Independent Mexico Part 2

by | January 11, 2022

Rising up in arms against President Lerdo, brought back to the presidency after an election that the president of the Supreme Court accused of fraudulent, P. Díaz, who had already rebelled against Juárez for his repeated presidencies, was regularly elected president in the elections of the 1877, made on a platform of opposition to the system of re-election of the president, to return himself and forever to the presidency in 1884, having meanwhile modified the constitution in order to allow him the legal continuation of the office: between 1880 and 1884 Manuel González had held the presidency but with a government made up mostly of partisans devoted to Díaz himself. Indian, like Juárez, and a profound connoisseur of his race, as humble of origin as an instinctive aristocrat, born to command and to command trained in the career of arms, P. Díaz began by freeing the country, hitherto in the grip of anarchy, from the political and non-political banditry that infested it, drawing from the same armed bands won and dispersed a magnificent police force, the so-called “rural”, to further safeguard public order and the peaceful economic development of the country. He then reorganized government and administration, placing individual Indian communities under one head, thejefe, responsible, and of the jefatura making the pivot of the electoral system to have, in a congress without opposition, the legal instrument of its absolute power. Finally, it promoted the economic progress of the country through financial and monetary recovery (the creation of Banco Nacional benefited from this in 1882), railway construction (until then Mexico had only the Puebla railway built in 1869 and the one from Veracruz in Mexico opened on iJanuary 1873), the encouragement and favors for oil production. Government machine rather than political organization founded on parties or social classes (it was called the government of the rich, but in fact the land or mining property was not an emanation but at the most guardian), the dictatorship of Díaz, fatally blossoming into an oligarchy, of which the small circle of the so-called cientificos (so named by a self-styled cientificus government scheme) he grabbed all the favors in public offices, in contracts, in oil and railway concessions, in public loans, etc., instead he did nothing in thirty years for the lower classes. With the “peonage” the de facto servitude of the Indians remained (5 million out of 9 and a half scarce population in 1873; 5 and a half out of 13 and a half in 1900); the economic, intellectual, moral and physiological misery of the people remained with wages ranging between 40 and 50 cents, that is from 20 to 25 centsdollars per day, with illiteracy (80% of the population), with family instability (the basis of which is a civil marriage devoid of any value in the Indian conscience) and wandering, with extraordinary morbidity and mortality (in the same city of Mexico it was three times higher than that of the North American cities); finally, the great problems of the country remained unsolved or exacerbated even more, from taxation to land and oil, inequitable the distribution of taxes; anti-social that of landed property, anti-national mining property, oil in particular, mainly in the hands of foreigners (still in 1914 out of 647 million pesos invested in mining companies, 29 only belonged to Mexicans, while ⅔ of the total were US citizens). No wonder, therefore, that Mexico should plunge back into disorder and anarchy (from 1911 to 1932 there will be 18 presidencies between provisional and effective!) On the day that, with the Díaz, its system was ruined.

This took place in 1911, a few months after the day that the all-powerful president, now 82, celebrated (1910) before the world, admiring the political stability and economic progress of Mexico, the first centenary of independence. Promoter of the revolt was Francisco Madero, coming out of a family of wealthy landowners, who, imprisoned in June 1910, managed to escape from prison and take refuge across the border, in San Antonio, where he prepared the revolution more resolutely; on his return to his homeland towards the end of the same year, he put the whole of Mexico to fire and sword, uniting the Díaz dictatorship and the existing socio-economic order in the same bloody impetus.

Fr Díaz resigned and embarked in Veracruz for France, who later died in Biarritz (1915), and created a provisional president in Francisco de la Barra, on June 8, 1911 he entered the capital, amid the enthusiasm of the people, Madero, who was regularly elected president in October. After a year or a little more than a contested presidency, which audacious and moreover badly designed agrarian measures for the division of the lands made more agitated and disliked by the rich class, Madero was overthrown, arrested and, during transport in a penitentiary in 1913., murdered it is not well known how and by order of whom, but certainly by the hand of the followers of a rebel general and successor in the presidency, Victoriano Huerta, who for this fact was not recognized by the United States. Two days after the assassination of Madero, after all, a partisan of him, General Venustiano Carranza, rose up against V. Huerta and after alternating events between him and the upset country (provisional presidencies and de facto governments, even simultaneous: agrarian uprisings; diplomatic and foreign military interventions, etc.) came to the government, as “first leader” in 1914 and provisional president in 1915. Despite the most bitter internal difficulties and serious complications with foreign countries (American military intervention), Carranza, at the head of the constitutionalist party, succeeded rather, to consolidate and earn, with the re-establishment of the political and economic order, the acquiescence, if not the trust, of the initially hostile proprietary classes; so as to be able to proceed in 1917 with the drafting of

The constitution of 1917, while from the point of view of the political order, did not differ much from that of 1857, from the economic-social point of view it deliberately incorporated in the fundamental charter of Mexico, in order to better guarantee them, the most radical reforms in ecclesiastical matters., land, labor legislation, rights and duties of foreigners. The principle of nationalization of underground resources, consecrated in art. 27 of the new constitution, raised foreign companies against the government; while new hostilities from abroad procured him the Mexican policy favorable, during the world war, to Germany, which had even tried to push Mexico and Japan against the United States. In 1920 Carranza was assassinated and General Álvaro Obregón rose to power, aspiring during his presidency (1920-24) for two purposes that are difficult to reconcile: the recognition of the United States, denied until the oil question was resolved; and the implementation of the revolutionary program consecrated en bloc in the 1917 constitution. A law passed in April 1923 which recognized the validity of oil concessions made to foreigners before 1 May 1917, subject to the obligation to validate them in the three years following the new law, and regulated by the agreement of August 15, 1923, the oil dispute in harmony with the deliberations of a previous international conference on the matter; the whole thorny matter of foreign complaints, pending since 1868, has also been initiated for a solution, thanks to the work of the Minister of the Treasury, Adolfo de la Huerta, through the Paris and New York agreements with foreign bankers and the consequent appointment of specific international commissions; General Obregón was recognized by the United States.

However, new and more serious complications arose in the meantime in the interior following the rigid application of all anti-ecclesiastical, federal and state legislation, hence the struggle with the clergy and the Vatican, especially after the expulsion from Mexico of the papal legate, Monsignor Ernesto Filippi (1923). In the meantime, having broken the agreements made in view of the presidential elections of 1924 between the three candidates, (the so-called “triumvirate of Sonora”: de la Huerta, Obregón and Calles) he rose to the presidency regularly, but amidst the upheavals of a new civil war, Plutarco Elías Calles, carried by the radical-socialist current of national agrarians. The civil war ended in 1925 with the victory of the government, supported by the United States, and the pace of work improved thanks to the firm attitude of Calles, who, while continuing the land policy of demolishing large properties (in 1931 there were 6 million and ⅓ hectares of public or confiscated land distributed to working families grouped in villages constituting a sort of communist agrarian unit), crushed the mining and oil strikes taking place in forms not considered legal by the 1917 constitution; the religious war was more serious. A Mexican apostolic church was born, as a consequence fierce fights between separatists and Catholics broke out in many places – including the capital itself, and finally the most restrictive anti-ecclesiastical measures were ruthlessly applied. The international situation itself was becoming muddled again, especially in relations with the England (killing of British subjects and confiscation of property) and – even worse – with the United States (American law restricting Mexican immigration which in 1924 alone had brought 500,000 undesirable individuals to California; seizure of American property; discovery especially of a Mexican-Japanese agreement on immigration and maritime matters hostile to the United States). From the official American demonstrations against the new legislation restricting the foreign ownership of the soil and subsoil, which was to come into force with the 1 January 1927, the oil, and with the 21 January, the land (97% of the 31 thousand mineral properties were still in foreign hands), the declaration-ultimatum on the subject of the American Minister Kellogg was reached on October 30, 1926,

In the meantime, Obregón was elected once again, but did not reach the presidency, because he fell victim to the attack of a fanatic (July 1928) and having declared Calles that he would not reappear his candidacy, the Congress elected on 1 December 1928 to provisional president Emilio Portes Gil. This was followed in 1930 by Pascual Ortiz Rubio as effective president; and, having resigned after two years (1932), the Congress elected General Abelardo Rodríguez to succeed him for the remainder of the presidential term (1932-34).

Independent Mexico 2