Jericho Parms is the author of the essay collection Lost Wax (University of Georgia Press, 2016). Her essays have appeared in Fourth Genre , Normal School , Hotel Amerika , American Literary Review , Brevity , and elsewhere. Her work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, noted in Best American Essays , and anthologized in Brief Encounters: A Collection of Contemporary Nonfiction and Waveform: Twenty-First-Century Essays by Women . She is the Associate Director of the MFA in Writing program at Vermont College of Fine Arts and teaches in the Professional Writing program at Champlain College.
Lastly, there was the issue of local political autonomy. Mexico’s nineteenth-century liberals, who designed the country’s 1857 Constitution, had placed great emphasis on political federalism, meaning the devolution of power to the states and local municipal control. Rural and provincial Mexicans had long valued the ability to manage their own local affairs without interference from outsiders, and this right was ostensibly enshrined in the Constitution. The Porfirian dictatorship, however, in constructing the most powerful centralized state in the country’s history, ran roughshod over this ideal. State governors and local officials (such as the hated jefes políticos) were subject to approval from the national executive, often from Díaz himself, when they were not simply imposed. Once in power, as we have seen, they benefited their limited circle of friends, and typically ignored, or punished, everyone else. Meanwhile, people among the lower and middle social classes were subject to increasing and arbitrary taxation from afar with little visible benefit in their localities, and certainly with no political representation. Young men were subject to the feared and hated leva , that is, forced recruitment into the national army, which was often nothing more than a ticket to hunger and disease.