Revolutionary Politics: Mexico I. Backdrop: from Tumult to “Order & Progress” (1821-1910)



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Revolutionary Politics: Mexico

I. Backdrop: from Tumult to “Order & Progress” (1821-1910)

II. The Mexican Revolution (1910-1940)

III. Theories of Revolution and the Mexican Revolution

IV. The PRI & the Mexican “Miracle” (1940-1982)

I. Backdrop: from Tumult to “Order & Progress”

  • A. Political Instability (1821-76)

  • 75 changes in the chief executive in 55 years

  • 4 interim or provisional presidents for every 1 president chosen constitutionally

  • regional warlords (caudillos) resisted national authority when they were not fighting to gain control of the government

  • bitter conflict over church-state relations

  • liberals (led by Juarez) want a secular state

  • conservatives back the Catholic Church

  • French invasion & occupation (1861-67) defeated militarily, thus paving way for a return to electoral politics

  • Porfirio Díaz is hero of the 1862 victory at Puebla



  • B. The Porfiriato (1876-1911):

  • authoritarian modernization under Díaz

  • establish order via strong-arm tactics

  • work to build infrastructure & attract foreign capital in commodity exports

  • GDP growth rate is 2x population growth

  • railroads expand from 400mi to 15,000mi.

  • mining & oil extraction welcomed

  • 1883 land law led to massive concentration

  • most smallholders lost their land
  • 134 million acres of fertile land titled to approximately 300 families
  • middle class kept out of politics

  • Díaz controlled politics through fraud & repression from 1884 onward

  • no cabinet members under 60 by 1910

  • his friends grew rich in cabinet & as state governors

  • many more landless peasants than ever before

  • the end to traditional communal lands (ejidos) left many at brink of starvation and many more w/ no path out of poverty

  • these 2 forces will push Díaz into exile by 1911…

II. The Mexican Revolution (1910-1940)

  • A. The Civil War (1910-1920)

  • 2 revolutions fought simultaneously & violently

  • POLITICAL: “no reelection”(Francisco Madero)

  • SOCIAL: “land for all”(Emiliano Zapata)

  • social, not socialist
  • Zapata wants traditional ejido lands returned
  • a series of bloody conflicts led by different leaders in different regions at different times

  • roughly 1 in 10 Mexicans died in the conflict





  • C. The Rise of Plutarco Calles (1920-34)

  • More moderate generals become presidents:

  • Alvaro Obregón (1920-24)

  • Plutarco Calles (1924-28)

  • Obregón assassinated after reelection in 1928

  • PNR established in 1929:

  • elite, cadre party w/ PEC as “jefe máximo

  • Calles is the key figure behind the PNR candidates
  • effort to avoid future assassinations & strife

  • D. Lázaro Cárdenas(1934-40)

  • Mobilized & organized masses (incl. “militia”)

  • SOCIOECONOMIC REFORMS:

  • land reform

  • wage hikes & union rights

  • social services

  • nationalization of oil & railroads

  • MASS PARTY created:

  • PNR becomes PRM w/ CNC, CTM, military, & “popular” branches

  • w/ diverse support & conflicting policy priorities
  • PRESIDENT rules, uses dedazo to pick successor, & steps down

III. Theories of Revolution & the Mexican Revolution

  • Q: Which of these theories applies to this revolution?



IV. The PRI & The Mexican “Miracle” (1940-82)

  • A. CORPORATISM:

  • inclusive cooptation

  • selective coercion




IV. (cont.)
  • D. “PENDULUM” THEORY:

  • if you stay in, your ideological wing will get its shot...

Pendulum Politics in Mexico




  • E. STATE CAPITALISM:

  • state control over key resources & sectors along w/ protection led import-substituting industrialization (ISI) successes:

  • 6% average annual GDP growth for 40 years

  • low inflation during 1941-1970

  • NEGATIVE SIDE of Mexican “miracle”:

  • rising inequality & continuing absolute poverty



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