8 APRIL 1876, Page 8


TN an article on the condition of Mexico last autumn, we I pointed out that the progress of anarchical revolution was

so general at that date, that the strong hand of a Dictator could alone be expected to supply any remedy of even tempo- rary efficiency. Six months later we find that the same anarchy prevails over much the same area, and the only sen- sible alteration of the situation consists in the appearance of a military leader of acknowledged ability, at the head of one of the most numerous factions of the malcontents. Beyond the possession of considerable military talents, however, it does not appear that General Porfirio Diaz, who has just captured Matamoras, is distinguished by many of the qualifications of a saviour of society. In the first place, there is a record of "former convictions" against him in the matter of conspiracy and overt rebellion. If Lerdo de Tejada, the present President, be a weak and incompetent ruler, Juarez was assuredly a man of high administrative abilities. He was none the more agreeable to General Porthio Diaz on that account, and on two different occasions General Diaz rose in arms against his authority. It may, however, be said for this habitual mutineer that if he did all in his power to reduce his country to the depth of lawlessness and disorder which tempted the imperial- ising expedition of Napoleon M., he proved himself during the period of the French occupation almost as terrible a foe to the foreign invaders as he had previously been to his own Government. Owing to his bravery and skill as a leader of the patriot forces, General Diaz became widely popular in Mexico, and on the death of President Juarez came forward, with considerable chances of success, as a competitor for the succession. Vanquished by the amiable reputation which Lerdo de Tejada had come to enjoy, as a man calculated to conciliate all parties by a policy of moderation, Porfirio Diaz entered the Congress, but, as might have been expected, showed less aptitude for Parliamentary procedure than for the tactics of a free-lance. At the same time, he might have rested content with his former share in the public disturbances, if the increasing impotence of Lerdo de Tejada's administration had not afforded an opportunity which an imprudent and insulting provocation on the part of the officials further goaded him to seize.

In effect, the total inability or reluctance of the ruling Cabinet to perform the most elementary duties of a Government can hardly be described in adequate terms. It is the Turkish administration of Bosnia and the Herzegovina, with none of the excuses which may be drawn from the distinctions between con- querors and conquered, Moslems and Christians. Like the official Press of Constantinople, the Diario Oftcial of Mexico regularly records the triumphs of an invincible army, and the steady pacification of distant provinces ; but, in fact, there are neither victories nor pacification. In the farthest districts, as in the nearest to the capital, an aimless and destructive revolution, with no policy beyond plunder, holds its own, with hardly a pretence of opposition from the soldiers of the Republic. Not only in Sonora, but in Mechoa.can and the State of Mexico itself, towns are looted in open day without a shot from the official garrison. Indeed, within a few miles of Mexico, the garrison of a town retreated with precipitancy into the open country as soon as a few troops of rebels arrived before the walls, nor did these heroic defenders of the public presume to return to their quarters until all the disposable gold and horses of the inhabitants had been leisurely secured by the plunderers. Nor, indeed, are the citizens who are directly exposed to such incursions much more unfortunate than their fellows. Under the system of official exactions, the corruption of justice, the multiplication of vexatious imposts, trade and commerce are at a stand-still, and men of even comparative honesty may be pardoned for thinking that the industry of the highway is at once the least disturbed and the most productive of all occupations. Perhaps an exception may be made in favour of the trade of the regular soldier. He, it seems to be generally admitted, is not only in the receipt of pay, or its equivalent, from the inhabitants he is supposed to pro- tect, but whom he prefers to terrorise, but at the same time, is the rewarded confederate of the local in- surgents, who pursue the calling of patriots by the methods of banditti.

The contributions of the Congress towards the improvement of the public condition may be passed over in silence. They mainly consisted in a further increase of the already enormous duties, and may accordingly deserve the thanks of the various smuggling confraternities, but call for notice in no other respect. He is not a wise man in Mexico who declares the value of his goods to the Customs authorities. In the first place, he has to pay the tax ; and in the second place, if his commodities are really costly, the odds are that the next band of brigands on the way of his further progress will have received a friendly intimation to be on the look-out for an acceptable prize. The public misery being so aggravated, it was surely a work of supererogation for the Official Gazette to denounce the formidable Porfirio Diaz as engaged in treason- able transactions with the United States Government for the cession of Mexican border-lands. The mutinous free-lance had shown sufficiently in the Franco-Mexican war that if ready to convulse his native land, he would never betray her. "Mexican sentiment" was keenly affected by this official out- rage on a patriotic though insubordinate soldier, and Porfirio Diaz became at once the innocent victim of an undeniable insult, and entitled, according to all Mexican traditions, to use every means to vindicate his honour on his calumniators. In that zone libra, that frontier territory of freedom and freebooting which stretches its uncertain confines between Mexico and the United States, along the banks of the Rio Grande, the injured leader has found sympathisers and avengers. Former com- panions in arms have united with chivalrous horse-stealers from the Texan line to proclaim the downfall of Lerdo de Tejada's Government, and if possible, to effect it. The defection of the "garrison "of the important town of Matamoros has thrown that provincial capital into the hands of the insurrection, and even if Porfirio Diaz does not succeed in assembling troops enough to march on Mexico, it is quite as probable that Lerdo de Tejadal -will not find troops to march on Matamoros. Lerdo wants to be President for the new term, which commences towards the close of the year, and besides the circumstance that a good many of the regular troops are too profitably employed in "going shares" with the provincial banditti, it is awkward that Mejia, the actual War Minister, is a Presidential com- petitor as well, and may not be inclined to use his authority with the army to prop the failing fortunes of a rival. Escobedo was a General who might have been employed with advantage against Porfirio Diaz, but for the mischance that he has been recently shot by his own soldiers. It may be reasonably inferred from these premises that the prospect of a termin- ation to the Mexican anarchy is neither very close nor very certain.