10 julio, 2024

7 Political Characteristics of the Porfiriato of Mexico

Some of the most relevant Political characteristics of the Porfiriato of Mexico They were the reduction of individual guarantees and liberties, the persecution of the opposition, the centralization of power, simulated democracy and the positivist and progressive foundation, among others.

The Porfiriato was a regime led by Porfirio Díaz, who ruled Mexico for three decades —from 1876 to 1911. Díaz and his government committees preached pacification, stability and progress as ideological pillars to improve the economic and social situation.

The central slogans of this period were «order and progress» and «little politics and much administration.» For the representatives of the Porfiriato, it was necessary to restrict certain liberties in order to generate an atmosphere of peace in the country and, therefore, establish the necessary conditions to improve the economy.

As a consequence of this restriction, the Porfiriato was a period of very few freedoms, in which dissidents were persecuted and any initiative in search of a new government was annulled. Power was centralized and democracy was non-existent, since there was a lot of electoral fraud.


Political characteristics of the Porfiriato

The dictatorial government of Pofirio Díaz sought to pacify the country with drastic measures that would reduce wars and internal conflicts, in order to make way for economic growth.

They were convinced that by exercising iron control over the freedoms of citizens they would generate peace, order and progress in the country.

For this, they carried out great actions and changes of a political nature that would later be classified as characteristics of the Porfiriato of Mexico, among which we can mention:

Reduction of guarantees and individual liberties

The Porfiriato was a dictatorial period that did not respect guarantees or individual liberties, which were reduced through constitutional reforms and amendments.

These political changes in the Constitution allowed the annulment of guarantees, as well as the restriction of freedom of expression and censorship of the press, among other vices of power.

Thus, the apparent economic and social stability of Mexico was based on the oppression of the people.

Persecution of the opposition

The policies of the so-called «Porfirian peace», to end the internal wars of the country, were based on the repression and systematic elimination of any rebellion or insurgent movement.

This translated into constant threats, persecution, violence and annihilation towards those who thought contrary to the government.

centralization of power

Porfirio Díaz governed autocratically and with political authoritarianism, superimposing the executive power to the independence of the other powers that were limited to obeying the presidential orders.

Power was centralized in his person, vested with exceptional powers, with laws that were modified at his convenience, often outside the Constitution.

simulated democracy

During the Porfiriato, a single group remained in power, through simulated elections to comply with democratic procedures and requirements.

Electoral fraud reigned with ballot manipulation that allowed the Porfiriato candidates to win with up to 99% of the votes against symbolic opponents.

In addition, due to abstentionism, the vote was mainly exercised by government officials and employees.

There were no free elections for federal or state powers, so all political posts and offices were imposed by Porfirio Díaz and occupied by a group close to him.

That same group held office for more than 30 years without the Mexican people having a say. This situation led to a system of rewards for loyalty and punishment for lack of complicity.

Positivist and progressive foundation

The Porfiriato idealized the path of progress through positivism, scientific thought and industrial development.

Porfirio Díaz’s interest in science led him to surround himself with an intellectual and political elite known as «the scientists», whose members held important political positions.

The progressive trend allowed large investments in infrastructure, which began the modernization and industrial and technological development of Mexico.

Foreign investment

Since Porfirio Díaz took power until the revolution broke out, foreign investments in Mexico went from just over 100 million pesos to more than 3.4 billion pesos.

Much of these investments were allocated to the construction of railways, expansion of communication lines (telegraph), mining or cover public debt. The main investors were the United States, Great Britain and France, although other countries such as the Netherlands, Switzerland or Germany also participated.

Conciliation with the Church

During the Porfiriato, the Catholic Church recovered much of the power and influence it had had since the arrival of the Spanish until the independence stage and later the Constitution of 1857.

Porfirio Díaz’s policies allowed the clergy to recover much of their property, increasing their presence in schools and hospitals. In addition, the Jesuits were able to return to carry out their religious orders.


Biographies and Lives. (s/f). PORFIRIO DIAZ. Biographies and Lives: The Online Biographical Encyclopedia. Extracted on February 11, 2018 from: biografiasyvidas.com
Nacional History Museum. (s/f). PORFIRIO DIAZ MORI. Biographies. Nacional History Museum. National Institute of Anthropology and History. Government of Mexico. Extracted on February 11, 2018 from: mnh.inah.gob.mx
Library of Congress. (s/f). MEXICO UNDER PORFIRIO DÍAZ, 1876-1911. The Mexican Revolution and the United States. Exhibitions. Collections of the Library of Congress. United States Library of Congress. Retrieved February 11, 2018 from: loc.gov
Luis Pablo Beauregard. (2016). PORFIRIO DÍAZ, A CENTURY IN EXILE. Mexico debates the figure of the dictator who ruled for three decades 100 years after his death. Culture. El País: The global newspaper. Ediciones El País SL Extracted on February 11, 2018 from: elpais.com
Susana Sosenski and Sebastián Plá. (2015). MEXICO IN TIME. History 2. Patria Publishing Group. Extracted on February 11, 2018 from: libros.conaliteg.gob.mx
Ministry of Public Education (SEP). (2015). HISTORY OF MEXICO II. Third semester. Secretary of Public Education. Government of Mexico. Extracted on February 11, 2018 from: libros.conaliteg.gob.mx

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