Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 29.djvu/37

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27
AN ECONOMIC STUDY OF MEXICO.

seen at West Point. The army maintained by Mexico is larger than that of the United States, and the rank and file seem to be possessed of all the physical qualities essential for the making of good soldiers. But it is upon the patriotism and intelligence of the officers in command of the army that the immediate future and prosperity of Mexico is dependent. The single fact, however, that the present Government and the most intelligent and influential people of Mexico have recognized the necessity of educating the masses of the people, and that probably the best that can be done under existing circumstances is being done, certainly constitutes the most hopeful and encouraging augury for the future of the republic.

The Government and Social Forces of Mexico.—As might be expected from the existing conditions, the Government of Mexico—both Federal and State—although nominally constitutional and democratic, is not, and from the very nature of things can not be, other than personal, and is often in the highest degree arbitrary and despotic; in short, a military despotism under the form of a republic. For example, under date of February 15, 1886, the telegraph reports that the people of Coahuila are rejoicing over the fact that, after a term of a year and a half of military rule, the civil authorities are to resume control of the local government; but to this is added the following significant statement: "The policy of the civil government, however, will probably be identical with that pursued by the military, as the Governor-elect is a strong supporter of the Administration, and will accede to all the demands of the Federal Government."

No such thing as a popular assemblage, to discuss public questions of any kind, ever takes place in Mexico; and when, in the fall of 1884, a young member of the national Congress from Vera Cruz Diaz Miron ventured to oppose a scandalous proposition of the then President, Gonzales, for the readjustment of the claims of the English holders of the national bonds, he felt it necessary to preface his speech on the floor of the House of Representatives with words to the effect that he fully recognized that, in opposing the Administration, he probably forfeited all chance for future political preferment, even if he did not at once endanger his personal freedom. And such, probably, would have been to him the result, had not the students of the city of Mexico made the cause of Miron their own, and by organizing and assuming the aggressive, forced the Government to abandon their position.

Although there are plenty of newspapers in Mexico—some sixteen "dailies" in the city of Mexico alone—they have, as might be expected, but comparatively few readers, and apparently exist for some other purpose than that of reporting the "news." Only one journal in the country—"El Monitor Republicano"—a daily published in the city of Mexico, and representing the Liberal Opposition, claims a circulation as great as thirty-five hundred; and probably next to this in