10 julio, 2024

Porfirian peace: what it was, prosperity, achievements and centralism

What was the Porfirian peace?

The porfirian peace It was the period in which Porfirio Díaz exercised power in Mexico for more than 30 years. This stage was characterized as a «peace» generated by repression and fear, in the face of the disorder and wars that Mexico was constantly experiencing.

In 1876, Porfirio Díaz defeated President Lerdo de Tejada in the battle of Tuxtepec and months later he was elected president of Mexico. Díaz had rejected reelection, however, he was reelected seven times.

The first years of Porfirio Díaz’s government, known as «Porfirian peace», are marked by good investments in economic matters, his main motto being «Order, peace, stability and progress».

Economic policies led Mexico to have a strong and stable economy, in fact, one of the goals was for the peso to cost more than the dollar.

Díaz’s period was not constant and he lost the government on three occasions. From 1876 to 1911, one of two months, and from 1880 to 1884, one of the reasons for his break with power being the discontent ofThe Mexican people for the massacres and assaults on power by montonera armies.

Porfirio Díaz set out to achieve peace, stability and prosperity no matter the cost. It was an especially complex task given that there was no strong army and the debts were enormous.

This situation sometimes became untenable, causing, for example, the flight of foreign investment.

The Porfirian peace was based on the elimination of political differences between the different parties and groups. «Little politics and a lot of administration» was one of his most famous slogans, still today remembered.

Peace was achieved through the military crushing of whoever tried to revolt. That expected stability was achieved and order brought Mexico the possibility of work, which soon translated into economic development and increased investment by foreign companies.

Prosperity under the Porfirian peace

During the period in which Porfirio Díaz ruled the country, important works were carried out in several ports and more than 20,000 kilometers of railways were built. The railways were destined for the ports and the border with the United States.

This gave great vitality to internal and external trade. Telegraphs spread throughout the national territory and banks were founded to organize the finances of the State.

With these advances, the communications and finance sector began to function properly for the first time.

Another of the fundamental measures was the collection of taxes, which contributed to paying off Mexico’s debt with its international creditors. In states like Yucatán and Morelos, agriculture made enormous progress in crops such as henequen, sugar cane, and cotton.

During the Porfirian peace, Mexico experienced unprecedented economic growth. It is called the first period of reconstruction and national unity.

However, that bonanza and growth did not directly affect the lives of the poorest: although the rich and foreigners achieved great profits, inequality grew enormously and the poor continued to be the overwhelming majority.

One of the negative aspects of prosperity was not only the growing social inequality, but also the tendency to accumulate land by landowners.

Major achievements of the government of Porfirio Díaz

– More than 19,000 km of railways: almost the entire north of Mexico was crossed by trains, which gave vitality to communications and commerce.

– Foreign capital investment: with the advent of political stability, foreign capital companies began to arrive, injecting resources and strength into the weak economy that Díaz received.

– Telegraph network: a vast telegraph network was installed that streamlined communications and made government tasks more efficient. The telegraph network was one of the most modern on the continent at the time.

– National production: agriculture and manufacturing also saw light during the period of the Porfirian peace. The first factories for the processing of raw materials and tequila processing were installed.

– They founded the first banks: finances were finally put in order with the operation of the banks. Prior to this, the country’s finances and debts had no order.

– Culture: progress was made in the sciences, arts and technology to a large extent. During the Porfirian peace, academies, museums, theaters and important scientific associations were founded. The influence of French culture and art was one of the most predominant.

– Stability was achieved: perhaps it was the foundation that cemented the growth of economic activity and created a truly strong state.


Although Porfirio Díaz’s initial ideal consisted of rejecting re-election, the violent tradition and all forms of tyrannical government, in practice he was the greatest architect of an enormous centralism that annulled -to a great extent- the power of judges and the autonomy of the provinces.

Díaz eliminated the independence of the judges from the president. He also limited the freedom of the press and of expression, an issue that he criticized from previous governments.

Little by little, Porfirian peace became a government that limited freedoms and centralized all power in its hands.

Although the constitution established Mexico as a federal state, in practice it was confined to a centralist state.

It is known that Porfirio Díaz was advised and influenced by important intellectual exponents of positivism, such as Justo Sierra, José Ives and Francisco Bulnes.

The journalist James Creelman managed to interview Porfirio Díaz in 1908 and question him about his constant reelection, to which Díaz replied that Mexico was already prepared to have free elections.

These statements encouraged many to create political parties and prepare for the 1910 elections. Although he had said this, he was re-elected again, but it was already impossible to stop the desire for elections and greater freedoms.


History of Mexico / The Porfiriato (1877-1911). Retrieved from wikibooks.org.
Garner, P. (2014). Porfirio Diaz. PLANET Editorial. Mexico.
Gomez, J. (1981). Porfirio Díaz, the intellectuals and the Revolution. Editorial Reviews. Mexico.

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