Celebrating the life and accomplishments of Mexico’s 1st Indigenous President

“Among individuals, as among nations, respect for the
rights of others is peace.”

– Benito Juarez

Monday March 18th is Benito Juarez Day in Mexico, celebrated the 3rd Monday of March each year. In distinctive and glorious Mexican style, the day will be defined by boisterous parades, fireworks, dances, competitions and cerveza, por supuesto. Benito Juarez day is a national holiday. Many businesses, schools and the government will be closed to recognize the remarkable accomplishments of one of Mexico’s most famous native sons. Juarez served as President of Mexico from 1861 to 1872, through some of the most turbulent times in the history of Mexico.

Born in Oaxaca of Zapotec parents, Juarez was orphaned at the age of 3. With the assistance of clergy members who saw the potential of Benito, he received an excellent education rarely available to people of indigenous ancestry. Originally, he studied for the priesthood, but entered the Oaxaca Institute of Arts and Sciences, graduating with a degree in law. Juarez revitalized the Liberal Party, and opposed the large landowners, the military and wealthy merchants. Juarez and his liberal colleagues created a program of reform focused on middle class capitalism and a federal government that encouraged state leadership and the decentralization of governance. Juarez and his colleagues advocated for women’s rights, the protection of labor and eliminated the special privileges granted to the Catholic church and military establishment.

In January 1861 Juárez was elected president. He was, however, faced with serious problems and the treasury was virtually empty. As a solution, Juárez decided in July 1861 to suspend payment on all foreign debts for two years. This triggered attacks against Mexico by England, Spain, and France when the countries decided to collect on the debt. Britain and Spain later withdrew when it became clear Napoleon III intended to conquer and control Mexico through Archduke Maximilian of Austria. The French suffered a major defeat at Puebla on May 5, 1862, were able to occupy Mexico City in June 1863, and Maximilian arrived to take control of the government. In 1867, due to continued Mexican resistance and increased U.S. pressure, Napoleon withdrew his troops, Mexican forces captured Maximilian and he was executed. For the next 5 years, Benito Juarez continued to serve his country as President until 1872 when he died of a heart attack.

To this day, Juárez’s accomplishments set the stage for Mexico’s remarkable modernization in the last quarter of the 19th century and freed Mexico from the legacy of Spanish colonialism.

Andrea Thompson is an expert real estate agent working for Warren Brander Realty Group in Puerto Vallarta. She can be reached at 818-751-9671, or by email andrea@wbrealtygrouppv.com.

Related posts

Design and Development by Komunikas Digital Marketing
Whatsapp Icon