The Mexican Revolution began in 1910 as a protest movement of the population against the dictatorship of Porfirio Díaz. The actions that took place during the 10 years it lasted established Mexico as a constitutional republic.
The expansion of the economy in the late 19th century helped promote an educated urban middle class; many benefited from the growing economy, but resented the dominance of the oligarchy and the dictatorship.
That is why Francisco Madero called for people to raise their weapons on November 20, 1910.
The rural population, the Indians and the mestizos (the majority of the Mexican population) responded to the call, since they had been ignored in political and economic life.
Armed local gangs joined in the revolt throughout Mexico. In 1911, Díaz had to resign due to his inability to contain the spread of the guerrillas.
Six months later, Madero was elected president, however he was unable to stop the riots. For several years, leaders such as Emiliano Zapata and Pancho Villa continued the armed revolts.
During this period, Mexico had several interim presidents. Finally in November 1920, Álvaro Obregón was elected president.
Although the event marked the end of the Mexican Revolution, violence in Mexico continued into the 1920s.
Beginning, development and end of the Mexican Revolution
General Porfirio Díaz had been an important military figure during the war against foreigners. Díaz became president of Mexico in 1876.
During his mandate, Mexico experienced great political stability and significant expansion; New industries were created, tracks and trains were built, and the capital experienced great progress.
However, not all residents benefited. The most annoying sectors were the poor and Mexican workers; any revolt and protest was repressed by the government. It is believed that the repression of a group of miners in Cananea in 1906 was the spark that started the Revolution.
In 1909, Francisco Madero founded the opposition Anti Reeleccionista party and in 1910 he was the candidate for the elections against Díaz.
Feeling the pressure, Díaz had Madero imprisoned. The government committed fraud and Madero, annoyed, escaped from jail and called a National Insurrection on November 20, 1910.
Madero declared the electoral process invalid and appointed provisional governors. Immediately, rebellions in his support began in several Mexican states. Pascual Orozco and Pancho Villa took Ciudad Juárez and Chihuahua; Emiliano Zapata became the leader of the south.
In May 1911 Díaz was forced to resign and had to leave the country. By June, Madero entered Mexico City in triumph.
Almost immediately, Madero faced rebellions from both sides. Madero had broken promises made to those who supported him, and Diaz’s supporters would not accept him.
Feeling betrayed, Orozco took up arms again. Zapata, who had been instrumental in defeating Díaz, also returned to the riots when he realized that Madero had no plans to carry out agricultural reform as he had promised.
In 1911, Zapata demanded agrarian reform and appointed Orozco as the Chief of the Revolution. By 1912, Pancho Villa was Madero’s only ally.
For this reason, Madero had General Victoriano Huerta join forces with Villa to defeat Orozco. They succeeded, and Orozco fled to the United States.
After returning to Mexico City, Huerta betrayed Madero by having him executed and appointing himself president. Madero had been the most legitimate president up to that point, so his death caused Venustiano Carranza and Álvaro Obregón to start armed revolts.
Later, Orozco returned to Mexico to form an alliance with Huerta. However, Carranza, Obregón, Villa and Zapata joined forces to remove Huerta from power. After Villa’s victory at the Battle of Zacatecas in 1914, Huerta and Orozco went into exile.
With their greatest enemy out of the game, the remaining four men began to fight each other and went to war. Carranza felt that his condition as a former governor qualified him to govern Mexico, so he organized an election. To help his cause, he formed an alliance with Obregón.
Obregón faced Villa in many battles. In August 1915, after 38 days of fighting, Obregón lost an arm.
However he defeated Villa, who had to withdraw to the north. In 1917, Carranza won the elections and began the process to defeat caudillos like Zapata and Díaz.
Additionally, Carranza began to write the Constitution of 1917. This constitution conferred dictatorial powers on the president, but gave the government the right to confiscate land from wealthy owners, guaranteed the rights of workers, and limited the powers of the Catholic Church.
Obregón withdrew from the race, leaving Carranza alone. However, he hoped to become president after the 1920 elections. In 1919 under Carranza, Zapata was betrayed and assassinated.
In 1920, Carranza denied Obregón’s promised support during the upcoming elections. When Carranza was going to install Ignacio Bonillas as his successor, Obregón (who had the support of the majority of the army) assembled a massive army and marched on the capital.
On May 21, 1920, Carranza fled and was assassinated by followers of Obregón. During the elections, Obregón was elected and served his four-year term as president. During 1923, Obregón ordered that Pancho Villa be assassinated. Obregón was assassinated by a Catholic fanatic in 1928.
Since Obregón was elected in 1920 and was able to finish his post, it is considered as that the year in which the Mexican Revolution ended. However, Mexico suffered waves of violence during the following decade until President Lázaro Cárdenas was elected.
After 10 years of fighting, thousands of people died, the economy was in shambles, and development had been delayed for decades. The nation’s recovery was hampered by the corruption that affected them.
Finally, in 1934 Lázaro Cárdenas was elected and institutionalized the reforms that were fought for during the revolution and that were legitimized in the Constitution of 1917.
The PRI, the party that was born in the revolution, was the one that dominated power for decades. Emiliano Zapata became a symbol of revolution against corrupt systems.
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- Mexican Revolution: facts and summary. Recovered from history.com