In 1910, Francisco I. Madero set in motion a rebellion against Porfirio Diaz an austere dictator. This motion that was set is historically known as the Revolución Mexicana which translated into the Mexican revolution that initiated a major landmark in Mexican history. This revolution incorporated numerous radical philosophies including populist ideologies, agrarianists and socialists aimed at transforming Mexico into a more economically homogenous society1. This revolution was against the oppressive rule of Porfirio Diaz who in his 26 year reign had reversed numerous legal and political advances made in Mexico over the years. On May 21 1911 the revolutionary forces defeated Porfirio Diaz’s forces signing the Treaty of Ciudad Juarez with the then president2. This treaty obligated Mr. Diaz to step down necessitating an election in which Madero won overwhelmingly.
The need for Mexican revolution was necessitated by the claim of inequality manner in which wealth was distributed in Mr. Diaz’s reign. In administration preceding the revolution, wealth was disseminated in regards of one’s region, racial profile and political affiliation. This led to a wide gap between the “haves” and the “have not’s” thus triggering the revolution. In this regard, the insight of various key events shall be examined to give insight to various interests that ignited the revolution from the view point of Diaz’s regime.
The Rule of Porfirio Diaz’s: cause for conflicting interests (1876-1910)
While in power Diaz drew on the clandestine political machinery of his son Rafa to stick to power. This political machinery used violence, assassination and manipulation of votes to hold office. His administration was to become famous for the suppression of the civil society; done by persecuting any individual who spoke openly against the government of the time. Newspapers were gagged to a high level and had to engage in self censorship so as not to be shut down by Diaz’s police.
According to Clayton and Conniff (2005), Mr. Diaz was also a very cunning ruler. This is evident in the sense that in his move to stick to power, he let one of his stooges Mr. Manuel Gonzales run and win the elections for the office of the president. This was only because his strict no re-election policy hindered him against doing so himself Manuel Gonzalez’s period at the helm of the Mexican government was to be marred by corruption, impunity, embezzlement of public funds and the general mismanagement of Mexico3. This transpiration of events had been orchestrated by Diaz so that the people would welcome him with open arms when he contended for a second term. After his plan succeeded of re-securing power, Diaz made every effort and resources at disposal to amend the constitution to allow for two consecutive terms in office, this was the first step for him to eliminate major restrictions against re-elections4. Yet opposition politicians also eyed the same power and office, therefore they had to scheme well on how to take power because power could never be given historically and even in this case.
The phrase “pan, o palo” which translates into “the bread or the stick” has been used frequently to describe Porfirio’s rule. This meant that citizens had no wish to question the actions or policies suggested by the government, but rather follow his wishes or face severe punishment often imprisonment or death. Moreover, while in power Porfirio Diaz formed a strong military brotherhood loyal to him, the aim of this brotherhood was to coerce people into acknowledging his rule and to quell any uprising against him. In the next 26 years as the head of state, President Diaz strove to distort the established regional system of government substituting it with a systematic and methodical military regime loyal to him alone. This meant that local governors were unable to initiate any significant changes without seeking approval from him and this brought about local governors mission to revenge against his rule. Moreover, this made a mockery of the regional governments since the sole purpose of their existence was to bring the government closer to the people by making decisions that were more relevant to them, yet impossible to achieve due to streamlining by Diaz. As a result, the regional governments were eager to revenge and ready to do anything within their reach to topple Diaz5.
In power President Diaz strove to weaken the non-executive arms of government and the civil societies. An example is his perversion of the judiciary; he crammed the judiciary with his close associates ensuring that all the rulings made by the judiciary did not go against his interests. The Roman Catholic Church also suffered dearly in his presidency, he confiscated huge tracts of the churches property6. This turned the church into a toothless entity which was incapable of aligning people in support for justice and democracy. As a consequence of frustrating the civil societies and religious organizations, the civil society and Roman Catholic having the capacity to influence and reach wide population segment, they ignited his rejection leading to fueling of Mexican revolution.
Fortunately, Mexico enjoyed huge advances in technology, infrastructure and industry. In contrast, this came at the expense of the farmers and workers who were heavily exploited by the emerging industries. During the Profiriato, society was much divided and there were unequal opportunities in education, industry and politics which were dominated by people of European descent. In Mr. Diaz’s rule the number of revolutions subsided and Mexico was pacified, this was at the direct expense of human rights and freedoms. The poor were made to work for long hours, opposition was crushed and many of his political opponents were exiled, imprisoned or assassinated. For instance, Madero who placed his bid to contest for the presidency wasn’t approved by Mr. Diaz and was subsequently jailed7.
Utilizing the plurality of Mexico’s ethnic groups the president manipulated the needs of the different cultural constituents of the Mexico for his own ends. For example he elevated some Mestizos “people of mixed European and Native American ancestry” into positions of power, and allowed some of them access to the states resources. He would in turn demand that they fully support his rule and popularize him in their local communities. After some time the elite within Mestizos group discovered were being used and wanted real tangible exchange, which was declined by Diaz. Thus, resorted to seek vengeances inform of defiance, failing to cooperate and igniting revolution. Mr. Diaz’s administration fully neglected the native Ameri-Indian population on basis that they were the minority ethnic group. This meant that they could do little to oppose his rule and thus posed no risk to his administration. Given that they were oppressed by Diaz regime, they expressed their anger by various objections and rebellions aimed at restoring oppressed interests.
To ensure that he had the support of the country people, who constitute the majority of the Mexican population, Mr. Porfirio Diaz employed the “guardias ruales” 8 which translates into the countryside police to intimidate them into supporting him. By separating the urban and the rural population, Mr. Porfiro made it very hard for his opponents to unite the people of Mexico against his oppressive regime. Evidently, from the many grievances of the common Mexican, revolutionaries like Pancho Villa, Emiliano Zapata and Francisco Madero got their platform to revolt against the Diaz’s government9. The revolution aimed at spreading Mexico’s wealth to marginalized peoples including the native Indians and the Mestizo.
In conclusion, the oppressive regime of Diaz to the vast groups in Mexico was the key factor that ignited and fueled revolution especially among the base communities that sought to address injustices committed to them by Diaz regime. As a consequence of the basement revolution movement, Mexico had a revolution where Madero’s promised reforms to enable an Agrarian revolution found support among many rural Mexicans. This provided him with a much needed lifeline that enabled him to overthrow Mr. Porfirio Diaz from office.
Furthermore, Mr. Francisco Madero assembled an army that included Mestizo soldiers and a large number of Indian peasants who joined in his cause of overthrowing the government. Responding to the letter “Plan de San Luis Potosi” which translates into “free suffrage and no re-election” written by Mr. Francisco Madero while in Jail revolutionaries including Governor Abraham Gonzalez formed a potent military alliance and marched across the cities of Mexicali and Chihuahua liberating them from the government. This encouraged other revolutionaries to stand up against Mr. Diaz’s government including Pancho Villa and Orozco who fought and liberated the city of Ciudad Juarēz (Clayton and Conniff, 2005). The rest of the Federal army was to fall soon leading to an election which Madero won overwhelmingly.
Adolfo, G., (2005): The Mexican Revolution: New Press, New York.
Clayton, L.A, & Conniff, M.L. (2005): A History of Modern America: Wadsworth, New York.