The Mexican Revolution

By: Gabriel Morales

 

The Mexican revolution was a result of a tremendous disagreement between the Mexican people and their dictator, President Porfirio Diaz. President Diaz stayed in office for more than 30 years. During that time period, Mexican political power was located in the hands of a select few. The Mexican people had no power to express their opinions or select their public officials. Wealth was also concentrated in the hands of the few, and injustice was everywhere, both in the cities and in the countryside.

Early in the 20th Century, a new generation of young leaders arose who wanted to take part in the political life of their country. They were denied the opportunity by the officials who were already in power and who were not about to give it up. This group of young leaders believed that they could assume their rightful role in Mexican politics once President Diaz announced publicly that Mexico was ready for democracy. Although the Mexican Constitution called for public election and other institutions of democracy, Diaz and his supporters used their political and economic resources to stay in power. Francisco I. Madero was one of the strongest believers that President Diaz should renounce his power and not seek re-election. Together with other young reformers, Madero created the ''Anti-reeleccionista'' Party, which he represented in presidential elections. Between elections, Madero traveled throughout the country, campaigning for his ideas.

Francisco I. Madero was a firm supporter of democracy and of making government subject to the strict limits of the law, and the success of Madero's movement made him a threat in the eyes of President Diaz. Shortly before the elections of 1910, Madero was apprehended in Monterrey and imprisoned in San Luis Potosi. Learning of Diaz's re-election, Madero fled to the United States in October of 1910. In exile, he issued the ''Plan of San Luis,'' a manifesto which declared that the elections had been a fraud and that he would not recognize Porfirio Diaz as the legitimate President of the Republic. Instead, Madero make the daring move of declaring himself President Pro-Temp until new elections could be held. Madero promised to return all land which had been confiscated from the peasants, and he called for universal voting rights and for a limit of one term for the president. Madero's call for an uprising on November 20th, 1910, marked the beginning of the Mexican Revolution.

On November 14th, in Cuchillo Parado in the state of Chihuahua, Toribio Ortega and a small group of followers took up arms. On the 18th in Puebla, Diaz's authorities uncovered preparations for an uprising in the home of the brothers Maximo and Aquiles Serdan, who where made to pay with their lives. Back in Chihuahua, Madero was able to persuade Pascual Orozco and Francisco "Pancho" Villa to join the revolution. Though they had no military experience, Orozco and Pancho Villa proved to be excellent strategists, and they earned the allegiance of the people of northern Mexico, who were particularly unhappy about the abusive ranchers and landlords who ran the North.

In March of 1911, Emiliano Zapata led the uprising of the peasants of Morelos to claim their rights over local land and water. Emiliano was the son of a poor Mestizo peasant who trained
and sold horses.
Emiliano Zapata attempted to break the hacienda system, which was very similar to the feudal system. At the same time, armed revolt began in many other parts of the country. The "Maderista" troops, and the national anger which inspired them, defeated the army of Diaz within six months. The decisive victory of the Mexican Revolution was the capture of Ciudad Juarez, just across the river from El Paso, by Orozco and Villa. Porfirio Diaz then resigned as President and fled to exile in France, where he died in 1915.

With the collapse of the Diaz regime, the Mexican Congress elected Francisco Leon De La Barra as President Pro-Temp and called for national popular elections, which resulted in the victory of Francisco I. Madero as President and Jose Maria Pino Suarez as Vice-President.

 

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