November 20: The Mexican Revolution

The Mexican Revolution, which began on November 20, 1910, and continued for a decade, is recognized as the first major political, social, and cultural revolution of the 20th century. The United States, Mexico’s northern neighbour, was significantly affected by the human dislocation that resulted: if someone did not want to fight, the only alternative was to leave the country—and over 890,000 Mexicans did just that by legally emigrating during the second decade of the 20th century.
The Mexican Revolution was not the first violent war in Mexico. After Mexico’s conquest in 1521, the most powerful citizens were European, Spanish-born citizens or the peninsulares living in the New World. Three centuries later, in 1821, the war for Independence (starting in 1810) ended, freeing Mexico from New Spain. This was a war that, however, benefited mainly the criollo (Spanish-blooded upper class) minority. A century later, in 1910, the majority of the population of Mexico were mestizos, mixed indigenous and Spanish-blooded Mexicans, and these indigenous peoples again rose up in a violent armed struggle, the Mexican Revolution.
The main ideals of the Mexican Revolution grew out of the basic belief that a few wealthy landowners could no longer continue the old ways of Spanish colonial rule, a feudal-like system called la encomienda. That system needed to be replaced by a modern one in which those who actually worked the land should extract its wealth through their labor.
Two great figures, Francisco “Pancho” Villa from the north of Mexico and Emiliano Zapata from the south, led the revolution and remain key cultural and historical symbols in this fight for social reform. The agrarista (supporter of land reform) ideals of Zapata and his followers, the Zapatistas, are summarized in their mottos: “Tierra y Libertad” (“Land and Freedom”) and “La tierra es para el que la trabaja” (“The land is for those who work it”). These slogans continue to resonate in Mexican society.
In late 1910, Francisco I. Madero, in exile for his political activism, drafted the Plan de San Luis Potosí(Plan of San Luis Potosí), which was widely distributed and embraced by rebel movements across the nation. In this plan, Madero called for an uprising starting on November 20, 1910, to restore the Constitution of 1857 and replace dictator Díaz with a provisional government.
Its main purpose was to establish a democratic republic and to abolish unlimited presidential terms. By early 1911, a large armed struggle was underway in the northern state of Chihuahua led by local merchant Pascual Orozco and Francisco “Pancho” Villa. The success of the northern troops, or La División del Norte, sparked uprisings against terratenientes across the country.
In the southern state of Morelos, as early as 1909, Emiliano Zapata had started recruiting thousands of peasants to fight for land reform in support of El Plan de Ayala, approved by Zapata’s supporters in 1911. Under this plan land reform to help campesinos (landless peasants) by re-distributing the land back to the peasants and away from powerful landowners was paramount.
On May 25, 1911, Mexican President Porfirio Díaz resigned and left the country. Former exile, Francisco I. Madero became president after the elections in 1911. He was assassinated in early 1913 by a commander of the federal forces, Victoriano Huerta, who joined the counter-revolutionaries led by Porfirio Díaz’s nephew in order to seize power. Huerta dissolved the congress after the assassination of Madero and assumed power, but faced heavy opposition. In 1914, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson sent American Marines to Veracruz, to support the revolutionaries. Losing key battles to revolutionary troops, Huerta resigned in the same year and left the country.
After the end of the Huerta’s presidency, Venustiano Carranza, a wealthy landowner and chief of the Northern Coalition, gathered revolutionary and military leaders to a conference to determine the future of Mexico. Villa, Zapata, and their followers supported the Plan de Ayala for land reform (see above), in opposition to Carranza and his supporters, all of whom supported the Plan de San Luis Potosí.
Eventually, Carranza (now supported by the United States) and his followers, called for a constitutional convention to draft a supreme law of Mexico, which was later presented to congress.
The final version was approved in 1917, enshrining agrarian reform and unprecedented economic rights for the Mexican people. After approval of this constitution, in 1917, Carranza as the president of Mexico proceeded to ignore its promises.
As a consequence, the revolution continued until 1920. Carranza was assassinated and General Álvaro Obregón rose to power.


  1. I think that this is quite amazing that all this organization occurred without automobiles, without any technology ie. internet, cell phones, or phones of any kind, and without mail service.

  2. Land, territorial, hunting and gathering areas are fundamental requirements of all animals and humans in order for them to survive and grow their families. Wars are being fought all the time for control of these necessary assets.

    So necessary is this feature of life, that the United States Constitution guarantees individual property rights. However today, if the property owner does not pay their property taxes, or keep up the property, the local authorities can legally take and auction it off.

    In the early years of the U.S. only property owners could vote, and only white men could own property. Today anyone can own property, and the property is so encumbered by association restrictions , city , county, state , and federal government laws and taxes, plus the United Nations Agenda 21 , the use and enjoyment of private property is greatly restricted and very costly.

    Since most of the population in the world today are illiterate and impoverished , the land and property is restricted to the ownership of a few. Even in America, the wealthiest of Nations, over 50 percent of the people are receiving welfare of some kind, and the poorest are living in public housing. If the wealthiest country in perhaps history has its poor, what chance does the rest of the worlds population have? It is said that if all the wealth in the world were divided up evenly between all the people, it soon would return to the same few people.

    Slavery still exists in some 30 countries, and likely it will spread to more sometime soon. It is said that the people who get ahead in life, are the ones that work some 16 hours daily. To reduce that time to 8 hours daily, there must be a husband and wife team . Survival on Earth does require a family unit of one man and one woman, plus a large working family.

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