Angela Reyes Haczek
(CNN Spanish) – “On November 20, from six in the afternoon, all citizens of the Republic will take up arms to throw out of power the authorities that currently govern us.” This call from Francisco I. Madero is what is considered the official start of the Mexican Revolution, in 1910, the movement that removed the dictator Porfirio Díaz from power and shaped modern Mexico.
The Mexican Revolution began with the goal of ending Díaz’s 30-year reign. Mexico was then going through a painful political and social situation. Land ownership was one of the biggest problems: it was concentrated in the hands of a few, and the vast majority of rural and urban workers suffered subhuman conditions.
Porfirio Díaz, known among other things for promoting infrastructure, had launched legislative reforms that allowed foreign companies to take “empty land” belonging to peasants and indigenous people, among other groups. Large estates were created.
In addition the conditions were difficult for the workers. “The situation of rural and urban workers was precarious: they had 2:00 to 6:00 pm days, low wages, no benefits, no weekly rest or holidays, and were forever in debt in the strip shops, among other things.”, explains the National Autonomous University of Mexico.
The stor raya was the warehouse of the haciendas where goods were sold to the workers of the agricultural estates for their wages. Farm workers had to buy in these establishments.
Excessive force was added to the terrible conditions, since in the cases where the workers wanted to demonstrate “they were brutally suppressed,” according to a review by the State of Mexico, which recalls the murder of workers during strikes as examples. de Cananea and Río Blanco, in 1906 and 1907, respectively.
Land reform and improving working conditions were key to the revolution.
In 1910, Madero fled to San Antonio, Texas, and launched the Plan de San Luis, which called for an uprising against General Díaz. By then, the seed of what would later be christened the Mexican Revolution had already more than sown. And Madero was a fundamental figure in the fight against Díaz’s persistence in power, leading him to promote the creation of the National Anti-Reelection Party a year earlier, whose slogan was “Effective Feud, No Reelection.”
With the rebellion, guerrillas began to emerge throughout the country, including two who have achieved fame in Mexican territory: Emiliano Zapata and Francisco “Pancho” Villa.
Mexican revolutionary leader Francisco ‘Pancho’ Villa (1878-1923) led a cavalcade of rebels during the Mexican Revolution. (Credit: Current Press Agency/Getty Images)
In May 1911, after months of fighting, the rebels succeeded in taking Ciudad Juárez, in Chihuahua, and Porfirio Díaz had to resign. With the elections, in October of that year, Francisco I. Madero became president.
“The revolutionary movement continued for the next few years with discontent among the various groups that started it. One of them was Emiliano Zapata, who claimed at the head of the Ejercito Libertador del Sur that Madero had failed to comply with what he had offered to return land to the indigenous and agrarian communities of the state of Morelos; while in Chihuahua, to the north, Pascual Orozco accused the president of corruption and betrayal of the country”, explains the Mexican government in a review of the revolution.
From February 9, 1913, Madero suffered a military coup, which historians called the “Tragical Ten.” He was captured and killed. Days later, General Victoriano Huerta assumed the presidency. Against Huerta, the governor of Coahuila, Venustiano Carranza, created the Plan of Guadalupe and established the Constitutional Army. “Pancho” Villa led in the north and Emiliano Zapata in the south. The armed struggle succeeded in ousting Huerta in 1914.
The revolutionary armed movement and subsequent political agreements led to the creation of the 1917 Constitution, which the Mexican Government saw as the end of the Mexican Revolution, although the struggle lasted longer.
Changes in Mexican democracy
One of the most relevant legacies of the revolution, according to the UNAM, was the electoral law of 1911, which established for the first time that federal deputies and senators would be elected by direct vote. In the time of Díaz there was already direct election in local elections in some states, but it was not generalized.
The 1911 law – actually drafted in Díaz’s last legislature and promulgated by Madero – also regulated citizen participation in electoral processes through parties.
But, without a doubt, the great legal legacy of the revolutionary process was the Constitution of 1917 itself, which characterizes the UNAM as “one of the most advanced of its time, precisely because of the rights it included in matters education, in recovery. , the use and use of the land, where the waters, rivers, seas and mountains once again became the property of the nation”.
The Political Constitution of the United States of Mexico, which replaced the Magna Carta of 1857 and is still in force in the country today, was also the text related to the country’s social and workers’ rights.
This constitution, however, did not recognize women’s political rights, or even the right to vote, which would only happen in the 1950s.
Education is another area where the revolution has had a profound effect, according to experts. Josefina Zoraida Vázquez, researcher at the Center for Historical Studies of El Colegio de México, said in an interview with Carmen Aristegui that the process “opened” areas in education and can be universalized, and, according to data from the State of Mexico , in the Porfiriato there were 80 % of the population illiterate.
In addition, “revolutionary nationalism” promoted artistic work, especially the painting of murals through which history began to be taught. In this regard, UNAM recalls, painters such as Diego Rivera and José Clemente Orozco gave life to the art movement known as muralism.
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