- Díaz, Porfirio
- (1830–1915)Porfirio Díaz was the Mexican president and dictator from 1877 to 1880 and 1884 to 1911. Educated for the Church, Díaz entered politics in the mid-1850s and in the 1860s served as a military commander in support of the republican leader Benito Juárez against the French and Emperor Maximilian. Díaz later broke with Juárez and in 1876 seized power in a coup, arranged elections, and thereafter established a brutal dictatorship that lasted for 34 years. He governed ruthlessly yet often effi- ciently, in close cooperation with Mexico’s landed oligarchy, and packed both the civil service and the judiciary with his personal supporters. He cultivated generally positive relations with all the Great Powers, but in parti cular with the United States, and offered attractive terms for foreign investors. Although the country experienced a significant improvement in its standard of living, its benefits were narrowly distributed among the wealthy. Díaz’s liberal land reforms, moreover, alienated Mexico’s Indians by breaking up communal property and putting it on the market. Although he put down an Indian rebellion in the 1880s, he was overthrown by the Mexican Revolution of 1911 and died in French exile.FURTHER READING:Bazant, Jan. A Concise History of Mexico, From Hidalgo to Cárdenas, 1805-1940. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1977;Beals, Carleton. Porfirio Díaz, Dictator of Mexico. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1971.CARL CAVANAGH HODGE
Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.