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The Mexican Revolution was a complex and bloody conflict which arguably spanned two decades, and in which 900,000 people lost their lives. What was the cause of such a persistent uprising and ultimately did the end justify the means?
The Revolution began with a call to arms on 20th November 1910 to overthrow the current ruler and dictator Porfirio Díaz Mori.
Díaz was an ambitious president, keen to develop Mexico into an industrial and modernised country. While he worked on implementing a capitalist society building factories, dams, and roads the rural workers and peasants suffered greatly.
Díaz reigned using a campaign of bullying, intimidating citizens into supporting him. While civil liberties such as the freedom of press suffered under his rule, the greatest injustice came in the form of new land laws.
In an attempt to strengthen ties with the United States and other influential foreign interests, Díaz allocated land, once belonging to the people of Mexico, to wealthy non-nationals. In addition to this, no Mexican was able to own land unless they had a formal legal title. Small farmers were rendered utterly helpless, there was no other option but an uprising.
The path of the Revolution certainly didn’t run smoothly and the country saw a string of unreliable presidents.
Francisco Madero, who was responsible for removing Díaz from power, was a weak leader and failed to implement the land reforms he had promised.
He was quickly replaced by General Victoriano Huerta who had him executed within a week of coming to power. Huerta himself was a dictator and was overthrown by Venustianio Carranza in 1914.
While many accused Carranza of being power hungry he also lusted after peace. In the pursuit of civil rest he formed the Constitutional Army and a new constitution into which he accepted many of the rebel demands.
The official end of the Mexican Revolution is often taken to be the creation of the Constitution of Mexico in 1917, however the fighting continued long into the following decade.
Ultimately while the Mexican Revolution was aimed at ensuring a fairer way of life for the farming classes, many argue it achieved little more than the frequent change of leadership in the country.
It was only in 1942 when the Mexican ex-presidents stood on the stage of the Mexico City Zocalo to show their support to Britain and America in the Second World War, that the citizens of Mexico saw their first glimmer of political solidarity and a country finally united.
Image Source: Carranzista rebels near Chihuahua, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division
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