Biography of Porfirio Díaz (1830-1915)

Military and Mexican statesman, born in Oaxaca in 1830 and died in Paris on July 2, 1915, who was President of Mexico.


In 1845 he/she began his studies at the seminary and later worked as a teacher at the Institute, as a gunsmith and as a Carpenter. He/She was a disciple of the liberal Benito Juárez, future President, who taught Civil law at the Instituto de Ciencias. When this institution was closed down by order of the President Santa Anna in 1854, Díaz started his political career. In 1858 he/she fought against the conservatives in the Guerra de Reforma and after ascending to the general Assembly in 1861, fought against the French intervention. He/She was Chief of Brigade at Acultzingo on April 1862, participated in the battle of Cinco de Mayo by Ignacio Zaragoza, and in 1863 took part in the defense of Puebla.

In this same town he/she starred in shortly after a brilliant military action, when he/she made a quick and bloody assault against his enemies of this city, who took refuge in the hills of Loreto and Guadalupe. Without losing time, it advanced towards the Capital of the Republic, and took her on 2 April of 1867, made that was of great military importance since it announced the triumph of Juarez and the fall of the Empire of Maximiliano. Designated presidential candidate for the progressive party, he/she was defeated by Juárez and, died in 1872, revolted against the successor Lerdo de Tejada. In November of the previous year had launched the so-called "Plan de la Noria", which was pronounced against the reeleccionismo and personal power, and in favour of the Constitution of 1857 and the electoral freedom. Finally, in 1876 he/she managed to expel Lerdo, and agreed to the Presidency. In 1880 the Chamber declared him constitutional President.

Subsequently, made re-elect; He/She took office again on December 1, 1884, and three years later published an amendment, which was approved by Congress, article 78 of the Constitution, which credited him for a new re-election; in 1890 he/she published a new reform to the previous article to allow indefinite re-election, all of which allowed him to stay in power until 1910. Before "perfect" this system ordered the removal of all possible political adversaries, and press was subjected or pursued while trying to remain independent.

The Mexican people were weary of the disorder and the war, and Díaz set out to impose peace at any cost, but Mexico did not have funds or had credit score because it had not paid its debts in a timely manner, so it had to attract foreign capital; the problem was that no one would invest in Mexico if there was no stability and peace.

With a heavy-handed policy, Porfirio Díaz tried to eliminate the differences of views on policy issues, and dedicated himself to improving the functioning of the Government. "Little politics and many administration" was the slogan of that time. Peace was not total, but Díaz managed to maintain order through the use of public force. Police and soldiers chased the same bandits that opponents. With a policy of order, increased labour demand and economic development, was made possible because the country had resources and employers could obtain good profits.

However, with the passage of time, it became clear that prosperity was only for a few, discontent grew by the misery in which lived the majority of people and large sectors of society became aware that Díaz had been too long in power. Each time was more difficult to maintain order. In the last years of the Porfiriato he/she lived in a climate of repression, in which the force of arms was used with increasing violence. It show the clumsiness with which it negotiated and hardness that is repressed strikes Cananea (1906), in Sonora, and Rio Blanco (1907) in Veracruz, as well as the way in which is pursued journalists who were critical of the regime and anyone who stated an opinion that it was not the officer.

During the long time he/she ruled Díaz were important works in various ports, and 20,000 kilometers of railways are tended. The railway lines have been traced to the major ports and towards the border with the United States of America to facilitate trade. They also served to facilitate the movement of goods between different regions of Mexico, and as a means of political and military control.

Mail and Telegraphs spread for much of the national territory. Some banks were founded, the Government finances were organized, taxation was regulated and, little by little, the debts were paying. Farming progressed dramatically in Yucatan, in Morelos and in La Laguna, with vast production of henequen, sugar cane and cotton.

Mexico had an economic growth never seen, but, as few people have money to invest or you could get it lent, the development favored only a few Mexicans and foreigners. The inequality between the very rich, which were very few, and the very poor, who were many, he/she opened a yawning gap in Mexican society. Enormous latifundia were formed, the Indians lost their land, and most of the camp's inhabitants had to deal with as pawns in the estates. There was work, but they were poorly paid, had little freedom and they were forced to spend the little money they earned in shops of raya, who were themselves patterns and who sold everything more expensive. To borrow at these stores, workers had to continue working for the same employer. In some regions, such as the peninsula of Yucatan and Valle Nacional (Oaxaca), pawns were, by the treatment that is given, virtually slaves.

However, great efforts to extend public education, were made which allowed that they are educating more children; more and more Mexicans could follow higher studies and began to form a middle class of professionals and public employees across the country. Enriched cultural life with new newspapers, magazines and books written and printed in Mexico, multiplied the roads, bridges, buildings and schools, theatres presented companies and European actors, and spread the cinematograph. Intellectual life had important milestones. A group of historians published "Mexico through the centuries" and another "Mexico and its social evolution". Justo Sierra opened the National University. José María Velasco in wonderful pictures reflected the splendour of the Mexican landscape; Saturnino Herrán painted a stunning series of pictures with people and allegories to the Mexican culture and José Guadalupe achieved vigorous engraved with scenes of everyday life.

Porfirio Díaz hardly left no power to the Governors or the authorities local. He/She took all the decisions. Deputies and Senators approved all his initiatives. Public opinion must be always grateful. The continuous re-election of the caudillo was possible because the country yearned for peace and prosperity, and the Government achieved an impressive economic boost, but the closed political structure constituted a great threat to the regime.

In 1908, Porfirio Díaz gave an interview to the American journalist James Creelman, in which stated that Mexico was already prepared to have free elections. The news was filled with optimism to a new generation of young people, teachers, doctors, lawyers, engineers, farmers and industrialists who wanted to participate in the political life of the country and who could not do it because all the seats were already occupied by men much older than them. Thus arose several political parties, and they wrote books and articles that discussed the situation in the country and the solution of their problems.

One of those men was Francisco i. Madero. He/She had studied and traveled outside Mexico, because he/she came from a family of landowners and businessmen, and had financial difficulties. However, he/she knew that many Mexicans were living in conditions of extreme poverty and was deeply concerned about national problems. I wanted to participate in the Government of his country and decided to enter politics. Along with others who, like him, were against that is reeligiera Porfirio Díaz, Madero founded the Antirreeleccionista party, which was postulated candidate. He/She then devoted himself to traveling across the country to explain their political ideas. Since the time that Juarez had toured the country this not happened. Madero became very popular and aroused great hopes for change. His campaign created great interest in the elections of 1910 and managed that many people wished to participate in them.

Madero believed in democracy and the need to renew the Government according to law. But the success of his campaign made him a danger to the Díaz Government, and shortly before the election of 1910 was arrested in Monterrey and imprisoned in San Luis Potosí. There he/she received the news that Díaz had returned to re-election. Upon payment of a security deposit he/she left prison, although it should remain in the city. However, at the beginning of October, Madero escaped to the United States of America, where he/she published the Plan of San Luis Potosí.

In that document, Madero denounced the illegality of the election and ignored to Porfirio Díaz as President. Declared him interim President until new elections; to undertake He/She promised that land to those who had been dispossessed of them; would be returned He/She asked that I was defended the effective suffrage and no re-election of Presidents. Also appealed to the people so that rose in arms on November 20, 1910, and arrojara the power of the dictator. The experience had convinced him that there was no other way to achieve the change of ruling.

The army of Porfirio Díaz, who had kept the peace for thirty years, seemed very strong, but in reality was weak to the general discontent. In just six months the Madero forces triumphed over the old dictator. The final action was the taking of ciudad Juárez, Orozco and Villa. In the same city, in May 1911, was signed the peace between the Díaz Government and the Madero. Porfirio Díaz resigned from the Presidency and left the country heading to France, where he/she died in 1915.


PÉREZ HERRERO, Pedro. Porfirio Díaz (Madrid: Cambio 16, 1987).

C. Begné