Porfirio Diaz was president in 1877 and ruled as dictator in Mexico for over 30 years. He had brought the country’s economic development in the usual Latin American way. Through export sales of agriculture and mineral products especially oil which was controlled by British and American capitalists. During this time railroads were built, oil wells were drilled, and foreign investors were welcomed, but however the people remained very poor. In 1910 almost all the land belonged to a few very powerful people. On November 20, 1910, the Mexican Revolution broke out which was lead by Francisco I. Madero. Diaz was therefore overthrown in 1911, and Francisco Madero become president but two years later was murdered by survivors of the Diaz regime who had hopes to recover power. Pancho Villa – a chief, who lead a great deal of cowboys (vaquereos) in revolt across the large, arid northern state of Chihuahua and Emiliano Zapatan – mobilized a revolutionary force to compel the redistributions of land among the long suffering Indian and mestizo neighbours, were two hero’s during this time in Mexico City but did not do much for Mexico.
The mobilization of Mexico City workers during this period (1910s) was considered to be one of the greatest social disturbances of the twenty century. Urban workers had a limited military role but they had emerged from the fighting of the revolution by showing combativeness and significance in the power structure. During this time industrialization and urbanization transformed work and community in Mexico City and helped to undermine the legitimacy of the revolutionary order. There was cultural transformations and collective action which had occurred among the poor and working people before and during the revolution. The event of the revolution transformed workers in ways that greatly enhanced their role in local and national politics. In 1916 a general strike happened in Mexico City. Strikers demanded fair prices and wages, a consumption demand that ensured the support of much of the poor urban population. Chief Venustiano Carranza was quick to impose aggressive laws and the strike was soon over.
The strike ended in repression it was part of a series of popular challenges by which working people helped shape the post-revolutionary order and pushed labour unions to unprecedented prominence. The possibilities and limits of mass urban participation were outlined in the conflicts that rose in 1916 and continued in the decades that followed. In 1917 a new constitution was set up, promising land to the peasants, along with decent hours and wages as well as unions for workers, equal pay for women, and the possibility of nationalization of the property of reactionary Mexican Catholic church and of exploitative foreign capitalists. During the 1920s and 1930s a unifying, centralizing political party, referred to as Party of the Revolutionary Institutions or PRI, came to power restoring order. This organization combined the nation’s new leadership cadres – the military, bureaucracy, business interests, and labour unions – in a structure that would rule Mexico for the next fifty years.