The Oil industry and the Mexican Revolution, 1917-1927: extra-legal activity in pursuit of the past

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In the years when Porfirio Diaz was in power in Mexico, legislation was adopted specifically to encourage foreign capital to develop a petroleum industry in that country. Therefore, foreigners were granted various concessions, including the laying aside of the traditional provision of Spanish mining law--that the subsoil remain the direct property of the nation. These policies were successful, and by the second decade of the twentieth century resulted in a rapidly growing petroleum industry entirely dominated by foreign corporations. Nationalism, particularly focused on the United States' domination of the economy, was a strong element in the Mexican Revolution which overthrew the regime of Diaz in 1910. Consequently, the successive Mexican Revolutionary Administrations of Carranza, Obregon, and Calles, in their attempts to repatriate the economy, attacked the privileges of the oil industry. The most significant step in this direction was the Constitution of 1917, which ensured that the subsoil was, once again, within the patrimony of the nation. While the Revolutionary Mexican regimes sought to make this principle a reality through various acts of legislation, the American oil industry defended its vested interests with vigour. Two approaches were utilized by the oil men in their struggle to have the offending laws eliminated, or the offensive governments destroyed: they attempted to persuade the American Government to intervene in Mexico on their behalf, and more militant oil men supplied dissident Mexicans with funds and armaments to overthrow their government. The reactions of United States administrations to these initiatives varied, with some American officials going as far as to offer every assistance to such activities. During the 1920's, however, changing attitudes towards foreign policy within both the United States and Mexico produced a tendency towards negotiation and conciliation, rather than confrontation. This development resulted in the alienation of the petroleum interests; consequently, their growing impotence made way for the negotiation of a tentative agreement between the two governments in 1923, and the acceptance of a more secure settlement in 1927.
Bibliography: p. 184-193.
Hocking, J. D. (1976). The Oil industry and the Mexican Revolution, 1917-1927: extra-legal activity in pursuit of the past (Master's thesis, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada). Retrieved from doi:10.11575/PRISM/18841