April 21 This day during the Mexican Revolution

April 21, 1914 – The Ypiranga Incident occurred on April 21, 1914, at the port of Veracruz in Mexico. The SS Ypiranga was a German steamer that was commissioned to transport arms and munitions to the Mexican federal government under Victoriano Huerta. The United States had placed Mexico under an arms embargo to stifle the flow of weaponry to the war-torn state, then in the throes of civil war, forcing the Mexican government to look to Europe for aid. The Ypiranga tried to enter the harbor at Veracruz to unload on the first day of the United States occupation but was detained by American troops who were ordered by President Woodrow Wilson to enforce the arms embargo he had placed on Mexico. There was neither a declaration of war on Mexico by the United States nor a formal blockade on its ports, thus the detention of the Ypiranga was not legal and it was released. It proceeded to Puerto México, a port outside of American influence and was able to offload its cargo to Huerta’s officials. In February 1913, Victoriano Huerta launched a coup, known as the Ten Tragic Days, with the support of Félix Díaz, the nephew of deposed president Porfirio Díaz and American Ambassador Henry Lane Wilson, to overthrow the government of Francisco I. Madero. Mexico had been engaged in civil war for almost two years up to this point and Huerta was unable to enact his plans for pacification. Instead, he had to continue fighting the rebels for a time and his resources were spread thinly. President William Howard Taft concluded, based on the magnitude of the domestic violence, that no arms shipments were authorized to travel from the United States to Mexico by order of Congress. Huerta became dependent on European and Asian weapons for a short time until he created connections in the United States through his agents who coordinated arms sales to locations in Cuba that were then smuggled across the Gulf of Mexico. Huerta began working closely with Leon Raast, the Russian vice-consul in Mexico City. Raast traveled to New York to meet with the Huerista agent Abraham Ratner and Marquard and Company, Importers to purchase twenty machine guns to add to the stockpile already warehoused in the city. Raast then met with the president of Gans Steamship Line who would transport the contraband for him but could not legally consign the weapons to a port in Mexico, however, he would consign to a port in Odessa, Russia. The manifest obtained by the United States Justice Department following the departure of the SS Brinkburn lists the large amount of ordnance that was on board the ship. The cargo included: 10,000 cases of 30-caliber cartridges; 4,000 cases of 7-millimeter cartridges; 250 cases of 44-caliber cartridges; 250,000 carbine rifles; 1000 cases of 14/30 carbines; twenty rapid fire machine guns. The total value of the 15,770 cases is recorded at US$607,000.


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