The Porfiriato Essay

Richard Gaines Navarro HIST 4190 7/22/10 Response Question #4 The era of the Porfiriato, under rule of Porfirio Diaz, saw a huge shift in the industrialization and modernization of Mexico. The world-view of Mexico and its financial foundations had changed considerably for the better, but this change would come at a high price. The short history of the country and its political pitfalls would prove, yet again, that history does repeat itself. After much reading and consideration, I believe that the Mexican Revolution was inevitable.

In the beginning, Diaz had everything going in his favor. On paper, he looked as though he had been breed for the job. He came from a decent family, was educated, and “fought under the liberal banner during the War of Reform. ” His quick rise through the military ranks and his involvement in multiple revolts would bolster his future political career. His greatest accomplishments in these early years would be tightening relations with western Europe, Latin America and the US, as well as maintaining a new sense of order across his country with the use of the rurales.

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The latter would be foreshadowing to his downfall. After his term was over he respectfully honored the no re-election law and handed over the Presidency to Manuel Gonzales. Gonzales would lay the groundwork for Diaz in respect to the beginnings of railroad construction and also acquisition of land through legal changes. The new Presidency under Diaz had a bright future. Economic growth boomed as Mexico was ushered into the modern age. New use of water, electric, and steam power assisted the country in building a much needed drainage system and also a wave of public building.

Every time a new project was completed, it was dedicated to foreign diplomats and the like in elaborate ceremonies. This, in turn, helped change to world-view of Mexico for the better. Over time, Mexico saw a revival of mining, oil, and other exports with transportation of goods along an intricate railroad and port system. The modernized Mexico was assuming a new role in the twentieth century, but all of this progress came with an unforeseen price. Much like the leaders of Mexico that came before him, the greed proved too much for President Diaz to handle.

The no re-election law that he first honored had been thrown out, and the veil of democracy would eventually reveal another dictatorship. He held a chokehold on his country, holding his grip on the population through military and monetary power. The newspapers that bad-mouthed him were shut down and anti-Diaz journalists were jailed. He strategically shifted military leaders from state to state so they could not gain a following from the people in one particular region.

Although the economy was booming, it was only the higher-ups and mostly foreign investors who gained the most. The majority of the population in many ways, were worse off than their ancestors before them even though they were doing most of the work. A few young men of the new, liberal generation would not stand for this. After being jailed for anti-Diaz propaganda in local newspapers, they fled to the US. In the summer of 1906 they published the Liberal Plan. It called for freedom of speech, freedom of the press, suppression of the jefes politicos, the complete secularization of education, and the nationalization of all church property. ” The plan also included new concepts which were socially oriented to help the poor and working classes, these included: “educational reform in favor of the poor, a nationwide eight-hour workday and a six hour workweek, abolition of the tienda de raya, the payment of all workers in legal tender, and the prohibition of child labor. Diaz lost control as the new era of liberalists watched him become a dictator like so many before him. He would use the same backwards dealings as Gonzales and eventually suffer the same fate. The tipping point was the jailing of his opponent, Franciso Madero on election day of 1910. Even though so much was accomplished under the Presidency of Porfirio Diaz, his legacy is tainted by his backwards dealings and sentiment as a dictator which led to his eventual downfall.


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