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Mexican History: The Revolution (1910-20)

Francisco Madero
Figure 1.--Carranza and Obregón set out building a Federal Army that could defeat the Revolutionaries Villa and Zapata). This meant forced recruitment which included youths and children. Here Federal soldiers are press ganging youths and a boy from a Mexico City train station, probably in 1915. Source: Augustín Víctor Casasla

Mexico's Revolution came a century after independence. Huerta, after killing Madero, was forced to fight the Revolution on many fronts. He benefited from a strong central position, but faced a formidable if tenuous alliance including Venustiano Carranza, General Álvaro Obregón, Emiliano Zapata (in the south) and Pancho Villa (in the north). These are many of the the most esteemed names in Mexican history and both Carranza and Obregón went on the be presidents. The Mexican Revolution was the bloodiest period in Mexican history since the Conquest. Huerta was eventually defeated. Carranza assumed the presidency. Both Villa and Zapata refused to recognize Carranza. They with their Armies of the North and South drove on Mexico City. Carranza and Obregón with their forces fled the capital. The Villistas and Zapatistas held raucous celebrations after reaching Mexico City. They did not, however, have the organizational skills to organize an effective government. Carranza and Obregón retreated to Veracruz, Mexico's major port. There they reorganized and resupplied and launched a new offensive to retake the capital. In the fighting that followed, Obregón largely destroyed Villa's cavalry at Celaya (1915). Obregón lost his right arm, but won the battle. Celaya was actually a series of engagements which constitute the most massive battle ever fought in Latin America. Obregón commanded a modern force with artillery and machine guns. As Villa's cavalry was the major force of his army, Villa never seriously threatened the government again, although he was a continuing irritation in the North. Carranza called for a Constitutional convention (1916). He was elected the first president under the new Mexican Constitution of 1917. The Government finally dealt with Zapata. After a vicious anti-guerrilla campaign weakened his forces, Zapata was lured into a trap by a government soldier and shot. Carranza tried to hold power by backing the election of a supporter (1920). When it became clear that Obregón would win the election, Carranza attempted a coup. Obregón escaped and organized a military campaign against Carranza. As Obregón approached the capital, Carranza fled, trying to reach the port of Veracruz where he could leave the country, the traditional route for failed Mexican leaders, There Obregón's forces arrested and shot him. A frustrated Villa in the North attempted to punish the United States for supporting Carranza. Villa killed several Americans in Mexico and then crossed the border to attack some U.S. towns. President Wilson ordered an incursion into northern Mexico to arrest Villa. This failed, but Villa finally decided to end his political career and became a rancher in Parral. He still had a following among the poor and was assassinated (1923). This meant of all the major figures of the Revolution, only Obregón survived and he was shot a few years later.

The Porfiriato (1876-1911)

General Porfirio Díaz (1830-1915) was a mestizo from Oaxaca. He opposed Santa Ana, fought for Juarez in the War of Reform, and with his brother fought against Emperor Maximilian. He was one of Juarez's more effective generals. He ran unsuccessfully against President Juarez (1871). He claimed electoral fraud and decided to use force and overthrow the government (1876). He introduced a dictatorship which ruled Mexico for nearly 40 years. is iron-fisted rule, which lasted almost 40 years which Mexicans refer to as the Porfiriato. He and his Cientificos ruled Mexico under the banner of "Liberty, Order, and Progress". Díaz had a very specific interpretation of these terms. Liberty was extended to supportive landowners, industrialists, and entrepreneurs to make money. Order was enforced through a policy of pan y palo (bread and club). Progress was rapid economic development. Díaz negotiated arrangements with foreigners in which he and his associates profited personally. Any opposition or even criticism was suppressed, often brutally. The Díaz dictatorship introduced a degree of modernization. Mexico in 1910 had a much more developed infrastructure than that of the country he had seized control of in 1876. It was, however, still an underdeveloped country. Díaz did not address Mexico's deep-seeded social problems. And a key area that he did not invest in was Mexico's human capital. Mexico was still a country with a small middle-class and a largely illiterate rural peasantry living in essentially feudal conditions. The Mexican Revolution was the first of the great 20th century peasant revolutions. When the Revolution came, it was a surprise to everyone--not the least to Mexicans. Díaz was astonished that the effete little teetotaling lawyer could succeed in overthrowing him. When departing for Mexico he warned, "Madero has unleashed a tiger, let us see if he can control him."

Causes

The heart of the Mexican Revolution was surely Emiliano Zapata, an uneducated peasant who led the uprising in the South, largely Morelos. One novelist in his book about Zapata puts his finger on the cause of the Revolution, "Even the land keeps a respectful silence before those men who don’t smile. … They have nothing, they are not even the owners of the dust." [Palou] The causes of the Revolution was deeply inbedded in the country's fractured social structure. Mexico was conquered by Spanish conquistadores (16th century). They did not enslave the Amer-Indian population, but tuened them into the near slave status of serfdom in the Feudal style encomienda. Some land was retained by Anmer-Indian communities,but most was seized by the Spanish. Over time the Amer-Indian population was devestated by European diseases and the Spanish population increased as a result of emigration. And the largest group of the population became the land-deprived mestizos, the offspring of Spanish and Amer-Indians unions. The Spanish criollos and the mestizos had very goals in mind. The Revolution began when the Spanish criollo population, men like Fracisco Madero demanded a say in the Government and basic civil rights. The actuall fighting would be waged by the mestizos who were primarily interested in social reforms, especially land onership. The problem for Mexico is that neither group the middle-class criollos and the mestizo peaantry understood what was important in building a modern nation. A century and a half after the American Revolution and the huge success of the United States, Mexican society were still cluless about how to build a sucessful country. Status in Mexici still came from landownership. Not only was their no recognition of the vital importance of capitalism, but their was huge criticism to foreign investment. Without this and the foreign technology that accompnied it, there would have been no Mexican oil industyry. Eventually Mexico nationslized the oil industry which mosdtly involved American compnies. As a result, the Mexicn oil indusdtry did not expand like it could have. This continues to be an issue and is one reason wgy Mexico today fines itself importing American natural gas ddspite having important undeveloped petroleum resources. Land reform was snother issue. Certainly as a matter of social justice and stability was important, but it would not have created increased national wealth. And there would never be enough land to go around.

Social Structure

The Mexican Revolution was at its hear based on the country's failure as a nation. Mexico like much of Latin America had failed to create societies that either brought a decent standrd of life to its people or generated any spark of learning leading to economic or scientific advance. In sharp contrast Mexico found itself located next to th greatst industrial powergouse of the world and one that was rapidly rising--the United States. The question becomes, why had Mexico and the rest of Latin America failed so badly. The Marxist explanation of this is American and European exploitation. hee is in fact little evidence of this. In fact, the countries most involved in intenational tradewere for the most part the most advanced. And the both Spain an Portugal failed to develop into prosperous advanced countries. New Spain was founded about a century before the first English colony and even in the colonial era, Mexico showed no indication of developing a modern society. What is more likely the cause is the country's social structure. The structure of the upper middle and lower class all acted to prevent the development of a modern, prosperous country. The Porfiriato made some progress in modenizing Mexico's infrastructure, but not progress in creating a modern society. And much of the benefit of the Porfiriato flowed to groups whose interets lay in maintaiong the existing docial Structure. The upper-class controlled much of the country's wealth. And a relatively small middle-class saw its intererts laid as primarily with supporting the upper-class an existing social structure.

Disputed Election (1910)

President Díaz thinking he was in complete control of the country and beloved by his countrymen, told U.S. journalist James Creelman, that his country was ready for democracy and real elections (1908). He indicated that he would step down from the presidency. Precisely what was on his mind is unclear. He indicated that he would permit candidates to compete for the presidency. Several well-known Mexicans were interested and apparently took Díaz's offer at face value. Bernardo Reyes, the Díaz-appointed governor of Nuevo León, announced his candidacy. Díaz was either not serious about allowing an election or changed his mind. He may have expected his country to demand his continued presidency. He dealt with Reyes by sending him off on a foreign mission. Unfortunately for Díaz he had let the genie out of the bottle. A political unknown appeared on the Mexican scene. A scholarly hacienda owner and lawyer, Francisco I. Madero, finally challenged Díaz. He was small in stature and an unlikely person to challenge the great man who had dominated the country for four decades. Madero was educated at the University of California, Berkeley. He was not a radical, but believed in democracy. Madero became famous in Mexico for his book--The Presidential Succession of 1910. Díaz was furious when he learned of the book. He ordered the arrest of Madero. Madero fled to the United States, but later returned and was arrested. The Government announced Díaz's reelection by a virtually unanimous vote. The reported Madero vote was miniscule. There was clearly massive electoral fraud resulting in voter outrage. Madero called for an armed uprising. This was the beginning of the Mexican Revolution, but not the bloody struggle that the Revolution became. Díaz was forced from office and fled the country (1911). He found refuge in France where he is buried.

Armed Rising (1910-11)

Madero was no revolutionary. He simply wanted an honest election and moderate reforms. Madero bravely opposed Díaz when it was dangerous and could have cost him his life. [Cumberland, p. 70.] Madero campaigned vigorously and vocally across the country, advicating reform and generrating widespread support. He and 5,000 others were arrested (June 6, 1910). The election was held (June 10). The huge Díaz victory was widely seen as fradulent. Madero escaped. While he was not a revolutioinsary himself. He had, however, some real revolutionaries on his side. This was the beginning of the Mexican Revolution, but not the bloody struggle that the Revolution became. Madero was now a wanted man and evaded rearrest by fleeing to America, first to New Orleans and then to Dallas and finally San Antonio. He issued his Plan of San Luis Potosí, which had been written while in prison. [Ross, p. 114.] Madero proclaimed the elections of 1910 and Díaz's victory null and void. Mean ehiler back in Mexico, the had begin to spread an intensify. Francisco Villa was an ardent supporter of Madero. He formed the Army of the North and seized control of Chihuahua. Ciudad Juárez was a border town in Chihuahua and a source of American arms. Zapata rising in the south (Morelos) joined the growing coalition against Díaz. Zapata's vision was the Plan de Ayala, expressed in battle cry "Reforma, Libertad, Justicia y Ley!" which eventually became "Tierra y Libertad!". [Noble, p. 2376.] Madero reentered Mexico and Ciudad Juárez He signed the Treaty of Ciudad Juárez with the Díaz forces, ending the fighting (May 17, 1911) Díaz had to resign as a condition for an armistice. Díaz resigned (May 25). He fled the country (May 26). Díaz found refuge in France where he is buried. Madero appointed Francisco León de la Barra as interim president to replace Díaz. León de la Barra was an arch conservative and opposed many of the reforms that Madero had championed. The effect was deeply disappointing to Villa, Zapata, and others who had hoped for real change.

Madero Presidency (1911-13)

Madero after Díaz tried to reverse the results in the 1910 election led resistance to the stolen election. He assumed the presidency (1911). He was intent on reconciling the badly shaken country. Madero had succeeded in forcing Díaz out, however, by temporarily unifying various democratic and anti-Díaz forces. This included elements that were mutually incompatible and essentially not willing to be reconciled. Among the anti-Díaz forces were wealthy land-owners and others not at all committed to democratic government in Mexico. A strong leader would have found reconciliation difficult and Madero was for a forceful leader. He attempted a series of moderate reforms. The reforms were a disappointment to the revolutionaries who wanted more drastic action. They were even more vehemently opposed by the conservatives who were adamant about preserving the existing order. There problem was with Díaz not with the Porfiriato system Díaz had created. Madero was an idealistic lawyer without the political or leadership skills capable of controlling the passions released with Díaz's departure or the conservative reaction to his reforms. Madero did not last long as president. Mexico soon spun out of his control. After Díaz was forced from Mexico, Madero did not replace the Porfirista military with his supporters. As a result the Mexican Army which was the principal force in the country was controlled by men at odds with President Madero, men who Madero trusted to do their duty. At the same time, many of Madero's supporters were disappointed with his performance. Even Zapata denounced the President. After years of censorship, Mexican newspapers took advantage of their newly found freedom of the press to criticize Madero's performance as president harshly. Gustavo A. Madero, the president's brother, remarked that "the newspapers bite the hand that took off their muzzle." Francisco Madero refused the recommendation of some of his advisers that he bring back censorship.

La Decena Tragica (February 1913)

Victoriano Huerta, the commander of the armed forces, conspired with Félix Díaz (Porfirio Díaz's nephew) and Bernardo Reyes to get rid of the troublesome president. What followed was a 10-day battle in Mexico City known as La decena tragica (the Tragic Ten Days). Fighting occurred between Madero's supporters and the Díaz/Reyes forces. Madero accepted Huerta's offer of protection. Huerta betrayed him. He had him arrested. Meanwhile. Huerta had Madero's brother and close adviser, Gustavo A. Madero, kidnapped off the street. Huerta had the President's brother tortured and murdered. Huerta had in effect executed a coup d'état (February 18, 1913). He forced Madero to resign. The plotters declared Pedro Lascuráin president, but Huerta claimed the presidency for himself. Huerta ordered Madero shot On the same day Madero was shot four days later February 22). Huerta claimed that bodyguards were forced to shoot both Madero and his Vice President Pino Suárez as a result of a rescue attempt by Madero's supporters. Few believed the claim. Huerta controlled the capital, but Mexico is a large country and establishing control of the entire country was a very different matter. Madero had many supporters. Madero's death launched the most violent phase of Mexican history since the conquest.

Victoriano Huerta (1913-14)

Mexico's Revolution came a century after independence. General Victoriano Huerta, after killing President Madero, was forced to fight the Revolution on many fronts. He benefited from a strong central position. He incorporated the Rurales into his Federal military forces. He faced a formidable if tenuous alliance including Venustiano Carranza, General Álvaro Obregón, Emiliano Zapata (in the south) and Pancho Villa (in the north). These are many of the the most esteemed names in Mexican history and both Carranza and Obregón went on the be presidents. The Mexican Revolution was the bloodiest period in Mexican history since the Conquest. Resistance to Herta was led by Venustiano Carranza, a politician and rancher from Coahuila. He called his movement the ta, calling his forces the Constitutionalists. He received covert support from the United States. Carranza issued his manifesto--the Plan de Guadalupe (March 26, 1913). He refused to recognize Huerta and called for armed rebellion. Leaders such as Villa, Zapata, and Álvaro Obregón joined the fight against Huerta. While the United States supported Carranza, Huerta also had foreign supporters--the German Empire which was providing him arms and equipment. He also imported arms from other countries. U.S. opposition to Huerta developed to the point that the United States seized the port of Veracruz (April 1914). Veracruz was Mexico's primary port supplying Huerta's forces based in Mexico City. This cut off Huerta from the arms he needed. Cut off from foreign military supplies, Huerta's military situation rapidly deteriorated. He resigned and fled to Spain (July 1914). Eventually Huerta attempted to renter Mexican politics by organizing a counter-revolution. The Germans provided some funding, hoping that Huerta back in the presidency would distract the United States and discourage American intervention in World war I. Huerta attempted to enter Mexico through the United States. American authorities arrested him in El Paso as he tried to enter Mexico.

Leaders

Quite a number of individuals played important roles in the Mexican Revolution. This included men of all social classes. Porfirio Diaz himself came from humble origins. There were upper-class land owners involved as well as peasant leaders and all classes in between Francisco Madero came from a landing owning family. Huerta, one of the great villains in Mexican history, was of mestizo origins. Carranza came from a middle-class cattle ranching family. Obregón came from a formerly well to do family that had lost their wealth. He was a farmer with an interest in local politics when the Revolution broke out. Another scion of a wealthy family was Lucio Blanco who proved to be an effective military commander, but often found himself estranged from the better known Mexican leaders. A major factor in the campaign against Huerta were the two key peasant leaders, Emiliano Zapata in the south and Francisco (Pancho) Villa in the north. The are the two individuals that come to the popular mind in association with the Mexican Revolution. They played a major role in the defeat of Huerta, but they did not have the education or governing skills to form a government. And they were two very different people with widely different goals. While Zapata was fairly consistent in supporting the Plan de Ayala and land reform, Villa was much less committed to comprehensive social reform. This was in part because, Villa turned large estates over to his generals and not the peasants who worked them. They were used to finance his operations. The cowboys who rode with Villa were not committed to land reform like the peasants who backed Zapata. Most men were defeated and did not play a major role in the Revolution after the defeat of General Huerta. Zapata's Plan de Ayala, resonated throughout the Revolutionary period and influenced the Land Reform of the PRI Government which followed it. Villa left no permanent influence on Mexico except for his image in the popular imagination in confronting the United states.

Women and Children

The Mexican Revolution was different than the standard Latin American Revolution that came before in the 19th century. Latin America achieved its independence from Spain and Portugal (except for Cuba and Puero Rico) in the early-19th century. Independenc was followed by a competition for power between liberal and conservative elements. Republics emerged, but it was not a competion limited to the ballot box. The pattern varied from country to country, but commonly military leaders seized power fron civilian governments, in many cases for extended period. Porfirio Díaz was one of many such leaders. Rarely did these changes of power involve more them samll grups, mostly located in the capital city. Largely untouched was the country's social structure. Slavery was abolished, but except in Brazil where abolition was and the Caribbean had not been important. The Spanih and Portuguese social structure wad largely retained. The economies were largely agricultural with mining of some importance. Much of he land was owned by magnates who operated large haciendas (this term varies from country to country) with a large landless peassant (campesino) work force. in the Andes and northern Central Aerica (including Mexico) the campesinos were mostly of American Indian ancestry. Often they were not involved in the market economy and did not speak the national language (Spanish). They were essentially not involved in the national economy. They commonly received no or very little monetary compensation. They were not slaves, but they had tights and existed in a consition of near slavery. The Mexican Revolution was different than most previous revolution becuause of the breath and dimesions of the struggle and the impact on the country's social structure. The best description of the situation is an Ecuadorian novel--Huasipungo. [Icaza] The Mexican Revolution was Latin America's first important social revolution. Large armies meant thar campesinos had to be recruited and two of the peasant leaders (Villa and Zapata) were concerned about social issues. Inevitavly both women and children were involved because so many of their husbands and parents were involved and in mamy cases killed.

Carranza Seizes Control (1914-20)

Carranza assumed the presidency. Both Villa and Zapata refused to recognize Carranza. They with their Armies of the North and South drove on Mexico City. Carranza and Obregón with their forces fled the capital. The Villistas and Zapatistas held raucous celebrations after reaching Mexico City. They did not, however, have the organizational skills to organize an effective government. Carranza and Obregón retreated to Veracruz, Mexico's major port. There they reorganized and resupplied and launched a new offensive to retake the capital. In the fighting that followed, Obregón largely destroyed Villa's cavalry at Celaya (1915). Obregón lost his right arm, but won the battle. Celaya was actually a series of engagements which constitute the most massive battle ever fought in Latin America. Obregón commanded a modern force with artillery and machine guns. As Villa's cavalry was the major force of his army, Villa never seriously threatened the government again, although he was a continuing irritation in the North. Carranza called for a Constitutional convention (1916). He was elected the first president under the new Mexican Constitution of 1917. This was the major accomplishment of the Carranza presidency. It was an effort to finally destroy the essentially feudal system imposed on Mexico by the Spanish and which operated in Mexico for four centuries. The Government finally dealt with Zapata. After a vicious anti-guerrilla campaign weakened his forces, Zapata was lured into a trap by a government soldier and shot.

American Involvement (1910-20)

The United States and Mexico share one of the world's longest borders. It was a border at the time of the Mexican Revolution that was largely unpatrolled and easily crossed. And important events in the Revolution occurred in northern Mexico where the Federal Government often had difficulty maintaining control and where the revolutionaries could easily slip back and forth across the border. Thus inevitably the United States was drawn into the Mexican Revolution. Revolutionaries of different factions sought refuge in the United states or sought to obtain funds and weapons. This was possible because of Mexican communities in the Southwest and the ease of crossing the border. The U.S. army was mobilized to better protect the border, especially the border towns. The first important confrontation, however, occurred further south at Tampico. The Tampico Affair led to American occuption of Tampico (1914). In addition the American Government, including the Taft and Wilson Administration about the Revolution and the different regimes that took power in Mexico City. This in turn caused animosity on the part of the factions opposing the the regimes favored by the American administrations. The most notable individual here was of course Paco Villa. This eventually led to the U.S. Mexican Expedition led by General Pershing just before World war I (1916-17). At the time, Europe was locked in World war. The Mexican Foreign Ministry recognizing that America might enter the War was apparently following developments in Mexico which led to the infamous Zimmermann Telegram. The Germans who were in the process of redrawing the borders of Eastern Europe, decided to do the same in the American Southwest. This incensed the American public and played a part in American involvement in World War I.

German Involvement

Germany at the time of World War I was the world's secomd leading industrial power. America at the time was the world's leading indutriul power. German was the second leading industrial power, output significsnt less than thev United Sttes and siomewhat greater than Britain. German output, however was less than that of Britain and France combined. German industry had extensise trade and invedstment relations with Latin America. It exported maufactured goods and imported raw materials, includung oil. Germany was especially interested in Mexico for two reasons: 1) it bordered on the United States and 2) it was major oil producer, primarily by American oil companies. Even before World War I, German viwed the United States as an adversary at first a commercial rivl and after launching World War I as a potential military opponent. One author who has looked into the German involvement describes "... a number of means employed by Germany to exploit the value of Mexico's proximity to the United States. German policy with regard to Mexico was largely calculated to protect and promote Germany's long-term strategic interests in Latin America and throughout the world. Germany maintained a low profile in Mexico during most of this period, but contemplated various strategies involving Mexico to stir up trouble between the United States and other countries, most particularly Japan. The advent of the First World War, however, brought about an intensification of Germany's activities in Mexico. Hoping that the United States could be diverted or tied down by significant difficulties in Mexico, which was at that time torn between revolutionary factions, Germany employed various means to create and intensify tensions between the United States and Mexico." [Leffler, p. 2.] Germany tried to use the Mexican Revolution to edstablish a pro-German Government in Mexico and supplied arms to Gen. Huerta who had President Madero killed and seized contro of the Government. The United States occupied the port of Veracruz (1914). This cut offthe flow of German arms and firced Huerta to resign. Subsequently Germany aided Huerta when he attempted to regain power wjich the United States prevented. Finally Germany conferred de jure recognition on the Carranza Givernment (early 1917). zed by Germany (early 1917). It is a this time that the Zimmerman Telegram offering a German-Mexican alliance against the United States surfaced which played a role in the American .declsaration of war on Germany (April 1917). President Caranza wisely rejected the German overtutes and remained neutral in World War I. Carranza granted guarantees to German companies so they could continue to operate. [Buchenau, p. 82.] Mexico also sold oil to the British. The British naval blockade made it impossible to trade with Germany. One source reports that Mexico was the major source of oil to the Royal Navy during the War. [Meyer, p. 253.]

Obregón Seizes Control (1920-28)

Álvaro Obregón (1880-1928) rose from a modest farming family. He was the military thinker behind the Constitutionalist military victory and the new Federal Army that defeated the more radical Zapata and Villa. Carranza appointed General Álvaro Obregón as Minister of War and of the Navy. Carranza and Obregón led the more moderate elements within the Constitutionalistas. Carranza led the Liberal wing which was focused on narrow, legalistic reform. Carranza wanted a liberal, democratic government, but not extensive social reform. Obregón was more realistic in seeing that the dynamic of the Revolution made reform inevitable. He was not, however, for the wide-spread reform advocated by Zapata in the Plan de Ayala. Obregón decisively defeated Zapata at the Battle of Ayala (1916). Zapata was forced back into the rugged north. He was, however, no longer a force in national politics. Obregón managed to eliminate Zapata (1919). Carranza after his first term attempted to hold power by backing the election of a supporter (1920). When it became clear that Obregón would win the election, Carranza attempted a coup. Obregón escaped and organized a military campaign against Carranza. He was supported by most leading generals, including Plutarco Elías Calles and Adolfo de la Huerta. As Obregón's forces approached the capital, Carranza fled, trying to reach the port of Veracruz where he could leave the country, the traditional route for failed Mexican leaders, There Obregón's forces arrested and shot him (May 21, 1920). Obregón served as the next president (1920-24). Historians debate just when the Revolution ended. The execution of Carranza is the most commonly accepted end of the military phase of the Revolution. The social reforms that Madero has sought, however did not come until later.

Partido Revolucinario Institucional (1929)

The Partido Revolucionario Institucional (Institutional Revolutionary Party--PRI) is the political party formed in Mexico in the aftermath of the Mexican Revolution. The ORI was founded (1929) and held uninterrupted power for 71 years (1929-2000). It was finally forced to contest competitive elections after the obvious electiion fraud in the 1993 election. (The PRI literally turned off the lights in the middle of the voter count.) [Robberson] It is worth noting that an obviously fradulent election had led to Díaz's demise. It was no secret that the PRI fixed elections, but turning off the lights while the votes were being counted was one step too far. The name changed over time, first the Partido Nacional Revolucionario, PNR), then the Partido de la Revolución Mexicana, PRM) and finally the PRI (1946). The name of course is an absurdity. You can not institutionalize revolution. The Revolutioin had, however, reached such iconic status that it had to be in the name of the Party for legitimacy. The Party was was founded by Plutarco Elías Calles (1929). He was the president at the time and called himself Jefe Máximo (Supreme Chief) of the Mexican Revolution. The Party was forned after President Álvaro Obregón was assainated (1928). he had just been elected for a second term. The thought behind the PRI was to create a Party providing a political space in which all the surviving leaders and factiins of the Revolution could participate and address political issues without fear of political assaination. There were primaries and electiions, but the PRI president would be choden by the dedazo (fingerprint), meaning that each outgoing president would choose his sucessor.

Villa's End (1923)

Villa unlike Zapata managed to survive the military phase of the Revolution. He also managed to evade the American expeditionary force dispatched by President Wilson. Villa finally decided to end his political career and became a rancher in Parral. He still had a following among the poor. He was assassinated (1923). This meant of all the major figures of the Revolution, only Obregón survived.

Foreign Investment and Capitalism


Emigration

Rhe Mexican Revolution lasted a decade (1910-20). It was the first great Revolution of the 20th century. The fighting encompassed the whole country. Lives were turned uoside down. This included the men and women who did the fighting as well as even more who were affected by the fighting. And the destructioin and chaos significantly affected the country for another decade. Some 1 million Mexicans left the country to descape the devastation and economic dislocation. [Sosa and García] This was the beginning of the significant Latino wave of emigration to the United States. Very few Latinos emiograted to the United States during the 19th century. This only began to change as a result of the Mexiucan Revolution and the vast majority were Mexicans. The United States after World War I severely limited immigaration (1920s). This subsdtantially reduced immigration from Europe. Controlling immigration across a 5,000 mile largely unguarded border was more difficult. Most of the Mexican immigrants remamined in the Southwestern states where there was already established Mexican communities, the result of the Mexicans who remained in the rea after thgeNexican-American War and who automatically became U.S. citizens.

Assessment

This Mexican Revolution is seen by Merxicn historisns as the most important sociopolitical event in the contry's history. It was the first of the great Revolutions of the 20th century. The Partido Revilucinario Institucional (PRI) intrioduced important program of experimentation and reform in social organization. The revolution committed the resulting political regime with wht we now call 'social justice'. It did not, however, create a productive, economically successful country. Mexico like most of the rest of Latin America langhished in poverty in sharp contrast to the American economic dynamo to the north. While the Revolution institutrd reforms. Among thoise reforms were not ones which promoted a cpitalist economy like the ones instituted by the Asian Tigers. And rather than trying to attract foireugn investment, Mexico nationalized forign property and passed laws discouraging foreifgn investment. A very important question that must be addressed in connection to the Revolution is if it promoted Mexico's development as a modern, productive country or created a political structure which made this development possible. And particularly did it establish the rule of law, a central component of a modern society. And an important part of this discussion is to what extent the modern situation where working-class Mexicans have to migrate to the United States to find decent paying jobs has its roots in the Revolution. And revolutionary opposo=ition to the PRI was reaching seriuous levels (1970s). [Natanson] Since then Mexico has made major economic strides, but this is largely a combination of market reforms and increasing economic connrcgions with the Unites States in part because of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Sources

Cumberland, Charles C. Mexican Revolution: Genesis Under Madero (Austin: University of Texas Press: 1952).

Jürgen, Buchenau. Tools of Progress: A German Merchant Family in Mexico City, 1865-Present, (UNM Press: 2004).

Leffler, John Joseph. "Germany, Mexico, and the United States, 1911-1917," Masters Thesis, Portland State University (1982)

Meyer, Lorenzo.Meyer (1977) Mexico and the United States in the Oil Controversy, 1917-1942 (University of Texas Press: 1977).

Natanson, George. "Zapata’s children: For some Mexicans the Revolutions still isn’t over," Texas Monthly (September 1975).

Noble, John. Mexico, Volume 10 (Lonely Planet: 2000).

Sosa, Lionel and Neftalí García. The Children of the Revolución: How the Mexican Revolution Changed America (2013).

Palou, Pedro Angel. Zapata.

Roberson, Tod. "Fraud charges again haunt Mexico," Washington Post (December 4, 1993).

Ross, Stanley R. Francisco I. Madero: Apposte of Democracy (New York: Colommbia University Press, 1955).







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Created: 2:46 AM 6/20/2008
Spell checked: 4:08 AM 5/25/2014
Last updated: 7:38 PM 4/1/2021