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Template:Infobox MexicanPresident

José de la Cruz Porfirio Díaz Mori (15 September 18302 July 1915) was President of Mexico, considered a dictator, who ruled Mexico from 1876 until 1911 (with the exception of one single four-year period).

Díaz was born in the city of Oaxaca, Oaxaca. He was a Mestizo, of Mixtec Indian and Spanish ancestry. An army officer with humble rural roots, he became something of a hero due to his participation in the war against the French, where he won several important victories. He led the cavalry in the celebrated Battle of Puebla of 5 May 1862.

In 1876 he overthrew the government of President Sebastián Lerdo de Tejada. Initially, he advanced a platform of reform, using the slogan "No Re-election" (for the President). After appointing himself President on 29 November 1876, he served one term and then dutifully stepped down in favour of Manuel González, one of his underlings. The four-year period that followed was marked by corruption and official incompetence, so that when Díaz stepped up in the next election he was a welcome replacement, and there was no remembrance of his "No Re-election" slogan. During this period underground political newspapers spread the new ironic slogan for the Porfirian times, based on the slogan "Sufragio Efectivo, No Reelección" (Real suffrage, no re-election) and changed it to "Sufragio Efectivo No, Reelección" (No real suffrage, Re-election). In fact, Díaz had the constitution amended twice – first to allow two terms in office, and then to remove all restrictions on re-elections.

He maintained power through manipulation of votes, but also through simple violence and assassination of his opponents, which consequently were few in number. He was a cunning politician and knew very well how to manipulate people to his advantage.

In 1899 he faced some small opposition from Bernardo Reyes, an official in his government, who decided to run for president after Díaz gave an interview in which he said he would allow the next election to be freely contested. In the end the attempt failed and Díaz forced Reyes into exile.

Díaz embarked on a program of modernisation, attempting to bring Mexico up to the level of a modern state. His principal advisers were of a type called científicos, akin to modern economists, because they espoused a program of "scientific" modernisation. These included the building of railroad and telegraph lines across the country, including the first Mexican railway between Veracruz and Mexico City. Under his rule the amount of track in Mexico increased tenfold; many of these rails remain in operation today without remodelling. He introduced the idea of steam machines and technological appliances in industry and invited and welcomed foreign investment in Mexico. He also encouraged the construction of factories in Mexico City. This resulted in the rise of an urban proletariat and the influx of foreign (principally United States) capital.

The growing influence of U.S. businessmen, already a sore point in a Mexico that had lost much land to the United States, was a constant problem for Díaz. His modernisation program was also at odds with the owners of the large plantations haciendas) that had spread across much of Mexico. These rich plantation owners wanted to maintain their existing feudal system (peonage), and were reluctant to transform into the capitalist economy Díaz was pushing towards because it meant competing in a global market and contending with the monetary influence of businessmen from the United States.

Though he wished to modernise the country, Díaz by no means opposed the existence of the haciendas, and in fact supported them strongly throughout his rule. He appointed sympathetic governors and allowed the plantation owners to proceed with a slow campaign of encroachment onto collectively-owned village land, and enforced such theft through his well-equipped rural police (rurales).

In 1908, Díaz agreed to an interview with a U.S. journalist, Creelman. In this interview Díaz stated that Mexico was ready for democracy and elections and that he would step down and allow other candidates to compete for the presidency. Francisco I. Madero answered the call for candidates. Díaz, however, did not approve of Madero and had him gaoled on election day in 1910.

The election, however, went ahead. Madero had gathered much popular support, but when the official results were announced by the government, Díaz was proclaimed to have been reelected almost unanimously, with Madero gathering only a minuscule number of votes. This undisputable case of massive electoral fraud aroused widespread anger. Madero called for revolt against Díaz, and the Mexican Revolution began. Díaz was forced from office and fled the country for France in 1911.

In 1915, Díaz died in exile in Paris; he is buried there in the Cimetière du Montparnasse.

Quotation

Poor Mexico, so far from God, so close to the United States.

See also


Preceded by:
Sebastián Lerdo de Tejada
President of Mexico
1876–1880
Succeeded by:
Manuel González
Preceded by:
Manuel González
President of Mexico
1884–1911
Succeeded by:
Francisco León de la Barra

Template:End boxda:Porfirio Díaz de:Porfirio Díaz es:Porfirio Díaz eo:Porfirio DÍAZ fr:Porfirio Díaz it:Porfirio Díaz ms:Porfirio Diaz nl:Porfirio Díaz ja:ポルフィリオ・ディアス sl:Porfirio Díaz sv:Porfirio Díaz

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