Día de la Constitución – Constitution Day in Mexico
By: Slade Ogletree
Día de la Constitución, or Mexican Constitution Day, is celebrated on February 5th. The Mexican Constitution was drafted in Santiago de Querétaro by a Constitutional Convention during the Mexican Revolution. It was approved by the Mexican Constitutional Congress on February 5, 1917, with Venustiano Carranza serving as the first president under its terms. It is usually recognized with the festivals and street celebrations.
The Mexican Revolution of 1910 was a social and cultural movement which brought the beginning of changes in Mexico. The revolution started as a rebellion against President Porfirio Díaz. As the rift between the poor and rich grew under the leadership of General Díaz, the political voice of the lower classes was also declining. Diaz was once quoted as saying of his own people, "The Mexican people would ammount to nothing without being driven by the whip." The opposition of Díaz surfaced when Francisco I. Madero, who was educated in Europe and at the University of California, began to gain recognition and political power.
Diaz had Madero imprisoned, feeling that the people of Mexico just weren't ready for democracy. During this time, several other Mexican folk heros began to emerge, including the well known Pancho Villa in the north, and the peasant Emiliano Zapata in the south.
Díaz was still unable to control the spread of the growing insurgence and resigned in May, 1911, with the signing of the Treaty of Ciudad Juárez, after which he fled to France. Madero was then elected president, but received opposition from Emiliano Zapata who didn't wish to wait for the orderly implementation of Madero's desired land reforms. In November of the same year Zapata denounced Madero as president and took the position for himself. Zapata controlled the state of Morelos, where he chased out the estate owners and divided their lands to the peasants. Later, in 1919, Zapata was assassinated by Jesus Guajardo acting under orders from General Pablo Gonzalez.
Emiliano Zapata was born in 1879 in the Mexican state of Morelos. The son of a farmer and a natural born leader, Zapata's destiny soon revealed itself. His father died when he was 17 and shortly thereafter, Emiliano assumed the responsibility of providing for his family. Zapata was of Mestizo blood and he spoke Nahuatl, the indigenous language of central Mexico. Widely respected by his community, the village elected Zapata to be their leader in 1909. He quickly recruited an insurgent army of farmers from his village to protect the farms in their immediate community. Zapata and his men fought the government troops in the south of Mexico while Pancho Villa fought in the north.
Pancho Villa was born Doroteo Arangol in Durango on June 5, 1878, the son of a field labourer. As an adolescent Villa became a fugitive after killing a man who assaulted his sister. Fleeing to the mountains, he changed his name and became a bandit.In 1910 he joined the rebellion led by Francisco Madero, which was successful. When Madero was assassinated in 1913 Villa formed an army several thousand strong which came to be known as the Division del Norte - the Division of the North. He fought on the side of Venustiano Carranza and the Constitutionalists.
Eventually, Venustiano Carranza rose to the presidency, and organized an important convention whose outcome was the Constitution of 1917, which is still in effect today. Carranza made land reform an important part of that constitution. This resulted in the ejido, or farm cooperative program that redistributed much of the country's land from the wealthy land holders to the peasants. The ejidos are still in place today and comprise nearly half of all the farmland in Mexico..