The People in Arms
Mexico is the land of the shaking earth. A fault line stretching through the capital and twenty active volcanoes make this seismic zone dangerous for its inhabitants. Throughout history Mexican society has resembled the country's geological makeup: the crater of revolution has often erupted to shake the nation to its foundations. During the Spanish colonial period there were scattered uprisings against the aristocratic class. In the first century after Mexico gained its independence from Spain in 1821, there were 1,000 armed attacks on the State. The Mexican Revolution which began in 1910, vented subterranean pressures and long-hidden changes. It was the blast of a social volcano formed centuries earlier by the impact of Spanish imperialism on an ancient civilization.
The Spanish did not come to Mexico to develop the economy; they came to loot it. In 1520 what impressed the conquering Hernán Cortez was not the gigantic market at Tlatelolco with some 50,000 Aztecs selling their wares, but the gold and silver jewelry worn by the nobles. [We Spaniards,] he told them, [are troubled by a disease of the heart for which the specific remedy is gold.]1 He did not subjugate 25 million indigenous Mexicans to improve their lot. Mexico was a huge vein of silver, and the Spanish opened it to pump its contents to Europe. The [Indians,] as the Spanish called the Aztecs, were enslaved in the silver mines; they caught European diseases and almost vanished as a race. The Mayas, who had a sophisticated mathematics and a calendar