week 7: The Export Boom as Modernity

The modernity period for many countries in Latin America were composed of advancements in areas such as building infrastructure, roads, train rails, grand buildings in European fashion. But in other aspects the modernity period in Latin America was extremely different than the one experienced in other parts of the world at the time.

The main reason why modernity in Latin America, or Mexico, more specifically, was so different was because of the politics implemented in government. Porfírio Diaz was the president of Mexico for 3 consecutive decades towards the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. He was a military official, who was put in power undemocratically, but soon after gained favor of the population of Mexico, as built over the years what would later be called the “Porfirian peace” in the country.

The primary source for this week is an article published by a magazine at the time that interviews Porfírio Diaz, showing his insight and perspective on his way of governing and the reasoning behind the events that led him to power. It was really very interesting to read his words, because as the reporter himself says,  “It seemed hard to realize that I was listening to a soldier who had ruled a republic continuously for more than a quarter of a century with a personal authority unknown to most kings. Yet he spoke with a simple and convincing manner, as one whose place was great and secure beyond the need of hypocrisy.”(dawson, 131). Porfirio Diaz seems to be someone who is very well spoken and convincing person, going to the extent of making you forget all the things he has really done, or at least make you try to understand that they could have been somewhat reasonable courses of action give the circumstances. He does a really good job in convincing whoever is reading of the love for his country and that everything he did was done for the good of the Mexican people, when in reality, it was not always the case.

The quote “We were harsh. Sometimes we were harsh to the point of cruelty. But it was all necessary then to the life and progress of the nation. If there was cruelty, results have justified it.” (dawson, 135) is very telling of the cruel acts done by the president during his time in government, and his very apparent non-remorseful confidence that they were merely means to an end.

But perhaps the most interesting part of the reading for me was him mentioning that he wanted to step down for government many times and that he very much welcomed an opponent party, but the people pressured him to stay. This to me just indicates how people under dictatorships have little access to information, or even limited interest in meddling within politics, for fear or mere ignorance.

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