Who was Porfirio Diaz/Biography/battles/Government/death

Porfirio Diaz (1830 – 1915)

The Figure of Porfirio Diaz is one of the most controversial in the history of Mexico. Criticized by many and defended by others. Regardless of the diversity of opinions, General and President Porfirio Diaz was part of a decisive time in the political, social and economic events of Mexico. Who was Porfirio Diaz?

It became an important pillar in the development of this country, thanks to all the progress it made. Therefore, it is vitally important to know who he was, his military and political career and what he did in order to understand his legacy.

Who was Porfirio Diaz

He was a prominent soldier and ex-military man who became president of Mexico more than seven times, thus ruling for a period of 30 years. He was an important and courageous man who constituted a strong centralized state, which he managed to keep under his control for three decades.

It played an important role in the wars against the French. This gave him the reputation of being a shrewd, defender and fighter of the territories in which he interceded and highlighted his military actions. Who was Porfirio Diaz?


José de la Cruz Porfirio Diaz Mori, better known as Porfirio Diaz, was born on September 15, 1830 in Oaxaca. He was the son of José Faustino Diaz, who was of Spanish descent, and Petrona Mori who came from an indigenous town. He grew up in a humble home. When he was only three years old, he was orphaned by a father. He begins to study at the seminary in Oaxaca.

However, he decides to join the national army after the outbreak of the Mexican war against the United States , although he did not participate in the war. Later, he studied law at the School of Arts and Sciences in Oaxaca, where he was a student of Benito Juárez. While he was studying, due to the difficult economic situation of his family, he carried out some occasional trades, such as carpentry.

After graduating, he was appointed a professor. However, he went on to dedicate himself to military life. In 1858 he participated in the War of the Reform and after being appointed general, he fought against the French intervention (1861-1867) . In 1867 he married Delfina Ortega Diaz, his niece. In that same year and in 1871 he was a candidate for the presidency, although he was defeated on both occasions by Benito Juárez. Who was Porfirio Diaz?

After each defeat he led unsuccessful military rebellions, trying to achieve power. However, he became president in 1877 until 1880 , since he ceded command to Manuel González. Later, he continued his mandate from 1884 to 1911, ruling dictatorially and continually getting reelected. After putting Francisco Madero, an opposition candidate in jail in 1910, he was re-elected again. After Francisco got out of jail, the Mexican Revolution started . Porfirio Diaz resigned from the presidency on May 25, 1911 and went into exile in Paris.               

Battles of Porfirio Diaz

Porfirio participated in several battles, which gave him his reputation and proved his worth as a strategist and military man. Some of these battles and confrontations were:

  • Confrontation against the conservatives in Ixcapa.
  • Reform War , where he later entered Mexico City with his troops, victorious on January 4, 1861.
  • He led the first battle of the second French intervention , at Acultzingo.
  • He had an important participation in the Battle of Puebla , repelling the French at Amozoc.  

Government of Porfirio Diaz

Porfirio Diaz’s term of office lasted from 1876 to 1911, despite the 4 years that Manuel González led (1880-1884). This period is known as the Porfiriato . His political project was to restore peace by establishing a tough policy. Who was Porfirio Diaz?

During his dictatorial government, he used intimidation and violence to silence all kinds of opposition , which caused the Mexican revolution to begin at the beginning of the 20th century. Artistic activities were given rise, especially towards patriotism and towards France and its culture, taking into account art and literature. In this way, he promoted national culture in foreign countries.

The repression against the free press , the zones for the exploitation of indigenous people and inequality increased . Foreign investors wiped out much of Mexico’s wealth. The old communal lands that belonged to the natives, became of a small group of landowners. Poverty and illiteracy became more widespread.

However, under his dictatorship he made progress in the finances and economy of the country . He created new taxes that did not hinder trade and achieved greater control of income and reduced public spending. It started the companies Transatlántica Mexicana, Naviera del Pacífico and Mexicana de Navegación. In addition, the Catholic Church recovered a large part of its power, obtaining a mandatory tithe paid , with the small owners being the most affected. Who was Porfirio Diaz?

What did Porfirio Diaz do?

Despite the fact that the dictatorship of Porfirio Diaz was harsh and the indigenous people suffered greatly, it achieved important advances for Mexico. Many of the things he did were:

  • Public education spread throughout the national territory.
  • The construction of the Palace of Fine Arts began .
  • It achieved growth in the textile industry using Spanish and French support.
  • It stabilized the nation‘s finances .
  • He promoted culture through books, magazines, theaters, etc.
  • Inaugurated the National University .
  • Regularized tax collection.
  • He founded the Special Staff of the General Staff .
  • He spread out the cinematograph.
  • It extended the telegraphs and the mail by great part of the national territory.
  • Modernized Navy ships . Who was Porfirio Diaz?
  • He promoted military education by creating the Military School for Aspirants, the Naval Military School and the Military Fencing School.
  • He changed the date and time of El Grito from September 16 to September 15 at 11:15 p.m., since that was the day and time that Porfirio was born. Even today it is celebrated on that date.
  • It built more than 20 thousand km of railways with foreign investment.


Porfirio Diaz left power in May 1911 and went into exile in Paris. Advanced age had physically broken this prominent Mexican military man. Four years later he died on July 2, 1915 at 84 years of age . His remains are in the Montparnasse cemetery in Paris, waiting for him to one day return to Mexican soil. Who was Porfirio Diaz?

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