The Regime of Porfirio Diaz: Industrialization and Railroads
Before 1876 when Diaz had not yet come to power rural agricultural institutions relied on the individual family unit as an economic body for production. There were numerous consequences of earlier economical disturbances that produced a general distaste of rural farmers towards the government and the elite of Mexican society. One of these significant consequences felt by all campesinos in Mexico was forced labor on the haciendas.Due to this forced servitude the campesinos discontents manifested further into forms of immigration.
Before the introduction of large and numerous haciendas in Central Mexico the rural farmers were accustomed to primarily supporting their families as well as neighboring communities. When industrial policies were implemented, the campesinos were not aspiring to the standards put forth by the Mexican government and instead retained much of their indigenous heritage, habits, and ingrained customs that were in place well before Columbus arrived. This culture was a deterrent to the capitalist influences of the Mexican government. Although Mexicos economy progressed under President Porfirio Diaz, his policy to create a large number of haciendas that would yield a higher rate of production ultimately resulted in negative consequences among the rural farmers. In contrast, economic growth benefited the elite of Mexican society. Hence progress only begets progress to those who would benefit from it and not to everyone.
By the end of the nineteenth century, haciendas were the preferable agricultural institutions in the industrializing Mexican economy in contrast to the traditional family based forms of production. People called patrones were the elite that would benefit from the implementation of haciendas and were responsible for controlling the campesinos as well as the financial aspects of the haciendas. Debt became an encompassing factor used to financially control the campesinos by purposely placing them in a perpetual cycle of debt. Their traditional forms of labor and production changed drastically:
There were two forms of this system of labor[the] medieros al rajar furnished their own agricultural implements and animals and received 50 percent of the harvest, the other half going to the landownermedieros al quinto furnished only their labor and gave the usual half of the crop to the hacienda owner plus one-fifth of the remaining harvest in return for the use of machinery and animals.
The many impoverished rural farmers and communities that had contently depended on themselves were forced to compromise between the welfare of their families, debt to the haciendas, and the production of their labor. Though the Mexican economy had progressed in size and production, the campesinos were displaced within their own country and many could no longer support themselves while they remained in Mexico.
Compounding the plight of the rural farmers was a land law that was passed in 1883 in which the Mexican government gave more power to the richer parts of society by giving the intruding companies more rights to ejido land in the majority of the regions in Mexico where rural farmers lived and further displaced the rural farmers in their own country. One of the only measures that could be taken to survive was to immigrate to a different region of Mexico or country searching for other forms of work. The Mexican government shortly thereafter, adding insult to injury, settled on another method to increase efficiency among the remaining haciendas. Haciendas were measured competitively and those that were not performing to expected standards were dismantled and the campesinos working on them ultimately lost their livelihoods. Soon the government had decided to purge the majority of the nonproductive haciendas that were in operation. For example, the Naranja village was not given sufficient land to support itself. Faced with starvation, the villagers were forced to work on haciendas in order to provide for themselves and their families. The central regions of Mexico were deeply impacted because it has been estimated that over five million campesinos living in their close-knit communities lost their right to their land due to the results of industrialization policies. Much of the farmable land was taken away from the campesinos because it was not possible to pay land and production expenses. One of few alternatives open to the rural farmers in order to escape the rapidly transforming economy and violence from sporadic revolutions that were occurring was to move north to the United States.
During the late nineteenth century the Mexican economy underwent fundamental changes that spurred immigrations across the newly developed border between the United States and Mexico, a 2,000-mile border that was poorly controlled and acknowledged. People traveled north due to their desires to maximize economic choices and gain better pay in northern Mexico rather than in Central Mexico. In fact the recognized attempts to industrialize Mexico by President Porfirio Diaz only reinforced the working classes ideas of immigration. They abhorred the replacement of older, more traditional and customary systems of agriculture with the hacienda/plantation system. The initial large-scale industrialization occurred within Mexicos textile and agricultural industries forming the backbone of the country's initial industrialization. Scholars such as Lawrence Cardoso argue that [m]any of the root causes of Mexican emigration to the United States resulted from rapid changes in the land and labor systems of rural Mexico in the 1890s. As agriculture became more industrialized, the number of needed farmers began to decrease and eventually the displaced laborers started to immigrate to the United States.
When President Porfirio Diaz came to power in 1876, he envisioned railroad expansion as one of the key factors to improve his countrys economy by bringing products from the interior of his country to international markets faster and more productively. Although there had been funding for the extensions of Mexican railroads as early as 1837, these efforts had not been brought to fruition because of the political instability of the country. At the beginning of his first term in 1876, the Imperial Mexican Railway Company had only 416 miles of track in service from Vera Cruz to Mexico City in the interior of the country. The Mexican railroad companies that had been put in place to create railroad networks in the interior of Mexico were called Ferrocarriles Nacionales de Mexico [Mexican National Railroads], Ferrocarriles de Sonora [The Sonora Railroad], and El Ferrocarrile Central Mexicano [The Central Mexican Railroad]. The expansion of Mexican railroads drastically increased due to the initiatives of Porfirio Diaz and his relations with the United States, In September, 1880the Mexican government granted generous concessions for the building of the Mexican Central and the Mexican National Railroads and, in so doing, opened the way for an inrush of American capital. The United States expanded its sphere of economic influence in Mexico and by doing so, it aided in the large-scale immigration of Mexicans into the United States.
The increasing expansion of the railroads not only helped Diazs policies of implementing industrialization through practical means of shipping goods but also fostered notions of immigration of campesinos located in the interior of Mexico. Mexicans who worked on the railroads in their own country had a valuable set of skills to offer U