The Porfiriato Part 1


We ended our last history video when Porfirio Diaz sat on the presidential chair after defeating the Lerdistas and the Iglesistas (followers of Lerdo de Tejada and
Iglesias). He was president between 1877 and 1911, few months after the outbreak of the Mexican Revolution when he abandoned the country to go into exile.
He was the hero of the struggle between conservatives and imperialists; he was younger than Benito Juarez and Lerdo de Tejada. He chose to study the military career and obtained the degree of General.

He contended three times for the presidency but was defeated on two occasions by Juarez and one by Lerdo de Tejada. He opposed re-election and struggled to reduce the executive faculties, strengthen the states and the people's governments, and respect the right of election.

He attracted the sympathy of different groups, who considered him the only man who could bring peace to the country after fifty years of war against the various factions. Finally, in November 1876, he entered Mexico city triumphantly and took over the presidency in 1877.

During his first period, he respected the anti-reelection banner, and in 1878, he promoted a constitutional reform against immediate re-election he turned over power to his "compadre" buddy Manuel Gonzalez; with this move, his popularity increased; meanwhile, he creates new strategic alliances and partnerships. He contended again for the presidency and won the election as the only candidate; his second mandate was 1884-1888. However, on this occasion, he had no plans to abandon the presidential chair: in 1884, a constitutional reform allowed immediate re-election, that is to say, that the president could re-elect himself for a second time, which allowed him to stay in office until 1892. In 1890, he eliminated from the constitution all restrictions of re-election, and
in 1903 he extended the presidential period up to six years. Without any opposition whatsoever, he claimed electoral triumph for 1892-1986, 1896-1900., 1900-1904, and 1904-1910.

Throughout these years, many changes occurred, which would be impossible to mention all, but we will refer to the two porfiriatos the first and second stage, and the years of crisis.


The first stage starts in 1877 and ends in 1888 when he indefinitely eliminated the restriction of re-election.

He dedicated those first years to re-construct, pacify, unify, conciliate the country and negotiate with other countries. He started consolidating the different states as a nation and the state and society liberal project.

To avoid concentration of the power, he divided it into Executive Power (responsible for executing the laws), legislative (to create them), and judicial (to enforce them). People were responsible for the election of (President, governors, legislators, and Supreme Court magistrates)

He separated the State from the church and guaranteed liberty of cult and gave the government responsibility of education and commonwealth.

Despite all these changes, many problems persisted in the country, The country needed to consolidate institutions and that the political system be efficient, there was no cohesion or national identity, and foreign intervention was still a threat. Porfirio Diaz Challenges were: to unify regional and political forces, grant legitimacy and legality to his government, respecting or at least pretending to respect the constitution, and, above all, international recognition.

He did not comply with his commitments with regional and peasant communities and decided to start with conciliation and negotiation.

He was loyal to the groups that supported him, and he lured his opponents; he gave recognition to the army that fought with him. He married Carmen Romero Rubio, daughter of a Lerdista (Lerdo de Tejada follower), which improved his relationship with that faction.

By 1884 he formed his political cabinet with one Porfirista, two Jauristas, two Lerdistas, one imperialist, and he attracted the catholic church, giving them some concessions.

These were brilliant moves; he wanted to demonstrate that he was willing to give all different factions a voice. However, his relationship with the chieftains and the peasant collectivities was not good; his decisions were very variable; in some regions, he respected political autonomy and did not accept the confiscation of properties, and in others, he tolerated confiscation in favor of big corporations.

He would also handle different criteria with governors and warlords. He sought loyal men and would give them governorships; he helped them gain wealth, gave them specific liberty and power but vanish them if they did not comply with his will.

Porfirio also accomplished international recognition, the third of his goals. He re-established diplomatic relationships with France, England, Germany, and Belgium. He also gained favor from the United States. However, there were many difficulties to overcome, such as the foreign debt, Indians and cattle thieves crossing to Mexico, American troops chasing them, and Mexican workers crossing into the United States. Despite all this, Mexico paid its debt and provided facilities for investors, and in 1878 The United States recognized the Diaz government.

However, President Porfirio Diaz was firm in defending national sovereignty. These were difficult times, and Diaz always tried to have consensus through conciliation, but when this was impossible, he chose to use force and repression, with the help of the army, the police, and the rural police.

The legality of the government was another itchy topic because he appointed the governors and manipulated the deputy elections. The federal elections were a farse; no one would vote, the voters did not fill in the ballots, but the voting booths were full of them. Porfirio Diaz’s regime would oscillate between legality and
appearance of legitimacy.

Despite all this, he obtained international recognition and national cohesion; he attracted groups of influence to avoid decay nuclei, he formed loyal chains as the foundation of his political building.