Pre-existing conditions
By: Cristiane Heinrichs & Alex Malgarini
Summary: Pre-Existing Conditions, Porfirio Díaz, Francisco Madero

              Porfirio Diaz ruled Mexico from 1877 to 1910, except from 1880 to 1884, totaling 8 presidential terms. He constantly oppressed his opponents in order to maintain his rule. Despite the corruption, Diaz brought improvements to Mexico, such as parks and railroads. This was made not for the people, as the rich minority got richer, and the poor got poorer, but to make Mexico look better for foreign investment. The police was given power to arrest and execute anyone causing civil unrest or threatening his power. The lack of uprisings also made Mexico look better for foreigners. As stated by Anita Brenner, in The Wind that Swept Mexico, the country was a “mother of foreigners, stepmother of Mexicans”, as foreigners were favored with tax free, secure investments and “cheap and docile labor”. The majority of the wealth was held by less than 1% of the population, mostly foreigners. US, for example, held 90% of Mexico’s industries. Land concentration was also a major issue, with 95% of people without land. Social problems include genocidal Indian wars, abject working conditions, and a great majority of illiterates.

                In 1908, Diaz announced that Mexico was ready for democracy, welcoming opposition. Elite member Francisco Madero had criticized Diaz´s social policies of Indian Wars and violent repression of strikes. He was called the “apostle of democracy”, even though for him democracy meant control by the elite. After arresting Madero, Diaz won the 1910 elections. Diaz, no longer considering Madero a threat, released him. In Texas, he created the Plan de San Luis Potosí in October 1910. The plan stated that the recent elections were null and void, that Madero would be the provisional president until conditions were suitable for new elections, and that usurped lands would be given back to peasants. When Madero came back to Mexico, he found few supporters of the Revolution, but soon two peasant movements answered his call, one led by Pancho Villa, in the North, and one lead by Emiliano Zapata, in the south. In May 1911, the Treaty of Ciudad Juarez, called for the removal of Diaz, but left intact all existing institutions. It didn’t address social change, and Leon de La Barra, the Mexican ambassador to the US, would be the interim president. The provisional government of Barra was closely tied to the old regime and tried to disband revolutionary forces such as the Zapatistas.

                With the elections of 1911, Madero was elected president. He permitted strikes, trade unions, and the creation of the Casa del Obrero Mundial. His land reform program was inadequate, consisting of buying land from large landowners and recovering national lands to give them to landless peasants. He believed that large landholdings (haciendas) would help modernize Mexico. With his failed agrarian reform, Madero lost support of revolutionary peasantry, and also lost support of reactionaries, who were afraid that he would move further left. His inability to satisfy both sides and increasing loss of US support culminated in a conference of foreign diplomats where it was decided that Madero should resign. He rejected this, so in February 1913, Huerta´s troops, aided by the United States, arrested him. Madero “voluntarily” signed his resignation papers, to make it seem more legal. Madero and his vice president were murdered, but officially it was said that it happened during a strive of his supporters to release him.


Map of Mexico
Map of Mexico
“This cartoon aptly characterizes one of the primary reasons for the Mexican Revolution (1910-1920) - the unfair exploitation of the land by monied Mexican and foreign elites.”
Mexican Railway System
Mexican Railway System
Porfirio Díaz
Porfirio Díaz
Diaz attending centennial celebrations, Mexico City, September 1910
Diaz attending centennial celebrations, Mexico City, September 1910
Fransisco Madero
Fransisco Madero
Plan of San Luis Potosí, October 1910
Plan of San Luis Potosí, October 1910
Peace Talks
“Peace conference at Ciudad Juárez, 1911”. Madero is the third from left to right
“Madero campaigning from the back of a railroad car, 1910”
Recommended Websites:

1.      MexConnect  Website contains a clear and concise summary of the Mexican Revolution. It contains hyperlink on famous names, such as Diaz and Madero, leading to a further explanation on the topic, for easier understanding. It also contains a lot of the general history of Mexico and the country’s culture.

  Gaceta Consular , . "The Mexican Revolution 1910 ." MexConnect. February 4,

2007 . MexConnect, Web. 28 Oct 2009.


2.       LatinAmericanStudies Website contains documents, link and lectures about the Mexican Revolution, including interesting information and great pictures. It is divided in topic, therefore, it is very easy to explore.

"The Mexican Revolution." Latin American Studies. Web. 28 Oct 2009.                                                   <>

3.      CountryStudiesWebsite that covers the whole Mexican Revolution, but dividing it in subtopics, such as “The Early Phase” and “Madero’s Government” and so on. It also covers a lot about the general history of Mexico, again dividing it in many subtopics, that can be accesses through the Table of contents.

"Mexico." Country Studies. June 1996. Library of Congress Country Studies ,  

Web. 28 Oct 2009.


4.      CasaHistoriaWebsite that is very good and useful to study the Mexican Revolution as well as many other topics in History. It contains links to many websites and for give an overview of what each contains. It is divided in the three main sections of “Background”, “Events” and “Biographies”. It also contains documents about the revolution, “Mexico after the Revolution” and etc… 

"Mexican revolution & beyond." 24 Sep 2009 . casahistoria, Web. 28


5.   Website contains “Introduction to the Revolution”, which has the pre-existing conditions, a good timeline from 1904 to 1920 with the main events of each year, and concise biographies of Díaz, Madero, and other important leaders in the Mexican Revolution.

Creed, Stepanie, Kelcie McLaughlin, Christina Miller, Vince Struble. "The

Mexican Revolution 1910-1920." Web. 25 Oct 2009. <>.

6.      NevadaObserverExcellent website for studying the pre-existing conditions and the Porfiriato, showing its strength, weaknesses,  the growing discontent, the anti-reelection movement, the election of 1910, the beginning of the revolution, and the collapse of the Diaz regime. Includes pictures of this time period and descriptions for each.

"The Mexican Revolution 1910-1920 Part 1: The Overthrow Of Díaz." The   

Nevada Observer. 20 Nov 2005. Nevada's Online State News Journal, Web. 27 Oct 2009. <>.

7.      Getty.eduThis site has many sections which encompasses the time period of 1830s to the end of the revolution. Each section has pictures with descriptions and excellent resolutions. Extensive and good for in depth studies.

Trust, J. Paul Getty. "History: Empire and Nation." Getty. 2002. The Getty, Web.

24 Oct 2009. <>.

Suggested readings:

Keen, Benjamin, and Keith Haynes. A History of Latin America. 6th ed. USA: Houghton Mifflin  Company, 2000. Print. (Keen 273-278)

Brenner, Anita. The Wind That swept Mexico. 6th. United States: 1971.