Legacy and Enemies of Porfiriato

I. The era of Porfirio Diaz (1876-1911)

  1. Plan de Tuxtepec (1876)
    1. leads a revolt in 1876 when Lerdo tried to rig the election
    2. Promises effective suffrage and no-reelection
    3. War hero, strongly supported by military
    4. Grants concessions to those who support him, while brutally crushing opposition
    5. In first term, takes popular nationalist stance against USA
    6. Reduces government corruption
    7. Stands aside to allow ally Manuel Gomez to be elected in 1882
    8. Returns to presidency in 1888
  2. Governance and policies
    1. Modernized the army, able to use it to consolidate control over regional areas
    2. Railroads built to enable small army to ensure control and defeat rebellions
    3. Rurales (rural military police) increased
      1. Given broad freedom to violently out down banditry
      2. Some 10,000 individuals "shot while trying to escape" (ley fuga)
      3. Decrease in banditry and rebellion encourages foreign investment
    4. Liberal anti-clerical laws left on books, but not enforced -- a truce in church-state relations\
    5. Improved relations with local governments
      1. Became personal friends with most governors, and helped them impose control
      2. Didn't always work; relations with elites in the northern border states often poor
    6. Expanded the federal payroll 900% - government becomes main engine for growth of the middle class
    7. Expanded education
      1. Mostly emphasized higher education
      2. Expansion of primary education focused on cities, for the children of elite and professional classes
II. Achievements
  1. Technological progress
    1. built railway network 15,500 miles - seen as magic talisman for progress
    2.  Expansion of electricity, telephone, telegraph, international banking, early industry
    3.  copied the Capitalist West
  2.  Winners
    1. raw material exporters
    2.  big merchant importers
    3.  bankers
    4.  infant middle class (within limits)
    5.  ensured loyalty of Army by giving access to public trough to officers
    6.  proclaimed policy of conciliation with Church
    7. Several elite families emerge as powerful economic conglomarates
III. Nature of Growth
  1. Importance of foreign investment
    1. 1. 60% of foreign investment came from USA, mostly in mines and railroads
    2. Free trade zone set up along the border in  1885, USA quickly gains 40% of Mexican trade
    3.  U.S. monopolies allowed to develop in some industries
    4.  Diaz perused a number of policies to encourage foreign investment, despite his own mistrust of the USA
  2. Railroad had unintended consequences
    1. drove price of land
    2.  concentrated land more
    3.  allowed debt peons to escape
    4.  encouraged migration to prosperous regions
    5. encouraged manufacturing as transport of goods became cheaper
    6.  speculation produced enormous graft
    7.  railroad control in foreign hands - best jobs, better pay
    8.  railroads encouraged modern agriculture, which led to more exploitation
  3.  Industrialization
    1.  large numbers of factories built
    2.  many staffed and financed by foreigners
    3.  economy of scale produced high prices
  4.  Working Class
    1.  800,000 workers
    2. mostly in light industry, but also mining, communications, and transportation
    3. 16-18 hour days
    4.  many deductions from wages
    5.  no worker protections
    6.  Many made less than a dollar a week
    7.  appalling living conditions led to a mortality rate twice that of USA
    8.  economic problems 1900-1910 squeezed them out, as price of food doubled while salaries remained stagnant
    9.  salaries did not change while food doubled
    10.  These people did not share positivist values
      1. some 250 strikes during the Diaz period
      2. strongly nationalistic -- many strikes aimed against foreign employers and privileges of foreign workers
  5. Middle Class
    1.  middle class some 8-10% of population
    2.  middle class aped the style of the rich; tended to overspend
    1.  hodpodge not culturally unified
    2.  growing middle class could not find enough jobs - eked out living as teachers, etc
    3.  Greatly resented that select few enjoyed political spoils
    4.  very little turnover in offices
  6.  Advent of industry brought new values
    1.  cyclical markets caused a number of disruptions
    2.  ironically, most advanced regions became most troubled
    3.  Sonora richest state, from USA financed mining, but had little political power
IV. Land
  1. 95% of rural population had none
  2.  Only 10% of Indian communities still had land -- ejidos shrank in face of railroads, expansion of commercial agriculture and ranching
  3.  Heavy privatization of land
    1. 1000 families owned most of Mexico
    2.  1/4 owned by foreigner, 1/4 by 200 families
  4.  Huge pressure form great majority of population, which was landless peasants
V. Race
  1.  8.7 million became 15 million during Pofiriato
  2.  20% white, 43% mestizo, 37% Indian
  3. But white positivist technocrats (cientificos), a few elite families, foreigners, and military held most of power
VI. Clearly, Mexico explosive