Baylor College Medical School
102 Struggle in Latin America
102. In the early 1900s, exports kept Latin America's economy becoming. Even though foreign investors controlled much of the natural resources, stable governments helped keep economies strong. Yet turmoil brewed because military leaders and wealthy landowners held most of the power. Workers and peasants had no say in government. These differences led to increasing unrest.
Dictator Porfirio Diaz had ruled Mexico for nearly 35 years. During this time, the nation enjoyed peace and success, but only the wealthy benefited. Peasants lived in desperate poverty while working on haciendas, large farms owned by the rich. A growing middle class wanted more say in government. In 1910, Francisco Madero, a reformer from a rich family, called for change. Faced with rebellion, Diaz stepped down and a violent struggle for power- the Mexican Revolution-began.
The people fought for years before Venustiano Carranza was elected president, and a new constitution was approved. It addressed some of the issues that caused the revolution, such as land reform, religion, and labor. The Constitution of 1917 allowed nationalization of natural resources. In 1929, the Mexican government organized what later became the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). This political party brought stability to Mexico by carrying out some reforms, but kept the real power in its hands.
During the 1920s and 1930s, the Great Depression caused Latin American exports to drop and import prices to rise. As a result, exonomic nationalism became popular. Latin Americans wanted to develop their own industries. Some Latin American nations took over foreign-owned industries. Some Latin American nations took over foreign-owned companies. The government became more powerful when people accepted authoritarian leaders, hoping that they could improve the economy. Along with economic nationalism, there was a growth in cultural nationalism. Artists such as Diego Rivera painted murals or large images of Mexico's history, culture, and the people's struggles. The United States also became more involved in Latin America, often intervening to protect U.S. interests or troops. This led to anti-American feelings. Under the Good Neighbor Policy, the United States promised less interference in Latin American affairs.
3. What was the PRI, and what was its impact on Mexico?