The new constitution also sharply limited the

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pensions and social benefits, the right to unionize and strike. The new constitution also sharply limited the privileges of foreigners and, as a legacy of earlier Mexican radicals, curbed the rights of the Catholic Church. The Mexican church now lost the rest of its once-vast wealth. It could no longer own real estate at all. Its clergy, their numbers now limited by law, could not wear ecclesiastical clothing on the street nor teach primary school. Anticlerical attitudes exemplify the revolution- aries’ commitment to destroy traditions associated with old patterns of cultural hegemony. Leaders who emerged from the Constitutional- ist movement strengthened their rule in the 1920s. They did away with both Zapata and Villa, crushed Mexico’s last renegade caudillos, and fought off a challenge from armed Catholic traditionalists in the countryside. (These devout counterrevolutionary peasants were called Cristeros from their habit of shouting “Long live Christ the King!”) Finally, the Constitutionalists created a one-party system that would last, in various permutations, until the late twentieth century. This party was first called National, then Mexican, and finally Institutional. But for seven decades it remained a Revolutionary Party. Its official heroes were Madero, Zapata, and Villa, its official rhetoric full of revolutionary and nationalist images. Despite incal- culable destruction and horrendous loss of life (a million people died), the Revolution had been a profoundly formative national experience.
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N A T I O N A L I S T S T A K E P O W E R 241 THE HISTORY OF MEXICO. Two partial views of the great Diego Rivera mural in Mexico's National Palace. © 2016 Banco de Mexico Diego Rivera Frida Kahlo Museums Trust, Mexico, D.F./Artist Rights Society. Photo: Bridgeman Images.
C H A P T E R 8 | N A T I O N A L I S M 242 It had created powerful new loyalties and would loom on the imagina- tive landscape of Mexican politics for generations. Two US interven- tions during the years of fighting—a punitive invasion against Villa, who had raided a town in New Mexico, and a US occupation of the port of Veracruz—only added nationalist luster to the Revolution. The new government also brought some material benefits to the impoverished rural majority. A road-building program lessened their isolation, and some land was distributed—though not nearly enough for everyone. Major initiatives in public education began to reduce the country’s 80 percent illiteracy rate. The Mexican minister of education in the 1920s was José Vasconcelos, one of the hemisphere’s leading cultural nationalists, who celebrated the triumph of what he called (colorfully, but confusingly) the Cosmic Race, meaning mestizos. The great Mexican painters Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, who married in 1929, illustrate Mexico’s revolutionary nationalism. Diego Rivera was huge, ugly, magnetic, and brilliant. He was a muralist, a public painter whose works covered walls and ceilings. He painted like a tornado for days straight, eating, even sleeping on the scaf- fold. Rivera’s crowded murals depict, above all, Mexico’s indigenous heritage. He worked from 1923 to 1928 painting Vasconcelos’s Min-

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