The Mexican Revolution (1910) began as an uprising against General Porfirio Díaz. However, the insurrection ended up leading to a prolonged civil war in Mexico that continued until 1917.
General Porfirio Díaz, as president of Mexico, had ruled the country for more than thirty years. His intentions to remain in power ended up provoking uprisings against him.
Causes of the Mexican Revolution
Not only did political factors lead to a revolution, but social aspects also had a very important weight in the Mexican Revolution. Thus, the unequal distribution of wealth, poverty and the painful working conditions of the workers, also generated great unrest among the population. In fact, Mexican workers worked long and grueling hours in exchange for low wages.
Therefore, Porfirio Díaz’s desire to continue in power, as well as his inability to respond to the serious social problems that Mexico was going through, ended up leading to the revolution.
The uprising against Porfirio Díaz
When was the Mexican Revolution? In 1910, the great common enemy of the revolutionaries was Porfirio Díaz. For this reason, taking as a slogan "Effective suffrage, no re-election", the liberal politician Francisco Ignacio Madero called on the population to rise up to oust Díaz from power.
Officially, history considers November 20, 1910 as the date of the beginning of the revolution, with each November 20 being celebrated as the Day of the Mexican Revolution.
However, it is worth mentioning that the politician Aquiles Serdán was discovered two days earlier (on November 18, 1910) by the police in possession of weapons. Cornered, Serdán and his brothers resisted, but ultimately ended up dying. Precisely the death of the Serdán would contribute remarkably to ignite the flame of the revolution.
The Madero stage
The uprising of Francisco Ignacio Madero encouraged other leaders to join the cause against Porfirio Díaz. It is worth highlighting the names of Emiliano Zapata, Pancho Villa, Pascual Orozco and Álvaro Obregón. Faced with the push of the revolutionaries, Porfirio Díaz could not resist and on May 25, 1911, he resigned his re-election as president of Mexico.
Finally, Francisco Ignacio Madero was elected president, ascending to power on November 6, 1911. The Madero government tried to respond to the social demands of the Mexicans, however, it ran into opposition and confrontations from other leaders of Mexican Revolution. While Zapata demanded extensive agrarian reforms, Orozco demanded profound social reforms.
In the midst of these confrontations, backed by the forces of Pancho Villa, Madero managed to retain power for two years in the face of pressure from the forces of Zapata and Orozco. However, after ten convulsive days of the coup d’état called “the tragic ten”, Madero left power in February 1913. Days later, Madero ended up being assassinated.
Victoriano Huerta in power
With the departure of Madero, Victoriano Huerta ascended to the presidency of Mexico. However, Huerta met with a strong rejection and branded a usurper for breaking the constitutional order, he faced an uprising of the constitutionalist army, led by Venustiano Carranza. By launching the Plan of Guadalupe, a cornered Victoriano Huerta had no choice but to leave the presidency.
Constitutionalists vs. Conventionists
Trying to unite the leaders of the Mexican Revolution, Venustiano Carranza called the Aguascalientes Conference. However, divisions continued, leading to a fight between Constitutionalists and Conventionists. Thus, Carranza established himself as the leader of the revolution and of the constitutionalists while establishing his administration in the city of Veracruz. On the contrary, the conventionists would be led by its president Eulalio Gómez.
A long and bloody civil war ravaged Mexico until November 1916. Finally, the result of such a prolonged struggle was favorable to Carranza’s constitutionalists.
The Constitution of the Mexican Revolution
With the war taking a favorable turn for Carranza and for the constitutionalists, it was time to draft a constitution for Mexico. Precisely the Mexican Constitution marks the end of the stage of the Mexican Revolution.
Among the most important elements included in the Constitution of 1917 are the following:
- Individual rights and freedoms for all Mexicans.
- End of slavery.
- An education of a secular nature.
- Strengthening of workers’ rights.
- Freedom of belief with its expression limited to private homes and religious temples.
- Distribution of the land and nationalization of the properties of the Church.
- Mexico was formed as a democratic country and with a model of the State of a federal republic.
- Separation of powers: executive, legislative and judicial.
However, the confrontations did not end with the Constitution of 1917 and in the following years, the most prominent leaders of the revolution were assassinated. Proof of this are the deaths of Pancho Villa, Álvaro Obregón, Emiliano Zapata and Venustiano Carranza himself.
The economy of the Mexican Revolution
The outbreak of hostilities in Mexico had important effects on work. In this sense, the size of the workforce was reduced as a result of military service, deaths or simply because of the flight from conflict zones. However, in the most important industrial centers of the country, there was still a significant supply and demand for labor.
Regarding the workforce, the Mexican Revolution was characterized by important labor demands of the workers, especially in relation to wages. Thus, workers’ unions were created, such as the Casa del Obrero Mundial.
Agriculture also underwent important changes, since in the north there was a strong bet on crops such as chickpeas and cotton, while in the south-central area of the country commercial crops gave way to the cultivation of staple food products such as corn. and beans. It should be noted that the year 1915 was especially hard for Mexico due to the disastrous harvests, which fell to fifty percent.
Rail transport was essential for commerce and for supplying the population. However, the railways were seized for military uses. Hence, the railway was sabotaged as part of the warfare. The result of transportation-related problems was the proliferation of the black market. Now, with the arrival of new technical improvements in transport, planes and trucks began to be used.
Another consequence of the transportation difficulties was that Mexico’s industrial areas suffered recession in 1913 and in the following two years. This situation was not resolved until 1916, when production levels recovered. Nor should we forget the growth experienced by energy sources such as oil and electricity.
The effects of the revolution were terribly harsh on the financial sector. Thus, the collapse of banking in 1914 worsened in the years 1915 and 1916, as there was no banking authority. The constitutionalist side took advantage of this circumstance because, being in possession of the commercial nuclei of the country, it was able to better finance its military campaign.
Finally, it should be noted that, after the approval of the Mexican Constitution of 1917, the economy of Mexico was placed in a position of significant dependence on the economy of the United States.
Corrido in the Mexican Revolution
The corridos were musical compositions that were very popular during the Mexican Revolution. These served as a means to tell the lives of heroes such as Francisco Ignacio Madero, Emiliano Zapata, Francisco Villa or Felipe Ángeles.
These songs were in part an instrument of political propaganda. But they also allowed us to know, beyond the work of the mentioned heroes, anecdotes and historical facts of the revolution.
One of the best known corridos is that of Adelita:
If Adelita went with another
I would follow him by land and by sea
if it is by sea in a warship
if it is by land in a military train.
If Adelita wanted to be my wife,
and if Adelita were already my wife,
I would buy her a silk dress
to take her to dance to the barracks.
The adelitas were women who participated in the revolution, not only fulfilling support tasks of a domestic nature, but on the battlefield itself.
Consequences of the Mexican Revolution
The main consequences of the Mexican Revolution, in short, were the following:
- The resignation of Porfirio Díaz.
- The creation of the new constitution of 1917.
- Separation between the State and the Church.
- Agrarian reform by which land was given to the peasants, forming a new class of ejidatarios, that is, owners of the ejidos. These are communally owned land that cannot be mortgaged, but are exploited directly by farmers.
- Recognition of labor rights such as unionization.