Monday, November 17, 2008

1910 Revolution

It has been a long holiday weekend and the town has been full of Mexican tourists. On Sunday afternoon we were in bumper-to-bumper traffic as we crossed town to go to a comida. The sidewalks were crowded with families and strollers and while I didn't actually go to the Jardin, from down the block I could see the mass of people.

This was a 'bridge' weekend. You know, like we have done in the USA for some holidays such as Memorial Day....moving it to a set time like the last Monday in May to create a long holiday weekend. Well that is what the Mexican government has done for some of their holidays too. The holiday this time was the Anniversary of the 1910 Mexican Revolution. As I understand it the Mexicans move their 'floating' holidays to the Monday before the holiday thereby making a long weekend. The actual date of the 1910 Revolution is November 20th.

Are some of you confused about how the 1910 Revolution fits into Mexican history? What is Cinco de Mayo? Does this have anything to do with Mexican Independence Day on September 16? No and no are the answers to those two questions. Actually the 1910 Revolution was more of a Civil War that produced the Mexican Constitution of 1917. Most historians seem to agree that it ended in 1920 although there was still some fighting after that.

When I was reading Patrick Marnham's biography of Diego Rivera I was confused about this war. It seemed disorganized with this band of fighters in the South, another band of fighters in the North and with Presidents being chased across the countryside. I couldn't tell whether it was part of a socialist movement or a call for agrarian reform or bandidos on the loose. I've since done a bit of reading about the Revolution and it is probably all of that and more. One quick source is this Wikipedia reference. Although it doesn't cite any references or sources, it seems in line with what I've read elsewhere.

One of the interesting things about this Revolution was the roll that women played especially as soldiers with the Zapata army. A few became officers with Maria de la Luz Espinosa Barrera being granted a pension as a veteran of the Revolution. Prior to the Revolution, the 1884 Civil Code had limited women to subordinate rolls in society. Their impact during the Revolution, not just as soldiers but as activitist in pursuit of their personal goals overturned that part of the Civil Code and changed the landscape of the role of women in Mexico.

And of course, Mexico can't have a revolution without the USA doing something. At the time of the Revolution, US owners held about 25 percent of the land in Mexico. So the US felt they had an interest in the outcome. We didn't declare war but we did block the port of Vera Cruz and had a skirmish in Vera Cruz. That didn't help US-Mexican relations. Neither did the gallop of General Pershing's army into Mexico looking for Pancho Villa in retaliation for his raid on Columbus, New Mexico and the death of 16 American citizens.

The 1910 Revolution is really an interesting, although confusing, piece of Mexican History but from what I've read, it is a major influence on modern Mexican politics. This is a really good time to do some more studying about the 1910 Revolution because Mexico is planning a big centennial celebration in 2010.


Steve Cotton said...

Billie -- Much of what Mexico is today -- socially and politically -- is a result of the Revolution. Most of the contradictions that were apparent in the Reform were the subject of many confused battles during the Revolution. And they still remain unresolved. You did a very nice job of summarizing the touchstone of modern Mexico.

Anonymous said...

Billie, I'd like to know where you get all the energy to do all these things! Travel, photography, blogging, Facebook, meeting with friends, studying history, etc. Please tell me your secret.

Bill O.

Billie said...

Wow, gee. I'm flattered by both Bill and Steve's comments. Thanks, guys. But seriously, the 1910 to 1940 time period in Mexico is such an interesting time....politically, socially and for me, especially artistically. I feel like I've just begun to scratch the surface of what was happening then.

Mexico Cooks! said...

Billie, a wonderful book that has truly expanded my mind as well as my understanding of Mexico's history is The Life and Times of Mexico, by Earl Shorris. Shorris wraps pre-conquest Mexican history around everything that has happened since then--up through the Fox administration--and does it in a way that allows us to really grasp it all. Shorris is extremely readable and just made my eyes pop all the way through the book.

And by the way, Mexico's 2010 celebration is the bicentennial of the 1810 revolution. Here in Michoacán, we're already seeing road signs showing "Ruta Morelos"--the route Morelos and Hidalgo took during the revolution. I suspect that they're going up in your area, too.


Billie said...

Oh, Cristina, you are right. I forgot about the 1810 Revolution. Like I said they should call it the 1910 Civil War. Thanks for the correction.

Michael Dickson said...

One might make an argument that the revolution did not end until the year 2000 when a democratically elected president first took office.

Billie said...

Michael, I would not argue that point. I agree that it took a long time for that final transition to come. I'm hoping it is for the best but our founding fathers in the US did not envision a "party system" as they thought it would be divisive. Which it is but human nature being what it is, is I guess inevitable. Wow, there are a lot of "is" in that sentence. LOL