Was the Porfiriato period in Mexico positive or negative in their history? Did this time influence the Mexican government, culture, and society? Why was it so important looking forward in Mexico's history? What were the major political and social themes running through Mexico at this time?

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The era known as the Porfiriato refers to thirty-four years in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries when Mexico was ruled by Porfirio...

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Please note: The post contains numerous questions. The eNotes Homework Help policy allows for one question per post. This answer addresses the first two questions.

The era known as the Porfiriato refers to thirty-four years in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries when Mexico was ruled by Porfirio Díaz (full name José de la Cruz Porfirio Díaz Mori). The primary positive features relate to economic modernization and political stability, while the negative aspects include severe political repression and anti-indigenous racism and dispossession. General Díaz and his military supporters negotiated his assuming the presidency in 1876; after his initial four-years term, he was replaced by Manuel González for the 1880–1884 term. Díaz then resumed the presidency and remained in the position until 1911. During the period, stability was enforced by manipulation of democratic institutions so that Díaz functioned as a dictator.

Over almost four decades, Mexico entered the modern era, as did many other nations. The creation of a singular Mexican identity to which all the country’s people could subscribe was a major political goal. This depended in part on reducing or manipulating regional loyalties through the appointment of bosses loyal to the central government, a system that depended on patronage and corruption. Land redistribution took it away from indigenous groups and granted it to European-heritage Mexicans, often as a reward for that loyalty; huge estates, or haciendas, became the norm. Paramilitary forces ruthlessly repressed dissent.

European-oriented culture combined with nationalist pride to create distinctly Mexican forms of art, music, and theater. Modern institutions such as national newspapers were developed, along with an educational system that advanced the use of Spanish and discouraged indigenous languages. Science also saw significant advances under the intellectuals known as the Científicos who advocated positivist, often racist interpretations of post-Enlightenment scientific trends such as Social Darwinism.

Business and industry were supported by private-public partnerships, and the expansion of the transportation infrastructure—especially the railroad—provided further support. Massive infusions of foreign capital required for such projects created a neo-colonial dependency. As global economic fluctuations cut into growth, labor unrest swelled, contributing to the climate of unrest that ultimately unseated Díaz in the 1910 revolution.

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