October 16, 1909: So Close to the United States

 

 

Poor Mexico, so far from God and so close to the United States.

Porfirio Diaz

Of all the colorful figures that populate Mexican history, few are more colorful than Porfirio Diaz.   The scion of a devout Catholic family with ambitions to become a priest, he left the seminary to volunteer for service in 1846 in the Mexican War.  Finding life congenial as a soldier, he never returned to the seminary.  In 1846 he first met Benito Juarez and became a Liberal under his influence and example.  His career until he became President intermingled politics with the military, and he served in both the Reform War and the struggle against the French, in which he became one of the chief commanders of President Juarez.  He came to the Presidency in 1877 after leading a successful rebellion, one of several rebellions he led during his career.  He would in effect rule Mexico until the Mexican Revolution in 1910, a period known as the Porfiriato.  Mingling corruption with brute force, Diaz gave Mexico an authoritarian government that spurred rapid economic development.  Diaz remained officially an anti-clerical Liberal, but privately he was a Catholic, and under his regime the anti-clerical laws were largely a dead letter.  After the chaos that was the hallmark of Mexico in the Nineteenth Century, Diaz gave the country stability and peace.  He was a dictator but a shrewd, competent one, skillful at balancing factions and always aware that public opinion was perhaps more important in a dictatorship than in a republic.  In many ways he strikes me as a precursor of Francisco Franco, although the differences in the regimes they led are as pronounced as the similarities. (more…)

Advertisements
Published in: on October 16, 2017 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on October 16, 1909: So Close to the United States  
Tags: , ,