Mexican Revolution

major armed struggle in Mexico between 1910 and 1920

The Mexican Revolution (Spanish: Revolución Mexicana) was a major armed struggle, lasting roughly from 1910 to 1920, that transformed Mexican culture and government. Although recent research has focused on local and regional aspects of the revolution, it was a genuinely national revolution. Its outbreak in 1910 resulted from the failure of the 31-year-long regime of Porfirio Díaz to find a managed solution to presidential succession. This meant there was a political crisis among competing elites and the opportunity for agrarian insurrection. Wealthy landowner Francisco I. Madero challenged Díaz in the 1910 presidential election, and following the rigged results, revolted under the Plan of San Luis Potosí. Armed conflict broke out in northern Mexico and Díaz was forced out. In the Treaty of Ciudad Juárez, Díaz resigned and went into exile, new elections were to occur in the fall, and an interim presidency under Francisco León de la Barra was installed. A new election was held in 1911, bringing Madero to the presidency. The origins of the conflict were broadly based in opposition to the Díaz regime, with the 1910 election becoming the catalyst for the outbreak of political rebellion. The revolution was begun by elements of the Mexican elite hostile to Díaz, led by Madero, Pascual Orozco, and Pancho Villa; it expanded to the middle class, the peasantry in some regions, and organized labor. In October 1911, Madero was overwhelmingly elected in a free and fair election and took office in November. Opposition to his regime then grew from both the conservatives, who saw him as too weak and too liberal, and from former revolutionary fighters and the dispossessed, who saw him as too conservative. In a chaotic period in February 1913, known as the Ten Tragic Days (Spanish: La Decena Trágica), Madero and his vice president Pino Suárez were forced to resign in February 1913, and were assassinated. The counter-revolutionary regime of General Victoriano Huerta came to power, backed by the United States ambassador, local business interests, and other supporters of the old order. Huerta remained in power until July 1914, when he was forced out by a coalition of different regional revolutionary forces. When the revolutionaries' attempt to reach political agreement failed, Mexico plunged into a civil war (1914–15). The Constitutionalist faction under wealthy landowner Venustiano Carranza emerged as the victor in 1915, defeating the revolutionary forces of former Constitutionalist Pancho Villa and forcing revolutionary leader Emiliano Zapata back to guerrilla warfare. Zapata was assassinated in 1919 by agents of President Carranza. The armed conflict lasted for the better part of a decade, until around 1920, and had several distinct phases. Over time, the revolution changed from a revolt against the established order under Díaz to a multi-sided civil war in particular regions, with frequently shifting power struggles among factions in the Mexican Revolution. One major result of the revolution was the dissolution of the Federal Army in 1914, which Francisco Madero had kept intact when he was elected in 1911 and Huerta had used to oust Madero. Revolutionary forces unified against Huerta's reactionary regime defeated federal forces. Although the conflict was primarily a civil war, foreign powers that had important economic and strategic interests in Mexico figured in the outcome of Mexico's power struggles. The United States played an especially significant role. Out of Mexico's population of 15 million, the losses were high, but numerical estimates vary a great deal. Perhaps 1.5 million people died and nearly 200,000 refugees fled abroad, especially to the United States.Many scholars consider the promulgation of the Mexican Constitution of 1917 (Spanish: Constitucion de 1917) as the end point of the armed conflict. "Economic and social conditions improved in accordance with revolutionary policies, so that the new society took shape within a framework of official revolutionary institutions", with the constitution providing that framework. 1920–40 is often considered to be a phase of the revolution, as government power was consolidated, the Catholic clergy and institutions were attacked in the 1920s, and the 1917 constitution was implemented.This armed conflict is often characterized as the most important sociopolitical event in Mexico and one of the greatest upheavals of the 20th century; it resulted in an important program of experimentation and reform in social organization. The revolution committed the resulting political regime with "social justice", until Mexico underwent an economic liberal reform process that started in the 1980s.
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