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Alex Lotzman – The Mexican Revolution: A Retrospect

Mexico’s revolution during the 20th century oozed with potential. When Porfirio Diaz

stepped down as President of Mexico, the country had high hopes for their future. Promises of

proper justice, land reform, and equality for all were said by those in charge after 1910. As time

went on, however, the potential faded and the promises made by the Mexican government went

unfulfilled. The legacy of the Mexican Revolution has been brought into question by Presidential

candidate for Mexico Andrés Manuel Obrador López. He states, “Mexico is a nation without

democracy, with corruption, inequality, and extreme wealth.”1 Issues such as corruption, land

reform, and economic instability continue to plague this country. Obrador Lopez’s statement

shows the stubborness of the Mexican government with its insistance of living in the past and its

refusal to bring radical change to Mexico.

Corruption has been a major threat to progress in Mexico. President Plutarco Calles was a

gleaming example of the kind of intrigue that was going on in the Mexican government. After he

stepped down as president in 1928, Calles takes the role the jefe maximo and ruled Mexico from

behind the scenes by establishing the PNR and commanding a series of “puppet presidents”. That

way Calles could still call the shots without being the president. Calles was not a man of the

revolution. If he was a true believer in the Revolution, he would have let the presidency go and

hope that his successor would improve the country on their own.

The way Calles maniuplated the system to maintain power altered the path Mexico took

going forward. The government saw that Calles managed to finally keep the peace and made that

Andrés Manuel Obrador López, NeoPorifirismo, Hoy Como Ayer, Grijalbo Press, Mexico,
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their highest priority. Rather than working on social reforms promised to the people in the

Mexican Constitution like land reform, worker rights, and a right to education, the Mexican

government sought corruption via implementing prolonged rule. Corruption is only one of the

issues Obrador mentions with the legacy of Mexican Revolution. Land reform was another. By

looking at how Mexico handled land reform, it can show the obvious stubborness the

government had with progress and how the country struggled to fix its inequalities.

Land reform has been a huge problem for Mexico. It one of the major articles in the

Mexican Constitution. However, the privatization of lands was something that the government

refused to fullfill to especially after 1940. The best way to portray the government’s attitude

towards land reform is by looking at the film directed by Fernando de Fuentes called Alla en el

Rancho Grande. The film shows how the jefe of the farm helped and protected his workers in

exchange that they remain loyal to him. The director, Fernando de Fuentes, saw land reform

similarly to the Mexican government since he was against the progress that was ocurring under

Cardenas, and believed the ownership of land should be in the hands of the wealthy.

The Constitution of 1917 demanded that Mexico give its people their own land. The

Mexican government at first, looked like it would keep its word. Unfortunately, the government

seemed to have forgot about the promise they made over time. When the Revolution lost its

bloodshed around the late 1930’s, it became institutional. The ruling political party known as the

PRI began a “more evolution, less revolution” policy towards social reform. This meant that the

promise of privatization of land would be broken. The stubborness of the Mexican government

to keep their word with land reform shows how Mexico has not changed much in the past

century as Obrador Lopez says. A big impact on the governments’ attitude towards social

reforms has to do with money. Economic instablity is another problem mentioned by Obrador
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Lopez regarding the Mexican Revolution and can reveal cracks in the infrastructure of the


Mexico’s economy hindered its social programs and economic nationalistic policy. The

best example of this would be the aftermath of Mexico’s debt crisis in 1982. The United States

bailed out Mexico in exchange that they followed cerayin conditions given by the U.S.. They

made Mexico accept austerity and were forced to privateize its national companies such as

Telefonos de Mexico. In addition to these conditions, Mexico had to give up its protectionist

policy towards its economy which would allow foreign competition into their market. These

three conditions would squash the hopes of an independent economy and further advancement of

social programs in Mexico.

Economic nationalism was a key feauture of the Revolution. Mexico wanted to keep

foreigners out of the country since foreign interfernence had been an issue ever since Mexico

became a country. When this was taken from them, and had to go back to allowing foreign

companies in, Mexico could not keep up with the competition. Mexico, like in the times of the

Porfiriato, became heavily reliant on foreign goods and services which erased any economic

progress the Mexican Revolution had brought. The debt crisis in 1982 supports Obrador Lopez’s

statement regarding extreme wealth. A select few benefitted from these conditions brought by

the U.S. but most struggled to make ends meet with unemployment, low wages, and outsourcing

by foreign companies. This portays the extreme wealth issue that Obrador Lopez points out. The

sad truth of Mexico’s struggles is that it was their fault.

The Mexican government had a choice to make the Revolution a radical movement.

Instead, they took shortcuts and ended up making little to no change at all in over a century.

Corruption made sure that politicans remained in power longer than they should have. The
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Mexican government showed its stubborness by ignoring social programs such as education and

land reform. Economic instablity resulted in the death of the nation’s revolutionary desires such

as economic nationalism. As Obrador Lopez had mentioned, “...there exists a false republic and a

state that functions to guarantee the accumulation of wealth in few hands and with little regard

for the many.”2 Obrador Lopez is right. Mexico is that republic. The Mexican Revolution was a

revolution in name only and was more of a method of seizing power by a select few than a

change for its people.


Obrador Lopez, Andres M. NeoPorifirismo, Hoy Como Ayer, Grijalbo Press, Mexico, 2013.

Andrés Manuel Obrador López, NeoPorifirismo.