was killed. The northern municipality of Aquiles Serdán, Chihuahua was renamed in his honor in 1932.

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