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José Victoriano Huerta Ortega was a Mexican military officer and president of Mexico, and was a political rival to Pancho Villa.

Even though Huerta had been removed from power in 1914 and died in early 1916, Villa and his army still detested Huerta's name when Indiana Jones was kidnapped by Pancho Villa's army. Once Jones had joined Villa's revolutionaries, he shared in the contempt for Huerta. Even in 1957, Jones, when he mentioned fighting alongside Villa to Mutt Williams, Jones spat after saying Huerta's name.

Behind the scenes

Victoriano Huerta was born in the town of Colotlán, Jalisco, son of Jesús Huerta and Refugio Márquez who were of Mestizo descent. He entered the Mexican Army at the age of 17, distinguished himself and gained admission to the Military Academy at Chapultepec under the express guidance of President Diaz.

During the Porfirio Díaz administration he rose to the rank of general, and fought to subdue the Chan Santa Cruz Maya people of Yucatán and against the rebels of Emiliano Zapata. On the eve of the 1910 Revolution against the long established Díaz regime, Huerta was involved in the innocuous project of reforming the uniforms of the Federal Army.

After Díaz went into exile Huerta initially pledged allegiance to the new administration of Francisco Madero, and he was retained by the Madero administration and crushed anti-Madero revolts by rebel generals such as Pascual Orozco. However, Huerta secretly plotted with U.S. ambassador to Mexico, Henry Lane Wilson, cashiered general Bernardo Reyes, and Félix Díaz, Porfirio Díaz's nephew, to overthrow Madero. This episode in Mexican history is known as La decena trágica.

Following a confused few days of fighting in Mexico City between loyalist and rebel factions of the Army, on February 18, 1913 Huerta had Madero and vice-president José María Pino Suárez seized and briefly imprisoned in the National Palace. The conspirators then met at the US Embassy to sign el Pacto de la Embajada (The Embassy Pact), which provided for Madero and Pino Suárez's exile and Huerta's takeover of the Mexican government.

To give the coup the appearance of legitimacy, Huerta had foreign minister Pedro Lascuráin assume the presidency; under the 1857 Constitution of Mexico, the foreign minister stood third in line for the presidency behind the vice-president and attorney general. Madero's attorney general had also been ousted in the coup. Lascuráin then appointed Huerta as interior minister--constitutionally, fourth in line for the presidency. After less than an hour in office (some sources say as little as 15 minutes), Lascuráin resigned, handing the presidency to Huerta. At a late-night special session of Congress surrounded by Huerta's troops, the legislators endorsed his assumption of power. Four days later Madero and Pino Suárez were taken from the Palacio Nacional to prison at night and shot by officers of the rurales (federal mounted police) who were assumed to be acting on Huerta's orders.

Huerta established a harsh military dictatorship. US President Woodrow Wilson became hostile to the Huerta administration, recalled ambassador Henry Lane Wilson, and demanded Huerta step aside for democratic elections. When Huerta refused, and with the situation further exacerbated by the Tampico Affair, President Wilson landed US troops to occupy Mexico's most important seaport, Veracruz.

The reaction to the Huerta usurpation was Venustiano Carranza's Plan of Guadalupe, calling for the creation of a Constitutional Army, for Huerta's ouster, and for the restoration of constitutional government. Supporters of the plan included Zapata, Pancho Villa and Álvaro Obregón. After repeated field defeats of Huerta's Federal Army by Obregón and Villa, climaxing in the Battle of Zacatecas, Huerta bowed to pressure and resigned the presidency on July 15, 1914.

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