The Mexican Revolution began on 20 November, 1910, and raged well into the 1920s. It was an attempt by revolutionaries to overthrow the ruler and dictator Porfirio Diaz Mori and implement a constitution, which would aim to ensure fairer life for the farming classes. The conflict was bloody, with around 900,000 people losing their lives. Such vast death and destruction meant that both sides were more than willing to involve women and children in combat
One army of 5,369 revolutionaries inspected by US officials included 1,256 women and 554 children. Whilst the children mostly foraged and cooked, the women were usually armed and fought alongside the men. Despite facing constant inequality and sexism, women were still willing to play a major role in Mori’s eventual downfall. Those female soldiers that the revolutionary side brought into action were called soldaderas.
Perhaps the most famous of all the soldaderas was Margarita Neri, who not only fought in the war, but also acted as a commander. A Dutch-Maya from Quintana Roo, from 1910, she commanded a force of over 1000 which swept through Tabasco and Chiapas, looting, burning and killing.
Neri was so effective in her slaughter of anti-revolutionary troops that the Governor of Guerrero hid in a crate and fled the town upon hearing of her approach. Whether Margarita fought for the revolution directly, under Francisco Madero’s command, or whether her unit worked independently remains unclear. However, what is clear as day is that she and her soldiers were a serious threat to the Government, with Neri vowing to decapitate Diaz herself.