The Porfitiato is defined by the near-dictatorial rule of President Porfirio Díaz. Throughout this long period, Díaz used his rule to consolidate power for himself and the wealthy elites of Mexico. However, as a "liberal" dictator, Díaz worked to end political divisions in his country through an inclusive approach, at...
The Porfitiato is defined by the near-dictatorial rule of President Porfirio Díaz. Throughout this long period, Díaz used his rule to consolidate power for himself and the wealthy elites of Mexico. However, as a "liberal" dictator, Díaz worked to end political divisions in his country through an inclusive approach, at least at first. His first presidential term was characterized by attempts to bring together various voices in Mexico, from landowning aristocrats to the Church and even some indigenous representatives.
However, by the late 1880s, Díaz changed strategies to one of silencing and intimidating opposition. To do this, Díaz cultivated a cult of personality that presented him as the only viable ruler of Mexico. This discouraged serious political opposition and he usually ran unopposed for reelection. Throughout this period, the basic constitutional functions of government were nominally maintained. However, Díaz's will took residence and the country effectively functioned as a dictatorship.
Díaz often used his governmental forces to compel rural indigenous groups to perform labor for the nation in an attempt to modernize Mexico. This involved the construction of new irrigation projects and the expansion of the railroad. He was quick to censor the press and jailed vocal opponents without due process. All this being said, Díaz retained the support of a large contingent of the Mexican population. He was particularly favored by the middle and upper classes.
This was a time of significant economic growth for Mexico. Large amounts of foreign investment helped bring Mexico into the modern age. Its industrial output increased by several factors. Cities were beautified and public utilities expanded. This brought relative prosperity to many who had not experienced it before.
However, the lower and rural classes were mostly left out of this. Furthermore, the wealthy elite were growing increasingly concerned over the amount of the country's wealth that was under the control of foreign capitalists. This dissatisfaction eventually led to the Mexican Revolution, which brought an end to the Porfiriato.