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What Manner of Man Is the New
President of Mexico? Alvaro Obregon, Who Is To Be Inaugurated Next Thursday, Has Proved Himself a Good Business Man and a Brave Soldier. Now He Must Show His Executive Ability. Mexican People Hope for Peace By Sophie Treadwell NEW President takes the rule of Mexico Thursday? Alvaro Obregon. Can he, as we say, get away with ;t? For being President of Mexico is no sinecure. Perhaps it could best be listed as a risk. In the last ten years of the three actual Preside!.*- since Diaz two I avu been murdered and one died, practically a prisoner, in a foreign land. But if it isn't particularly safe, being President of Mexico, yet it is everlastingly exciting. Probably no job in the world to-day available to the ordinary man can so fulfill the normal lust for power of the aver ?ige human being. A Diaz. Absolute Dictator Diaz, President for thirty year?, was an absolute dictator, wielding a personal, direct and unappealable from power that reached into every branch of the government and that could make or break any human be i'.g in the country from lowest peon to highest scientifico. \:.l every President, who preceded or who followed him has held in his hand, if not the same scepter (and 'che power of the rod is in the hand that wields it) at least the potential makings of the same scepter. Mexico is a republic, but a repub? lic in which more than one-half of its citizens can neither read nor write; a republic in which 40 per cent of its people are pure Indian and almost 50 per cent halfbreeds, mestizos, peo f mixed race. >peak Sixty-three Languages This Indian strain has produced some great men: Juarez, a pure Indiar ; Diaz, almost. Yet the great mass of the Indians of Mexico are still, as the Russian? say, "people in darkr.es?." More than L\000;000 of them understand noth it their native dialect. Of the sixty-three languages spoken in the republic f.fty-two are Indian. Yet the Indians of Mexico enjoy all the political and civil rights of citizens. The constitutions of Mexico, since the independence, have been models I --gal phraseology. Her laws are among the most enlightened in the '"?"??rid. But her people, the mass of >r people, ar? still helpless in the of ignorar.ce and poverty, while the land itself is fabuloui ;, ?ich and brilliant in its Insauty and ' ?r.ety. "Mexico," said Baron von Hum ??oldt, "la a beggar aitting in 4 palace." It is to rule this land and this people that now eomei Alvaro ' Jbreg on. What ?fort of man is he, and what. '? he look like? Ha? a Powerful K>? t?a ?R a good looking, robust r-i-ru, ?f juet forty, medium height, strong looking, thick cheated. He has high coloring; he-looks as though he en? joya life. You are ?war? first <A lie eye?. He know? how to tin* them orer raen and women. Thej ALVARO OBREGON, who * will be inaugurated Pres? ident of Mexico next Thurs are tremendously expressive, with a certain curiously appealing qual? ity. And his voice is alluring, caressing. He can say "no" so indulgently one believes the favor granted. He dresses like a successful Amer? ican business man?and make money like one, too. Difficult to Analyze He began life as the youngest of twenty children in a family prac? tically without means. ?As a boy he did any and every sort of work that came to hand. Then he rented a piece of land to farm. Then bought it. He is now a millionaire. He is said to have made most of his for? tune by getting a monopoly on the bean crop of the North. Wre would probably call him "the Garbanza King." Just what is his character? Nothing more difficult to say. I had several interviews with him, but I confess I was able to know him, through them, very little. His qual? ity is one of fluidity rather than of concreteness. He gives an impres? sion of great frankness, impulsive? ness. But he is illusive. He has the great gift of seeming to take off ali the lids, yet never give himself away. He isn't afraid of being questioned. He answers everything immediately, without reflection, offhand. But he knows what he is. saying. And he'll stand by it. I remember an interview I had with him when he first entered the capital. It was cabled back from The Tribune and carried in the Mexican papers. His statements created quite a stir in Mexico City, and the Mexican reporters bom? barded him en masse. "Did you really say those things the American paper quoted?" "Why not?" "We thought maybe there was a mistake." "Why so?" "We thought perhaps if you didn't want to deny, you might like to modify the interview." "Modify nothing." Finally one of the Mexican jour-] nalista said: ! "My Genera:, hereafter when you are going to make important decla? rations like this, won't you be kind enough to make them to us first?" ".Surely," with a pood natu red laugh, "if you ask me first." Easy to Have II?e<lg??tI One of the men present told me of this. It was an easy moment for Obregon to hedge a. little, if he didn't deny; with only a probably instinctively disliked American re porter to be sacrificed and his own compatriot:! to be pleased. Yet he Stood by. Obregon is not a popular idol in ?Mexico by any means. In the North, where he comes from, perhaps. But in the capita!, and the South, not. i H? has been carried to the Pre;ii j TYPICAL Indian home ?* of the poorer sort in Mexico dency by the force of his own arm and brain ; not by any emotional wave of popular demand. Obregon the politician i? a very clever manipulator. But he is not a cheap panderer to public opinion in any sense of the word. He has con? victions and sticks to them, no mat? ter how they run counter to public favor and the fulfillment of his own ambitions. The most striking proof of this is that in a country where 12.000,000 of the: 10,000,000 inhabitants are Catholics Obregon is anti-Church. This is perhaps the greatest factor in Obregon's unpopularity in some quarters. 'This and the instinctive suspicion?made instinctive through centuries of experience?that the average Mexican has for any man in power. Mexican a Weary Cynic There is a certain weary cynicism in the heart of every Mexican, even of the most childlike peon. The Mexican may be impressionable, but he is hard to fool. The reason he submits to having so much "lumpy work" put over on him by his leaders is not that he is tricked, but that he doesn't think the situation can be bettered. He is essentially a fatalist. The innate difficulties and "easi? ness" of Obregon's new situation? contrasts that have their root deep in the race and its history?are com? plicated by the immediate last ten year??these last ten years that have destroyed the old order an.l created new hates. The whole crop of debt?, dictates and disillusions that were the sierile products of his predecessors has been inherited by Obregon. All tho injustices, confusion?, promises, grouches and grievances have been kept stewing and are now dished up?piping hot?to Obregon. A sort of inaugural banquet. All the thwarted ambitions, from the Felicistas who never got in to the Carranzistas who just got out? all disgruntled, all sore, all enduring an imposed period of watchful wait? ing -a hungry pack at the foot of the Presidential plum tree, where the Obregonistaa are now busily occu? pied in the top branches. How Did He Rise? How did Alvaro Obregon get ti? the top branch? His friends will tell you h< climbed. His enemies?well, his enemiet have many differing stories. I was m Mexico only the last si: months. I saw the dinner served But I wasn't in on the catering o; the. cooking. This much, however, i: h in tory : Obregon \* a Mexican of th? North. He was a small farmer ii the village 'of Huntabampo, In So ?ora, when the Madero revolutioi A STREET SCENE in the town of Guadalupe, near the City of Mexico broke out. He joined the revolu? tionary forces with an insignificant force of Yaqui Indians. He fought during the Orozco rebellion in 1912 and came lut of that; campaign a colonel of volunteers. lit- marched his now considerable force of Yaquis back to Sonora and was preparing to disband them when ?he news arrived that Huerta had overthrown Madero. That night Obregon, with his Indians, again rose in arm?. Friends claim he was the first officer to take the field against Huerta. Carranza, then Governor of the State of Coahuila, organized around himself the rebellion against Huer? ta. He called himself "the First Chief." Obregon and also Villa were among the generals who sup? ported him. Grew to a Big Arnix By this time the Yaqui army of Obregon had grown like a herd in a round-up. He led them down the west coast to the capital. And when Huerta fled Obregon was outside, the gates to receive the surrender of what was left of the Federal army. Meanwhile, Villa, leader in the North, had turned against the First Chief. Obregon tried, by personal mediation, to patch it up and nearly got himself before a firing squad for his trouble. Finally, however, a peace conven? tion was brought about between all the antagonistic leaders- at Aguas calientes. This convention lasted two months. The convention ended when Carranza said ho would no longer heed the actions of the dele? gates unless they met in Mexico City, which he controlled. Villa declared war again, and with Zapata entered the capital in triumph. Obregon, who still remained loyal to Carranza, fell back before Villa's ;;uperior army and remained inactive for several months, reorganizing his forcea. Reorganizing one's forces in Mexi? co h h a its humorous side. A Villista general who commanded 2,000 Yaqui i IT IS oil that gives the | * United States its greatest interest in Mexico Indians rushed to Villa's headquar? ters one dawn with the disconcert? ing news that Obregon had stolen his army. Obregon's Ancestry Controversy runs high among the best of friends in Mexico City over the question of Obregon's lineage. Has he or has he not Yaqui blood? Those for cite the fact that he speaks the difficult Yaqui language and has tremendous influence over these refractory people, a power they scarcely would recognize in any one not of their own blood. While the "Nos" cite Obregon's looks. He is purely a European type?Span? ish, with perhaps a bit of Irish back somewhere. Be that as it may. Obregon's force- grew. Suddenly, he swept upon the Zapata army in Puebla, and then came on to attack Villa. Villa made his stand at Celaya. Here was fought the celebrated bat? tle in April, 1915, that ended Vil? la's power and took from the vic? torious Obregon an arm. The loss of an arm by Obregon has not been without its advantage. Confirmed optimists who claim to find good in every bad could find no better proof of their philosophy than Obregon's lost arm. There is no doubt that this visible crippling has contributed much to what popularity he has gained. Here is a general who has obviously suffered for his coun? try; an officer who undoubtedly has led troops. Obregon the Strong Man To a people experience?! largelj in generals who have achieved their rank through favor, and whc have used it only to sign infiatet vouchers, the sight of one who ha: not only really fought with his men but has actually lost an arm doinf it, naturally routes them to enthu siasm. This was in 1915. Obregon wa ONE OF the typical beggars of Mexico, an all too common cirthf sigh the strong man in the Carranza camp. And when in 1917 the First Chief became the constitutional Pres? ident, Obregon had the post of Min? ister of War. The story of his military rise in these few year?, from a volunteer captain to Minister of War, is set forth by Obregon himself in a thick volume called Six Thousand Kilo? meters of Campaign. But he has brought to the swift growing of his career other gifts beside n native military talent. These gifts now found fertile field of action. Carranza personally was never much liked by Obregon, nor did his public actions as President find favor ?*ith his minister. Fur? thermore, Obregon felt that he had made Carranza, and this is always a difficult feeling in any walk of life for one man to cherish toward an? other. Obregon knew In? was the strong i A N INDIAN of the San I i x Juan Teohbuacan man. But he was a strong man strong enough to wait. Knows How to Wait Here was the field for other tal? ents. There is no doubt that, in spite cf Obregon's so-called impul? siveness, he knows perfectly how to wait. He knew how to wait until Villa eliminated himself by banditry, until Zapata was killed, until Car? ranza had played his string out ab solutely to the end and until the skids were ready for Gonzales. Then once again, at the head of his Yaquis, he rode into Mexico City. People were amazed at the swift? ness, completeness and orderliness of the last revolution. They knew Obregon only as a fighter, the man of quick raids, sudden onslaughts, ruthless forward marches. They knew nothing of the Obregon of quiet plan and plot, of Obregon the wise waiter. And Vet He Fell Carranza, the elected President of Mexico, behind him the army, the treasury and all the ramifications of a complicated governmental ma? chine, was overthrown, uprooted, cast aside, dead and forgotten in a week. What months, what weeks. Obre? gon had been getting ready for this! Who knows? Another thing: When Obregon, at the head of his Yaquis, took pos? ses-ion of the capital the last time complete order was maintained. Probably the record of crime in the city was never lower. And through? out the country, now that Obregon ism is established, respect for prop? erty is the order of the day. Mexi? cans who were in the capital when Obregon came in five years ago tell of houses looted, churches used a* stables. Pc? pic who lived in th< North when Obregon .-wept througl after Villa tell of general devasta? tion. 11 believe Obregon, in Ria boo'k, remarks that he learned much from Sherman's march to the sea.' The Mexicans who remember the*-* things are still incredulous before the order that came into the country ' six months ago. A Man of Yer?-atilit) They do not realize that Obn & is a very vers?til.? man, who can do one thing one time and the opposite the next when the opposite is t:e thing demanded. They do not ap? preciate the many sides to Obregon's character, the variety of his talents. nor the difference between Obreg;.' . the soldier, fighting to win, Obrcgoi:, the soldier and politic!a . v. ho has won. Obregon's range of talents is, in? deed, v<ry little appreciated in h own country. He is not only the strong man, the soldier who km v ?? how to handle troops and the quiet. ?ubtie man behind who knows how to plant a plan and wait for it to ripen, but also he is the actor in the lime? light. He can make a stirring spee? ; and write a thrilling phrase. Or. our parlance, he is not only the l?r** but the'standard bearer as well. Another Obregon There is still another Obregon foi , whom the Mexican public is qui?? unprepared. That is Obregon Ih?* President. Obregon the politician is a radi? cal. But what of Obregon the Pres? ident? Obregon the private citizen does not particularly like Americans. But what, of Obregon the Presiden! ? Obregon the man behind the Ca ranza throne was a Constitutional ist; but is Obregon the President | going to let a literally interpn. I Carranza document stand betv? his country and peace? Upon the answer to these last two questions depends the stand or fall of the Obregon r?gime. Whether or I not the situation is just, whether or not it is being handled not i j with fairness but with tact, has now nothing to do with it. The situ? ation is: Our Friendship No President in Mexico car a* this time endure without the .friend? ship, the backing, of the United States. This may not be an agree? able or a pleasant fact below the Rio Grande. ?\nd any one who knows anything of Mexico, her tragic historv. her sensitive char? acter, must know that it is not. But it is, for this moment anyway. ? fact. The United States cannot flood on. on the tifle of vast material achieve ment in which she is being carried. with? it oil. Mexico to-day produce GO per cent of the world's supply. It is oil under Mexico's soil, but brought out by Anglo-Saxon money and work. The American Urge Now, this terrible urge of Amer-' ica is not to be stopped by a dictate that she holds as unjust as it is in the way. Article 127 of the last Mexican Constitution enrages Amer? icans, not only because it is a barrier thrown up suddenly across the way they '.sere going, and going fast, but a!-?o because, very sincerely, very truly, it seems to them essential:j* unjust. Is Obr?aron tha ?"?rastcjent ?*<..wv enough, self-contained enoagu ?*? accept his country's destiny? Or will his Mexican pride and high strungness betray him in these diffi? cult moments? Qui?n sabe?