Plan of San Luis Potosí
Excerpt of text
In 1910 Francisco Madero called for a revolt against the dictator Porfirio Dίaz, who had ruled Mexico in an undemocratic fashion for over three decades. Dίaz had declared himself the winner of a rigged election held in 1910. Under Díaz’s rule, industry grew rapidly, but the wealthiest people in Mexico, his friends, and officials took most of the profits. Madero came from a wealthy landowning family, but he was a passionate believer in liberal democracy. Like the founding fathers of the United States, he believed that political rights and true democracy could solve Mexico’s problems. What was Madero’s intention for the revolution? After Madero’s proclamation, President Dίaz could not hold onto power because of armed rebellion against him. He resigned and went into exile in 1911.
the public charges: government jobs
caprice: sudden, unpredictable change
provisionally: temporarily; Madero intended to serve until elections were held
the national will: that is, for Dίaz to leave office
Díaz ruled as dictator from 1876 through 1910. Under his program of attracting investment and encouraging industrial growth and development, Mexico was transformed rapidly and integrated into the international capitalist economy. Starting with just 640 kilometers of railroad track in 1876, Mexico had almost 20,000 kilometers in 1910. One result was the emergence of a middle class and urban industrial workers. However, the Porfiriato was corrupt and gave unfair advantage to the wealthiest landowners and businessmen who were connected to the government. Francisco Madero accuses Díaz of corruption, violation of law, and fraudulent elections, all political misdeeds. His perspective was that getting Díaz out, electing a new president (preferably himself), and enacting some political reforms would solve Mexico’s problems. He had no thought about land, nor any intention to encourage land reform. He did make one reference to confiscated lands, saying that they would be “subject to review.” He meant review by a court.
Peoples, in their constant efforts for the triumph of the ideal of liberty and justice, are forced, at precise historical moments, to make their greatest sacrifices. Our beloved country has reached one of those moments. A force of tyranny which we Mexicans were not accustomed to suffer after we won our independence oppresses us in such a manner that it has become intolerable. In exchange for that tyranny we are offered peace, but peace full of shame for the Mexican nation, because its basis is not law, but force; because its object is not the aggrandizement and prosperity of the country, but to enrich a small group who, abusing their influence, have converted the public charges into fountains of exclusively personal benefit, unscrupulously exploiting the manner of lucrative concessions and contracts. … [T]he whole administrative, judicial, and legislative machinery obeys a single will, the caprice of General Porfirio Diaz, who during his long administration has shown that the principal motive that guides him is to maintain himself in power and at any cost.
… Therefore, and in echo of the national will, I declare the late election illegal and, the Republic being accordingly without rulers, provisionally assume the Presidency of the Republic … [and] compel General Diaz by force of arms, to respect the national will.