Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 29.djvu/38

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28
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

circulation (twenty-five hundred reported) is the Church paper, "El Tiempo," which is bitter alike against the Americans and all their improvements, not excepting even their railroads. Of all the other papers, it is doubtful whether their average circulation ever reaches as large a figure as eight hundred.

The press of Mexico, furthermore, can hardly be said to be free; inasmuch as, when it says anything which the Government assumes to be calculated to excite sedition, the authorities summarily arrest the editor and send him to prison; taking care, however, in all such proceedings, to scrupulously observe what has been enacted to be law. Thus, during the past year (1885), the editor-in-chief of "El Monitor Republicano" has served out a sentence of seven months in the common penitentiary, for his criticisms upon the Government.

Public opinion in Mexico means simply the opinions of the large landed proprietors, the professions, the teachers, the students, and the army officers; comprising in all not more than from twenty-five to thirty thousand of the whole population. And it is understood that less than this number of votes were cast at the last presidential election, although the Constitution of Mexico gives to every adult male citizen of the republic the right to vote at elections and to hold office. Popular election in Mexico is, therefore, little more than a farce; and the situation affords another striking illustration of a fact which is recognized everywhere by the student of politics, that an uneducated people will not avail themselves of the right to vote as a matter of course, or recognize any sense of duty or responsibility as incumbent upon them as citizens. Such a condition of affairs obviously constitutes in itself a perpetual menace of domestic tranquillity: for, with no census or registration of voters, no scrutiny of the ballot-box except by the party in power; no public meetings or public political discussions; and no circulation of newspapers among the masses, no peacefully organized political opposition has a chance to exist. Such opposition as does manifest itself is, therefore, personal and never a matter of principles. The central Government for the time being nominates and counts in what candidates it pleases; and, if any one feels dissatisfied or oppressed, there is absolutely no redress to be obtained except through rebellion. Such has been the political experience of the Republic of Mexico heretofore; and although the recent construction of railways, by facilitating the transportation of troops, has strengthened the central Government, there is no reason to suppose that what has happened in the past will not continue to happen until the first essential of a free government—namely, free and intelligent suffrage on the part of the masses—is established in the country; and the day for the consummation of such a result is very far distant.

The present President of Mexico, Porfirio Diaz, is undoubtedly one of the ablest men who has ever filled the office of its chief executive. He is believed to have the interest of his country supremely at