The Blood Contingent: The Military and the Making of Modern Mexico, 1876-1911

TitleThe Blood Contingent: The Military and the Making of Modern Mexico, 1876-1911
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsNeufeld, Stephen
Number of Pages383
PublisherUniversity of New Mexico Press

This monograph explores the history of military, state building and militarism in Mexico during the period of Porfirio Díaz’s (1830-1915) presidency (1876–80; 1884–1911). This was an era of dictatorial rule accomplished through a combination of consensus and repression during which the country underwent extensive modernization but political liberties were limited and the free press was muzzled. General Porfirio Díaz used the armed forces as the basis of his rule. Far out of proportion to their size, the armed forces absorbed half the national budget and penetrated every area of society with military officers making up, among other things, many of the most important politicians, engineers, and writers. Thousands of young men, often forcibly conscripted, entered a national army that extended the state into regions previously beyond centralized influence or surveillance. Yet the regime’s ostentatious public rituals of parade and manoeuvre stood in stark contrast to the violent eradication of bandits, dissidents, and indigenous rebels. The hatred of Porfirian brutality and decadence has obscured the truly significant contributions the military made to the nascent Mexico.

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