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Based on John Tutino, From Insurrection to Revolution in Mexico
The Mexican Revolution (1910-1917) was caused by a variety of factors. It is impossible to place the blame on one single event or person because of the complexity of the Mexican people. One thing is for sure, if people are deprived of food and water, they will find a way to obtain enough to survive. History proves that in desperate times people will take matters into their own hands. When a countries leadership wavers, and conditions become poor enough that people are starving, they will respond negatively. It seems that any time the Mexicans lose the ability to grow their own maize they become discontent. Mexicans staple crop is maize, which is then ground into flour to make a large variety of food. Tutinos' study of Mexico links the revolution to many factors as well as compares and contrasts the events of 1910 to the revolts led by Hidalgo in 1810. The failures of the Diaz Regime, economic trouble, poor crop yields, failure of the elite to unify to put down the rebellion, and lack of a natural order of succession, led to the Mexican Revolution and each affected various sectors of Mexico differently. The Mexican Revolution changed the face of Mexico for ever.
Porfirio Díaz was the leader of Mexico for over 35 years. Although the tactics in which he employed to stay in power so long were unsavory, he made significant social and economic changes in Mexico. He was able to pacify the people by doing just enough to keep them from rebelling, and completely transformed their economic system. According to Tutino, Díaz failed by trying to change Mexico to the gold standard. Díaz changed Mexico by redistribution of land and was able to make Mexico a player in the global economy. During his reign the people in Mexico had food and water and minimal self-sufficiency. Why did the country erupt in Revolution in 1910? Was Díaz really too blame? Tutino suggested that while Díaz was not the best leader, at least the areas in the south that had erupted with economic growth due to his changes never joined the Revolution. Díaz did neglect fixing the counties problems and just pacified groups that were upset.
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Tutino continues by discussing how the labor force in the south was forced into near "chattel slavery" by the landholders in order to repay debts. In these regions there was "agrarian stability" and workers content with their situation. Whereas in the North and Central regions there was the largest number of insurgents sprang up due to a multitude of reasons. The author suggests that it was do to lack of arable land, lack of water, low pay, and broken promises by the landholders, as well as discontent with the corruption of the Díaz Regime. In the northern border area, workers were scarce and the landowners found it difficult to use coercion to entice migrant workers to move thousands of miles from home to work for low wages and in poor conditions, furthermore the workers that were already in place were moved to the fringes of the large plantations. Moving the agrarian people was problematic due to a lack of land suitable for growing maize and a lack of water. Tutino continues by explaining how the aforementioned problems led to agrarian discontent. All of these problems make it easier for Madero, Zapata, and Poncho Villa to gain support. The Díaz regime upset the Elite, agrarian peasantry, small landowners, rancheros, and the vaqueros. Members of all of these groups would join rebel forces led by Zapata, and the infamous Poncho Villa. Unlike the revolts in 1810, the Mexican Revolution was not ignored nor put down by the Elites who actually joined the fighting. The elites had joined together to put down the revolts led by Hidalgo. This is an important difference, which shows a good example of meaningful change caused by mass discontent. The agrarian peoples of Mexico were finally able to gain ground with their complaints.
The political, social, an economic divisions where wide spread throughout the central and northern regions. Diaz had done well at expanding the economic system especially by producing a system of Mexican Railroads. He is also given credit with the economic growth in the Southern Regions. Mexican land owners were losing
land for owing money. For example.
In Central Mexico, a heavily indebted Mariano Riva Palacio lost in 1870 the estates he had worked to acquire since the 1830's, and that had provided the economic base at Chalco that underlay his political dominance of the state of Mexico for years.
Tutino also discussed how interaction with the French could also lead to loss of land. Large chunks of land were broken up under Diaz, in order to redistribute lands in order to yield more productive areas to generate commerce. Crop failures in 1907 were another cause; the people could not afford to import American Maize, and were unable to grow their own crops for subsistence. All of these separate but different events led to the people of Mexico revolting, and brought a significant amount of change to the landscape of Mexico ever since.
In the southern areas were uprisings were held to a minimum, people were still able to feed themselves and their children. The Elite were still making money and able to afford the near slave labor wages by giving the workers who migrated advances on their pay in the off seasons, for a promise to go to work at a later date. This system was used in the North, but ultimately failed because of poor resources, lack of water, lack of Maize, lack of any help from the government and revolutionaries that understood the hypocrisy of the Diaz Regime. People had been pacified for 35 years under Diaz; these people were not happy or even content. They just needed the impetus to force change and Madero, Zapata, and Poncho Villa would prove to be just that.