TRANSFORMATION AND LEADERSHIP
During the early part of the 20th century Mexico experienced a radical shift in social and political ideology. The citizens of Mexico, dissatisfied with living in the shadows cast by a dictatorial Porfirio Diaz who had served as president for thirty-four years, began to demand a greater role in the country’s direction. But the Diaz regime, corrupt and infused with foreign-based capital, minimized any rising dissent through harassment, arrest, and imprisonment. Communities in Texas, including Laredo and San Antonio, provided safe havens for threatened Mexican nationals who spoke out against the regime. From Texas, political exiles were able to provide support to political and military forces in Mexico working against the status quo. Texas’ neutrality also gave them the opportunity to speak freely, publish openly, and organize political parties and protests that would ultimately prove the downfall of dictatorial regimes like Diaz’s and others who followed. The Revolution transformed the Texas/Mexican border into a zone of conflict but it also enriched the Tejano communities throughout south Texas with a vibrant and activist edge, producing many of the leaders of the Mexican-American political movements that would soon follow in the coming decades.