Neruda's Ekphrastic Experience: Mural Art and Canto General

By Hugo Méndez-Ramírez | Go to book overview

Appendix: A Note on Mexican History

NEXT TO THE INDEPENDENCE MOVEMENT (1810–21), THE MEXICAN Revolution (1910–17) is the most important event in the nation's history. Revolutionary principles, however, had already been outlined in the Constitution of 1857, promulgated by Benito Juárez during the Reform program. Above all, this constitution established the separation of church and state through nationalization of ecclesiastical property, elimination of religious orders, and promotion of secular education, marriage, and burial. Reformist goals, however, were undermined when the Catholic Church, reactionaries, and the upper classes joined forces with the French to oppose Mexican liberals. Although defeated momentarily, the conservative forces, with the help of General Porfirio Díaz, managed to subvert the army and to overthrow the liberal president Sebastián Lerdo de Tejada, Benito Juarez's successor. Porfirio Díaz, the powerful dictator who ruled Mexico for more than thirty years, renewed friendly international relations, supported industry, and protected foreign investment in order to stimulate economic growth. With primarily United States capital, Mexico constructed a railway system. The country developed into a modern nation.

Diaz's policy of “pan y palo” contributed to one of Mexico's most prosperous periods of industrial advancement. However, in sharp contrast to this wealth, Mexico also continued to experience the same endemic social and economic problems as it had in the past. The basic approach of Diaz's policy meant pan for the few and palo for the rest. The situation of the poor and the power of the Catholic Church remained unchanged during Diaz's dictatorship. Moreover, Mexico endured a new hardship: exploitation by foreign investors whose profits did not remain nor were reinvested in the country.

The Mexican Revolution was mainly triggered not by social or economic conditions but by political aspirations to restore democracy and electoral freedom, as set forth in the “Plan de San Luis Potosí,” the first manifesto authored by Francisco I. Madero. Under this program, Madero was elected to govern the country

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Neruda's Ekphrastic Experience: Mural Art and Canto General
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Contents 7
  • Acknowledgements 9
  • Introduction: Neruda in Mexico (1940–1943) 13
  • 1: Image and Text 24
  • 2: Neruda and the Mural Phenomenon 46
  • 3: The Indigenous Theme and the Search for Roots 68
  • 4: The Panoramic View 123
  • 5: The Poet and the People 169
  • Conclusions 197
  • Appendix: A Note on Mexican History 206
  • Notes 210
  • Works Cited 231
  • Index 239
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