Week 8

This week we discussed the Mexican Revolution and the “Plan de Ayala.” The revolution is a concept I was already familiar with so it was easy to follow what the video was saying about a complex topic like the Mexican revolution. In school I was taught the Mexican revolution was one of few where entire families participated in the revolution. This meant women and children were also allowed to fight, even though traditionally, only the men fought. I found this fact quite interesting and since then have wished to learn more about this historical moment. One question that came up while watching this video was why Pancho Villa and the Serrano Revolutionaries were a group that was “on their way out”? I understand that Pancho Villa was a caudillo and in the coming years after the revolution the country would increasingly get rid of caudillos as institutions were created. Even Pancho Villa himself, was aware of it and was partly the reason why he decided to no longer take part in politics once the revolution settled and Obregon took power. However, I think saying that he was on his “way out” is not totally accurate. Pancho Villa was a very powerful figure throughout the revolution and throughout the years that followed. He was largely responsible for the progress made in Northern Mexico and his policies (although violent) were largely beneficial to the lower class community. Even after he retired he was still considered a threat by Alvaro Obregon because Villa still had enough power to potentially restart another revolution (which he feared because the nation was not content with Obregon in power). So although caudillos were not as powerful after the revolution, saying Pancho Villa was on his way out undermines the significance and power that he still held after the revolution.

I had heard about the “Plan De Ayala” before but unfortunately I do not know much about it. This topic is something I would like to discuss in class. My question is, why is the making of this document so significant? Is this document relevant because of the Zapatista movement or was the movement made more significant because of this document? Furthermore, I found it really interesting that the EZLN was the first guerrilla to use the internet. It’s a clever way of distributing your message to a broader audience, however, it makes me wonder, are people that are part of this group really as involved as members of other guerrillas are? Is it less effective to not have a leader physically present at all times as opposed to other guerrillas?

Week 7

This week’s lecture was one of the most interesting ones for me. During my childhood I was taught about Porfirio Diaz and his “iron fist” rule through school. However, when I think of Mexico at that time my mind immediately goes to the Mexican Revolution. Looking back on it now, it seems very logical that people would oppose his government. Diaz turned Mexico into a modern nation, however, he had some really cruel policies and led the country as a military man instead of a democrat. People were tired of not being able to voice their opinion and living in fear. He did not allow the population to take part in government and simply justified it by saying that Mexicans were simply not interested in exercising their rights and if they were given any sort of freedom, the country would turn into complete chaos. The country was then ruled by a small group of largely white elites. In a way, Mexico has not changed very much. The population is still very much considered “incapable” and thus, is ruled by small groups of people. Of course, this makes the nation more susceptible to corruption. The population is kept at bay through violence, while the country’s wealth is distributed to the hands of the few people in power, as opposed to distributed throughout the nation (as it should be). However, the majority of Mexicans nowadays are quite young, and much more involved in politics. People are changing and expressing their discomfort (huge understatement) towards the government more and more. They are desperate for change and more willing to fight for it than before, which is both a hopeful and frightening thought.

The video also focused on the different types of modernity seen throughout the world. Mexico was considered a modern country, particularly Mexico City. In the nineteenth century, it already had an army similar to the one you’d see today, telegraphs, a railway system, modern roads, etc. I think people at the time were quite proud of this aesthetic and economic modernity. However, it’s hard to believe that they were so distracted by the latest innovation that they failed to acknowledge the underlying problems of the country. If Mexicans themselves, were distracted by this facade, it’s no wonder people like Creelman believed that Mexico under Diaz’s rule was something extraordinary or a so called “miraculous transformation.”

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