Mexicans remember and celebrate the Revolution of 1910 to 1920 every year on the 20th of November. This day is referred to as el Día de la Revolución, or commonly as el veinte de noviembre (the 20th of November). The third Monday of November is a national holiday in Mexico in honor of Revolution Day, with this year being celebrated on November 18th.
The Mexican Revolution officially began in 1910 after Francisco Ignacio Madero Gonzalez overthrew Porfirio Diaz.
Porfirio Diaz began his term of presidency in 1876. At the time, he established a policy of “No Re-election”, prohibiting presidents from serving consecutive terms in office. After Diaz’s first term ended in 1880, the unqualified Manuel Gonzalez was elected. His recognizing of debts owed to Britain lessened him in the public view, and Porfirio Diaz was re-elected in 1884. After serving his second term as president of the republic, Diaz terminated his no re-election policy, hypocritically establishing himself as dictator. He was president for seven consecutive terms.
Mexican industrialization boomed and the economy grew because of European investments and Diaz’s reforms. These reforms were not liberal, rather reactionary. Diaz changed land laws created by Benito Juarez (1858-1872), lessening a Mexican individual’s right to own land. An influx of peasants arrived in cities as a result of Diaz’s reforms, forming an urban, lower class that took jobs improving infrastructure (building roads, working in factories, etc.). At this time, Diaz also restricted civil liberties. These restrictions led to the Porfirioto opposition.
Diaz’s age and carelessness were directly correlated. Still, in 1910, Diaz ran against Francisco I. Madero for president of the Mexican Republic. Diaz was declared winner after Madero was thrown in jail for opposing the regime. Having gathered support of the peasants by promising liberal reforms, Madero formed an army to fight Diaz. Primarily consisting of peasants, Madero’s supporters were able to divide Diaz’s army. Alongside Madero fought Pancho Villa and Emiliano Zapato, leaders who shared a common goal of removing Diaz from power.
Francisco I. Madero called for a re-election, which he won. He was supported by the United States, Pascual Orozco, Villa, and Zapata. After a short time in office, he lost the support of Zapata, who soon drafted a document, the Plan de Ayala, which highlighted Madero’s reluctance to return land to the ranch-owners of Mexico. Madero was forced to abdicate office, only to be replaced by Victoriano Huerta, his former commander-in-chief. A week later, Madero and the former vice-president were killed.
Huerta was not recognized as president of Mexico by the United States, though most other world powers supported him. He had difficulty obtaining support of the Mexican people, as well. At the head of the unrest was Venustiano Carranza, a rancher who had gained support from Orozco, Villa, Álvaro Obregón Zapata, and, secretly, from the United States. During this time Pancho Villa and Carranza became enemies, though they were both fighting to remove Huerta from power. After Carranza declared the Plan de Guadalupe, which rejected acceptance of Huerta as president, America led the opposition and impeded German goods arriving in Veracruz, a Mexican port. Huerta panicked and fled office.
In 1914, Venustiano Carranza seized power, much to the dismay of Villa and Zapata, who in turn staged a siege on Mexico City. The armies were cruel to the citizens of the city, and the popularity of the revolutionaries lessened, resulting in their expulsion.
Villa, Carranza, and Obregon participated in a series of bloody skirmishes, the most important being the Battle of Ceyala, from which Carranza emerged victoriously. Shortly after, the United States officially recognized Carranza as leader of Mexico. Villa, infuriated and seeking revenge, attacked Columbus, New Mexico. Worthless ammunition had been sold to Villa from Columbus, and it was this blunder that cost Villa the victory at the Battle of Ceyala. Eighteen Americans and ninety of Villa’s own soldiers paid for his rage. The United States pursued Villa for nearly a year after the violation, though the chase was futile. He ended the fighting in 1920, after making a deal with Obregon, who had become a supporter of Carranza. Villa was assassinated in 1923 after he broke the agreement.
Despite opposition from other revolutionaries, Carranza was elected president in 1917. He created the Constitution of 1917, which included the ideas of peasants and assembled social reforms never made by Diaz. However, he was never able to implement all of the reforms mentioned in the constitution, as he was assassinated by Obregon, whom he had appointed as his commander-in-chief. Though his term was cut short, he was able to make social reforms that bettered the position of women. He depended on his secretary Hermila Galindo de Topete to gain the support of the marginalized and to set an example for women around the country.
Obregon ascended to power in 1920, after killing his predecessor. Revolts continued, and the social reforms outlined in the Constitution of 1917 were not achieved until 1934, when Lazaro Cardenas del Rio served as president.