I think this primary source was the most interesting yet for me to read. Having always thought of Díaz as a violent dictator, it was really fascinating to see an American account of how he was the democratic ideal. There were a few spots in the article that I found particularly compelling.
The first was how Díaz referred to an opposing political party as “enemies.” It seemed so obvious to me at this moment that he was incredibly disingenuous about his political processes. Democratic discourse is not a question of enemies but rather fair opposition. In light of the fact that he rigged the election against Madero in 1910. The second was the American sentiment that saturated the piece. As an American myself, there is often this sort of trope of someone who starts from nowhere and then picks himself up and becomes wealthy. I think the idea that Díaz came from little and was able to become the father of modernization in Mexico was particularly consumable to an American audience. The third observation was how little the reporter reacted to the unjust killings of various individuals who were seen as threats to the state. I guess it just goes to show how superficial ideas of Díaz’s democracy were. Democracy was about modernization rather than rights.
In my history of Mexico class, there are some students from Mexico and also more broadly other Latin American countries. In one of our lectures about Díaz, they mentioned a changing perception of him as a cultural figure. In the past, he was seen as a villain due to the rampant corruption and violence in his regime, yet there is a new wave of people who are acknowledging and celebrating his work as the modernizer of the country. In this way, the situation sort of reminds me of modern-day politics in the United States. Do people prioritize the economy over human rights? It seems more and more that the first is elevated as a measure of success for a country.
I am not surprised that the American journalist painted such a rosy and romantic image of Porfirio Díaz. The United States frequently uses democracy as a guise for violence and destabilization in various countries. The interview was likely tainted by trade deals and economic ties between the United States and Mexico. As long as countries in Latin America satisfied American desires for production they were left alone.