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By Lic. Luis Cabrera, recently Speaker of the House of Representatives in the Mexican Congress
Much has been said in the United States about the Mexican situation, but actual conditions in Mexico have never been fully understood, because they have always been studied from an American point of view.
The sources from which Americans draw their information about Mexico are chiefly foreign residents and investors, who are very apt to consider the Mexican situation only from the standpoint of their own interests. All that foreigners seek in Mexico is the reëstablishment of a state of things favoring the continuation and promotion of business. They generally believe that the conditions of Mexicans themselves, and of those issues which are of a purely national character, do not concern them, and consequently they do not regard them as necessary factors in the problem, such as they understand it. Hence, the proposing of solutions which, although beneficial perhaps to foreign interests, do not tend to solve the Mexican problem itself.
To fully understand the Mexican situation and to find satisfactory solutions both to Mexican and foreign interests, it is necessary to study the question from a Mexican point
Such is the purpose of this paper.
Foreigners in Mexico believe that the only political problem which interests them is peace. But misled by superficial judgment or pushed by impatience, they have believed that the establishment of peace in Mexico depends only on the energy with which the country is governed.
THE JOURNAL OF RACE DEVELOPMENT, VOL. 4, NO. 3, 1914
All foreigners in Mexico look for a strong government, an iron hand or iron fist, and the only thing they discuss is whether a certain man is sufficiently strong or energetic to govern the country. And when they find a man with such qualities, foreigners always have believed that it was their duty to help that man to come into power and to support him.
These were the reasons for the foreign sympathy in favor of General Reyes first, General Félix Diaz afterwards, and General Huerta, and these are the reasons why President Madero did not get the full support of foreigners. He was considered a weak man, and consequently unable to establish peace.
It is necessary to rectify foreign opinion about strong governments in Mexico.
A strong government is not the one able to maintain peace by the mere force of arms, but the one which can obtain the support of the majority of the country. Any peace obtained by the system of the iron fist is only a temporary peace. Permanent peace in Mexico must be based on certain economic, political and social conditions which would produce a stable equilibrium between the higher and the lower classes of the nation.
Foreigners ought to be persuaded that to have real guarantees for their interests it is necessary that such interests be based on the welfare of the people of Mexico.
It is then to the interest of foreign capitalists to help Mexicans to obtain such conditions as will produce permanent peace in Mexico.
The troubles in Mexico during the last three years are attributable to mal-administration covering a period of thirty years. The internal upheaval in Mexico could not have grown to the importance that it has reached, had it only had the object of satisfying personal ambitions. The revolution in Mexico could not be so strong as it is, were robbery the only purpose of the soldiers or was personal ambition the only motive of the leaders.
The truth is that the Mexican disturbances are a real revolution of apparently political aspect, but at the very
bottom of economic and social tendencies. The present revolution in Mexico is only the continuation of a revolution begun in 1910.
The present revolution's main purposes are to free the lower classes from the condition of slavery in which they have been for a long time and to seek for an improvement in their economic and social conditions.
In Mexico there is no real middle class. The purpose of the present revolution is the creation of such a class which may help the country to have a social equilibrium. There is no real social equilibrium and there is no peace, and there is no democratic form of government without a middle class.
The causes of the Mexican revolution and its aims, are of a social, economic and political character. Consequently the Mexican question presents three different aspects, intimately related to each other, that can be called the social, economic and political aspects of the Mexican question.
Mexico has a population of about 15,000,000 inhabitants, 15 per cent of which are Indians, 75 per cent mixed or “mestizos" and 10 per cent of European descent. Each one of these groups presents different characteristics and even the "mestizos" cannot be said to be homogeneous, since there are various racial types among them.
Mexico, however, has no real race problem. Properly speaking, there are no insoluble conflicts between the various elements of the nation, because the Indians are easily assimilated by the "mestizos," and as a matter of fact, when the Indians receive education or mix with the "mestizos," they immediately become identified with them. A full blooded Indian who has received a certain amount of education, is always sure to keep it, and he never shows any retrogressive tendencies, so that we can say that the effects of education upon the native Indians of Mexico are of a permanent character.
On the other hand, the mestizo element of the population of Mexico intermarry very easily with the Europeans,
particularly with the Spaniards and French, and as soon as they have received a proper education or have acquired some economic welfare, they can be considered on practically the same level as any of the European residents.
But true as it is that this variety of races cannot be regarded as a social problem for Mexico, the large diversity of types of civilization found among those races, on the other hand, do give rise to grave difficulties, from the point of view of the government of the country.
The problem that every administration has to face in Mexico, that is to say, the social problem in its broadest sense, is to find a rule or a formula of government which shall be suitable to all the dissimilar elements of the population, or to find the various co-existing formulæ of government suitable to each one of the various groups of population. It is very difficult indeed to find a formula of government suitable at the same time to a fifteenth century type of civilization (Indians); to an eighteenth century type (largest part of the mixed races); to a nineteenth century type of civilization (educated mestizos) and to a twentieth century type (foreigners and Mexicans of high culture).
The systems used up to the present to govern these dissimilar groups have failed, that of General Diaz pretending to rule the country with sixteenth century proceedings, as well as that of Madero pretending to rule on a nineteenth century system. This social problem is intimately related to the political problem of the unfitness of the laws of Mexico.
The political problem of ruling over the different races in Mexico could have more or less adequate solutions, but the social problem has but one solution, namely: education. Fortunately, the characteristics of the Indian and mixed races, and their facility to assimilate into the white race, give sufficient grounds to believe that the problem can easily be solved simply by means of an educational policy wisely matured and persistently applied.
It can be safely said that in fifty years from now, if the education of the Indians is kept up, all local dialects will die away and the whole Indian population will be assimilated by the mixed race.
The principal causes of the revolution in Mexico are undoubtedly of an economic, and chiefly of an agrarian character.
The colonial policies followed by Spaniards, when they conquered Mexico, consisted in taking possession of the greatest part of the lands of New Spain to grant them to the Spanish conquerors. Extensive land concessions were granted now in favor of the church, now in favor of the Spanish soldiers, leaders, chieftains, or mere settlers.
Together with each one of those large concessions granted in favor of Spaniards, a large number of Indians were also assigned to them with the apparent object of educating and Christianizing them, but with the real purpose of obtaining slaves, or land serfs, to cultivate and develop the lands granted.
With regard to the Indian towns already existing at the time of the conquest, they were theoretically respected together with their lands. New towns were also laid out as Indian reservations, providing them with sufficient lands which were called "egidos" and "propios," for the common use of all the inhabitants.
The colonial policies of Spain resulted therefore in the formation of a wealthy class of landholders as against the Indian population, which found itself either assigned to the estates as land serfs or concentrated in Indian towns.
In 1810 the freedom of slaves and Indians was officially decreed by Hidalgo, but the independence of Mexico having been accomplished by the wealthy landholders, the situation of the Indians was not materially changed, and the lower classes still remained in a state of actual servitude, although, theoretically, slavery had been already abolished.
We can safely say that up to 1856 the only real-estate property of any importance, which was not in the hands of the Spanish great landholders, was the property of the church and the "commons" of the Indian towns.
The church had been acquiring large territorial property