The Mexican Revolution was a major civil war beginning in 1910 initially led by Francisco I. Madero against Porfirio Díaz, the Mexican dictator from 1876 until 1911. The revolution was marked by anarchist, socialist, and agrarian reform movements. Generally lasting until 1920, the revolution resulted in the Mexican Constitution of 1917, cost Mexico 2.1 million lives, and led to the Institutional Revolutionary Party's (PRI) political rule over the nation until 2000.
Precursors of the revolution
- See also: Mexico, history
At the dawn of the twentieth century, Mexico was considered one of the most stable and precocious countries in Latin America. The United States played a noteworthy role in the revolution, with anti-American sentiments running high in Mexico during these times. Some of the issues at hand were American land and subsoil ownership and investments, labor rights for Mexicans, immigration, and church-state relations. Nevertheless, internal calamities proved to be the driving factor of the Mexican Revolution.
In 1876, Porfirio Díaz overthrew Benito Juárez's successor, Sabastián Lerdo de Tejada, under the slogan "Sufragio Efectivo, No Reelección" ("Effective Suffrage, No Reelection") found in his Plan de Tuxtepec. Ironically, Díaz would become the nation's president ruling from 1876 to 1880 and from 1884 to 1911. This long dictatorship is known as the Porfiriato.
Under Díaz's rule, Mexico became prosperous through railroading, financing, mining, commerce, and industrialization. Foreign investors from the United States, Great Britain, and France—previously weary of the country's banditry, disorder, and violence—began saturating Mexico with capital. With a rapidly growing economy and surplus, Mexico was able to pay off its debts and increase the standard of living for many of Mexico's elites. This amazing success and stability came at the cost of social and economic inequality, perpetuated by coerciveness and violence. This system of ascendancy was known as pan y palo (bread and clout), but was emblematic of positivist thinking that stressed both order and progress. Through the progress, the rural laborers, or peons, became more impoverished, and Díaz's Rurales, or rural police, would repress any strikes or opposition that arose. Meanwhile, many Porfirian policies led to great acquisition and usurpation of lands to hacendados (hacienda owners), resulting is large disparities in land ownership.
The disparity and inequality finally culminated in the early twentieth century. A recession in 1907 and 1908 ravaged Mexico, with unemployment rampant and class struggles reaching all time highs. Díaz, however, paid scant attention. Growing old and nonchalant, Díaz wanted to retire to Europe. Díaz figured the election of 1910 would be his last, following the typical pattern of rigging the election and silencing opponents.
Ricardo Flores Magón
Ricardo Flores Magón was one of Díaz most vocal critics. Flores Magón, an anarchist and staunch anti-capitalist, is seen by many as a harbinger of the Mexican Revolution. In 1900, he founded Regneración (renamed to Revolución in 1907), one of the most critical papers of the Porfiriato. Soon after, he would become a founder of the Liberal Party of Mexico. After being jailed by the Díaz government, Flores Magón and his brothers fled to the United States and Canada in 1904. It was there that he became an anarchist and anti-American, conspiring with others to revolt against the Mexican government. Though he constantly was being quelled by Mexican and American authorities, his calls for revolt and social change inspired and frenzied rural workers and dissidents of the Porfiriato, keeping the radical opposition movement animate.
Francisco I. Madero's rise to power
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- Clayton, Lawrence A.; Conniff, Michael L. (2005). A History of Modern Latin America. United States: Wadsworth Publishing, 285. ISBN 0534621589.
- Schelling, Vivian (2000). Through the Kaleidoscope: The Experience of Modernity in Latin America. London: Verso, 188. ISBN 1859842623. Retrieved on 2008-03-12.
- Raat, W. Dirk (2008-01-17). FLORES MAGÓN, RICARDO. The Handbook of Texas. Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved on 2008-03-12.