Over the past four decades, regional history has changed our view of the dictatorship of Porfirio Díaz. These studies by US, European, and Mexican historians have convinced us that rather than an all-powerful tyrant, the general was actually a brilliant negotiator who pieced together a political mosaic, playing off the various elites on the state and regional level. Not that Díaz shied away from coercion (sometimes violent) when the need arose, but his well-known policies of “bread or the club” emphasized rewards rather than retribution. During these same decades we have also discovered that in Mexico (and everywhere else in the world, for that matter) politics were (and are) local. As I have argued elsewhere, we can explain Mexico's nineteenth-century history almost entirely through the lens of the struggle for local autonomy. It defined the Liberal-Conservative conflicts that raged from the 1830s...

You do not currently have access to this content.