Evaluate the extent to which leaders of the Mexican Revolution could be considered either “revolutionaries” or “reformers”.
Thesis: The leaders of the Mexican Revolution all had a goal that the wanted to achieve. However the way that they decided to deal with the issue is what determines whether or not they were a revolutionary or a reformer. The idea that the leaders of the Mexican Revolution could either be defined as a revolutionary or a reformer is true to a moderate extent. Six leaders that show this are Zapata, Villa, Carranza, Huerta, Obregon, and Calles.
Body 1: Zapata
Zapata is a leader of the revolutionary movement in Mexico, and he is from Morelos in the Southern part of Mexico. He made the Plan of Ayala, and believed that one of the main factors of the revolution should be land reformation.
He started the Zapatista movement that begun in the southern part of Mexico and then eventually spread to Central Mexico.
Zapata, though he wanted land reform, had a different view from Villa.
Zapata believed that once the land was taken back from the government that it should be given back to the peasants, the people who originally owned it. The difference lies in the way they were going to give back the land. Zapata wanted to give it back to the peasants immediately.
Zapata is considered a revolutionary because he had the intentions to change the government and had the ideas and the support of the rebels to do so. However he was never capable in doing so. It is because of this that Zapata isn’t a true revolutionary because it was mainly an idea that wasn’t carried out.
Body 2: Villa
Villa, like Zapata wanted land reform as a major part of his ideas. He was from the northern part of Mexico, in Chihuahua.
He, Carranza, and Zapata were involved in the Aguascalientes Convention where the alliance between Carranza was broken off, even though it was to settle a dispute between them.
Issue with the United States and Pershing, after the Aguascalientes Convention.
Villa was one of the more radical revolutionaries
In addition to land reform, Villa also wanted educational reform.
He is different from Zapata, another revolutionary, because he felt that after getting the land back from the Mexican government, to only give it back to the peasants after the revolution was over.
Again like Zapata, he could be considered a revolutionary, up to a certain point. He had ideas and had some influence on some of Mexico’s presidents, but in the end there was little action that was actually successful because of him.
Carranza could be considered a revolutionary to a certain extent as well.
The reason he could be a revolutionary was because he was essential in helping pass the Constitution of 1917.
However, this document only served as a document to calm the people down in order to avoid any further of a revolution.
The document was taken seriously and it became too much of a radical change than Carranza intended.
He used to be in a close relationship with both Zapata and Villa, but they separate because they have different views regarding agrarian reform.
He created the Plan of Guadalupe, which was done in order to take Huerta out of power, because the leaders of the revolution (Villa, Zapata, and Carranza) saw that he was trying to go back to a dictatorship.
When he was leader he also didn’t want foreign intervention, like the United States, in Mexico.
Overall, Carranza can be considered a revolutionist to an extent because he supported the ideas of revolutionary leaders; he didn’t want to take it very far. He wanted a revolution up to the point he could gain and then keep power. This was even more evident because he wanted to have “puppet presidents” where they would legally be president because of the constitution, but Carranza would still control them indirectly.
Body 4: Huerta
Huerta, unlike the other leaders during the revolution, was a reformer.
Wanted to go back to the Diaz regime and as a result He wasn’t supported by the United States.
He also shut down the Casa del Obrero Mundial that was started by Madero. It helped in stabilizing the Mexican economy.
He lost the support of the people because he was looked at as a traitor to the revolution for wanting to restore the Diaz dictatorship.
Huerta is a reformer because he wanted to revert back to the Diaz dictatorship. The whole purpose of the revolution was to form a democracy in Mexico after Diaz. He can be considered a reformer because he believed he was correcting all the wrongs of Madero’s presidency, and that was why the United States helped him get in power. However his actions make him more of a reactionary than a reformer.
Obregon wanted to better the state of Mexico after Carranza’s presidency.
He had a strong sense of capitalism, like Calles would. All his actions would be motivated because they wanted to lay the foundation of national capitalism in Mexico.
He created the CROM (Confederacion Regional Obrera Mexicana).
It was a labor union that wanted to stabilize labor-capitalism relations.
It was because of his presidency, though through Vasconcelos, that education, health, and literacy rates went up.
The idea of indigenismo, which was to revert back to the greatness of the old Mexican culture, during the last year of the Diaz era.
He did start land reform policies, and though people would get land, but the process was slow and peasants weren’t properly trade to handle planting.
Overall Obregon is a reformer to the extent of what his intention were. He wanted reform and better capitalistic relationship in Mexico, but he failed in that much of the progress was because of Vasconcelos. The his land reform ideas failed in that the peasants got land, but then left to fend for themselves; not really benefitting anyone in the end.
Calles is a reformer because what he did was try to continue to stabilize Mexico after Obregon’s presidency. Not only that, but also to build on to the policies of Obregon.
This was done in order to strengthen the sense of capitalism in Mexico, as well as its job, which was to issue money.
He however faced issues because he prosecuted priests with the Calles Law.
Calles did this because he saw that Catholicism could hinder the modernization of Mexico.
Similarly, Calles also neglected to support women’s right, but he didn’t do his to the extent like he did with Catholic priests.
He also was faced with the implementation of Article 27 which would basically hand over Mexico’s oil o the United States.
Issue resolved because Calles didn’t want to harm foreign relationships with the United Sates.
He supported the idea of el jefe maximo as well as establishing the National Revolutionary Party.
Idea shifted from supporting land reform to reducing it because the majority of his supporters were large landowners.
Calles was a reformer to an extent. As stated he built on policies by Obregon, but he did try to prevent the progress of others in the country. If he truly did want to change the wrongs of the past, he would be advocating for things women’s rights, instead of trying to subdue them. He also wouldn’t have abandoned the idea of land reform, like he did after the creation of the PNR.
There isn’t a leader who was truly a reformer or revolution in the Mexican revolution because they didn’t do what it means to be considered one. Their actions reflected the type of leader they were, and most who were in power wanted to keep it. They can only be considered a revolutionary or reformer to a moderate extent as a result.
Historiography: The idea that capitalism as the main reason for revolution is important. That was the whole basis of both Obregon and Calles, even Madero. Through the use of capitalism, “revolutionary” leaders like Zapata and Villa also wanted to unite the peasants, cowboys, and miners. It was because of the revolution that capitalism became a major influence in the leader of the revolution.