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This Day is Resistance History: US Troops Refuse Orders in 1914 Invasion of Mexico

June 1, 2012

One of the sad realities of growing up in the US is that many of us are unaware of the rich history of resistance to US wars and US imperialism.

This resistance has taken on many forms, but one of the most courageous forms of resistance has come from US military personnel refusing to participate in US imperialism.

On June 1st, 1914, eighty US soldiers refused to participated in the invasion of Veracruz, Mexico.

The invasion and occupation of Veracruz began on April 21st, but because of the resistance in Mexico, the US military needed to deploy more troops and that is when these 80 men said no.

Some US troops had already invaded and occupied Veracruz and were attempting to influence the outcome of the Mexican Revolution. This was not the only involvement the US has during the 1910 – 1920 Mexican Revolution and it wasn’t as significant as the campaign to hunt down Pancho Villa and his troops, but the Veracruz occupation was yet another clear signal that the US would not tolerate real independence in the western hemisphere.

We do know that the 80 US soldiers who refused orders were charged with insubordination and sentenced to time in the brig. This action did not stop the 6-month US occupation of Veracruz, but it did send a strong signal to the US military command and fellow soldiers about their refusal to participate in an imperialist campaign.

This kind of resistance has been part of US history since the Revolutionary War. US soldiers have refused orders, went AWOL, deserted, attacked superior officers and even joined forces with insurgent forces fighting the US.

Robert Fantina, author of Desertion and the American Soldier, notes that it is important that Americans realize that going AWOL was not something that began with the Vietnam War. US troops, according to Fantina, engaged in acts of resistance, especially desertion in every US war since the founding of the country, including US invasions and occupations that are rarely mentioned in the US education system.

The resistance of the 80 US soldiers in 1914 to the invasion of Mexico is continued to this day with US soldiers refusing to participate in the imperial wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. We salute the war resisters of 1914 and hope their actions are an inspiration for current and future soldiers to not participate in imperialism, no matter the consequences.

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