The Mexican Revolution: 1910 - 1940

De Baripedia

Based on a lecture by Aline Helg[1][2][3][4][5][6][7]

The Mexican Revolution, which took place between 1910 and 1940, was one of the most decisive episodes in the history of Mexico and, more broadly, of the Americas as a whole. Under the shadow of the long reign of Porfirio Díaz, a period known as the Porfiriato, Mexico experienced significant economic growth, but this development was accompanied by profound social and economic inequalities. Indigenous communities, rural farmers and other marginalised groups found themselves in a precarious situation, overshadowed by Díaz's modernising ambitions.

It was against this tumultuous backdrop that the rebellion against the Díaz dictatorship, led by Francisco Madero, broke out. Throughout these three decades of upheaval, emblematic figures such as Emiliano Zapata, Pancho Villa and Venustiano Carranza emerged, each embodying different interests and visions for the country. These leaders, particularly Zapata and Villa, often spoke for the underprivileged, demanding a fair distribution of land and resources.

The Mexican Revolution was not simply a struggle for power or economic transformation. It symbolised a profound quest for national identity and inclusion. During this period, the rights of indigenous peoples, Afro-Mexicans and the descendants of slaves, as well as those of women and workers, were brought to the fore, reinforcing the importance of a diverse and united nation.

Ultimately, despite the appalling human cost, estimated at 1.5 million lives, the Revolution paved the way for the formation of a constitutional republic in Mexico, redefining the country's social, economic and political structure for future generations.

The dictatorship of Porfirio Díaz : 1876 - 1910[modifier | modifier le wikicode]

The reign of Porfirio Díaz, often referred to as the "Porfiriato", was an ambivalent period in Mexico's history. Although he brought significant modernisation to the country, his regime also created glaring socio-economic disparities that fuelled the tensions leading up to the Mexican Revolution. Díaz, visionary to some and dictator to others, was driven by the idea of a modern, industrialised Mexico connected to the rest of the world. To achieve this, he encouraged foreign investment and undertook infrastructure projects such as railways, ports and telegraphs. These initiatives stimulated the Mexican economy, integrating the country more fully into world trade and attracting investors, particularly from the United States and Europe. However, this progress came at a social cost. Modernisation has often favoured urban elites and foreign investors at the expense of rural and indigenous populations. Under Díaz, vast tracts of communal land, known as ejidos, were sold or confiscated to be made available to large plantations or foreign companies. This has displaced many rural communities, depriving them of their traditional livelihoods and exacerbating poverty and inequality. The Porfiriato was also marked by severe political repression. Díaz, while advocating peace and order (a famous slogan of his regime was "Order and Progress"), often used force to repress or eliminate opposition. Elections under his rule were widely regarded as rigged, and dissenting voices were frequently silenced by censorship, imprisonment or violence. These deep economic inequalities and lack of political freedoms created fertile ground for discontent and revolt. The vast majority of Mexicans, particularly the rural and indigenous classes, found themselves marginalised and oppressed, fuelling the revolutionary aspirations that would finally erupt in 1910.

The Porfiriato is a chapter of contrasts in Mexican history. On the one hand, it oversaw a period of rapid modernisation and economic expansion, but on the other, it relied on a series of repressive policies to consolidate its power. These actions, while stabilising his regime in the short term, sowed the seeds of discontent that would eventually lead to the Mexican Revolution. Press censorship was a fundamental part of Díaz's strategy to control public discourse. Media that dared to criticise the government or question its policies were often muzzled. Journalists who refused to abide by this guideline risked imprisonment, and in some more extreme cases, exile. At the same time, Díaz dealt harshly with fledgling labour movements. As Mexico industrialised and the working classes became more aware of their rights, strikes and demonstrations became commonplace. However, these movements were often forcefully suppressed, and their leaders were regularly imprisoned or even murdered for daring to challenge Díaz's authority. Indigenous communities, often the most vulnerable and exploited, were also subject to Díaz's repression. When they tried to defend their traditional lands or their rights, they faced brutal resistance from the government. But perhaps the most feared tool in Díaz's arsenal was his police force, the "rurales". Originally created to maintain order in rural Mexico, they quickly became Díaz's favourite instrument of terror. Known for their brutality, their mission was to eliminate all opposition to Díaz, thereby creating a climate of fear. However, Díaz's strategy of repression had unforeseen consequences. Although it consolidated his power for many years, it also fuelled discontent and dissatisfaction among the Mexican people, who would eventually rise up against him and seek to regain control of their destiny during the Mexican Revolution.

The year 1910 was a critical period for Mexico, a turning point when the accumulated frustration with Díaz's autocratic regime finally erupted into a national protest movement. Francisco Madero's candidacy in the presidential elections of that year represented a bold challenge to Díaz's long rule. Madero, with his pedigree as a wealthy landowner and his aspirations as a political reformer, was an ideal figure to channel the growing discontent with the Díaz regime. When Díaz declared victory in the elections despite clear allegations of fraud, the outrage intensified. The situation was exacerbated by Madero's arrest, seen by many as a blatant attempt to muzzle the opposition. The arrest not only outraged Madero's supporters, but became a symbol of the injustice and corruption of the Díaz regime. In response, uprisings broke out across the country. What began as localised protests quickly developed into a full-fledged revolution, with different factions and revolutionary leaders emerging in different parts of Mexico, each with their own vision for the country's future. The ensuing conflict was tumultuous and complex, involving a series of battles, betrayals and reconfigurations of power. In the end, however, the movement overthrew the Díaz regime and paved the way for the creation of a new constitution in 1917. This constitution sought to respond to many of the revolutionaries' demands, including land reform, the protection of workers' rights and the introduction of civil guarantees. So the Mexican Revolution, triggered by a controversial election in 1910, was not just a rebellion against a dictator. It was a struggle to redefine Mexico, to build a more just, inclusive and democratic nation. And although the path was winding and often bloody, it led to profound and lasting transformations in Mexican society.

The Porfiriato, the period of Porfirio Díaz's rule, although marked by impressive modernisation and economic development, sowed the seeds of its own overthrow. A number of key factors combined to catalyse the uprising that culminated in the Mexican Revolution. First and foremost was the rampant increase in poverty among the masses. Although Mexico experienced economic growth under Díaz, it was not shared equitably. Wealth was concentrated in the hands of a privileged minority, while the majority of citizens languished in poverty. With vast tracts of farmland monopolised by a few large landowners, many small farmers were dispossessed, exacerbating their misery. The imbalance between exporting agricultural produce and supplying local needs created a situation where, despite Mexico's agricultural wealth, its own population suffered from food shortages. This export-led policy put food out of reach for many ordinary Mexicans, leaving them starving in the midst of plenty. Meanwhile, in the city, working conditions worsened. Industrialisation brought with it a plethora of problems for workers: endless working days, derisory wages and dangerous working conditions. Although Díaz repressed the unions, discontent among urban workers continued to grow, fuelling the trade union movement despite the threat of persecution. Foreign control over key economic sectors was another thorn in the side of the Mexican people. Major industries such as oil and mining were dominated by foreign interests, stirring up anti-imperialist sentiments and fuelling the rise of nationalism. Inflation became another malaise. As the economy grew, inflation ate away at the savings of ordinary people, making daily life even more difficult. Finally, the rise of nationalism played a crucial role. The emerging middle classes, educated and politically aware, were increasingly exasperated by foreign control and gross economic inequality. This combination of economic, social and political factors eventually led to a perfect storm, resulting in the overthrow of Díaz and the outbreak of the Mexican Revolution.

Causes of the revolution[modifier | modifier le wikicode]

The Mexican Revolution, which began in 1910 and continued for almost thirty years, is a complex and multidimensional subject of study that has been interpreted and reconsidered from many angles over the years. The divergent perspectives on this revolutionary movement reflect not only the complexity of the events themselves, but also the different ideological and methodological orientations of the researchers who study the period. Marxist writers, for example, often assess revolutions in terms of how they align with Marxist theories of class struggle and social transformation. From the classical Marxist point of view, a 'genuine' revolution should lead to the establishment of socialism, i.e. the seizure of power by the working class and the end of private capitalist property. On this basis, some Marxist critics argue that the Mexican revolution was not a genuine revolution because, although it brought about significant political changes, it did not result in a complete socialist transformation of society. Indeed, the Mexican revolution brought about the end of the Porfiriato and introduced significant agrarian reforms, as well as the nationalisation of certain key industries such as oil. However, these changes did not abolish private property or establish a socialist system. Moreover, while some of the popular demands, such as those of the Zapatista movement for radical land reform, were socialist in nature, they were not fully realised. Nevertheless, to reduce the Mexican revolution to a simple struggle for political power is a simplification. Although the economic and social changes may not have been as radical as some would have wished, the revolution did bring about a significant transformation of Mexican society. It altered the relationship between state and society, established a new constitution in 1917 that is still in force today, and led to changes in agrarian structures and workers' rights, among other reforms.

The Mexican Revolution is undoubtedly a complex and nuanced episode in history, and its interpretation has been the subject of intense debate among historians and scholars. The Marxist perspective, focusing on class structures and economic change, offers a particular reading of this major event. It is true that the outcome of the revolution did not radically overturn Mexico's capitalist economic structure. After the chaos and power struggles of the revolution, the nation finally emerged as a constitutional republic with the adoption of the Constitution of 1917. Although this document introduced progressive social and political reforms, such as land reform and workers' rights, Mexico remained fundamentally a capitalist economy. Indeed, despite attempts to redistribute land, over time vast tracts of land reverted to or remained in the hands of influential landowners and corporations. Marxist critics also point to the fact that many of the central figures of the revolution, such as Venustiano Carranza and Alvaro Obregón, came from the middle and upper classes of society. These leaders, although opposed to the dictatorship of Porfirio Díaz, did not necessarily have the interests of the poorer classes in mind. Rather, they were seeking to establish a stable political system that would also serve their own interests. It is also worth noting that although figures such as Emiliano Zapata and Pancho Villa had a much more radical agenda, focusing on peasant rights and land redistribution, their visions did not triumph in any lasting way in the post-revolutionary landscape. Zapata, in particular, was deeply concerned about the rights of rural communities and wanted radical land reform, but his vision was not fully realised despite his profound influence. However, although the revolution did not result in a complete overthrow of capitalism or a radical transformation of the social structure, it did bring about significant changes in Mexico's political and social landscape. It ended decades of dictatorship, introduced important legal reforms and incubated intense debates about social justice, nationhood and democracy. In this, even the most critical perspectives recognise its historical importance and lasting impact on Mexico.

The Mexican Revolution brought about a series of profound changes that reshaped Mexican society. One of the most emblematic elements of this period was land reform. The 1917 Constitution facilitated the redistribution of land, putting an end to the stranglehold of the large landowners who had dominated the country for centuries. This redistribution was a response to Emiliano Zapata's passionate call for "Tierra y Libertad" (Land and Freedom). Although the implementation of the reform was uneven, it nevertheless symbolised a break with the previous land tenure system. The nationalisation of resources was another major turning point in this period. Article 27 of the 1917 Constitution stipulated that all subterranean land and resources belonged to the nation. This paved the way for the nationalisation of the oil industry in 1938 by President Lázaro Cárdenas, thereby strengthening Mexico's economic sovereignty. The issue of indigenous rights also came to the fore during the revolution. This event called into question the hacienda system, which blatantly exploited indigenous communities. In addition, the new constitution recognised some of the communal traditions of these communities, further integrating their rights and culture into the national structure. Politically, the end of the Porfirio Díaz dictatorship paved the way for a more democratic regime. Although the following years were marked by periods of repression, the revolution established a more participatory democracy, laying the foundations for a new political dynamic. Finally, the social evolution that Mexico underwent during and after the revolution was remarkable. A new Mexican national identity emerged, seeking to fuse indigenous and Hispanic traditions. This led to a cultural renaissance, particularly in the arts and music. Although some critics may point out that the revolution did not completely transform all power structures, it did introduce significant changes that continue to influence the country.

The Mexican revolution stands out in the historical landscape for its scale, its impact and the depth of its transformations. It was not simply a change to the existing system, but a radical transformation of Mexico's political, economic and social structures. The broad popular participation in the revolution is a key element that underlines its revolutionary character. With roots stretching from the north to the centre of the country, millions of Mexicans rose up to demand change. These uprisings were not just the result of discontent, but also reflected the divergent aspirations of different regions of the country. For example, while the inhabitants of the North sought to free themselves from the shackles of central power, those in the Centre were driven by a thirst for land justice, hoping to recover the land that had been usurped from them under the Díaz regime. But the struggle was not limited to mere demands; it became a veritable war for control of the nation. The fierce battles and confrontations not only toppled Díaz's regime but also shattered the very foundations on which his power was based. These conflicts paved the way for the emergence of new leaders who, while seeking to consolidate their power, also attempted to establish a new vision for the country. The end of the Porfiriato marked the beginning of a new era. The new ruling elites introduced a fundamentally different ideology, centred on nationalism. This new vision emphasised sovereignty, economic independence and the promotion of Mexican identity. It sought to redefine Mexico not only politically but also economically, seeking to create a capitalism rooted in the nation.

The Mexican Revolution was a major turning point in the country's history, both in terms of its scope and its implications. The unprecedented scale of popular participation in this revolution demonstrates the social and political effervescence that prevailed at the time. Men and women from all walks of life, whether peasants, workers or intellectuals, rallied to the cause, expressing their frustrations, their hopes and their aspirations for a better Mexico. This period was also marked by a multitude of visions for the country's future. While some dreamt of social justice and land redistribution, others envisaged a liberal democracy and an industrialised country. These different perspectives often led to tension and conflict, but they also enriched the revolutionary discourse, offering a plurality of paths for the future of the nation. The struggle for power was not merely symbolic, but deeply rooted in the reality on the ground. The fall of Díaz was only the beginning of a series of battles, both military and political, to determine who would rule Mexico and how. These confrontations led to the dissolution of previous power structures and opened the door to new forms of governance. Replacing Díaz's system of control was essential to the country's transformation. Under the new administration, old power mechanisms were dismantled and replaced by more representative and democratic institutions. This institutional overhaul has also been accompanied by the emergence of a new elite which, while seeking to consolidate its power, is also committed to implementing the necessary reforms. Finally, the dominant ideology of the nation has undergone a radical change. The emphasis on nationalism, social justice and economic independence has shaped the way Mexico sees itself and its role in the world. This new vision provided a solid foundation for the consolidation and growth of the country over the course of the twentieth century. In this way, the Mexican Revolution was not simply a change of regime, but a profound transformation of Mexican society, redefining its identity, values and trajectory for future generations.

The Mexican Revolution, which began in 1910, stands out as one of the first great revolutions of the 20th century. Its implications and repercussions reached far beyond Mexico's borders, influencing the course of revolutionary movements around the world. When it broke out, the Mexican revolution was not simply a reaction against the long dictatorship of Porfirio Díaz, but also a response to deep socio-economic inequalities, the exploitation of the working and peasant classes, and national aspirations for renewed autonomy and sovereignty. It paid particular attention to land rights, agrarian reform, education and the reduction of foreign influence, particularly American, on the Mexican economy. The international context also played a role. At the time, the world was entering a phase of political and social unrest. Rapid industrialisation, capitalism and growing economic inequality, as well as the crumbling of empires and the movement for decolonisation, created fertile ground for revolutions. Compared with other revolutionary movements, the Mexican revolution was distinguished by its focus on agrarian and land issues, in contrast to the more industrial and proletarian approaches of the Russian and Chinese revolutions. Moreover, although it included radical elements and socialist figures, the Mexican revolution did not seek to establish a communist system as in Russia or China. The Cuban revolution, which came almost half a century later, was influenced by the Cold War and decolonisation, and drew heavily on Marxist-Leninist ideologies.

The Mexican revolution is singular in that it took place in the context of the Americas, a region which at the time was largely under the influence of US expansionist policies. This influence, along with the Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine and the Big Stick policy, meant that any significant political movement in the region would inevitably face intervention or influence from the United States. Through its revolution, Mexico sought to redefine its national identity, moving away from its colonial legacy and foreign interests, while seeking to establish a more democratic and inclusive form of government. The emblematic figures of the revolution, such as Emiliano Zapata and Pancho Villa, were champions of the rights of the peasant and indigenous classes, and their causes are echoed in the revolutionary and social movements of other Latin American countries. The main demands of the revolution - land reform, recognition of indigenous rights and a fairer distribution of resources - reflected the deep inequalities and social tensions that existed not only in Mexico, but also in other countries in the region. These issues were the driving force behind many other social and revolutionary movements in Latin America throughout the 20th century. Moreover, the Mexican revolution demonstrated that change could be initiated and led by non-state actors, and that popular movements could indeed challenge and reshape the established order. This had an undeniable impact on the way other resistance and revolutionary movements in Latin America approached their own struggles.

The Mexican revolution set a strong precedent for the rest of Latin America, demonstrating that a popular movement could destabilise an established authoritarian regime and build a new order based on social justice and democracy. One of the major contributions of the Mexican revolution was its emphasis on land reform. Zapata's cry of "¡Tierra y libertad!" (Land and freedom) resonated far beyond Mexico's borders. In countries such as Bolivia, Peru and Chile, the idea of redistributing land to benefit those who worked it was put forward, leading to agrarian reforms in the middle of the 20th century. At the same time, the revolution also underlined the importance of the rights of indigenous peoples. Since the colonial period, these groups had been largely marginalised. The Mexican uprising inspired indigenous movements in Bolivia, Ecuador and Guatemala, which have since fought for recognition and rights. President Lázaro Cárdenas' bold decision to nationalise Mexican oil in the 1930s demonstrated strong economic sovereignty. This gave rise to a sense of economic nationalism, prompting other Latin American nations to consider nationalising their resources, particularly during the wave of nationalisations in the 1960s and 1970s. The grassroots movements that were the driving force behind the Mexican revolution illustrated that power could not only be challenged by elites, but also by ordinary citizens. Whether they were trade unions, peasant communities or indigenous movements, power resided in the solidarity of the people. Finally, although the Mexican revolution experienced periods of authoritarianism, it promoted a form of democracy that was more inclusive and representative than that of the Diaz era. Latin American leaders and activists who have studied the Mexican revolution have drawn on its lessons to shape popular movements in their own nations, showing how challenging existing power structures can influence history.

The Mexican Revolution[modifier | modifier le wikicode]

The Mexican Revolution, which profoundly shaped Mexico's political, economic and social landscape in the 20th century, can be seen in three distinct phases, each with its own particularities and challenges.

From 1910 to 1920, Mexico was plunged into an intense civil war, marked by the overthrow of the long dictatorship of Porfirio Díaz. This chaos gave rise to various revolutionary leaders and movements, such as Emiliano Zapata and Francisco Villa, fighting for the ideal of social justice and control of the country. This tumult eventually culminated in the promulgation of the Constitution of 1917, a progressive document that sought to rectify the deeply rooted inequalities in Mexican society, guaranteeing basic rights such as land redistribution, workers' rights and public education.

The second phase, from 1920 to 1934, known as the "Sonora years", saw the emergence of dominant figures such as Alvaro Obregon and Plutarco Elías Calles. Despite the relative return to stability, these years were also marked by the increasing centralisation of power and the repression of dissent. The government promoted robust economic development while consolidating its control over the nation, laying the foundations for what would later become the dominant Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI).

The period from 1934 to 1940, under the presidency of Lazaro Cardenas, was perhaps the most transformative of all. Cardenas, with a profoundly social and national vision, launched bold reforms that defined modern Mexico. His decision to nationalise the oil industry in 1938 was particularly emblematic, reflecting a desire to put the country's resources at the service of the people. In addition, his agrarian reform policy redistributed huge tracts of land, seeking to correct the inequalities inherited from the Porfirian era. These initiatives, while continuing to face challenges and criticism, solidified the legacy of the Mexican Revolution as a decisive turning point in the country's history.

1910 - 1920: A decade of struggle[modifier | modifier le wikicode]

The main protagonists[modifier | modifier le wikicode]

During the first phase of the Mexican Revolution (1910-1920), Mexico underwent intense political and social upheaval. It was a chaotic and bloody period, with constant battles and overthrows of power. Francisco Madero, often considered the pioneer of the revolution, succeeded in putting an end to the long authoritarian regime of Porfirio Díaz in 1911. However, his democratic aspirations were short-lived. In 1913, after barely two years in power, Madero was betrayed and overthrown in the infamous "Decena Trágica" (Ten Tragic Days). He was assassinated shortly afterwards, marking the start of an even more unstable period. One of the most emblematic figures of this period was Emiliano Zapata, who came from the state of Morelos and firmly defended the cause of the peasants. His Ayala Plan, calling for radical agrarian reform, became a symbol of the struggle for land rights for rural communities. Despite his leadership and popularity, Zapata did not escape the violence of the time. In 1919, he was treacherously assassinated on the orders of Jesús Guajardo, an act that deeply demoralised his supporters and marked a turning point in the revolution. This decade saw the rise and fall of many other leaders, including Pascual Orozco, Venustiano Carranza and Francisco "Pancho" Villa. Their tragic fates testify to the unpredictable and brutal nature of the revolution, where alliances changed frequently and loyalty could turn to betrayal overnight. But despite the individual tragedies, this period laid the foundations for lasting and significant changes for Mexico.

The 1910 to 1920 phase of the Mexican Revolution is often compared to a merry-go-round of conflicts between different factions seeking to shape the future of Mexico according to their vision. Francisco "Pancho" Villa, a native of northern Mexico, led the Northern Division. Charismatic and with a strong personality, he was admired by many for his prowess on the battlefield and his willingness to fight for the rights of the underprivileged. Villa has often been portrayed, both historically and in popular culture, as a kind-hearted bandit or a Mexican Robin Hood, stealing from the rich to give to the poor. Emiliano Zapata, on the other hand, came from southern Mexico and was a champion of the rights of peasants and indigenous communities. His Ayala Plan, which called for radical land reform, reflected his commitment to returning land to those who worked it. Zapata is often quoted for his famous statement, "La tierra es para quien la trabaja" (The land belongs to those who work it). Álvaro Obregón, although initially less well known than Villa or Zapata, proved to be one of the most skilful military and political strategists of the period. He eventually succeeded in consolidating power in his favour, emerging as the main leader after the defeat of the other major factions. Despite their ideological and geographical differences, these leaders had a common goal: to overthrow the oligarchic system that had reigned for decades under Porfirio Díaz. However, their vision of the future Mexico was often in conflict, leading to numerous confrontations between them. The country was deeply marked by this tumultuous period. Battles were fierce, and civilians were often caught in the crossfire. Cities were destroyed, and many Mexicans were displaced or fled to the United States to escape the violence. Despite the turbulence and the high cost in human lives, this decade was fundamental in shaping modern Mexico, laying the foundations for lasting social and political change.

The Constitution of 1917 is arguably one of the most enduring legacies of the Mexican Revolution. Despite the omnipresent armed conflicts and ideological differences between the various factions, there was an emerging consensus on the need for a legal framework that would guarantee the fundamental rights of citizens and address the main grievances that had fuelled the revolution. Against the backdrop of these tumultuous times, the drafting of the Constitution was a demonstration of vision and determination. It was not just a response to the dictatorship of Porfirio Díaz; it represented a complete overhaul of the nation's guiding principles. Article 3, for example, guaranteed secular, free and compulsory education for all Mexicans. This was intended not only to improve education in the country, but also to limit the influence of the Catholic Church in educational matters. Article 27, one of the most radical and controversial, dealt with land redistribution. It stipulated that all land and water were originally the property of the nation, allowing for agrarian reform in favour of peasants who had lost their land during the years of Díaz's rule. Article 123 dealt with workers' rights, guaranteeing the right to strike, establishing an eight-hour working day and protecting the rights of women and children at work. This provision was intended to counter the flagrant abuses suffered by workers under the previous regime. The 1917 Constitution thus became a symbol of Mexico's desire to modernise and respond to the demands for social justice that had been at the heart of the revolution. Despite the challenges of its implementation and the various interpretations of its provisions in the years that followed, it remains an essential milestone in Mexican history, testifying to the country's ambition to create a fairer and more egalitarian society.

Victoriano Huerta was a controversial figure in the Mexican Revolution. A career military officer, he was initially loyal to Porfirio Díaz, Mexico's long-standing dictator. However, after the fall of Díaz, Huerta found himself in a position of power within the army during the presidency of Francisco Madero. Madero, who was an idealist, underestimated the complexity of Mexican politics and made the mistake of trusting Huerta, keeping him on as army general. In 1913, in a coup known as the "Decena Trágica" (the "Tragic Decade"), Huerta betrayed Madero, had him arrested and shortly afterwards Madero was assassinated, although the exact circumstances of his death are still subject to debate. With the support of various interests, including some in the United States, Huerta seized power. However, he soon proved unpopular, as he sought to restore the authoritarian order associated with the Díaz regime. His government was challenged by many revolutionary leaders, including Venustiano Carranza, Pancho Villa and Emiliano Zapata, who formed a coalition against him. Faced with growing opposition, diplomatic pressure and internal uprisings, Huerta's regime collapsed in 1914, and he was forced to flee the country. He fled first to Spain and then to the United States, where he tried unsuccessfully to mobilise support to regain power in Mexico. In 1916, he was arrested in the United States for plotting against the American government. He died in El Paso, Texas, in 1916, officially of cirrhosis, although rumours have suggested that he may have been poisoned.

The period from 1910 to 1920 in Mexico, known as the first phase of the Mexican Revolution, was a tumultuous time that saw a major upheaval in the country's political and social structure. It is often described as one of the most violent periods in Mexican history, and this statement is a clear testimony to that. Francisco Madero, from a wealthy landowning family, had ideals of social justice and democracy. His assassination in 1913, shortly after he took power, highlighted the fragility and instability of the political situation at the time. Pancho Villa and Emiliano Zapata are probably the most emblematic figures of the revolution. Villa, although often described as a bandit, was a gifted tactician with a powerful army. Zapata, on the other hand, was a fervent advocate of agrarian reform and the peasants' right to land. Both suffered tragic fates, murdered for their ideals and influence. Pascual Orozco, although less well known internationally than Villa or Zapata, played a key role in the early stages of the revolution, before changing alliances several times, which ultimately led to his downfall. Alvaro Obregón and Venustiano Carranza were central figures in the consolidation of the revolution. Obregón, in particular, is credited with bringing a degree of stability to Mexico after a decade of violence. However, like many others before him, he was tragically assassinated. This period in Mexican history highlights the dangers and challenges of revolutionary transformation, where even victories can be fleeting and power can cost lives. The violence and betrayals of this era have shaped Mexico's collective memory and continue to influence its politics and culture.

The key figures of the Mexican revolution not only shaped the course of the revolution itself, but their tragic fates also played a major role in the direction the country took after their deaths. Francisco Madero, in overthrowing the long dictatorship of Porfirio Díaz, highlighted the Mexican people's deep dissatisfaction with the regime. His assassination created a power vacuum that exacerbated tensions between the various revolutionary factions, making the situation even more volatile. Emiliano Zapata and Pancho Villa, although operating in different parts of the country, symbolised the hopes of the poorer classes. Zapata, with his slogan "Tierra y Libertad", embodied the aspirations of the peasants for a fair redistribution of land. Zapata's death was a blow to the agrarian movement. Similarly, Villa, with his Northern Division, represented a major challenge to the central government, and his death eliminated an important adversary for the political establishment. The death of Alvaro Obregón, who had succeeded in stabilising the country after a decade of revolution, also marked the end of an era. His political pragmatism and ability to navigate between different factions were crucial to the consolidation of the revolution. With his death, the country has lost a leader with the vision and ability to guide Mexico towards a more stable future. Venustiano Carranza, although less radical in his ideals than some of his contemporaries, played a key role in establishing the Constitution of 1917. His assassination highlighted the dangers and persistent rivalries within the revolutionary elites. All these deaths not only reflected the volatile and brutal nature of the revolution, but also created power vacuums and opportunities for other leaders to assert themselves. Their legacies influenced the decades that followed, and their stories have become intrinsic to Mexico's national identity.

The Mexican Revolution was a tumultuous, bloody and indecisive period, when allegiances changed frequently and alliances were often ephemeral. The revolutionary leaders, despite their ideological and regional differences, shared a common goal of overthrowing the old order and establishing a regime that reflected their ideals and aspirations for Mexico. However, their visions of the country's future were often in conflict, leading to numerous confrontations and betrayals. The fact that six of the seven main leaders were assassinated speaks volumes about the brutal and ruthless nature of this period. These assassinations were not just the result of confrontations on the battlefield, but were often the result of political betrayals, ambushes and machinations. Victoriano Huerta is a special case. Although he was not killed as a direct result of the revolution, his fall from power and exile in the United States are directly linked to his role during the revolution. Huerta, with his association with the former Díaz regime and his seizure of power after the overthrow of Madero, was seen by many as a betrayal of revolutionary ideals. His failure to establish stable control over the country and to pacify the various revolutionary factions ultimately led to his downfall. The tragic outcome of most of these leaders shows just how complex and unpredictable the Mexican revolution was. Each of these men left a lasting mark on Mexican history, and their tragic fates are a testament to the dangers and sacrifices inherent in the struggle for radical change.

The Mexican revolution was a whirlwind of change and unexpected events. The sudden disappearance of charismatic and influential figures left power vacuums that were often filled by new factions or individuals seeking to promote their own agendas. Each time a leader was eliminated, it created an opportunity for others to rise to power, but it also added another layer of uncertainty to an already chaotic political landscape. The successive assassinations of key leaders also reinforced the idea that no leader was really safe, no matter how powerful or influential. This may have discouraged some from pursuing radical initiatives or putting themselves forward, for fear of becoming the next target. On the other hand, it may have encouraged others to adopt more brutal tactics or to act quickly, knowing that their time in power could be limited. In addition, Mexico was a country with deep regional, social and economic divisions. These divisions were often reflected in the revolutionary factions themselves. Without a strong, unified leadership to guide the country, these divisions became more pronounced. Entire regions, such as the North with Pancho Villa and the South with Emiliano Zapata, had their own agendas and visions for Mexico's future, further complicating efforts to establish a unified leadership. In the end, the Mexican revolution was not just a struggle against the old Díaz regime, but also a battle to define Mexico's identity and future. Internal conflicts, exacerbated by the deaths of key leaders, prolonged this turbulent period and made the transition to a new order all the more complex.

Plan of San Luis Potosí[modifier | modifier le wikicode]

Northern Mexico, in particular the states of Chihuahua, Coahuila and Sonora, was the economic heartland of the country at the time, thanks to agriculture, livestock farming, mining and industry. These states were also close to the United States, which facilitated trade and investment. As a result, the region had seen the emergence of an influential local bourgeois class that, over time, felt alienated by Díaz's centralising and nepotistic policies. Francisco Madero, from a wealthy landowning family in Coahuila, was a reflection of this northern bourgeoisie. Although he personally benefited from the Porfirian period, Madero was also influenced by liberal and democratic ideas, and strongly opposed the autocratic continuity of Díaz. When Madero was arrested for daring to run against Díaz in the 1910 elections, it fuelled anger and discontent among his supporters. When the Plan de San Luis Potosí was proclaimed, it quickly won the support of various groups who had grievances against the Díaz regime, and not just in the north. However, it was in the north that the revolt quickly gained momentum, thanks to leaders such as Pascual Orozco and Pancho Villa. Both of these leaders, although initially supportive of Madero, also had their own visions for Mexico.

Francisco Madero attracted significant support in the face of Porfirio Díaz's long dictatorship. In response to the San Luis Potosí Plan's call for an uprising, many groups across the country took up arms against the Díaz regime. Two of the most notable figures to join Madero in this struggle were Pascual Orozco and Pancho Villa, two charismatic leaders from the north of the country. Pascual Orozco, initially loyal to Madero, played a key role in the initial victories against Díaz's troops. Pancho Villa, meanwhile, became a legend both during and after the revolution, commanding the famous "Northern Division", which was one of the most powerful and well-organised forces of the revolution. In May 1911, after several decisive battles, including the capture of Ciudad Juárez, the revolutionary forces succeeded in putting an end to Díaz's reign. As a result of the negotiations of the Ciudad Juárez Accords, Díaz resigned the presidency and went into exile in France, where he lived the rest of his life until his death in 1915.

The removal of Porfirio Díaz from the presidency created a power vacuum to which several revolutionary leaders attempted to respond. Each of these leaders - such as Francisco Madero, Emiliano Zapata, Pancho Villa, Alvaro Obregón and Venustiano Carranza - had his own vision for the future of Mexico. These differing visions led to numerous clashes between these factions. Emiliano Zapata, for example, promulgated the Ayala Plan in 1911, demanding radical land reform. He wanted land to be returned to the village communities and all land illegally acquired by hacendados (landowners) and foreigners to be taken back. Pancho Villa, for his part, was less concerned with specific reforms than with opposing the elites who had betrayed the revolution, including leaders such as Carranza and Obregón. The need to create a consensus among these divergent groups culminated in the Constitution of 1917. Convened by Venustiano Carranza, the Constitutional Congress attempted to forge a compromise between the different demands and ideologies of the revolutionary groups. The Constitution incorporated land reforms, guarantees for workers' rights and a nationalist stance on the country's natural resources, among other things. Despite its adoption, the fighting did not cease immediately, but the Constitution of 1917 remained, with modifications, the fundamental law of Mexico, underlining the importance and durability of this effort to redefine the nation.

Although Francisco Madero was a central figure in the overthrow of the long dictatorship of Porfirio Díaz, his period in power as president was tumultuous and marked by internal tensions. One of the main grievances against Madero was that he had not brought about the radical changes that many revolutionaries expected. For many of them, simply overthrowing Díaz was not enough: they also wanted a profound change in Mexico's socio-economic structures, particularly with regard to land reform and workers' rights. Madero, who came from a wealthy family of large landowners, was essentially a liberal democrat who sought free elections and constitutional government, but was not necessarily in favour of radical social revolution. So, although he took some steps towards reform, he was seen by many as too moderate or too slow in implementing these reforms. Figures such as Emiliano Zapata were particularly unhappy with the pace of land reform. The Ayala Plan, proclaimed by Zapata, openly criticised Madero for not returning land to peasant communities. What's more, Madero faced a series of rebellions and conspiracies right from the start of his mandate. Figures from the old regime, disgruntled military officers and even some of his former allies questioned his legitimacy and leadership. This culminated in the coup d'état orchestrated by General Victoriano Huerta in 1913, which led to Madero's arrest and assassination. Huerta's betrayal and Madero's death rekindled the flame of revolution, with many Mexicans rising up against Huerta's authoritarian regime and in defence of the ideals for which Madero had originally fought.

The dynamic between Francisco Madero and other revolutionary leaders highlights the tensions and ideological differences at the heart of the Mexican revolution. Pancho Villa, from the northern state of Chihuahua, had formed one of the main revolutionary forces, the famous "Northern Division". Although he was initially a key ally of Madero in the fight against Díaz, after Madero came to power relations between the two men became strained. Villa felt that Madero was not moving quickly enough with his reforms, and this tension was exacerbated when Madero ordered Villa's arrest in 1912. Pascual Orozco, another of Madero's initial allies in the overthrow of Díaz, quickly became unhappy with the lack of far-reaching reforms under Madero. In particular, he was frustrated by the slow pace of land reform. As a result, Orozco took up arms against the Madero government in 1912, triggering a new phase in the revolution. Emiliano Zapata, from the southern state of Morelos, distinguished himself as a fervent advocate of land reform. He was one of the most critical voices against Madero, accusing the president of not placing enough emphasis on returning land to the peasants. His "Ayala Plan" of 1911 was an impassioned call for a radical transformation of the country's land structure. These differences illustrate the fundamental challenge of the Mexican revolution: reconciling the different aspirations and demands of the various revolutionary groups. While Madero wanted to democratise the country, others, like Zapata, were looking for a profound social transformation. The multiplicity of agendas and ideologies made the period exceptionally unstable and conflictual.

After Madero's assassination, General Victoriano Huerta took power, ushering in a period of military tyranny. However, Huerta's seizure of power was widely contested, particularly by leaders such as Pancho Villa and Emiliano Zapata, who formed an alliance against him. This anti-Huerta coalition also included Venustiano Carranza, another influential leader of the revolution. The anti-Huerta coalition, although heterogeneous in its aims and motivations, was united in its determination to overthrow Huerta. The civil war that followed saw major battles and clashes throughout Mexico. In July 1914, after several military defeats and in the face of mounting domestic and international political pressure, Huerta resigned and went into exile. However, even after Huerta's fall, peace was not restored. The deep divisions between the revolutionary leaders, particularly between Carranza, Villa and Zapata, persisted. The rivalry between these factions led to a new series of conflicts, each seeking to impose its vision for post-revolutionary Mexico. Instability persisted until 1920, when Alvaro Obregón launched a coup against Carranza, eventually leading to a period of relative stabilisation. However, as the events of the following years show, the underlying tensions and conflicts of interest between the different groups were never fully resolved, making the Mexican Revolution a complex and multifaceted period in the country's history.

The discontent in the state of Morelos is emblematic of the wider tensions that developed in Mexico during this period. The movement led by Emiliano Zapata, known as the Zapatistas, was deeply rooted in peasant communities. It embodied their aspirations to regain their land, which had often been seized to serve the interests of the large sugar haciendas and foreign companies. Dissatisfaction with Madero's actions crystallised around the Plan of Ayala in 1911, a revolutionary document proclaimed by Zapata, which called for radical land reform. Zapata's vision contrasted sharply with that of Madero. Whereas Madero advocated a moderate approach, seeking to balance the interests of the different factions in the country, Zapata saw land reform as the very heart of the revolution. For the Zapatistas, land was not only an economic resource, but also a fundamental element of their identity and way of life. Tensions between Madero and the Zapatistas intensified when the federal government attempted to suppress Zapata's movement by force. Madero's inability to respond to the aspirations of the peasants of Morelos and other regions contributed to his eventual downfall. The Zapatista movement, although it had its ups and downs during the revolution, became an enduring symbol of peasant resistance and aspirations for social justice in Mexico.

The Plan of Ayala, proclaimed in November 1911, represents one of the most critical stages of the Mexican Revolution. It reflected the peasants' deep sense of betrayal by the Madero administration. Emiliano Zapata, who had initially supported Madero in the hope of far-reaching agrarian reforms, quickly lost confidence in him in the face of his apparent reluctance to take decisive action against the large landowners. The content of the Ayala Plan went far beyond simply denouncing Madero. It emphasised the need for radical land restitution. Zapata advocated an agrarian reform that would expropriate a third of the hacienda land and redistribute it to the peasants. The Zapatistas were particularly concerned about safeguarding communal lands, the ejidos, which had been taken over by private interests under previous regimes. This plan was not just a declaration of intent: it represented a concrete and radical programme for transforming Mexican society. It stood in direct opposition to the country's landed and economic elites and sought to put the peasant at the heart of the Mexican national project. Zapata's insistence on radical land reform and his refusal to compromise the rights of the peasants made the Zapatista movement one of the most radical and influential currents of the revolution. Although the Ayala Plan was not fully implemented during Zapata's lifetime, it laid the foundations for subsequent land reforms in Mexico and became a symbol of the struggle for social justice and peasants' rights.

Emiliano Zapata, with his deeply rooted ideals of social justice and the restoration of peasants' land rights, quickly became an emblematic figure of resistance and the aspiration for justice. The Zapatistas, often made up of peasants and indigenous people, were driven by a burning desire to reclaim the land that had been unjustly taken from them by haciendas and other private interests. The phrase "Tierra y Libertad" (Land and Freedom), often associated with Zapata, sums up much of the essence of the Zapatista movement. It was not just a struggle for land as a resource, but also a quest for dignity, respect and recognition of the rights of the most marginalised. Zapata and his movement, while mainly active in central and southern Mexico, had a significant influence on the revolution as a whole. They posed a constant challenge to successive governments, insisting on the importance of delivering on revolutionary promises rather than merely cosmetic reforms. Zapata's persistence in defending the rights of peasants helped shape the legacy of the Mexican revolution. Even after his death, his spirit and ideals continued to influence social movements and land reforms in Mexico, making him an enduring figure of resistance and change.

The Ayala Plan, proclaimed in November 1911, is one of the most significant documents of the Mexican revolution. It was both a direct response to Zapata's disappointment with Francisco Madero and a broader vision of the aspirations and demands of the indigenous peasants. Zapata's main grievances concerned the lack of progress in implementing land reforms and the unfulfilled promises of the revolution. Emiliano Zapata, a fervent defender of the rights of peasants, saw the Ayala Plan as a means of officially codifying the demand for a fair redistribution of land. By declaring Madero incapable of carrying out the real reforms needed for Mexico, Zapata essentially called into question the legitimacy of Madero's government. The emphasis on returning land, forests and water to indigenous peasant communities was not just a question of economic justice, but also of cultural and social justice. For many of these communities, land was intrinsically linked to their identity, culture and spirituality. Zapata firmly believed that the land belonged to those who worked it. For him and his supporters, the Ayala Plan was not simply a call for reform, but a demand for a complete overhaul of Mexico's land and social structure, with a focus on the rights and needs of the most marginalised. This radical vision of justice and reform had a lasting impact on the direction and results of the Mexican revolution.

Victoriano Huerta, after orchestrating a coup against Francisco Madero in 1913, seized power with the ambition of restoring a semblance of order and stability to the country, which had been shaken by years of revolution. His regime is often seen as an attempt to return to "Porfirio peace", a period of relative stability under the long presidency of Porfirio Díaz, but it was achieved at the cost of political repression and authoritarian control. Huerta was supported by Mexico's privileged classes - the large landowners, the Catholic Church and the urban elites. These groups were primarily interested in protecting their own interests and privileges, and feared the radical reforms promised by the various revolutionary movements. Foreign investors, particularly American companies, also supported Huerta, as they wanted a stable Mexico where their investments would be secure. However, this brought Huerta into conflict with US President Woodrow Wilson, who opposed his authoritarian rule and sought to support other, more democratic revolutionary factions. Despite taking power, Huerta was unable to stabilise the country and win widespread support. His attempt to maintain the status quo and resist calls for reform led to a broad coalition of anti-Huerta forces, including leaders such as Venustiano Carranza, Alvaro Obregón, Pancho Villa and Emiliano Zapata. This coalition finally succeeded in ousting Huerta from power in 1914. The Huerta episode highlights the underlying tensions of the Mexican Revolution and the complexity of the political alliances and ambitions that shaped this tumultuous period in Mexican history.

Victoriano Huerta, despite his desire to restore order and maintain the status quo, soon discovered that his ambitions were easier conceived than realised. Opposition to his regime quickly coalesced on several fronts, making his position increasingly untenable. In the north, the strong military resistance organised by revolutionary leaders such as Alvaro Obregón and Venustiano Carranza proved a formidable opponent for Huerta. These forces, mainly made up of former opponents of Porfirio Díaz, were unhappy to see another dictator, perceived as similar to Díaz, come to power. Meanwhile, in central Mexico, Emiliano Zapata continued his fight for land reform and peasant rights. Although his movement, Zapatismo, was mainly centred on agrarian issues, Zapata's resistance to Huerta was also strengthened by his opposition to the type of authoritarian regime that Huerta represented. As well as military threats, Huerta also faced growing civil opposition. In urban areas, the working class, which had already felt the oppression and exploitation under the Díaz regime, began to organise into trade unions and demonstrate for social and labour reforms. These workers' and artisans' movements were concerned not only with issues of wages and working conditions, but also with broader concerns about democracy, education and civic rights. The convergence of these various forms of opposition - military, peasant and urban - created a united front of opposition to Huerta that eventually led to his downfall. This is an illustrative period in Mexican history, showing the complexity of the political, social and economic dynamics that influenced the revolution and its many phases.

The emergence of this new intelligentsia, nurtured by a variety of currents of thought, marked a crucial ideological turning point in the Mexican Revolution. The failure of positivism, a philosophy that Díaz and his administration had embraced, was particularly highlighted during the Porfiriato. Positivism advocated progress through science, industrialisation and modernisation, often at the expense of the rights and traditions of indigenous communities. This new generation of intellectuals, often educated both in Mexico and abroad, began to draw on socialist, nationalist and indigenous ideologies. They saw these ideologies as a response to the failures of the Porfiriato and a path towards a more egalitarian and inclusive nation. The rejection of positivism was complemented by a romantic reappraisal of Mexico's pre-Columbian past, its indigenous cultures and traditions. These intellectuals sought to redefine national identity, emphasising the country's indigenous roots and calling for radical social and political change. Victoriano Huerta, despite his efforts to consolidate power, was unable to contain or reconcile these contradictory forces. His attempt to re-establish an authoritarian regime similar to that of Díaz only galvanised the opposition. Moreover, his repression of dissidents has only exacerbated tensions and discontent with him. So, with an increasingly unpopular regime at its helm, faced with the rise of rival factions supported by this new intelligentsia and other social groups, Huerta's fate was sealed. His inability to navigate this complex and changing environment led to his downfall and paved the way for a new phase in the revolution, characterised by the greater inclusion of socialist and nationalist ideals in political discourse and national policy.

In 1913, Victoriano Huerta orchestrated a coup d'état against Francisco Madero, establishing a regime reminiscent in many ways of the authoritarianism of Porfirio Díaz. However, the atmosphere in Mexico had changed, and Huerta was unable to recreate the relative calm of the Porfiriato. In the north, Alvaro Obregón and Venustiano Carranza mobilised large armed forces against him, while in the centre, the influential Emiliano Zapata and his Zapatista troops demanded agrarian justice. But it was not only on the battlefields that Huerta was challenged. In the urban centres, growing social unrest was emerging. Workers and craftsmen, often organised into unions, took to the streets to express their frustration at social injustice and demand reform. They were supported and often influenced by an emerging intelligentsia, a class of educated intellectuals who aspired to more than just economic modernisation. This new class of thinkers firmly rejected positivism, the dominant ideology of the Porfiriato, which valued science and progress at the expense of the rights and traditions of the masses. Instead, these intellectuals advocated a mixture of socialist, nationalist and indigenous ideas, calling for a revolution that was not only political but also cultural. In this atmosphere of social and ideological ferment, Huerta's regime, with its attempts to restore the old order, appeared out of step and ultimately unsustainable. The combination of these diverse forces would eventually precipitate its downfall.

Plan of Guadalupe[modifier | modifier le wikicode]

The Plan de Guadalupe, announced in 1914, represented a pivotal moment in the Mexican revolution. Drawn up under the leadership of Venustiano Carranza, the plan expressed the total rejection of the government of Victoriano Huerta, considered illegitimate after overthrowing Francisco Madero. Carranza, who had already gained political experience as governor of Coahuila and as a member of Madero's cabinet, was one of the most influential revolutionary leaders in the north of the country. The Guadalupe Plan was not only a declaration against Huerta, but also established Carranza as the "First Chief" of the Constitutionalist Army, responsible for restoring constitutional order in Mexico. The document reaffirmed the principles of the 1857 Constitution and called for new elections to be called once Huerta was deposed. Interestingly, the plan did not contain any radical social or economic proposals. Indeed, it was more of a political declaration aimed at restoring constitutional order than a comprehensive vision for remaking Mexican society. Nevertheless, its proclamation was a crucial step towards Huerta's impeachment and Carranza's rise to power.

The Plan de Guadalupe was distinct from other plans of the Mexican revolution in that it focused primarily on institutional and political issues rather than socio-economic demands. The emphasis was on the overthrow of Victoriano Huerta and a return to constitutional order. This was a direct response to the perception that Huerta had illegitimately usurped power by orchestrating the coup against Madero. Venustiano Carranza, as First Chief of the Constitutionalist Army, sought to consolidate a coalition of anti-Huerta forces around a common set of political objectives, without getting lost in more complex debates about social or agrarian reform. By emphasising the restoration of the rule of law and the establishment of constitutional government, Carranza hoped to create a united front against Huerta. However, this approach also had its critics. Many felt that the Guadalupe Plan did not go far enough in addressing the deep-rooted socio-economic injustices in Mexico. Leaders like Emiliano Zapata, for example, continued to call for radical land reform, feeling dissatisfied with Carranza's approach. But despite these criticisms, the Guadalupe Plan played an essential role in consolidating revolutionary forces for the next phase of the struggle.

The Guadalupe Plan was supported by many revolutionary leaders in the north, including Alvaro Obregon, and helped unite the various factions fighting for control of the government. Carranza and his supporters became the dominant force in the revolution. In 1915, Carranza declared himself the first leader of the Constitutional Army and began to take control of Mexico's central government. However, Carranza's rise to power was not without resistance. Although he managed to consolidate the support of many forces in the north of the country, many tensions remained between the various revolutionary groups. Emiliano Zapata, for example, had always been concerned about the agrarian question and the rights of peasants, and saw in the Plan de Guadalupe a lack of commitment to real agrarian reform. Similarly, Pancho Villa, another important revolutionary leader, had disagreements with Carranza, leading to the famous "Faction War" between the forces of Carranza, Villa, and Zapata. During this period, Alvaro Obregón proved to be an able military strategist and managed to defeat Villa's forces at the Battle of Celaya in 1915, consolidating Carranza's power. With Obregón's support, Carranza was able to strengthen his grip on the country, establishing his base in Mexico City and beginning the complex task of national reconstruction. But the road to a stable, unified nation was not yet complete. In 1917, Carranza oversaw the adoption of the Mexican Constitution, a progressive document that included provisions for land reform, workers' rights and education. However, despite these advances, divisions between revolutionary factions remained, leading to further years of conflict and political change.

By 1914, the pressure on Victoriano Huerta's regime was at its height. The constitutionalist forces, led by Carranza, Villa and Obregón, advanced from the north, while the Zapatistas advanced from the south. Pancho Villa and Alvaro Obregón were important commanders of the northern forces. Villa had a large army, known as the Northern Division, and was renowned for his charisma and ability to mobilise and inspire his troops. Obregón, on the other hand, was a talented strategist who brought modern tactical innovations to the battlefield. In July 1914, Huerta's forces were crushed and he resigned, eventually fleeing abroad. After his resignation, Mexico City was briefly occupied by the Zapatistas before Carranza's constitutionalist troops entered the city. But despite this joint victory against Huerta, the divisions within the revolutionary camp became increasingly obvious. Carranza, Villa and Zapata had different visions of what post-revolutionary Mexico should be. Carranza was concerned with restoring order and establishing a constitutional government. Zapata, on the other hand, was primarily concerned with agrarian reform, the return of land to the peasants and the autonomy of local communities. Villa had his own aspirations and concerns, sometimes in agreement with Zapata, sometimes in opposition to him. These tensions eventually led to the "War of the Factions", a series of internal conflicts among the revolutionary groups that erupted after Huerta's overthrow. It was only after several years of conflict and negotiation that order was finally restored and the Mexican Constitution of 1917 was adopted, laying the foundations of modern Mexico.

The regime of Victoriano Huerta, although authoritarian, was unable to maintain its position in the face of the rising revolutionary forces that threatened it from both north and south. The successive advances of the armies of Villa and Obregón in the north and those of Zapata in the south put immense pressure on the capital, considerably weakening Huerta's power. Alvaro Obregón, with his military and strategic genius, played a decisive role in Huerta's downfall. In 1914, after a series of decisive victories, his troops, along with those of other revolutionary leaders, converged on Mexico City. Faced with the imminent collapse of his regime, Huerta resigned and fled the country. With Huerta gone, Venustiano Carranza, one of the main instigators of the anti-Huerta movement, found himself in a favourable position to establish his authority. Based on the Guadalupe Plan, which he himself had promulgated, Carranza declared himself "Primer Jefe" (First Leader) of the Constitutionalist Army and formed a government that sought to re-establish constitutional order. However, even with the fall of Huerta, the country did not regain stability. The various revolutionary factions had different visions for the future of Mexico, and conflicts broke out between them, prolonging the period of civil war.

The first phase of the Mexican revolution, rich in conflict and upheaval, saw the rise and fall of several leaders, as well as radical changes in the dynamics of power in Mexico. The defeat of Huerta and the ascension of Carranza to the presidency signalled the end of the most intense fighting and the transition to a phase of national reconstruction. However, despite Carranza's predominant position, internal tensions within the revolutionary movement did not dissipate. While Carranza sought to consolidate his power and modernise Mexico on the basis of a liberal programme, profound differences persisted over the future direction of the country. Leaders such as Emiliano Zapata and Pancho Villa had different visions for Mexico's future, particularly with regard to land reform. These differences led to further conflict. However, despite these tensions, the Carranza era saw the achievement of one of the major achievements of the revolution: the promulgation of the Constitution of 1917. This document, still in force today, laid the foundations for a new social and political order in Mexico, seeking to introduce agrarian, educational and labour reforms, while limiting the power of the church and foreign investors.

Huerta's defeat and Carranza's ascension to the presidency were a decisive turning point in the Mexican revolution. With the support of his allies, notably Villa and Obregón, Carranza managed to shift the balance of power and usher in a new era of leadership. Despite the intense fighting and complex alliances between the various revolutionary factions, this moment symbolised a major transition in the struggle for control of Mexico. With the adoption of the Guadalupe Plan as the basis of his government, Carranza attempted to restore order and establish a new direction for the country. Although internal conflicts and ideological differences persisted, this period marked the end of the most tumultuous phase of the revolution, paving the way for efforts at reconstruction and reform.

After Huerta's fall and Carranza's rise to power, Mexico did not immediately find peace or stability. Many of the factions that had joined forces to fight Huerta began to divide over the direction that post-revolutionary Mexico should take. It soon became clear that Carranza and his closest allies, notably Alvaro Obregón, had different visions for the country's future to other revolutionary leaders such as Pancho Villa and Emiliano Zapata. While Carranza was primarily concerned with restoring order and consolidating his power, Villa and Zapata wanted to see radical social and agrarian reforms put in place. In 1914, an attempt was made to reconcile the different revolutionary factions at the Aguascalientes Convention. Unfortunately, this meeting only intensified tensions, leading to a clear split between Carranza on the one hand, and Villa and Zapata on the other. The following year, these divisions led to direct confrontations between Carranza's troops, led by Obregón, and those of Villa. Although Carranza adopted the Constitution of 1917, which provided for agrarian reforms and rights for workers, its implementation was slow. Many felt that Carranza was too cautious, even reactionary, in his policies, particularly in relation to the radical aspirations of the revolution. Thus, the period from 1914 to 1915 reflects the complexity of the Mexican revolution. Even after the overthrow of the porfiristas and Huerta, the country was far from unified, and the various revolutionary factions were still struggling to define Mexico's future.

Despite the fall of Huerta and the rise of Carranza, the period that followed was not one of tranquillity for Mexico. Carranza, although initially supported by many revolutionary leaders for his role in the fight against Huerta, soon faced major challenges as the country's leader. Carranza's political decisions were often seen as attempts to strengthen his own position rather than to realise the ideals of the revolution. Promised reforms, particularly in agriculture, workers' rights and education, were not implemented with the vigour expected. This created tension and frustration among those who had fought for radical change, particularly among the more radical groups such as the supporters of Villa and Zapata. In addition, Carranza showed a certain mistrust towards his former allies and tried to eliminate those he considered threats to his primacy, which exacerbated the internal conflicts. The mistrust between Carranza and other revolutionary leaders such as Obregón, Villa and Zapata led to a series of clashes and political manoeuvres that resulted in the continued fragmentation of the revolutionary movement. The lack of a clear agenda and Carranza's reluctance to implement far-reaching reforms left many Mexicans disappointed. Hopes of a transformed nation and a government that would respond to the needs of the most marginalised seemed to be receding. This set the stage for new confrontations and continued political instability in the years to come.

Carranza's term in office proved tumultuous, not only because of internal tensions within his government, but also because of the constant pressure exerted by powerful external factions. The Zapatistas, led by Emiliano Zapata in the south, were particularly vocal in their criticism. They had fought with the hope of substantial land reform, and the slow progress on this was a major source of frustration. Zapata, with his Ayala Plan, had highlighted the urgent need to redistribute land to the peasants. Carranza's inability to respond adequately to these demands alienated many Zapatistas and drove them to more radical actions. In the north, Pancho Villa, another emblematic figure of the revolution, also felt betrayed. Villa had been a key ally in the fight against Huerta, and had hoped that the new government would adopt a more radical approach to reform. Instead, he found that Carranza was more concerned with consolidating his own power than advancing revolutionary ideals. Relations between Carranza and Villa quickly deteriorated, leading to clashes and a rivalry that exacerbated the country's instability. Thus, although Carranza was able to eliminate the direct threat of Huerta and establish his government, he was soon engulfed in a new series of conflicts with other revolutionary factions. These tensions revealed the deep divisions within the revolutionary movement and highlighted the challenges inherent in building a united nation after a period of major upheaval.

The Zapatista cause was deeply rooted in Mexico's social and economic history. Since colonial times, vast tracts of land had been concentrated in the hands of a few elites, while the majority of peasants, particularly indigenous peoples, were often deprived of their ancestral right to the land. This land inequality was exacerbated during the reign of Porfirio Díaz, when vast tracts of communal land, or "ejidos", were sold or confiscated for the benefit of large landowners or foreign investors. Emiliano Zapata, from the state of Morelos, became the champion of these marginalised agrarian communities. Faced with pressure from landowners to cede communal land and the persistent injustice of the land tenure system, he was driven to rebellion. The Ayala Plan, which he proclaimed in 1911, served not only as a critique of those who had betrayed the revolution, but also as a manifesto for far-reaching agrarian reform. The Zapatista movement was unique in that it wasn't just about political change at the top. Instead, it aimed to transform the land structure of the country, placing land in the hands of those who worked it. The Zapatistas saw land not only as an economic resource, but also as central to the identity, culture and dignity of rural communities. Despite the challenges they faced from better-armed and often better-funded opponents, the Zapatistas maintained a tenacious resistance throughout the revolution. Their determination and commitment to "tierra y libertad" made them one of the most memorable and influential players in the Mexican revolution.

The Zapatistas' vision was strongly influenced by the history and culture of Mexico's rural communities. Placing the community at the heart of their ambitions, they aspired to a society where "ejidos", or communal lands, were protected and cultivated for the benefit of all, rather than appropriated or exploited by a few. This vision was profoundly democratic in essence, seeking to balance power and ensure the active participation of communities in making decisions about their future. The relationship between the Zapatistas and the Catholic Church was complex, partly because of the diversity of positions within the Church itself. While the institutional Church generally supported the established order and had many links with the landed elite, many priests and laypeople were deeply concerned with social justice and supported the aspirations of rural and indigenous communities. In some cases, the Church played an active role in supporting local communities in their efforts to recover and manage their own land. Emiliano Zapata himself was a devout Catholic, which strengthened the links between the Zapatista movement and the Church in some areas. However, there were moments of tension, particularly when the institutional Church appeared to support the interests of large landowners or the central government. Despite these tensions, the Zapatistas never saw the Church as a monolithic enemy, instead recognising the differences within that institution and seeking alliances with those who shared their vision of justice and equity.

Pancho Villa was born in northern Mexico, in the state of Durango, and his vision and tactics reflected the cultural, economic and social particularities of that region. Unlike Emiliano Zapata, whose priorities were deeply rooted in the farming communities of southern Mexico, Villa was more influenced by the challenges of the north, where agriculture, livestock farming and proximity to the US border played crucial roles. Villa's rise from local bandit to revolutionary leader reflects his pragmatism and adaptability. His army, often referred to as the "Northern Division", was made up of a heterogeneous mix of cowboys, former bandits, disgruntled peasants and others who sought to overthrow the regime of Porfirio Díaz and his successors. Unlike the Zapatistas, whose demands centred on the agrarian question, Villa's objectives were more varied. They included concerns such as workers' rights, national sovereignty in the face of foreign intervention and control of natural resources. Villa's leadership was undeniably charismatic. His daring style, tactical daring and propensity to get directly involved in battles made him a legendary figure both in Mexico and abroad. However, his approach to leadership diverged from the participatory democracy advocated by the Zapatistas. Villa, with his caudillo style, often took unilateral decisions, based on his intuition and his vision of the greater good. It is also worth noting that, although Villa had differences and conflicts with other revolutionary leaders such as Carranza and Obregón, he also had periods of collaboration with them. His changing approach to these alliances demonstrates his strategic flexibility, but also contributed to sometimes contradictory perceptions of his loyalty and intentions.

Pancho Villa's movement and his vision of agrarian reform were distinct from those of the Zapatistas, although there were overlaps in their respective aims. Pancho Villa, originally from northern Mexico, witnessed the vast haciendas, which were massive estates controlled by a landed elite. These haciendas often had their own infrastructure, their own security forces, and operated almost like small states within the state. The haciendas' workforce, made up mainly of peasants, was often exploited, with few rights or protections. The economic and social situation in the north was different from that in the south, and this was reflected in Villa's objectives and tactics. When Villa and his "Northern Division" took control of the northern regions, they expropriated many haciendas, not with the primary intention of redistributing the land to the peasants as the Zapatistas wanted, but rather to finance the revolution. The haciendas were important economic centres, and Villa understood that control of these estates would give him access to the resources he needed to support and equip his army. By entrusting these haciendas to his trusted lieutenants, Villa ensured that the revenues from these estates would directly support the war efforts of the Northern Division. It also allowed Villa to reward his closest allies and consolidate his power in the north. Nevertheless, this approach was not without its critics. Some accused Villa of simply reproducing a system of patronage and elitism, even though he was doing so in the name of the revolution.

Pancho Villa, despite his Robin Hood image, was a complex character with methods that, in some cases, did not reflect the ideals of the revolution. His pragmatic approach to obtaining funds and resources, often through expropriation and looting, enabled him to maintain and support a large army. However, this also put him at odds with other revolutionary leaders who felt that his actions betrayed the higher principles of the revolution, particularly those relating to social justice and land redistribution. Villa's forces were also notorious for their brutality. Summary executions, massacres and other human rights abuses were often justified in the name of the revolution, but for many, these acts were indicative of a lack of discipline among his troops or a blatant disregard for humanitarian principles. This brutality contributed to Villa's controversial image. To his supporters, he was a champion of the cause, a man who fought for the rights of the oppressed and against injustice. To his detractors, he was an opportunist who used the revolution as a pretext to satisfy his personal ambitions and enrich those close to him. These criticisms are not unique to Villa. Many revolutionary leaders, in different contexts, are often faced with similar dilemmas. Radical methods can sometimes be justified as necessary to achieve revolutionary goals, but they can also undermine the moral legitimacy of the cause. In Villa's case, his legacy is twofold. On the one hand, he is celebrated as a revolutionary hero, a man of the people who stood up against injustice. On the other, his career is marred by acts of violence and betrayal that have called into question the purity of his motives.

Venustiano Carranza and Alvaro Obregón, from the industrial and more urbanised north of Mexico, had a different perspective to the leaders of the south, such as Emiliano Zapata, or the caudillos of the north, such as Pancho Villa. Their vision of the revolution was strongly influenced by their own regional and social context. Carranza and Obregón came from a region where industrial development, railways and trade were more prevalent. As such, their priorities reflected the needs and desires of urban populations, the emerging bourgeoisie, and the industrial working class. Although they recognised the need for agrarian reform, they saw economic development, education and modernisation as essential to the transformation of Mexico. Carranza, in particular, sought to establish the rule of law and a stable constitutional government after years of instability. His intention was to end the series of conflicts and civil wars that had torn the country apart and lay the foundations for a modern nation. The Constitution of 1917, promulgated under his leadership, reflects this vision. Although it contained provisions for land reform, it also established social and political rights, such as the right to strike, secular education and guarantees for individual freedoms. Obregón, for his part, was more pragmatic and flexible in his approach. As a military man, he understood power dynamics and worked to consolidate the authority of the central state while responding to popular demands for reform. His government continued Carranza's reforms, while being more attentive to the needs of the various revolutionary factions.

Mistrust of the Catholic Church and its political influence was nothing new in Mexican history. The fight to reduce clerical influence had been a constant since the Reformation laws of the mid-nineteenth century, led by liberal figures such as Benito Juárez. The Mexican Revolution rekindled and intensified this tension between State and Church. Venustiano Carranza and Alvaro Obregón, along with other revolutionaries, saw the Church as a vestige of the old colonial order and the Porfiriato era, during which the Church had accumulated wealth and power, often at the expense of the poor and marginalised. They also saw the Church as supporting conservative elements who opposed the social and economic transformation they envisaged for Mexico. The 1917 Constitution, a profoundly progressive and revolutionary document for its time, reflected these anti-clerical concerns. It included articles that:

  • Prohibited religious institutions from owning land.
  • Prohibited the clergy from exercising the right to vote and from criticising laws or the government.
  • Proclaimed that all churches and religious property belonged to the State.
  • Imposed secular education in public schools.

Obregón, after succeeding Carranza as president, continued to implement these provisions, causing frequent tensions with the clergy and practising Catholics. These tensions would later culminate, after Obregón's tenure, during the presidency of Plutarco Elías Calles in the 1920s, in the Cristeros War - an armed conflict between the Mexican government and Catholic militias who opposed the strict application of anti-clerical laws.

During the Mexican Revolution, the size of the armies of each revolutionary faction varied considerably, reflecting their support bases and ability to mobilise. Carranza's army, the Constitutionalists, numbered between 20,000 and 40,000 soldiers. Despite this modest size, Carranza had the support of the urban and middle class, as well as parts of northern Mexico. He also had the advantage of control over certain government resources following Huerta's deposition. Pancho Villa's Northern Division was much larger, with an estimated strength of between 100,000 and 200,000 soldiers. This impressive force was a testament to Villa's skill as a military strategist and his ability to rally mass support, particularly in the north of the country. The Zapatistas, led by Emiliano Zapata, had a force of between 10,000 and 20,000 soldiers. Although they were less numerous than the Northern Division, they enjoyed strong support in southern Mexico, mainly among peasants who supported Zapata's vision of agrarian reform. These figures are based on estimates and may vary depending on the source. In addition, the fluctuating nature of troop loyalties during this period makes it difficult to determine exact figures at any given time.

Zapata's body was laid in state in Cuautla (Morelos) on 10 April 1919.

The year 1914 and the years that followed saw shifting alliances and intense clashes between the various revolutionary factions in Mexico. At one point, Pancho Villa and Emiliano Zapata, although they had different agendas and support bases, recognised a common interest in opposing Carranza and formed an alliance. The Southern Liberation Army (Ejército Libertador del Sur) was originally the name of Emiliano Zapata's forces, which operated mainly in the state of Morelos and surrounding areas of southern Mexico. After Zapata and Villa joined forces, their troops converged on Mexico City, and within a short space of time they managed to take control of the capital. There is a famous image of Villa and Zapata together at the presidency in Mexico City, symbolically demonstrating their temporary seizure of power. However, the alliance between Villa and Zapata did not last long. The two leaders had different visions for the future of Mexico. While Zapata prioritised land reform, Villa, as caudillo of the north, had different concerns and objectives. Faced with this combined threat, Carranza and his constitutionalists mounted a counter-offensive. The Constitutionalists, under the command of Alvaro Obregón, used modern military tactics and a well-organised strategy to repel and eventually defeat the combined forces of Villa and Zapata. In the end, Carranza succeeded in consolidating his control over the Mexican government, although sporadic conflicts and tensions persisted with the various revolutionary factions in the years that followed.

The alliance between Pancho Villa and Emiliano Zapata was mainly one of circumstance. It was not based on a shared vision of Mexico's future, but rather on a shared opposition to Venustiano Carranza and his government. Villa, a caudillo from the north, had a support base made up largely of peasants, but he was also associated with other regional elites and certain business interests. His priorities reflected these mixed alliances, with a focus on the expropriation of haciendas and the redistribution of these lands, but not necessarily in the same communitarian spirit as the Zapatistas wanted. Zapata, on the other hand, was firmly rooted in the agrarian communities of the South. His slogan "Tierra y Libertad" (Land and Freedom) encapsulated the Zapatista vision of agrarian reform, where land would be returned to communities and managed collectively. It was a vision based on the communitarian tradition of the indigenous peoples and peasants of southern Mexico. When these two forces converged on Mexico City, their common enemy in Carranza united them, but their ideological differences eventually eroded this alliance. Once the immediate threat was over, their differences quickly became insurmountable, and they found themselves once again in an antagonistic position.

After 1915, the course of the Mexican revolution underwent significant changes. While Zapata maintained strong control over Morelos, his stronghold, and continued to defend the principles of the Ayala Plan, his ability to influence national politics was considerably reduced. His efforts to achieve radical land reform and more democratic and participatory governance were mainly concentrated in his fiefdom of Morelos. On the other hand, the defeat of Villa's forces at the hands of Carranza, particularly at the Battle of Celaya in 1915 led by Álvaro Obregón, marked a turning point in the revolution. After this defeat, Villa never regained his former power, although he remained an important player in the north of the country. The recognition of Carranza as president by the United States strengthened his position, offering international legitimacy to his government. It also ensured a degree of economic and political stability, as the US was a key player in Mexican politics and the economy. However, the period that followed was not without its troubles. Although Carranza succeeded in implementing the Constitution of 1917, which incorporated several progressive reforms, his regime faced internal challenges and ongoing tensions with opposing factions. These tensions finally culminated in Carranza's assassination in 1920, marking the end of his presidency and the beginning of a new phase in the Mexican revolution.

The assassination of Emiliano Zapata in 1919 marked a major turning point in the Mexican revolution. On 10 April that year, Zapata was killed in an ambush in Chinameca, Morelos, orchestrated by Jesús Guajardo on the orders of Pablo González, a general loyal to Carranza. This death seriously weakened the Zapatista movement, although their influence was not completely eradicated. After eliminating Zapata, Carranza turned his attention to other threats to consolidate his power, Pancho Villa being the most imminent. Hostilities continued until Villa, recognising the futility of his resistance after several setbacks, accepted an agreement in 1920. This agreement allowed him to retire to Canutillo, Durango, ending his active role in the revolution. Carranza's assassination in 1920 marked the end of his reign. His downfall was provoked by the Plan de Agua Prieta, orchestrated by Álvaro Obregón, Plutarco Elías Calles and Adolfo de la Huerta. Seeking refuge, Carranza attempted to flee to Veracruz. However, his journey was interrupted at Tlaxcalantongo, Puebla, where he was killed while camping in the mountains. After this tumultuous period, Adolfo de la Huerta became interim president, followed by the election of Álvaro Obregón in 1920, ushering in a new phase in Mexico's post-revolutionary history.

The death of Venustiano Carranza in 1923 effectively ended a series of conflicts between Mexico's main revolutionary factions. This period had been marked by betrayals, shifting alliances and the assassinations of several of the key players in the revolution. Carranza himself, as leader, had faced many challenges, particularly from those who had once been his allies. Alvaro Obregón, another major figure in the revolution, had significant differences with Carranza, particularly over post-revolutionary policies and the direction the country should take. With Carranza gone, Obregón was in a strategic position to consolidate power and realise his vision for Mexico. As president, Obregón introduced a series of reforms and established a degree of stability after a decade of civil war. His administration marked the beginning of an era of reconstruction and transformation, laying the foundations for the following decades of Mexican development.

The context surrounding Venustiano Carranza's death is complex and rich in implications. Carranza, despite his key role in the overthrow of the Victoriano Huerta regime and his contribution to the establishment of a post-revolutionary government, proved reluctant to implement the far-reaching reforms expected by many sectors of Mexican society, particularly agrarian and labour reforms. Alvaro Obregón, who had been a major ally of Carranza during much of the revolution, had become increasingly distanced from him because of these reform issues. The gap between the two men widened as a result of the growing perception among Obregón's supporters that Carranza was too authoritarian and not sufficiently committed to reform. Carranza's assassination can be seen as both a political act and revenge. It was a reflection of the internal tensions that had marked the Mexican revolution and the personal rivalries between its main leaders. It also illustrated the high price of politics in post-revolutionary Mexico, where betrayal and violence were often the instruments of choice for resolving differences and power struggles.

The assassination of Venustiano Carranza in 1923 illustrates the complexity and internal tensions that marked the Mexican revolutionary period. As one of the central figures of the revolution, Carranza had played a decisive role in the ousting of Victoriano Huerta and the establishment of a post-revolutionary regime. However, once in power, his reluctance to implement significant reforms, particularly agrarian and labour reforms, led to frustration and tension among his allies. Alvaro Obregón, although a crucial ally of Carranza for much of the revolution, gradually distanced himself from him. The differences between Carranza and Obregón had intensified, partly due to the perception of Obregón and his supporters that Carranza was becoming increasingly authoritarian. In addition, Carranza's reluctance to pursue the reforms expected by many revolutionaries accentuated this rift. The assassination of Carranza by supporters of Obregón can therefore be seen as the culmination of a series of political and ideological tensions. It was an act that combined political motivation with a desire for revenge against a leader who, in their eyes, had betrayed the ideals of the revolution. This tragic moment reflects the instability and power struggles that continued to afflict Mexico even after the main battles of the revolution had ended.

Adoption of the 1917 Constitution[modifier | modifier le wikicode]

The Constitution of 1917 is an emblematic achievement of the Mexican revolution and represents an attempt to integrate the various demands and aspirations of the different revolutionary factions into a single document. It is in this text that the ideals and aspirations of the revolution are best reflected. Unlike the 1857 Constitution, which was essentially liberal and focused on individual rights and the separation of church and state, the 1917 Constitution incorporated more radical elements, particularly in the areas of land reform, education and labour rights. It was the result of a sometimes difficult consensus between the various players in the revolution. The 1917 Constitution contained some innovative provisions for its time. For example, Article 27 authorised the nationalisation of natural resources and recognised the right of peasant communities to land. Article 3 established the secular nature of public education, which was a major change in a deeply Catholic country. Article 123 established workers' rights, including the right to strike and the eight-hour working day. In many ways, the 1917 Constitution was ahead of its time. It recognised not only individual rights but also social rights. However, despite its progressive nature, the implementation of its provisions was uneven and often depended on the political will of successive leaders. That said, it remains one of the most important documents in modern Mexican history and laid the foundations for the Mexican state as we know it today.

The 1917 Constitution was a founding document in Mexico's history, addressing many of the issues that had fuelled tensions for decades:

  • Land reform: At the heart of the Mexican revolution was the question of land. Millions of peasants had been deprived of their ancestral lands during the reign of Porfirio Díaz. The Constitution of 1917 sought to correct these injustices through agrarian reform. It aimed to redistribute land from large landowners to small farmers, indigenous communities and ejidos. The ejidos, or communal lands, were a traditional Mexican concept where land was owned collectively by communities.
  • Labour reform: The condition of workers, particularly in the country's fledgling industries, was a major concern. The Constitution introduced guarantees for workers' rights, including an eight-hour working day, the right to strike and a ban on child labour. These measures were designed to protect the working class from the abuses of employers and to promote a fairer distribution of wealth.
  • Education reform: Recognising education as an essential means of improving the condition of the Mexican people, the Constitution provided for the provision of free, secular public education. This not only increased literacy and access to education, but also reduced the influence of the Catholic Church in schools.
  • Religious reform: The relationship between state and church in Mexico had always been complex. The 1917 Constitution sought to reinforce the separation of church and state. As a result, the government took control of the education system, guaranteeing that it would be secular. In addition, the Constitution nationalised the property of the Catholic Church and imposed restrictions on the Church in terms of education and land ownership.

Together, these reforms marked a radical break with the past and sought to create a more egalitarian and modern Mexico. Although their implementation varied over time, these reforms shaped Mexico for most of the 20th century.

Mexico's 1917 Constitution was indeed groundbreaking, enshrining rights that were innovative at the time, even if some of them took time to be fully implemented.

  • Women's rights: Although the 1917 Constitution did not immediately grant women the right to vote, it did lay the foundations for civil rights and opened the door to their future participation in political life. It was not until 1953 that women gained the right to vote in national elections in Mexico, but the progressive spirit of the Constitution certainly paved the way for this advance.
  • Freedom of expression and of the press: The protection of freedom of speech and of the press was essential to avoid censorship and abuse by the government. This provision of the Constitution has played a vital role in ensuring a more transparent and democratic society, although, as in many countries, its implementation has sometimes been challenged.
  • Right to form trade unions: This element was intrinsically linked to labour reform. It guaranteed workers the right to organise to defend their interests, which was an essential step in balancing relations between workers and employers and ensuring social justice.
  • Rights of indigenous peoples: Mexico, with its rich history and cultural diversity, includes many indigenous communities. The 1917 Constitution was a pioneer in recognising the rights of indigenous peoples. Although implementation has been uneven, and there have been many challenges over the years, this recognition was an important step towards justice and equality for these communities.

Mexico's 1917 Constitution is undoubtedly one of the most significant legislative achievements of the post-revolutionary period. It was born of the need to provide concrete responses to the popular demands that had fuelled the tumultuous years of the revolution. Replacing the 1857 constitution, this new document reflected the aspirations of a country in search of equity and social justice. Agrarian reform was the backbone, seeking to correct historical land inequalities in favour of small farmers and indigenous communities. Labour reform aimed to protect workers' rights in the face of conditions that were often precarious and unfair. Education was also seen as an essential pillar in building a modern, informed nation, hence the emphasis on secular education accessible to all. The desire to separate church and state was also central to this constitution, reflecting a desire to limit the influence of the clergy in the affairs of state. In addition to these structural reforms, the 1917 Constitution was revolutionary in its recognition of civil rights. The fact that it envisaged women's suffrage, protected freedom of expression and recognised trade union rights shows just how avant-garde it was. Furthermore, as the first constitution in the Americas to explicitly recognise the rights of indigenous peoples, it paved the way for other nations to recognise and protect the rights of indigenous populations. In this way, the 1917 Constitution was not simply a legislative document; it was the symbol of a renewed Mexico, reflecting the hopes and aspirations of a nation that had gone through a period of major upheaval.

General Lázaro Cárdenas.

The 1917 Constitution was the result of a collective effort, but the influence of key figures such as Francisco Mujica is undeniable. Mujica, a dedicated socialist close to Lazaro Cardenas, brought his progressive and nationalist vision to the drafting of this momentous document. Francisco Mujica was a fervent defender of the rights of workers, peasants and indigenous peoples. His ideology was deeply rooted in the idea that Mexico should forge its own path, free from foreign influences and centred on social equity. His commitment to progress and social justice was crucial in the formulation of the provisions of the Constitution, particularly those relating to agrarian reform, the protection of workers' rights and the separation of church and state. It is also important to highlight his close relationship with Lazaro Cardenas, who would later become President of Mexico. During his time in office, Cardenas implemented some of the most radical reforms envisaged by the Constitution, including the nationalisation of the oil industry. The vision shared by Mujica and Cardenas did much to shape post-revolutionary Mexico and redefine the relationship between the country, its citizens and its resources. In short, Francisco Mujica, with his passion for social justice and his commitment to the ideals of the revolution, was instrumental in shaping a Constitution that sought to right the wrongs of the past and guide Mexico towards a fairer and more equitable future.

Mexico's 1917 Constitution is a fascinating blend of liberal and progressive ideas. On the surface, it embraced classic liberal principles by establishing a presidential system of government. This system, based on the separation of powers, aimed to balance and limit the power of government while guaranteeing the fundamental freedoms of citizens. However, what really sets this constitution apart from its contemporaries is its profoundly progressive nature. At a time when many countries had yet to fully recognise social and economic rights, Mexico took bold steps to codify these rights in its constitution. The reforms put forward were clearly designed to correct historical inequalities and establish a fairer society. Agrarian reform, for example, aimed to break down traditional power structures by redistributing land to small farmers and indigenous communities. It was an attempt to correct centuries of land concentration in the hands of a few privileged landowners. Labour reform, meanwhile, put workers' rights centre stage, guaranteeing decent working conditions, the right to strike and protection against exploitation. Education reform promised free, secular, public education, with the emphasis on training informed and committed citizens. Finally, religious reform represented a major break with the past. By seeking to separate Church and State, the Constitution sought to limit the traditional influence of the Catholic Church on Mexican politics and education. These progressive measures made the 1917 Constitution one of the most advanced of its time, reflecting the aspirations and ideals of the Mexican Revolution. It was not simply liberal; it was radically forward-looking, seeking to transform Mexico into a nation where the rights and dignity of all were respected and protected.

Mexico's 1917 Constitution sought to rectify many of the injustices inherited from the colonial era and the prolonged rule of Porfirio Díaz. The importance of the reforms included in this document cannot be underestimated, as they affected almost every aspect of Mexican society.

Agrarian reform was one of the most urgent. Millions of Mexicans, particularly indigenous communities, had been deprived of their traditional lands by centuries of colonial and post-colonial policies. Land redistribution was not only a question of social justice, but also aimed to balance economic power. The "ejidos", or communal lands, enabled entire communities to own and cultivate land collectively, thereby strengthening community solidarity. Labour reform was also essential. Under Díaz, workers were often exploited, with few or no rights. The new constitution guaranteed the right to strike, better working conditions, and sought to end the blatant exploitation of workers and peasants. Education, traditionally under the control of the Catholic Church, was another major concern. The constitution guaranteed public, secular and free education for all citizens. In this way, it sought to create an informed citizenry capable of participating fully in the democratic life of the country. The separation of church and state was also a radical change. By reducing the influence of the Church on public affairs, the constitution sought to create a secular state where the rights and freedoms of citizens were not dictated by religious doctrine. Finally, by providing social protection for its citizens, the constitution recognised the importance of supporting its most vulnerable citizens. This was a major advance for its time and put Mexico in the vanguard of social reform in Latin America.

The nationalist dimension of the 1917 Constitution is crucial to understanding the motivations and aspirations that guided its drafting. Mexico, like many Latin American countries, had a history of complex relations with foreign powers, particularly with regard to the exploitation of its natural resources. At the time, oil had become a strategic resource and its presence in Mexico attracted many foreign investors, mainly British and American. These foreign companies, with the tacit support of their respective governments, exerted considerable influence over Mexico's politics and economy. For many revolutionaries, this situation was unacceptable. It symbolised foreign imperialism and the loss of national sovereignty. The decision to include a clause in the constitution stipulating that subsoil resources, particularly oil, belonged to the nation was therefore deeply symbolic. It reflected a desire to regain control of the nation's wealth and to guarantee that the benefits of its exploitation would accrue to the Mexican people as a whole, rather than to a handful of foreign investors. In addition, limiting foreign ownership was a way of asserting Mexican sovereignty. It sent out a clear message: if foreigners wanted to invest in Mexico, they would have to do so on terms defined by the Mexicans themselves. Finally, this nationalist dimension of the constitution was part of a wider movement in Latin America at the time. Many countries were seeking to assert their independence and sovereignty in the face of foreign interference, whether through the nationalisation of resources or by other means. The Constitution of 1917 was therefore both a product of its time and a bold expression of the aspirations of the Mexican people.

In its quest for sovereignty and self-determination, the 1917 Constitution took specific steps to ensure that national interests prevailed over foreign interests. The incorporation of a provision authorising the expropriation of foreign-owned property for reasons of national interest was a powerful tool. This measure was not just symbolic, it offered the Mexican government a concrete means of controlling and regulating foreign investment and influence in the country. Limitations on foreign ownership near the border and the coast were also strategic measures. Borders and coastal areas are often considered to be strategically and security sensitive regions. By restricting foreign ownership in these areas, the Constitution sought to ensure that these crucial regions remained under Mexican control and free from potential foreign influence or control. These measures reflect a deep-seated distrust of foreign intervention, rooted in Mexico's history. The country had already suffered occupations, invasions and foreign interventions. The 19th century was marked by American and French interventions, as well as short periods of foreign occupation. Thus, these constitutional provisions can be seen as a direct response to these experiences, seeking to prevent future domination or undue foreign influence. It is important to emphasise that these measures were not directed solely against foreign investors or landowners as individuals, but rather aimed to protect national sovereignty and ensure that Mexico's economic development benefited its citizens. These provisions show how determined the Mexican revolution was to break with the past and chart a new course for the country's future.

The anti-clericalism enshrined in the 1917 Constitution was one of the most significant breaks with Mexico's past. Since colonial times, the Catholic Church had been a dominant force, not only in religious terms, but also as an economic and social power. It held vast tracts of land and exerted considerable influence over the daily lives of Mexicans. The desire to limit the power of the Church was linked to several factors. Firstly, there was a recognition of the Church's role as guardian of the status quo and its frequent alliance with conservative elites. Secondly, revolutionary leaders were influenced by liberal ideas circulating in Europe and Latin America, where the separation of church and state was seen as essential to the formation of a modern nation-state. The takeover of Church property was as much a question of economics as ideology. By expropriating the Church's vast holdings, the government would be able to redistribute this land to the peasants, thus fulfilling one of the main demands of the revolution. The nationalisation of the education system also had a dual purpose: it would allow the government to put in place a national education programme, while putting an end to the Church's influence on education. The Constitution's anti-clerical stance naturally met with significant resistance, particularly from conservative sectors and the Church itself. This tension culminated in the Cristero War of the 1920s, an armed insurrection against the government's anti-clerical policies. However, despite these challenges, the secularisation enshrined in the 1917 Constitution laid the foundations for a modern Mexico in which Church and State remain separate.

Implementation of the Constitution[modifier | modifier le wikicode]

Venustiano Carranza, although instrumental in drafting the 1917 Constitution, proved to be more of a pragmatic leader than a reformer during his tenure. He had a clear vision of order and stability, and was often more concerned with consolidating his power and ending the violence of the Mexican Revolution than with implementing the radical reforms that the Constitution promised. Carranza often faced major challenges during his presidency. He had to navigate a political landscape marked by deep rivalries and shifting alliances between various revolutionary leaders. In addition, the nation was deeply fragmented and scarred by almost a decade of intense fighting, political instability and social unrest. Despite the progressive Constitution, Carranza was often reluctant to implement its more radical provisions, particularly those concerning land redistribution. His government did little to dismantle the vast haciendas and redistribute land to the landless peasants, one of the main demands of the Revolution. Similarly, although the Constitution provided for radical labour reforms, Carranza often avoided implementing them in full, fearing that they would further destabilise the economy. Carranza was also concerned about foreign relations, particularly with the United States, which was watching revolutionary developments in Mexico with suspicion. He feared that implementing the reforms too quickly and radically would provoke foreign intervention. All this led to tensions with more radical factions of the revolution, in particular with Emiliano Zapata and Pancho Villa, who were impatient for more concrete social and economic reforms.

Venustiano Carranza's term in office was marked by a tumultuous period in Mexican history. Beyond the high expectations of the Revolution, the political and social reality of Mexico at that time was complex, with multiple actors seeking to shape the country's future according to their own visions. Corruption was rife, not only within Carranza's government but also among many of the Revolution's actors. Accusations of corruption, whether founded or used as political tools, undermined public confidence in Carranza's administration and exacerbated existing tensions. Struggles for power were a constant feature of this period. Figures such as Pancho Villa and Álvaro Obregón were serious rivals, each with a significant support base. Villa, with his División del Norte, maintained a strong presence in northern Mexico, while Obregón repeatedly proved his military and political capabilities. Emiliano Zapata, on the other hand, posed a different threat to Carranza. The leader of the Zapatista movement based in the state of Morelos, he was a fervent advocate of "Tierra y Libertad" (Land and Freedom), calling for far-reaching agrarian reform. The Zapatista vision was rooted in a radically different ideology to that of Carranza, and his demand for far-reaching agrarian reform was in direct contradiction to Carranza's reluctance to implement such measures on a national scale. The opposition of these figures created a complex and often violent dynamic. Carranza had to navigate a constantly changing political landscape, where allegiances frequently shifted and loyalties were often conditioned by personal or regional interests.

Venustiano Carranza, despite his contributions to the Mexican Revolution, notably as architect of the 1917 Constitution, faced a series of controversies during his tenure. His apparent desire to extend his stay in power was one of the main sticking points. In trying to influence the presidential succession to his advantage, Carranza was seen as seeking to circumvent the democratic spirit of the Constitution he had helped to promulgate. In particular, his attempt to install a puppet candidate, Ignacio Bonillas, was frowned upon by many political and military figures of the time. Álvaro Obregón, one of the main military leaders and an influential figure, was one of the first to speak out against Carranza at this time. The Plan de Agua Prieta, adopted in April 1920, was a direct blow against Carranza. Supported by other important figures such as Plutarco Elías Calles and Adolfo de la Huerta, the plan called for Carranza's overthrow, justifying this need on the grounds of his unconstitutional actions. Faced with growing opposition and the resulting military defeats, Carranza attempted to flee the capital, taking with him part of the national treasury in the hope of establishing a new front in the south of the country. His escape, however, was short-lived. Betrayed by his own troops, Carranza was assassinated in the state of Puebla in May 1920. Carranza's tragic end is symptomatic of Mexico's turbulent post-revolutionary era. Although he played a central role in the creation of the Mexican Constitution of 1917, his subsequent actions and desire to maintain power overshadowed his legacy and ultimately led to his downfall.

Following Carranza's death, Álvaro Obregón effectively consolidated his grip on power. Charismatic and endowed with remarkable political skill, Obregón was able to navigate the tumultuous post-revolutionary period with a firm hand. His rise to power marked the beginning of a more stable era for Mexico after a decade of conflict. It should be noted that his assumption of power was not immediate after Carranza's death. Instead, it was Adolfo de la Huerta who held the interim presidency for a few months in 1920 before Obregón was elected. When he became president, Obregón undertook numerous reforms to stabilise the country and consolidate central power. He sought to implement the provisions of the 1917 Constitution, particularly in the areas of education, land reform and labour rights. However, he also used authoritarian methods to suppress opposition and solidify his power base. Obregón's relationship with the Catholic Church was also contentious. His government applied strict anti-clerical measures, leading to a period of conflict known as the "Cristero War" between 1926 and 1929. In 1924, at the end of his first term, Obregón respected the Constitution and did not seek immediate re-election, leaving the presidency to Plutarco Elías Calles. However, he returned to power in 1928 after winning the presidential election again. His second presidency was short-lived. Before he could take office, he was assassinated, marking the end of one of Mexico's most influential post-revolutionary leaders.

The Mexican Revolution, which began in 1910 and lasted for a decade, was one of the greatest civil wars and revolutions of the twentieth century. It profoundly altered the social, political and economic structure of the country. The violence of this civil war was both sporadic and widespread. Fighting between the various factions often took place in rural areas, but towns were not spared either. The war was also marked by numerous betrayals, shifting alliances and assassinations of revolutionary leaders. Population movements were massive. Thousands of people fled the conflict zones to seek refuge in safer parts of the country or even abroad. These movements led to accelerated urbanisation in some cities, which became havens for those fleeing the violence. In addition, many Mexicans crossed the border to seek refuge in the United States, starting a wave of emigration that has had lasting implications for relations between the two countries. On the economic front, the chaos and destruction interrupted commercial and agricultural activities. Crops were abandoned or destroyed, mines were closed and railways, essential for trade and transport, were often sabotaged or damaged in the fighting. However, despite the devastation and tragic losses, the Revolution paved the way for important reforms that have shaped modern Mexico. After a decade of conflict, the country slowly rebuilt itself and began to implement far-reaching reforms, such as those set out in the 1917 Constitution, which aimed to address many of the social and economic injustices that had contributed to the outbreak of the Revolution.

Álvaro Obregón took over the reins of the country in a particularly difficult context. The decade of conflict had left Mexico bereft, both economically and socially. Despite this context, Obregón's presidency marked a turning point in the Mexican revolution. Renowned for his talents as an administrator and strategist, Obregón succeeded in largely pacifying the country. One of his first measures was to build a stable, loyalist national army to consolidate central power and deter regional uprisings. On the economic front, Obregón worked to restore the confidence of national and foreign investors. He favoured industry and sought to attract foreign investment while taking care to protect national resources. His policies have favoured economic recovery, albeit unevenly. On the agrarian front, although he took steps to redistribute land and began to implement some of the reforms of the 1917 Constitution, the process was slow and fraught with difficulties. The large estates (haciendas) were reluctant to give up their land, and the government often lacked the resources to compensate these owners. In addition, agrarian reform was complicated by competing claims and local conflicts over land ownership. Despite his efforts to stabilise the country, Obregón faced significant challenges, including opposition from certain conservative and religious groups. The religious question came to the fore during the Cristeros war in the 1920s, an armed uprising by Catholics against the government's anti-clerical policies.

Railways, a relatively recent innovation in Mexico at the beginning of the 20th century, became a crucial strategic element during the Mexican Revolution. Before the arrival of the railways, Mexico's vast and varied topography meant that the country was made up of regions that were largely isolated from one another. The railways bridged this gap, making it easier to mobilise and coordinate revolutionary efforts across the country. The railways also strengthened the national economy by linking production centres to markets. Control of the main lines and stations was not only strategic for troop movements, but also offered a vital economic advantage. Many battles during the revolution centred on the capture of these strategic nodes. As well as transporting troops, the rail network also enabled civilians to move, either to escape the combat zones or to seek better opportunities elsewhere. The speed of communication offered by rail was also unrivalled. Information could be transmitted more quickly from one region to another, becoming essential for the coordination of movements and strategies. What's more, the extension of the rail network was a tangible symbol of progress and modernisation, themes central to this revolutionary period. However, the fact that these railways were often under the control of foreign interests, mainly American and British, also raised important questions of sovereignty and national control. Figures such as Pancho Villa and Emiliano Zapata understood and used the strategic importance of the railways to advance their causes and extend their influence.

Women, often overshadowed in historical accounts of major events, played a pivotal role in the Mexican Revolution. Their involvement was not limited to supporting men, but they were actively engaged on all fronts of this war. The Soldaderas, as they were known, were women who marched alongside the revolutionary armies. These courageous women took part in the fighting, riding horses and wielding weapons as they faced the challenges of the battlefield. Their contribution was not limited to being fighters; they were also strategic, acting as spies, carrying messages from one faction to another or gathering information. Behind the front, women showed remarkable resilience. They looked after the camps, cooking for the troops, nursing the wounded and providing moral support to the combatants. These roles, although less glorified, were crucial to the smooth running of the revolutionary forces. Without food, medical care and support, the armies would have struggled to maintain their momentum. Outside the direct theatre of war, in villages and towns, women continued to support the war effort in a variety of ways. In the absence of men, many took on the responsibility of managing family affairs, ensuring the survival and subsistence of their loved ones. They also took part in rallies, demonstrations and other forms of organised resistance, showing their determination to fight for a better future. These efforts went beyond the period of the Revolution itself. After the war, many women continued to fight for their rights, spurred on by their direct experience of inequality and injustice. The Mexican Revolution was therefore a pivotal period for the emancipation and recognition of women in Mexico, highlighting their strength, determination and vital importance to the fabric of the nation.

Although the Mexican Revolution was a major turning point in Mexico's history and brought about significant changes in terms of politics, social rights and national identity, it also had devastating consequences for its people. The scale of the conflict, both in terms of duration and intensity, has had a profound impact on the very fabric of Mexican society. The human cost is the most tragic aspect of this revolution. Estimates vary, but it is widely acknowledged that a considerable percentage of the population lost their lives during this period. Behind every figure there is a story, a family in mourning, dreams interrupted and aspirations never fulfilled. The violence was not limited to the fighting; many civilians were caught in the crossfire, victims of reprisals, atrocities or simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time. The war also caused huge population displacements. Entire villages have been abandoned, either because of the direct destruction caused by the fighting, or because their inhabitants fled the violence. These displacements created a wave of refugees within the country, seeking safety and sustenance in the towns or in other regions. The consequences of these displacements have been felt for generations, with families broken up, traditions lost and communities disintegrated. Economically, Mexico has also paid a heavy price. The country's infrastructure, including railways, roads and buildings, suffered extensive damage. Many businesses and farms, which were the backbone of the economy, were destroyed or had to cease trading. Reconstruction was a slow and costly process, taking years, if not decades, to return to previous levels of prosperity. Socially, the war exacerbated existing tensions and created new ones. Distrust between the different factions, collective trauma and mistrust of the authorities marked Mexican society for many years.

1920 - 1934: The Sonoran years[modifier | modifier le wikicode]

The Sonoran project[modifier | modifier le wikicode]

The period of the "Sonoran years" from 1920 to 1934 is one of the most influential and decisive phases in Mexico's post-revolutionary history. This period is named after the state of Sonora, where many of the country's leading political figures came from at the time. After the assassination of Venustiano Carranza in 1920, Sonoran-born Alvaro Obregón became one of Mexico's most dominant political figures. He took control of the Mexican government after leading a series of successful military campaigns. Obregón was elected president in 1920 and served until 1924. His presidency was characterised by the consolidation of central power, the implementation of some of the constitutional reforms and the establishment of a semblance of peace after a decade of revolutionary violence. At the end of Obregón's term, Plutarco Elías Calles, also from Sonora, was elected president and served from 1924 to 1928. Calles continued to strengthen the state and pursue reforms, particularly in education and relations with the Catholic Church, which led to the religious conflict known as the "Cristero War". Although his presidency officially ended in 1928, Calles remained a dominant political figure during what became known as the "maximato", where, as the power behind the throne, he continued to exert significant influence over successive presidents until 1934. The period of the "Sonoran years" was marked by a combination of modernisation, centralisation of power and the implementation of reforms stemming from the Mexican Revolution. However, it was also marked by political tensions, religious conflicts and the concentration of power in the hands of a small elite. The end of this period coincided with the ascension of Lázaro Cárdenas to the presidency in 1934, who introduced a new phase of more radical agrarian, national and social reforms.

During the "Sonoran years", Mexico embarked on an ambitious phase of modernisation and economic development. The leaders of this period, most of whom came from the state of Sonora, had a clear vision of what Mexico should be in the global context. They sought to transform a predominantly agrarian country, with an economy dominated by large estates and an underdeveloped infrastructure, into an industrialised, modern nation capable of competing with powers such as the United States. One of the pillars of this vision was the construction of infrastructure. Sonoran leaders recognised that, for the country to develop, it needed to improve its basic infrastructure such as roads, railways, ports and communications facilities. Such investment in infrastructure was essential to facilitate trade, encourage mobility and unite a country with huge regional disparities. Foreign investment was also seen as crucial to stimulating economic development. Recognising the need for capital, technology and know-how, Sonoran leaders adopted favourable policies to attract foreign investors. This included mining, oil and agricultural concessions, as well as facilitating investment in key sectors such as manufacturing. The promotion of industrialisation was another major policy of this period. Instead of simply exporting raw materials, the idea was to process them locally, thereby creating added value, jobs and economic growth. The government encouraged the creation of local industries, ranging from textile production to steelmaking, and put policies in place to protect these fledgling industries from foreign competition. While these efforts led to significant economic growth and advances in the modernisation of the country, they were not without their challenges. Increasing dependence on foreign investment has raised concerns about national sovereignty and exploitation. Moreover, while some regions and sectors of the country benefited from these policies, others were left behind, exacerbating regional and social inequalities. Despite these challenges, the "Sonoran years" laid the foundations for a modern Mexico and played a key role in the country's development trajectory in the 20th century.

The Sonoran years, while productive in terms of economic development and modernisation, had their dark side in terms of political governance. The Sonoran rulers' desire to maintain their hegemony was often achieved at the expense of civil and political liberties. Political repression was a tangible reality. To maintain stability and ensure the uninterrupted implementation of their policies, these leaders adopted an intolerant attitude towards any opposition. Trade unions, for example, were often targeted. While these organisations were essential for defending workers' rights at a time of rapid industrial change, they were also seen as potential threats to the ruling power. Strikes were often brutally repressed, and union leaders harassed, arrested or even murdered. Political dissidents, whether of the left, right or other ideological persuasions, also suffered repression. Freedom of the press was severely restricted, with critical journalists regularly intimidated or censored. Those who dared to openly challenge the regime were often imprisoned, and in some cases forced into exile to escape persecution. Many intellectuals, politicians and activists who could have made a positive contribution to public debate were forced to leave the country, depriving Mexico of critical voices that could have played a constructive role in the nation. It is essential to understand that, although this period laid the foundations for Mexico's economic development, it also instituted a form of authoritarianism that has had lasting consequences for the country's political life. The challenges of democratisation and guaranteeing human rights are partly rooted in this era of consolidation of power by a narrow elite.

The modernisation undertaken by Sonoran leaders partly reflected the trends of the Porfiriato, but also incorporated distinct nuances and orientations, rooted in the aspirations and lessons of the Mexican Revolution. In the field of agriculture, while the Porfiriato had largely favoured large landowners and foreign investors, the Sonorians, while recognising the central role of agriculture in the economy, incorporated the calls for agrarian reform arising from the revolution. They orchestrated a redistribution of land and strengthened the system of ejidos, land jointly farmed by local groups of farmers. Irrigation was also a priority for both regimes. The need to build dams and irrigation systems was well understood, but Sonorians in particular saw water as an essential resource for boosting agriculture in traditionally arid areas, such as their own state of Sonora. Transport also evolved during this period. While the Porfiriato had focused on railways, mainly to facilitate trade with the United States, the Sonorians, while pursuing rail expansion, paid renewed attention to road and bridge construction, seeking to better connect the country's remote and inland regions. Finally, the banking sector underwent significant changes under Sonoran leadership. They planned to fortify the national financial system, protecting it from excessive foreign influence and giving priority to Mexican banking institutions. This was a clear break with the Porfiriato, where foreign financial interests dominated the banking landscape.

The policy of the Sonoran leaders represented a kind of pragmatism rooted in the economic reality of Mexico at the time. The country, with its vast expanses of arable land and age-old farming traditions, had always been essentially agrarian. So, from the perspective of Sonoran leaders, it made sense to capitalise on this intrinsic strength. Their approach differed markedly from that of previous regimes, which had often favoured the extractive and manufacturing industries, largely in response to the needs of foreign investors. The Sonorians, while recognising the importance of these sectors, placed agriculture at the centre of their vision of development. The emphasis on building irrigation systems and roads had a dual purpose: to increase agricultural production to meet the needs of the domestic market and to facilitate the transport of produce to external markets. The provision of bank loans to farmers was also an important innovation. In a context where access to finance was often limited, these loans were intended to enable farmers to invest in new technologies and methods, thereby increasing their productivity. However, the fact that the Sonorians also sought to stimulate industrialisation, particularly in the agricultural sector, shows that they were not solely focused on traditional agriculture. By encouraging the industrialisation of agricultural products, such as cotton and sugar, they hoped to add value to the country's raw materials, thereby generating additional income and creating jobs. This duality - favouring the agricultural sector while simultaneously supporting industrialisation - reflects the complexity of the Sonorians' development vision. They sought to balance the country's immediate needs with opportunities for long-term growth.

The Sonoran approach to economic development marked a significant break with previous periods, particularly the Porfiriato era, during which Mexico had relied heavily on foreign investment, particularly in sectors such as mining and railways. Under Porfirio Díaz, the policy of openness to foreign investment had allowed large capital flows, but had also led to excessive dependence on this capital, sometimes resulting in a loss of control over national resources. The Sonorians, having observed the consequences of this dependence, and perhaps also influenced by a rise in post-revolutionary economic nationalism, sought to regain control of the economy. By promoting domestic industry, they sought to ensure that the majority of the profits generated remained in Mexico, thereby contributing directly to the improvement of the economy and the prosperity of Mexicans. This approach aimed not only to strengthen the country's industrial base, but also to ensure that strategic resources and industries were not dominated by foreign interests. The emphasis on self-sufficiency was also a response to fluctuations in the global market. By creating a more independent economy, leaders hoped to protect Mexico from international economic crises and ensure stable economic growth. However, this approach had its challenges. While the goal of self-sufficiency was noble, it was difficult to completely eliminate dependence on foreign markets and capital, particularly in an increasingly interconnected world. Nevertheless, the aspiration to economic autonomy was a key element in the development agenda of Sonoran leaders.

The first half of the 20th century was marked by global economic upheaval, and Mexico was not spared. The crises of 1921 and 1929, in particular, hit the country hard, reflecting both internal vulnerabilities and Mexico's interconnections with the global economy. The Great Depression, which began in 1929, triggered a global economic crisis, with a drastic reduction in trade, investment and demand for labour. For Mexico, this meant the return of many Mexican workers who had migrated north in search of better opportunities in the United States. These returns added further pressure to an already struggling economy, increasing the need for jobs and resources to support a growing population. In the north of the country, however, the Sonoran regime has managed to make some progress. Thanks to a particular focus on agricultural development, this region has seen significant growth in its production capacity. The construction of irrigation systems, roads and other essential infrastructure has stimulated economic growth, enabling the region to mitigate some of the worst consequences of the crisis. However, the centre of the country has not been so lucky. This region, traditionally the agricultural and economic heartland of Mexico, faced serious difficulties. Infrastructure was less developed, and food production capacity could not keep pace with growing demand. The combination of a growing population, due in part to returning migrants, and stagnant food production created economic and social tensions. These challenges have underlined the need for a well-planned and diversified economic development strategy. Sonoran leaders succeeded in implementing significant reforms in some regions, but regional inequalities and the country's economic vulnerabilities remained persistent problems. The period raised fundamental questions about how best to ensure long-term prosperity and stability for the country as a whole.

Mexico's demographic explosion between 1920 and 1940 was impressive. In just twenty years, the population doubled from 20 million to 40 million. Such a rapid increase in population had profound consequences for the country's socio-economic structure, with direct repercussions for the agricultural sector in particular. Although the period was marked by modernisation efforts, notably under the leadership of the Sonoran rulers, these changes were not always sufficient to meet the needs of the growing population. Mexico's agricultural sector, despite its primacy in the economy, faced enormous challenges. Historically, agricultural ownership was unevenly distributed, with vast haciendas controlling large tracts of land, while many peasants were landless or owned small plots. In addition, the lack of modern infrastructure, such as irrigation systems, and the lack of access to modern agricultural technologies hampered the country's ability to increase food production. Faced with growing food demand, these constraints have exacerbated the food deficit, with production failing to keep pace with population growth. This imbalance has had direct consequences, including increased dependence on food imports, fluctuations in food prices and increased food insecurity for many Mexicans. The challenge of feeding a growing population has highlighted the need for far-reaching agrarian reform and modernisation of the agricultural sector. Efforts have been made in this direction, but the road to food security and self-sufficiency has been long and complex, requiring major political, economic and social adjustments.

During the 1920s and 1930s, Mexico faced a complex set of challenges that shaped its socio-economic development. The massive return of Mexican workers from the United States, often forced, added further pressure to the national economy. These workers, who had previously been a source of income in the form of remittances for their families back in Mexico, suddenly returned, creating an oversupply of labour. This has exacerbated the already high unemployment rates and exacerbated the problems of poverty. This precarious economic situation has occurred alongside sustained population growth, making the task of feeding and employing the growing population even more difficult. The challenge of providing sufficient jobs and resources for this growing population has been compounded by other structural challenges, such as land inequality, inadequate infrastructure and technological limitations in the agricultural sector. The political dimension also played a crucial role in the dynamics of this era. The Sonoran government, while seeking to modernise the country, adopted an authoritarian approach, often suppressing opposition and limiting freedom of expression. This repression created a climate of mistrust and dissatisfaction among many sections of the population. As a result, the 1920s and 1930s were marked by a series of paradoxes for Mexico. As the country strove to modernise and develop its economy, social, economic and political challenges multiplied, creating a complex and often tense environment for many Mexicans. These challenges laid the foundations for the reforms and changes that were to follow in the decades that followed.

Unlike Porfirio Díaz, the Sonorran leaders adopted a different strategy for managing Mexico's working classes. Instead of relying primarily on repression to maintain order, as Díaz had done during his long reign, the Sonorians adopted a more inclusive approach, trying to integrate the working class into the country's socio-economic fabric. The underlying idea was simple but strategic: by improving workers' living conditions, they could secure their loyalty, or at least their passivity. By offering better job opportunities, improving working conditions, and perhaps granting social benefits, they hoped to counteract any revolutionary feelings that might arise as a result of inequality and injustice. This tactic was intended to reduce the likelihood of social unrest and political unrest among the working class, which made up a large proportion of the population. This approach can be seen as far-sighted in some respects. Rather than simply suppressing a discontented group, the Sonorians sought to address some of the underlying causes of that discontent. However, it is also clear that there was a pragmatic dimension to this strategy: it was aimed at ensuring stability and strengthening the government's control over a key demographic group. It should be noted that, while this approach was different from Díaz's, it was not without its flaws and criticisms. While on the one hand it represented an attempt to improve the lot of the workers, on the other it was also a means of maintaining order and consolidating power in the hands of a ruling elite.

Agrarian reform in Mexico during this period was an ambitious attempt to correct centuries of land inequality and injustice. The concentration of land in the hands of a small landowning elite had always been a major point of contention, and agrarian reform was theoretically intended to redistribute this land to the landless peasants, thus meeting one of the central demands of the Mexican Revolution. In practice, however, the implementation of agrarian reform has been uneven. Although a large number of peasants benefited from the redistribution of land, the majority remained landless. It is estimated that only 10% of the peasantry, which represented around 40% of the rural population, actually benefited from these changes. These figures reveal the limits of the reform, particularly given the initial expectations. These limitations were particularly evident in central Mexico, a stronghold of the Zapatista movement. The Zapatismo movement, led by Emiliano Zapata, had as its main slogan "Tierra y Libertad" (Land and Freedom). The movement called for a radical distribution of land to landless peasants. However, despite the strong influence of Zapatismo in this region, many peasants in the centre of the country did not benefit from agrarian reform.

Agrarian reform in Mexico, initiated after the Revolution, was supposed to be the remedy for the deep-rooted problems of land inequality. It was intended to remedy a system in which a large proportion of the country's fertile land was held by a tiny minority, leaving the majority of peasants in poverty and landless. However, the reality of the implementation of this reform has been far from these ideals. Bureaucracy was one of the first stumbling blocks. Instead of land being distributed quickly and efficiently, farmers were often faced with cumbersome procedures, delaying the granting of promised land. Corruption also played a major role. In many cases, officials and intermediaries misappropriated land or sold it to the highest bidder, rather than distributing it to those who needed it most. Opposition from large landowners, who are naturally reluctant to give up their land, was another major obstacle. Armed with considerable resources and political influence, they often succeeded in undermining or circumventing attempts at redistribution. Resource limitations, whether in terms of funds to compensate landowners or expertise to manage the process, have also affected the scope and effectiveness of reform. In addition, frequent changes in leadership and shifting political priorities have led the authorities to focus elsewhere, often relegating land reform to the back burner. The inherent complexity of the Mexican land tenure system, with its ancestral rights, competing claims and often ill-defined title deeds, has added a further layer of challenge. This has made the equitable distribution of land all the more complicated. So, despite the best of intentions and recognition of the need for agrarian reform, its implementation became the emblematic example of the challenges of Mexico's post-revolutionary transformation. Although there have been successes and advances, for many, agrarian reform remains a reflection of the missed opportunities and unfulfilled hopes of the Mexican Revolution.

The agrarian reform put in place during the Sonoran regime represented a tangible response to the profound land inequalities that had long prevailed in Mexico. These inequalities were at the heart of social and economic tensions, fuelling decades of discontent and ultimately culminating in the Mexican Revolution. The desire to rectify these imbalances was therefore essential to ensure the stability and legitimacy of the new regime. The Sonoran programme aimed to transform Mexico's agrarian landscape by redistributing land from the large haciendas to the landless peasants. The idea was that this redistribution, as well as rectifying a historical injustice, would boost the country's agricultural sector, encouraging an increase in production and, consequently, greater food self-sufficiency. The introduction of irrigation systems, the construction of roads to facilitate the transport of agricultural produce, and the granting of credit to farmers were all initiatives designed to increase agricultural productivity. The hope was that, combined with the redistribution of land, this infrastructure would enable Mexican farmers to farm more efficiently and provide for their needs more effectively. However, despite the programme's scope and ambitions, it has faced countless challenges. As mentioned earlier, problems such as bureaucracy, corruption and opposition from large landowners have hampered the full implementation of the reform. Nevertheless, it would be a mistake to underestimate its impact. Thousands of peasants received land and, with it, an opportunity to rise economically and socially.

During this period of transformation in Mexico, the working class found itself at a historic crossroads. With increasing urbanisation, the rise of industrialisation and the consolidation of power in a centralised government, workers and their rights became a major issue. The government recognised that in order to maintain stability and avoid revolution, it had to somehow manage and channel the demands of the working class. One such strategy was to co-opt the main trade union, placing it under the direct control of the Ministry of Industry. Through this manoeuvre, the government was able to directly influence the union's policies and actions, by ensuring that it did not go against the interests of the regime. However, co-option was only part of the strategy. Unions that were not aligned with government policies or that defended socialist, anarchist or communist ideologies were systematically repressed. This repression took many forms: arrests, exile and even, in some cases, assassination. The aim of the repression was not only to eliminate direct opposition, but also to send a clear message to the working class about the limits of dissent. Restricting the right to strike was another mechanism for controlling the working class. By restricting workers' ability to strike, the government effectively undermined one of the most powerful tools workers had to negotiate and demand their rights. Overall, although the government made efforts to bring the working class into the political process through co-option, it was clear that its overall approach was largely authoritarian. The message was simple: the working class could participate, but only within the limits defined by the regime.

The government, in seeking to control the trade union movement, was aware of the potential power of the organised working class. In history, united and organised workers have often been in the vanguard of revolutionary movements, and it was imperative for the government to avoid such a situation in Mexico. By co-opting the union leaders, the government hoped to weaken the collective will of the workers and direct their demands in a way that would not threaten the established order. In fact, by aligning the union leaders with the government's objectives, the chances of radical or revolutionary movements arising from below were minimised. Co-opted leaders, often enjoying privileges and benefits from the regime, had little incentive to challenge authority or encourage dissent among their members. However, co-option was only part of the strategy. Direct repression of the most radical elements of the labour movement was just as crucial. By eliminating or imprisoning the most militant leaders, the government could discourage dissent and radicalism. Restricting the rights to organise and protest also ensured that workers would feel powerless and less inclined to rebel against authority. This approach, while effective in the short term for maintaining order and stability, had long-term consequences. It created a sense of alienation among the working class, as their real interests were often not represented. Moreover, the government's reliance on repression rather than open dialogue with workers potentially eroded its legitimacy in the eyes of many citizens. In short, although the government succeeded in controlling the labour movement for a time, it sowed the seeds of future mistrust and dissent.

The government's strategy had the dual aim of stimulating economic growth while firmly retaining the reins of power. To achieve this, it tried to combine elements of reform and repression. Modernisation and economic development were essential not only to improve the lives of citizens, but also to strengthen Mexico's position on the international stage. As infrastructure, agriculture and industry progressed, the promise of a better future began to emerge for many Mexicans. This progress was all the more necessary as the growing population demanded jobs, services and opportunities. However, alongside these modernisation initiatives, the government was aware of the potential for discontent among segments of the population, particularly the organised working class, which had historically been at the heart of social and revolutionary movements. The repression of this group, coupled with the co-option of its leaders, was therefore a preventive measure to avoid greater social unrest. The restrictions imposed on the rights to organise and protest contributed to an atmosphere of mistrust, fear and oppression. Many felt powerless in the face of a state that seemed not only indifferent to their concerns, but also willing to take drastic measures to stifle dissent. Although economic growth and modernisation projects brought tangible benefits to some sections of the population, they also increased inequality. Many Mexicans, while benefiting from improved infrastructure and access to new goods and services, were also aware of the limitations on their freedom and the injustices they continued to suffer.

The National Revolutionary Party (NRP) was conceived as a mechanism for consolidating power after a period of post-revolutionary upheaval and conflict. In founding the party, Mexico's ruling elite sought to establish lasting political stability, putting an end to the ongoing power struggles that had characterised the previous period. By bringing together different revolutionary factions under a single banner, the PNR was able to present an image of national unity, while keeping the reins of power firmly in its own hands. The party has succeeded in encompassing a wide range of interests, from the military to the trade unions and the agrarian classes. This internal diversity, combined with a strong organisational structure, has contributed to the NRP's resilience. The patronage system, where favours, positions and resources were distributed in exchange for loyalty, was essential to maintaining the party's control over the country. This ensured the loyalty of regional and local cadres and strengthened the party's presence at all levels of government. Equally crucial was the party's ability to neutralise political competition. The PNR (and later the PRI) systematically marginalised, co-opted or repressed independent groups and individuals who threatened its hegemony. In some cases, this was achieved by offering positions or advantages, on other occasions through more authoritarian tactics. This one-party dominance was also facilitated by a series of electoral reforms, often designed to favour the ruling party. Although regular elections were held, they were often criticised for their lack of transparency and fairness. It was only at the end of the 20th century that the Mexican political system began to open up, allowing greater competition and pluralism. However, the legacy of the PNR and then the PRI has left an indelible mark on Mexico's political structure and dynamics.

The establishment of the PNR was not just a clever political manoeuvre; it was a pragmatic necessity for a country that had undergone a decade of revolutionary upheaval. Mexico at that time was fragmented by various factions and military leaders, each with their own support bases and agendas. The NRP was an attempt to bring these disparate groups together under a common banner, ensuring relative stability after years of conflict. The inclusion of the Sonorizadores, the Zapatistas and other factions certainly complicated the nature of the NRP, but this was also its strength. These alliances, while imperfect and often strained, have enabled the party to attract a wide range of support. The Sonorizadores, for example, brought their modernist vision and influence to the northern regions, while the Zapatistas represented the agrarian demands and needs of the peasants in the south. The PNR's strategy for maintaining power was multifaceted. Co-optation was one of its main methods: by integrating leaders and potentially dissident groups into the party structure, or by offering them important government posts, the PNR was able to mitigate the threat they represented. This also had the effect of diluting radical agendas, as once integrated into the system, many were absorbed into the concerns of power and day-to-day governance. At the same time, the NRP did not hesitate to use repression when it was deemed necessary. Opposition parties, particularly those on the left, have often been the victims of intimidation, arrest or other forms of harassment. This mixture of co-optation and repression allowed the PNR (and later the PRI) to remain the dominant force in Mexican politics for decades.

The prolonged domination of Mexican politics by the PNR, and later the PRI, was a double-edged sword. On the one hand, this political stability has allowed economic and social policies to be implemented consistently over long periods, without the frequent interruptions or policy reversals that can occur in more unstable or fragmented regimes. This continuity has greatly benefited Mexico's modernisation process, promoting the creation of infrastructure, industrial growth, education and the implementation of certain social policies. However, this same stability has also had its drawbacks. The concentration of political power within the PNR/PRI has often led to a lack of real checks and balances. In many cases, this has created an environment where corruption, nepotism and abuses of power could proliferate without fear of significant repercussions. Without a robust political opposition to hold the ruling party to account, and with a press that was often muzzled or aligned with the party, the system became opaque. The centralisation of power also often meant that policies and decisions were made according to the needs and interests of the party rather than those of the country as a whole. Regions or groups that were not considered essential to the party's interests could find themselves neglected or marginalised. It is also important to note that, as part of this domination, the true will and desires of many parts of the Mexican population were suppressed or ignored. The voice of the people was often secondary to the aims of the party.

The reorganisation of the army during the Mexican Revolution represented a major transformation of Mexico's military and political landscape. Under Porfirio Díaz, the rural guard was a paramilitary force created to maintain order in the countryside. These guards were often used to protect the interests of large landowners, suppress peasant movements and insurrections, and act as a buffer between urban and rural areas. Although effective in their role, they were also notorious for their abuses and brutality. The Mexican Revolution saw the rise of several different armies, led by revolutionary figures such as Francisco Villa and Emiliano Zapata, fighting against Díaz's federal forces and, later, each other. The fragmented nature of these armed forces, as well as their different ideologies and agendas, made the military landscape of the revolutionary period complex. After the Revolution, it became clear that a unified, centralised and professional army was needed to guarantee the country's stability. Thus, the new national army was established, as distinct from the personal armies of the revolutionary caudillos. This new force was intended to be neutral, apolitical and loyal to the state, rather than to any particular leader. The reorganisation and centralisation of the army had several advantages. Firstly, it strengthened the central power of the government, allowing it to exercise a more uniform authority over the whole country. Secondly, it reduced the possibility of local caudillos or military chiefs exercising undue influence or power in their respective regions. Thirdly, it allowed for the modernisation and standardisation of equipment, training and tactics. However, this military centralisation also had its drawbacks. It concentrated enormous power in the hands of the ruling elite, which was sometimes used to suppress opposition or further consolidate power. Moreover, although the army was conceived as an apolitical entity, on several occasions during the 20th century it became a political actor in its own right, playing a key role in national affairs.

The creation of Mexico's new national army was in fact a strategic response to the chaotic environment of the Mexican Revolution. With various factions and caudillos controlling different parts of the country, it was essential to put in place a centralised entity capable of restoring and maintaining order. This army was an essential tool for the central government to establish its authority throughout the country. Modernising the army was also a necessity of the 20th century. Modern warfare demanded a more technologically advanced army, with more modern weapons, vehicles and equipment. Military training was also overhauled, focusing on more contemporary tactics and better preparation for national and international conflicts. So, unlike the rural guard, which was more of a paramilitary force and often seen as crude and unregulated, the new national army aimed to be a modern, disciplined and professional force. As well as internal consolidation, defence against external threats was a concern. Mexico's history is marked by foreign interventions, such as the French invasion and the American intervention. A strong, unified national army was seen as a necessity to deter future intervention or foreign interference. This transition from the rural guard to the national army also symbolised the transition from a fragmented and often feudal Mexico to a modern nation-state, with a centralised administration seeking to assert its sovereignty and authority over its entire territory.

The new national army, as a centralised institution, had a much broader role than simply defending and maintaining order. It became a major instrument for implementing state reforms and projects. In the area of infrastructure, the army was deployed to build roads, bridges and other essential infrastructure. These projects were not just development initiatives, but were also of strategic importance, allowing greater troop mobility and a quicker response to potential unrest. Education and public health were key areas for national development and the well-being of the population. The army supported these efforts, for example by taking part in vaccination campaigns or providing technical and vocational training. It was also used to guarantee access to education in remote or troubled areas, ensuring the security of schools and taking part in civic education programmes. Agrarian reform, one of the main promises of the Mexican Revolution, required effective territorial control and rigorous management. The army was used to demarcate land, establish collective agricultural zones and, in some cases, protect farming communities from reprisals by former landowners. It also ensured that land was distributed fairly and in accordance with government guidelines. However, the use of the army in these civilian functions had complex implications. While it played an essential role in national development, its presence and dominant role could also create tensions, particularly in areas where populations were sceptical or resistant to government intervention. The period of the Sonorran government saw the Mexican state strengthen and expand, with the army often acting as the hand of this growing power.

The creation of the Federal Rural Police was a response to the challenges posed by Mexico's vast territory and the complexity of implementing agrarian reform. In a country with such a varied topography and sometimes isolated regions, the army's ability to intervene quickly and effectively could be limited. The Federal Rural Police therefore complemented the army's efforts by focusing specifically on rural areas. The mission of the Federal Rural Police went beyond simple law enforcement. In the post-revolutionary context, the government was determined to establish a stable and visible presence throughout the country, particularly in areas where conflicts or tensions could arise over land distribution. The police were therefore not only a tool for maintaining order, but also a symbol of the authority and continuity of the state. They played a crucial role in the implementation of land reform. By protecting the beneficiaries of the reform, monitoring land redistribution and providing security during land disputes, the Federal Rural Police helped to ensure that the reform proceeded smoothly and fairly. However, like any institution, the Federal Rural Police faced challenges. Accusations of corruption, abuse of power and excesses were sometimes raised. In some cases, tensions arose between the rural police and local communities, particularly when the interests of these communities were perceived to be in conflict with central government directives.

The construction of Mexican nationalism[modifier | modifier le wikicode]

The post-revolutionary period in Mexico was marked by a quest for national identity that sought to celebrate and integrate the country's indigenous roots. This approach contrasted sharply with the policy of Europeanisation favoured by the regime of Porfirio Díaz. One of the most emblematic artistic expressions of this period was the muralist movement. Artists such as Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco and David Alfaro Siqueiros painted huge murals on public buildings, capturing Mexican history with a strong emphasis on its indigenous origins and social conflicts. At the same time, indigenism emerged as a cultural and political trend that valued and promoted indigenous cultures as the foundation of nationality. Initiatives were taken to integrate indigenous communities into national life, while preserving and promoting their traditions and languages. Education, under the leadership of figures such as José Vasconcelos, Minister of Education in the 1920s, became a key tool for promoting this new identity, emphasising a fusion between indigenous and European elements. At the same time, the Festival of the Race, introduced in 1928, celebrated the country's mixed-race identity, a synthesis of indigenous and European, especially Spanish, cultures. The post-revolutionary government also sought to reinterpret national history. The Conquest was seen as a tragedy, highlighting indigenous resistance to Spanish oppression, and figures such as Cuauhtémoc, the last Aztec emperor, were elevated to the status of national heroes. However, despite these efforts to value and integrate Mexico's indigenous heritage, many inequalities remained. Indigenous populations faced, and continue to face, considerable challenges, whether in terms of education, access to healthcare or economic opportunities. Although the State glorified the image of the Indian in its speeches and in art, the day-to-day reality for many was far from this idealisation. Nevertheless, this period redefined the way Mexico conceived itself, opting for an identity that embraced its indigenous roots while acknowledging its rich mixed heritage.

Mexico's post-porfirien revolutionary government embarked on a significant quest for a rebirth of identity. Rather than looking to Europe as a model of modernity and culture, as Porfirio Díaz had done, this new regime saw the country's mestizo and indigenous roots as an essential source of national strength and identity. Art and culture have become key vehicles for this redefinition of identity. The murals, painted by artists such as Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco and David Alfaro Siqueiros, depicted historical, mythical and everyday scenes, giving pride of place to indigenous figures and themes. Pre-Columbian motifs appeared not only in works of art, but also in the architectural design of public buildings and monuments, fusing modern styles with ancestral elements. The promotion of indigenous heritage has not been limited to art and architecture. The government has also introduced initiatives to promote indigenous languages, considering their preservation and revitalisation to be essential to the country's cultural heritage. Schools have incorporated the teaching of these languages, and radio programmes have been created to reach rural and remote populations. Traditional festivals and celebrations have also been revitalised and promoted. The Festival of the Race, for example, celebrated the cultural synthesis of Mexico's indigenous and Spanish heritage, reinforcing the idea of a single, unified mestizo nation. These efforts were aimed not only at creating a sense of national unity and belonging, but also at recognising and validating the contributions of indigenous cultures to Mexican identity and history. By valuing this heritage, the revolutionary government sought to create a Mexico that was more inclusive and representative of its deep roots.

Mexico's historical narrative, under the aegis of the revolutionary government, underwent a profound re-evaluation. Previous narratives, which tended to emphasise European influence and superiority, were challenged, replaced by a history that valued the country's rich pre-colonial heritage. The aim of this approach was to establish the legitimacy of the new regime by establishing deeper links with the pre-Hispanic past, but also to restore the indigenous and mestizo populations to the central place they deserved in national history. Historic figures previously overshadowed or downplayed, such as Cuauhtémoc, the last Aztec emperor, or Emiliano Zapata, revolutionary leader and defender of agrarian rights, have been brought into the light of official history as emblems of resistance, pride and integrity. Pre-Columbian civilisations, such as the Aztecs, Mayas and Zapotecs, were represented not only for their artistic and architectural achievements, but also for their social, political and scientific contributions. The school curriculum was redesigned to incorporate this new perspective. School textbooks were revised to highlight the indigenous and mestizo contributions to the formation of the nation. Students were now taught to see Mexico as a country whose cultural and historical richness stemmed from a fusion between the indigenous and colonial worlds, and not simply as the product of colonisation. Through this emphasis on a revised national history, the government sought to strengthen the sense of national belonging, create a more inclusive identity and, in a way, make amends for the historical wrongs committed against the indigenous and mestizo populations, restoring to them the dignity and recognition they deserved.

The reorientation of Mexico's national identity had implications far beyond the cultural realm. It shaped the government's approach to domestic and foreign policy, with a marked desire to preserve and strengthen the country's sovereignty. Self-sufficiency became a watchword of this period, suggesting that Mexico, in order to develop and assert its place in the world, had to rely on its own resources and capabilities rather than on foreign intervention or influence. The nationalisation of the oil industry in 1938 under the presidency of Lázaro Cárdenas was part of this approach. By regaining control of oil resources, the government wanted to ensure that the profits from this vital resource went directly to the Mexican people rather than to foreign interests. This measure, bold for its time, was a strong signal of the government's commitment to protecting Mexico's economic sovereignty. Similarly, the agrarian reform that began after the Mexican Revolution became one of the revolutionary government's most emblematic initiatives. It aimed to correct the land inequalities inherited from the colonial era and the Porfirian period, when vast tracts of land were held by a handful of large landowners, often to the detriment of indigenous communities. By redistributing the land, the government hoped not only to do justice to these communities, but also to encourage agricultural development focused on national needs. These measures, far from being mere economic policies, reflected a broader vision of what Mexico should be: a strong, independent country founded on social justice and rooted in a profoundly national identity, valuing its mestizo and indigenous heritage.

At the heart of this transformation of identity was an imperative desire to strengthen the national fabric and establish a solid foundation for the country following the upheavals and divisions of the Mexican Revolution. Valuing the country's indigenous and mestizo roots was not only a means of acknowledging Mexico's rich cultural diversity, but also a strategy for establishing a common foundation with which all Mexicans could identify. By legitimising the government's policies, including the nationalisation of key industries and land reform, through this new national identity, the government hoped to gain wider and deeper support from the population. It was a way of showing that these initiatives were not simply arbitrary political decisions, but stemmed from a broader vision of what it meant to be Mexican and where the country should be heading. What's more, this nationalist stance was also a bulwark against foreign influences. At a time when many Latin American countries were facing imperialism and interventionism from larger powers, Mexico's emphasis on autonomy and independence sent a strong message internationally. It signalled Mexico's determination to make its own decisions, to forge its own path, without being subordinate or dependent on foreign agendas. This assertion of sovereignty and independence not only strengthened Mexico's position on the international stage, but also instilled a sense of pride and belonging among its citizens.

Fresco by Diego Rivera.

This period of nation-building in Mexico was strongly influenced by the desire to define itself independently of outside influences and to celebrate the country's unique identity. Artistic movements, particularly muralism, embodied this effort. Artists such as Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco and David Alfaro Siqueiros used the walls of public buildings as canvases to depict Mexico's rich history, highlighting the achievements of indigenous peoples and celebrating national heroes. The murals were not just works of art, they were also political and educational tools. Through their public accessibility, they helped to educate the population, including those who were illiterate or had no access to formal education. They told the story of Mexico, its struggle for independence and justice, and its hopes for the future. The creation of the National School of Anthropology and History was also part of this effort to promote and understand Mexican culture. Academic study of the country's rich pre-Columbian history and living traditions has helped to forge a national identity based on recognition of the diversity and complexity of Mexico's past. Education was another central pillar of this period of nation-building. By instituting a national education system, the government sought to instil the ideals of revolutionary nationalism in the younger generation. This education was not limited to the simple acquisition of skills, but also aimed to produce informed and committed citizens who were proud of their Mexican identity.

After the Mexican Revolution, there was a concerted effort by the government to recover and celebrate Mexico's indigenous identity, which had been eclipsed during the long period of the Porfiriato. During this period, Porfirio Díaz had adopted a Europeanist vision of progress and modernity, often to the detriment of indigenous culture and Mexican values. After his fall, the country embarked on a profound introspection, seeking to rediscover and celebrate its roots. The National School of Anthropology and History played a central role in this quest. By promoting the academic study of indigenous, pre-Columbian and contemporary cultures, the institution has not only contributed to a better understanding of these cultures, it has also helped to elevate their status in the national imagination. Instead of being regarded as relics of a bygone past, indigenous cultures have been recognised as a living and dynamic part of Mexican identity. Government support for archaeology has also been crucial. Excavations and restorations of ancient sites such as Teotihuacán, Palenque and Chichén Itzá have helped reveal the grandeur and sophistication of Mexico's pre-Columbian civilisations. These discoveries have not only been a source of national pride, but have also attracted worldwide attention, making Mexico a major destination for archaeology and cultural tourism. It is important to note that these efforts were not only aimed at rediscovering the past, but also at addressing the present. Contemporary indigenous cultures have often been marginalised and faced serious inequalities. By valuing their heritage and recognising their contribution to the nation, the government also hoped to draw attention to their rights and well-being in modern Mexico.

José Vasconcelos is an emblematic figure of the post-revolutionary period in Mexico. His vision of the "cosmic race" and the celebration of mestizaje was a bold response to Mexico's tumultuous history and the complexity of its cultural identity. Instead of seeing the country's different ethnic and racial origins as a source of division or conflict, Vasconcelos presented them as a unique richness, a fusion that could give rise to a new civilisation. He saw miscegenation not only as a physical or genetic phenomenon, but also as a cultural and spiritual one. This vision broke radically with the eugenicist and racial ideas that were popular in many parts of the world at the time. As Minister of Education, Vasconcelos was able to put his ideas into practice by promoting rural education, funding cultural missions throughout the country, and encouraging muralism, an artistic movement that beautifully portrayed the themes of mestizaje and indigenous culture. Artists such as Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros and Orozco were greatly supported by his vision and initiatives. Vasconcelos saw education as the principal means of promoting his progressive ideas and building a unified nation proud of its diverse roots. For him, an education that celebrated and understood Mexico's rich cultural heritage was essential to developing an inclusive and democratic society. "La Raza Cósmica is more than just a book; it is an expression of hope and ambition for a country that, despite its challenges and divisions, has always found strength in its diversity. Vasconcelos' vision has influenced not only Mexico's educational and cultural policy, but also the way Mexicans see themselves in the context of a globalised world. His belief in a future in which cross-fertilisation is the key to the evolution of humanity offers an optimistic and inclusive perspective at a time when the world is often divided by questions of identity.

While José Vasconcelos' concepts such as "La Raza Cósmica" were innovative and symbolised an attempt to forge a unified national identity, they were not without their problems. These ideas were put forward in a post-colonial context, where many countries, including Mexico, were struggling to define their identity following centuries of foreign domination. The idea of a superior 'cosmic race', resulting from miscegenation, inherently implies a hierarchy. Vasconcelos himself evoked the idea that Mexicans, as the product of several races, were destined to be the leaders of a new era for humanity, suggesting that some racial mixtures were more 'advanced' or 'evolved' than others. This view has often led to the neglect or even symbolic eradication of indigenous and Afro-Mexican cultures. Purely indigenous cultures, rather than being celebrated in their own right, were often valued primarily for the way in which they could blend with or contribute to this new mestizo identity. This perspective often overshadowed the real and ongoing struggles of indigenous and Afro-Mexican communities, who were marginalised economically, socially and politically. Furthermore, the idealisation of mestizaje has sometimes served to mask or minimise the real problems of racism and discrimination in Mexico. This created a paradox where the country could boast of a mixed-race identity while ignoring or downplaying persistent racial and ethnic inequalities.

Diego Rivera with Frida Kahlo, his third wife.

The Sonoran period, from 1920 to 1934, was a turning point in Mexico's history. Under the presidents who emerged from the Sonoran movement, including Alvaro Obregón, Plutarco Elías Calles and Lázaro Cárdenas, the country embarked on a journey towards modernisation. These leaders sought not only to modernise Mexico through education, infrastructure and industrialisation, but also to promote a stronger sense of national identity. Unlike the Porfirian period, which tended to favour elites of European origin, the Sonorran government valued the country's rich mixed heritage, embracing the contributions of indigenous, European and African cultures. Despite progress in education and land reform, the government was sometimes hesitant to implement more radical reforms, opting instead for moderate approaches that avoided significantly upsetting the social and economic order. Indeed, while pursuing reforms, the government maintained an iron grip on political power. The creation of the National Revolutionary Party (PNR) in 1929, which would become the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), was instrumental in this respect. Although the party claimed to be based on democratic principles, it often relied on authoritarian methods to retain power. The ideology of this period was strongly influenced by figures such as José Vasconcelos, who promoted the idea of a "cosmic race" and celebrated mestizaje as the foundation of Mexican national identity. Although these ideas played a crucial role in the formation of a cohesive national identity, they were not without their critics, not least because of the implications of racial hierarchy that they might suggest. In short, the Sonoran period laid important foundations for twentieth-century Mexico, as it navigated between modernisation, identity-building and the imperatives of political stability.

During the Sonoran period, education became a cornerstone of Mexico's national strategy to forge a unified national identity and improve the social condition of its citizens. Aware of the crucial importance of education in shaping the minds and attitudes of its citizens, the government launched an unprecedented campaign to build schools and universities across the country. This initiative was not simply an attempt to reduce illiteracy, but was intrinsically linked to the idea that education could be a vehicle for wider social transformation, raising the living standards of the poor and levelling structural inequalities. This vision of education as an instrument for social mobilisation led to a significant increase in funding for educational infrastructure. The intention was clear: an educated population would be better able to participate actively in the political, economic and social life of the country, thereby strengthening the democratic base on which Mexico wished to build its future. However, despite these laudable ambitions, implementation has not always lived up to expectations. In particular, rural and indigenous communities, which had historically been marginalised, continued to face significant challenges in accessing quality education. Although schools were built in many remote areas, the quality of the education offered, the resources available and the cultural relevance of the curricula were often insufficient. The persistent gap between citizens educated in urban areas and their counterparts in rural areas testifies to the structural challenges the country continues to face in its quest for educational equality.

Under the leadership of José Vasconcelos, Minister of Education from 1921 to 1924, education became a national priority in Mexico. Vasconcelos, aware of the central role of education in shaping a nation, allocated up to 14% of the national budget to this sector. His reformist approach encompassed all levels of Mexican society: from the creation of schools in the most remote villages, to the introduction of itinerant teachers for remote areas, to the inauguration of evening classes for adult literacy. The opening of libraries featuring Mexican authors reinforced the quest for a national identity. Vasconcelos' determination paid off: between 1921 and 1934, the illiteracy rate in Mexico fell by 10 percentage points, from 72% to 62%, and almost half of all children attended school. This was a remarkable achievement in a country marked by decades of educational neglect. Vasconcelos, as well as being an educational reformer, was also a thinker and philosopher. He is widely recognised for his work "La Raza Cósmica", in which he envisaged a fusion of races - indigenous, European, African - to form a new "cosmic race". However, beneath this progressive vision lay a more problematic ideology. Although the celebration of miscegenation was central, it was also intertwined with the idea that education could 'improve' certain races, particularly indigenous communities. The role of the teacher in this new Mexican vision was crucial. Similar to the post-revolutionary transformation in France, where the teacher was seen as the new guardian of morality and citizenship, replacing the priest, in post-revolutionary Mexico the teacher became the fundamental link between citizens and the state, playing a central role in shaping the country's national identity.

During the 1920s and 1930s, Mexico underwent a period of profound transformation, marked by an intense quest to define and assert its national identity. To achieve this, the government invested massively in education, with the aim of promoting a national consciousness and instilling a unified cultural identity among its citizens. The country's mixed-race and indigenous heritage has been brought to the fore, illustrating a renewed pride in Mexico's roots while at the same time attempting to narrow the educational gap. One of the notable achievements of this period was the significant reduction in illiteracy, from 72% to 62%. In addition, a growing proportion of the younger generation has had access to education, laying the foundations for a population that is better educated and therefore, potentially, more involved in the destiny of the nation. Art, as a form of cultural expression, has also been central to this national dynamic. Thanks to government support, Mexican artists gained not only national but also international renown. Diego Rivera, with his powerful murals depicting Mexico's history and struggles, became a symbol of this artistic renaissance. Others, such as Orozco, also left their mark on this period with their work. And Frida Kahlo, with her unique style, became an international icon, celebrating both her personal identity and the cultural richness of Mexico. In this way, these years witnessed a cultural and educational revitalisation, reflecting a nation's desire to redefine its identity while valuing its rich heritage.

Between 1920 and 1934, during the Sonoran era, Mexico underwent major changes aimed at modernising and affirming its national identity. Sonoran leaders pushed through land reforms, encouraged technological development and promoted social protection for the working class. However, this period was also marked by a degree of political repression of left-wing trade union movements. At the same time, the country strengthened its sense of nationalism, promoting its mixed-race and indigenous heritage in areas such as education, archaeology and the arts. These changes, initiated during this period, left a lasting imprint on Mexico and its subsequent development.

The government of Lázaro Cárdenas, 1934 - 1940[modifier | modifier le wikicode]

Lázaro Cárdenas.

Lázaro Cárdenas, who presided over Mexico from 1934 to 1940, is often regarded as one of the country's most progressive and nationalist leaders. His period of governance was marked by a series of radical reforms that sought to reduce inequality and strengthen national sovereignty. One of the most emblematic actions of his tenure was the nationalisation of the oil industry in 1938. This decision, which took many foreign companies by surprise, was justified by Cárdenas as a necessity to ensure control and profits from this essential resource for the Mexican people. Agrarian reform, another pillar of his administration, saw the expropriation of large estates, often held by wealthy landowners and foreign companies, to be redistributed to peasants in the form of "ejidos". These ejidos, or communal lands, were intended to break the unequal land tenure model inherited from the colonial period and give peasants the opportunity to cultivate and benefit from the land. Cárdenas also worked to establish a solid framework for workers' rights, encouraging the formation of trade unions and guaranteeing safer and fairer working conditions. These labour reforms aimed to balance the balance of power between employers and employees, while protecting workers' fundamental rights. In addition, aware of the historical marginalisation of Mexico's indigenous peoples, Cárdenas undertook initiatives to improve their living conditions. He promoted the creation of special schools for these communities, recognising their traditions and culture while offering them the tools they needed to become fully integrated into the nation.

Lázaro Cárdenas' policies were marked by a special focus on Mexico's rural and peasant population, which had long been neglected by previous administrations. Agrarian reform remains one of his most notable and symbolic achievements. It not only redistributed the land, but also attempted to fundamentally reshape the social and economic structure of the Mexican countryside. The creation of "ejidos", or communal lands, was a central element of this reform. Unlike simple individual plots, these ejidos were conceived as agricultural cooperatives where peasants worked together, often with the support and advice of experts sent by the government. The idea was to make the peasantry more productive and self-sufficient, and to put an end to the age-old exploitation of peasants by large landowners. But Cárdenas understood that simply redistributing land was not enough. To truly transform life in the countryside, basic services and educational opportunities also had to be provided. Rural schools were therefore created not only to educate, but also to serve as community centres, strengthening the social fabric of the villages. These schools were often the first contact that many rural communities had with the modern Mexican state. At the same time, dispensaries were set up to bring basic health care to areas that had previously been largely neglected. These facilities have played a crucial role in improving public health and reducing mortality, particularly among children. Through these initiatives, Cárdenas sought to integrate the rural population into the Mexican nation, offering them rights, opportunities and renewed dignity. His vision was of a Mexico where every citizen, urban or rural, had a place and could contribute to the country's development.

Although Lázaro Cárdenas is often hailed for his progressive reforms, he was not exempt from challenges and criticism during his term of office. The Zapatista movement in the state of Morelos is a poignant example of these tensions. Emiliano Zapata had been an emblematic figure of the Mexican Revolution, defending the rights of peasants and demanding radical land reform under the slogan "Tierra y Libertad" (Land and Freedom). Although he was assassinated in 1919, his ideas and ideals survived among his supporters, who continued to call for more comprehensive land reform. When Cárdenas came to power, he certainly launched an ambitious programme of land redistribution, but for some Zapatistas this did not go far enough or was not done quickly enough. They felt that the government was not entirely faithful to the spirit of the Revolution, and in particular to Zapata's ideals. Tension between the Zapatistas and the Cárdenas government intensified, leading to clashes and rebellion in the state of Morelos. This was a clear reminder that, despite his reforms, many Mexicans still felt marginalised and felt that the promises of the Revolution had not been fully realised. Interestingly, Zapata's legacy continues to inspire social movements in Mexico, as witnessed by the Zapatista rebellion of the 1990s in Chiapas. This more recent movement, though different in its context and demands, shows that the ideals of social justice, peasant rights and indigenous autonomy remain deeply rooted in Mexican political consciousness.

As President, Lázaro Cárdenas effectively adopted a foreign policy that reflected the fundamental principles of sovereignty, non-intervention and self-determination. These principles were enshrined in the Mexican Constitution of 1917, which emerged in the wake of the Mexican Revolution. Cárdenas was particularly active in his efforts to strengthen ties with other Latin American nations. In part, this orientation was a means of countering the influence of the United States in the region, especially after decades of American intervention and interference in Latin American affairs. The creation of the League of Nations of the Americas in 1938, although short-lived, was a clear example of this. Cárdenas also marked a high point in Mexican foreign policy when he offered asylum to many Spanish refugees fleeing Franco's regime after the Spanish Civil War. This decision was a sign of solidarity with the Spanish Republic and a clear criticism of the rise of fascism in Europe. Cárdenas's nationalisation of the oil industry in 1938 was also a defining moment in Mexican foreign policy, as it challenged the interests of foreign oil companies, mainly American and British. The decision met with strong international opposition, but it also strengthened nationalist sentiment in Mexico and was supported by many Latin American countries. Overall, Cárdenas' foreign policy strengthened Mexico's position as a sovereign nation while promoting regional solidarity and cooperation.

The administration of Lázaro Cárdenas (1934-1940) marked a decisive stage in Mexico's post-revolutionary history. His government sought to implement the unfulfilled promises of the Mexican Revolution, particularly those contained in the 1917 Constitution. The implementation of infrastructure programmes, such as the construction of schools, hospitals and roads, was essential to connect the country's remote rural areas and ensure that the benefits of modernisation were not concentrated solely in urban areas. These initiatives were designed to improve the standard of living of Mexico's vast rural population, which had long been neglected or exploited by land and industrial interests. Cárdenas' agrarian reform, with the distribution of land to peasants in the form of ejidos (communal lands) and the introduction of agricultural support measures, was intended to revitalise Mexico's agricultural sector and remedy historical inequalities in land ownership. The protection of workers' rights was another major concern. The creation of the central trade union, the Confederación de Trabajadores de México (CTM), strengthened the position of workers in negotiations with employers, and subsequent legislation established labour standards and rights for workers. However, it is the nationalisation of the oil industry that is probably the most memorable act of his tenure. In taking this bold step, Cárdenas defied powerful foreign interests and strengthened nationalist sentiment. Cárdenas' dedication to social justice and to improving the well-being of the Mexican people has earned him a distinguished place in the country's history. The policies and reforms he introduced laid the foundations for decades of social and economic development in Mexico.

The act of nationalisation of the oil industry by Lázaro Cárdenas in 1938 was one of the boldest and most significant decisions of his tenure. At the time, the Mexican oil industry was dominated by foreign companies, particularly British and American. These companies had historically enjoyed considerable influence and generous concessions to exploit the country's vast oil reserves. However, tensions had been rising throughout the 1930s due to disputes over workers' rights and tax fairness. When negotiations between the Mexican government and these foreign companies failed, Cárdenas took the bold step of expropriating their assets. Nationalisation was widely celebrated in Mexico. It was a powerful assertion of national sovereignty and a sign that Mexico would no longer be subject to the economic and political influence of foreign powers, particularly the United States. For many, it represented a concrete realisation of the revolutionary ideals of social justice and self-determination. On the other hand, this action provoked an international reaction. The United States and Great Britain protested vigorously against the decision, and there was an initial boycott of Mexican oil. However, with the onset of the Second World War and the need for strategic allies in the region, hostility towards Mexico quickly subsided. Ultimately, nationalisation led to the creation of Pemex (Petróleos Mexicanos), the national oil company that became a pillar of the Mexican economy and a major source of revenue for the government. This act strengthened Cárdenas' position as a defender of the rights and dignity of the Mexican people in the face of foreign interests.

The term of office of Lázaro Cárdenas (1934-1940) is often regarded as one of the most progressive and transformational in Mexican history. It was marked by institutional and social reforms, seeking to fully integrate all strata of Mexican society into a united and equitable nation. The social protection programmes introduced by Cárdenas bear witness to his commitment to the most vulnerable citizens. The establishment of a public health system was a crucial step in guaranteeing accessible healthcare for all, regardless of income level. In addition, by focusing on education and housing, Cárdenas sought to level the playing field for many Mexicans, particularly those who had historically been marginalised. Another striking facet of Cárdenas's leadership was the special attention he paid to indigenous rights and culture. At a time when assimilation was often the norm, Cárdenas recognised the intrinsic value of Mexico's indigenous cultures and their importance to the national fabric. By actively promoting indigenous rights and culture, he sought not only to protect these groups, but also to enrich "mexicanidad", or Mexican identity, by recognising and celebrating its diversity. Cárdenas' vision for Mexico went far beyond policies and programmes. He sought to create a country where every citizen, whether mestizo, indigenous, rich or poor, had a role to play and was valued. His mandate laid the foundations for many of the institutions and policies that still exist today and continue to profoundly influence Mexico's social and political landscape.

The nationalisation of the oil industry by Lázaro Cárdenas in 1938 is undoubtedly one of the boldest and most emblematic decisions of his mandate. By taking control of this vital resource, Mexico sent a clear message about its sovereignty and its right to self-determination. Although the decision was criticised and caused diplomatic tensions, particularly with the United States and Great Britain, it was also widely celebrated by many Mexicans as a crucial step towards true economic independence. The financial rewards of nationalisation were substantial. With direct control over its oil reserves, Mexico was able to generate significant revenues that were reinvested in various social programmes and development projects. Cárdenas used these funds to support its initiatives to improve the lives of the working and rural classes. The expansion of the state's economic role under Cárdenas was another key element of his mandate. By promoting interventionist policies, he sought to guide the Mexican economy towards modernisation and industrialisation. This also included initiatives to diversify the economy, reduce dependence on agricultural exports and encourage domestic industrial development. Ultimately, Cárdenas' presidency was characterised by a commitment to change and a bold vision for Mexico's future. While his policies and decisions were sometimes controversial, his impact on the nation is undeniable. Under his leadership, Mexico has taken important steps to assert itself on the world stage, while working to create a more just and equitable society for all its citizens.

Lázaro Cárdenas' decision to nationalise Mexico's oil industry in 1938 marked a turning point in the country's history and in its relations with foreign powers. The presence and influence of foreign companies, particularly from the United States, in the exploitation of Mexico's oil wealth had long been a source of tension. For many, these companies were seen as exploiting the country's natural wealth without offering fair compensation to the nation or its citizens. By proceeding with nationalisation, Cárdenas not only strengthened the Mexican economy with the revenues generated by oil, but also sent a clear message to the international community. The decision affirmed Mexico's sovereignty over its resources and its determination to defend its national interests. It was an act of defiance against foreign economic domination, particularly at a time when many Latin American nations were heavily dependent on foreign investment and interests. Cárdenas' popularity in Mexico exploded following this decision. For many Mexicans, he was the leader who had finally taken a stand against foreign interests to protect national wealth. This bold move strengthened nationalist sentiment and boosted Mexican pride. What's more, Cárdenas' action inspired other nations to review their relations with foreign companies and consider the possibility of regaining control of their natural resources. Over the years, other Latin American countries have followed suit, using Mexico as a model for defending their sovereignty and national resources.

Cárdenas' decision to nationalise the oil industry had far-reaching consequences not just for Mexico, but for the Latin American region as a whole. It definitively established that Mexico was not simply an economic satellite of the great powers. It showed that it was capable of taking unilateral decisions in favour of its national interests, even in the face of opposition from more powerful nations. With this bold decision, Mexico has positioned itself as a leader in the defence of national sovereignty in Latin America. Other nations have seen Mexico successfully challenge foreign powers and have been inspired to reconsider their own relationships with foreign governments and companies. Revenues from the nationalised oil industry were crucial in financing Cárdenas' reforms and development projects. These funds were invested in infrastructure projects, social programmes, education and health, leading to a significant improvement in the quality of life for many Mexicans. Nationalisation was also a symbolic act that strengthened Mexico's national identity. It reminded citizens of the importance of defending the nation and its resources against foreign interests. Finally, Cárdenas' legacy is enduring. Cárdenas' policies, particularly the nationalisation of the oil industry, laid the foundations for a more interventionist state and shaped Mexican politics for decades. The reforms and institutions he put in place continued to influence the direction of the country long after his term was over. Lázaro Cárdenas remains a major figure in Mexican history, not only for his bold reforms, but also for his vision of a sovereign, independent Mexico focused on the well-being of its citizens.

Lázaro Cárdenas' decision to nationalise the oil industry not only asserted Mexico's sovereignty over its natural resources, but also reinforced the central role of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) in the country's political life. Originally founded in 1929 as the National Revolutionary Party (PNR), the PRI dominated the Mexican political scene for almost 71 years, until 2000. Cárdenas' bold reforms were essential in defining the PRI's ideological direction. They cemented his position as the champion of the working and rural classes, strengthening his support among these crucial segments of the population. The policies implemented under his leadership, whether land reform, nationalisation of industries or social protection programmes, were in perfect harmony with PRI ideology. Economic nationalism, in particular, became a central element of the party's platform. The PRI used these achievements to establish its legitimacy among the Mexican people. It presented its policies as a direct continuation of the ideals of the Mexican Revolution, positioning itself as the guardian of the country's interests against foreign interests and economic elites.

The era of Lázaro Cárdenas undeniably left a lasting imprint on Mexican politics. The reforms he initiated and the policies he put in place created an environment conducive to the emergence and consolidation of the PRI as the country's main political force. Under Cárdenas's leadership, the government took bold steps to assert national sovereignty, both economically and culturally. The nationalisation of the oil industry, for example, sent a strong message to foreign powers about Mexico's self-determination. At the same time, by promoting "mexicanidad" and highlighting the country's rich cultural tapestry, Cárdenas cultivated a sense of identity and pride among the population. It was in this context that the PRI was able to establish its dominance. By adopting and pursuing the ideals of the Mexican Revolution, the party was able to project an image of continuity and stability. The PRI's ability to maintain this image, while promoting a strong national identity, was essential in winning the confidence of the population. People saw him as the guarantor of a unified and modern Mexico, a dream that had been sown during the revolutionary period. So, although the PRI's reign was marked by periods of contestation and controversy, the solid foundation laid during the Cárdenas era enabled the party to maintain its grip on power for so long. The fusion of revolutionary ideals with modernising efforts created a balance that resonated with many Mexicans, ensuring the PRI's primacy in national politics for most of the 20th century.

After Cárdenas, Mexico entered a phase of political and economic transformation. The post-Cárdenas era, often referred to as the "perfect dictatorship", was characterised by the almost unchallenged power of the PRI. The leaders who succeeded Cárdenas made different political choices, moving away from his popular and socialist policies. The new direction was clearly capitalist, with an increased focus on economic growth, industrial modernisation and urbanisation. These initiatives were often favourable to economic elites and foreign investors. By encouraging foreign investment and favouring private enterprise, the government aimed for rapid economic growth. Although this led to a significant increase in the country's GDP, it also exacerbated socio-economic inequalities. Rural areas, which had benefited from attention under Cárdenas with programmes such as agrarian reform, began to be neglected. Many peasants found themselves marginalised, their land often seized for development projects. The working class, once the champion of the revolution, also found itself under pressure in the face of economic liberalisation. However, even in the face of these challenges, the legacy of the Mexican Revolution has never been completely eclipsed. The main achievements of the Revolution, enshrined in the 1917 Constitution, such as secular education, sovereignty over natural resources and workers' rights, although often put to the test, have remained fundamental principles of the nation. The celebration of Mexican culture and its unique identity, which had been strengthened under Cárdenas, remained a pillar of the country, forming a strong bond between the people despite growing inequalities. The PRI's "perfect dictatorship" was therefore a complex mix of continuity and change, where the revolutionary legacy coexisted with neo-liberal economic policies, shaping the political and social landscape of modern Mexico.

Annexes[modifier | modifier le wikicode]

  • Posada, et al. “La Revolución Mexicana y Los Estados Unidos En Las Colecciones De La Biblioteca Del Congreso El Ascenso De Francisco Madero.” El Ascenso De Francisco Madero - La Revolución Mexicana y Los Estados Unidos En Las Colecciones De La Biblioteca Del Congreso | Exposiciones - La Biblioteca Del Congreso,

References[modifier | modifier le wikicode]