South of the Border - Mexico's Political Revolutions
Beginning with the French Revolution, Napoleon rose to power in Europe.
His soldiers invaded Italy and defeated the Pope's papal troops in 1796.
In 1798, Napoleon's army captured Rome.
He took Pope Pius VI prisoner, carrying him away to France, where he died in captivity.
The new Pope, Pius VII, attended Napoleon's coronation in Notre Dame Cathedral, December 2, 1804.
In an unprecedented snub, instead of letting the Pope place the crown on his head, Napoleon took the crown off the altar and placed it on his own head.
In 1808, Napoleon's army again occupied Rome, and annexed many Papal States.
In 1809, he imprisoned Pope Pius VII, who soon became very ill. Napoleon then clandestinely brought him captive to Fontainebleau, France, traveling at night.
The Pope responded by excommunicating Napoleon.
In the midst of all this, in 1808, Napoleon invaded Catholic Spain in the Peninsular War.
He forced the Spanish King Fernando VII to abdicate the throne and kept him under guard for six years.
Napoleon then put his brother Joseph Bonaparte on the Spanish throne, to rule an empire which included New Spain - Central America and parts of North and South America.
New Spain had been Catholic for nearly 300 years, since the initial conquest of the Aztecs by Cortés in 1521.
With Joseph Bonaparte as the ruler of Spain, many in New Spain questioned their allegiance to this secular French king on the Spanish throne, put there by his excommunicated brother Napoleon.
In 1808, Simon Bolivar began a revolution against Spain, which led to the independence of:
- Colombia (which included Panama),
- northern Peru,
- western Guyana, and
- northwest Brazil.
Mexico's independence from Spain began in 1810, when a priest named Miguel Hidalgo gave a speech, "The Cry of Dolores (Sorrows)," to protest Napoleon holding captive Spain's King Fernando VII.
Hidalgo put the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe on a banner and rallied 90,000 poor peasant farmers to revolt against the Spanish Viceroy.
Hidalgo's ill-equipped troops inscribed slogans on their flags:
"Long live religion! Long live our most Holy Mother of Guadalupe! Long live America and death to bad government!"
Hidalgo was captured and executed.
He is considered the "Father of the Nation of Mexico" as the movement he began eventually led to Mexico's independence.
From 1821 to 1857, fifty different governments ruled Mexico.
Revolts and revolutions in Mexico usually began with class-warfare, where the poor were organized to overthrow the rich, but ended up with the revolutionary leaders themselves grabbing power and becoming new dictators.
George Orwell commented on this cyclical trend where, unless citizens have been trained in morals, virtue and self-control, the revolutions against dictators usually end up with new dictators:
"One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes a revolution in order to establish a dictatorship ...
Every generation imagines itself to be more intelligent than the one that went before it."
From 1810 to 1820, General Agustín de Iturbide fought for the Spanish Monarchy against Hidalgo's revolutionaries. but then he switched sides to fight against Spain in 1821.
On September 27 1821, Mexico became officially independent of Spain.
Instead of setting up a constitutional republic, Iturbide made himself Emperor of Mexico, placing the crown upon his own head in 1822, similar to Napoleon placing the Emperor's crown on his own head in 1804.
Antonio López de Santa Anna, Vicente Guerrero and others conspired against Iturbie and he fled to Britain.
Upon his return, Iturbide was captured and executed.
For a brief time, Mexico was then ruled by a Supreme Executive Power, followed in 1824 by its first President, Guadalupe Victoria.
He was the only Mexican president for the next 30 years who would complete his full term in office.
Manuel Gómez Pedraza won Mexico's second election, but Vicente Guerrero and Antonio López de Santa Anna staged a coup d'état by bombarding the palace.
Vicente Guerrero became next President in 1829, but was deposed and executed by his Vice-President Bustamante.
President Bustamante was deposed twice and exiled to Europe.
Between 1833 and 1855, the Mexican presidency changed hands at least 36 times, with Antonio López de Santa Anna ruling 11 of those.
Antonio López de Santa Anna, styling himself after Napoleon, finally laid aside Mexico's Constitution in 1835, dissolved the Congress, and declared himself dictator.
He had previously told the U.S. Minister to Mexico, Joel R. Poinsett, 1824:
"I threw up my cap for liberty with great ardor...but very soon found the folly of it. A hundred years to come my people will not be fit for liberty.
They do not know what it is, unenlightened as they are ... A despotism is the proper government for them."
Due Mexico's continual upheaval, others areas of Latin America declared themselves not only independent of Spain, but also independent from Mexico.
After innumerable battles, there areas became the countries of:
- El Salvador,
- Costa Rica,
- Honduras, and
European powers, such as England, France, Belgium, and Germany endeavored to intervene in the unstable conditions of Central America and the Caribbean.
Texas also wanted to break away from Mexico.
Santa Anna decided to brutally crush these sentiments.
Major conflicts included:
Battle of Velasco, Jun. 26, 1832;
Battle of Gonzales, Oct. 2, 1835;
Battle of Goliad, Oct. 9, 1835;
Battle of Concepcion, Oct. 28, 1835;
Siege of Béxar ends, Dec. 11, 1835;
Battle of the Alamo, Feb. 23-Mar. 6, 1836;
Texas Declaration of Independence, Mar. 2, 1836;
Goliad Massacre, Mar. 27, 1836;
Battle of San Jacinto, Apr. 21, 1836.
In 1836, Texas became independent from Mexico, similar to the countries of Central America.
Texas decided to join the Union, becoming the 28th U.S. State in 1845.
The Mexican-American War began in April 25, 1846.
It ended on FEBRUARY 2, 1848, with the Treaty of Guadalupe, signed at the altar of the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Villa Hidalgo, in present day Mexico City.
For $15 million dollars, coincidentally the same amount paid to France for the Louisiana Purchase, the United States purchased from Mexico 525,000 square miles -- the third largest land purchase in history.
The largest land purchase was the Louisiana Purchase of 828,000 square miles from France, and the second largest land purchase was the 586,412 square miles of Alaska from Russia after it lost the Crimean War to Britain.
The land acquired by the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo became the U.S. States of:
and parts of:
- Kansas ,
- New Mexico,
- Colorado, and
The Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo began:
"In the Name of Almighty God -- the United States and the United Mexican States animated by a sincere desire to put an end to the calamities of the war ...
have, under the protection of Almighty God, the Author of Peace, arranged, agreed upon, and signed the following Treaty of Peace ..."
In contrast to Mexico's many secular governments, the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo guaranteed:
"If ... God forbid ... war should unhappily break out ... they ... solemnly pledge ... the following rules ...
All churches, hospitals, schools, colleges, libraries, and other establishments for charitable and beneficent purposes, shall be respected,
and all persons connected with the same protected in the discharge of their duties, and the pursuit of their vocations ...
Done at the city of Guadalupe Hidalgo, the 2ND DAY OF FEBRUARY, in the year of the Lord one thousand eight hundred and forty-eight."
After the Mexican-America War ended with the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, Santa Anna consolidated power to ensure his continued rule, but this led to resistance led by Benito Juárez.
In 1853, Juárez had to flee in exile to New Orleans, where he worked in a cigar factory.
In 1854, Benito Juárez plotted the Revolution of Ayutla to oust Santa Anna from being dictator, forcing him to resign in 1855.
This resulted in a power vacuum, and the Catholic Church was caught in the middle.
Beginning in 1521, the Catholic Church in Mexico acted as a conscience of the nation, influencing the elite to be considerate of the poor.
The Church, though, did not actively attempt to change the political structure.
This was the accepted Christian attitude that existed from the times of the Romans to the missionaries sent to Japan and China, for if the Church had a reputation of fomenting popular rebellion against rulers, it would not have been allowed entrance into these empires.
As a result, Mexico's political revolutionaries blamed the Church for somehow helping to perpetuate the status quo of class inequality.
In 1856, a War of Reform broke out, which ended with significant limitations placed on the Church.
After political maneuvering, Benito Juárez became President in 1858.
As a Free Mason, he founded the Rito Nacional Mexicano Lodge.
Juárez stopped Mexico's repayment of loans borrowed from Spain, Britain and France, thus instigating European intervention.
Many in Mexico opposed Juárez.
In 1861, a delegation of Mexican leaders traveled to Europe and asked Maximillian I, the younger brother of the Austro-Hungarian Emperor Franz Joseph I, to come to Mexico to restore order.
Meanwhile, in order to get repayment of debts, the French forces of Napoleon III invaded Mexico, suffering a minor unexpected setback at the Battle of Puebla on May 5 -- Cinco de Mayo -- 1862.
The French quickly recovered and took control of Mexico.
In the United States, the Civil War was taking place during this time.
In 1864, Maximillian I finally agreed to the invitation to rule Mexico, arriving with the blessing of Pope Pius IX in 1864, being greeted by an enthusiastic reception.
Maximillian, and his wife, Carlota, proceeded to enact many civil reforms to help the poor.
After the Civil War, the United States Government invoked the Monroe Doctrine, and insisted no European power intervene in the western hemisphere.
The United States pressured Napoleon III to abandon support of Maximillian, which he did by withdrawing all French troops from Mexico.
In 1866, the U.S. began secretly supplying some 30,000 "decommissioned" Civil War rifles to arm Mexican gangs near El Paso del Norte, across the Rio Grande from the Mexican Juarista garrison.
Democrat President Andrew Johnson allegedly had the Army "lose" ammunition, as U.S. General Philip Sheridan recounted in his memoirs, that he supplied arms to Juárez's forces: "... which we left at convenient places on our side of the river to fall into their hands."
This caused domestic violence and insurrection, which undermined Maximillian's government.
A more recent example occurred during the 44th President's Administration, "Operation Fast and Furious," reported by Reuters, June 15, 2011:
"Agents told lawmakers ... they were instructed to only watch as hundreds of guns were ... sent to Mexico ...
'We monitored as they purchased handguns, AK-47 variants and .50 caliber rifles, almost daily at times,' John Dodson, an ATF special agent in Phoenix, told the committee ... The agents complained they were ordered to break off surveillance of the firearms."
With the threat of the U.S. clandestinely backing Benito Juárez, many of Maximilian's supporters abandoned him, and he was captured.
European leaders pleaded for Maximillian's life to be spared, with even French author Victor Hugo sending a telegram.
Benito Juárez refused international pleas and, without a trial, mercilessly had Maximillian shot on June 19, 1867, even displaying his corpse afterwards.
Juárez became Mexico's 26th President.
Following the example of previous Mexican leaders, Benito Juárez consolidated power to ensure his re-election.
This let to a revolt led by Porfirio Diaz in 1871.
Juárez brutally put down the revolt, but died of a heart attack shortly thereafter, being succeeded by Lerdo de Tejada, Mexico's 27th President.
Lerdo de Tejada was overthrown by Porfirio Diaz.
Diaz was Mexico's 29th President, for most of the time from 1876 to 1911.
Following the example of previous Mexican leaders, Porfirio Diaz consolidated power to ensure his re-elections.
This let to a revolt led by Francisco Madero in 1911, who was Mexico's 33rd President.
In the next decade of fighting, millions died as the secular Mexican government attempted to crush the church and silence political dissent.
In 1913, Francisco Madero was murdered in a coup d'etat planned by Victoriano Huerta, who was supported by U.S. Ambassador to Mexico, Henry Lane Wilson.
Huerta became Mexico's 35th President, running the country as a military dictatorship.
A civil war soon followed.
Huerta arranged for Germany to ship him arms and munitions on the steamer SS Ypiranga, but it was intercepted on April 24, 1914, by a U.S. arms embargo, put in place by President Woodrow Wilson.
Just prior to the start of World War I, Pancho Villa, Emiliano Zapata and Álvaro Obregón supported Venustiano Carranza in a campaign to overthrow Huerta.
In 1914, Hollywood sent a crew to film the silent movie "The Life of General Villa," starring Pancho Villa, as he fought from Durango to Mexico City.
Antonio Banderas was cast as Pancho Villa in the 2003 film "And Starring Pancho Villa as Himself."
Marlon Brando played Emiliano Zapata in the 1952 movie "Viva Zapata!"
Villa, Zapata, Obregón, and Carranza forced Huerta to resign.
There was a German-infiltrated plan to restore Huerta to power, but it was thwarted. He was arrested and put into a U.S. prison, where he died, possibly from poisoning.
Carranza became Mexico's 37th President.
Soon, Zapata and Villa turned against Carranza.
President Woodrow Wilson at first backed Pancho Villa, but after his raid on Columbus, New Mexico in 1916, Wilson switched to backing Carranza.
Wilson needed Mexican oil for fighting Germany during World War I.
Wilson lifted the arms embargo on Mexico in order to supply arms to Carranza.
Carranza decimated Pancho Villa's troops at the Battle of Celaya, April 1915.
Villa lost an estimated 4,000 men and 6,000 captured, because Carranza was using advanced World War I barbed wire and machine guns.
Carranza took control of Mexico and had a new constitution written in 1917. He then arranged for the assassination of Zapata.
Carranza, himself, was assassinated in 1920.
He was succeeded by Mexico's 38th President, Adolfo de la Huerta, not to be confused with Victoriano Huerta.
He was defeated in the next election by Álvaro Obregón, in 1920, who became Mexico's 39th President.
Obregón reportedly ordered the death Pancho Villa.
A revolt against Obregón was started by Adolfo de la Huerta, but it was crushed and Huerta fled in exile.
In 1924, Obregón was succeeded by the aggressively anti-christian freemason, Plutarco Elías Calles, Mexico's 40th President.
He violently closed and confiscated churches, schools, convents, hospitals, seminaries, missions and monasteries.
Calles imposed radical atheist "Calles Laws." which made it illegal for clerical garb to be worn outside a church, imposed a 5-year prison sentence on pastors who criticized the government, and limited the number of clergy per state.
This began another war, as portrayed in the movie, For Greater Glory: Viva Crista Rey (2012), starring Andy Garcia, Eva Longoria, Oscar Isaac, Bruce Greenwood, Rubén Blades, and Peter O'Toole.
This resulted in the Cristero War, 1926-29, where over 90,000 were killed.
Mexico's priests, ministers, and faithful laity were harassed, arrested and murdered. Catholic women and girls were assaulted and raped.
Obregón was re-elected in 1928, but at a banquet in his honor he was assassinated, allowing Calles to return to power.
Calles was nicknamed "Grand Turk" and "Jefe Máximo" (political chieftain).
He promoted revolutionary socialism, and had Mexico host the Soviet Union's first embassy in any country.
Calles started Mexico's PNR party, the predecessor to the PRI party.
President Portes Gil, Mexico's 41st President, agreed not to enforce the "Calles Laws" but left them on the books.
In 1936, Mexico's 44th President, Lázaro Cárdenas, deported Calles and repealed the "Calles Laws," thereby restoring a degree of freedom of religion.
Commenting on why revolutions in other countries are so different from America's, Californian Ronald Reagan stated of America in 1961:
"In this country of ours, took place the greatest revolution that has ever taken place in world's history. The only true revolution.
Every other revolution simply exchanged one set of rulers for another."
President Millard Fillmore stated, December 6, 1852:
"Our own free institutions were not the offspring of our Revolution. They existed before.
They were planted in the free charters of self-government under which the English colonies grew up, and our Revolution only freed us from the dominion of a foreign power whose government was at variance with those institutions ...
(Other) nations have had no such training for self-government, and every effort to establish it by bloody revolutions has been, and must without that preparation continue to be, a failure."
This topic is discussed in detail in the book "Who is the King in America?-And Who are the Counselors to the King?: An Overview of 6,000 Years of History & Why America is Unique."
Since America became independent of Britain and Mexico became independent of Spain, there have been stark contrasts in the health, safety and economic status north and south of the border.
This is most obvious when comparing border cities:
San Diego -- Tiajuana;
El Paso -- Juárez;
Laredo -- Nuevo Laredo;
Brownsville -- Matamoros;
McAllen -- Reynosa.
During the same period of time, Mexico has had dozen of different governments, while the United States, other than the Civil War, has had only one.
As both sides of the border have similar climate, geography, plants, and in many cases cultural-racial makeup, reasons for the disparity must lie deeper.
One issue is that Mexico has been subjected to foreign entanglements from countries like Spain, France, Germany, and the United States.
Treaties like GATT and NAFTA led to a devaluing of the Mexican currency which favored multi-national corporations and globalist financial interests at the expense of bankrupting small Mexican farmers and displacing rural populations.
Another issue was highlighted June 27, 2012, when U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder was held in contempt of Congress for his role in supplying guns to Mexican drug gangs through "Operation Fast and Furious."
It was later discovered that some of these guns were used to kill Americans. Holder later resigned.
Another issue developing is how fundamentalist Muslims infiltrate drug gangs.
Growing numbers of those entering America across the southern border are OTMs (Other Than Mexicans).
Many come from Islamic countries such as:
- Indonesia, and
Among the political differences north and south of the border is America's view of the purpose of government.
The Declaration of Independence explained that government was not to dominate, but to secure to each person their Creator-given rights:
"All men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights ... That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men."
America's impartial system of rule of law was meant to guarantee there would never be rule by the whims and caprices of a dictator.
President Millard Fillmore stated December 6, 1852:
"Liberty unregulated by law degenerates into anarchy, which soon becomes the most horrid of all despotisms ...
We owe these blessings, under Heaven, to the happy Constitution and Government which were bequeathed to us by our fathers, and which it is our sacred duty to transmit in all their integrity to our children."
President Ronald Reagan, who had been California's 33rd Governor, stated in 1983:
"Of the many influences that have shaped the United States of America into a distinctive nation and people, none may be said to be more fundamental and enduring than the Bible ...
The Bible and its teaching helped form the basis for the founding fathers' abiding belief in the inalienable rights of the individual, rights which they found implicit in the Bible's teachings of the inherent worth and dignity of each individual."