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RedTemplar

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Patria, Justicia, y Libertad

A HOI4 Mexico AAR

"Mexico faced two decades of civil wars after the overthrow of the tyrant Porfirio Diaz. Centralizers fought regionalists, peasants and socialists rallied against hacienda landlords, and battles over the role of state versus religion came out of the annals of the Enlightenment to terrorize Mexico. The secularist government insists that it won these battles, but it is seated on a throne of debris. After Mexico is rebuilt, perhaps a different victor will have emerged."
-- HoI4 Introduction Text

Introductory Stuff
Greetings, AARland! It has been a long, long time since I worked on a Hearts of Iron AAR project. So long ago, in fact, that my last AAR in the series was played on Darkest Hour for HoI2!! I've spent the past few years doing CK2 and EU4 megacampaigns, covering the Lombards, Basques, and most recently Estonians -- that last one is still in progress, having just finished the EU4 portion of the campaign and is in the preparation stages to head into Vic2.

But in the meantime, not only do I need some time to learn how the heck to play Vic2, but I'm also feeling in need of a little break to do something different. My current megacampaign has been going on for two years now, and I haven't written any AARs outside of it... So as much as I'm loving it, I do need to take a little time off and let my creativity dig into something else for a bit. I wasn't wild about HoI3, but as I've played a bit through HoI4 and its expansions, I've found that I really enjoy the game's mix of politics, industry, and alt-history options. I've had immense fun playing a few high-speed test games, and I feel like I'm ready to dig in and turn out a proper AAR.

So, why did I choose Mexico?

I love what the expansions have done with opening up deeper focus trees for minor nations rife with alternate history possibilities. The Baltic minors have some awesome ideas, and the many ways things can play out for the British Dominions is great, but I think the Mexican focus tree is amazingly fleshed out with a lot of alt-history possibilities rooted in at least somewhat plausible history. It's led me to do some in-depth studying of the Mexican Revolution and the Cristero War leading up to the WW2 timeframe, and I think it would be really fascinating to see what I can do with this little American minor.

I'll be playing with all expansions installed, but no mods. Historical focuses will also be turned off, because I want to see what sorts of crazy interplays will happen! As for me, I will be generally focusing on taking Mexico down a Synarchist pathway, but I may change my mind if major events make narrative sense for it to happen. Depending on how the world plays out, Mexico has the option to conquer territory in the Americas, form a Hispanic Alliance, retake land from the USA, or head overseas to pitch into the heart of WW2.

Game Detail Breakdown
  • Hoi4 Hydra v1.7.1
  • All expansions installed and active
  • Regular difficulty
  • Historical AI focuses off
  • Strengthen China +1, because in all my test games they seem to capitulate at absolutely lightning speed no matter what happens.
  • All other game rules vanilla.
 

Idhrendur

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Now I'm curious to try out a Mexico game. Especially after having listened to the Revolutions podcast's series on the Mexican revolution.
 

RedTemplar

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I think it's a lot of fun! Yes, it's a smaller nation so your power is limited, but I find the focus tree very well done and engaging. There are multiple ways to get to each ideology as well, and some interesting choices that let you interact with the major factions.
 

Nikolai

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I'm in for the ride! When you say "synarchist", do you mean "syndicalist"?
 

stnylan

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You know what, I must remember to strengthen China in my games as well - because I likewise find they usually fall over quite quickly - especially with Historical Focuses on.
 

RedTemplar

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I'm in for the ride! When you say "synarchist", do you mean "syndicalist"?
Synarchism is something separate, and in this case was a movement primarily from the Catholic hard right in Mexico that combined influences from Catholic social thought with anti-Communist and anti-Capitalist ideology.
 

RedTemplar

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Mexico in 1936 - Part 1
Politics & The Presidency



In his youth, Lázaro Cárdenas fought in the Mexican Revolution under a number of revolutionaries, serving under prominent leaders such as Álvaro Obregón, Pancho Villa, and then eventually under Plutarco Elias Calles, who served as President from 1924-1928 and eventually became a powerful manipulator behind the scenes of his successors. Under Calles' command, Cárdenas was appointed as a Brigadier General at the young age of 25, and was appointed as the Governor of his home state of Michoacan from 1928-1932. From there, Cárdenas was chosen as the candidate for Calles' political party, the Partido Nacional Revolucionario (National Revolutionary Party), and took office as the President of Mexico in 1934.



The Mexico which Cárdenas had been elected to lead, however, was neither unified nor stable. Former President Calles, derisively referred to as "El Jefe Maximo," had acted as a sort of "shadow president" behind the scenes of his successors to the office, and he continued to work to exert his influence over the Cárdenas administration, as well. The fingerprints of Calles' control were all over the Mexican regime, no matter who held office at the time. The military, too, suffered from factionalization and politicization. Caciques and caudillos -- regional rulers with their own power bases and private armies -- threatened the ability of the central government to effectively mobilize, coordinate, and control the armed forces. In particular, Saturnino Cedillo -- a powerful warlord from the north-central region of San Luis Potosi -- had positioned himself as a powerful force with a number of similar strongmen under his sway, posing an obstacle to government efforts to enact any policies that would diminish their power and autonomy.

Cárdenas also had to face the question of handling the Catholic Church in Mexico. In the 1920s, President Calles had harshly enforced multiple articles of Mexico's Constitution of 1917, and passed his own legislation, known as the Calles Law, which further restricted the Church. The measures included a ban on wearing clerical garb in public, the deportation of all foreign priests, imprisonment for any priest who criticized the government, and the seizure of many church properties including churches, convents, and schools. This oppression led to violent armed uprisings by militant Catholics, known as "La Cristiada" in Spanish and "The Cristero Rebellion" in English. The war claimed some 90,000 lives and saw the President-elect Álvaro Obregón assassinated by a Catholic radical in 1928.

With the aid of a United States ambassador, the Cristeros and the government came to a nominal agreement for a ceasefire a year later in 1929. The controversial Calles Law remained in force and the Constitution was not amended, but interim President Emilio Portes Gil promised not to direct his government to enforce them. Gil kept his word, but while the federal government made no attempts to enforce the harsh laws, some persecution of the Church and its clerics continued at local and regional levels. The Church's condition was weak, but the country was less than a decade removed from the war, and the possibility of reigniting tensions still remained.

Cárdenas, then, was saddled with the challenge of finding a way to manage religious malcontent, ambitious caudillo leaders, and growing movements of both fascism and communism -- and their accompanying Gold Shirt and Red Shirt paramilitaries, respectively -- all while being overseen by the puppeteer Plutarco Calles. If he mismanaged any of these, he could find himself ousted from power, or see his nation fall into yet another wave of civil war.
 

stnylan

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It is fair to say that Mexico starts the game in a domestic situation almost as bad - if not simply as bad - as that of Spain
 

RedTemplar

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It is fair to say that Mexico starts the game in a domestic situation almost as bad - if not simply as bad - as that of Spain
At least from a gameplay / public order perspective, it definitely does. Mexico has not one, but three different civil wars. Only two out of three can happen in any playthrough -- the threat of the caudillo rebellion is in every game, and if you allow the Catholic Church's power to hit the highest level or the lowest level, you can get a civil war from the opposite extreme side.
 

TheAnguishedOne

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I'll absolutely be along for the ride. I've had little exposure to HOI4, so this will be great.
 

RedTemplar

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Mexico in 1936 - Part 2

The Army



With 99 battallions across 21 divisions, the Mexican army in 1936 was the second-largest army in the Americas, behind only the United States. However, in spite of its size, the army was vastly lacking in equipment and cohesion compared to many of its neighbors. The main force of the army consisted of 18 infantry divisions, but only three of these divisions were proper professional army units with full formations and artillery support. The remainder were composed of small groups of Agraristas, rural agrarian militias recruited from around the countryside and wielding only small arms. These units were equipped with a mixture of foreign WWI-era rifles, largely purchased during the Mexican Revolution and the following years. Most of the northern-based armies carried the American M1903 Springfield, while the southern forces made heavy use of the German Gewehr 98. In the capital, President Cárdenas was protected by the Estado Mayor Presidencial, the Presidential Guard, comprised of the army's best-drilled soldiers equipped with the more modern American M1 Garand rifle. Finally, a pair of horse-mounted cavalry divisions provided the army's only mobile forces.

Many of these units, particularly the Agrarista divisions, were not fully supplied, and were in need of additional weaponry to bring them back to full fighting strength -- a task that could take the better part of a year given Mexico's current industrial capabilities at the time.

The Air Force


Mexico boasted nearly nothing in the way of air forces, with a mere two dozen planes based in Mexico City supplying the army's only aerial support. The 'Tololoche' and 'Azcárate' were both designed by the native Mexican aircraft company TNCA, and provided the air force with a half-dozen each of air superiority monoplanes and recon-bombing biplanes. The Spartan 8W 'Zeus' was an American-built design, a number of which were sold to Mexico after the United States military declined to incorporate them into their own forces. The small force could provide enough air support for a small offensive, but was far from prepared to take on a proper war effort.

The Navy

The Mexican Navy (Armada de México in Spanish, with the associated ship prefix "ARM") was anchored by a single coastal defense vessel, the ARM Anahuac, the first of its class and the de facto 'flagship' of the diminutive naval force. The Anahuac was supported by a single outdated Nicolás Bravo-class destroyer and four of Mexico's current Durango-class destroyers to complete a small task force stationed in the Gulf of Mexico. While the Mexican navy was larger than the nations of Central America, many South American nations, such as Brazil and Argentina, had much larger navies that put the small Mexican force to shame by comparison. If Mexico wanted to have any chance at naval superiority, the navy had a long way to go.
 

Nikolai

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Seems there is a LONG way to go. :p
 

stnylan

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A very paltry set of forces.
 

RedTemplar

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This looks very interesting, I'll follow this as well.
Welcome on board! Glad to have you.

A very paltry set of forces.
Very much so. The army is enough to go toe-to-toe with most rivals in the Americas, but my navy is nothing compared to many of the South American nations. As it stands, I've got no chance of contesting the seas without a major overhaul.
 

RedTemplar

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January - March 1936: Internal Politics

El Jefe Máximo


Former President Plutarco Calles

Plutarco Elías Calles served as an officer in the Mexican Revolution, and was later elected as the governor of his home state of Sonora. After serving as the Secretary of Industry, Commerce, and Labor under President Venustiano Carranza, Calles joined with other northern generals in overthrowing and eventually killing Carranza when he attempted to appoint his own successor to the presidency. Instead, Calles helped support his friend and fellow general Álvaro Obregón to win the presidency in the 1920 election. Obregón, in turn, anointed Calles as his chosen successor, and after using military force to put down the opposition, Calles was elected President of Mexico in 1924.

Calles almost caused a war when he attempted to assert ownership over Mexican oil resources that had been promised to U.S. companies during the Obregón administration, but he was eventually persuaded to align with U.S. interests and averted a crisis. He did, however, manage to cause a war within his own country. It was during this administration that Calles passed the controversial "Law for Reforming the Penal Code" -- which became known simply as the "Calles Law" -- that added more restrictions and harsher penalties onto the Mexican Catholic Church, which was already heavily limited and regulated by the post-Revolutionary 1917 Constitution. The result was the three-year-long Cristero War, in which militant Catholics revolted against the Calles government. The official conflict lasted until 1929, but even after an agreement was reached with the help of mediation from the United States, persecution of Catholics continued in many regions for years. By 1934, only 334 licensed Catholic priests remained in the country, where there had been more than 4,500 priests in the country prior to the rebellion.

When Calles' term as president ended in 1928, his predecessor and ally Obregón ran unopposed to return to power for a second term. However, he was assassinated before he could take office, shot repeatedly in the back by a Cristero rebel who was later arrested and executed. With Obregón dead and with Mexican law prohibiting a President from serving consecutive terms, Calles founded the National Revolution Party (PNR) with himself as its leader, allowing him to control candidates for the presidency representing his party, and thus maintain political control in spite of not serving as President. Calles instated a temporary President to serve until an election could be held, and then exercised shadowy authority during the term of Pascual Ortiz Rubio, who was elected in 1930. After Rubio was forced to resign when some of his policy decisions ran afoul of Calles' wishes, he was replaced by Abelardo Rodríguez for the remainder of the term. It was during this period that Calles began to be referred to as "El Jefe Máximo," regarded as the shadow President behind candidates who were largely figureheads. Thus, the period of time during which Calles exercised this back-room authority is referred to as "The Maximato."

In 1934, Calles chose Lázaro Cárdenas as the next PNR candidate, an unknowingly sowed the seeds of his own defeat.

The End of the Maximato


Calles expected to continue calling the shots from behind the scenes, but Cárdenas would prove more assertive and independent than his predecessors. More liberal than Calles, Cárdenas had disagreements with his sponsor's more authoritarian leanings, particularly as it related to labor policy. Calles' presence also continued to agitate the Catholic population, who still held Calles up as the primary villain of the Cristero Rebellion and resented his continued presence in Mexican politics. If Cárdenas was to be able to implement his own visioin for Mexico, Calles had to go.

He began by working to politically isolate Calles by gradually taking power away from his allies. Several influential callistas supportive of Calles were either exiled or arrested, and Calles found himself losing the very men who could be most instrumental in supporting his power. With Calles' allies being flushed out and with Cárdenas winning the support of enough of the government and military, the balance of power finally tipped. On March 11, 1936, Calles was arrested on charges of sedition and deported to the United States, and Cárdenas was free to continue his presidency without the shadow of El Jefe Máximo cast over him.



Cárdenas' immediate focus was industrial -- he ordered the construction of a number of new military manufacturing facilities in central Mexico, and directed his general staff to work on improvements to their efficiency in construction. Militarily, he directed his production toward producing enough rifles to fully supply the rest of his army and solidify the under-equipped Agrarista forces.



All the while, storm clouds were beginning to gather over Europe. In the same month of march, Hitler's German regime sent troops into the previously-demilitarized Rhineland, and a violent civil war between Republican and Nationalist factions in Spain broke out. Mexico was far removed from this tension for now, but Cárdenas was all the more convinced that keeping his army ready could prove critical in the coming years.