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Aperçu du corrigé : Mexican Revolution.



Publié le : 3/5/2013 -Format: Document en format HTML protégé

Mexican Revolution.
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Mexican Revolution.
I

INTRODUCTION

Mexican Revolution, violent political and social upheaval that occurred in Mexico in the early 20th century. The revolution began in November 1910 as an effort to
overthrow the 30-year dictatorship of Porfirio Díaz. It grew into a widespread rebellion that would eventually change the structure of Mexico's economy, government,
and society. Various revolutionary leaders and factions pursued different goals during and immediately after the revolution. Moderate and conservative leaders sought
primarily political reform, including free and fair elections. More radical leaders sought far-reaching social reforms, including the redistribution of land to poor farmers,
limits on the influence of the Roman Catholic Church, and labor reforms that would give workers the right to organize and to strike.
The fundamental goals of the revolution were incorporated in the 1917 constitution, although widespread factional fighting continued until 1920. It took almost another
two decades for many of the reforms contained in the constitution to be implemented. And at the end of the 20th century, the goals of the revolution--particularly the
need for an accountable, democratic government and the right of all Mexicans to enjoy a basic standard of living--continue to influence the nation.
During the revolution, different leaders pursued different objectives. Francisco Indalécio Madero and Venustiano Carranza--both of whom were later presidents of
Mexico--sought primarily political reform. The two most famous rebel leaders--Francisco "Pancho" Villa and Emiliano Zapata--supported the growing demands from the
lower classes for major social and economic reforms. Zapata, in particular, championed the demands of poor farmers for land to cultivate. Others sought curbs on the
social control and political influence exercised by the Catholic Church.
Almost all of the revolutionaries felt a growing sense of nationalism and called for a reduction in the prominent role played by foreigners in Mexico's economy. Many
swept up by the revolution gave little thought to the long-term goals being pursued; for them the revolution was an opportunity for adventure and personal economic
gain.

II

BACKGROUND: THE DÍAZ YEARS

General Porfirio Díaz was the president of Mexico at the outbreak of the revolution in 1910. He had become important in Mexican politics in the 1860s and was elected
president in 1877. Díaz pledged that he would serve only one term as president and stepped down in 1880. However, he returned to the presidency in 1884 and was
reelected through 1910. Díaz justified his subsequent reelections on the grounds that he had brought political stability and economic development to Mexico.
Mexico had seen little political stability: In the 55 years between Mexican independence in 1821 and Díaz's rise to power, the presidency changed hands on 75 different
occasions. Díaz used a blend of coercion and compromise to bring his political opponents in line. He and his political allies rigged elections at all levels of government and
met press criticism with force or bribery.
The Díaz regime worked to develop Mexico's economy, especially its industry. In 1883 Díaz visited the United States and came away convinced that Mexico had to
pursue industrialization more aggressively. He believed that Mexico lacked the capital and technology to industrialize; consequently, it would be necessary to make the
nation more attractive to foreign investors by providing political stability, government subsidies, and a friendly court system. This strategy led to extensive foreign
investment, particularly after 1900. Foreign investors, especially from the United States and Britain, soon came to play dominant roles in Mexico's transportation,
mining, and oil industries. The Díaz administration supported policies so favorable to foreigners that some Mexicans complained that their country had become "the
mother of foreigners and the stepmother of Mexicans."
Díaz's land policy was especially controversial. Even before Díaz came to power, much of Mexico's land was being concentrated in the hands of a small minority of the
population; under Díaz concentration increased. A law passed in 1883 permitted private land companies to survey public lands; they were paid for these services, not in
cash, but with a land grant equal to one-third of the land surveyed plus an option to buy the remaining two-thirds at a low price. This approach soon transferred
extensive public lands to a limited number of private owners. By the mid-1890s these survey companies had gained control of 20 percent of Mexico's total land area.
The Díaz regime also continued to allow nonnatives to take property from the communal land holdings of Mexico's indigenous populations, a process that had been
accelerating since the 1850s. As more land passed into the control of a small minority, the vast majority of the rural people--primarily indigenous people--saw their real
wages and standard of living decline. The one bright spot in the agricultural picture was the growth of commercial agriculture geared to the export market in the United
States and Europe. But even this improvement had a darker side: As production shifted to export crops such as sugar and coffee, Mexico actually became less able to
feed itself. Mexico frequently had to import food, even basic commodities such as corn.
Like the peasant farmers in the countryside, urban laborers also had a lower-class existence. Working conditions in urban areas were harsh, with people typically
working 12 hours a day, six days a week. Efforts to unionize met with opposition from police and politicians. The courts typically viewed unions as "illegal associations,"
and political authorities used the police and sometimes even the army to suppress union activities. Although the Díaz administration tried to hasten industrialization, it
was not prepared to accept workers' organizations.
While Mexico had many social, economic, and political problems with deep roots in its history, it also had more immediate problems that led to the outbreak of revolution
in 1910. Although Díaz's development policies had produced some impressive results, the new prosperity benefited only a small elite, perhaps 10 percent of Mexico's
total population. Even these people suffered when the international economy took a downturn in 1907. Mexico also experienced a major crisis in food production and
distribution in 1909 and 1910. Antiforeign sentiment grew as foreign investment increased rapidly during the first decade of the 20th century. Although 80 years old,
Díaz was planning on yet another reelection in 1910.

III

THE REVOLT BEGINS

The spark that ignited the revolution came from an unlikely source: the presidential election of 1910, which had been considered a mere formality by most Mexicans.
There was little indication that the presidential candidacy of a member of the political elite, Francisco Madero, would lead to revolution. Madero came from a wealthy
family in the northern Mexican state of Coahuila. He achieved national recognition with the publication in early 1909 of his book, La successíon presidencial en 1910
(The Presidential Succession in 1910). In the work Madero called for free elections and a ban on reelection to high public offices. He also argued that Díaz should permit
a free selection of the vice president who would presumably succeed the aging president. When it became evident that Díaz would not permit any choice, Madero chose
to run for the presidency himself. Díaz initially welcomed Madero's candidacy as a harmless threat that would give the election a democratic appearance. When Madero
became the focal point of anti-Díaz forces, Díaz jailed Madero until after the presidential elections. After Díaz won the election in an overwhelming victory in the summer
of 1910, he released Madero, who promptly fled to San Antonio, Texas, to plot revolution.
Madero presented his program for revolution in the Plan of San Luis Potosí, named for the Mexican city in which he had been jailed. The plan declared the 1910
elections to be null and announced that Madero would be installed as provisional president until new elections could be held. The plan even provided a specific starting
time for a national uprising: 6

PM

on November 20, 1910. It also highlighted the fact that Madero was concerned primarily with Mexico's political problems, not its

growing economic and social difficulties. Although Madero called for free and democratic elections, and a ban on reelection at all levels of government, he offered little to
urban workers seeking higher wages and better working conditions, or to indigenous people seeking the restoration of their traditional lands. Madero's intention was to
lead a political rebellion, not a social revolution. Despite the political nature of the plan, it became a rallying point for poor and working-class Mexicans, many of whom
expected that broader economic and social reforms would be instituted by a Madero government.
On the night before the revolt was to start, Madero crossed into Mexico expecting to be met by a revolutionary army organized by his uncle. Instead he found only a
handful of poorly armed rebels; Madero promptly went back to San Antonio, but he returned to Mexico to resume nominal leadership of the rebel movement in February
1911, after numerous rebellions occurred throughout Mexico under his banner.
The most important of these rebellions were those led by Emiliano Zapata in southern Mexico and Pascual Orozco and Francisco "Pancho" Villa in the north. Zapata called
for land reform and the break up of large estates and ranches in order to give land to indigenous people and other peasant farmers. Rallying under the cry...


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