Mexico Recent History

With this state of affairs in 1910 a revolution broke out, led by Francisco Madero, who had prepared this event from San Antonio where he had taken refuge after escaping from prison. The revolt had been supported by a legendary warrior: Pancho Villa, and by another ardent revolutionary: Emiliano Zapata. (All these revolutionaries were later killed).

And in October 1911 Madero was elected president; in the year that followed, some wrong measures in the division of the lands and other operations that were not guessed led to its overthrow and in 1913 he was arrested. While being taken to a penitentiary, he was assassinated without knowing the principal.

According to Abbreviationfinder, an acronym site which also features history of Mexico, one of his partisans, General Venustiano Carranza, took command of the government as “first chief” in 1914 and as provisional president in 1915. He re-established public and economic order and in 1917 he drafted a new Constitution which incorporated the most radical reforms in ecclesiastical, land, labor legislation, rights and duties of foreigners.

In 1920 Carranza was assassinated and General Alvaro Obregon took power and he worked first to confirm the recognition of the United States, which instead had always been denied because of the oil properties. With a law of 1923 the validity of the concessions was recognized to foreign states and the United States, for their part, recognized the authority of General Obregon. In that same year Monsignor Ernesto Filippi, papal legate, was expelled from Mexico, thus creating serious complications with the Vatican.

There were also internal struggles for the candidacy for the subsequent 1924 presidency, which saw Plutarch Elias Calles rise to power, supported by the United States.

He improved the living conditions of the people, crushed strikes in mines and oil wells, helped the emergence of a Mexican Apostolic Church, creating struggles between separatists and Catholics, while the most restrictive anti-ecclesiastical measures were applied.

The international situation also worsened. Relations with England were tense and with the United States it was even worse following the American law that blocked the immigration movement in its countries of the many thousands of Mexicans. And when in 1928 General Obregon was assassinated and Calles declared that he no longer wanted to run, Congress elected Emilio Portes Gil as provisional president; as actual president in 1930 Pascual Ortiz Rubio and after two years, the latter having resigned, to arrive at 1934, the year of closure of that legislation, General Abelardo Rodriguez was elected.

Mexico Recent History

In 1934 General Lazaro Cardenas was elected president who despite being an exponent of the national revolutionary party, broke the whole corrupt and opportunist system in force and brought to completion the “Plan Sexennal of the Partido Nacional Revolucionario”, which finally led to the economic greatness of Mexico, under the protection of social justice.

Agrarian reform continued, it created basic laws for the formation of a state socialism.

In March 1938, despite having previously confirmed oil concessions to foreign states and especially to the United States, he expropriated all the concession companies; entrusted the administration of this industry to the Confederation of Mexican Workers; valued union organizations; he rearranged the military system by increasing wages and salaries for all members.

In the educational field, he fought illiteracy aloud by substantially subsidizing the Ministry of Education and building new schools. It eased the friction that arose between the Church and the state and in the field of internal politics pacified the opposite tendencies of the revolutionaries. In the international one he established a policy of good neighborliness which however did not last long, so much so that in May 1938 both the representative of Mexico from London and the English one from Mexico City were returned to their countries.

The state administration of oil found some closed markets, so others had to be sought in Sweden, Japan, Germany and Italy; but sales fell, as did the price of silver, creating many problems for the economy.

In addition, the government alienated the sympathy of the pro-Communist unions, led by V. Lombardo Toledano, settled with a para-military organization, when he entered into relations with the dictator Franco of the relations that badly matched the reception of the Spanish Republican immigrants.

On November 12, 1939 he declared Mexico’s neutrality in the 2nd World War. He did not approve any amendments to important laws, so women were unable to vote in July 1940 and those elections saw former War Minister M. Avila Camacho win.

The latter immediately granted an amnesty to the exiles who were able to return home; excluded communists from government by reconciling it with Catholics; it favored the formation of the small property; distributed the lands to farmers; disciplined the workers’ movement and curbed the immigration of persecuted politicians.

With all this the economy was going badly; railways, mines, exports of lead and zinc to Great Britain, oils (lost the German and Italian markets) were the worst evils.
It was necessary to make agreements with the United States not only economic but also military, however reciprocal, giving the United States the use of airports to planes to or from Panama (1941).

After the German aggression to the USSR, the ambassadors were withdrawn and the consulates in Germany closed. German and Italian ships were requisitioned, but when the attack on Pearl Harbor occurred, relations were broken not only with Japan but also with the European states aggregated to the Axis.

Then, in May 1942, the tanker Potrero de Llano was sunk and for this reason war was declared on Germany-Italy-Japan on 1 June 1942 and Cardenas took command of the forces in the Pacific and Rodriguez those of the Gulf of Mexico.

The country worked together to increase agricultural production; in schools the teaching of religion was restored and the confiscation of ecclesiastical properties was freed. Since the pact with the United States was reciprocal, Mexico helped them grow fast-growing rubber plants for them and by sending laborers to replace the American fighters. The United States helped Mexico equip 3 or 4 divisions that fought in the Philippines. They also sent agricultural machines; they made greater imports of goods and opened numerous credits for the development of public works, railways and industries. All this was not enough to curb the growing inflation and at the end of 1943 workers’ unrest and strikes occurred. In that same year there were frightening seismic movements, hurricanes and floods,

Elections were also prepared which assigned the presidency to Miguel Aleman, former Minister of the Interior, who in the following two years entered into various commercial treaties also in Europe, but mainly with the United States, even if
hostile demonstrations of the type occurred against them, for example, the entry into Mexico of North American Protestant missionaries was prohibited. And among the various difficulties of that moment, efforts were made to defeat illiteracy and ignorance; to complete the industry and also to solve the serious housing crisis. Several factories were built and the University City of Mexico City was founded. Aleman’s balance could certainly be considered positive.

On December 1, 1952, Adolfo Ruiz Cortinez was elected who followed the same policy as Aleman. However, he faced many disputes with the unions.

In the 1958 election, women voted for the first time. Adolfo Lopez Mateo, a very political expert, won. Even against his government there were demonstrations of workers and students, but he dominated the unrest with a strong hand; he had some communist trade unionists arrested and on March 30, 1959 he also had two Soviet diplomats believed to be troublemakers of the people.
His active participation in foreign policy led to several agreements and treaties not only with the United States but with all Latin American republics. In August 1960 he took part in the Punta del Este International Conference.

In 1964 Gustavo Diaz Ordaz was elected to continue the policy of his predecessor by making improvements in all sectors, especially in the field of culture and education. He downsized the army and optimized relations with the Church.

However, by 1968, there were still significant differences between industrial and agricultural workers, to which were added the barracks and all the marginalized. So there were demonstrations especially by students who provoked the military occupation of the University of Mexico City.

In foreign policy, under Diaz Ordaz, there was a greater opening towards the republics of Central America. The unions were satisfied with the release in 1970 of a new Labor Code, which provided for a more just distribution of national wealth.

In July 1970 the new elections saw a new president in L.Echeverria Alvarez. He started his internal politics with a good will, wanting to give a definitive solution to all the problems of the country. He repressed the various student demonstrations with a steady hand and therefore made foreign travels and made many trips establishing trade relations with many countries, including Japan, in order to ease US pressure.

On 4 July 1976, Josè Lopez Portillo, former Minister of Finance, became president. His main and most important undertaking was to restore diplomatic relations with Spain, which had been interrupted for 38 years, and he legalized all parties, including leftist ones.

He also promoted economic development mainly through the exploitation of hydrocarbon deposits, discovered in the seventies.
In the following decade, with the fall in oil prices and the rise in international interest rates, and with the rise in external debt, Mexico found itself in the middle of a serious crisis, already in 1982. In July of this same year Madrid Hurtado was elected, who was forced to establish an economic policy of austerity.

In January 1983 he promoted a pacification process for Central America with Panama, Colombia and Venezuela. Balanced cooperation with the United States.
In 1985 a major earthquake shook Mexico City, aggravating the state’s economic situation. A privatization program was initiated that did not meet popular favor.

In 1988 C. Salinas de Gortari was elected who immediately tried to recover the confidence of the masses by starting to fight against corruption, drug trafficking and various forms of crime.
In 1990 he set up a “National Human Rights Commission” to eradicate illegality, abuse and violations of human rights and proposed to moralize the issue of electoral fraud. He then completed the company privatization plan by reducing the state’s external debt, strengthening ties with the United States and integrating Mexico into the North American area.

A constitutional amendment passed at the beginning of 1992 allowed the lifting of restrictions against the Catholic Church and in September of the same year diplomatic relations with the Holy See were restored, which had been interrupted since 1861.

In September 1993 President Salinas approved from Congress the possibility of participation in the media of all political sectors of the country, eliminating the existing discrimination towards the oppositions and increasing the presence of the minor parties in the Senate.

But 1994 was an unhappy year for Mexico as Salinas, by starting the privatization of state agricultural funds, definitively cut the distribution of land to farmers.

The immediate negative consequences occurred in Chiapas, one of the poorest states in Mexico, almost completely Indians. And this population rose up and occupied several areas, including the city of San Cristobal, well known for its flourishing tourism.

Naturally, the government reacted with a harsh military repression which, however, brought strong currents of sympathy for the rebels, Zapatistas, by the whole world public opinion.

At this point the Mexican government, in order to reactivate the lost credibility, ceased the reprimand and established a pacification commission, entrusting it to M. Camacho Solis, former regent of the capital. With the mediation of Bishop S. Ruiz, a convinced advocate of the rights of the Indians, an agreement was reached that recognized some requests of the Zapatistas as legitimate. Since these were not very satisfied with the agreements, however, Salinas was forced to appoint another negotiator in the person of J. Madrazo Cuellar, head of the National Human Rights Commission.

Two months after these events, the assassination of L. Donaldo Colosio, candidate for the presidential elections of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, had to be registered. In his place came the new candidate E. Zedillo Ponce de Leon who won the elections in August 1994, making 48.8% of the votes. His party was the strongest in both the Senate and the House.

In September 1994 there was still an assassination, that of the party secretary general, JF Ruiz Massieu whose brother M. Ruiz Massieu, Deputy Minister of Justice, not only resigned from office but had the Colosio case resurrected and managed to unmask the instigators of the two murders. Among these R. Salinas de Gortari, brother of the former president, arrested in February 1995, found guilty of connivance with drug traffickers. The former president himself was forced to leave Mexico.

In the economic field, with the devaluation of the weight, there was a large flight of foreign capital and if Mexico did not sink completely into the financial tragedy, the merit was of immediate and copious US aid. Meanwhile, with this evident proof of fragility, both political and economic, the illusion of being able to count Mexico among the most industrialized countries in the world fell hopelessly.

With this, the new president Zedillo had to apply austerity measures and even proposed to privatize the state oil company again. A certain economic recovery could thus be observed, but the lower middle classes did not benefit from it.

Meanwhile in Chiapas the problem of the Indians had exacerbated. The government, supported by the country’s major political forces, launched a broad dialogue for pacification. And in August 1995 he agreed that the Zapatista guerrilla forces would officially become the “Zapatista Front of National Liberation”. In February 1996 the agrarian reform project was abandoned and cultural, linguistic and local autonomy rights of the Indians were recognized.

But while in Chiapas everything was going well, in another state, the Guerrero, a very strong tension opposed the peasant class to the police forces which, in one of the numerous armed conflicts, killed 17 farmers, so much so that in March 1996 the Governor R. Figueroa was forced to resign.

Meanwhile, another rebel movement was born that acted in the central and northern regions of Mexico, and it was the Insurgent People’s Revolutionary Army, which created many difficulties for the government, totally dissociating itself from the economic policy adopted in the country. But this, however, both in 1996 and in the first months of 1997, proved to be up to par, allowing Mexico to repay all the debt contracted with the United States, even three years in advance, and also the repayment of the debt with the Fund International Monetary.

With the elections of 6 July 1997, the governing party maintained the majority in the Senate but lost the majority in the House, where instead all the opposition parties were strengthened.
Based on this result, the president of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, R. Villanueva resigned.


Meanwhile the Massieu case had been completed with a 50-year prison sentence for M. Ruiz Massieu who, arrested in the United States on charges of money laundering, then killed himself in September 1999. Many others were excellent arrests for drug trafficking, and the Mexican government made every effort to maintain the privileged relations granted by the US Congress.

The contrasts in Chiapas instead exacerbated due to the policy of Zedillo, which alternated concessions with actions of force.
Several criminal events occurred: an attempted murder in the person of Bishop S. Ruiz; in December 1997 45 Indians were killed in the church of Acteal, in the Chenalho area; 7 priests were expelled from the diocese of San Cristobal and 40 churches were closed.

In March 1999, in support of the demands of the Zapatistas, a popular referendum significantly strengthened the opposition coalition.