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Causes of the Mexican Revolution: Social and Economic

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Kathleen Smith

on 12 April 2013

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Transcript of Causes of the Mexican Revolution: Social and Economic

Social Cause: Agricultural Reforms -Though the wealthy landowners prospered, the vast majority of Mexicans were living in poverty; the rich became richer and the poor became poorer
The reason that this divide continued to grow large was the fact that there was no upward mobility, which meant that it was not possible for the poor to move up in society/become rich.
Led large gap between the rich and the poor in Mexico

-1907 recession: caused peasant farmers to become poor
In addition, a famine in 1908-1909 caused important crops such as corn and cotton to fail, leading to food riots
By 1910, the number of these peasants escalated up to 12 million, 9.5 of which were landless.
This demonstrates the instability of society and the gorwing dissatisfaction with the Diaz regime Social Cause: Agricultural Reforms -The Ley Lerdo Law, which was passed in 1856, allowed government to sell Church real estate and communally-held land.
The devastating land reform policies associated with this law were made worse for the rural population under the Porfiriato

-Under the Ley Lerdo Law, the land that was previously owned by the state
and worked by the masses was held by haciendados in large estates and concentrated in the hands of the wealthy Mexican elite

-Fewer than 1,000 families owned nearly half of the country’s best land
Luis Terrazas became one of the world’s largest individual landowners. His ranch covered about 7 million acres.
On the other hand, more than three million rural families (96% of the rural farm population) did not even own the land on which they lived and worked.
Demonstrates dichotomy of society under Diaz Brief Background Porfirio Diaz's 35 year rule over Mexico began in 1876 and ended in 1911, when he was ousted and the revolution began
During his tenure, Diaz gained support from military colleagues, regional caudillos (military/political leaders), and relied heavily on guardias rurales (rural police) to maintain authority

Many of the social and economic factors that contributed to the Mexican Revolution occurred during the Porfiriato, the long rule of General Diaz that began in 1876. Social Cause: Class Structure -As a result of varying social structures, caused in part by the hacienda system, Mexico never developed a strong entrepreneurial class under Diaz
Concessions and favors came from the state and capital came from abroad
This emphasizes how the social and economic factors (i.e. clash of societal structures and foreign investment) combined to spark the need for revolution Social Cause: Labor Protest -Labor protest began and was intensified by the international financial crisis and famine of 1906-1908
Peasants who lived in/near Morelos resented losing land to commercial cultivation of sugar and other market crops

-During the years 1906-1908, Mexican workers at Cananea Copper Company protested the higher wages given to U.S. laborers
Strikes also occurred among railroad and Rio Blanco textile workers, though these movements were crushed when Diaz sent in troops

-Though the Mexican economy was traumatized, Diaz refused to commit funds for the relief of the virtually landless working class or help urban workers/small businessmen
As a result, the economically vulnerable regional elites were becoming fed up with Diaz and their lack of political influence Social Cause: Labor Protest -During the years 1906-1908, Mexican workers at Cananea Copper Company repeatedly protested the higher wages given to U.S. laborers
Strikes also occurred among railroad and Rio Blanco textile workers, though these movements were crushed when Diaz sent in troops
Reduced railroad and port activity reflected the overall decline of mining, timber, agricultural, and ranching industries

-Though the Mexican economy was traumatized, Diaz refused to commit funds for the relief of the virtually landless working class or help urban workers/small businessmen
As a result, the economically vulnerable regional elites were becoming fed up with Diaz and their lack of political influence Social and Economic Causes of the Mexican Revolution Economic Causes: Foreign Investment -Diaz defended his lengthy presidency by saying he was giving Mexico political stability, which was “indispensable” for economic growth
Believed that if that required repression, it was for a good cause

-Diaz stuck to liberal principles
•Ruled that the ban on corporate landholdings should apply to Indian villages, which opened vast new areas to speculators, ranchers, and political favorites
1894: helped landowners even more by decreeing that unused lands (terrenos baldios) could be taken over for private exploitation
The crucial source of new capital was to come from abroad (i.e. U.S. and Britain)
Demonstration of economic liberalism that appealed to Latin American elites during this time Economic Causes: Decline of Worldwide Economy Social Cause: Repression -As dissatisfaction with the Diaz regime grew, the caudillo became increasingly repressive
Unpopular local leaders (jefe politicos) fostered unrest and resentment toward the government due to their arbitrary and exploitative rule
This affected all levels of society, especially the common people, who were angered by the economic changes that occurred under the Porfiriato

-The living conditions had regressed to the point that in 1900, 29% of all male children died within their first year; many of those who survived ended up working in sweatshops
Only ¼ of population was literate Economic Causes: Foreign Investment -Because Diaz believed that foreign capital was necessary for growth, he encouraged it
90% of the incorporated value of Mexican industry was held by foreign investors by 1900

-When the world economy began to falter at the beginning of the 20th century, Diaz began favoring these foreign investors so as to not lose their business
Diaz's preferential treatment towards the foreign market angered many Mexican workers; people began to question his authority Conclusion -Clearly, the cause of the Mexican Revolution was a compilation of social and economic factors.
Diaz was interested in supporting the Mexican elite, and had a desire to reform Mexico into a more civilized country.
Neglected the rural populace by poorly distributing the land they used to make a living.
The poor working class, including farmers, felt left out of Diaz’s plan to stabilize the economy of Mexico --> had no means of making money
Censorship of the media was another social problem for Diaz, as the press was run by the working class
Diaz’s attempt to silence the majority only heightened the existing social crisis
Diaz's handling of the downturn of the world economy contributed to his unpopularity

-Though the revolution began as a political event, it soon developed into a social movement due to social and economic factors -The famine of 1908-1909 had disastrous effects on the agricultural industry
Around this time, the World Silver Market crashed, which led to the demise of the mining industry in Mexico.
Diaz had put faith into the idea that the mining industry would help modernize Mexico; it ultimately had the opposite effect

-The Mexican sugar industry experienced a downturn because the United States placed a tariff on Mexican sugar in order to protect its Cuban sugar interests.
Both social and economic crisis, as many field and mill workers - who had given up village properties in return for jobs during the previous 65 years of land redistribution - were out of work
Towns like Ayala filled with displaced workers, many of whom were future revolutionaries
The decline of these industries ultimately had a negative effect on the railroad and port businesses, as there was nothing to transport Works Cited Kirkwood, Burton. The History of Mexico. Westport: Greenwood Press, 2000. Print.

Grtizner, Charles F. Mexico. Philadelphia: Chelsea House Publishers, 2006. Print.

Meyer, Michael C., and William H. Beezley, eds. The Oxford History of Mexico. New York: Oxford UP, 2000. Print.

Katz, Friedrich. The Life and Times of Pancho Villa. Stanford, CA: Stanford UP, 1998. Print. Economic Cause: Decline of the Worldwide Market -Diaz thought the economy was going to write itself, but refused to take any action to refuse the sufferings of his people.
The people felt abandoned, revealing their desire for reform
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