The 1,600th “This Week in Texas History” column is about Porfirio Diaz, the iron-fisted dictator that ruled Mexico for 35 years.
With the support of many Texans, who gladly gave him their money and support, Diaz seized Matamoros, sister city of Brownsville, on March 27, 1876. Following a short setback that sent him into a brief exile in Cuba, he returned to wield power well into his eighties.
Mexican bandits kidnapped the U.S. consular agent at Puebla on October 19, 1919 and demanded $150,000 for his release. With 60,000 American soldiers already lining the border from San Diego to Brownsville, the incident brought the two tense neighbors to the brink of war.
For weeks congressional leaders tried in vain to meet with President Wilson, bedridden since a stroke on October 2, but could not get past the First Lady. When two senators finally succeeded in seeing him on December 5, the White House doctor burst into Wilson’s sickroom with the news that the diplomat had bought his own freedom.