Regimes of Order and Progress in Latin America: 1875 - 1910

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Révision datée du 28 septembre 2023 à 11:03 par Arthur (discussion | contributions) (→‎The Order)
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Based on a lecture by Aline Helg[1][2][3][4][5][6][7]

At the turn of the twentieth century, Latin America was marked by regimes advocating "Order and Progress". Inspired by positivism and the ideals of modernisation, these regimes, often led by authoritarian rulers, sought to industrialise their nations, stimulate economic growth and establish robust centralised power. While promoting laudable initiatives such as modernising infrastructure and improving public services, these regimes have also been synonymous with political repression, human rights abuses, and a concentration of power and wealth within a narrow elite.

Mexico is a case in point. Under the rule of Porfirio Díaz, from 1876 to 1910, the country underwent rapid modernisation, building railways and attracting foreign investment. However, this era, known as the Porfiriato, was also marked by growing inequality, harsh repression and human rights abuses, fuelling discontent that culminated in the Mexican Revolution of 1910-1920.

This period was also influenced by Western ideologies, notably racism and social Darwinism. These beliefs were often used to justify the exploitation of marginalised groups such as indigenous peoples and Afro-Latin Americans. These ideologies reinforced exploitative practices, such as forced labour, even after the formal abolition of slavery.

Economic liberalism, although it advocates minimal state intervention, has in fact manifested itself in Latin America with the active support of the state, favouring large landowners and industrialists. At the same time, migration policies were put in place to encourage European immigration, with the aim of "whitening" the population, reflecting the racial prejudices of the time and the interests of the ruling elite.

The positivist ideology[modifier | modifier le wikicode]

The context in Latin America[modifier | modifier le wikicode]

In the last quarter of the 19th century, Latin America, fresh from its wars of independence, was looking for models to structure its young republics. Against this backdrop of aspirations for modernity and political and social instability, positivism, a philosophy developed mainly by Auguste Comte in France, found fertile ground. With its unshakeable faith in science and rationality as a means of understanding and transforming society, this ideology was adopted by many Latin American intellectuals and leaders. In Brazil, for example, positivism has left an indelible mark. The national motto, "Ordem e Progresso", is a direct testimony to this influence. Brazilian positivists were convinced of the need for an enlightened elite to guide the country towards modernity. In Mexico, under the regime of Porfirio Díaz, known as the Porfiriato, a positivist approach was adopted to modernise the country. This involved massive investment in infrastructure, education and industry, but was also accompanied by political repression. The adoption of positivism in Latin America can also be seen as a response to the rise of American imperialism. With policies such as the Monroe Doctrine and Theodore Roosevelt's "Big Stick" policy, the United States was seen as an imminent threat. Positivism offered Latin American countries a path to internal development and modernisation, without having to submit to American influence or intervention.

Positivism, with its roots in Europe, found a particular resonance in Latin America at the end of the 19th century. This philosophy, which emphasised science, rationality and progress, became the mainstay of many Latin American leaders seeking to transform their nations. Positivism's appeal lay largely in its promise of modernity. At a time when Latin America was seeking to define itself after decades of colonial and post-colonial struggles, positivism offered a clear model for national development. Leaders believed that, by adopting a scientific and rational approach to governance, they could accelerate modernisation while establishing much-needed stability. The state became the principal actor in this transformation. Under the influence of positivism, many governments sought to centralise power, in the belief that a strong state was essential to achieve the ambitions of modernisation. This centralisation aimed to eliminate inefficiencies and create a more coherent structure for implementing public policy. Infrastructure became a major priority. Governments invested in building railways, ports, roads and telegraphs, facilitating trade, communication and national integration. These projects were not only symbols of progress, but were essential for integrating previously isolated regions and stimulating the economy. Education and public health also received renewed attention. Positivist leaders firmly believed that education was the key to progress. Schools were built, curricula reformed and efforts were made to increase literacy rates. Similarly, recognising the link between health, productivity and progress, initiatives were launched to improve public hygiene, combat disease and establish hospitals.

Despite its promises of progress and modernisation, positivism also had sombre consequences in Latin America. Under the guise of rationality and order, this philosophy was often misused to justify authoritarian and repressive policies. The central idea of positivism was that society should progress through defined stages, based on science and rationality. However, this linear vision of progress led some leaders to believe that everything considered "backward" or "primitive" had to be eliminated if society was to progress. In this context, political dissent, often associated with "backward" or "chaotic" ideas, was seen as an obstacle to progress. As a result, many positivist regimes repressed or even eliminated political opponents in the name of "Order and Progress". Moreover, the positivist vision of progress was often tainted by ethnocentric prejudices. Indigenous cultures, with their distinct traditions and ways of life, were often seen as vestiges of an "inferior" stage of development. This perspective led to policies of forced assimilation, where indigenous populations were encouraged, or often forced, to abandon their traditions in favour of the dominant culture. In some cases, this even led to forced displacement and genocidal policies. At the same time, to 'whiten' the population and make it more homogenous, many states encouraged European migration. The underlying idea was that the arrival of European migrants, seen as carriers of culture and progress, would dilute indigenous and Afro-Latin American influences and accelerate modernisation.

In the mid-19th century, Latin America underwent major transformations that stimulated its economy and strengthened its role on the world stage. The expansion of communication routes and population growth were key factors in this upward economic dynamic, particularly as regards the production and export of raw materials. The construction of railways was one of the most transformative innovations of this period. These railways crossed previously inaccessible terrain, linking remote regions with urban centres and ports. This not only facilitated the extraction of precious minerals such as silver, gold and copper, but also made it possible to transport these resources to ports for export. Railways also stimulated the development of commercial agriculture, allowing products such as coffee, sugar, cocoa and rubber to be transported more efficiently and at lower cost. Roads, although less revolutionary than railways, also played a crucial role, particularly in areas where railways were not present or economically viable. They facilitated the movement of goods and people, strengthening economic links between towns and the countryside. Ports, meanwhile, have been modernised to meet the growing demand for exports. These improved port infrastructures have made it possible to accommodate larger ships and increase export capacity, facilitating trade with Europe, the United States and other regions. Population growth also played a key role. With a growing population, there was a more abundant workforce to work in the mines, plantations and fledgling industries. In addition, immigration, particularly from Europe, brought skills, technology and capital that helped modernise the economy.

Population growth in Latin America in the 19th century had a profound impact on the region's economy. A growing population means increased demand for goods and services, and in the Latin American context, this translated into increased demand for raw materials and agricultural products. At a national level, population growth has led to increased demand for food, clothing and other essential goods. Demand for agricultural products such as maize, wheat, coffee, sugar and cocoa has grown, stimulating the expansion of farmland and the introduction of more intensive and specialised farming methods. This internal demand also encouraged the development of local industries to transform these raw materials into finished products, such as sugar mills and coffee roasters. Internationally, the industrial era in Europe and North America created an unprecedented demand for raw materials. Industrialised countries were looking for reliable sources of raw materials to feed their factories, and Latin America, with its vast natural resources, became a key supplier. Amazonian rubber, for example, was essential for tyre manufacture in European and North American factories, while minerals such as silver and copper were exported to meet the needs of the metallurgical industry. The expansion of these industries had a major economic impact. It created jobs for thousands of people, from farm workers and miners to tradesmen and entrepreneurs. This employment growth in turn stimulated other sectors of the economy. For example, with more people earning wages, there was an increased demand for goods and services, which encouraged the development of trade and services.

The boom in the production and export of raw materials in the 19th century transformed Latin America into a key player in the global economy. However, this transformation has had double-edged consequences for the region. Dependence on the export of raw materials has created what is often referred to as a "cash economy". In this model, a country relies heavily on one or a few resources for its export earnings. While this can be lucrative during periods of high demand and high prices, it also exposes the country to great volatility. If commodity prices fall on the world market, this can lead to economic crises. Many Latin American countries have experienced this on several occasions, where a fall in the price of a key resource has led to recessions, debt and economic instability. This dependence also reinforced unequal economic structures. Export industries were often controlled by a national elite or foreign interests. These groups accumulated enormous wealth from the export of resources, while the majority of the population saw little or no benefit. In many cases, workers in these industries were poorly paid, worked in difficult conditions and had no access to social benefits or labour protection. In addition, the concentration of investment and resources in export industries often neglected the development of other sectors of the economy. This has limited economic diversification and reinforced dependence on raw materials.

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the gap between Latin America and the northern and western United States widened considerably, reflecting divergent development trajectories influenced by a combination of economic, political and social factors. In economic terms, while the United States and Western Europe were undergoing rapid industrialisation, most Latin American countries remained largely agrarian, heavily dependent on the export of raw materials. This dependence exposed them to the volatility of world prices. Foreign investment in Latin America, although substantial, was often concentrated in extractive sectors such as mining. Moreover, a large proportion of the profits generated by these investments went back to the investing countries, limiting the economic benefits for Latin American countries. In terms of infrastructure, although investments were made, they were mainly focused on supporting export industries, sometimes neglecting the development of a robust domestic market. Politically, the relative stability enjoyed by the US and Western Europe contrasted sharply with the frequent instability of many Latin American countries, marked by coups d'état, revolutions and frequent changes of government. In addition, US foreign policy, notably the Monroe Doctrine and the 'Big Stick' policy, strengthened its influence in the region, often to the detriment of local interests. Socially, Latin America has continued to struggle against deeply rooted structures of inequality inherited from the colonial period. These inequalities, where a narrow elite held much of the wealth and power, hindered inclusive economic development and were often the source of social and political tensions. Moreover, unlike the United States and Western Europe, which invested heavily in education, Latin America offered limited access to education, particularly for its rural and indigenous populations.

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the economic, political and social differences between Latin America and the northern and western United States became increasingly marked, reflecting divergent development trajectories and influencing their relations on the international stage. Economically, the US North and West had succeeded in diversifying their economies, moving away from an exclusive dependence on raw materials to embrace industrialisation. This diversification offered a degree of protection against the vagaries of the global market. Latin America, on the other hand, with its increased dependence on the export of raw materials, was at the mercy of international price fluctuations. This economic vulnerability not only slowed the region's growth, but also contributed to widening the wealth gap with the more industrialised nations, exacerbating the disparities in living standards between the two regions. Politically, the stability and democratic nature of government in the United States has created a favourable environment for business, attracting foreign investment and immigrants in search of better opportunities and civil liberties. Latin America, on the other hand, with its often authoritarian regimes, has experienced periods of political instability, marked by coups d'état, revolutions and, in many cases, flagrant violations of human rights. These conditions not only discouraged foreign investment, but also led many Latin Americans to seek refuge elsewhere, particularly in the United States. On the social front, the United States had invested heavily in developing its education and health systems, leading to a general improvement in living standards for a large proportion of its population. Latin America, despite its cultural and natural riches, was struggling with major inequalities. A small elite held much of the wealth and power, while the majority of the population faced challenges such as limited access to quality education, adequate healthcare and economic opportunities.

At the turn of the twentieth century, the geopolitical and economic landscape of the Americas underwent significant changes. While Britain had historically been the main trading partner and investor in Latin America, the rise of the United States changed this dynamic. The United States, having consolidated its own industrial and economic development, began to look southwards to extend its influence and economic interests. This transition from British to American influence in Latin America was not simply a question of trade and investment. It was part of a wider context of projecting power and influence. The United States, with the Monroe Doctrine and later the "Big Stick" policy, made clear its intention to play a dominant role in the Western Hemisphere. Economically, the US invested heavily in key infrastructure in Latin America, including railways, ports and, emblematically, the Panama Canal. These investments have certainly helped to modernise parts of Latin America and facilitate trade. However, they have often been made on terms that are advantageous to US companies, sometimes to the detriment of local interests. Politically, the growing influence of the United States has had varied consequences. In some cases, it has supported or installed regimes favourable to its interests, even if this meant suppressing democratic or nationalist movements. This has sometimes led to periods of instability or authoritarian regimes that have neglected the rights and needs of their own people. Culturally, American influence began to be felt in many areas, from music and film to fashion and language. This paved the way for an enriching cultural exchange, but also raised concerns about the erosion of local cultures and cultural homogenisation.

The influence of Social Darwinism[modifier | modifier le wikicode]

Social Darwinism, a misguided interpretation of Charles Darwin's evolutionary theories, had a profound and often damaging influence on American thought in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. By extrapolating the ideas of 'survival of the fittest' to human society, some argued that certain races or ethnic groups were naturally superior to others. In the United States, this ideology was used to support the idea that the economic and political dominance of the Anglo-Saxons was the result of their biological superiority. This belief has had profoundly discriminatory consequences for many groups in the United States. Immigrants, particularly those from Eastern and Southern Europe, were seen as biologically inferior and less suitable for American citizenship. African-Americans, already oppressed by the system of slavery, were confronted with a new pseudo-scientific justification for segregation and racial discrimination. Native Americans, for their part, were portrayed as an "endangered race", justifying their forced removal and forced assimilation. Social Darwinism has also influenced American policy. Immigration laws, for example, were shaped by beliefs in racial superiority, restricting immigration from regions considered "biologically inferior". Racial segregation, particularly in the South, was justified not only by open prejudice, but also by pseudo-scientific beliefs about racial superiority.

The influence of Social Darwinism was not limited to North America. In Latin America, the ideology also found fertile ground, profoundly influencing social policies and attitudes during a critical period of modernisation and national change. The ethnic and cultural complexity of Latin America, with its mix of indigenous, African and European heritages, was interpreted through the prism of Social Darwinism. Elites, often of European descent, have adopted this ideology to justify and perpetuate their economic and political domination. By asserting that groups of African and Amerindian descent were biologically inferior, they were able to rationalise gross inequalities and underdevelopment as the inevitable result of the region's ethnic make-up. This ideology had devastating consequences for indigenous and Afro-Latin American populations. Indigenous cultures, with their languages, traditions and beliefs, have been actively suppressed. In many countries, policies of forced assimilation were implemented, seeking to "civilise" these populations by integrating them into the dominant culture. Indigenous land was often seized, forcing them to work in conditions akin to servitude for the landed elites. Afro-Latin Americans were also victims of this ideology. Despite their significant contribution to the region's culture, economy and society, they were relegated to subordinate positions, often facing discrimination, marginalisation and poverty. The concentration of wealth and power in the hands of a small elite was justified by this belief in biological superiority. The elites used Social Darwinism as a shield against criticism, arguing that inequalities were natural and inevitable.

During the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, an intellectual transformation took place in Latin America. The elites, faced with the reality of their nations' relative underdevelopment compared with certain European powers and North America, sought to understand and rectify this situation. Contrary to certain fatalistic interpretations that might have attributed backwardness to divine will or immutable factors, many Latin American thinkers and leaders adopted a more proactive perspective. They saw backwardness not as an inevitability, but as the result of historical actions, decisions and circumstances. This perspective was partly influenced by the European currents of thought of the time, such as positivism, which valued reason, science and progress. If backwardness was the result of human choices, then it could also be overcome by deliberate human actions. This belief led to a series of modernisation efforts across the continent. Governments invested in infrastructure, such as railways and ports, to facilitate trade and economic integration. They have sought to reform education systems, promote industrialisation and attract foreign investment. Many also adopted immigration policies to 'whiten' their populations, in the hope that the arrival of European settlers would stimulate economic and social development. However, these modernisation efforts were not without their contradictions. Despite seeking to transform their societies, many elites maintained unequal social and economic structures. Indigenous and Afro-Latin American populations were often marginalised or directly oppressed in this process of modernisation. Moreover, attempts to imitate European or North American models have sometimes led to unexpected or undesirable results.

The history of the United States is marked by a tension between the declared ideal of equality and the realities of discrimination and oppression. Part of this tension can be attributed to the way in which religious beliefs have been interpreted and used to justify existing power structures. In the United States, Protestantism, particularly in its Evangelical and Puritan forms, has played a central role in the formation of national identity. The early Puritan settlers believed that they had made a covenant with God to establish a "city on a hill", an exemplary society based on Christian principles. Over time, this idea of a special divine mission evolved into a form of manifest destiny, the belief that the United States was destined by God to expand and dominate the North American continent. This belief in a divine mission was often intertwined with notions of racial and cultural superiority. Anglo-Saxon Protestant elites, particularly in the nineteenth century, often saw their economic and political success as proof of divine favour. In this context, domination over other groups, whether Native Americans, African-Americans or non-Anglo-Saxon immigrants, was often seen not only as natural, but also as ordained by God. This interpretation of faith was used to justify a range of policies and actions, from westward expansion and the dispossession of Native American lands, to racial segregation and discriminatory laws against immigrants. It also acted as a counterweight to reform movements. For example, during the post-Civil War Reconstruction period, many white Southerners used religious arguments to oppose civil rights for African-Americans.

The history of Latin America is deeply marked by racial and social hierarchies inherited from the colonial period. After the independence of Latin American nations in the early nineteenth century, these hierarchies persisted and were often reinforced by modern ideologies, including Social Darwinism and other forms of racial thinking. Latin American elites, often of European descent or "criolla" (descendants of Spanish colonists born in America), played a central role in the formation of the new republics. These elites often saw their position of power and privilege as the result of their cultural and racial superiority. In this context, indigenous, mestizo and Afro-Latin American populations were often perceived as inferior, not only in terms of race, but also in terms of culture, education and ability to contribute to national progress. This perception had profound consequences for the region's politics and development. Elites have often sought to 'improve' the racial composition of their countries by encouraging European immigration, in the hope that this would stimulate economic development and 'whiten' the population. In some countries, such as Argentina and Uruguay, these policies have had a significant impact on demographic composition. Indigenous populations, in particular, have been the victims of forced assimilation policies. Their lands have been seized, their cultures and languages actively repressed, and they have been encouraged or forced to adopt 'Western' lifestyles. In many countries, indigenous people were seen as obstacles to modernisation, and their lands and resources were coveted for economic development. Mestizos and Afro-Latin Americans were also marginalised, although they often played a central role in the economy and society. They were often relegated to subordinate positions, facing discrimination and exclusion from the political and economic spheres of power.

Positivism, introduced to Latin America mainly in the 19th century, was enthusiastically embraced by many of the region's elites. Inspired by the work of European thinkers such as Auguste Comte, these elites saw positivism as a solution to the challenges facing their fledgling republics. For them, positivism offered a systematic and rational approach to guiding national development. The central idea was that, through the application of the scientific method to governance and society, the "irrationalities" and "archaisms" that impeded progress could be overcome. These 'irrationalities' were often associated with the cultures and traditions of indigenous, mestizo and Afro-Latin American populations. Positivism was thus both an ideology of modernisation and a tool for strengthening elite control over society.

The 'order and progress' regimes that emerged in this context had several features in common:

  • Centralisation of power: These regimes often sought to centralise power in the hands of a strong government, reducing regional and local autonomy.
  • Modernisation of infrastructure: They invested heavily in infrastructure projects such as railways, ports and education systems, with the aim of integrating their national economies and promoting development.
  • Promoting education: Convinced that education was the key to progress, these elites sought to establish modern education systems, often inspired by European models.
  • Public health reform: Modernising health systems was also seen as essential to improving quality of life and promoting economic development.

However, these efforts at modernisation were often accompanied by policies of forced assimilation towards indigenous populations and other marginalised groups. Moreover, although positivism advocated rationality and science, it was often used to justify authoritarian policies and to repress dissent.

The adoption by Latin American elites of the mantra of "order and progress", although inspired by intentions of modernisation and development, has often had harmful consequences for large sections of the population. Positivist principles, while advocating rationality and science, were misused to justify policies that reinforced existing inequalities. Under the pretext of maintaining order and promoting progress, many regimes repressed all forms of dissent. Political opponents, trade unionists, human rights activists and other groups were persecuted, imprisoned, tortured or even executed. These actions were often justified by the need to preserve stability and eliminate "disruptive elements" from society. At the same time, the indigenous populations, already marginalised since the colonial period, were further oppressed. Their land has been confiscated for development projects or large-scale farming. Their cultures and traditions have been devalued or actively repressed as part of efforts to assimilate them. Workers, particularly in the extractive and agricultural industries, have been subjected to precarious and often dangerous working conditions. Attempts to organise or demand rights were violently repressed. At the same time, economic policies often favoured the interests of the elite, leading to further concentration of wealth. Large landowners, industrialists and financiers benefited from subsidies, concessions and other advantages, leaving the majority of the population to continue living in poverty. Despite the economic growth that some countries experienced during this period, the benefits were not equitably distributed. Large segments of the population remained excluded from the benefits of development. The lessons learned from this period remain relevant today, reminding us of the potential dangers of the uncritical adoption of foreign ideologies without taking into account the local context and the needs of the population as a whole.

The positivist philosophy[modifier | modifier le wikicode]

Positivism, developed by the French philosopher Auguste Comte in the mid-19th century, was born against a backdrop of profound social and intellectual upheaval in Europe. The Industrial Revolution was radically transforming societies, and political revolutions were challenging established orders. Faced with these changes, Comte sought to establish a solid foundation for knowledge and social progress. In the first phase, the theological stage, individuals attempt to explain the world around them through the prism of religion. Natural and social phenomena are understood to be the result of the will of the gods or of a superior god. It was a period dominated by faith and supernatural beliefs. As society evolved, it entered the metaphysical stage. Supernatural explanations gave way to more abstract ideas. Although people begin to look for more abstract explanations for phenomena, these ideas remain speculative and are not necessarily based on empirical reality. Eventually, society reaches the scientific or positive stage, which Comte sees as the ultimate stage of human development. People recognise that the true understanding of the world comes from scientific observation and the experimental method. Beliefs and actions are then based on facts and tangible evidence, and society is guided by scientific laws. Comte hoped that by adopting a positivist approach, society could overcome the disorder caused by the social upheavals of his time. He envisaged the creation of a 'science of society', sociology, which would apply the same rigour to the study of society as was used in the natural sciences to study the physical world. Although positivism has had a considerable influence, it has also been criticised for its deterministic view of social progression and its sometimes blind faith in science as the cure for all social ills.

Auguste Comte, in his positivist vision, conceptualised the development of human society as an orderly progression through distinct stages. This idea of progression was deeply rooted in his belief in a natural order and in the linear evolution of society. He saw society as a living organism, subject to natural laws similar to those that govern the physical world. Just as biological species evolve through natural selection, Comte believed that societies would advance through a similar process. Societies that were able to adapt, integrate and develop advanced social and intellectual structures would prosper, while those that could not adapt would be left behind. Social integration, for Comte, was a key indicator of progress. An integrated society was one in which individuals and institutions worked in harmony for the common good. Conflict and disorder were seen as symptoms of a less evolved society or one in transition. The degree of scientific knowledge was another essential criterion for measuring progress. Comte firmly believed that science and rationality were the ultimate tools for understanding and improving the world. Thus, a society that embraced scientific thought and rejected superstition and religious dogma was, in his eyes, more advanced.

The adoption of positivism in Latin America in the 19th and early 20th centuries was in part a response to the quest for modernisation and progress. Latin American elites, impressed by the industrial and technological advances of the United States and Europe, saw positivism as a roadmap for development. They hoped that, by following positivist principles, their nations could also achieve rapid and significant progress. However, this adoption was not without geopolitical ulterior motives. With the rise of American imperialism, many Latin American countries felt the need to modernise rapidly in order to resist American domination or influence. Positivism, with its emphasis on rationality, science and progress, seemed to offer a route to this modernisation. But the implementation of positivism in Latin America had unexpected and often harmful consequences. Rather than simply serving as a guide to development, it was used as a tool of political control. Regimes that proclaimed themselves champions of "Order and Progress" often used these ideals to justify the repression of dissidents and the centralisation of power. Progress", as it was conceived, required strict order and clear direction, which often led to violations of human rights. In addition, positivism, with its emphasis on science and rationality, was often interpreted as being in opposition to indigenous cultures, which were seen as "backward" or "superstitious". This led to efforts to assimilate or eradicate these cultures, with the aim of creating a more 'modern' and 'rational' society. Finally, the modernisation and industrialisation encouraged by positivism often benefited a small elite, who were able to consolidate their wealth and power. Large landowners, industrialists and financiers prospered, while the majority of the population remained on the margins of the benefits of economic growth.

Positivism, with its emphasis on rationality, science and progress, was often associated with liberal economic ideas during the 19th and early 20th centuries. Economic liberalism, which advocates minimal state intervention in the economy and values private property rights, was seen by many as the most effective means of promoting economic development and, consequently, social progress. From this perspective, the market, if left free of excessive intervention, would be the most efficient engine of economic growth. Market forces, through competition and innovation, would lead to an optimal allocation of resources, stimulating production, investment and employment. Positivists believed that this economic growth, in turn, would facilitate society's transition to the positive stage, where rationality and science would dominate thinking and decision-making. The protection of private property rights was also seen as essential. By guaranteeing property rights, the state encouraged investment and innovation. Entrepreneurs would be more inclined to invest if they were assured that their investments would be protected against expropriation or arbitrary intervention.

Despite its emphasis on rationality and science, positivism often carried with it a mistrust of the ability of the masses to make informed and rational decisions. This mistrust was partly a product of the period in which positivism developed, a period marked by social upheaval, revolutions and a rapid transformation of traditional social structures. Positivists, in general, felt that society needed enlightened leadership to navigate through these changes. They believed that an educated elite, imbued with the principles of science and rationality, would be best placed to guide society towards the positive stage. This elite, they believed, would be able to take decisions for the common good, unhindered by the prejudices, superstitions or vested interests that could influence the masses. In Latin America, this perspective was adopted by many ruling elites, who saw positivism as a justification for their authoritarian regimes. Order and Progress" regimes were often characterised by a centralisation of power in the hands of a small elite, who saw themselves as the guardians of progress and modernisation. These regimes often implemented policies aimed at modernising their economies, developing infrastructure and promoting education. However, they also suppressed political dissent, often forcefully, in order to maintain order and guarantee the stability necessary for progress. The suppression of dissent was justified by the belief that criticism and opposition were obstacles to progress. Positivist regimes in Latin America often regarded social movements, indigenous demands or workers' demands as threats to the established order and, consequently, as obstacles to the march towards progress.

In its quest for rationality and progress, positivism often adopted a hierarchical vision of society. This hierarchy was based on the idea that certain groups were more 'advanced' or 'civilised' than others. In the Latin American context, this perspective was often used to marginalise and oppress groups considered 'inferior' or 'backward', such as indigenous peoples, mestizos, Afro-Latin Americans and the working classes. The positivist notion of progress often implied the homogenisation of society. The ruling elites, influenced by positivism, believed that for a nation to progress, it had to get rid of its "backward" elements. This often meant the forced assimilation of indigenous cultures, the suppression of local traditions and languages, and the promotion of a unified national culture and identity. In economic terms, this perspective was often used to justify policies that favoured the interests of the elite at the expense of the working classes. The rejection of the protection of workers' rights was partly based on the idea that workers' demands were an obstacle to economic progress. The elites believed that modernising the economy required a flexible workforce unencumbered by regulations or trade union rights. This led to practices such as forced labour and debt peonage, where workers were often tied to the land or to an employer and could not leave their jobs without repaying a debt, often at exorbitant rates. These systems kept workers in conditions akin to servitude and allowed the elites to enrich themselves at the expense of the working classes. The concentration of wealth and power in the hands of a small elite was a direct consequence of these policies. While the elite grew rich through the exploitation of resources and labour, the majority of the population remained on the margins, without access to education, health or economic opportunities.

Positivism, as a doctrine, offered an attractive solution for the Latin American elites of the 19th and early 20th centuries. It promised modernisation and progress while preserving the existing social order. For these elites, it was an ideal combination: they could present themselves as agents of change and progress while retaining their privileges and power. Modernisation, as envisaged by these elites, did not necessarily mean a democratisation of society or a redistribution of wealth. Instead, it often involved the development of infrastructure, industrialisation and the adoption of Western technologies and methods. These changes could, in theory, improve the economic and international position of their countries without threatening the dominant position of the elites. The positivist notion of order was particularly attractive. Order, in this context, meant social and political stability. The elites feared that popular movements or the demands of the working classes would destabilise society and threaten their position. Positivism, with its emphasis on rationality and science, offered a justification for maintaining order and repressing dissent in the name of progress. The question of full citizenship was also problematic. Granting full rights to the working classes, indigenous populations or African-Latin Americans would mean challenging the existing social order. It might also mean sharing political and economic power, which many elites were unwilling to do. Positivism, with its belief in a natural hierarchy and its contempt for the 'backward' elements of society, provided an ideological justification for this exclusion.

Positivism, as a doctrine, offered an attractive solution to the Latin American elites of the 19th and early 20th centuries. It promised modernisation and progress while preserving the existing social order. For these elites, it was an ideal combination: they could present themselves as agents of change and progress while retaining their privileges and power. Modernisation, as envisaged by these elites, did not necessarily mean a democratisation of society or a redistribution of wealth. Instead, it often involved the development of infrastructure, industrialisation and the adoption of Western technologies and methods. These changes could, in theory, improve the economic and international position of their countries without threatening the dominant position of the elites. The positivist notion of order was particularly attractive. Order, in this context, meant social and political stability. The elites feared that popular movements or the demands of the working classes would destabilise society and threaten their position. Positivism, with its emphasis on rationality and science, offered a justification for maintaining order and repressing dissent in the name of progress. The question of full citizenship was also problematic. Granting full rights to the working classes, indigenous populations or African-Latin Americans would mean challenging the existing social order. It might also mean sharing political and economic power, which many elites were unwilling to do. Positivism, with its belief in a natural hierarchy and its contempt for the 'backward' elements of society, provided an ideological justification for this exclusion.

The adoption of positivism by Latin American elites had profound and often harmful consequences for large sections of the population. Under the pretext of pursuing "order and progress", many regimes introduced authoritarian policies that trampled on the fundamental rights of citizens. Political dissent, often perceived as a threat to the established order and therefore to modernisation, was brutally repressed. Journalists, intellectuals, trade unionists and other social actors who dared to criticise the regime or propose alternatives were often imprisoned, tortured or even executed. This repression created a climate of fear that stifled public debate and limited democratic participation. Indigenous populations and the working class were particularly hard hit. Population "whitening" policies, which aimed to assimilate or eliminate indigenous cultures in favour of a homogenous national culture, often resulted in the loss of land, traditions and rights for indigenous peoples. Similarly, workers who demanded better wages or working conditions were often repressed or marginalised. Concentration of wealth was another direct consequence of these policies. While the elites enjoyed the benefits of modernisation, such as access to new markets and technologies, the majority of the population did not see the benefits of this growth. Inequality increased, with a small elite accumulating enormous wealth while the majority remained in poverty.

Positivism in Latin America[modifier | modifier le wikicode]

The adoption of positivism in Latin America was no mere accident, but rather a response to the challenges and aspirations of the region at the time. With the independence of the Latin American nations at the beginning of the 19th century, there was a burning desire to define a national identity and chart a course towards progress and modernity. The elites, who had often been educated in Europe and exposed to European ideas, saw positivism as a response to these aspirations. Positivism, with its emphasis on science, rationality and progress, seemed to offer a model for development and modernisation. It promised an orderly, progressive and modern society, guided by reason rather than superstition or tradition. For Latin American elites, this represented an opportunity to shape their nations along "modern" and "civilised" lines. However, there was also a more pragmatic aspect to the adoption of positivism. The elites, aware of their minority but privileged position in society, were often reluctant to share power or resources with the majority of the population. Positivism, with its belief in a natural hierarchy and its contempt for the 'backward' elements of society, provided an ideological justification for this exclusion. It allowed the elites to present themselves as the guardians of progress and rationality, while maintaining existing power structures. In practice, this often meant that the benefits of modernisation - whether in terms of improved infrastructure, education or health - were unevenly distributed. The elites enjoyed these benefits, while the majority of the population remained on the margins. Moreover, any dissent or criticism of this established order was often suppressed in the name of 'progress' and 'order'.

The adoption of positivism by Latin America's elites had profound and often harmful consequences for large sections of the population. Although positivism promised progress and modernisation, its implementation was often tinged with authoritarianism, justified by the belief that only enlightened elites were capable of guiding society towards its 'positive' future. Political repression has become commonplace in many countries in the region. Dissenting voices, whether intellectuals, journalists, trade unionists or ordinary citizens, were often silenced through intimidation, censorship, imprisonment or even violence. This suppression of freedom of expression and dissent created a climate of fear, preventing genuine democratic debate and limiting the participation of citizens in the affairs of their country. Indigenous populations and the working class have been particularly affected by these policies. Efforts to 'modernise' the economy have often resulted in the confiscation of land belonging to indigenous communities, displacing them from their ancestral lands and depriving them of their traditional means of subsistence. Similarly, workers who demanded better wages or working conditions were often repressed, and their fundamental rights, such as the right to strike or to organise, were violated. The concentration of wealth was another direct consequence of these policies. While the elites enjoyed the benefits of modernisation, such as access to new markets and technologies, the majority of the population did not see the benefits of this growth. Inequalities widened, with a small elite accumulating enormous wealth while the majority remained in poverty.

Latin America, with its complex history of colonisation, independence and the quest for national identity, has seen its elites use and adapt various ideologies to maintain their hold on power and resources. Economic and political liberalism, while theoretically advocating equality and individual freedom, has often been hijacked to serve the interests of these elites. The concentration of land ownership is a striking example of this manipulation. In many Latin American countries, vast tracts of land were held by a handful of families or companies, often inherited from colonial times. These landowners exerted considerable influence over politics and the economy, and often used their power to oppose any attempt at agrarian reform or land redistribution. Labour, meanwhile, was often exploited and denied basic rights. Workers, particularly in the agricultural and mining sectors, were subjected to precarious working conditions with little or no social protection. Any attempt to organise or demand better rights was often repressed, sometimes violently. The elites used the threat of violence or economic coercion to prevent the formation of unions or challenges to working conditions. The socio-racial hierarchy inherited from the colonial era was also maintained and reinforced. The elites, often of European or white origin, considered the indigenous, mestizo and Afro-Latin American populations to be inferior and kept them in subordinate positions. These racial prejudices were used to justify the economic exploitation and political marginalisation of these groups.

Brazilian flag with the words "ORDEM E PROGRESSO", the motto of the positivist movement founded by the French philosopher Auguste Comte.

This period, marked by the rise of the "regimes of order and progress", was characterised by a striking duality. On the one hand, there was a frantic quest for modernisation, industrialisation and integration into the world market. The elites, inspired by the economic successes of the Western powers, aspired to transform their nations into prosperous, modern economies. Cities began to transform with the advent of new infrastructures such as railways, modern ports and imposing buildings. Education and public health became priorities, at least in theory, and there was a general sense of optimism about the future. However, this quest for progress came at a cost. Liberal economic policies favoured the interests of elites and foreign investors, often to the detriment of local populations. Concentration of land ownership remained a major problem, with vast tracts of land in the hands of a few, while many peasants were landless or worked in conditions approaching servitude. Industrialisation, while creating new jobs, often led to the exploitation of workers in precarious conditions. Democracy, as a concept, was largely absent or limited during this period. Authoritarian regimes, under the pretext of maintaining order and guaranteeing progress, repressed all forms of dissent. Elections, when they were held, were often manipulated, and the voices of the majority were marginalised. Indigenous populations, in particular, were subjected to policies of forced assimilation, their land confiscated and their cultures often devalued or suppressed. The irony of this period is that, although elites sought to emulate Western models of development, they often ignored or rejected the democratic principles that accompanied these models in their countries of origin. Instead, they opted for a model that consolidated their power and privilege, while promising progress and modernisation. The result was a period of economic growth for some, but profound inequality, political repression and marginalisation for the majority.

At the turn of the twentieth century, Latin America was a mosaic of nations seeking to define themselves in the wake of the independence movements that had overthrown the colonial yoke. However, despite the formal end of colonialism, many vestiges of the colonial era remained, notably the socio-economic structures that favoured a dominant white elite. This elite, often of European descent, had inherited vast tracts of land and economic resources. Land, in particular, was a symbol of power and wealth. By controlling huge estates, these elites were able to exert considerable influence over the economy and politics of their respective countries. Small farmers and indigenous populations were often marginalised, their land confiscated or bought for a pittance, leaving them without resources or means of subsistence. Labour was another precious resource that the elite sought to control. Workers, particularly in the agricultural and mining sectors, were often subjected to precarious working conditions. Any attempt to organise, to demand better wages or working conditions, was suppressed. Strikes were broken, often violently, and trade unions were either banned or closely monitored. Political repression was another tool used by the elite to maintain its grip on power. Opposition parties were often banned, elections rigged and dissenting voices silenced. Journalists, academics and activists who dared to criticise the status quo were often imprisoned, exiled or, in some cases, murdered. Behind this repression lay a deep-seated fear: the fear of losing power and privilege. The elite knew that their position was precarious. In a continent marked by deep inequalities and a history of revolts and revolutions, maintaining order was seen as essential to the survival of the elite.

Latin America, during the period of the "Order and Progress" regimes, was the scene of a profound transformation. The elites, often influenced by positivist ideals and Western models, sought to modernise their nations. However, this modernisation has often been at the expense of the fundamental rights of the majority of the population. Violations of human rights were commonplace. Dissenting voices were silenced, often by force. Indigenous peoples, in particular, were subjected to policies of forced assimilation, their land confiscated and their cultures often devalued or suppressed. The working class, for its part, was exploited, its rights trampled underfoot in the name of economic progress. This concentration of power and wealth in the hands of an elite has widened the gap between rich and poor, exacerbating socio-economic inequalities. However, it is crucial not to paint the entire elite with the same brush. While many took advantage of these policies to bolster their power and privilege, others were genuinely concerned about the welfare of their nation and its citizens. These progressive elites often advocated reforms in areas such as education, health and infrastructure. Thanks to their efforts, many Latin American countries made significant advances in these areas during this period. For example, education has been expanded to include wider segments of the population, and higher education institutions have been created or strengthened. Science and technology also benefited from investment, with the creation of research centres and the development of new technologies adapted to local needs.

The vision of progress adopted by Latin American elites at the turn of the 20th century was strongly influenced by the economic and social models of the European colonial and post-colonial powers. For these elites, progress was synonymous with modernisation, and modernisation was often measured in terms of economic growth, industrialisation and integration into the world market. Latin America possessed immense natural resources, from fertile land to rich mineral deposits. The elites saw the export of these resources - in particular tropical products such as coffee, sugar, rubber and bananas, as well as minerals such as silver and copper - as a golden opportunity to stimulate economic growth. These exports were facilitated by the construction of new infrastructure, such as railways and ports, often financed by foreign investors. However, this vision of progress came at a high human cost. To maximise agricultural and mining production, vast tracts of land were confiscated, often by force or through dubious legal means. Small farmers and indigenous communities, who depended on this land for their livelihoods, were displaced, marginalised or reduced to a state of virtual servitude. Large landowners, often in collusion with political and economic elites, consolidated their power and wealth, exacerbating socio-economic inequalities. For the elites, these actions were justified in the name of the "common good". They believed that modernisation and economic growth would ultimately benefit society as a whole. In practice, however, the benefits of this growth were unevenly distributed, and the social and environmental costs were often ignored.

The late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries saw a surge of modernisation in Latin America, inspired largely by industrial and technological advances in Europe and the United States. At the heart of this modernisation were infrastructure projects, in particular the construction of railways, which were seen as the ultimate symbol of progress and modernity. Railways had the potential to radically transform a country's economy. They enabled goods to be transported quickly and efficiently over long distances, opening up vast inland regions to farming and mining. Cities, meanwhile, were modernised to reflect the image of a progressive nation, with new buildings, improved public services and better connectivity. These projects were attractive to foreign investors, particularly Europeans and North Americans, who saw Latin America as fertile ground for their capital. Latin American governments, eager to attract these investments, often offered generous incentives, such as land concessions and tax exemptions. However, there was a downside. The construction of railways required huge tracts of land, often obtained by confiscation or purchase at derisory prices. Small farmers and indigenous communities, whose land rights were often precarious or unrecognised, found themselves displaced from their ancestral lands. This land was then often sold or leased to large landowners or companies, leading to an even greater concentration of land ownership. In addition, the modernisation of cities was often carried out without regard for the most vulnerable populations. Poor neighbourhoods were regularly razed to make way for new developments, displacing thousands of people without offering adequate rehousing solutions.

At the turn of the 20th century, industrialisation and modernisation were major objectives for many developing countries. Driven by the success stories of industrialised nations and the desire to integrate into the global economy, many governments adopted policies that promoted rapid economic growth. However, these policies were often implemented without sufficient consideration for their social impacts. In Latin America, the construction of railways, the modernisation of infrastructure and the expansion of extractive industries were seen as essential means of stimulating the economy. However, these developments have often required vast tracts of land, displacing small farmers and indigenous communities. Without land to farm and without access to their traditional resources, these populations have often found themselves marginalised, living in poverty and without viable livelihoods. The concentration of land and resources in the hands of an economic elite has exacerbated existing inequalities. While this elite enjoyed the fruits of economic growth, the majority of the population was left behind, with little access to education, health or economic opportunities. It is important to note that these trends were not unique to Latin America. In many parts of the world, from Africa to Asia, similar policies were implemented. Colonial expansion and industrialisation often led to the confiscation of land, the displacement of populations and the concentration of wealth and power. The consequences of these policies are still felt today, with deep inequalities and persistent social tensions in many parts of the world.

The phrase "Order and Progress", although largely associated with the Brazilian flag, became emblematic of the approach of many regimes in Latin America in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. These regimes sought to modernise their countries by drawing inspiration from European and North American models, while maintaining strict control over the population. The concept of "order" was central to this vision. For these regimes, order meant not only peace and stability, but also strict, hierarchical control of society. The army played a crucial role in this respect. In many Latin American countries, the army was transformed, modernised and strengthened, often with the help of foreign military missions, particularly from Germany, which was then considered to have one of the most efficient and best organised armies in the world. These military missions trained Latin American officers in modern military tactics, strategies and organisation. But they also instilled a vision of the role of the army in society that went far beyond mere national defence. The army was seen as the guarantor of order and stability, and therefore as a crucial political player. With this new power and role, the army became an essential tool for the ruling elites to maintain their control. Political dissidents, labour movements, indigenous communities and other forms of dissent were often suppressed with force. The army was used to disperse demonstrations, arrest and imprison opposition leaders, and sometimes even conduct large-scale campaigns of repression.

The Catholic Church has played a central role in the history and culture of Latin America since colonial times. However, in the 19th century, many countries in the region experienced liberal movements that sought to reduce the influence of the Church in public life, separate Church and State and promote secularism. These liberal reforms often led to the confiscation of church property, the restriction of its role in education and the curtailment of its political influence. However, with the advent of the "regimes of Order and Progress" at the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth, the pendulum swung back. These regimes, seeking to establish a stable social order and counteract liberal and radical influences, often saw the Catholic Church as a natural ally. For these regimes, the Church represented not only a source of moral authority, but also a means of instilling conservative values and order in the population. As a result, many of the Church's prerogatives that had been abolished or restricted by previous liberal governments were restored. The Church regained a prominent place in education, with the return of denominational schools and the promotion of an education based on Catholic values. The Church's influence in public life has also been strengthened, with greater visibility for religious ceremonies and Church events. At the same time as the Church's influence was restored, there was a crackdown on religious minorities, particularly Protestants, who were often seen as agents of foreign influence, particularly from the United States. Secular movements, which advocated a stricter separation of church and state and were often associated with liberal or radical ideas, were also repressed.

The rise of the "Regimes of Order and Progress" in Latin America was marked by a series of measures aimed at consolidating power in the hands of a restricted elite. These measures, although presented as necessary to ensure stability and progress, have often had devastating consequences for democracy and human rights in the region. Censorship has become a common tool for controlling public discourse. Newspapers, writers and intellectuals who criticised the government or its policies were often subjected to sanctions ranging from closure of publications to imprisonment or even exile. This censorship not only stifled freedom of expression, but also created an atmosphere of fear and self-censorship among those who might have opposed the government's actions. The return of censal voting was another tactic used to limit political participation. By restricting the right to vote to those who owned a certain amount of property or met other economic criteria, the elites were able to ensure that only those whose interests aligned with their own could participate in the political process. This excluded the vast majority of the population from the decision-making process. But perhaps most disturbing was the way these regimes treated those who dared to openly oppose them. Workers, small farmers and other marginalised groups who mobilised to demand their rights were often met with brutal repression. Strikes were violently repressed, union and community leaders were arrested or murdered, and whole communities could be punished for the actions of a few.

The positivist regimes of Latin America, inspired by the ideas of "Order and Progress", sought to modernise their nations based on scientific and rational principles. These regimes were often characterised by strong centralisation of power, rapid economic modernisation and suppression of dissent. Although each country had its own particularities, certain common themes can be identified. Rafael Reyes, who ruled Colombia from 1904 to 1909, sought to modernise the Colombian economy by encouraging foreign investment, particularly in the oil and mining sectors. He also promoted the construction of railways to facilitate the transport of goods. However, Reyes strengthened executive power at the expense of the other branches of government. He also reduced the autonomy of the regions by placing them under the direct control of the central government. On the political front, Reyes did not hesitate to use force to suppress opposition, implementing strict censorship and often imprisoning or exiling his political opponents. Manuel Estrada Cabrera, who ruled Guatemala from 1898 to 1920, favoured the interests of American fruit companies, particularly the United Fruit Company. He granted huge concessions to these companies, enabling them to exert considerable influence over the Guatemalan economy. Estrada Cabrera also encouraged the construction of roads and railways to facilitate trade. However, his governance was notoriously brutal in its repression of the opposition. He used both the army and private militias to eliminate his opponents, and under his regime torture, imprisonment and executions were commonplace for those who dared to oppose him. In both cases, although the regimes managed to achieve some progress in economic modernisation, they did so at the expense of human rights and democracy. Centralisation of power and repression of dissent were common features of positivist regimes in Latin America, reflecting the influence of "Order and Progress" ideas.

In Brazil, the period known as the "República Velha" (1889-1930) was also marked by "Order and Progress" regimes. Inspired by positivism, these regimes sought to modernise the country by following the model of industrialised Western nations. Marshal Deodoro da Fonseca, who led the coup that overthrew the Brazilian monarchy in 1889, was the first President of the Republic and embodied this philosophy. Under his leadership and that of his successors, Brazil underwent a period of rapid modernisation, with the expansion of the railways, the promotion of industrialisation and the restructuring of education along positivist lines. However, as in Mexico under Díaz, economic progress in Brazil was accompanied by a concentration of political power. The "coronels", or large landowners, exerted considerable influence over regional and national politics. They often controlled the vote in their respective regions, guaranteeing the loyalty of elected politicians. This period, although marked by economic advances, was also characterised by widespread political corruption and the marginalisation of the working classes.

The First Brazilian Republic, also known as the "República Velha", was a period of major transformation for the country. After the proclamation of the Republic in 1889, which put an end to the monarchy, Brazil sought to modernise and align itself with the global trends of the time. The influence of positivism was palpable, as evidenced by the adoption of the motto "Ordem e Progresso" on the national flag. Industrialisation began to take root in the main cities, particularly São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. Railways, ports and other infrastructure were developed to facilitate trade and exports, particularly of coffee, which became the country's main export. The agrarian elites, particularly the coffee barons, played a central role in national politics, consolidating their power and influence. However, despite these economic advances, the First Republic was far from democratic. The political system was dominated by agrarian elites and "coronels", who controlled the vote in their respective regions. The "café com leite" policy reflected the alternation of power between the elites of São Paulo (coffee producers) and Minas Gerais (milk producers). In addition, the majority of the population, particularly Afro-Brazilians, rural workers and indigenous peoples, were largely excluded from decision-making processes. Repression of dissent was commonplace. Social movements, such as the "Revolta da Vacina" in 1904 or the "Canudos War" between 1896 and 1897, were violently repressed by the government. These events demonstrate the tension between the modernising aspirations of the elites and the needs and desires of the majority of the population.

The Porfiriato or Porfirio Díaz regime in Mexico: 1876 - 1911[modifier | modifier le wikicode]

General Porfirio Díaz.

The Porfiriato, also known as the Porfirio Díaz regime, was a period in Mexican history that lasted from 1876 to 1911 and was characterised by the strong authoritarian power of President Porfirio Díaz. This regime was strongly influenced by positivism, which emphasised scientific and rational thinking as a means of promoting social progress. Under Porfiriato, Mexico underwent significant transformations. Díaz sought to modernise the country by drawing inspiration from European and North American models. Infrastructure, including railways, telegraphs and ports, was considerably developed, facilitating domestic trade and exports. These advances attracted foreign investment, particularly from the United States and Great Britain, which played a crucial role in the Mexican economy at the time. The Díaz regime also favoured the expansion of large haciendas or plantations, often to the detriment of indigenous communities and small farmers. The latter were often dispossessed of their land, increasing socio-economic inequalities. Commercial agriculture, focused on products such as coffee, sisal and rubber, became predominant, while agricultural production for local consumption was neglected. Politically, Díaz established an authoritarian system that suppressed all forms of opposition. Although elections were held, they were widely regarded as rigged, and Díaz remained in power through a combination of military control, political manipulation and censorship. Press freedom was limited, and opponents of the regime were often imprisoned or exiled. Despite the apparent stability and economic growth of the Porfiriato, underlying tensions built up. Growing inequality, the concentration of land in the hands of a few, the marginalisation of indigenous communities and political repression created widespread discontent. These tensions finally erupted with the Mexican Revolution of 1910, a major conflict that sought to address the many social, economic and political problems left by the Porfiriato.

The Porfiriato, under the leadership of Porfirio Díaz, was a period of rapid change for Mexico. Díaz's vision for the country was that of a modern Mexico, aligned with Western standards of development and progress. To achieve this goal, he encouraged foreign investment, particularly in sectors such as railways, mining and agriculture. These investments transformed the Mexican economy, linking it more closely to the global market. The construction of railways not only facilitated the transport of goods within the country, but also enabled agricultural and mining products to be exported to foreign markets, particularly the United States and Europe. This has stimulated economic growth, but it has also led to the confiscation of land belonging to indigenous communities and small farmers, who have been displaced to make way for large infrastructure projects and haciendas. The emphasis on foreign investment has also had consequences. While this has brought capital and technical expertise, it has also increased Mexico's economic dependence on foreign powers. What's more, a large proportion of the profits generated by these investments went back abroad rather than being reinvested in the country. Socially, Díaz's policies exacerbated inequalities. The concentration of land in the hands of a landed elite has left many peasants landless and without a means of subsistence. These displaced peasants often found themselves working in precarious conditions on haciendas or in fledgling industries, without rights or protection. Politically, Díaz maintained a firm grip on power. While advocating modernisation and progress, he suppressed press freedom, imprisoned opponents and manipulated elections to ensure his longevity in power. This political repression has created a climate of fear and mistrust.

Although the Porfiriato sought to modernise Mexico along Western lines, it also strengthened certain traditional structures, in particular the role of the Catholic Church. After the liberal reforms of the mid-nineteenth century, which had sought to limit the power of the Church in state affairs, the Díaz regime adopted a more conciliatory approach towards the Church. In exchange for its support, the Church was allowed to regain some of its influence in public life, particularly in the areas of education and charity. This resurgence of the Church's influence had consequences for religious minorities and secular movements. Protestants, Jews and other minority groups were often marginalised or persecuted. Secular movements, which sought to further separate church and state, were also repressed. Secular schools, for example, faced challenges from Church-backed educational institutions. The relationship between the Díaz regime and the Church was not simply an alliance of convenience. It also reflected Díaz's vision of a Mexico where order and stability were paramount. For him, the Church, with its profound influence and hierarchical structures, was a natural partner in maintaining that order. However, this alliance with the Church and the suppression of secular movements and religious minorities were at odds with the ideals of progress and modernisation that Díaz claimed to promote. Furthermore, although the regime promoted economic growth, its benefits were not equitably distributed. The majority of the population, particularly the working classes and indigenous communities, remained poor and marginalised. Economic inequality, combined with political repression and the marginalisation of minority groups, created a climate of discontent that eventually led to the Mexican Revolution of 1910.

The Mexican Revolution, which began in 1910, was a response to decades of authoritarianism, socio-economic inequality and growing discontent with the regime of Porfirio Díaz. Although the Porfiriato brought a degree of stability and modernisation to Mexico, it did so at the expense of civil rights, social justice and democracy. The immediate trigger for the revolution was the controversial re-election of Díaz in 1910, after he had promised not to seek another term. Francisco Madero, a wealthy and educated landowner, opposed Díaz in these elections and, after being imprisoned and then exiled, called for an armed revolt against Díaz. The revolution evolved rapidly, attracting a variety of leaders and movements with different agendas. Among them, Emiliano Zapata and Pancho Villa became emblematic figures. Zapata, in particular, advocated radical land reform and the return of land to peasant communities. As the conflict progressed, it became clear that the revolution was not just a fight against Díaz, but a profound challenge to Mexico's social, economic and political structures. Demands ranged from land reform and nationalisation of resources to workers' rights and education. After a decade of conflict, betrayal and changes of leadership, the revolution culminated in the Constitution of 1917. This constitution, still in force today, established Mexico as a federal republic and introduced major reforms, including the nationalisation of subsoil resources, the protection of workers' rights and land reform. The Mexican Revolution is often regarded as one of the first major social movements of the twentieth century and had a profound influence on Mexico's political, social and economic development over the following century. It also served as a model and inspiration for other revolutionary movements in Latin America and around the world.

The Mexican-American War, which took place between 1846 and 1848, marked a decisive turning point in Mexico's history. Following the Mexican defeat, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed in 1848, obliging Mexico to cede a vast and rich territory to the United States, encompassing the present-day states of California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Kansas and Oklahoma. This cession of territory represented around 55% of pre-war Mexican territory. The loss of these territories had a profound impact on Mexico. Economically, the ceded territories were endowed with abundant natural resources, notably gold in California. Mexico thus lost a major opportunity for income and economic growth. Demographically, many Mexicans living in these territories found themselves under US jurisdiction. Some opted for US citizenship, while others preferred to return to Mexico. Psychologically, this territorial loss was perceived as a profound humiliation for Mexico. It fuelled anti-American sentiment and reinforced the desire for a strong national identity, underlining the need to consolidate the country on all fronts to avoid further setbacks. The defeat also highlighted Mexico's internal weaknesses, leading to urgent calls for reform. This eventually led to the La Reforma reforms of the 1850s and 1860s, led by Benito Juárez. In terms of foreign policy, distrust of the United States became a central feature. Mexico, seeking to diversify its alliances, strengthened its relations with other nations, particularly in Europe. In short, the loss of these territories shaped Mexico for decades, influencing its identity, politics and economy.

In addition to this territorial loss, Mexico has also undergone significant changes in terms of land ownership and property rights. The Lerdo Law, officially known as the "Ley de Desamortización de Bienes de Corporaciones Civiles y Eclesiásticas", was one of the most controversial reforms of the 19th century in Mexico. It was part of a series of liberal reforms aimed at modernising the Mexican economy and reducing the power of the Catholic Church and traditional structures that were hindering the country's economic development. The main aim of the law was to put an end to the concentration of land ownership in the hands of the Church and indigenous communities, and to stimulate agricultural development through private investment. In theory, this was to promote economic growth by encouraging land development and increasing agricultural production. In practice, however, the law has had unintended consequences. The rapid privatisation of land has led to a concentration of land ownership in the hands of an economic elite, often to the detriment of small farmers and indigenous communities. Many of the latter have been dispossessed of their ancestral lands, leading to massive displacement and an increase in rural poverty. Foreign investors, particularly from the United States and Europe, have also taken advantage of this law to acquire vast tracts of land at derisory prices. This has led to an increase in foreign influence in the Mexican economy, particularly in the agricultural sector. The Lerdo law, although conceived with good intentions, has exacerbated socio-economic inequalities in Mexico. It laid the foundations for land tensions and conflicts that would last for decades, culminating in the Mexican Revolution of 1910, when the issue of land reform was central.

Despite its initial intentions to modernise and stimulate the economy, the Lerdo Law had a profound impact on Mexico's social and economic structure. By privatising land that had traditionally belonged to indigenous communities and the Church, it created a new land landscape dominated by large landowners and foreign investors. Small farmers, who depended on these lands for their livelihoods, found themselves marginalised, exacerbating existing inequalities. Indigenous communities, in particular, have been hard hit. For these communities, land was not only a source of subsistence, but also a central element of their cultural and spiritual identity. The loss of their ancestral lands had a devastating impact on their way of life and well-being. Over time, discontent with these inequalities and injustices has intensified. Demands for land reform, land restitution and greater social justice became central to the protest and resistance movements. These tensions finally culminated in the Mexican Revolution of 1910, a major conflict that sought to right the wrongs of decades of land injustice and establish a more equitable society. The revolution was marked by emblematic figures such as Emiliano Zapata, who argued for the return of land to peasants and indigenous communities. The slogan "Tierra y Libertad" (Land and Freedom) became the rallying cry of many revolutionaries, reflecting the central importance of the land question in the conflict.

Díaz began his military career fighting for the Liberal government during the War of Reformation and against French intervention in Mexico. He distinguished himself as an able military leader during the defence of the city of Puebla against French forces in 1863. However, it was his decisive victory at the Battle of Puebla on 5 May 1862, now commemorated as Cinco de Mayo, that catapulted him to national prominence. After the fall of the French-backed Emperor Maximilian, Díaz became dissatisfied with the leadership of President Benito Juárez and his successor, Sebastián Lerdo de Tejada. In 1876, Díaz launched a coup, known as the Plan of Tuxtepec, and became President of Mexico. Under Díaz's presidency, Mexico enjoyed a period of stability and economic growth, often referred to as the "Porfiriato". Díaz encouraged foreign investment, modernised the country's infrastructure, notably by building railways, and promoted industrialisation. However, this economic growth was not evenly distributed and often benefited a small elite, while the majority of the population remained poor. Díaz maintained peace and order using authoritarian methods. He suppressed political dissent, controlled the press and used the army to maintain control. Although elections were held, they were often manipulated, and Díaz remained in power for seven consecutive terms. Over time, discontent with Díaz's dictatorship grew. Economic inequality, the concentration of land in the hands of a small elite, the suppression of political rights and the perceived excessive influence of foreign investors fuelled tensions. These tensions finally erupted in 1910 with the start of the Mexican Revolution, which eventually led to Díaz's resignation in 1911. Porfirio Díaz remains a controversial figure in Mexican history. While some praise him for bringing stability and modernisation to Mexico, others criticise him for his authoritarian methods and the economic inequalities that persisted under his regime.

Under Porfiriato, Mexico underwent a major economic transformation. Díaz encouraged foreign investment, particularly from the United States and Europe, in key sectors such as oil, mining and railways. These investments led to rapid economic growth, but they also increased Mexico's dependence on foreign capital.

The modernisation of the country was visible, particularly in urban areas. The capital, Mexico City, was transformed with the construction of grand boulevards, parks and imposing buildings. Railways linked the country's main cities, facilitating trade and the movement of people. However, this modernisation came at a high social cost. Díaz's land policy favoured large landowners and foreign investors at the expense of small farmers and indigenous communities. Vast tracts of communal land were sold or confiscated, displacing thousands of peasants who became landless agricultural workers or migrated to the cities in search of work. Politically, Díaz used a combination of persuasion, corruption and brute force to maintain his grip on power. Elections were regularly rigged, and political opposition was often suppressed. The press was censored, and critics of the regime were quickly silenced. Despite the apparent stability of the Porfiriato, underlying tensions built up. Dissatisfaction with economic inequality, land loss, rampant corruption and a lack of democratic freedoms eventually led to the Mexican Revolution of 1910, a bloody conflict that lasted a decade and transformed Mexico's political, social and economic landscape.

The Porfiriato, the period of Porfirio Díaz's rule, is often seen as a time of contradictions. On the one hand, Mexico underwent unprecedented modernisation. Cities, particularly the capital, Mexico City, were transformed with the introduction of new infrastructure, public services and modern architecture. Railways have linked previously isolated regions, facilitating trade and national integration. Education and public health have also benefited from significant investment, with the creation of schools, universities and hospitals. However, these advances were made against a backdrop of centralised power and political repression. Díaz maintained an authoritarian grip on the country, using the army and police to suppress all forms of dissent. Elections were often manipulated, and press freedom was severely restricted. Economically, although the country grew, the benefits were not fairly distributed. Díaz's land policy favoured large landowners, often to the detriment of small farmers and indigenous communities. Vast tracts of communal land were sold or confiscated, displacing thousands of peasants. These policies exacerbated existing inequalities, with a rich and powerful elite prospering while the majority of the population remained in poverty. Positivism, with its emphasis on rationality and progress, provided an ideological justification for these policies. For Díaz and his circle of elites, progress justified sacrifice, even if it meant marginalising and exploiting large sections of the population. They firmly believed that Mexico had to follow the model of the industrialised nations in order to modernise, even if this meant sacrificing the rights and welfare of many Mexicans. Ultimately, the tensions and inequalities accumulated during the Porfiriato were one of the main catalysts for the Mexican Revolution, a movement that sought to right the wrongs of that era and create a more equitable and democratic Mexico.

The Mexican Revolution, which began in 1910, was a direct response to the many years of authoritarianism and socio-economic inequality under the Porfiriato. The underlying tensions, exacerbated by the concentration of wealth and power and the marginalisation of the working classes and indigenous communities, finally erupted in the form of a vast revolutionary movement. The immediate trigger for the revolution was the controversial re-election of Díaz in 1910, after he had promised not to stand again. Francisco Madero, a wealthy landowner who had opposed Díaz in the election, called for an armed revolt against the regime. What began as a series of local uprisings quickly grew into a national movement. As the revolution progressed, various leaders and factions emerged, each with their own vision of what a post-revolutionary Mexico should be. Emblematic figures such as Emiliano Zapata and Pancho Villa became symbols of the Mexican people's desire for social justice and land reform. Zapata, in particular, argued for the return of land to peasant communities, reflecting the cry of "Tierra y Libertad" (Land and Freedom). The revolution was marked by shifting alliances, battles and counter-revolutions. In 1917, after years of conflict, the new Mexican Constitution was promulgated, laying the foundations for a modern Mexico. This constitution incorporated numerous social and political reforms, including guarantees for workers' rights, land reform and limiting the power of the Catholic Church. Porfirio Díaz, who had ruled Mexico for so many years, eventually went into exile in France, where he died in 1915. The Mexican Revolution, although it brought about significant changes, left a complex legacy. While it succeeded in ending the authoritarianism of the Porfiriato and introducing important reforms, it also brought great instability and suffering to many Mexicans.

The "científicos" were fervent supporters of the application of science and rationality to the governance and modernisation of Mexico. They firmly believed that the country's development and progress depended on the adoption of scientific and rational methods in all areas, from the economy to education. Inspired by European ideas of positivism, they saw science as the main engine of progress and rejected tradition and superstition. Under the influence of the "científicos", the Díaz regime adopted a series of reforms aimed at modernising Mexico. This included building railways, promoting industrialisation, improving urban infrastructure and modernising the education system. They also encouraged foreign investment, believing that this would stimulate the economy and speed up modernisation. However, their approach also had controversial aspects. The "científicos" were often criticised for their disregard for Mexican traditions and their insensitivity to the needs and rights of the working classes and indigenous communities. Their unshakeable faith in scientific and economic progress often blinded them to the social consequences of their policies. For example, their emphasis on economic development has often favoured the interests of elites and foreign investors to the detriment of small farmers and workers.

The "científicos" were an influential group during the Porfiriato. Their name, which means "scientists", reflects their belief in science and rationality as a means of solving Mexico's social and economic problems. They were strongly influenced by positivism, a philosophy that emphasised the importance of scientific and rational thought in understanding and improving society. Under Díaz's leadership, the "científicos" played a key role in implementing reforms aimed at modernising Mexico. They promoted industrialisation, encouraged foreign investment, improved infrastructure and reformed the education system. However, their approach was often technocratic and elitist, favouring the interests of the upper classes and foreign investors over the needs of the majority of the population. Their influence was also felt in the politics of the regime. The "científicos" supported authoritarian governance, believing that Mexico was not yet ready for democracy and that only a strong government could bring about the necessary progress. This perspective justified the suppression of political opposition and the restriction of civil liberties. However, their role in Díaz's government was not without controversy. Many intellectuals and social groups criticised the "científicos" for their role in implementing policies that exacerbated social and economic inequalities. They have been accused of neglecting the rights and needs of the working classes and indigenous communities, and of favouring a concentration of power and wealth in the hands of a small elite. Criticism of the científicos intensified over time, and their influence was one of many factors contributing to the social and political instability that eventually led to the Mexican Revolution in 1910.

The Progress[modifier | modifier le wikicode]

Under the regime of Porfirio Díaz, Mexico experienced a period of rapid modernisation and economic expansion. However, this growth was often at the expense of the working classes, particularly small farmers and indigenous communities. Díaz's policies were aimed at attracting foreign investment and developing the country's infrastructure, including railways, mining and large-scale agriculture. The "ley de desamortización" and the "ley del español" were examples of how the Porfirian government facilitated the concentration of land in the hands of a few. The "ley de desamortización" gave landowners total control not only over their land, but also over the resources it contained. This paved the way for increased exploitation of natural resources, often by foreign companies. The "ley del español" exacerbated the confiscation of land. Many peasants and indigenous communities had no formal title to the land they had occupied for generations. The law allowed anyone who could produce a title - often falsified or obtained by dubious means - to claim the land. As a result, huge tracts of land were seized and passed into the hands of large landowners or foreign investors. These policies led to the mass displacement of small farmers and indigenous communities. Many were left landless and forced to work as farm labourers or miners, often in precarious conditions. The tensions resulting from these policies contributed to the social instability that eventually led to the Mexican Revolution in 1910.

During the Porfiriato period, Mexico underwent a major economic and social transformation. Laws such as the "ley de desamortización" and the "ley del español" facilitated the concentration of land in the hands of an economic elite, made up of both wealthy Mexican citizens and foreign investors. These vast tracts of land, once inhabited and cultivated by small farmers and indigenous communities, became plantation estates or mines exploited for profit. The direct consequence of this land concentration has been the impoverishment and marginalisation of large sections of the Mexican population. Small farmers, dispossessed of their land, were forced to become wage labourers, often in precarious conditions. Indigenous communities, in particular, have been hard hit, losing not only their land but also much of their cultural and social autonomy. It is important to note that Mexico was not unique in this respect. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, many developing countries adopted similar policies, seeking to modernise their economies by attracting foreign investment. These policies often led to similar socio-economic inequalities, with an economic elite benefiting from most of the growth, while the majority of the population remained poor and marginalised. Criticism of these policies was not limited to their economic consequences. Many observers and activists pointed out that these policies violated people's fundamental rights, including the right to land, the right to a decent standard of living and the right to political participation. Economic marginalisation has often been accompanied by political repression as regimes seek to stifle opposition to their policies.

The concentration of land ownership in Mexico at the end of the 19th century had a profound and lasting impact on the country's socio-economic structure. By facilitating the privatisation of land, the laws of 1884 not only altered the agrarian landscape, but also redefined relations of power and wealth within Mexican society. With around 20% of the country's land passing from the hands of small farmers and indigenous communities to those of large landowners and foreign investors, a large part of the rural population found itself dispossessed. These small farmers, who depended on their land for their livelihood, were forced to seek work as agricultural wage labourers on the large plantations, often in precarious conditions and for derisory wages. Foreign investors, in particular, have played a crucial role in this transformation. Attracted by the investment opportunities and favourable policies of the Díaz regime, they acquired vast tracts of land, often introducing intensive, export-oriented farming methods. These large haciendas became production centres for the international market, producing crops such as coffee, sugar and rubber. The decline in the number of small farmers has also had political consequences. Deprived of their land and autonomy, these farmers became a potentially subversive political force, fuelling the discontent that would eventually lead to the Mexican Revolution in 1910. The question of agrarian reform, or land redistribution, became one of the main issues of the revolution.

The massive loss of communal land by the indigenous communities of the central plateau was one of the most devastating consequences of the Porfiriato's land policies. Communal lands, or 'ejidos', were central to the lives of indigenous communities, providing not only resources for subsistence, but also a sense of identity and belonging. These lands were managed collectively and were essential for maintaining the traditions, customs and social structures of the communities. The confiscation of these lands uprooted many communities, forcing them to adapt to new economic and social realities. Without land to farm, many were forced to work as agricultural labourers in the large haciendas, where they were often subjected to precarious working conditions and exploitation. The loss of land also meant a loss of autonomy and power for these communities, leaving them vulnerable to exploitation and marginalisation. Growing discontent with these injustices was one of the main driving forces behind the Mexican Revolution. Slogans such as "Tierra y Libertad" (Land and Freedom) resonated among the masses, reflecting a deep desire for social justice and land reform. After the revolution, the question of land became central to the reconstruction of the country. Agrarian reform laws sought to redistribute land to peasants and indigenous communities, and the ejidos were re-established as a central institution in Mexican rural life. However, the implementation of these reforms has been uneven and has faced many challenges. Nevertheless, the importance of land in Mexican history and the central role it played in the Mexican Revolution testify to the profound and lasting impact of the Porfiriato's land policies on the country.

The concentration of land in the hands of a small elite, facilitated by the laws of 1884, had profound consequences for the Mexican economy and society. While large landowners and foreign investors benefited from the rapid accumulation of wealth through land speculation, the majority of peasants and indigenous communities were dispossessed of their land, leaving them vulnerable to exploitation and poverty. Land speculation was often favoured over investment in modern farming practices. With an abundance of cheap labour, large landowners had no economic incentive to invest in modern farming technologies, such as mechanisation, which could have increased productivity. Instead, they could rely on the abundant and cheap labour of displaced peasants to work their land at very low cost. This dependence on cheap labour has meant that innovation and modernisation in Mexico's agricultural sector have been held back. Without investment in technology or training, agricultural productivity has remained stagnant, or even declined in some regions. In addition, land concentration has also limited agricultural diversification, as many large landowners have chosen to grow profitable export crops rather than food crops for the local population. The combination of land speculation, land concentration and dependence on cheap labour has created a deeply unequal and inefficient agrarian system. This structure contributed to widespread rural poverty, social instability and, ultimately, the rising tensions that led to the Mexican Revolution.

The transition to export crops, encouraged by international demand and profit opportunities, has had major consequences for Mexico. Large landowners, attracted by the high profits from export crops such as coffee, sugar, henequén and others, began to favour these crops to the detriment of traditional food crops such as maize, beans and rice. This development has had a twofold impact on Mexican society. Firstly, dependence on export crops has made the Mexican economy vulnerable to fluctuations in world markets. When export prices were high, this benefited the landed elites, but when prices fell, it could lead to economic crises, particularly affecting agricultural workers and small farmers. Secondly, the reduction in land devoted to food crops led to an increase in the price of basic foodstuffs. With a growing population and declining domestic food production, Mexico has become increasingly dependent on food imports to feed its population. This dependence exacerbated inequalities, as high food prices disproportionately affected the poor, who spent a greater proportion of their income on food. Rapid population growth, combined with declining domestic food production, created additional pressure on the country's resources and infrastructure. Cities began to develop rapidly, with rural migrants seeking better economic opportunities, but often facing precarious living conditions in urban slums. The combination of these factors - the transition to export crops, rapid population growth and urbanisation - created a tense socio-economic environment, where inequalities were glaring and frustration and discontent were growing among the working classes. These tensions would eventually contribute to the outbreak of the Mexican Revolution, a movement that sought to address these inequalities and create a more just and equitable society.

Increased dependence on export crops has had a profound effect on food security in Mexico. Maize, in particular, has always been at the heart of Mexican culture and diet, serving as the basis for many traditional dishes. Beans, another staple, are an essential source of protein for many Mexicans, particularly those who cannot afford to eat meat on a regular basis. The reduction in production of these essential foodstuffs has had a direct impact on the nutrition and health of the population. The increase in the price of basic foodstuffs, due to the fall in domestic production and the need to import more, has made these foods less accessible to many households, particularly the poorest. Families have had to spend more of their income on food, reducing their ability to meet other basic needs such as education, health and housing. Malnutrition, particularly among children, has become a major problem. Malnourished children are more likely to suffer from disease, developmental delays and learning difficulties. These problems have long-term consequences, not only for the individuals concerned, but also for society as a whole, as they reduce the country's economic and social potential. Landless and marginalised groups, who were already struggling to make ends meet, were particularly hard hit. Deprived of their land and unable to compete with the large export-oriented farms, many found themselves without a means of subsistence. Some migrated to the cities in search of work, contributing to the rapid expansion of urban shanty towns, while others joined social and political movements demanding land reform and a better distribution of resources.

The concentration of land ownership in the hands of a small elite has had profound consequences for Mexico's economy and society. With a large proportion of arable land given over to export crops, the production of food for domestic consumption has declined. This reduction in supply, combined with rising demand due to population growth, led to an increase in the price of basic foodstuffs. For the average citizen, this meant that essential products such as maize, beans and other staples became more expensive and sometimes unaffordable. At the same time as this food inflation, the labour market was flooded with landless workers, driven off their estates or unable to compete with the big farms. This oversupply of labour created a situation where employers could offer lower wages, knowing that there was always someone willing to take on work, however poorly paid. The combination of stagnant or falling wages and rising food prices led to a deterioration in living standards for a large proportion of the population. The situation has become particularly precarious for working and middle class families. Households have had to spend an increasing proportion of their income on food, reducing their ability to meet other basic needs. In addition, malnutrition has become a common problem, particularly among children, with all the health and social consequences that implies. This economic and social dynamic has created fertile ground for discontent and protest. Many Mexicans began to question a system that seemed to favour a small elite while leaving the majority in a precarious situation. These tensions contributed to the emergence of social and political movements demanding reform, laying the foundations for the revolutionary upheavals that were to follow.

The transition to export-oriented agriculture had profound consequences for food security in Mexico. While large farms prospered from the sale of produce on international markets, the local population faced a decline in the availability of staple foods. Maize and beans, the mainstay of the Mexican diet, became less accessible as the land devoted to growing them shrank. This shortage has had a dual impact. On the one hand, it has led to an increase in the price of these essential foodstuffs, making daily life more expensive for the majority of Mexicans. Secondly, it exacerbated social inequalities, as landless and marginalised groups were the hardest hit by these price rises. For these groups, buying food became a daily challenge, as their incomes did not increase at the same rate as food prices. Increased dependence on international markets has also made the Mexican economy more vulnerable to fluctuations in world prices. If the prices of export products fell, this could have negative consequences for the national economy, without benefiting local consumers in terms of lower food prices. This situation contributed to growing dissatisfaction with government policies and fuelled social tensions. Many Mexicans began to demand changes, not only in agricultural policy, but also in the way the country was governed, laying the foundations for future social and revolutionary movements.

Mexico's economic dynamics during this period created a vicious circle for the majority of its population. With land grabbing by a small elite and the transition to export-oriented agriculture, many small farmers and indigenous communities found themselves landless. This has led to mass migration to urban areas in search of jobs. However, the sudden influx of workers saturated the labour market, creating a surplus of labour. In such an environment, employers had the advantage. With more people looking for work than jobs available, they could afford to offer lower wages, knowing that workers had few options. This dynamic put downward pressure on wages, even as the cost of living, particularly the cost of food, rose. The combination of lower wages and higher living costs had a devastating impact on the standard of living of the majority of Mexicans. Many struggled to make ends meet, and poverty and insecurity became daily realities for many families. This difficult economic situation exacerbated social tensions and contributed to growing discontent with the Díaz regime, laying the foundations for the social and revolutionary movements that were to follow.

The rapid expansion of the rail network under the Díaz regime transformed Mexico's economic and social landscape. From an economic point of view, the railways facilitated internal and external trade. Remote agricultural regions were able to transport their produce to urban markets and export ports much more quickly and efficiently. It also attracted foreign investment, particularly from the United States and Europe, which saw Mexico as a promising emerging market. Foreign investors played a key role in financing and building these railways, which increased their economic and political influence in the country. Socially, the construction of the railways led to rapid urbanisation. Cities located along the railways, such as Monterrey and Guadalajara, experienced explosive growth. The ease of travel has also encouraged internal migration, with people from rural areas moving to the cities in search of better economic opportunities. This has changed the demographic composition of many regions and created new social challenges in urban areas, such as overcrowding, inadequate housing and growing inequality. Environmentally, the construction of the railways has had mixed consequences. On the one hand, it encouraged the exploitation of natural resources, particularly in the mining and forestry sectors. Forests were felled to provide timber for the construction and operation of the trains, and mines were developed to extract valuable minerals for export. On the other hand, the development of rail transport has reduced reliance on animal transport, with less impact on the environment in terms of emissions and land degradation.

The construction of railways in Mexico during the Porfiriato was a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it represented a major technological and economic advance for the country. Railways linked previously isolated regions, facilitating trade and economic expansion. Agricultural and mining products could be transported more quickly and efficiently to ports for export, attracting foreign investment and boosting the national economy. However, this progress came at a cost. Many communities, particularly those in rural and indigenous areas, were displaced to make way for the railways. These relocations were often carried out without consultation or adequate compensation, leaving many people without land or livelihoods. Construction has also led to the destruction of natural habitats, disrupting local flora and fauna. In addition, with the introduction of the railways, invasive species were introduced into new areas, further disrupting local ecosystems. The environmental impact was not the only cost. The railways, although essential for economic development, were often built in the interests of Mexican elites and foreign investors. Large companies, particularly from the United States and Europe, benefited from advantageous concessions and limited controls, allowing them to exploit the country's resources while offering few economic benefits to the local population.

The railway represented one of the advances in the Porfiriato economy and was presented to the world as a symbol of progress. Mexican culture during the Díaz era was characterised by the economy, as in this painting by José María Velasco, which depicts the Valle de México railway.

Under the regime of Porfirio Díaz, the construction of railways was a central element of the country's modernisation strategy. These railways not only facilitated trade and industrialisation, but also strengthened the central power of the state. The expansion of the rail network enabled the state apparatus to project itself more effectively into regions that had previously been isolated or difficult to access. This has strengthened the state's presence throughout the country, enabling more direct administration and more efficient tax collection. In addition, the increased mobility of the army thanks to the railways strengthened the regime's ability to maintain order, suppress dissent and control outlying regions. The construction of railways has also led to an increase in the number of civil servants needed to manage and administer this infrastructure. This created jobs and strengthened the state bureaucracy, further consolidating central power. In terms of immigration policy, the Porfirian regime sought to attract European migrants with the aim of "whitening" the population, an idea based on racist and eugenic notions of the time that associated development and modernity with the white race. The government hoped that the arrival of European migrants would help modernise the country, introduce new skills and technologies and increase agricultural and industrial production. However, despite the incentives offered, few Europeans were attracted to Mexico. There were many reasons for this: living conditions, the relative political stability in Europe at the time, and competition from other immigration destinations, particularly the United States, which offered more attractive economic opportunities.

Under the regime of Porfirio Díaz, education and public health were promoted as tools to "improve the race". These initiatives were rooted in the positivist ideas of the time, which associated progress with science, rationality and the improvement of the human race. Díaz's government believed that by educating the population and improving its health, it could raise the general level of Mexican society and reduce the number of people considered "inferior". However, these policies were not necessarily designed for the well-being of all Mexicans. Although public primary education was encouraged, access to quality education remained limited, particularly for rural and indigenous communities. Similarly, health and hygiene initiatives were often geared towards urban areas where elites and foreign investors lived, leaving out large segments of the population. The subtext of these policies was clearly racist and eugenic. The idea of "whitening" the Mexican population, whether through education, hygiene or European immigration, was based on a racial hierarchy that valued whiteness and devalued indigenous and Afro-Mexican characteristics. These ideas were commonplace at the time, not just in Mexico, but in many parts of the world. The marginalisation of indigenous and Afro-Mexican communities and the promotion of racist and eugenic ideals were widely criticised. These policies not only failed to improve the living conditions of the majority of the population, but also reinforced the social and racial inequalities that still persist in Mexico today.

The Porfirio period, which lasted from 1876 to 1911 under the leadership of Porfirio Díaz, is often referred to as the "Mexican economic miracle". The reforms and policies implemented during this period transformed Mexico from a predominantly agrarian nation into a booming economy with modern infrastructure and industrial growth. One of the main drivers of this growth was the construction of railways. Prior to the Díaz era, Mexico had a severe lack of modern transport infrastructure. The establishment of a national rail network not only made it easier to transport goods across the country, but also opened up Mexico to international markets. This has led to a rapid increase in exports, particularly of agricultural products such as coffee, sisal and rubber. Agriculture underwent a major transformation during this period. Under Díaz, vast tracts of land were sold or confiscated from small farmers and indigenous communities and then redistributed to large landowners or foreign companies. These new owners introduced modern farming methods and geared their production towards exports, in response to growing demand from international markets. At the same time, Mexican industry was also modernised. With the arrival of foreign investment, particularly from the United States and Europe, new technologies and production methods were introduced. Mining, particularly silver, and oil production have seen significant growth. However, despite these impressive figures, economic growth has not benefited all Mexicans equally. The concentration of land in the hands of an elite and the dependence on exports have created huge inequalities. Many small farmers lost their land and were forced to work as farm labourers in large haciendas. Indigenous communities were particularly hard hit, losing not only their land but also much of their cultural and economic autonomy.

The Porfirio period, from 1876 to 1911, is often cited as a turning point in Mexico's economic history. Under the leadership of Porfirio Díaz, the country underwent an unprecedented economic transformation, marked by rapid growth and large-scale modernisation. Foreign investment flooded in, attracted by the country's vast natural resources and business-friendly regime. This investment played a key role in the construction of essential infrastructure, such as railways, ports and telegraph lines, which in turn stimulated trade and industrialisation. The emphasis on exports transformed the Mexican economy. Agriculture, mining and industry grew rapidly, fuelled by demand from international markets. However, this growth was not without consequences. Although the country experienced economic expansion, the benefits were not distributed equitably. A small elite, consisting mainly of large landowners, industrialists and foreign investors, amassed considerable wealth, while the majority of the population remained on the margins, facing poverty and exploitation. Land, at the heart of Mexico's identity and economy, became a major source of conflict during this period. The land policy of the Díaz regime favoured large landowners and companies, often to the detriment of small farmers and indigenous communities. The latter saw their land confiscated, leaving them with no means of subsistence and forcing them to work in often precarious conditions. In addition, the intensive exploitation of natural resources has had lasting environmental consequences. Deforestation, soil erosion and pollution resulting from industrialisation have left scars on the Mexican landscape.

The Porfirio period, while marked by impressive economic growth, was also characterised by growing inequality and increased dependence on foreign investment. Porfirio Díaz's economic policies favoured large landowners, industrialists and foreign investors, often to the detriment of small farmers, workers and indigenous communities. The influence of foreign investors, particularly from the United States, increased significantly during this period. They were attracted by Mexico's vast natural resources and by the business-friendly policies of the Díaz regime. These investors gained considerable control over key sectors of the Mexican economy, such as mining, oil, railways and agriculture. Although these investments contributed to the country's modernisation and economic growth, they also reinforced Mexico's dependence on foreign capital. The concentration of wealth was evident not only in the ownership of resources, but also in the distribution of income. The majority of Mexicans worked in precarious conditions, with low wages and few or no social rights. Small farmers and indigenous communities, in particular, were hard hit by the regime's land policies, which favoured large landowners and corporations. Many were dispossessed of their land and forced to work as agricultural labourers or in mines, often in exploitative conditions. This economic inequality was exacerbated by political inequality. The Díaz regime suppressed political opposition and maintained authoritarian control over power, limiting the ability of marginalised groups to advocate their rights or challenge existing economic structures.

Under the regime of Porfirio Díaz, Mexico underwent a rapid economic transformation, but this growth was not equitably distributed. Modernisation and industrialisation, while beneficial for some sectors of society, had devastating consequences for others. Small farmers and indigenous communities, who made up a significant proportion of the population, were among the hardest hit. Land policies favouring large landowners and foreign investors led to massive land concentration. Many people were dispossessed of their ancestral lands, which not only destroyed their livelihoods, but also disrupted their traditions and cultures. With no land to farm and few economic opportunities, many have been forced into poverty or migration to the cities in search of work. Mexico's dependence on foreign investment and the export of natural resources has also had environmental consequences. Forests have been felled, mines have been exploited without regard for the environment, and farmland has been over-exploited. These actions not only degraded the environment, but also left the country vulnerable to fluctuations in world markets. Critics of the Díaz regime point out that, although the country has experienced economic growth, it has not been inclusive. Benefits were concentrated in the hands of a small elite, while the majority of the population saw no significant improvement in their living conditions. The ideals of "progress" and "order" proclaimed by the regime were in flagrant contradiction with the reality experienced by many Mexicans.

The northern region of Mexico, on the other hand, underwent a rapid economic transformation thanks to its proximity to the US border. Foreign investment has poured into the region, leading to the development of vast cattle ranches, mines and other export-oriented industries. Railways, built largely with foreign capital, linked northern Mexico to US markets, facilitating the export of raw materials and the import of manufactured goods. However, this economic growth in the north did not necessarily benefit the local population. Many were displaced from their lands, and those who found work in the new industries often faced difficult working conditions and low wages. Southern Mexico, rich in natural resources, has also attracted the attention of foreign investors. Coffee, cocoa, sugar and tropical fruit plantations have developed, mainly for export. However, as in the north, economic growth has not been equitably distributed. Indigenous communities, in particular, were dispossessed of their land and forced to work on the plantations in conditions bordering on servitude. The east coast of Mexico, with its strategic ports, became a centre for imports and exports. Port cities such as Veracruz grew rapidly, attracting traders, investors and workers. However, the region was also affected by tropical diseases, and despite government efforts to improve public health, mortality remained high.

The central region of Mexico, historically fertile and suitable for agriculture, became the scene of a major agrarian transformation during the Porfirian period. Large landowners, often in collaboration with foreign investors, saw a lucrative opportunity in export crops. Sugar cane, with its growing demand on international markets, became a favoured crop. Vast haciendas, or large estates, dominated the landscape, using intensive farming methods to maximise yields. However, this concentration on export crops has had detrimental consequences for local food security. With much of the agricultural land devoted to sugar cane and other export crops, production of staple foods such as maize, wheat and beans has declined. These crops, essential to the daily diet of the majority of Mexicans, have become rarer, leading to higher prices. For rural families, particularly those who had lost their land to large landowners, this situation became untenable. Not only did they no longer have land to grow their own food, but they also had to face higher prices on local markets. Landless and marginalised groups were the hardest hit. Without access to land and with stagnant or falling wages, these groups struggled to make ends meet. Malnutrition and hunger became commonplace in many communities, particularly among children. Social tensions increased as many peasants saw their traditional livelihoods disappear, replaced by an agrarian system that left them behind. This agrarian transformation, combined with other social, economic and political factors, created fertile ground for discontent and dissent, laying the foundations for the Mexican Revolution that would erupt in 1910.

The central region of Mexico, once prosperous thanks to its agriculture, underwent major economic and social upheaval during the Porfiri period. Agrarian transformation, which favoured export crops at the expense of food crops, had a profound impact on the rural workforce. The land grab by large landowners and the reduction in the amount of land available for small-scale farming left many peasants landless. These displaced peasants sought work elsewhere, often in the haciendas of the large landowners or in the fledgling industries of the cities. This sudden influx of workers created a labour surplus. In a saturated labour market, employers had the advantage. They could offer lower wages, knowing that workers had few options. Competition for jobs was fierce, and many workers were prepared to accept precarious conditions and lower wages simply to provide for their families. At the same time as these labour market dynamics were taking place, the region was also experiencing rising food prices. With less land devoted to growing staple foods, the availability of products such as maize, wheat and beans has decreased, leading to higher prices. For the majority of the population, this combination of falling wages and rising living costs has been devastating. Purchasing power has fallen, making it difficult for many families to buy food and other essential goods. Deteriorating living conditions in the central region have exacerbated social tensions. Dissatisfaction with the elites and government policies intensified, fuelling protest movements and demands for land reform and a better distribution of wealth. These conditions eventually contributed to the emergence of the Mexican Revolution, a movement that sought to redress the social and economic injustices of the Porfirian regime.

During the Porfirian period, the northern region of Mexico became a real economic magnet. The vast expanses of land, combined with the discovery of rich mineral deposits, made the region a major centre for mining. Silver, copper, lead and zinc mines flourished, attracting both domestic and foreign investors. The United States, in particular, saw a lucrative opportunity in northern Mexico, and many Americans invested in the mines and haciendas, seeking to maximise their profits from the region's natural wealth. As well as mining, the northern region also saw an expansion in agriculture, particularly cotton growing. The vast expanses of flat land were ideal for growing cotton, and with increasing global demand, this crop became a major source of income for the region. However, this rapid economic growth was not without consequences. The concentration of land and resources in the hands of an elite, often foreign, exacerbated social inequalities. Many small farmers and peasants from central Mexico, displaced by the land grabbing policies of the Porfiri regime, migrated north in search of better opportunities. However, they often found themselves in precarious conditions, working as farm labourers in the large haciendas or as miners in the mines. The increased presence of Americans in the region also had cultural and social implications. While some have integrated into local society, many have remained isolated, forming distinct enclaves. Tensions between foreign investors and the local population sometimes erupted, particularly when workers' rights were violated or when resources were exploited without regard for the environment or the well-being of the community.

During the Porfirian period, the northern region of Mexico became a real economic magnet. The vast expanses of land, combined with the discovery of rich mineral deposits, made this region a major centre for mining. Silver, copper, lead and zinc mines flourished, attracting both domestic and foreign investors. The United States, in particular, saw a lucrative opportunity in northern Mexico, and many Americans invested in the mines and haciendas, seeking to maximise their profits from the region's natural wealth. As well as mining, the northern region also saw an expansion in agriculture, particularly cotton growing. The vast expanses of flat land were ideal for growing cotton, and with increasing global demand, this crop became a major source of income for the region. However, this rapid economic growth was not without consequences. The concentration of land and resources in the hands of an elite, often foreign, exacerbated social inequalities. Many small farmers and peasants from central Mexico, displaced by the land grabbing policies of the Porfiri regime, migrated north in search of better opportunities. However, they often found themselves in precarious conditions, working as farm labourers in the large haciendas or as miners in the mines. The increased presence of Americans in the region also had cultural and social implications. While some have integrated into local society, many have remained isolated, forming distinct enclaves. Tensions between foreign investors and the local population sometimes erupted, particularly when workers' rights were violated or resources were exploited without regard for the environment or the well-being of the community.

The Order[modifier | modifier le wikicode]

The regime of Porfirio Díaz, known as the Porfiriato, was characterised by a strong desire for modernisation and economic progress. However, to achieve these ambitions, Díaz knew he had to maintain strict control over Mexican society. To achieve this, he adopted a series of strategies and tactics aimed at consolidating his power and minimising dissent. One of his main strategies was the "divide and rule" tactic. Díaz skilfully played factions off against each other, granting favours to some groups while repressing others. For example, he sometimes supported the interests of landowners while repressing peasant movements, or vice versa, depending on what best served his interests at any given time. At the same time, he adopted a "bread or stick" approach, rewarding loyalty and punishing dissent. Those who supported the Díaz regime could expect favours, government posts or economic concessions. On the other hand, those who opposed him often faced repression, imprisonment or even exile. Control of the media was also crucial for Díaz. He exercised strict control over the media, censoring critical voices and promoting a positive image of his regime. Newspapers that supported him were favoured with government subsidies, while those that criticised him were often closed down or their editors intimidated. Militarisation was another pillar of his regime. Díaz strengthened the army and police, using them as tools to maintain order and suppress dissent. Particularly turbulent areas were often placed under martial law, with troops deployed to guarantee stability. In addition, Díaz's government had a network of spies and informers who monitored the activities of citizens, particularly those of opposition groups and activists. Finally, economic concessions played an essential role in maintaining his power. Díaz often used economic concessions as a means of winning the support of local and foreign elites. By granting exclusive rights to certain resources or industries, he secured the loyalty of these powerful groups. By combining these tactics, the Porfirian regime managed to maintain firm control over Mexico for more than three decades. However, this repression and inequality eventually led to widespread discontent, which erupted in the form of the Mexican Revolution in 1910.

Porfirio Díaz's regime skilfully used the principle of 'divide and rule' as a strategic tool to maintain its grip on power. By creating or exacerbating existing divisions within Mexican society, Díaz was able to weaken and fragment any potential opposition, making it more difficult to form a unified coalition against him. Regions that showed particular loyalty to the regime were often favoured with investments, infrastructure projects or other economic benefits. On the other hand, regions perceived as less loyal or potentially rebellious were often neglected or even punished with punitive economic measures. This approach created regional disparities, with some regions enjoying significant economic development while others languished in poverty. Within the working class, Díaz often played the interests of urban workers against those of rural workers. By offering advantages or concessions to one group while neglecting or repressing the other, he was able to prevent the formation of a unified workers' front that could challenge his rule. Similarly, Mexico's indigenous communities, which had already been marginalised for centuries, were further divided under the Díaz regime. By favouring certain communities or indigenous leaders while repressing others, Díaz created divisions and rivalries within the indigenous population, making it more difficult for them to unite against the regime. Using these tactics, Díaz was able to weaken the opposition, strengthen his own power and maintain firm control over Mexico for more than three decades. However, these divisions and inequalities ultimately contributed to the instability and discontent that led to the Mexican Revolution.

Under the regime of Porfirio Díaz, the principle of "bread or stick" became a central element of governance. This dualistic strategy enabled Díaz to maintain a delicate balance between the carrot and the stick, guaranteeing the loyalty of some while discouraging opposition from others. Incentives, or 'bread', were often used to win the support of key groups or influential individuals. For example, land, government jobs or lucrative contracts could be offered to those prepared to support the regime. These rewards not only ensured the loyalty of many individuals and groups, but also served as an example of the benefits of cooperating with the Díaz regime. However, for those who were not seduced by these incentives or who actively chose to oppose the regime, Díaz did not hesitate to use the "stick". Repression was brutal for those who dared to challenge the regime. Demonstrations were often violently repressed, opposition leaders were arrested or exiled, and in some cases entire communities suffered reprisals for the actions of a few. The army and police, strengthened and modernised under Díaz, were the main instruments of this repression. This combination of incentives and repression enabled Díaz to consolidate his power and govern Mexico for more than three decades. However, this approach also sowed the seeds of discord and discontent, which would eventually erupt in the form of the Mexican Revolution, bringing the era of the Porfiriato to an end.

The regime of Porfirio Díaz, although often praised for its efforts at modernisation and industrialisation, was also marked by strong political repression and restrictions on civil liberties. Stability and order were top priorities for Díaz, and he was prepared to take draconian measures to maintain them. Censorship was omnipresent. Newspapers, magazines and other publications were closely monitored, and any content deemed subversive or critical of the government was quickly suppressed. Journalists who dared to criticise the regime were often harassed, arrested or even exiled. This censorship was not limited to the print media; public gatherings, plays and even some forms of art were also subject to government scrutiny and censorship. Propaganda was another key tool used by the regime to shape public opinion. Díaz's government promoted an image of stability, progress and modernity, often in contrast to previous regimes, which were portrayed as chaotic and regressive. This propaganda was omnipresent, from school textbooks to newspapers and public speeches. Surveillance was also commonplace. Government intelligence services kept a close eye on the activities of citizens, particularly those of groups considered 'problematic' or 'subversive'. Indigenous communities, trade unions, opposition political groups and others were often infiltrated by government informers. Repression was most severe for those who dared to openly challenge the regime. Strikes were brutally suppressed, trade union and political leaders were arrested or murdered, and communities that opposed the government were often collectively punished.

A detachment of Rurales in campaign uniform during the Diaz era.

The Porfirian regime's "bread or stick" approach to maintaining order and controlling society was aimed primarily at the elite and the pillars of the regime, such as the army and the church. The regime offered incentives or rewards, such as jobs, land or other benefits, to those who supported it and were prepared to cooperate with it. The aim was to "buy" the support of certain members of the elite and prevent them from opposing the regime. On the other hand, those who refused to cooperate or who were perceived as a threat to the regime were dealt with severely. The "stick" represented repression, force and punishment. The army and police were used to suppress all opposition, whether real or perceived. Dissidents were often arrested, tortured, exiled or even executed. Property could be confiscated and the families of opponents persecuted. The Church, as a powerful and influential institution in Mexico, was another important pillar of the regime. Díaz understood the importance of maintaining good relations with the Church to ensure the stability of his regime. Although relations between the state and the Church were strained at times, Díaz often sought to cooperate with the Church and secure its support. In return, the Church enjoyed privileges and protections under Díaz. Ultimately, the "bread or stick" approach was a way for Díaz to consolidate his power and maintain control over Mexico. By offering rewards and incentives to those who supported him and severely punishing those who opposed him, Díaz managed to maintain relative stability for most of his reign. However, this approach also sowed the seeds of discontent and revolution, as many Mexicans felt oppressed and marginalised by Díaz's authoritarian rule.

Díaz's strategy for maintaining control in rural areas was simple but effective: he used brute force to crush any form of resistance. The rurales, a paramilitary force created by Díaz, were often deployed in these areas to monitor and control local communities. They were feared for their brutality and lack of accountability, and were often involved in acts of violence against the civilian population. Indigenous communities, in particular, were hard hit by these repressive tactics. Historically marginalised and oppressed, these communities had their land confiscated and were often forced to work in slave-like conditions in the haciendas of large landowners. Any attempt at resistance or revolt was brutally suppressed. Indigenous traditions, languages and cultures were also often targeted in an attempt to assimilate and "civilise" them. The working class was not spared repression either. With the industrialisation and modernisation of Mexico under Díaz, the working class grew, particularly in the cities. However, working conditions were often precarious, wages low and workers' rights almost non-existent. Strikes and demonstrations were common, but were often violently repressed by the army and police.

Díaz knew that the regular army, with its diverse loyalties and regional affiliations, might not be entirely reliable in a crisis. The "rurales", on the other hand, were a specially trained force loyal directly to Díaz and his regime. They were often recruited from among veterans and trusted men, which guaranteed their loyalty to the president. The "rurales" were feared for their brutal efficiency. They were often used to suppress resistance movements, hunt down bandits and maintain order in areas where central government control was weak. Their presence was a constant reminder of the reach and power of the Díaz regime, even in the most remote parts of the country. In addition, Díaz used the "rurales" as a counterweight to the regular army. By maintaining a powerful and loyal parallel force, he could ensure that the army would not become too powerful or threaten his regime. It was a clever strategy for balancing power and preventing coups d'état or internal rebellion. However, the creation and use of "rurales" also had negative consequences. Their brutality and lack of accountability often led to abuses against the civilian population. Moreover, their presence reinforced the authoritarian nature of the Díaz regime, where force and repression were often favoured over dialogue or negotiation.

Porfirio Díaz was an astute political strategist, and he understood the crucial importance of the army for the stability of his regime. The army, as an institution, had the potential to overthrow the government, as had been the case in many other Latin American countries at the time. Díaz, aware of this threat, took steps to ensure the army's loyalty. Increasing pay and benefits was a direct way of winning the loyalty of soldiers and officers. By offering better pay and improved living conditions, Díaz ensured that the army had a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. What's more, by modernising the army with new weapons and equipment, he strengthened not only the army's ability to maintain order, but also its prestige and status within Mexican society. The presence of the "rurales" added another dimension to Díaz's strategy. By maintaining a powerful parallel force, he could play on the competition between the two groups. If the regular army became too ambitious or threatening, Díaz could rely on the "rurales" to counterbalance this threat. Conversely, if the "rurales" became too powerful or independent, Díaz could rely on the regular army. This "divide and rule" strategy was effective for Díaz for most of his reign. It prevented coups and maintained a delicate balance between the different factions of military power. However, this approach also reinforced the authoritarian nature of the regime, with an increased reliance on military force to maintain order and control.

Yaqui uprising - Retreating Yaqui warriors, by Frederic Remington, 1896.

Porfirio Diaz maintained a cautious and pragmatic relationship with the Catholic Church during his regime. He did not officially reform the constitution to remove the anti-clerical provisions of the liberal constitution of 1857, but preferred to ignore them. Diaz returned to the Catholic Church the monasteries and religious schools that had been confiscated under the previous liberal regime, and allowed the Church to continue to play an important role in society. In return, the Catholic Church supported the Díaz regime, preaching stability and order and discouraging dissent. This pragmatic alliance between state and church benefited both sides. For Díaz, it allowed him to consolidate his power and gain the support of a powerful and influential institution. For the Church, it allowed it to regain some of the influence and property that had been lost during earlier periods of reform. However, this relationship was not without its tensions. Although Díaz allowed the Church to regain some of its influence, he ensured that it did not become too powerful or threaten his regime. He maintained strict control over education, ensuring that the state had the final say on what was taught in schools, and limited the power of the Church in other areas of society.

The Catholic Church, with its deep influence and historical roots in Mexico, was a major player in the country's social and political dynamics. Recognising this, Díaz saw the importance of maintaining a peaceful relationship with the Church. By avoiding open conflict with the Church, Díaz was able to avoid a potential source of dissent and opposition to his regime. The Church, for its part, had its own reasons for supporting Díaz. Having suffered significant losses in terms of property and influence under previous liberal regimes, it was keen to protect its interests and regain some of its power and influence. By supporting Díaz, the Church was able to operate in a more favourable environment, where it could continue to play a central role in the lives of Mexicans. This mutually beneficial arrangement contributed to the stability of the Díaz regime. However, it is also important to note that, although the Church supported Díaz, it also maintained a certain distance from the government, thereby preserving its institutional independence. This allowed the Church to continue to play a central role in the lives of Mexicans, while avoiding being too closely associated with the excesses and controversies of the Porfirian regime.

The agreement between Díaz and the Catholic Church was not without consequences. For many critics, the fact that the Church was able to operate without hindrance meant that it had a disproportionate influence on Mexico's political and social life. The Church, with its vast resources and influence, was able to influence political decisions, often to the detriment of the separation of church and state, a fundamental principle of liberal democracy. The suppression of religious freedoms was another concern. Although the Catholic Church enjoyed greater freedom under Díaz, other religious groups were often marginalised or persecuted. This created an environment where religious freedom was limited, and the Catholic Church had a de facto monopoly on religious life. Education was also affected. With the Church playing a greater role in education, there were concerns about curriculum and teaching. Critics argued that education had become less secular and more oriented towards the teachings of the Church. This had implications for the development of critical and independent thinking among students. Finally, the Church's support for Díaz was seen by many as a betrayal. The Church, as an institution that was supposed to defend moral and ethical values, supported a regime that was often criticised for its repression and abuses. For many Mexicans, this discredited the Church as an institution and reinforced the idea that it was more concerned with power and influence than with the well-being of its faithful.

Porfirio Díaz skilfully navigated Mexico's political and economic landscape to consolidate his power. His policy of selective repression was a deliberate strategy to balance the needs and desires of the economic elites while neutralising potential threats to his authority. Large landowners, bankers and entrepreneurs were essential to Mexico's economic growth and the stability of the Díaz regime. By allowing them to prosper, Díaz ensured their support and loyalty. These economic elites enjoyed a stable environment for their investments and businesses, and in return they supported the Díaz regime, both financially and politically. However, Díaz was well aware that these same elites, with their vast resources and influence, could potentially become a threat to his power if they became dissatisfied or saw an opportunity to gain more power for themselves. So, while allowing them to prosper, Díaz also put mechanisms in place to ensure that they did not become too powerful or politically influential. He kept a close eye on them, making sure they didn't form alliances that could threaten him. On the other hand, those who openly opposed Díaz or posed a threat to his regime, such as trade union activists, critical journalists or dissident political leaders, were often the targets of his repression. They were arrested, imprisoned, exiled or sometimes even killed. This selective repression sent a clear message to Mexican society: support for Díaz was rewarded, while opposition was severely punished.

Porfirio Díaz mastered the art of transactional politics. By offering land, concessions and other benefits to his allies, he created a system of loyalty that strengthened his regime. These rewards were powerful incentives for Mexico's economic elite, encouraging them to support Díaz and invest in the country. In return, they enjoyed a stable business environment and protection from competition or territorial claims. However, this generosity was not without conditions. Díaz expected unwavering loyalty from his allies. Those who betrayed that trust or appeared to oppose him were quickly targeted. Repression could take many forms, from confiscation of property to imprisonment and even execution. This combination of carrot and stick was effective in maintaining order and stability for most of his reign. In addition, by selectively distributing land and concessions, Díaz was also able to control the concentration of economic power. By fragmenting wealth and resources, he ensured that no individual or group became powerful enough to challenge his authority. If an individual or family became too influential, Díaz had the means to reduce them to a more manageable size. This strategy was essential in maintaining the balance of power in Mexico during the Porfiriato. While it allowed for some economic stability and growth, it also created deep inequalities and sowed the seeds of discontent. Díaz's reliance on these tactics ultimately contributed to the instability and revolution that followed the end of his regime.

The massive expansion of infrastructure under Porfirio Díaz required a larger and more efficient state administration. The bureaucracy grew at an unprecedented rate during this period, with the creation of numerous civil service posts to oversee, manage and maintain infrastructure projects. The expansion of the rail network is a particularly striking example of this bureaucratic growth. Railways not only developed as transport routes for goods and people, they also became a strategic tool for the government. With an extensive rail network, the government could quickly move troops to quell rebellions or unrest in remote areas, reinforcing Díaz's centralised control over the vast Mexican territory. To manage this complex network, numerous positions were created, ranging from engineers and technicians responsible for designing and maintaining the tracks, to administrators overseeing operations and logistics. In addition, the rail network has necessitated the creation of a rail police force to guarantee the safety of the tracks and stations, as well as to protect property and passengers. State expansion has not been limited to the railways. Other infrastructure projects, such as the construction of ports, roads, dams and irrigation systems, also required an expanded state administration. These projects created employment opportunities for a new class of trained and educated civil servants, who became essential to Porfiriato's state machinery.

The ability to respond quickly to unrest was a key part of Díaz's strategy for maintaining his grip on Mexico. Before the expansion of the railway network, Mexico's vast territory, with its difficult terrain and long distances, made it difficult for the central government to respond quickly to rebellions or uprisings. Revolts could last for months, or even years, before the government could mobilise enough troops to put them down. With the advent of the railways, this dynamic changed. Troops could be moved quickly from one region to another, enabling a rapid response to any insurrection. This not only enabled rebellions to be effectively suppressed, but also acted as a deterrent, as potential rebels knew that the government could quickly send reinforcements. In addition, the railway network enabled better communication between the different regions of the country. Information about rebel movements, unrest or potential threats could be quickly transmitted to the capital, allowing Díaz's government to plan and coordinate its responses. However, this increased capacity for repression also had negative consequences. It reinforced the authoritarian nature of the Díaz regime, with an increased reliance on military force to maintain order. Many Mexicans became dissatisfied with this constant repression, which contributed to the build-up of tension and discontent that eventually led to the Mexican Revolution of 1910.

The situation of the Yaquis during the Porfirian regime is a poignant example of the tensions and conflicts that emerged in response to Díaz's policies of modernisation and centralisation. The Yaquis, originally from the Yaqui river valley in the state of Sonora, had a long history of resistance to Spanish and later Mexican rule. Under the Díaz regime, the pressure to develop and modernise the country led to an increase in demand for land for agriculture and livestock, particularly in rich and fertile regions such as the Yaqui. The land in the Yaqui valley was particularly sought after for its fertility and access to water, both of which were essential to support large-scale agriculture. The Díaz government, in collaboration with private landowners, began expropriating land from the Yaquis, often by coercive or fraudulent means. These actions displaced many Yaquis from their ancestral lands, disrupting their traditional way of life based on agriculture and fishing. In response to these expropriations, the Yaquis resisted in every way possible. They launched several revolts against the Mexican government, using guerrilla tactics and seeking to reclaim their land. Díaz's government responded with brutal force, launching military campaigns to suppress Yaqui resistance. These campaigns were often accompanied by violence, forced displacement and, in some cases, the expulsion of Yaquis from their homeland to henequén plantations in the Yucatán or other remote areas of the country, where they were often subjected to slave-like working conditions. The resistance of the Yaquis and the brutal repression by the government became emblematic of the wider tensions that emerged in Mexico during the Porfirian regime. Although the Díaz regime brought a degree of stability and modernisation to the country, it often did so at the expense of indigenous and rural communities, who paid a heavy price in terms of land, culture and human lives.

The Díaz government's response to the Yaquis uprisings is a grim example of the regime's treatment of dissidents and ethnic minorities. Military repression was brutal, and communities that resisted were often subjected to extreme violence. Massacres were common, and survivors, rather than simply being released, were often forcibly moved to remote parts of the country. The deportation of the Yaquis to the Yucatán peninsula is one of the most tragic episodes of this period. In Yucatán, demand for labour for the henequén plantations was high. Henequén, also known as sisal, was a lucrative crop used to make rope and other products. Working conditions on these plantations were appalling, with long and exhausting working days, poor living conditions and little or no pay. The deported Yaquis were often treated like slaves, working in inhumane conditions with no possibility of returning home. For the Díaz regime and the plantation owners, it was a win-win situation: the government got rid of a rebel group, and the plantation owners got cheap labour. These actions have been widely criticised, both then and now, for their brutality and lack of humanity. They are an example of how the Díaz regime, despite its efforts at modernisation and development, often acted at the expense of the most vulnerable groups in Mexican society.

The scale of the deportation of the Yaquis is staggering and demonstrates the brutality of the Díaz regime towards indigenous groups who resisted his rule. The mass deportation of the Yaquis was not only a punitive measure, but also a lucrative business for the officials and plantation owners involved. The fact that the Yucatán planters paid for each Yaqui deported shows the extent to which this operation was systematised and commercialised. The colonel, as intermediary, received a commission for each Yaqui deported, while the rest of the money went directly to the War Ministry. This shows that the deportation of the Yaquis was not only a strategy to eliminate potential resistance, but also a way for the Díaz regime to generate revenue. The deportation of the Yaquis to Yucatán had devastating consequences for the community. Many died as a result of the inhumane working conditions on the henequén plantations, while others succumbed to disease. The culture and identity of the Yaquis were also severely affected, as they were uprooted from their homeland and dispersed to a foreign region. This tragedy is an example of how the Díaz regime has often prioritised economic and political interests over the rights and well-being of Mexico's indigenous peoples. It is a sombre reminder of the consequences of Díaz's policy of "modernisation" when implemented without regard for human rights and social justice.

The policy of deportation and forced labour implemented by the Díaz regime against the Yaquis is a glaring example of the exploitation and marginalisation of indigenous peoples in Mexico during this period. The Yaquis, like many other indigenous groups, were seen as obstacles to the progress and modernisation that Díaz sought to bring about. Their resistance to the confiscation of their lands and government interference in their affairs was met with brutal force and systematic repression. The deportation of the Yaquis was not only a punitive measure, but also an economic strategy. By moving them to Yucatán, the Díaz regime was able to provide cheap, exploitable labour for the henequén plantations, while simultaneously weakening Yaqui resistance in the north. This dual motivation - political and economic - made the deportation all the more cruel and ruthless. The destruction of Yaqui communities, culture and traditional ways of life had lasting consequences. Not only did it uproot a people from their ancestral land, it also erased part of Mexico's indigenous history and culture. The loss of land, which is intrinsically linked to the identity and spirituality of indigenous peoples, was a devastating blow to the Yaquis. Díaz's policy towards the Yaquis was just one example of his regime's treatment of indigenous peoples and other marginalised groups. Although the Díaz regime was hailed for its economic achievements and modernisation of Mexico, it was also responsible for serious human rights violations and social injustices. These policies, and others like them, sowed the seeds of discontent that would eventually culminate in the Mexican Revolution of 1910.

The Porfirio period, although marked by economic modernisation and relative stability, was also characterised by severe repression of all forms of dissent. The regime of Porfirio Díaz was determined to maintain order and stability at all costs, even if this meant violating the fundamental rights of its citizens. Workers, particularly those in the mining and infant industries, were often faced with dangerous working conditions, long hours and poor pay. When they tried to organise strikes or demonstrations to demand better pay or working conditions, they were often met with brutal violence. The strikes in Cananea in 1906 and Rio Blanco in 1907 are notable examples of how the regime responded to labour dissent with force. In both cases, the strikes were violently repressed by the army, leaving many workers dead or injured. Political opponents, be they liberals, anarchists or others, were also targeted. Newspapers and publications critical of the regime were often censored or closed down, and their editors and journalists were arrested or exiled. Elections were rigged, and those who dared to run against Díaz or his allies were often intimidated or even eliminated. Indigenous communities, such as the Yaquis, were particularly vulnerable to repression. In addition to deportations and massacres, many communities saw their land confiscated in favour of large landowners or foreign companies. These actions were often justified in the name of progress and modernisation, but had devastating consequences for the communities affected.

The regime of Porfirio Díaz, although often praised for its modernisation of Mexico, was also marked by severe political repression. Stability, often referred to as "Paz Porfiriana", was maintained largely by suppressing dissenting voices and eliminating potential threats to Díaz's power. Political opponents, whether radical liberals, critical journalists, activists or even members of the elite who disagreed with Díaz's policies, often faced serious consequences. Arbitrary arrests were commonplace, and Mexican prisons at the time were full of political prisoners. Many were held without trial, and torture in custody was not uncommon. Exile was another tactic commonly used by the Díaz regime. Many political opponents were forced to leave the country to escape persecution. Some continued to oppose the regime from abroad, organising opposition groups or publishing critical writings. Censorship was also omnipresent. Newspapers and publishers that dared to criticise the government were closed down or pressured to moderate their tone. Journalists who did not comply were often arrested or threatened. This censorship created an environment where the media were largely controlled by the state, and where criticism of the government was rarely, if ever, heard. This climate of fear and intimidation had a paralysing effect on Mexican society. Many were afraid to speak out against the regime, to take part in demonstrations or even to discuss politics in private. The repression also prevented the emergence of an organised political opposition, as opposition groups were often infiltrated by government informers and their members arrested.

The longevity of the Porfirio Díaz regime is impressive. However, despite his ability to hold on to power for so long, a series of internal and external factors eventually led to his downfall. One of the major problems was socio-economic inequality. Despite significant economic growth, the fruits of this prosperity were not distributed equitably. A small elite held much of the country's land and wealth, leaving the majority of the population poor and landless. This growing inequality fuelled discontent among the working classes. Political repression was another key factor. Díaz constantly suppressed freedom of expression and political opposition, creating a climate of mistrust and fear. However, this repression also led to an underground opposition and resistance that sought ways to overthrow the regime. In addition, the confiscation of communal land and its handover to private landowners or foreign companies provoked the anger of rural and indigenous communities, making land reform a central issue. The growing influence of foreign investment, particularly from the United States, has also been a source of concern. Mexico's dependence on such investment has raised concerns about national sovereignty and fuelled anti-imperialist sentiment. At the same time, although the Díaz regime experienced periods of economic growth, it also went through periods of recession, which exacerbated social tensions. Social and cultural changes also played a role. Education and modernisation led to the emergence of a middle class and an intelligentsia that increasingly disagreed with Díaz's authoritarian policies. Moreover, in 1910, Díaz, then aged over 80, sparked speculation about his succession, leading to power struggles within the ruling elite. His decision to stand for re-election, despite an earlier promise not to do so, and the subsequent allegations of electoral fraud, were the catalyst that sparked the Mexican Revolution.

Firstly, there was the growing discontent of the working classes and peasants, due to the concentration of land ownership and the suppression of labour rights. The gap between the rich elite and the poor majority was widening, and many Mexicans were struggling to make a living. In addition, the lack of political representation and the suppression of dissent led to public frustration and anger. Secondly, foreign influence, particularly from the United States, in the Mexican economy was a source of tension. Foreign investors owned large swathes of land, mines, railways and other key infrastructure. Although these investments contributed to Mexico's modernisation, they also reinforced the feeling that the country was losing its economic autonomy and sovereignty. Many Mexicans felt that the benefits of these investments went mainly to foreign interests and a national elite, rather than to the population as a whole. Thirdly, Díaz's policy on relations with the Catholic Church also played a role. Although Díaz adopted a pragmatic approach, allowing the Church to regain some of its influence in exchange for his support, this relationship was criticised by radical liberals who felt that the Church had too much influence, and by conservatives who felt that Díaz did not go far enough in restoring the Church's power. Finally, the very nature of Díaz's authoritarian regime was itself a source of tension. By suppressing freedom of the press, imprisoning opponents and using force to suppress demonstrations and strikes, Díaz created a climate of fear and mistrust. While these tactics may have maintained order in the short term, they also sowed the seeds of revolt. When tensions finally boiled over, they led to a revolution that ended nearly thirty years of Díaz rule and transformed Mexico for decades to come.

Under Porfirio Diaz, Mexico faced a series of challenges that eventually led to his downfall. One of the main problems was the country's economic dependence on exports of raw materials. Although these exports initially stimulated economic growth, they also left the country vulnerable to fluctuations in world markets. When demand for these raw materials plummeted, the Mexican economy was hit hard, leading to economic stagnation and growing discontent among the population. Diaz's handling of law and order was also a source of tension. His brutal response to strikes and political opposition not only provoked anger, but also reinforced the idea that the regime was oppressive and indifferent to the needs and rights of its citizens. The situation of indigenous peoples, forced into migration and forced labour, was particularly tragic. These actions not only destroyed entire communities, but also reinforced the feeling that the Diaz regime was putting economic interests ahead of human rights. Finally, the longevity of Diaz's rule and his blatant manipulation of the electoral system have eroded any illusion of democracy in Mexico. After more than three decades in power, many Mexicans were frustrated by the lack of political renewal and the feeling that Diaz was more of a dictator than a democratically elected president. This growing discontent, combined with the other challenges facing the country, created an environment conducive to revolution and change.

The Mexican Revolution, which began in 1910, was a direct response to the many years of authoritarianism and socio-economic inequality under the regime of Porfirio Díaz. It was fuelled by the growing discontent of various sectors of Mexican society, ranging from the oppressed working and peasant classes to intellectuals and the middle classes who aspired to genuine democracy and land reform. Francisco Madero, a wealthy landowner and opponent of Díaz, was one of the first to openly challenge the regime. After being imprisoned for contesting the 1910 elections, he called for an armed revolt against Díaz. What began as a series of local uprisings quickly developed into a full-fledged revolution, with various revolutionary leaders, such as Emiliano Zapata and Pancho Villa, joining the cause with their own armies and agendas. The revolution was marked by a series of battles, coups and changes of leadership. It saw the rise and fall of several governments, each with its own vision of what a post-porfirien Mexico should be. Emiliano Zapata, for example, advocated radical land reform and the return of land to peasant communities, while other leaders had different visions for the country's future. After a decade of conflict and instability, the revolution finally led to the promulgation of the 1917 Constitution, which established the framework for modern Mexico. This constitution incorporated numerous social and political reforms, such as land reform, workers' rights and public education, while limiting the power and influence of the Church and foreign corporations.

The First Republic of Brazil: 1889 - 1930[modifier | modifier le wikicode]

The proclamation of the Republic, by Benedito Calixto.

The end of slavery in 1888 with the "Lei Áurea" (Golden Law) posed a major challenge to the Brazilian economy, particularly in the coffee and sugar cane sectors, which were heavily dependent on slave labour. With abolition, the Brazilian elite had to find ways of replacing this workforce. One solution was to encourage European immigration, mainly from Italy, Portugal, Spain and Germany. These immigrants were often attracted by the promise of land and opportunity, and came in large numbers to work on the coffee plantations in the state of São Paulo and other regions. Immigration was also encouraged to "whiten" the population, as there was a widespread belief among the elite that European immigrants would bring an "improvement" to the racial and cultural make-up of Brazil. The transition to the Republic in 1889 also marked a turning point in Brazilian politics. The new constitution sought to centralise power, reducing the autonomy of the provinces. This was done with the aim of modernising the country and making it more competitive on the international stage. The new republican regime also sought to promote industrialisation, encouraging foreign investment and modernising infrastructure such as railways and ports. However, despite these modernisation efforts, the Republic was marked by persistent socio-economic inequalities. The landed and industrial elite continued to dominate politics and the economy, while the majority of the population, including former slaves and rural workers, remained marginalised. Moreover, politics under the First Republic (1889-1930) was characterised by "coronelismo", a system in which "coronéis" (local chiefs) exercised quasi-feudal control over rural areas in exchange for their support of the central government.

The First Republic of Brazil (1889-1930) was a period of significant transformation for the country. Following the abolition of the monarchy, Brazil sought to position itself as a modern, progressive nation on the international stage. To achieve this, the government adopted a series of measures aimed at modernising the economy and society. Investment in infrastructure was one of the main priorities. The construction of railways was essential to connect the vast regions of the country and facilitate the transport of goods, particularly coffee, which was Brazil's main export at the time. Ports were also modernised to facilitate foreign trade, allowing Brazilian products to be exported more efficiently and foreign goods and technologies to be imported more smoothly. The creation of a national bank was another important step. It stabilised the currency, regulated credit and financed development projects. This institution played a key role in centralising the economy and promoting economic growth. Encouraging foreign investment was also crucial. Brazil, rich in natural resources but lacking in capital and advanced technologies, saw foreign investment as an opportunity for modernisation. Many foreign companies, particularly British and American, invested in sectors such as railways, public services and industry. Finally, immigration policy was an essential part of Brazil's modernisation strategy. The government sought to attract European immigrants, particularly from Italy, Portugal, Spain and Germany, to replace the slave workforce following the abolition of slavery in 1888. These immigrants were expected to bring skills, knowledge and a work ethic that would contribute to the modernisation of the country. In addition, there was a widespread belief among the elite that European immigration would "whiten" the population and improve Brazil's racial and cultural make-up.

Brazil's First Republic was marked by a series of policies which, although aimed at modernisation and economic development, also reinforced existing inequalities and were influenced by prejudicial ideologies. The Brazilian elite of the time, composed mainly of large landowners, industrialists and the military, had a clear vision of the direction in which they wanted to take the country. This vision was strongly influenced by the ideas of Social Darwinism, a theory that certain races were naturally superior to others. This belief was used to justify a series of policies that favoured white European immigrants at the expense of indigenous and Afro-Brazilian populations. The government actively encouraged European immigration, offering incentives such as free land and travel subsidies. The underlying idea was that these immigrants, because of their ethnic origin, would bring skills, a work ethic and a culture that were considered superior, and would thus help to 'improve' the Brazilian population. The effect of this policy was to further marginalise Afro-Brazilians and indigenous peoples, who were already disadvantaged by centuries of colonialism and slavery. Afro-Brazilians, in particular, found themselves in a precarious situation following the abolition of slavery in 1888. Without land or resources, many were forced to work in slave-like conditions on plantations or migrate to the cities, where they joined the ranks of the urban poor. Government policies, far from helping these communities, have exacerbated their marginalisation. Similarly, indigenous peoples continued to be dispossessed of their land and marginalised. Development policies, such as railway construction and agricultural expansion, often encroached on their territories, forcing them to move or assimilate.

Brazil's First Republic, while seeking to modernise the country, also put in place a political system that reinforced the power of the elite while marginalising the majority of the population. The tight control exercised by the government over the political sphere was a key element of this strategy. The ruling elite, anxious to preserve its interests and maintain the status quo, has adopted a series of measures to suppress all forms of opposition. Opposition political parties, social movements and trade unions were monitored, harassed and often repressed. The media were also under surveillance, and any criticism of the government or its policies was quickly censored. Elections, when they were held, were often manipulated, with cases of electoral fraud, intimidation of voters and exclusion of opposition candidates. This centralisation of power had several consequences. Firstly, it created a climate of fear and mistrust, where citizens were reluctant to openly express their opinions or engage in political activities. Secondly, it reinforced existing inequalities, as the ruling elite continued to promote policies that favoured their own interests at the expense of the majority of the population. Finally, it created a sense of frustration and discontent among the population, who felt excluded from the political process and powerless over government decisions. The lack of political representation and the suppression of dissent also led to a lack of accountability on the part of the government. Without a strong opposition to challenge its decisions or propose alternatives, the government had no incentive to respond to the needs or concerns of the majority of the population. This created a gulf between government and citizens, and sowed the seeds of mistrust and disillusionment with the political system.

Brazil's First Republic, which began in 1889 with the fall of the monarchy and ended in 1930, was a period of major transformation for the country. However, these transformations did not always benefit the majority of the population. The ruling elite, composed mainly of large landowners, industrialists and military leaders, sought to modernise the country along the lines of the industrialised Western nations. This led to significant economic growth, particularly in agriculture, industry and infrastructure. However, this economic growth has not benefited everyone. The majority of the population, particularly workers, small farmers, Afro-Brazilians and indigenous peoples, have not enjoyed the fruits of this prosperity. On the contrary, they have often been exploited to support this growth, with low wages, precarious working conditions and little or no social or political rights. The elite also adopted policies that favoured European immigrants at the expense of the local population, with the aim of 'whitening' the population and promoting 'progress'. In addition, the First Republic was marked by a flagrant lack of democracy and political representation. The government often resorted to electoral fraud, censorship and repression to maintain its power. Opposition parties and social movements were marginalised, and the voice of the majority of the population was largely ignored. These economic and political inequalities have created deep discontent among the population. Many social groups, from urban workers to landless peasants and the educated middle classes, began to organise and demand change. Tensions peaked in the late 1920s, when the global economic crisis hit Brazil, exacerbating existing problems. In 1930, a coalition of discontented political and social forces, led by Getúlio Vargas, overthrew the government of the First Republic. Vargas promised a new era of social and economic reform, and his rise to power marked the end of the First Republic and the beginning of a new phase in Brazil's history.

The First Republic of Brazil was a period of profound transformation, marked by a desire for industrialisation and modernisation. However, this modernisation was uneven, mainly favouring the ruling elite. Positivism, with its motto "Order and Progress", was adopted as the official ideology, justifying the centralisation of power and the implementation of top-down reforms. This philosophy, which valued science, progress and order, was used to legitimise the government's actions and reinforce the authority of the elite. Investment in infrastructure, such as railways and ports, certainly stimulated economic growth. However, these projects have often benefited large landowners and industrialists, who have been able to increase their production and access new markets. Similarly, the encouragement of foreign investment has led to increased dependence on foreign capital, strengthening the power of the economic elite while further marginalising small producers and workers. Immigration policy, aimed at attracting European workers, was also problematic. Although it was presented as a means of promoting development and modernisation, it also had the underlying aim of 'whitening' the Brazilian population. European immigrants were often favoured over Afro-Brazilians and indigenous peoples, who were marginalised and discriminated against. Despite economic growth, the majority of the population did not benefit from the fruits of this prosperity. Inequalities have widened, with an increasingly wealthy elite and an increasingly poor majority. In addition, the centralisation of political power in the hands of a small elite led to a lack of democratic representation. Elections were often manipulated, and political opposition was suppressed.

Brazil's geographical configuration, with its vast inland areas and densely populated coastal zones, played a decisive role in the way the country developed during the First Republic. The coastal regions, with their ports and access to international markets, were naturally favoured for trade and industrialisation. What's more, these regions already had an established infrastructure, urban centres and a relatively dense population, making them more attractive for investment and development projects. The mineral-rich state of Minas Gerais was another centre of economic activity. Historically, this state had been the heart of the Brazilian gold rush in the 18th century, and it remained economically important thanks to its mineral resources and agriculture. By contrast, the interior of the country, with its vast expanses of land and logistical challenges, was largely neglected. Infrastructure there was limited, and the cost of developing these regions was considerably higher. What's more, the interior lacked the workforce needed to support large-scale economic expansion. These regional disparities had political consequences. The coastal regions and the state of Minas Gerais, as economic centres, also had disproportionate political influence. The interior, on the other hand, was often under-represented and marginalised in political decision-making. This concentration of economic and political power reinforced existing inequalities and created tensions between the different regions of the country. Over time, these regional disparities have contributed to a sense of alienation and neglect among the populations of the interior. They also reinforced socio-economic divisions, with a prosperous coastal elite on one side, and a largely rural and marginalised inland population on the other. These tensions ultimately played a role in the political and social events that followed the end of the First Republic.

Brazil's First Republic was a period of major transition for the country, marked by socio-economic upheaval. One of the most significant changes was the shift in the country's economic centre. Historically, the north-east of Brazil, with its vast sugar plantations, was the economic heart of the country. However, during this period, the dynamic changed. The rise of coffee growing in the states of Minas Gerais and São Paulo transformed these regions into new economic centres. Coffee became one of Brazil's main exports, generating huge revenues. These revenues were reinvested to develop other sectors of the economy. The owners of coffee plantations, who became extremely wealthy, began to invest in fledgling industries such as textiles, metallurgy and other manufacturing sectors. São Paulo, in particular, experienced explosive growth. The city quickly became a major industrial centre, attracting labour from within the country and even from abroad. This rapid population growth created an increased demand for goods and services, further stimulating the local economy. The city has become a symbol of modernity and progress, contrasting with the country's traditional agricultural regions. With this economic growth came a social transformation. The traditional elite, made up mainly of landowners in the north-east, began to lose influence to a new urban elite. These new industrial tycoons, entrepreneurs and financiers, often based in São Paulo, became the country's new holders of economic power. This transition was not without its tensions. The traditional elite, accustomed to dominating Brazil's economic and political scene, saw its power decline. By contrast, the new elite, though wealthy and influential, still had to navigate Brazil's complex political landscape to consolidate its power. These dynamics shaped Brazilian politics, economy and society during the First Republic and laid the foundations for the major transformations that would follow in the decades to come.

Brazil's First Republic (1889-1930) was a period of contradictions. Although the country adopted the name and structure of a republic, the political reality was far from democratic. The "coronéis", or large landowners, exerted inordinate influence, particularly in rural areas. These elites, particularly the coffee barons of São Paulo, played a dominant role in national politics, consolidating their power and interests. The political structure of this period, often referred to as the "politics of coffee with milk", reflected the alliance between the coffee growers of São Paulo and the dairy farmers of Minas Gerais. These two states dominated the political scene, often alternating the presidency between them. This domination reinforced the federalist nature of the country, where each state enjoyed a great deal of autonomy, often to the detriment of genuine national unity. The electoral system of the time was also deeply unequal. Restrictions based on literacy, age and wealth deprived the vast majority of Brazilians of their right to vote. This exclusion strengthened the power of the elites, as they could easily manipulate a small electorate to maintain their grip on power. However, as the 20th century progressed, social and political tensions intensified. The rapid growth of urban centres, the emergence of an organised working class and the growing influence of populist and socialist ideas created an environment of discontent. Gross inequality, political exclusion and the abuse of power by elites fuelled frustration and anger among the masses. The world economic crisis of 1929, which severely affected the Brazilian economy, particularly the coffee sector, was the final blow to the First Republic. The combination of economic instability and social tensions created a climate conducive to change. In 1930, Getúlio Vargas, backed by a coalition of disgruntled military and political forces, overthrew the government, ending the First Republic and ushering in a new era in Brazilian history.

The Progress[modifier | modifier le wikicode]

The First Republic of Brazil was a period of major urban transformation, particularly in large cities such as Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. Inspired by the ideals of progress and modernisation, the leaders of the time sought to transform these cities into modern metropolises that could rival the great European capitals. The influence of Paris was particularly evident. At the time, the French capital was considered the pinnacle of urban modernity and sophistication. The prefect of the Seine, Georges-Eugène Haussmann, had radically transformed Paris in the 1850s and 1860s, creating wide boulevards, parks and public squares. These Haussmannian renovations became a model for other cities around the world. In Brazil, figures such as the mayor of Rio, Pereira Passos, sought to reproduce this model. Under his leadership, vast areas of the old city were razed to make way for wide avenues, parks and monumental buildings. These projects were intended to improve traffic flow, public health and the city's image. However, they also had major social consequences. Many inhabitants of poor neighbourhoods were displaced, often without adequate compensation, and were forced to settle in favelas or shanty towns on the outskirts. São Paulo, as a leading centre of industry and commerce, has also undergone major transformations. Larger, more modern buildings have begun to dominate the urban landscape, and the city has sought to improve its infrastructure to support its rapid growth. However, these modernisation projects were not without their critics. While on the one hand they helped to improve infrastructure and modernise the appearance of cities, on the other they often favoured the interests of the elite to the detriment of the working classes. Historic districts and communities were destroyed, and many inhabitants were displaced without having any say in the process.

The abolition of slavery in Brazil in 1888, although a major historical milestone, was not followed by the significant integration of Afro-Brazilians into society. The "Lei Áurea" (Golden Law), signed by Princess Isabel, put an end to almost 300 years of slavery, making Brazil the last country in the Americas to abolish the practice. However, the way in which this abolition was implemented left many challenges unresolved. Former slaves found themselves free, but without resources, education or land. Unlike other countries that set up post-abolition reconstruction or reparation programmes, Brazil offered no compensation or support to former slaves. This left them in a precarious situation, where the only viable option for many was to return to work for their former masters, but this time as working poor, without rights or protection. The marginalisation of Afro-Brazilians was not limited to the economy. Despite their large numbers, they were largely excluded from the country's political power structures. Elites, mainly of European origin, continued to dominate Brazil's politics, economy and culture, perpetuating power structures and racial inequalities that persist to this day. Brazil's First Republic, despite its ambitions for modernisation and progress, largely ignored the needs and rights of Afro-Brazilians. Investment in infrastructure and industry mainly benefited the elite and foreign investors, reinforcing socio-economic inequalities.

Brazil's First Republic, despite its promises of modernisation and progress, largely continued the land-grabbing policies that had been initiated during the colonial period and the monarchy. The Amazon, with its vast tracts of land and natural resources, has become a prime target for exploiters and investors. The rubber rush of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries transformed the Amazon region. Rubber barons established vast plantations, exploiting the growing global demand for this precious resource. However, the rapid growth of the rubber industry came at the expense of the indigenous populations. Many were forced to work in conditions reminiscent of slavery, with gruelling working hours, ill-treatment and little or no pay. Diseases introduced by the colonists also had a devastating impact on the indigenous populations, many of whom had no immunity to these diseases. As well as exploiting the Amazon, the First Republic also encouraged the concentration of land in the hands of a small elite. Large landowners, or "fazendeiros", continued to expand their estates, often at the expense of small farmers and indigenous communities. These policies not only displaced many people, but also reinforced existing socio-economic inequalities.

Although Brazil's First Republic sought to modernise itself by drawing inspiration from European models, it failed to attract large numbers of European immigrants. There were many reasons for this low level of immigration: the country's reputation as a slave-owning nation, the difficult conditions of rural life, and competition with other immigration destinations such as the United States and Argentina. As a result, Brazil's demographic composition has remained dominated by the descendants of African slaves and indigenous populations. The Brazilian elite, composed mainly of landowners, industrialists and the military, continued to consolidate its power and wealth, leaving a large part of the population in poverty. The socio-economic structures inherited from the colonial period and the monarchy, where a small elite controlled most of the land and resources, persisted. Attempts at economic modernisation have mainly benefited this elite, while the majority of the population has seen little improvement in their quality of life. Political repression and the economic marginalisation of the majority of the population have created a climate of discontent. Strikes, demonstrations and revolts have become commonplace, and the government has often responded with force. Growing frustration with inequality, corruption and government authoritarianism finally culminated in the overthrow of the First Republic in 1930, ushering in a new era in Brazilian politics.

Brazil's First Republic attempted to modernise the country by encouraging European immigration, hoping that this would stimulate the economy and provide skilled labour for the fledgling industries. However, the reality was very different. Many of these immigrants, lured by the promise of a better life, found themselves confronted with a brutal reality. Instead of finding opportunities in the growing cities, they often found themselves on coffee plantations, working in difficult conditions and for derisory wages. Brazil's socio-economic structure was deeply rooted in centuries of inequality, with a powerful elite controlling most of the land and resources. Despite the arrival of new immigrants, the hierarchy based on race and class remained largely intact. Afro-Brazilians and indigenous peoples, despite their numbers, were still marginalised and denied economic and political rights. Brazil's elite benefited from economic modernisation, consolidating their wealth and power. However, for the majority of the population, the promises of progress and prosperity remained out of reach. Inequalities grew, with the elite prospering while the majority struggled to survive. This situation created fertile ground for social discontent, laying the foundations for the political unrest that was to follow.

The Order[modifier | modifier le wikicode]

Brazil's First Republic was a period of profound transformation, marked by a desire for industrialisation and modernisation. However, these transformations were implemented in a way that reinforced existing inequalities and created new forms of marginalisation. The planters and economic elites of the southern states, particularly São Paulo, saw an opportunity in European immigration. By encouraging migration, they hoped not only to meet the demand for labour following the abolition of slavery in 1888, but also to "whiten" the Brazilian population, in line with the racist ideologies of the time, which associated progress and civilisation with the white race. Public funds were used to facilitate the arrival of these European migrants, who were often attracted by the promise of land and opportunities. However, once in Brazil, many found themselves working in precarious conditions, albeit preferable to those of Afro-Brazilians. Afro-Brazilians, who had just emerged from centuries of slavery, were systematically marginalised. European migrants, although often poor and uneducated, were preferred for jobs in the new industries and crafts. Afro-Brazilians, on the other hand, were relegated to the least desirable and lowest-paid jobs. This economic marginalisation was accompanied by social marginalisation. Afro-Brazilians had limited access to education, healthcare and other essential services. They were also victims of discrimination and racism in everyday life. The strategy of encouraging European immigration, while marginalising Afro-Brazilians, had lasting consequences. It reinforced racial and economic inequalities, creating a deeply divided society. Even after the end of the First Republic, these inequalities persisted, and Brazil continues to struggle with the legacy of this period.

The post-abolitionist period in Brazil is a striking example of how institutionalised racism can shape the socio-economic structures of a nation. Although slavery was officially abolished in 1888, the legacy of this institution has persisted, profoundly influencing the country's socio-economic dynamics. Despite their official liberation, Afro-Brazilians faced systemic discrimination that hindered their access to education, land ownership and economic opportunities. This discrimination was not based on their ability or qualifications, but rather on the colour of their skin. Indeed, many Afro-Brazilians possessed skills and knowledge acquired over generations of work in various sectors, from agriculture to handicrafts. However, with the arrival of European immigrants, encouraged by the Brazilian elite with the aim of 'whitening' the population, Afro-Brazilians became increasingly marginalised. Despite the fact that many European immigrants did not have the skills or education that some Afro-Brazilians possessed, they were preferred for jobs simply because of their ethnic origin. This preference was not based on meritocracy, but rather on a racist ideology that valued whiteness and devalued blackness. This marginalisation of Afro-Brazilians has had lasting consequences. It reinforced socio-economic inequalities, creating a society where race largely determined access to opportunities. This history is a powerful reminder of how racism and discrimination can perpetuate inequality, even in the absence of formal laws upholding these prejudices.

The legacy of slavery in Brazil has left deep scars that continue to affect Brazilian society in many ways. Although slavery was abolished in 1888, the socio-economic structures that were put in place during this period have persisted, marginalising Afro-Brazilians and preventing them from accessing the same opportunities as their white compatriots. The First Republic of Brazil, despite its proclamations of modernisation and progress, largely ignored the needs and rights of Afro-Brazilians. The policies of the time, from the encouragement of European immigration to the economic marginalisation of Afro-Brazilians, reinforced racial inequalities. Afro-Brazilian men, despite their skills and experience, were often confined to low-paid manual jobs or to agricultural work in precarious conditions. Women, for their part, were often confined to domestic work, a sector which, although essential, was undervalued and poorly paid. This economic marginalisation had lasting consequences. Without access to decent jobs and fair wages, many Afro-Brazilian families were trapped in cycles of poverty. In addition, the exclusion of Afro-Brazilians from political and educational spheres has limited their opportunities for social mobility and betterment. Today, although Brazil has made significant progress in terms of civil rights and equality, the repercussions of this period of discrimination and exclusion are still being felt. Afro-Brazilians are still disproportionately represented among the poor and have limited access to quality education and economic opportunities. The struggle for racial equality in Brazil is far from over, and the First Republic offers valuable insights into the origins of these persistent inequalities.

The family structure is a fundamental element of society, and any change or disruption in this structure can have profound repercussions on the social and cultural dynamics of a community. For Afro-Brazilians during the First Republic, economic discrimination and exclusion from the labour market not only hampered their ability to provide for their families, but also challenged traditional roles within the family. In many cultures, the father is traditionally seen as the main breadwinner, the one who provides the resources needed to support the family. However, due to the economic challenges faced by Afro-Brazilians, many mothers have had to take on this role, often working in low-paid jobs such as domestic service. This reversal of roles may have created tensions within the family, as it went against established cultural and social norms. Fathers, unable to fulfil their traditional role as providers, could feel emasculated or devalued. This situation could also lead to feelings of shame, frustration or resentment, which in turn could affect family dynamics and the relationship between parents and their children. In addition, this erosion of the traditional patriarchal structure may have had wider consequences for the Afro-Brazilian community. As traditional roles and expectations were disrupted, this could lead to a questioning of cultural norms and values, creating uncertainty about one's identity and role within society.

Brazil, with its rich history of miscegenation and reputation as a racial melting pot, is often perceived as a nation without racial prejudice. However, this perception is at odds with the reality experienced by many Afro-Brazilians. Racial positivism, which was influential during the period of the First Republic and beyond, shaped attitudes and policies on race, promoting the idea that the 'whitening' of the population, through European migration and assimilation, would benefit the country. Although Brazil has not adopted segregation laws comparable to those in the United States, racism is deeply rooted in the country's social, economic and political structures. Afro-Brazilians are often relegated to deprived neighbourhoods, known as favelas, where access to basic services is limited. In addition, they are often discriminated against in the labour market, where well-paid jobs are predominantly held by white Brazilians. Education is another area where racial inequalities are evident. Schools in disadvantaged neighbourhoods, where many Afro-Brazilians live, are often underfunded and offer a poorer quality of education. This limits opportunities for higher education and, consequently, employment prospects for many Afro-Brazilians. Police violence is also a major problem, with Afro-Brazilians being disproportionately targeted and subjected to brutality and murder. This violence is often justified by racial stereotypes that associate Afro-Brazilians with criminality. Despite these challenges, many Afro-Brazilians have managed to overcome these obstacles and make significant contributions to Brazilian society in various fields, such as music, the arts, sport and politics. However, the fight for racial equality and social justice in Brazil is far from over.

The concept of 'racial democracy' in Brazil, popularised by sociologists such as Gilberto Freyre, suggests that the coexistence and interbreeding of different races has created a society free of racial prejudice. However, this idea is largely contradicted by the reality experienced by many Afro-Brazilians. Although Brazil has not had formal segregation laws like other countries, structural and institutional racism is deeply rooted in society. The Brazilian elite, which is predominantly white, often uses the upward mobility of some Afro-Brazilians as proof of the absence of racism. However, these exceptions are often used to mask the systemic inequalities that persist. Afro-Brazilians are under-represented in the spheres of power, higher education and prestigious professions. They are also over-represented in statistics on poverty, unemployment and violence. The marginalisation of Afro-Brazilians is also visible in the media. Brazilian telenovelas, for example, which are extremely popular, often feature white actors in the lead roles, while Afro-Brazilians are relegated to secondary or stereotypical roles. Acknowledging this reality is essential if we are to tackle and combat racism in Brazil. Ignoring or denying the existence of racism only perpetuates inequalities and prevents the country from achieving its full potential as a truly inclusive and egalitarian nation.

The notion of 'racial democracy' in Brazil is complex and has deep historical roots. Gilberto Freyre, a Brazilian sociologist, popularised the idea in the 1930s with his book "Maison-Grande & Senzala". He argued that Brazil, unlike other countries, had created a unique harmony between the races through miscegenation. This idea was widely accepted and shaped Brazil's national identity for many years. However, this notion served to mask the deep-rooted racial inequalities in Brazilian society. By presenting Brazil as a racial democracy, the elite has been able to deny the existence of institutional and structural racism. This has made it possible to justify the absence of specific policies aimed at rectifying racial inequalities, because, according to this logic, if racism does not exist, there is no need for such policies. The reality is that Afro-Brazilians have been, and still are, systematically disadvantaged in almost every aspect of society, from education and employment to housing and access to healthcare. Rates of violence and incarceration are also significantly higher for Afro-Brazilians than for their white counterparts. The idea that Afro-Brazilians are responsible for their own socio-economic condition is a manifestation of racism. It ignores the power structures and policies that have historically favoured white Brazilians to the detriment of Afro-Brazilians. This mentality perpetuates the status quo and prevents the country from tackling the real causes of racial inequality.

The notion of 'racial democracy' in Brazil, while seemingly positive on the surface, has in reality served to mask and perpetuate the deep racial inequalities that exist in the country. By denying the existence of racism, the elite and the state have been able to avoid taking concrete steps to address and rectify these inequalities. The myth of racial democracy has created a false perception that Brazil is free from racial prejudice, which has made it difficult for Afro-Brazilians to denounce and fight against the discrimination they face. It has also reinforced the idea that their socio-economic situation is the result of their own inability or fault, rather than the product of a discriminatory system. Racial stereotypes, reinforced by this narrative, have concrete consequences on the lives of Afro-Brazilians. They are often perceived as inferior, less intelligent or less capable, which limits their employment and educational opportunities. In addition, they often face institutional discrimination, such as higher incarceration rates and limited access to quality healthcare. The marginalisation of Afro-Brazilians is not just an economic problem, but also a profound social one. It affects their self-esteem, their identity and their sense of belonging to Brazilian society. To break this vicious circle, it is essential to recognise and dismantle the myth of racial democracy and implement policies that directly address racial inequalities.

Brazil's transition from monarchy to republic and from slavery to a system of free labour was a period of profound and rapid change. However, despite these changes, power structures and socio-racial inequalities persisted. The notion of "racial democracy" was promoted as a way of projecting a positive image of Brazil on the international stage, as a harmonious and integrated nation where all races coexisted peacefully. This idea was attractive to the Brazilian elite, as it allowed Brazil to be presented as a modern and progressive country, while avoiding the deep-rooted problems of discrimination and inequality. It was also used to justify the absence of specific policies to address racial inequalities, because if racism did not exist, there was no need for such policies. The myth of racial democracy also served to consolidate the power of the elite. By denying the existence of racism, they were able to maintain the status quo and avoid Afro-Brazilians' demands for greater equality and representation. It also allowed the elite to control the national narrative and define Brazilian identity in a way that favoured them. However, the reality was very different. Afro-Brazilians were still marginalised, discriminated against and excluded from power structures. They were often relegated to low-paid jobs, had limited access to education and healthcare, and were often victims of violence and prejudice. The myth of racial democracy obscured this reality and made it more difficult for Afro-Brazilians to claim their rights and fight discrimination.

Promoting the idea of racial democracy was a clever strategy to divert attention from the glaring inequalities that persisted in Brazilian society. By projecting an image of racial harmony, the elite could justify their power and wealth while avoiding addressing the structural problems of racism and discrimination. It was a way of legitimising the status quo and resisting calls for deeper social reform. Order and progress, the words inscribed on the Brazilian flag, were the watchwords of this period. Order referred to political stability and the suppression of dissent, while progress meant economic development and modernisation. However, for the elite, progress mainly meant their own enrichment and consolidation of power, while order was maintained by the repression of all opposition. Despite their formal liberation from slavery, Afro-Brazilians found themselves in a subordinate position, often forced to work in conditions that closely resembled those of slavery. They were often paid poverty wages, lived in precarious conditions and were deprived of fundamental rights. Their marginalisation was justified by racial stereotypes that portrayed them as naturally inferior and therefore destined to occupy subordinate positions in society. Education, which could have been a means of upward social mobility for Afro-Brazilians, was often out of reach, as schools were few in number, poorly equipped and often discriminatory. Similarly, access to healthcare was limited, resulting in higher mortality rates and shorter life expectancy for Afro-Brazilians compared to their white counterparts. By using the narrative of racial democracy, the elite was able to divert attention from structural inequalities and present Brazil as a nation where everyone had an equal chance to succeed. It was a carefully constructed illusion that hid the reality of a society deeply divided by race and class.

Brazil, the last country in the Americas to abolish slavery in 1888, faced a major challenge: how to integrate millions of former slaves into a society that had historically regarded them as inferior? The answer was found in the promotion of the idea of "racial democracy". According to this notion, Brazil was a nation where all races lived in harmony, without prejudice or discrimination. It was a seductive vision, especially for a nation eager to modernise and present itself as progressive on the international stage. In reality, however, it served to mask the deep and systemic inequalities that persisted. Afro-Brazilians were free in theory, but in practice they faced enormous economic, social and political obstacles. The elite, mainly of European descent, used the myth of racial democracy to avoid addressing the structural problems of racism and discrimination. By promoting this idea, they could maintain their privileged position while avoiding criticism. The transition from monarchy to republic offered an opportunity to redefine national identity. The state and the elite seized this opportunity to promote a vision of Brazil as a united nation, where race was not a divisive factor. However, this vision was at odds with the daily reality of many Afro-Brazilians, who were often relegated to the lowest-paid jobs, lived in favelas or shantytowns and regularly faced discrimination and violence.

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