Sunday, 20 November 2016

20 November 1910 - also, "A Day That Will Live in Infamy"......

Collage derived from Wikipedia

Paseo de la Reforma
Mexico City
    The images posted above show a Mexico when 15,000,000 Mexicans of all classes, stripes, types, colours, tribes, and political orientation essentially commenced to destroy almost everything and then replace it with almost nothing.   After between 400,000 to 1,300,000 people being killed (civilian and military), about the only thing that could be accounted as a net positive was that the original objective....the removal of Jose de la Cruz Porfirio Diaz Mori (Porfirio Diaz).....was accomplished in 1911.  It ended 35 years of essentially absolute control of the Republic of Mexico by one relatively common man...who was made of ironDuring his regimen, great buildings were built and/or restored to previous grandeur.  Mining, industrial, and agricultural production was stunning.  English, French, and American as well as other foreign nationals flooded in and invested what to-day would be something like 100,000,000,000 (100 billion) dollars.   Train networks, telegraph and telephone systems, shipbuilding, and all nature of things were developed, as well as the proof of large quantities of oil, gas, fisheries, education, and a nascent tourism industry.
     During those times, it was said by some Mexicans (as always, there are people who can always see the dark cloud more clearly than the silver lining) that "Mexico es la Madre de extrajeros, pero la madrasta de Mexicanos.''  ("Mexico is the Mother of Foreigners and the stepmother of Mexicans")
     There have been literally thousands of books and hundreds of thousands of editorials, studies, treatises, and publications about "The Porfiriato" (1875 - 1911), that 35 years of productivity and advance that marked proof of Mexico's ability to be part of a larger Universe.....a real country.  Elegance, opulence, material progress, advances in science and production, folkloric splendour, of world class quality.....and, by any standard, oppression.
     It was and still is said that Mexico is a country of only two classes....the very rich and the very poor.  While there is some basic validity to that point, it was and is false as a statement of universal truth.    Mexico has always had a "middle class".
      During the final years of "El Porfiriato" that group would have numbered perhaps 25 per cent of the total population of Mexico, with the very wealthy industrial and land-holding group being about 8 - 10 per cent of the nation's peoples.  As one can readily tell, that would have left around 9,000,000 Mexicans out of about 15,000,000 in pretty bad straits.Mexico has always had, even in colonial times, various and sundry social divisions that would accommodate, with some reasonable tolerance, various types of "middle class " status.
    In these times, Mexico has "burdened itself" with a very complex and huge middle class, blue and white collar, proprietor and professional, self-taught and diplomate, that constitutes what I would estimate now to be 65 - 70 percent of the population.

     Of the poorest, one can reasonably assume that the censuses taken during those times were reasonably accurate, and therefore about three and a half to four million of the folks were Indians of many different a minimum of 9 different languages....remote, welded into the mountains both barren and jungled to impenetrability.   At the time and in those days, probably sixty per cent of those native peoples spoke little or no Spanish.
    In the north of Mexico and a little less so to the west, the poor folks....or "la clase peon"...was mestizo (mixed-race) or blanco (white).  But if they lived on an established ranch, or worked in an established business, they were peones.  They inherited their parents' debts....and those debts could well have carried the debts of a peon's parents' grandparents.   In other words, these folks were born "....another day older and deeper in debt" from the outset.   Permission to leave the place of business or the ranch had to be given in writing, and wedding partners had to be approved by the proprietors and hacendados (hacienda owners), among other things.  Oddly enough, most could read and write, especially the girls, and especially in the Northern half of Mexico.

     So, by 1910 one could ride into Mexico on a nice steamer, go from Vera Cruz by train to Mexico City by a comfortable conveyance with a diner, saloon car, and flush toilets....and see everything, but understand none of it.
     The Revolucion de 1910, however did begin with the corrupt elections of that year whose count revealed that Don Porfirio Diaz had won the election, nationwide, by a vote of something like 1, 540,000 to 658.  There would have been more votes, but women were not allowed to vote in Mexico until 1953.
    It was also something like one might experience in Pyongyang, North Korea in these times.   The loser in the election, Francisco I. Madero (our little home is in a rural community that is named in his honour) pronounced his incomfority with the results of the count and promptly declared himself and his followers to be in revolt against the Government and Institutions of the Porfiriato Government and its Head.   He and his people had to flee the country to Texas.
Alamy stock photo
Paseo de la Reforma
Mexico, Distrito  Federal

             But, in fairly short order, Porfirio Diaz had been overthrown and new elections had been held and votes counted.  Parades had been held on Mexico City's Paseo de la Reforma boulevard, Madero had been sworn in along with his Vice-President Jose Maria Pino Suarez but neither would see the end of his term nor the year 1914.  Both were shot down and killed by assassins on their way to the train station where the train was waiting to take them to a ship in Vera Cruz and into forced exile.  Congress had grown tired of Madero's procrastination to provide anything different from Porfirio Diaz, and Pino Suarez, a truly great public figure and good man, was tainted with Maderos "torpez" (mental slowness),    This was the famous "Decena Tragica" (Ten Days of Tragedy) when the Presidency was finally militarised by Gen. Victoriano Huerta and the "Revolucion de 1910" would begin in earnest.  It would cause the return to mount of Pancho Villa in the North and Emiliano Zapata, in the South, as well as the horrid marxist Venustiano Carranza and affect in a direct or solidly indirect way every Mexican, every foreigner, and every profession, business, or pursuit in Mexico....including foreigners. During the final years of "El Porfiriato" that group would have numbered perhaps 25 per cent of the total population of Mexico, with the very wealthy industrial and land-holding group being about 8 - 10 per cent of the nation's peoples.  As one can readily tell, that would have left around 9,000,000 Mexicans out of about 15,000,000 in pretty bad straits.

     Of the 120,000,000 Mexicans alive to-day, fewer than a fifth know much if anything about these times in Mexico.  It is rather much like the situation we have that permits us to graduate people from high schools and colleges who cannot tell if World War II came before World War I or visa-versa.   The term "Cinco de Mayo" is said and heard, but the Fifth of May is not a National Holiday in Mexico.  The 20th of November is, however, a formal National Holiday.
     If there are questions, or if anyone wants to opine or ask my opinion of this or that matter pertaining to the Revolution, feel free to e-mail us and we shall endeavour to provide an accurate and informative answer from our position.  Remember, for instance, that in spite of the revolutionary fervor, women in Mexico were not granted suffrage until 1953.  

More Later.  Thanks for your time and interest.
El Gringo Viejo