On This Day – 5 Feb 1917 – The Constitution of Mexico Was Ratified
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On This Day – 5 Feb 1917 – The Constitution of Mexico Was Ratified


The date, the 5th of February 1917. On this Day Mexico adopted its current constitution. In November 1876, Porfirio Díaz, a General
in the Mexican army, seized control of Mexico through a coup, having previously failed in
an attempt to lead a nationwide rebellion at the end of 1871. Diaz ruled Mexico for the next thirty five
years, his regime bringing stability after decades of intra conflict and invasion by
the French. Whilst stable, Diaz’s rule was cronyistic,
and repressive. Under some pressure to transition Mexico back
into a democracy, Diaz, in 1908, publically stated he was ready to retire and allow democratic
elections. Later however, Diaz decided he would run in
the 1910 democratic elections, gaining assurances from then US President William Taft, of support. Taft agreed in order to support billions of
dollars of United States business interests and assets in Mexico at the time. Diaz’s opponent in the 1910 election was
Francisco Madero, a wealthy landowner with political beliefs very similar to Diaz’s. Garnering much early support, Madero was imprisoned
by Diaz, later escaping to the United States. When the election was declared to have been
overwhelmingly won by Diaz, Madero called for national revolt, and the Mexican revolution
began. Federal troops suffered heavy losses and resulted
in Diaz being forced to abdicate. Rather than seize power, Madero insisted on
elections, which he won in 1911. Madero freed the press, and allowed for labour
to unionise and strike, but his lack of comprehensive reforms, or the creation of a loyal power,
undermined his regime. He faced armed and serious rebellions from
Emiliano Zapata In February 1913 Victoriano Huerta, an army
General, led a coup against Madero, who he had killed with his vice president Jose Maria
Pino Suarez after their arrest. Huerta’s regime almost immediately face
problems, with rebellions continuing throughout the country. Venustiano Carranza, the governor of Coahuila,
rebelled, and became the first chief of the Constitutionalist Army. Despite waging total war on the rebellions,
Huerta was forced into exile, resigning of the presidency of the 15th of July 1914. Carranza looked to be a strong contender for
the presidency, but after a meeting with fellow revolutionary leaders, Zapata and Pancho Villa,
war broke out between the Constitutionalists and the other revolutionaries. After the battle of Celaya in early April
1915, Carranza emerged the strongest party and became president of Mexico in all but
name, formally acquiring the title on the 1st of May 1917. Between September 1916 and February 1917,
the Constituent Congress, in Queretaro, formed the final draft of a new constitution. Carranza needed the constitution ratified
quickly in order to consolidate his power and placate critics and rivals. The constitution of Mexico was ratified on
the 5th of February 1917, and brought in, amongst other things, protection for workers,
limitations on the Catholic Church, and free education for all. It also eliminated the vice-presidency and
granted greater executive power at the expense of the legislature. It remains the constitution of Mexico to this
day. Carranza was assassinated in 1920, Zapata
in 1919, and Villa in 1923. Diaz died in exile in 1915. Huerta died in 1916 in Fort Bliss, in The
United States, possibly from cirrhosis, although poisoning is also suspected. Everything becomes history. Until next time, goodbye.

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