The United Mexican States (Spanish: Estados Unidos Mexicanos) is a state in North America. It is bordered to the north by the United States of America and to the south by Guatemala and the British Colony of Belize. It shares maritime borders with Cuba.
The end of the Porfiriato was violent, as opposition forces challenged the succession of President Porfirio Díaz’s 31-year-long regime and revolted when the 1910 election yielded fraudulent results. A politically unstable alliance ousted the strongman ruler, but peace would not last. For the next five years, multiple leaders were elected and subsequently ousted from power until a civil war between the anti-Díaz opposition engulfed the turbulent country. Ultimately, a wealthy landowner from Coahuila by the name of Venustiano Carranza assembled an army seeking a return to constitutional rule in the country and gained the support of several talented military leaders. Despite their defeat of Federal forces led by Victoriano Huerta, the revolution was not unified and infighting began again between the Constitutionalists and the more radical generals.
Alongside Carranza, General Alvaro Obregón proved himself to be a talented and popular figure in the Constitutionalist forces. His understanding of the effects of modern weaponry and strategy was ahead of his time: when European militaries in the Great War were sending wave after wave of men to counter artillery and machinegun fire, Obregón utilized novel defensive techniques against the forces of Pancho Villa in the during the Battle of Celaya. Much like Napoleon at Waterloo, Pancho Villa’s forces were decimated. Obregón, however, was gravely wounded and lost his arm in an explosion during the battle. In debilitating pain, General Obregón pulled his sidearm from his holster and shot himself in the head. The battle would be won, and Obregón would become enshrined as a martyr for Carranza’s cause. Emiliano Zapata was similarly killed in a series of battles and raids by General Pablo González Garza’s army in 1917.
After the defeat of Villa and Zapata, Carranza’s consolidated the presidency in 1915. A new constitutional congress was assembled and the Constitution of 1917 was enacted after careful deliberation. Absent the more ardent supporters of more wide-reaching land reform and articles aimed at reducing the power of the Catholic Church, the Mexican Constitution compromised on many social reforms and enshrined a commitment to nationalism in the economy and military. While disappointing to many original supporters of the revolution, there was no significant force with the popularity and reach to oppose President Carranza and the Mexican Revolution was officially over as of February 5th, 1917.
Carranza would continue to serve in an interim role as president, knowing he was to hand over the presidency during elections scheduled for 1920. He spent the three years rebuilding what had been destroyed, mostly in the northern states, and further asserting his power. The military was restructured under lessons learned by the late Obregón as General González became the Secretary of War and established strict standards of organization, training, and officer education as the Mexican government carefully observed the still-ongoing Great War. Pancho Villa remained under arrest for several years until he was released to serve out the remainder of his life sentence under house arrest at his estate. The 1920 election soon arrived, which Carranza had repeatedly promised to be free and fair. Pablo González, carefully groomed under Carranzo’s administration for the post, was elected in large part due to his public appearance as a military hero of the revolution and legacy-bearer to the now-legendary Alvaro Obregón.
The last embers of the Mexican Revolution caught fire again in 1923, when a significant member of the initial revolution by the name of Adolfo de la Huerta attempted a military coup of the González administration. Because of González’s preference to establish a civilian president instead of a military general, de la Huerta and certain high ranking military officers believed that the government had been corrupted and were betraying the cause. Unfortunately for de la Huerta, the majority of the Army maintained their loyalty to González and troops were sent to the northern states to quell the rebellion. The Mexican Air Force was key to the swift victory over de la Huerta’s troops, proving themselves in their first combat deployment. Air power would quickly become a critical tool in the Mexican military’s planning factors, as a result of the intense focus on education and forward-thinking that the late General Obregón instilled in Mexican forces.
The González presidency was marked by reconstructive efforts similar to Carranza’s, yet troubles continued abroad. The United States had shown an increasing amount of hostility towards labor activists and organizations, oftentimes negatively affecting Hispanic communities of Mexican origin in the Southern United States as empowered members of the Silver Shirts militia and the Ku Klux Klan gained newfound confidence. Politicians on either side of the border were reluctant to normalize relations with each other, and a formal embassy was not to be established until the end of the decade in 1930. Even still, tensions routinely spiked over various incidents and diplomats were reluctant to open up truly open means of communication with each other. A carefully reserved Mexico watched the events of the 1930s unfold in the United States, internally developing contingencies for any number of courses of action that might emerge from the unpredictable and rapidly authoritarian-leaning American government.
After the violent American coup in 1939, Mexico all but stopped most official cross-border actions while Congress debated on recognizing the new government. The embassy was reestablished in 1940, but the damage had been done: the border, while not closed, was now as heavily restricted as ever. Incursions from bandits, militias, and even “lost” military patrols on either side were almost monthly occurrences that fueled a deepening divide and distrust. While nothing ever precipitated a full-blown conflict such as the Mexican-American War, it quickly became apparent in the depths of the Mexican military and intelligence community that the United States was the primary threat to direct most large-scale training and preparation for. An unspoken and unrecognized cold war continues to shadow over Mexican and American relations even if politicians pay lip service to continuing progress and normalization of ties.
Mexican economic growth, spurred on by the nationalist policies of Carranza and González, encouraged the development of local businesses and industrial capability. A base of roadways and railways were built upon to provide a framework that enabled the rapid transport of goods and people. Mexican industries remained in the hands of Mexican businessmen and investors despite pressure from American magnates, creating diverse economic sectors and industrial capabilities that both spurred economic growth locally and provided valuable tax revenue to the central Mexican government. Even though the policies of the American government continued to disadvantage and disenfranchise Hispanic workers, the northern states of Baja California, Sonora, and Chihuahua benefited from cross-border workers and remittances from family members tending the farms and factories in Texas or California.
Critical to the “Mexican miracle” of post Great War economic advances were foreign investors. Newly wealthy European nations such as Spain sought to establish relationships with Mexico through their shared culture and history: investments, diplomatic work, and military training were commonplace between the two countries. Although Mexican government officials were critical of European involvement in the Caribbean and South America, they welcomed the gestures from Spain and worked with them from a viewpoint of healthy skepticism. Similarly, Germany would expand its own investments to Central America after the Great War, with business branches in the automotive and heavy industrial sectors opening in Mexico to diversify and expand their own supply lines and factories. An expansion of banking and credit systems soon followed, bringing wealth to towns and states not previously able to begin their own cycles of economic growth. Mexico City in particular was on its way to becoming a cosmopolitan center of Latin American trade and business by the late 1940s.
The Mexican expansion in wealth and prestige was not unnoticed by other Latin American countries either. Many of them still under European colonial rule adopted Mexican-like political parties and newfound leaders drew on Mexican values to lead campaigns calling for decolonization or reform. Foreign policy to the rest of Central and South America emphasized a shared heritage and history, while Mexican and foreign businesses quickly intertwined into various pacts and international institutions. A regional economy, dominated at first by Mexico until other countries began developing their own centers of commerce and finance, sought to develop and utilize resources and labor that had previously been seen as untenable by others. The 1950s brought rumors of a formalization of these scattered trade pacts and agreements, but such a deal has not yet been agreed upon by the Mexican Congress.
By 1955, the solidified government of Mexico was a far cry from the failing state wracked by civil war during the Revolution. Troubles continue in the north, as the “Wild West” mentality still pervades along the American border states. Extremist political groups stir issues in the cities and towns of the west and south, and friction is ever-present with foreign actors such as the United States and the remnants of the European colonial powers. Wealth disparity is increasing at an alarming rate as the Mexican economy grows and evolves, seeking to unearth buried societal issues unresolved from the Porfiriato. Despite this, Mexico stands as a significant player in the Americas with stable, resolved government wielding unprecedented economic power and a well-trained and disciplined military. As the United States and Europe continue to change and adapt after the horrors of the Great War, Mexico will now need to play a greater role in the international scene than ever before.