The Era of Porfirio Díaz, 1876–1911

William Beezley

in Latin American Studies

ISBN: 9780199766581
Published online October 2011 | | DOI:
The Era of Porfirio Díaz, 1876–1911

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  • Regional and Area Studies
  • History of the Americas


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Porfirio Díaz (b. 1830–d. 1915) had a brilliant military career that included participating in the Mexican victory over the French at the battle of Puebla, now celebrated as the Cinco de Mayo (5 May 1862) holiday, and in driving the Emperor Maximilian’s troops out of Mexico City in 1867. The latter victory helped restore the Liberal regime, and with peace, Díaz turned to politics. He was largely unsuccessful until 1876, when his uprising, called the Revolution of Tuxtepec, enabled him to win the presidency. He dominated Mexico for the next thirty-five years until forced into exile in Paris by revolutionaries in 1911. His successful political regime accounts for naming the era for him. The telenovela (television soap opera series) El Vuelo del Águila (1994), with 140 thirty-minute episodes, created tremendous popular interest in this era. Enrique Krauze, Mexico’s premier public historian, created the project for national television; it was directed by Jorge Fons and Gonzalo Martínez and starred Manuel Ojeda as Porfirio. The telenovela caused a sensation and excited great curiosity about the era on its own terms, rather than as the cause of the revolution. Historians have to some extent responded to this curiosity about the era. The published evaluations of the Porfirian regime have gone through three major phases, from the appearance of panegyrics during the era itself, to studies of its policies as provocations for the revolution of 1910, to the appearance of professional scholarship evaluating the period and its successes and failures. The last phase, dating from the 1950s, has benefitted in the 1990s and 2000s from the availability of major archival collections, notably the archive of Porfirio Díaz; the archive of Rafael Chousal, his personal secretary while president; and the archive of José Limantour, his successful secretary of the treasury. More recently, many scholars have undertaken analyses using the methodologies of cultural history, focusing on crime, ethnicity, gender, civic celebrations, and public diversions as a way to discuss everyday life and to incorporate the women, Indians, and working people of the era into the historical narrative. As of 2011 a number of these significant investigations are only available as unpublished dissertations; this will likely change in the near future.

Article.  7499 words. 

Subjects: Regional and Area Studies ; History of the Americas

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