Paper 3

12. Examine the major stages of the Mexican Revolution (1910-20) and explain the programmes of three of the most important leaders


The Mexican Revolution of 1910-1920 was the first of the 20th century, and was initiated out of frustration with President Porfino Diaz’s political corruption, the harsh working and living conditions of urban laborers, growing food shortages, and the policy of few private companies owning extensive amounts of public land. After Diaz was overthrown in 1911, three leaders, Francisco Madero, Emiliano Zapata, and Venustiano Carranza, each in their own ways, attempted to rectify these and other social, political, and economic problems. Francisco Madero sought political reform, establishing a democratic government. Emiliano Zapata focused on socio-economic reform, favoring the redistribution of land to Native Americans and poor farmers. Venustiano Carranza also focused on political reforms, assisting in the production of the Constitution of 1917.

A. Francisco Madero & political reform
1. Madero maintained the press and political freedom of a democracy, and reform proposals were freely discussed in the Chambers of Congress.
2. Madero also established an important labor organization, the Casa del Obrero Mundial, which reduced hours, gave the right to strike, protected women and children in industry, and granted workingmen’s accident compensation.
3. Madero’s reform was slow, however, criticized by conservatives who wanted to preserve the regime of Diaz, and revolutionaries who demanded more radical change.
4. The main issue with Madero was that he was far too idealistic, believing that he could satisfy both sides without recognizing the strong consensus among the public favoring swift reform.
a. As a result, Zapata and others revolted against Madero’s regime, which was finally overthrown by General Victoriano Huerta in 1913.

B. Emiliano Zapata & socio-economic reform
1. While Madero was president, Zapata revolted against Madero’s ineffective land reforms with his own plan: the Plan of Alaya.
a. Called for the break up of large estates and the redistribution of the land to Native Americans and poor farmers.
2. Carried this plan out in the areas he controlled in southern Mexico such as Puebla, Morelos, and Tlaxcala
3. Highly revered among the people because, unlike Madero, he listened to their demands for change and gave them the land that they desperately needed

C. Venustiano Carranza & political reform
1. Called for a convention that produced the Constitution of 1917
2. The constitution required that all property-even private-be used in a manner to benefit society as a whole; started a program for land distribution; granted rights for workers such as unionization and minimum wages; and established a social security system.
3. This constitution was very different from the one that he intended to have produced, as many radical members attended the convention, and as a result he did not enforce its more radical provisions.
4. Despite not enforcing these provisions, Carranza still accepted the constitution, which is significant because its laws and rights are stil upheld present day.

Thesis: The Mexican Revolution is unique in many ways: it was the first revolution in Latin America to focus on progressive issues such as land reform, it was spread out over years, decades, and finally it did not have a single clear leader. However, the revolution proceeds through clear logical steps, that shape the revolution to its climax with the 1917 Constitution still in use today.

1. Diaz: Before 1910
1.1. The majority of Mexico’s land, money, and power rested in the hands of a few wealthy hacienda owners—95% of the population owned no land. A government of rich “new creoles” led by the President/Dictator Pofirio Diaz ruled a nation of mestizos.

2. Madero: 1910-1913
2.1. In 1910 after Diaz declared his victory in the elections the liberal intellectual Fransisco I. Madero overthrew his government. He is quoted as saying the people want liberty, not bread However, they wanted bread He was unprepared for government

3. Heurto: 1913-1914
3.1. In 1913 Madero was overthrown by General Huerto and assasinated
3.2. Huerto was seen as, and was, a reactionary, planning a return to the policies of Diaz
3.3. This was responded to by the united opposition of Carranza, Obregon, Pancho Villa, and Emilio Zapata, each with substantial forces marched against Huerto.

4. Power Struggle1914-1915 (actually there maintained a power struggle until much later, however, Carranza and Obregon managed to emerge as the leaders of the revolution.)
4.1. In 1914 Huerto fell, leaving the united opposition to fight amongst themselves.
4.1.1. Carranza (Mestizo Elite) He represented the northern ranchers and entrepreneurs Thought that economic power and political power should be equivalent Yet, he took up Madero’s mantle of liberal idealism and democratic government
4.1.2. Obregon (Rising Middle Class) Ally of Crranza Represented the rising middle class (he was a farmer, than a factory worker, and than a general) More a man of the people than Carranza, more progressive (radical)
4.1.3. Pancho Villa (Cowboys…) Represented the peon and the cowboys of northern Mexico. Stole from the rich land owners and gave to the poor. Modern day Robin Hood No real political platform
4.1.4. Emilio Zapata (Small farmers and Indians) Represented the small farmers Wanted land reform the Plan of Alaya. Return to village life Controlled Puebla, Morelos, and Tlaxcala
4.2. Emilio Zapata was killed in an ambush in 1919 and Pancho Villa was bought off with a farm in 1920, ending the violent phase of the revolution.

5. Carranza: 1915-1920
5.1. In 1917 Carranza called for a constituent assembly expecting the creation of a liberal document similar to that of 1857.
5.1.1. Radicals (supported by Obregon take control)
5.1.2. Called for strong authoritarian president
5.1.3. Called for land reform and foreign economic control
5.1.4. Declared government ownership of minerals and water resources
5.1.5. Declared private property subordinate to the common good.
5.1.6. Protected workers Labor Codes Minimum salaries Maximum hours Accident insurance Pensions Social benefits Protected right to unionize Protected right to strike
5.2. Carranza supported the constitution but did not carry out many of the reforms it supported

6. Obregon: 1920
6.1. Obregon is elected
6.2. He goes through with many of the plans prescribed by the constitution

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License