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The Porfiriato: the Economy, the Land and the People. Modern Mexico Lecture Week 9. Lecture. “19 th C Mexico so far....” from Politics to Economics and (rural) Society Economic Reforms and Porfirian growth The Countryside. 19 th C Mexico so far.

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The Porfiriato: the Economy, the Land and the People

Modern Mexico Lecture Week 9


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Lecture

  • “19th C Mexico so far....”

    • from Politics to Economics and (rural) Society

  • Economic Reforms and Porfirian growth

  • The Countryside


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    19th C Mexico so far....

    • Primarily a political focus on violent struggles of nation and state-building

      • Struggle between Federalism and Centralism

      • trauma of American war...yet an agreed border

      • containment of US territorial expansion

      • rise of Liberal Republic 1850s-60s (at expense of corporate power of Army, Church and Indian Communities)

      • separation of Church and State

      • defeat of Conservatives and Monarchy

      • rise of Liberal “machines” under Juárez and Díaz

      • funerals, hero cults and commemorations


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    19th C Mexico so far....

    • Political culture, ideas and religious belief:

      • Political education via the press, catechisms, lithography, photography....

      • Association, parties and beliefs: Escoces/Yorkino masonry, “popular federalism”, “popular liberalism”, Liberal Catholicism v. Ultramontanism; Utopian Socialism and Communism (“brotes”); Altamirano and “Indigenismo”; labour movement…

    • Less on economics...a long decline

      • decline of colonial core: mines and capital cities

      • slow growth, mainly on peripheries

      • fiscal backwardness, chronic internal and foreign debt

      • backward transport & communications

    • Less on society....overall shape changes little:

      • active elites and (selectively) “armed citizens” (National Guard)

      • “stagnant”/ “sleeping” (or rebellious) masses


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    Liberal vision in 1830: change in dim future.....

    In 1830 Lorenzo de Zavala foresaw decades of conflict in central and southern Mexico that would remain firmly “in the grip of the military and ecclesiastical arm as a penalty for their prejudices.”

    But eventually:

    “in the bosom of these states a few generous and enlightened individuals will make efforts to lift their fellow citizens up to the level of the adopted (US) institutions and will seek to give them lessons in liberty and tolerance. . . (and) . . . the American system will obtain a complete though bloody victory.”

    social change would then follow:

    “a glorious and enlightened generation . . . would. . . bring the civilised family into association with the indigenous class, until now debased and vilified, and will teach them to hold in esteem their dignity by elevating their thoughts to a higher level.”


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    “Defensive modernisation”: Matías Romero (1837-98)

    Fist visit to US in 1859: Ocampo-McClane Treaty:

    “The best means of impeding annexation is to open the country to the United States...with the objective of making annexation unnecessary, and even undesirable” (Romero, 1859)

    “Better to yield markets than territory, dollars than dominion.”

    (Richard Salvucci, “The Origins and Progress of US-Mexican Trade, 1825-1884: ‘Hoc opus, hic labor est’”, Hispanic American Historical Review Vo.71, 4, 1991, 607-735.)


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    “Defensive modernisation”: Matías Romero (1837-98)

    Height of Civil War in February 1862, Matias Romero to Montgomery Blair, US Postmaster General, :

    “We can celebrate…commercial arrangements, in virtue of which the manufacturing states of the North acquire in Mexico the market they have lost in the South, and from which they have been prohibited until now because of the natural jealousy and distrust with which Mexico has viewed the United States. Since our political tendencies and interests are identical, we can make other arrangements…which will result in the United States obtaining all of the advantages…(of) annexing Mexico to the American Union, but without suffering any of the inconveniences.”


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    “Defensive modernisation”: Matías Romero (1837-98)

    In 1865 Romero’s openness and trust of the Yanquis extended even to proposing a deputation of US soldiers to train the Liberal Army !

    “We (Mexicans) desire to have some of the best soldiers from the United States go to Mexico as much that they would serve as a species of nucleus for our army as for making more useful the sympathies of that people for our cause.”


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    “Defensive modernisation”

    .

    William Schell, Integral outsiders The American Colony in Mexico City 1876-1911 Scholarly, 2001)

    “Porfirian planners encouraged Yanqui investment as a calculated programme of ‘defensive modernisation’ designed to make the best of Mexico’s geo-political situation”

    - US investors and entrepreneurs were greater risk takers. Mexicans preferred safer investments.

    -- the Porfirian political elite used the “ambitious northern neighbour to gain domestic political advantage”


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    US citizens residing in Mexico City

    1886 600

    1898 1200

    1901 3600

    1906 5000

    1910 10, 000 (largest US community in LA) in a population of 471,000


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    US investment and trade in Mexico

    Trade between Mexico and US rose from $7 million in 1867 to $117 million in 1911

    Investment in Mexico from a “few millions” in 1867 to $1 billion in 1911

    85% of US investment was in railways and mining in 1911


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    Liberalisation of the economy

    1856 Laws of desamortización (towns, clergy and Indian communities to transfer communal and corporate landholding )

    Lat 1860s and 70s: Matías Romero’s reforms: removal of alcabalas (sales taxes), monopolies and abolition of state (but not national) custom duties. Aim to open national market ready for the railways.

    Colonization and Land Survey Laws of early 1880s (surveyors got half), removal of all restrictions on foreigners owning land

    Selective reduction of import tariffs (protecting industry)

    1880s Mining Code: state ceded rights to subsoil

    1880s, Commercial and Company codes: limited liability now allowed

    1890s, new banking Laws: credit available for the first to more Mexicans, paper money etc.


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    Imperialism ? neo-Colonialism ? or economic integration ?

    - “Poor Mexico, So far from God, so near to the United States” (P.Díaz) ?

    Paolo Riguzzi in ¿Reciprocidad imposible ? La política del comercio entre México y Estados Unidos, 1857-1938 (Mexico, 2003) asks whether the asymmetry in power and wealth between US and Mexico was reflected in unequal trade relations ?

    Concludes:

    i) “On the eight occasions that the two countries met to negotiate commercial treaties..., Mexico was able to influence, at times decisively, in defining the agendas, the timing and limits of the negotiation, and in obtaining outcomes suited each time to its interests and preferences”

    ii) periods of greater integration with the US coincided precisely with the moments in which Mexico enjoyed greater autonomy and power in its interaction with the US, while moments of lesser integration coincided with greater weakness in negotiations (US more flexible on tariffs).


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    Imperialism ? neo-Colonialism ? or economic integration ?

    Riguzzi concludes that Mexico was not “avasallado” to, or dominated by, the pretensions and preferences of the US

    Economic integration with the US did not act to reduce sovereignty rather it strengthened the negotiating capacity of the weaker over the stronger......

    Crisis is this after 1900 ?....more on this next week


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    Vertical Political Integration Model (VPI)

    Stephen Haber, Armando Razo & Noel Maurer, eds., The Politics of Property Rights, Credible Commitments and Economic Growth in Mexico, 1876-1929 (Cambridge, 2003)

    In spite of the “invasión pacífica”, Liberal reforms and independent trade policy, Haber et al emphasise the determining role of the Mexican state, suggesting that “the Porfirian regime was characterised not by laisser faire and market rules, but rather by a politicisation based on an extensive network of privileged contracts between the president and selected groups of asset holders” (VPI or amiguismo)


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    Vertical Political Integration Model (VPI)

    • VPI model explains political stability, economic growth, high levels of market and resource concentration (monopoly), as well as the Porfiriato’s “demise and revolutionary cycle” (amigos abandon Diaz in 1910-11)

    • Haber et al. conclude that VPI “excludes the state” replacing it with a coalition of the dictator and groups of owners


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    • Sandra Kuntz Ficker “La historiografía económica reciente sobre México decimonónico” Mexican Studies 21, , 2005, 461-91.

    • Kuntz questions Haber et al. extreme view of amiguismo on evidence from the José Yves Limantour archive (Finance Minister, 1893-1911) :

    • “Limantour daily negated favours and privileges even to the most powerful people”

    • Yet, favours could be found at all levels……and once the network of amigos was formed, it was self-perpetuating.


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    Railways

    Railways achieved Lorenzo de Zavala’s 1830 vision of populating the North and galanising the economies and societies of the Centre and South

    Railways broke more bottlenecks in a mountainous country….

    David Pletcher, Rails, mines, and progress: seven American promoters in Mexico, 1867-1911. (Cornell, 1958)

    John Coatsworth, Growth against Development: The Economic Impact of Railroads in Porfrian Mexico Northern Illinois, 1981


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    Railways: consequences

    - restored Mexico City’s commercial centrality

    - by linking remote mines to centralised smelters ensured Mexico’s recovery as world leader in mineral production. Precious metal and more importantly, non precious metals(iron, copper, lead, zinc…) (US dominance: Guggenheim in San Luis Potosi, Greene at Cananea in Sonora)

    - permitted the development of industrial poles beyond Mexico City: textile triangle of Puebla, Tlaxcala and Veracruz (centre of labour radicalism after 1900) and the industrialisation of Monterrey Nuevo Leon) : beer, iron and steel, now with a national market.

    - recovery and transformation of agriculture: after 1900 Chihuahua cattle went in box cars to Chicago, long stagnant colonial staples - Morelos sugar and Atlixco wheat – found a national market; cotton shifted to the Laguna, henequen boomed in Yucatan, sugar in the Valle Nacional in Oaxaca, coffee in Chiapas.


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    Other factors behind Porfrian “economic miracle”:

    - growth of international demand and improved commodity prices.

    - increase in foreign and domestic investment

    -favourable political and administrative environment: protective tariffs, close overlap between economic and political power

    - liberal lands laws extended from communal lands to all empty lands (baldias)

    - first proper policing of the countryside (Rurales policied settled peasantry plus effective prosecution of Indian wars)


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    Social consequences on ethnically complex and regionalised country

    1860 compared with 1910:

    1860: 8 million pop:

    small elite,

    tiny middle class,

    a large artisanate and small working class,

    immobile hacienda and village peasantry,

    nomadic Indians.

    North sparsely populated


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    1860 compared with 1910:

    1910: 15 million

    - still small - but far richer - elite (regionally oligarchies)

    - greatly expanded middle class, especially in N Mexico where wages were higher

    - much greater mobility - consequences for political education - of rural population (except for nomadic Indians whose mobility almost ceased: wars against the Mayo, Yaqui and Maya, captives exported as slaves to Cuba and Yucatan)

    - decline in artisanate and growth of modern working class, even in remote locations (such as Cananea copper mine in Sonora) increasingly difficult to incorporate politically.


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    Social and political implication of these changes best explored regionally:

    Friedrich Katz, "Labor Conditions on Haciendas in Porfirian Mexico: Some Trends and Tendencies," Hispanic American Historical Review 54 (February, 1974)

    Centre, North and South


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    Central Mexico:

    • Population growth reversed historic labour scarcity that ensure a stable symbiosis between village and hacienda since the 17th C.

    • Excess population moved to the cities (soon full),

    • to the developing (coffee and sugar) Sierras,

    • to the tropics (involuntarily through application of Draconian vagabondage laws),

    • to the North (where wages were higher)

    • and, after 1900, to US.

    • Those remaining faced:

    • - declining paternalism of many central Mexican hacienda (tougher sharecropping, rental agreements; only peones acasillados – resident workers - remained secure).


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    Centre

    • - mounting tension between landholding villages and haciendas as symbiosis turned to conflict (competition over land, water and baldias). 1856 privatisation law in face of market expansion favoured hacienda over village. Basis for agrarian movements and agrarista politics after 1910

    • - growth small farms (ranchos) in many regions. Rancheros: a rising rural middle class: anti-oligarchical and powerful influence upon the Indian population. Emiliano Zapata belonged to this class.

    • Rancheros: vital factor during the revolution and the Cristero War (1926-29). Autonomous and opportunistic (see article by Mathew Butler in “Ladislao Molina” Seminar Week 10)


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    Zapatista, Morelos, 1974


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    Northern Mexico

    Frontier society became a border society.

    - Close integration with US economy: Pullman from Mexico City to Boston by 1900.

    - Mobile labour force in north where the wage ruled. Wages were higher: choice between estates, railways, factories, mines or the US. Socially problematic only when there was a general economic down turn (1906-1911)

    - Serrano communities: alongside its great estates, N. society developed a village peasantry based upon military colonies established during the 18th C and continued throughout the 19th. Enormous extensions of Sierra land granted in exchange for military service. Prospered for one hundred years and developed a distinctive “serrano” politics & culture: valuing political autonomy, land ownership, rather macho and patriarchal.  


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    The North

    • After 1900, especially in Chihuahua, the political and economic projects of the oligarchies came into conflict with these serrano ex-military colonies: liberal land privatisation divided them into ricos y pobres, centralising municipal legislation removed their autonomy: growth of violence, banditry, out which emerged "avengers" such as Pancho Villa.

    • Indians : semi pacified Indian groups, such as the Mayo and Yaqui, were enclosed as peons within haciendas, or pushed back into the Sierra , where they dreamt of recovering ancestral lands. Active element during the Revolution as rising middle sectors used Indian fighters as clientele. General Obregon armed the Yaquis in 1915


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    The South

    Another Mexico: see J.K. Turner Barbarous Mexico (1908):

    - export enclaves and plantation complexes, poorly linked with the national system. Labour scarcity resolved by penal and oppressive contract labour. With demand for tropical commodities paternalism on estates declined and slave like conditions became common (see Handout, “Porfirio Diaz visits Yucatan”). Enclosed on haciendas, peasants lacked tactical potential for improving their lot.

    Moreover, poles of exploitation were distant from Indian communities of origin (Highland Chiapas), controlled by labour contractors in cahoots with Indian official.


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    The South

    • - Hence, little prospect of an alliance with the middle class. In Yucatan and Chiapas conservative middle sectors deferred to oligarchies and were tied to them through patronage.

    • There was some social unrest and banditry in 1910 but the oligarchies in SE Mexico succeeded in remaining in the saddle until the “Revolution from Without” (title of book by Gilbert Joseph) in 1916 under Salvador Alvarado.


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    Sugar harvest in Valle Nacional (Oaxaca), 1909


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    Tzoztzil Indians clearing forest for coffee (Chiaps), 1909


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    Agrarian Reform

    Emilio Kouri, HAHR, 2002

    Andres Molina Enriquez “Los Grandes Problemas Nacionales” (1909)

    “The pueblo had not been the problem, but rather, the solution” (Kouri)

    Abolition of the Indian community: “...like taking a fish out of water to force it to breathe just because lungs are more perfect organisms than gills” (A Molina Enriquez)

    See also article by Donald Stevens, “Agrarian policy”


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    Survey and colonization laws

    Holden, Robert, Mexico and the survey of public lands: the management of modernisation, 1876-1911 Dekalb, 1994

    Concludes that:

    - concentrated in a small number of states

    - mostly land or poor quality, desert or semi desert, unsuitable for large scale production

    - activities of Survey Companies elicited thousands of challenges, lawsuits and annulments

    -”When procedures for measuring and selling land threatened to disturb social stability, government preferred to freeze or annul them”

    -many concessions to surveyors never claimed

    Yet, perceptions – including perceived landscapes - after 1900 are what mattered.......


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