It is widely held that the struggle to overthrow the corrupt regime of Porfirio Diaz fundamentally transformed the structure of Mexican society, bringing social justice for downtrodden peasants and workers.
Ram¢n Eduardo Ru¡z refutes the traditional view. Drawing on numerous archival sources, he carefully examines the economic consequences of the Diaz regime and traces the growth of widespread social discontent. He describes the backgrounds and professed aims of the Revolution's colorful leaders-Madero, Venustiano Carranza, Pancho Villa, Alvaro Obreg¢n, and Emiliano Zapata-and then sets out to discover what, behind the superficial paper changes and the rhetoric, they actually did. He concludes that the so-called Revolution was led by elements of the dissatisfied middle class whose goals were narrow and bourgeois in character. Despite important paper reforms, many of the old political, economic, and social injustices and inequalities survived.
This is a harsh book that many Mexicans won't like. Ruiz, a historian (Univ. of California, San Diego) of Mexican parentage, attacks the myth of Mexican revolution on several fronts. He maintains, in the first place, that the upheaval begun in 1910 was not a revolution but a "cataclysmic rebellion" led by men intent, at best, on slow reforms, but more often motivated by greed and political opportunism. (The one exception is Zapata, whom Ruiz considers, with reservations, the only revolutionary.) He argues, furthermore, that the rebellion - so glorified by the Mexican establishment ever since - benefitted only a tiny fraction of the population, economically and socially, and at the same time perpetuated age-old political practices, instead of profoundly changing the system. These views have been expressed before, but the vast amount of evidence assembled here gives them unprecedented weight. There are tens of examples of the rebels' contempt for the Indian peasant, of their "moral turpitude," senseless brutality, and identification with hacendados and even with foreign, i.e., American, interests. Written for those generally familiar with Mexico, the book is divided into four parts. The first deals with the economic, social, and political conditions the last years of Porfiriato; the second contains portraits of Madero, Carranza, Obregon, Villa, and Zapata, and composite sketches of lesser leaders and rank-and-file soldiers; and the third discusses the results of the rebellion, particularly relating to labor and to rural Indians. The last section looks at obstacles confronting the rebels: Mexican-style graft and corruption, the proximity of the United States, the role of the Catholic Church. With great perspicacity, Ruiz analyzes different interpretations of U.S. involvement and concludes that the Mexicans had ample reason to be wary of antagonizing their mighty neighbor. He differs from the traditional view, however, in seeing the role of the Church as less significant and less nefarious than commonly held. After reasserting the main theme - rebellion, not revolution - the book simply trails off, as if Ruiz were uncomfortable making general statements. This is a minor shortcoming, however; the facts presented speak eloquently for themselves. (Kirkus Reviews)
Series: Revolutions in the Modern World
Audience: Tertiary; University or College
Number Of Pages: 544
Published: 17th October 1982
Publisher: WW Norton & Co
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 21.1 x 13.7 x 3.6
Edition Number: 1