Díaz's 34-year rule is known as thePorfiriato; it was a period of relative peace and economic growth. During his first term Díaz began to reestablish the federal government's power over the diverse Mexican states. He enlarged and gave great power to a constabulary, the Rurales. They destroyed many of the bandit gangs which had proliferated during the civil wars and later crushed all political opposition to Díaz's rule. He also formed acompromise with the Catholic Church, by which the federal government would not harass the Church if the latter would not interfere in Mexican politics.
In 1880 Díaz left the presidency to Gen. Manuel González, a longtime supporter and friend. Díaz became governor of Oaxaca and watched while González ran the country into bankruptcy. Friends of the government made huge fortunes in public-landspeculation, and foreign companies bought up huge tracts of Mexican land. The government reversed the old Spanish mining laws and allowed foreigners to purchase subsoil rights, or ownership of all oils and metals contained in the ground. The mining industry entered a boom period in which Mexico produced more gold and silver in 20 years than it had in the previous 4 centuries. Díaz, a widower,meanwhile had contracted his second marriage, to Carmen Romero Rubio, the daughter of a rich supporter of Lerdo. This marriage, sometimes called the "aristocratization of Porfirio Díaz," marked the rough mestizo general's entrance into the best Creole society. Carmen, a devout Catholic, not only made Díaz socially respectable but also helped form a tacit alliance between the government and the MexicanCatholic Church.
In 1884 Díaz abandoned his "no reelection" policy and again assumed the Mexican presidency. Continually reelected until his violent overthrow, Díaz was then free to pursue further the policies begun in 1876. Political peace was maintained through the Rurales and the policy known as "bread or club." Outstanding opponents were given government jobs or rich concessions; those whorefused such bribes faced death, exile, or prison. Political power lay with Díaz, his old military cronies, and a small group of wealthy Creoles, known as the Científicos.
The Científicos, most prominent in the 1890s, cleverly adopted the positivism of the French philosopher Auguste Comte as a justification for their increasing monopoly over the nation's wealth. Definingtheir program as one of "freedom, order, and progress," they tried to establish a religion of science based on the cold indexes of Mexico's expanding economy. The Científicos saw Mexico's future best served by massive white European immigration, which would relegate other groups to a permanently inferior role. The army launched campaigns against the Yaquí tribes in the north and the Mayas in thesouth, while the government press defined the indigenous people as a "national burden."
In 1893 the prominent Científico José Ives Limantour became minister of finance, and Mexico became one of Latin America's most prosperous nations. By cutting the military budget, the astute banker gave Mexico its first budgetary surplus in years; railroad trackage increased to 16,000 miles as foreign trade...