Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Republicans Wish to Own Mexico…At Least the Part They Can Resell

Anita Brenner wiith George R. Leighton The Wind That Swept Mexico. New York: Harper Brothers, 1943.

Porfirio Diaz was a dictator leading Mexico with backing form industrial and financial leaders. He, with one short break, was Mexico’s President for 34 years. Diaz controlled military goods imports and kept soldiers at minimum to weaken any potential military uprising against him.

Revolutionary sentiments against Mexican governments existed ever since Mexico declared independence from Spain in 1810. Mexico had much civil unrest from 1810 to the 1870s. Opposition from Catholic Church leaders was crushed by closing all monasteries and convents, taking away all church property and banning all clergy from dressing as clergy.

Diaz’s aide, Don Jose Yves Limantour, as Treasury Secretary guaranteed bank loans. Bans supported the Diaz government. Foreign governments aided Mexico based on Limantour’s expertise with finances.

Academicians then taught against democracy by teaching it was an outdated utopian fantasy. The United States was held as an example of democracy creating poor government. Elections were considered a poor idea when only about 15% of Mexicans were literate. Local towns were governed by Jefes Politicos, or political chief appointed by Governors and approved by Diaz. Jefes Politicos led local authorities, worked with the secret police, and exerted influence with cours.

Americans who lived and worked in Mexico had de fact immunity in the Mexican judicial system unless word came from a leader that this was not the case. Mexicans wanted American investments and considered Americans as guests.

The Jefe Politics often were the local lender. Most farmers often required loans.

Mexico’s monetary policy made foreign debt interest payments its first priority, internal customs were halted, taxes reapportioned, and the currency was backed by gold. he national Treasury had a surplus of 62 million pesos gold. Germany and other European nations considered Mexican debt as safe. The Mexican debt reached 440 million pesos. Germany held most of the debt.

American holdings in Mexico went form almost none in 1877to $500 million in 1902 rising to $1.5 billion in 1910.

In 1910 Diaz chose Ramon Corral as his Vice President. Corral financial Indian slave trading, was terminally ill with doctors saying he had two years of life left, and was unpopular.

In 1910, about 3% of Mexicans controlled most of Mexico’s wealth with most wealth held by foreign investors.

A book advocating revolution, “Los Grander Proglomas Nacionales” by Andrew Molina Enriquez was popular in 1909. Some labor unions advocated revolution. Many Mexican workers began demanding for, and held strikes for, receiving the higher wages paid to foreign workers. Guerrilla strikes attacked Federal soldiers. The guerrillas were not well organized nor had coordinated leadership. They conducted raids. Often Federal soldiers only pretended to fight back and let their guns be stolen. Diaz and Americans-backed leaders reached a deal where Diaz and Corral gave up power and let Francisco de le Barro, the Mexican Ambassador to the U.S., to take control. Some revolutionaries were appeased. Other continued their revolutionary sentiments.

The first free elections were held. Francisco Madero was eected President and Congress had a majority favorable to Madero. Revvollutionary attacks continued. The Army often offered little resistance.

In 1913, a ten day battle known as “The Tragic Ten” between government troops and revolutionary troops led to many civilian death in cross fires. President Madero, the Vice President, and a General were lynched. American and foreign diplomats arranged ot make revolutionary leader Victoriano Huerto the Provisional President.

Germany and the Catholic Church supported Huerta.. President Woodrow Wilson recalled the American Ambassador declaring “Huerta must go.”

Several politicians, including a Senator, and journalists were murdered, disappeared, or jailed.

U.S. Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan telegraphed U.S. consuls “if General Huerta does not retire by force of circumstances, it will become the duty of the United Sates to use less peaceful means to put him out.” The Mexican government expected an invasion.

Venustiano Carraza controlled territory in northeast Mexico close to railroads and oil fields. He wanted more foreign investments kept in Mexico and favored created a strong middle class of people in business, industry, professions, and small farms. In northwest Mexico, Pancho Villa, was an unreliable ally of Carranza. Villa had deals with numerous American investors.

Emiliana Zapata led revolutionaries in southwest Mexico. He was not associated with the other revolutionaries. Many battles were fought by crashing trains.

The United States seized the port city of Veracruz and declared martial law. Huerta broke relations with the U.S. Carranza seized control of the capital. Villa and Zapata refused to attend Carranza’s convention that elected him as President. The convention then decided both Carranza and Villa should retired and that Eulauo Gutierrez was Provisional President. The government and even currencies were splintered. The currencies became mostly worthless ans most trade was conducted by barter or by robbery. Typhus ravaged the nation.

Villa gained control of most than two third of Mexico Carranzo agreed to the right of union organization and to wage and hour laws supported by labor organizations. Union support helped Carranza rebound to defeat Villa. The Zapatistas continued fighting.

Carranza created a new Constitution where the government held all land except when the public interest determined it could be made private. The government owned the subsoil but could leave it to the private sector. Labor could organize, the work day was made eight hours, and equal pay was paid regardless of nationality or sex.

Mexican law did not allow the President to be reelected.

Villa prepared to raid U.S. territory. General John Pershing agreed to stop Villa inside Mexico yet to keep U.S. troops of certain points. Carranza’s troops stood ready to attack any American troops who went too far south. Alvaro Obregon gained power in Mexico.

Mexican law let each family head or young farmer to request a farm ranging from seven humid acres to 20 dry acres. About 5% of Mexicans were prosperous, about 10% to 15% had comfortable earnings, about 15% to 20% were poor yet better off than when under Diaz, and the rest were very poor.

Successors to Obregon died suddenly. Minister of War Benjamin Hill may have been poisoned to death. Villa was assassinated. Elias Calles, who had support from some business and labor leaders, was elected with belated support from Obregon.

Lus Morones led the Confederacion Regional Obrera Mexicana political party whose leaderhsip operated in semi-secrecy. Patronage and kickbacks funded its operations. Great labor rights were provided such as higher wages, compensation laws were cerated and better working conditions were mandated.

Religion could be practiced yet clergy had to be Mexicans. their numbers were limited and the Catholic Church was stripped of power. Priests went on strike, refused to adher to requirements that they register with the government, and they refused to practice. Masses became subject to government raids.

Ortiz Rubio became President in 1930.He ended the land distribution program. The worldwide depression hit Mexico.

Lazaro Cardenas was little known prior to his election as President. He shut down casinos. He personally approved many local public works projects. The Lagunge cotton zone was transferred into a large cooperative, and oil companies refused union demands that they become closed shop. The U.S.. refused to sell silver to Mexico.

Manuel Avila Camacho was elected President in 1940. He was a practicing Catholic and received many votes from Catholics.


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