Modernity and the Export Boom

Modernity came to Latin America tied to two basic principles: Order, and Progress. With order came progress, and with progress came modernity. Modernity was closely tied to capitalism, growth of the gross domestic product (GDP), increased foreign investment, and paying off national debt. Modernization meant having street-lamps, railways, automobiles, and flight, among other similar things. People embraced modernity as an idea from developed countries that would bring Latin America forwards into a new era of sustained economic growth and intellectual blossom. In other words, the more Latin America became like Europe and the US, the more modern it became. Immigration policy attracted foreigners and with them foreign investment. Foreign investment became the driving force behind the production, transport, and exploitation of Latin American staples and commodities. Staggering exports were fueled by foreign investment finally making them competitive in international markets.

In Mexico modernity came with the Porfiriato. Porfirio Diaz took power by force in 1877 and declared himself president. Diaz, then started a campaign to bring order to Mexico. Diaz thought that with order, progress would come thus lifting Mexico into modernity. Diaz, widely influenced by French positivism, enacted policies that brought foreign debt down and increased foreign investment. While he was in power Mexico expanded railways, got major infrastructure developed, became competitive in international markets, and held the strongest currency in its history. Urban centers became centers of progress, having trade schools, universities, and colleges. Even indigenous peoples got to participate, many times, assimilating into modern urban centers such as Mexico City. Diaz got the approval of US investors, politicians, and journalists, making his campaign for modernity widely supported by international players. All in all, through order and progress, Diaz ignited an era of modernism in Mexico which¬†couldn’t’ve been done in any other way at the time given the current economic and socio-political climate of Mexico.

Although I don’t condone, or support by any means the way Diaz took upon his political goals, I agree with the fact that he brought order to a somewhat indecisive Mexico that had been struggling to compete in international markets or attract foreign investment. While large claims of corruption plague the Diaz mandate, all in all, the campaign to make Mexico a capitalist economy were far from unsuccessful. The porfiriato thus becomes an example of modernity through order and progress.

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