Cortés conquered the Aztecs in 1521, and for the next 300 years, New Spain, which included Latin America and parts of North and South America, was ruled by Catholic Spain.
In 1808, Napoleon, who was a secular leader, invaded Catholic Spain and put his brother Joseph Bonaparte on the Spanish throne. Many in Catholic New Spain questioned their allegiance to this secular French king on the Spanish throne.
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Simon Bolivar led a revolution against Spain, which led to the independence of Venezuela, Colombia (which included Panama), Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia, northern Peru, western Guyana and northwest Brazil. In Mexico, in the year 1810, a priest named Hidalgo put the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe on a banner and led thousands of poor peasants to revolt. Hidalgo, considered the Father of the Nation of Mexico, was executed, but his movement led to Mexico's independence.
From 1821 to 1857, 50 different governments ruled Mexico.
Revolts and revolutions in Mexico usually began with class warfare of the poor being organized to overthrow the rich, but ended with power-grabs by revolutionary leaders who became dictators themselves.
Agustín de Iturbide first fought against Hidalgo, but then switched to fight Spain. Iturbide made himself Emperor of Mexico, placing the crown on his own head in 1822. Antonio López de Santa Anna, Vicente Guerrero and others conspired against him and he fled to Britain. Upon his return Iturbide was executed.
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Mexico was then ruled by a Supreme Executive Power, followed in 1824 by its first president, Guadalupe Victoria, who was the only president to complete his full term in more than 30 years of an independent Mexico. Manuel Gómez Pedraza won the second election, but Vicente Guerrero and Antonio López de Santa Anna staged a coup d'état, bombarding the palace. Vicente Guerrero became president in 1829, but was deposed and executed by his Vice President Bustamante. Vice 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, laid aside Mexico's Constitution in 1835, dissolved the Congress, and declared himself dictator.
Santa Anna 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."
After Mexico had declared its independence from Spain in 1821, others wanted independence from Mexico, beginning in 1823 with what became El Salvador, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua.
The dictator Santa Ana wanted to crush similar sentiments in Texas. Major events included:
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- 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 1845, Texas became the 28th U.S. state. The Mexican-American War began in April 25, 1846 and ended Feb. 2, 1848 with the Treaty of Guadalupe (more below).
Santa Ana consolidated power to ensure his continued rule, but this led to resistance led by Benito Juarez. In 1853, Benito Juarez fled in exile to New Orleans and worked in a cigar factory. In 1854, Benito Juarez plotted the Revolution of Ayutla to oust Santa Ana from being dictator, forcing him to resign in 1855. This resulted in a power vacuum, and the church was caught in the middle.
Beginning in 1521, the church in Mexico acted as a conscience influencing the elite to be considerate of the poor. The church, though, did not actively attempt to change the political structure and as a result was blamed by political revolutionaries for somehow maintaining the status quo of inequality.
In 1856, a War of Reform broke out against the church, ending with significant limitations placed upon it.
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After political maneuvering, Benito Juarez became president in 1858. As a Free Mason, Benito Juarez founded the Rito Nacional Mexicano lodge. Benito Juarez stopped Mexico's repayment of loans borrowed from Spain, Britain and France, thus instigating European intervention. In 1861, a delegation of Mexican leaders traveled to Europe and asked Maximillian I, the younger brother of the Austrian 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 recovered and took control of Mexico.
Maximillian I agreed to rule Mexico, arriving with the Pope's blessing in 1864, being greeted by an enthusiastic reception. Maximillian proceeded to enact many civil reforms to help the poor. The United States government, though, did not want European powers intervening in the western hemisphere. After the Civil War, the United States pressured Napoleon III to abandon support of Maximillian, which he did by withdrawing all French troops from Mexico.
The U.S. then began to secretly supply guns to Mexican gangs to cause domestic violence and insurrection. Maximilian was captured and Benito Juárez had him shot, June 19, 1867.
Following the example of previous Mexican leaders, Benito Juarez continued the practice of consolidating power to ensure his re-election. This let to a revolt led by Porfirio Diaz in 1871. Juarez put down the revolt, but died of a heart attack and was succeeded by Lerdo de Tejada. Lerdo de Tejada was overthrown by Porfirio Diaz.
Porfirio Diaz was president for most of 1876 to 1911. Following the example of previous Mexican leaders, Porfirio Diaz continued the practice of consolidating power to ensure his re-elections. This let to a revolt led by Francisco Madero in 1911.
In the next decade of fighting, millions died as the secular Mexican government attempted to crush the church and political dissent. Francisco Madero was murdered in a coup d'Etat in 1913 by Victoriano Huerta, which started a civil war. Pancho Villa, Emiliano Zapata and Álvaro Obregón forced Victoriano Huerta to resign. In 1914, Hollywood sent a crew to film Pancho Villa as he fought from Durango to Mexico City.
Venustiano Carranza gained power with the backing of U.S. President Woodrow Wilson and General Pershing. Venustiano Carranza was assassinated in 1920, and was succeeded by Adolfo de la Huerta, who was then succeeded by the revolutionary Álvaro Obregón. Obregón reportedly ordered the death of every rebel officer, including Pancho Villa.
Adolfo de la Huerta started a revolt against Álvaro Obregón, but it was crushed. In 1924, Obregón was succeeded by the aggressively anti-christian freemason, Plutarco Elías Calles, who violently closed and confiscated churches, schools, convents, hospitals, seminaries, missions and monasteries.
Plutarco Elías Calles enacted radical atheist "Calles Laws" which made it illegal for clerical garb to be worn outside a church, imposed a five-year prison sentence on pastors who criticized the government, and limited the number of clergy per state.
As portrayed in the movie "For Greater Glory: Viva Crista Rey" (2012), priests, ministers, and faithful laity were harassed, arrested and even murdered. Catholic women and girls were assaulted and raped. This resulted in the Cristero War, 1926-29, where over 90,000 were killed. Obregón was again elected in 1928, but was soon assassinated.
Calles again assumed power, being nicknamed "Grand Turk" and "Jefe Máximo" (political chieftain). Promoting revolutionary socialism, Calles 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 agreed not to enforce the "Calles Laws" but left them on the books.
In 1936, President Lázaro Cárdenas deported Calles and repealed the "Calles Laws," thereby restoring some semblance of freedom of worship.
But back to 1848 ...
When the Mexican-American War ended on Feb. 2, 1848, the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo was signed at the altar of the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Villa Hidalgo, in present-day Mexico City.
For $15 million, 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: California, Nevada, Utah, and parts of: Arizona, Texas, Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Colorado and Wyoming.
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."
Since the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo, there developed a stark contrast in the safety and economic status of the land north of the border and the land south of the border. This is most obvious when comparing border cities of San Diego, El Paso, Laredo, and Brownsville with Tiajuana, Juárez, Matamoros, and Nuevo Laredo.
During the same period of time that Mexico has had several dozen different governments, the United States, other than the period of the Civil War, has had only one.
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."
As both sides of the border have similar climate, geography, plants, and in many cases similar cultural-racial makeup, reasons for the disparity must lie deeper. Increasing concern is developing over Islamic infiltration of Mexican drug gangs.
Growing numbers of those entering America across the southern border are OTMs (Other Than Mexicans). Many come from Islamic countries such as: Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Egypt, Pakistan, Yemen, Qatar, Algeria, Somalia, Malaysia, Libya, Eritrea, Indonesia and Lebanon.
Among the political differences north and south of the border are America's Judeo-Christian traditions of self-government. The Declaration of Independence explained 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 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."
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