Mexico History – From Independence to The Mexican Revolution

From independence to the porfiriato crisis

When the liberals came to power in Spain (1820), the wealthy Creoles, convinced of the need for independence in order to maintain the existing order, found their champion in A. de Itúrbide, who on February 24, 1821 proclaimed independence of the country and, having occupied Mexico City, he had himself proclaimed constitutional emperor (1822), but was then forced to abdicate by general A. López de Santa Ana.

In 1824 Mexico became a federal republic organized in 19 states; Catholicism was proclaimed the official religion and the reserved forums for the Church and the army were maintained; the suffrage was restricted on the basis of the census and, although slavery and all racial distinctions were abolished, the Indians continued in fact to constitute a separate group. The federalists, tendentially liberals, and the centralists, conservatives and clerics, alternated in the presidency. López de Santa Ana, president since 1833, in 1835 imposed a highly centralized government; it followed the rebellion of the American settlers settled in Texas, proclaimed independent in March 1836. Santa Ana regained popularity by defending Veracruz from the French, who demanded the payment of an indemnity for the damages suffered by their enterprises in the Mexican civil struggles. Resumed the presidency (1841) and promulgated a new strongly centralist Constitution, Santa Ana was overthrown by the liberals (1844), only to be recalled as head of the army when the annexation of Texas and the North American expansionist policy led to war (1846- 48). Defeated, Mexico had to cede the immense territories N of the Río Grande, to which southern Arizona was added in 1853. For Mexico history, please check

Having definitively overthrown Santa Ana in 1854, the liberals embarked on a program of radical interventions in the political, economic and religious fields. The conservatives reacted by ousting president I. Comonfort (1858): three years of civil war followed during which the liberal government, established in Veracruz under the presidency of B. Juárez, continued the reform work. Defeated on the field the opponents, Juárez entered Mexico City (1861). His refusal to recognize the foreign debts contracted by the Conservative government provoked an understanding between France, Great Britain and Spain, who occupied Veracruz in January 1862. While the English and the Spaniards, having accepted Juárez’s proposals, left the country, the French, with the support of local conservatives, conquered the capital (1863); while the Juárez government took refuge to the north, an assembly of notables offered the crown to Maximilian of Habsburg, who tried in vain to pursue a policy of conciliation. In 1867 at the request of the USA, the French troops left the Mexico; deprived of his only support, Maximilian was captured and shot.

Juárez, re-elected president in 1867 and 1871, drastically reduced armed forces and state spending. His successor, S. Lerdo de Tejada, was overthrown in November 1876 by General Porfírio Díaz. The authoritarian regime of Díaz (called porphyry ) aimed to restore order and to ensure economic progress, thanks above all to massive investments of foreign capital (mining sector, oil extraction, railways). The economic growth, however, was not accompanied by the renewal of the political and social foundations of the country: the Porfirio Diaz came to identify with the defense of the interests of large landowners at the expense of the Indians and small proprietors.

The Mexican Revolution

On the occasion of the elections of 1910, around a rich owner of the north, F. Madero, an opposition movement to the regime was formed which started armed resistance; shortly after E. Zapata gave birth in the State of Morelos to a peasant revolt that hastened the fall of the dictator (May 1911). Elected president, Madero militarily repressed the agrarian claims of the Zapatistas, but in 1913 he was assassinated by General V. Huerta. This was followed by the resumption of the armed revolution with the peasants of Zapata in the south and with P. Villa and A. Obregón in the north, leading a heterogeneous army of peons., day workers, unemployed and small owners; they were joined by some landowners from the north, including V. Carranza ; the USA also intervened which, occupying Veracruz, deprived Huerta of customs revenues, contributing to its fall (1914).

Rivalries between the victors immediately emerged (Villa and Zapata against Carranza, supported by Obregón) and after two years of civil war (during which the North Americans sent General JJ Pershing’s expedition against Villa in 1916), Carranza was able to prevail; in the Constitution of 1917, alongside the anti-clerical motives, some social reforms claimed by the defeated revolutionaries (universal male suffrage, labor legislation, state subsoil assets, division of large estates) found space. However, many articles of the Constitution remained a dead letter both during the Carranza presidency (1917-20) and in the 15 years following his bloody deposition, dominated by three generals: Obregón, A. de la Huerta and PE Calles. The new revolutionary elite secured a mass base through government control over workers’ unions and peasant associations, which later merged into the Partido nacional revolucionario (PNR), created by Calles in 1929.

Only with the presidency of General L. Cárdenas (1934-40) did the principles of the 1917 Constitution find full application. Cárdenas secured mass support by granting government support to a new trade union, the Confederación de trabajadores de México, and to the peasant organization, the Confederación nacional de campesinos, whose representatives were incorporated into the Partido de la Revolución Mexicana (PNM), born in 1938 from the corporate restructuring of the PNR. The haciendas were largely expropriated in favor of communal land estates (ejidos); the railways were nationalized and a public investment program was launched in the industrial sector; in 1938 the nationalization of foreign oil companies led to the rupture of relations with Great Britain and economic retaliation by the United States, which ended with the entry of Mexico in the Second World War alongside the Allies (1942).

Mexico History - From Independence to The Mexican Revolution

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