Coatlicue Timeline

Coatlicue Timeline

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Aztec Art History

To understand Aztec art history, we need to ask where the art came from and how it developed over time. Actually, these aren't easy questions to come from when we're talking about the peoples of the Aztec empire. Art developed in a different way that it did in other civilizations.

Perhaps it will help to think about what came before the Aztecs, and what might have followed if their civilization had survived. The artistic styles that became popular had been developing for hundreds and thousands of years. Some elements of Aztec art came from the peoples at the heart of the empire (such as the Mexicas), and some came from the peoples that they conquered.

As an empire that was quickly expanding and conquering, there may have been little time to develop new art forms. The excitement came from the new materials and discoveries that became available as the area of influence expanded. Had the civilization survived a few hundred years more, perhaps art would have developed more.

As it is, it's hard to develop a good history of art in the Aztec world, because the changes over time were very minimal. Sometimes pottery or recorded history that is discovered around the art piece is what archaeologists use to date it.

There is another place art forms may have come from, and that is the Mixtec people. Never conquered by the Aztecs, these people maintained a vibrant culture which seems to have influenced their neighbours.

Adapting art forms

Aztec art history is really more of a history of adapting the art forms that were already there. The nobles and religious leaders controlled a lot of the art that survives today. Temples and palaces were richly adorned - the carved thrones of rulers, the terrifying gods wearing the skins of humans and animals.

The themes seem to be highly religious, very emotionless and strongly influenced by the warrior culture. Though much Aztec art was very realistic, it lost the liveliness and feeling that much of the art of earlier cultures demonstrated. Unlike other peoples' art, Aztec art rarely showed women and children. Warriors, gods, and the adorning of royal, religious or military objects was common. (more about Aztec art history here)

The statue to the right is Coatlicue, the Aztec goddess.

Deeper into Aztec art history

References: The Art of Mesoamerica: From Olmec to Aztec by Mary Ellen Miller Aztec Art by Esther Pasztory Pre-Columbian Art by Ferdinand Anton "The Sacred and the Profane: Two Faces of Mesoamerican Art" by Jacques Soustelle, UNESCO Courier 1984

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Coatlicue Timeline - History

In 1790, workers repaving Mexico City's main plaza unwittingly unearthed two enormous Aztec stone monuments—both had been buried after the destruction of the Aztec capital city, Tenochtitlan, in the 16th century. Within two years, Antonio de León y Gama (1735–1802), a Creole intellectual, published a description and interpretation of these works, the Coatlicue, which can be seen in the Vistas gallery, and the Calendar Stone.

Across the colonial period, Mexico City had largely effaced the remnants of the Aztec capital city, Tenochtitlan. The first conquerors and missionaries had destroyed most Aztec monuments, seeing them as potential sources for native "idolatry." Likewise, Aztec buildings were dismantled, their materials recycled. In the late 18th century, however, Aztec monuments and histories began to generate new interest. León y Gama's work provides an early example of this new interest.

A well–educated man, Antonio de León y Gama understood scientific procedures of his day and Enlightenment thinking, and brought both to bear in his analysis—which includes a drawing from multiple perspectives. This excerpt seeks to explain the unfamiliar iconography of a female earth deity through careful observation of the ancient statue and reference to earlier colonial sources. León y Gama calls the figure Teoyaomiqui, although today it is known as Coatlicue. The engraved image of the Coatlicue sculpture that was published along with his account is included in the Vistas Gallery.

While the Coatlicue statue was discovered accidentally, it was moved to the University in Mexico City which also housed other archaeological works, early colonial manuscripts and archives, yet the Coatlicue would soon be reburied. This excerpt provides a description of an work not widely available for public viewing at the time. Only after Mexico gained its Independence from Spain, did the Coatlicue remain permanently above ground, and today, it stands in the Hall of the Mexica of the Museo Nacional de Antropología in Mexico City.


In 1932 Wilhelm Valentiner, director of the Detroit Institute of Art, commissioned Mexican artist Diego Rivera to paint 27 fresco murals depicting the industries of Detroit in the interior courtyard of the museum . [3] Rivera was chosen for the project because he had just completed a mural at the California School of Fine Arts (now the San Francisco Art Institute) that displayed his painterly ability as well as his interest in the modern industrial culture of the United States. As outlined in the terms of the commission , the DIA agreed to pay all expenses toward materials, while Rivera was would pay his assistants from his artist's fee. [3] Edsel Ford contributed $20,000 to make the commission possible.

Excerpt from commission proposal to Rivera from Valentiner.

Rivera started the project by researching the facilities at the Ford River Rouge Complex. He spent three months touring all of the plants, preparing hundreds of sketches and concepts for the mural. [3] He also had a photographer assigned to him as aid for Rivera's research in finding visual reference material. The photographer was W. J. Stettler, who was Ford's official photographer for the River Rouge plant. [3] Rivera was truly amazed by the technology and modernity of Detroit's plants. Although intrigued with the auto industry and its related elements, he also expressed an interest in the pharmaceutical industry. He spent some time at the Parke-Davis pharmaceutical plant in Detroit to conduct research for his commission at the DIA.

Rivera completed the commission in eight months, a relatively short amount of time for such a large and complex work. To do so, Rivera and his assistants had an exhausting work schedule, routinely working fifteen-hour days without breaks between. Rivera lost 100 lbs over the course of the project because of the rigorous work. He had a reputation for paying his assistants poorly, and at one point they protested for higher pay during the project.

Rivera started working on the mural in 1932, during the Great Depression. In Detroit one out of four laborers were unemployed, and workers at the Ford Motor Company were agitating for improvements to pay and conditions. 6,000 workers went on strike, but their effort was sabotaged. Five men died in violence and other workers were wounded. Rivera was likely inspired by the charged atmosphere of protest against one of the world's most powerful industries. [ citation needed ]

During this period, Detroit had an advanced industrial economy, and it was the site of the largest manufacturing industry of the world. [3] In 1927, the Ford Motor Company was introducing advanced technological improvements for their assembly line, one of which was the revolutionary automated car assembly line. The Detroit automotive industry was vertically integrated, with the capacity to manufacture every component for their motor cars, something considered an industrial marvel at the time.

In addition, Detroit had factories that produced diverse goods and commodities ranging from steel, electric power, and cement. Although well known for the mass production of motor cars, Detroit also manufactured ships, tractors, and airplanes. This impressive integrated industrial manufacturing center is what Rivera sought to capture in his work at the Detroit Institute of Art the series was later known as the Detroit Industry Murals.

The two largest murals of the 27 completed by Rivera are located on the north and south walls of the interior court, now known as the Rivera Court. The murals depict the workers at the Ford River Rouge Complex in Dearborn, Michigan.

The two largest murals, on the north and south walls of the court, are considered the climax to the narrative that Rivera depicted in the total of 27 panels. The north wall puts the worker at center and depicts the manufacturing process of Ford's famous 1932 V8 engine. [3] The mural also explores the relationship between man and the machine. In an age of mechanical production, the boundary between man and the machine was a commonly explored theme. While machines were made to imitate the abilities of man, and men had to respond to machines, workers and leaders were concerned about ethical rights for the working-class majority. Rivera also incorporated such elements as images of blasting furnaces that made iron ore, foundries making molds for parts, conveyor belts carrying the cast parts, machining operations, and inspections. Rivera depicted the entire manufacturing process on the large north side mural. On the right and left side he portrayed the chemical industry: juxtaposing scientists producing poison gas for warfare and scientists who are producing vaccines for medical purposes.

On the opposite side of the north wall, Rivera depicts the manufacturing process of the exterior automobile parts, focusing on technology as an important quality of the future. He allegorizes this concept through one of the huge parts-pressing machines depicted in the mural. The machine is meant to symbolize the creation story of the Aztec goddess Coatlicue. [4]

In Aztec mythology indigenous to Mexico, Coatlicue was the mother of the gods. She gave birth to the moon, stars, and Huitzilopochtli, the god of the sun and war. The story of Coatlicue was important to the Aztecs and summarized the complexity of their culture and religious beliefs. Critics have suggested that Rivera contrasted the Aztec story with the role and place of modern technology. It had become so important culturally that at times it was supported and defended as passionately as a new religion promising a better future to mankind. [4]

Rivera was a controversial choice for this art project, as he was known to follow Marxist philosophy. The Depression had disrupted the faith in the US in industrial and economic progress. Some critics viewed the murals as Marxist propaganda. When the murals were completed, the Detroit Institute for the Arts invited various clergymen to comment. Catholic and Episcopalian clergy condemned the murals as blasphemous. The Detroit News protested that they were "vulgar" and "un-american." As a result of the controversy, 10,000 people visited the museum on a single Sunday, and the city increased its budget.

One panel on the North wall features a Christ-like child figure with golden hair reminiscent of a halo. Flanking it on the right is a horse (rather than the donkey of Christian tradition) on the left is an ox. Directly below are several sheep, an animal included in traditional Nativity scenes. It also represents Christ as Agnus Dei (Lamb of God). A doctor fills the role of Joseph and a nurse that of Mary together they are administering a vaccination to the child. In the background three scientists, like biblical Magi, are engaged in what appears to be a research experiment. This part of the fresco is clearly a modern take on traditional images of the holy family, but some critics interpret it as parody rather than homage. [5]

Some art historians have suggested that Rivera's patron Edsel Ford stoked the controversy to generate publicity about the artwork. An exhibit at DIA in 2015 explored this theory. [5]

At its unveiling, this panel so offended some members of Detroit's religious community that they demanded it be destroyed, but commissioner Edsel Ford and DIA Director Wilhelm Valentiner held firm. It remains in place today. [6]

During the 1950s, the DIA erected a sign above the entrance to the Rivera Court that read:

Rivera's politics and his publicity seeking are detestable. But let's get the record straight on what he did here. He came from Mexico to Detroit, thought our mass production industries and our technology wonderful and very exciting, painted them as one of the great achievements of the twentieth century. This came after the debunking twenties when our artists and writers found nothing worthwhile in America and worst of all in America was the Middle West. Rivera saw and painted the significance of Detroit as a world city. If we are proud of this city's achievements, we should be proud of these paintings and not lose our heads over what Rivera is doing in Mexico today. [7]


Malinche is known by many names. [5] [6] She was baptized as Marina, [7] [8] and was referred to as such by the Spaniards, often preceded with honorific doña. [9] [10] The Nahuas called her 'Malintzin', derived from 'Malina' (a Nahuatl rendering of her Spanish name) and the honorific suffix -tzin. [11] According to the historian Camilla Townsend, the vocative suffix -e is sometimes added at the end of the name, giving the form Malintzine, which would be shortened to 'Malintze', and heard by the Spaniards as 'Malinche'. [11] [a] Another possibility is that the Spaniards simply did not hear the 'whispered' -n of the name Malintzin. [13]

Her name at birth is unknown. [7] [14] [15] It has been popularly assumed since at least the 19th century [16] that she was originally named 'Malinalli' [b] (Nahuatl for 'grass'), after the day sign on which she was supposedly born, [19] and that Marina was chosen as her Christian name on account of phonetic similarity, [17] but modern historians have rejected these propositions. [7] [16] The Nahuas associate the day sign 'Malinalli' with bad or even 'evil' connotations, [7] [19] [20] and they are known to avoid using such day signs as personal names. [7] [21] Moreover, there would be little reason for the Spaniards to ask the natives what their personal names were before christening them with similar-sounding Spanish names. [22]

Another title that is often assumed to be part of her original name is 'Tenepal'. In the annotation made by the Nahua historian Chimalpahin on his copy of Gómara's biography of Cortés, 'Malintzin Tenepal' is used repeatedly in reference to Malinche. [16] [23] According to the linguist and historian Frances Karttunen, Tenepal is probably derived from the Nahuatl root tene which means “lip-possessor, one who speaks vigorously” [14] or “one who has a facility with words”, [24] and postposition -pal, which means “by means of”. [14] The historian James Lockhart, however, suggests that Tenepal might be derived from tenenepil or "somebody's tongue". [25] In any case, it seems that 'Malintzin Tenepal' was intended to be a calque of Spanish doña Marina la lengua, [13] [25] with la lengua ("the interpreter", literally "the tongue" [26] ) being her Spanish sobriquet. [16]

Background Edit

Malinche's birthdate is unknown, [17] but it is estimated to be around 1500, and likely no later than 1505. [27] [28] [c] She was born in an altepetl that was either a part or a tributary of a Mesoamerican state whose center was located on the bank of the Coatzacoalcos River to the east of the Aztec Empire. [29] [d] Records disagree about the exact name of the altepetl where she was born. [33] [34] In three unrelated legal proceedings that occurred not long after her death, various witnesses who claimed to have known her personally, including her own daughter, said that she was born in Olutla. The probanza of her grandson also mentioned Olutla as her birthplace. [33] Her daughter also added that the altepetl of Olutla was related to Tetiquipaque, although the nature of this relationship is unclear. [35] In the Florentine Codex, Malinche's homeland is mentioned as "Teticpac", which is most likely the singular form of Tetiquipaque. [36] Gómara writes that she came from "Uiluta" (presumably a variant of Olutla), although he departs from other sources by writing that it was in the region of Jalisco. Díaz, on the other hand, gives "Painalla" as her birthplace. [37] [33]

Her family is reported to be of noble background [37] Gómara writes that her father was related to a local ruler, [38] while Díaz recounts that her parents themselves were rulers. [39] Townsend notes that while Olutla at the time probably had a Popoluca majority, the ruling elite, which Malinche supposedly belonged to, would have been Nahuatl-speaking. [40] Another hint that supports her noble origin is her apparent ability to understand the courtly language of tecpillahtolli (“lordly speech”), a Nahuatl register that is significantly different from the commoner's speech and has to be learned. [41] [42] The fact that she was often referred to as a doña, at the time when it was not commonly used even in Spain, also indicates that she was viewed as a noblewoman, [18] although it is also possible that the honorific was attributed to her because of her important role in the conquest. [15]

Probably between the age of 8 and 12, [43] Malinche was either sold or kidnapped into slavery. [13] [44] Díaz famously wrote that after her father's death, she was given away to merchants by her mother and stepfather so that their own son (Malinche's stepbrother) could succeed as heir. [45] [46] Scholars, historians and literary critics alike, have cast doubt upon Díaz's account of her origin, in large part due to his strong emphasis on Catholicism throughout his narration of the events. [18] [45] [47] In particular, historian Sonia Rose de Fuggle analyzes Díaz's over-reliance on polysyndeton (which mimics the sentence structure of a number of Biblical stories) as well as his overarching portrayal of Malinche as an ideal Christian woman. [48] Nevertheless, Townsend considers it likely that some of her people were complicit in trafficking her, regardless of the reason. [43] Malinche was taken to Xicalango, [49] a major port city in the region. [50] She was later purchased by a group of Chontal Maya who brought her to the town of Potonchán. It was here that Malinche started to learn the Chontal Maya language, and perhaps also Yucatec Maya. [51] [e] This would later enable her to communicate with Jerónimo de Aguilar, another interpreter for Cortes who also spoke Yucatec Maya, alongside his native Spanish. [54]

The conquest of Mexico Edit

— Report from the emissaries to Moctezuma. Florentine Codex, Book XII, Chapter IX [55]

Early in his expedition to Mexico, Cortés was confronted by the Mayas at Potonchán. [39] In ensuing battle, the Mayas suffered significant loss of lives and asked for peace. In the following days, they presented the Spaniards with gifts of food and gold, as well as twenty enslaved women including Malinche. [56] [57] The women were baptized and distributed among Cortés's men, not only as servants, but also to be raped. [58] [54] [59] Malinche was given to Alonso Hernández Puertocarrero, one of Cortés's captains [54] who was also a first cousin to the count of Cortés's hometown, Medellín. [60]

Malinche's linguistic gift was discovered [61] when the Spaniards encountered the Nahuatl-speaking people at San Juan de Ulúa. [54] [62] Moctezuma's emissaries had come to inspect them, [63] but Aguilar could not understand them. [62] [64] When it was realized that Malinche could converse with the emissaries (according to Gómara) Cortés promised her “more than liberty” if she would help him find and communicate with Moctezuma. [37] [62] Cortés took Malinche back from Puertocarrero, [54] who was later given another Indigenous woman before he was sent back to Spain. [65] [66] Through Aguilar and Malinche, Cortés talked with Moctezuma's emissaries. The emissaries also brought artists to make paintings of Malinche, Cortés, and the rest of the group, as well as their ships and weapons, to be sent as records for Moctezuma. [67] [68] Díaz later said that the Nahuas also addressed Cortés as "Malinche" [69] [54] they apparently took her as a point of reference for the group. [70] [f]

From then on, Malinche would work with Aguilar to bridge communication between the Spaniards and the Nahuas [34] [67] Cortés would speak Spanish with Aguilar, who translated into Yucatec Maya for Malinche, who in turn translated into Nahuatl, before reversing the process. [73] The translation chain grew even longer when, after the emissaries left, they met the Totonacs, [74] whose language was not understood by either Malinche or Aguilar. There, Malinche asked for Nahuatl interpreters. [75] [76] Karttunen remarks that "it is a wonder any communication was accomplished at all", for Cortés's Spanish words had to be translated into Maya, Nahuatl, and Totonac before reaching the locals, whose answers then went back through the same chain. [75] It was from the meeting with the Totonacs that the Spaniards first learned of those who were hostile to Moctezuma. [76] [74] After founding the town of Villa Rica de la Vera Cruz in order to be freed from the legal restriction of what was supposed to be an exploratory mission, [77] the Spaniards stayed for two months in a nearby Totonac settlement, securing a formal alliance with the Totonacs and prepared for a march towards Tenochtitlan. [78] [79]

The first major polity that they encountered on the way to Tenochtitlan was Tlaxcala. [80] Although the Tlaxcalans were initially hostile to the Spaniards and their allies, [81] they later permitted the Spaniards to enter the city. [82] [83] The Tlaxcalans negotiated an alliance with the Spaniards through Malinche and Aguilar. Later Tlaxcalan records of this meeting feature scenes where Malinche appears prominent, bridging the communication between the two sides as the Tlaxcalans presented the Spaniards with gifts of food and noblewomen to cement the alliance. [69] [84] After several days in Tlaxcala, Cortés continued the journey to Tenochtitlan by the way of Cholula, accompanied by a large number of Tlaxcalan soldiers. [69] [85]

The Spaniards were received at Cholula and housed for several days, until, as the Spaniards claimed, the Cholulans stopped giving them food, dug secret pits, built a barricade around the city, and hid a large Aztec army in the outskirt in preparation for an attack against the Spaniards. [86] [69] Somehow, the Spaniards learned of this plot, and, in a preemptive strike, assembled and massacred the Cholulans. [87] Later accounts specifically claimed that the plot was uncovered by Malinche. According to the version provided by Díaz, she was approached by a Cholulan noblewoman who promised her a marriage to the woman's son if she were to switch sides. Malinche, pretending to go along with the suggestion, learned from the woman about the plot, and reported all the details to Cortés. [88] [89] This story has often been cited as an example of Malinche's “betrayal” to her people. [13] However, the veracity of the story has been refuted by modern historians such as Hassig and Townsend. [89] [90] In particular, Hassig suggests that Cortés, seeking stronger native alliances leading up to the invasion of Tenochtitlan, worked with the Tlaxcalans to coordinate the massacre. Cholula had previously supported Tlaxcala before joining the Aztec Empire one or two years prior, and losing them as an ally was a hard hit for the Tlaxcalans, whose state was now completely encircled by the Aztecs. [91] [90] [92] Hassig and other historians assert that the attack on the Cholulans was a "litmus test" from the Tlaxcalans for the Spaniards' trustworthiness. [93] [92] In reality, Malinche's "heroic" discovery of the purported plot was likely a fabricated story meant to provide greater political justification to the Spanish authorities who had not been present for the massacre. [89]

The combined forces reached Tenochtitlan in early November 1519, and was met by Moctezuma in a causeway leading to the city. [94] Malinche was in the middle of this event, translating the conversation between Cortés and Moctezuma. [44] [95] Gomara writes that Moctezuma was "speaking through Malinche and Aguilar", although other records indicate that Malinche was already translating directly, [44] as she had quickly learned some Spanish herself. [54] [96] Moctezuma's flowery speech delivered through Malinche at the meeting has been claimed by the Spaniards to represent a submission, but this interpretation is not followed by modern historians. [42] [95] The deferential nature of the speech can be explained by Moctezuma's usage of tecpillahtolli, a Nahuatl register known for its indirection and complex set of reverential affixes. [42] [97] Despite Malinche's apparent ability to understand tecpillahtolli, it is possible that some nuances were lost in translation, [42] and the Spaniards, deliberately or not, might have misinterpreted Moctezuma's actual words. [95]

Following the fall of Tenochtitlán in late 1521 and the birth of her son Martín Cortés in 1522, Marina stayed in a house Cortés built for her in the town of Coyoacán, eight miles south of Tenochtitlán, the Aztec capital city, while it was being rebuilt as Mexico City. Cortés took Marina to quell a rebellion in Honduras in 1524–1526 when she is seen serving again as interpreter (suggestive of a knowledge of Maya dialects beyond Chontal and Yucatán). While in the mountain town of Orizaba in central Mexico, she married Juan Jaramillo, a Spanish hidalgo. [98] Some contemporary scholars have estimated that she died less than a decade after the conquest of Mexico-Tenochtitlan at some point before February 1529. [99] [100] She was survived by her son Don Martín, who would be raised primarily by his father's family, and a daughter Doña María, who would be raised by Jaramillo and his second wife Doña Beatriz de Andrada. [101] Although Martín was Cortés's first-born son and eventual heir, his relation to Marina was poorly documented by prominent Spanish historians such as Francisco López de Gómara, who never referred to Marina by name, even in her work as Cortés's translator. [102] Even during Marina's lifetime, she spent little time with Martín, but her child with Cortés marked the symbolic beginning of the mestizo population in Mesoamerica among many scholars and historians following her death. [103]

Role in the conquest of Mexico Edit

For the conquistadores, having a reliable interpreter was important enough, but there is evidence that Marina's role and influence were larger still. Bernal Díaz del Castillo, a soldier who, as an old man, produced the most comprehensive of the eye-witness accounts, the Historia verdadera de la conquista de la Nueva España ("True Story of the Conquest of New Spain"), speaks repeatedly and reverentially of the "great lady" Doña Marina (always using the honorific title Doña). "Without the help of Doña Marina", he writes, "we would not have understood the language of New Spain and Mexico." Rodríguez de Ocaña, another conquistador, relates Cortés' assertion that after God, Marina was the main reason for his success.

The evidence from Indigenous sources is even more interesting, both in the commentaries about her role, and in her prominence in the codex drawings made of conquest events. Although to some Marina may be known as a traitor, she was not viewed as such by all the Tlaxcalan. In some depictions they portrayed her as "larger than life," [104] sometimes larger than Cortés, in rich clothing, and an alliance is shown between her and the Tlaxcalan instead of them and the Spaniards. They respected and trusted her and portrayed her in this light generations after the Spanish conquest. [104]

In the Lienzo de Tlaxcala (History of Tlaxcala), for example, not only is Cortés rarely portrayed without Marina poised by his side, but she is shown at times on her own, seemingly directing events as an independent authority. If she had been trained for court life, as in Díaz's account, her relationship to Cortés may have followed the familiar pattern of marriage among native elite classes. The role of the Nahua wife acquired through an alliance would have been to assist her husband achieve his military and diplomatic objectives. [105] [106]

Today's historians give great credit to Marina's diplomatic skills, with some "almost tempted to think of her as the real conqueror of Mexico." [107] In fact, old conquistadors on various occasions would remember that one of her greatest skills had been her ability to convince other Indians of what she herself could see clearly, which was that it was useless in the long run to stand against Spanish metal and Spanish ships. In contrast with earlier parts of Díaz del Castillo's account, after Marina's diplomacy began assisting Cortés, the Spanish were forced into combat on one more occasion. [108]

Had La Malinche not been part of the Conquest of Mexico for her linguistic gift, communication between the Spanish and the Indigenous would have been much harder. La Malinche knew to speak in different registers and tones between certain Indigenous tribes and people. For the Nahua audiences, she spoke rhetorically, formally, and high-handedly. This shift into formality gave the Nahua the impression that she was a noblewoman who knew what she was talking about. [109]

Malinche's image has become a mythical archetype that Hispanic American artists have represented in various forms of art. Her figure permeates historical, cultural, and social dimensions of Hispanic American cultures. [110] In modern times and in several genres, she is compared with the La Llorona (folklore story of the woman weeping for lost children), and the Mexican soldaderas (women who fought beside men during the Mexican Revolution) [111] for their brave actions.

La Malinche's legacy is one of myth mixed with legend, and the opposing opinions of the Mexican people about the legendary woman. Some see her as a founding figure of the Mexican nation, while others continue to see her as a traitor—as may be assumed from a legend that she had a twin sister who went North, and from the pejorative nickname La Chingada associated with her twin. [ citation needed ]

Feminist interventions into the figure of Malinche began in 1960s. The work of Rosario Castellanos was particularly significant Chicanas began to refer to her as a "mother" as they adopted her as symbolism for duality and complex identity. [112] Castellanos's subsequent poem "La Mallinche" recast her not as a traitor but as a victim. [113] Mexican feminists defended Malinche as a woman caught between cultures, forced to make complex decisions, who ultimately served as a mother of a new race. [114]

Today in Mexican Spanish, the words malinchismo and malinchista are used to denounce Mexicans who are perceived as denying their own cultural heritage by preferring foreign cultural expressions. [115]

Some historians believe that La Malinche saved her people from the Aztecs, who held a hegemony throughout the territory and demanded tribute from its inhabitants. Some Mexicans also credit her with having brought Christianity to the New World from Europe, and for having influenced Cortés to be more humane than he would otherwise have been. It is argued, however, that without her help, Cortés would not have been successful in conquering the Aztecs as quickly, giving the Aztec people enough time to adapt to new technology and methods of warfare. From that viewpoint, she is seen as one who betrayed the Indigenous people by siding with the Spaniards. Recently a number of feminist Latinas have decried such a categorization as scapegoating. [116]

President José López Portillo commissioned a sculpture of Cortés, Doña Marina, and their son Martín, which was placed in front of Cortés' house in the Coyoacan section of Mexico City. Once López Portillo left office, the sculpture was removed to an obscure park in the capital. [117]


CRISPER, an East LA cholo looking to break into the hip-hop world, and BENJAMIN, a nerdy white college kid working as a car stereo installer, were chosen by fate in the year 2015 when Crisper pulled into Echo Park Sound to get new subwoofers in his &lsquo64 Impala low rider. A gift from Crisper&rsquos archeologist uncle, Crisper was unaware of the ancient medallion his uncle had hidden in the trunk. After Benjamin cranked the bass from &ldquoTaylor Swift&rdquo levels, past &ldquoNikki Manaj&rdquo levels, then landing on &ldquoInternal Bleeding&rdquo levels, the medallion energized, creating a rip in the fabric of space-time. The two Aztec gods in charge of maintaining the timeline, COATLICUE and MICTLANTECUHTLI, send our heroes to various points in time in order to fix the continuum by fulfilling an Aztec prophecy known as &ldquoThe Journey of One Million Steps&rdquo.

However it becomes clear that &ldquoCoat&rdquo and &ldquoMick&rdquo are not even sure if this prophecy will work since it was written quickly one day right before a &ldquohuman sacrifice and brunch&rdquo. But they can&rsquot let the cat out of the bag either. Coat is looking to be the first female head of the Aztec Council, and Mick is one violation away from having his soul being erased from existence after he illegally interacted with humans to make USB connections needlessly frustrating. Since direct interaction with humans is a legal and bureaucratic nightmare, the gods have to rely on Benjamin and Crisper to help them fix the damage, even if they don&rsquot really know how to do it themselves.

From ancient Rome to the Civil War, French Revolution to Feudal Japan, our intrepid heroes, and the gods they&rsquore trusting with their lives, are in over their heads&hellip and trying not to lose them along the way. Will Crisper spit a freestyle to the founding fathers about how they are racists? Can Crisper get a Nordic village to try a &ldquobomb ass carne asada burrito?&rdquo Will Benjamin and Crisper stay alive long enough for Coat and Mick to figure out how to fix the timeline? Well, when you&rsquore a time traveler, it doesn&rsquot matter how long anything takes.

ROBERTO &ldquoCRISPER&rdquo ALVAREZ grew up in East LA, and learned all the ways of the street while being smart enough to keep his nose out of trouble. Being intelligent sometimes doesn&rsquot do much for people in the inner city, so Crisper is still coming to terms with how smart he is, but it does comes out when it needs to. He&rsquos quick to observe, has an out-of-the-box way of finding solutions, and doesn&rsquot give a fuck about telling it like it is. Doesn&rsquot matter if there&rsquos an entire Roman army after them, or he&rsquos partying with Marilyn Monroe, Crisper plays it cool, just like the drawer in the fridge he&rsquos named after.

Crisper has been trying to get his hip-hop career off the ground since high school, and it hasn&rsquot been going well for him. Not for lack of talent, but lack of confidence. It&rsquos difficult to see yourself as being successful when none of it is around you. Living with his mom and doing legal side hustles, Crisper was doing okay, but he ended up taking a job with UPS to get some real income, giving up his hip-hop dreams in the process. That all changed when his absent and mysterious uncle gifted him a 64&rsquo Impala in a will, leaving Crisper something to care for and work towards, and reinvigorating his love of hip-hop.

It was soon after this that he ended up at Echo Park Sound. Being thrust on this crazy journey just as his life was coming back. He doesn&rsquot take it as an annoyance, but as inevitable. Once again life has let him down, so fuck it, why even try? This hits a raw nerve with Benjamin, who sees Crisper&rsquos potential and misinterprets his forced apathy for laziness. However Crisper is intelligent and does learn, he just has to learn to believe he&rsquos worth his dreams.

BENJAMIN BEBBENROTH comes from Sherman Oaks, and was given the best in life. He&rsquos extremely book smart and has the drive and work ethic to take him anywhere, but he&rsquos blocked by his crippling anxiety and his incessant need to be risk adverse, but he&rsquos getting sick of this. It might take a little push, but he has the ability to break out of his own comfort zone, and when he does he takes whatever world he&rsquos in by storm.

Growing up as a descendant of holocaust survivors, all of the members of Benjamin&rsquos family were expected to do great things, but this expectation can place a heavy weight on your shoulders. Benjamin grew up terrified of failure, which made him terrified to take risks, but he&rsquos also gotten nowhere by taking safe bets. Getting his BA in electrical engineering a year early, Benjamin was hard pressed to find a way to make money while also studying for his masters. He ended up at Echo Park Sound, installing car stereos and sinking into a comfortable but unfulfilling routine.

​ Now on this journey through time and space, Benjamin&rsquos life has been severely disrupted, but he secretly doesn&rsquot want to admit that he&rsquos excited about it. The studious side of him wants to complete the Journey of One Million Steps as written, but Crisper&rsquos bull in a china shop approach will push Benjamin out of his comfort zone and teach him how to take risks, and have a bomb ass party along the way.

COATLICUE is an ageless, timeless deity. She is known as the Mother of the Gods, the Lady in the Snake Skirt, and the Creator of the Moon and the Stars&hellip and loves to watch musicals with a box of wine and a pint of ice cream. Being a woman in a mystical Aztec utopia ruled by men, Coatlicue has seen and heard everything in the few millennia she&rsquos been in existence, and she&rsquos over all of it. She commands respect, calls out male ego bullshit, but has a strong moral compass that she defends, even if she&rsquos in the wrong.

Stuck in what would be considered an upper management position in the Aztec God government, Coatlicue has been ready for her shot at the Head of the Council since Quetzalcoatl announced his retirement. But like many women in her position, her numerous qualifications are put up against sexist beliefs that women are too emotional to be in power, and every decision she makes is scrutinized unfairly. She&rsquos a fighter, though, and has made really good headway toward winning the votes she needs.

Well that all went to shit when two humans somehow broke the space-time continuum, an area she was put in charge to oversee. Having to rely on an ancient prophecy written thousands of years ago that doesn&rsquot seem to work, and a forced partner in Mick who embodies everything she hates in men, Coatlicue will have to figure out how to fix this before she gets blamed and loses her chance for the spot she&rsquos more than qualified for.

MICTLANTECUHTLI is pretty much everything you hate in a person, but wrapped up in a stout flaming Aztec skeleton. An egotistical sociopath, Mick yearns for the days when humans would gleefully sacrifice themselves for them, and is a staunch believer that they need to &ldquoMake Aztec Gods Bloodthirsty Again&rdquo. He&rsquos cruel, ruthless, and always sophomoric in his approach to everything. He says things like &ldquoYum yum in my tum tum, can&rsquot wait to dine on your delicious souls&rdquo. If it were up to him, Benjamin and Crisper&rsquos souls would have been eaten long ago.

Known as the God of Death and king of Mictlan, the lowest and northernmost section of the underworld, Mick has power in the Aztec God world, but not enough in his eyes. After realizing that he was pigeonholed into his role, Mick started to make some moves to gain power, including physically interacting with humans on Earth, which is a highly regulated act within the realm of the gods. The council overlooked his actions, and his refusal to fill out the reams of paperwork, but when Mick influenced the development of USB cables to be the most frustrating thing ever, that was the last straw.

​ As punishment for his acts, Quetzalcoatl assigned Mick to work for Coatlicue as the enforcer of the timeline he meddled with, a position he hates. He sees himself as &ldquothe smartest god&rdquo, &ldquothe strongest god&rdquo, and &ldquono one is a better Aztec god than me&rdquo, so to be bossed around by another god, let alone a goddess, is &ldquosad&rdquo. However, if Quetzalcoatl finds out that the timeline was broken under his watch, Mick&rsquos soul will be dissolved into the inky blackness of space, so he has to work with Coatlicue to make this work, even if it goes against everything in his being.

THE &ldquoLO&rdquo, a 1964 Chevy Impala that Crisper is turning into a low rider. The classic car was willed to him from the estate of his dead uncle, who was a Mesoamerican archeologist. Seeing this as a new lease on his life, Crisper babies the car, and makes incremental upgrades as he can afford it, which makes him really nervous now that it is the vehicle taking them to all periods of time.

HENRIETTA is a badass widow of the American Revolution. A woman who refuses to be trapped in time, literally and figuratively, she stowed away in the Lo after meeting Benjamin and Crisper. Always up for an adventure, this fearless woman couldn&rsquot turn down the opportunity to not only see the world, but many worlds. Not afraid to go after what she wants, and allergic to being held down, Henrietta will pop in and out of the Benjamin and Crisper&rsquos path, and challenge them on the way.

QUETZALCOATL, the Aztec god of wind, air, and learning, has been the head of the Aztec Council for a few hundred years, and he&rsquos ready to retire. Benevolent in nature, and mostly fair, Quetzlcoatl does have a little bit of a selfish streak now that he can see retirement on the horizon. This whole deal with the broken timeline is a thorn in his side that he can&rsquot wait to get rid of, and he&rsquos completely done with the squabbling politics of the Aztec government. He&rsquos hoping that Coatlicue and Mick can fix this debacle without having to bug him too much.

TOCI is Coatlicue&rsquos star assistant. Always happy to be there, and on top of her game, Toci is honored to be working for a woman like Coatlicue, but also works herself into the ground sometimes. Coatlicue sometimes wonders if she&rsquos actually the woman that Toci believes she is, and sometimes feels guilty for taking up so much of her life. In return Coatlicue has been trying to groom Toci to be a powerful woman herself, but Toci&rsquos penchant for servitude has made that difficult.

OHTLI FREEWAY, a resplendent multi-color road in the middle of outer space that has no beginning or end, this is the meeting place for our characters in-between time periods. The road is paved with glowing artifacts of the Aztec calendar, and feels like if you stepped off of it you&rsquod fall into the infinite abyss of space. Coatlicue and Mick appear as 30ft tall beings looking over the road, and can change the appearance of the road at any time. Sometimes turning it into an elaborate game show, a nightclub, or whatever Mick needs to torture our heroes.

TENOCHTITLAN 2.0 is the pristine utopia that the Aztec gods live and work. Think Wakanda for Aztecs. A mixture of Aztec architecture and modern accouterments, like yoga studios, boutique candle shops, and Starbucks, Tenochititlan 2.0 is what the future would be like if Aztecs ran the show. The Great Temple of the Gods lies in the center of the city, which looks like the Temple of Kukulcan in Chichen Itza with an office building coming out of the top. This is the central hub of governance in the Aztec god world, and where Coatlicue and Mick have their offices.

PERIODS ALONG THE TIMELINE, and there will be many of them. Benjamin and Cripser will be sent to the past, and future, of every region on the planet. From the primordial goo of the past to the floating cars of the future (apparently FAR in the future), our boys will journey through places we never thought possible. Through Aztec powers Benjamin and Crisper will be able to communicate to anyone by speaking English, but that doesn&rsquot mean that some slang sayings will translate. They&rsquoll even have to explore some alternate histories, especially when one of them screws up the timeline even more.

Our boys, along with Henrietta, are sent back to early 20th century Russia to keep Leon Trotsky and Vladimir Lenin from splitting the early Bolshevik party. Crisper doesn&rsquot understand why, but he&rsquos down to stir some shit up. While in Moscow Henrietta encounters Rasputin, who claims to have healing powers, and clearly shows his womanizing powers. Crisper gets jealous and challenges Rasputin&rsquos claims to mystical powers, but Rasputin is a master at deception and makes Crisper look stupid to a courtyard full of people. Benjamin stays on course and gets caught up in Bolshevik drama, only to help Trotsky break from Lenin, the opposite of what they were told to do. Henrietta realizes that Crisper has caught feelings, and lets him down gently. She&rsquos done being tied to anyone, and decides to stay in Russia for a while. They&rsquore zapped back to Ohtli, and Coatlicue

Crisper and Benjamin find themselves in Medieval Times circa the year 600, and Crisper is like, &ldquoDamn, this is like that spot with dinner and tournament. We took my uncle there for his birthday once and he got drunk as fuck.&rdquo King Arthur is procuring his famed Knights of the Round Table, but a scrupulous furniture maker is trying to convince the King that a long rectangular table would be better. Benjamin and Crisper question why such an innocuous change would mean &ldquothe erasure of England from the history books&rdquo, but it becomes very clear at the first meeting when the knights childishly fight over who sits in the best seats. Benjamin discovers that he&rsquos got a knack for archery after being challenged by a drunken peasant to shoot an apple off his head, so Crisper initiates an archery challenge between Benjamin and Martin. Benjamin&rsquos anxiety is put to the test, but he overcomes it, only to lose the challenge. However, that wasn&rsquot the plan. Crisper points out that Martin holds his bow &ldquolike those foos from 300&rdquo, and exposes Martin as a Persian spy.

After being plopped in ancient Rome with only the vague instruction &ldquostop Nero from fiddling when Rome burns&rdquo, Benjamin and Crisper get into a huge fight when all their attempts to get close to Nero, or find out if fiddles actually exist, fail miserably. They go their separate ways. Crisper decides that if they were going to be there when Rome burns then he might as well go out having fun. The day before the fire he ends up in a bath house, where he quickly discovers that there&rsquos &ldquoa bunch of dudes and no fine ass hynas&rdquo, but ends up getting drunk with &ldquoISOSCELES&rdquo (not his real name, but the nickname Crisper gave him), who tells him that Nero is actually 35 miles away at his villa at Antium. Benjamin ends up getting captured after accidently admitting that he was Jewish, and forced to be a servant for gladiators at the Coliseum. He meets a group of musicians, and none of them have any idea on what a &ldquofiddle&rdquo is. The fire starts, and Benjamin and Crisper find each other in the fray, sorry for the falling out they had. They realize that the &ldquoJourney of One Million Steps&rdquo night not be so accurate with history.

Coat and Mick&rsquos Trial by Ire

We get a look on the other side of the Wizard&rsquos curtain when Coatlicue and Mick get word that they&rsquore being summoned to testify on the status of the timeline to the Aztec Council. Not knowing what the next &ldquostep&rdquo should be, Mick makes up a step on the fly, using an old myth about Nero fiddling while Rome burns, just to get them on their way before the hearing. Coatlicue and Mick get their stories straight before the hearing, but once in front of the council Mick quickly throws Coatlicue under the bus to seize power over the situation. However the move quickly backfires when Quetzalcoatl reveals that Mick twitches his bony eye when he&rsquos lying, something that Mick tries to lie his way out of while continuing to twitch his eye. Quetzalcoatl has had enough of Mick&rsquos bullshit, but Coatlicue steps in and admits to some of what Mick is saying, risking her chance at being the Head of the Council to save Mick from being erased from existence. This act is lost on Mick, of course, but Coatlicue feels good for doing the right thing. Benjamin and Crisper come back from the Rome inferno and reveal that they know there&rsquos something up with the &ldquoJourney of One Million Steps&rdquo.

On a mission in Feudal era Japan, Benjamin finds out that his orange hair is getting him laid all over the place. Crisper is suspicious of the attention and Benjamin thinks he&rsquos jealous. Coatlicue appears to tell them that something is very wrong, but Benjamin makes the decision to stay. He&rsquos never been happier in his life. Crisper devises a plan to lure Benjamin back to the Lo by having a large statue of him built around the car, getting Ben close enough to zap him back to Ohtli. Before Benjamin&rsquos inevitable temper tantrum, Coatlicue sends them both to modern day Japan, where they learn that Benjamin&rsquos offspring has created a racial divide between orange haired and black haired Japanese, which culminated into a civil war that destroyed the country. Coatlicue informs him that in order to fix this, he has to go back and turn down every woman he slept with, which Benjamin agrees. Once back in feudal Japan, Crisper reveals that he jacked some weird Japanese condoms, and tells him to go nuts without busting a nut in anyone.

What A Long Strange Trip It&rsquos Been

The Lo rolls to a stop on Ohtli, Crisper and Benjamin look like they&rsquove been through hell. They just fought in the Franco-Prussian war. Mick and Coat have the next &ldquostep&rdquo lined up, but our boys pass out from exhaustion. Mick sees this as an opportunity to torture them, but Coatlicue figures it is time to give them a break, and what better place than Woodstock 1969! Except that she didn&rsquot realize that Woodstock was a poorly planned dirty hippie disaster that would make Benjamin&rsquos anxiety go through the roof, and ignite Crisper&rsquos anger when his creased Dickies get dirty. During an anxiety attack, Benjamin is comforted by WAVY GRAVY, the lead hippie care taker, and both are given acid in the &ldquogood trip&rdquo tent, which sends them on a crazy journey that ends up with Crisper rapping over Hendrix&rsquos guitar, and Benjamin forming a little mini cult. However, Crisper&rsquos trip is interrupted by a woman who looks a lot like Henrietta, but loses her in the crowd. When asked, Coatlicue suspiciously doesn&rsquot know what he&rsquos talking about.

Crisper wakes up in his own bed, in his present time. Thinking that everything he just experienced was just a long, crazy dream, he goes about his day, but starts to notice strange things. People area wearing masks for some reason, the sky is filled with smoke, and&hellip Donald Trump is president?? Being that he&rsquos started his journey in 2015, this is all alien to him. He drives the Lo to Echo Park sound, but it&rsquos closed due to a pandemic. By chance he finds Benjamin during a BLM protest, and he&rsquos also completely confused as to what&rsquos going on, and thinks that they caused all of this. Back at Tenochtitlan 2.0, Coatlicue and Mick are feverishly trying to fix the magical mechanism they rely on for time travel, in-between bouts of bickering and blaming each other. Meanwhile, things are getting weirder for Ben and Crisp as they&rsquore attacked by murder hornets! Things are looking bad but they&rsquore saved at the last second by HENRIETTA! She reveals that the gods had been sending her on her own journey as well. Crisper learns of Kobe Bryant&rsquos death and goes apeshit. There&rsquos no way that all of this could be their fault, so it HAS to be the Aztec gods screwing up the timeline! Mick finally breaks down and calls an Aztec IT tech to fix everything. Crisper and Benjamin return, and are relieved to find out that it was all a big mistake. Crisper admits to Benjamin that Henrietta was the one that got away.

While helping early humans cross the Bearing Sea land bridge into the Americas, Crisper unknowingly drops his iPhone. Back at Ohtli, Quetzalcoatl throws a fit as he discovers that not only is the timeline not fixed, it&rsquos WAY out of whack. He&rsquos about to destroy Mick and Coatlicue, but then realizes that Crisper&rsquos phone acted as a sort of monolith for all Native Americans, spurring a rapid advance in technology from the Eskimos to the Amazonian tribes. Looking to expand their territories, and with superior technology, the natives colonize much of Europe, but not with the same heavy hand the Europeans had. Concepts of fair trade and environmental harmony make this almost a utopia, but the natives are still human. Many wars have been fought between tribes, and Europeans are now living in their own reservations in Europe, an oppressed people. Quetzalcoatl is pleased with this new timeline, as the Aztecs now control most of world. Crisper, Benjamin, and Mick agree, this is a much better world. However, Coatlicue&rsquos conscience gets the better of her. She risks her own future by breaking the rules and retrieving the iPhone herself. The oppressed becoming the oppressor isn&rsquot better at all.

Coatlicue is convicted of the crime of directly interfering with humans&hellip without getting approval from the Bureau of Human Interaction. With Coatlicue distracted with filling out literal mountains of paperwork, Mick tries to end the whole ordeal by sending Benjamin and Crisper to ancient Aztec times right before the landing of Ferdinand Cortez, in hopes that both will be slaughtered. However, the plan backfires as Crisper realizes that he&rsquos the perfect cultural bridge between the Spaniards and the Aztecs after demonstrating his arcane knowledge of Aztec gods, and his unfounded ability to take naps no matter what&rsquos going on. He and Benjamin broker a deal that allows the two peoples to live in harmony. Upon their return to Ohtli, Crisper expects to be a hero, but Coatlicue informs them that the Spaniards saw them being zapped out of existence and took this as Aztec magic. They ended up slaughtering the Aztecs anyway, and everything is back to where it was.

The gods have a big one for our boys. They&rsquore going to team up with Henrietta and journey to turn of the century Germany so that Heniretta can seduce Alois Hitler and prevent Adolph&rsquos conception. Henrietta doesn&rsquot like being used as a sexual weapon, Benjamin doesn&rsquot like the idea of changing history this drastically, and Crisper doesn&rsquot like the idea of Henrietta getting it on with some German puto. The gods overrule them. They&rsquore trying to win political favor after Quetzlcoatl threatened to erase their souls for screwing up the timeline so bad. Preventing WWII would make the timeline even better than before! Mick decides to break protocol, again, and follow them in a human avatar to make sure they don&rsquot screw up, but after losing a beer chugging contest during Oktoberfest, Mick accidently destroys a German village by flaming out. Henrietta can&rsquot go through with the mission, and Crisper thinks it&rsquos because of him, but Henrietta reminds him that she doesn&rsquot want to be tied down to anything, breaking Crisper&rsquos heart, but he understands. Back in Tenochtitlan 2.0, Mick is arrested and charged with flagrant human tampering, but is released without bail. It seems that Quetzlcoatl and the Aztec Council have been overthrown by the Mayan gods, and they like the cut of Mick&rsquos jib. Mick quickly gains power in this new regime, but Coatlicue isn&rsquot going to take this lying down.

Hal Rudnick is a writer and comedian originally from New Jersey, an underrated state! He has written for the Disney Channel, Fox Sports/Fuel TV, and Billy on the Street. He's appeared on Key & Peele, Community, and Adam Ruins Everything. Additionally he's created countless viral videos garnering over 100,000,000 views while hosting on Screen Junkies YouTube channel. Hal also teaches and performs at the UCB Theater. He was on the bowling team in high school.

Daniel Chavez grew up on the east side of LA, and made his way to the west side to start his film career. Having written many features and pilots, Daniel finally wrote one that got made! He's gone on to work as a visual effects producer/production supervisor for such movies as Aquaman, Avatar, Suicide Squad, and Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Using 3d animation Daniel has created many cartoons on his Explet!ve YouTube channel, and continues to make people laugh at his dumb jokes through animation.


Large and complex civilizations developed in the center and southern regions of Mexico (with the southern region extending into what is now Central America) in what has come to be known as Mesoamerica. The civilizations that rose and declined over millennia were characterized by: [2]

  1. significant urban settlements
  2. monumental architecture such as temples, palaces, and other monumental architecture, such as the ball court
  3. the division of society into religious, political, and political elites (such as warriors and merchants) and commoners who pursued subsistence agriculture
  4. transfer of tribute and rending of labor from commoners to elites
  5. reliance on agriculture often supplemented by hunting and fishing and the complete absence of a pastoral (herding) economy, since there were no domesticated herd animals prior to the arrival of the Europeans
  6. trade networks and markets.

These civilizations arose in a region with no major navigable rivers, no beasts of burden, and difficult terrain impeded the movement of people and goods. Indigenous civilizations developed complex ritual and solar calendars, a significant understanding of astronomy, and forms of communication written in glyphs.

The history of Mexico before the Spanish conquest is known through the work of archaeologists, epigraphers, and ethnohistorians (students of indigenous histories, usually from indigenous points of view), who analyze Mesoamerican indigenous manuscripts, particularly Aztec codices, Mayan codices, and Mixtec codices.

Accounts are written by Spaniards at the time of the conquest (the conquistadores) and by Indigenous chroniclers of the postconquest period constitute the principal source of information regarding Mexico at the time of the Spanish Conquest.

Few pictorial manuscripts (or codices) of the Maya, Mixtec and Mexica cultures of the Post-Classic period survive, but progress has been made particularly in the area of Maya archaeology and epigraphy. [3]

Beginnings Edit

The presence of people in Mesoamerica was once thought to date back 40,000 years, an estimate based on what were believed to be ancient footprints discovered in the Valley of Mexico but after further investigation using radiocarbon dating, it appears this date may not be accurate. [4] It is currently unclear whether 23,000-year-old campfire remains found in the Valley of Mexico are the earliest human remains uncovered so far in Mexico. [5]

The first people to settle in Mexico encountered a climate far milder than the current one. In particular, the Valley of Mexico contained several large paleo-lakes (known collectively as Lake Texcoco) surrounded by dense forest. Deer were found in this area, but most fauna were small land animals and fish and other lacustrine animals were found in the lake region. [ citation needed ] [6] Such conditions encouraged the initial pursuit of a hunter-gatherer existence.

Indigenous peoples in western Mexico began to selectively breed maize (Zea mays) plants from precursor grasses (e.g., teosinte) between 5,000 and 10,000 years ago. [7]

The diet of ancient central and southern Mexico was varied, including domesticated corn (or maize), squashes such as pumpkin and butternut squash, common beans (pinto, kidney, navy and other common beans consumed today), tomatoes, peppers, cassavas, pineapples, chocolate, and tobacco. The Three Sisters (corn, squash, and beans) constituted the principal diet.[1]

Religion Edit

The Mesoamericans had the concept of deities and religion, but their concept was very different from Abrahamic concepts. The Mesoamericans had a belief where everything, every element of the cosmos, the earth, the sun, the moon, the stars, which mankind inhabits, everything that forms part of nature such as animals, plants, water and mountains all represented a manifestation of the supernatural. In most cases, gods and goddesses are often depicted in stone reliefs, pottery decoration, wall paintings and in the various Maya, and pictorial manuscripts such as Maya codices, Aztec codices, and Mixtec codices.

The spiritual pantheon was vast and extremely complex. However, many of the deities depicted are common to the various civilizations and their worship survived over long periods of time. They frequently took on different characteristics and even names in different areas, but in effect, they transcended cultures and time. Great masks with gaping jaws and monstrous features in stone or stucco were often located at the entrance to temples, symbolizing a cavern or cave on the flanks of the mountains that allowed access to the depths of Mother Earth and the shadowy roads that lead to the underworld. [8]

Cults connected with the jaguar and jade especially permeated religion throughout Mesoamerica. Jade, with its translucent green color was revered along with water as a symbol of life and fertility. The jaguar, agile, powerful and fast, was especially connected with warriors and as spirit guides of shamans. Despite differences of chronology or geography, the crucial aspects of this religious pantheon were shared amongst the people of ancient Mesoamerica. [8]

Thus, this quality of acceptance of new gods to the collection of existing gods may have been one of the shaping characteristics for success during the Christianization of Mesoamerica. New gods did not at once replace the old they initially joined the ever-growing family of deities or were merged with existing ones that seemed to share similar characteristics or responsibilities. [8] The Christianization of Europe also followed similar patterns of appropriation and transformation of existing deities.

A great deal is known about the Aztec religion due to the work of the early mendicant friars in their work to convert the Indigenous peoples to Christianity. The writings of Franciscans Fray Toribio de Benavente Motolinia and Fray Bernardino de Sahagún and Dominican Fray Diego Durán recorded a great deal about Nahua religion since they viewed understanding the ancient practices as essential for successfully converting the Indigenous populations to Christianity.

Writing Edit

Mesoamerica is the only place in the Americas where indigenous writing systems were invented and used before European colonization. While the types of writing systems in Mesoamerica range from minimalist "picture-writing" to complex logophonetic systems capable of recording speech and literature, they all share some core features that make them visually and functionally distinct from other writing systems of the world. [9]

Although many indigenous manuscripts have been lost or destroyed, texts are known Aztec codices, Mayan codices, and Mixtec codices still survive and are of intense interest to scholars of the prehispanic era.

The fact that there was an existing prehispanic tradition of writing meant that when the Spanish friars taught Mexican Indians to write their own languages, particularly Nahuatl, an alphabetic tradition took hold. It was used in official documents for legal cases and other legal instruments. The formal use of native language documentation lasted until Mexican independence in 1821. Beginning in the late twentieth century, scholars have mined these native language documents for information about colonial-era economics, culture, and language. The New Philology is the current name for this particular branch of colonial-era Mesoamerican ethnohistory.

During the pre-Columbian period, many city-states, kingdoms, and empires competed with one another for power and prestige. Ancient Mexico can be said to have produced five major civilizations: the Olmec, Maya, Teotihuacan, Toltec, and Aztec. Unlike other indigenous Mexican societies, these civilizations (with the exception of the politically fragmented Maya) extended their political and cultural reach across Mexico and beyond.

They consolidated power and exercised influence in matters of trade, art, politics, technology, and religion. Over a span of 3,000 years, other regional powers made economic and political alliances with them many made war on them. But almost all found themselves within their spheres of influence.

Olmecs (1500–400 BC) Edit

The Olmec first appeared along the Atlantic coast (in what is now the state of Tabasco) in the period 1500–900 BC. The Olmecs were the first Mesoamerican culture to produce an identifiable artistic and cultural style, and may also have been the society that invented writing in Mesoamerica. By the Middle Preclassic Period (900–300 BC), Olmec artistic styles had been adopted as far away as the Valley of Mexico and Costa Rica.

Maya Edit

Maya cultural characteristics, such as the rise of the ahau, or king, can be traced from 300 BC onward. During the centuries preceding the classical period, Maya kingdoms sprang up in an area stretching from the Pacific coasts of southern Mexico and Guatemala to the northern Yucatán Peninsula. The egalitarian Maya society of pre-royal centuries gradually gave way to a society controlled by a wealthy elite that began building large ceremonial temples and complexes.

The earliest known long-count date, 199 AD, heralds the classic period, during which the Maya kingdoms supported a population numbering in the millions. Tikal, the largest of the kingdoms, alone had 500,000 inhabitants, though the average population of a kingdom was much smaller—somewhere under 50,000 people. The Maya speak a diverse family of languages known as Mayan.

Teotihuacan Edit

Teotihuacan is an enormous archaeological site in the Basin of Mexico, containing some of the largest pyramidal structures built in the pre-Columbian Americas. Apart from the pyramidal structures, Teotihuacan is also known for its large residential complexes, the Avenue of the Dead, and numerous colorful, well-preserved murals. Additionally, Teotihuacan produced a thin orange pottery style that spread through Mesoamerica. [10]

The city is thought to have been established around 100 BCE and continued to be built until about 250 CE. [11] The city may have lasted until sometime between the 7th and 8th centuries CE. At its zenith, perhaps in the first half of the 1st millennium CE, Teotihuacan was the largest city in the pre-Columbian Americas. At this time it may have had more than 200,000 inhabitants, placing it among the largest cities of the world in this period. Teotihuacan was even home to multi-floor apartment compounds built to accommodate this large population. [11]

The civilization and cultural complex associated with the site is also referred to as Teotihuacan or Teotihuacano. Although it is a subject of debate whether Teotihuacan was the center of a state empire, its influence throughout Mesoamerica is well documented evidence of Teotihuacano presence can be seen at numerous sites in Veracruz and the Maya region. The Aztecs may have been influenced by this city. The ethnicity of the inhabitants of Teotihuacan is also a subject of debate. Possible candidates are the Nahua, Otomi or Totonac ethnic groups. Scholars have also suggested that Teotihuacan was a multiethnic state.

Toltec Edit

The Toltec culture is an archaeological Mesoamerican culture that dominated a state centered in Tula, Hidalgo, in the early post-classic period of Mesoamerican chronology (ca 800–1000 CE). The later Aztec culture saw the Toltecs as their intellectual and cultural predecessors and described Toltec culture emanating from Tollan (Nahuatl for Tula) as the epitome of civilization indeed, in the Nahuatl language the word "Toltec" came to take on the meaning "artisan".

The Aztec oral and pictographic tradition also described the history of the Toltec empire giving lists of rulers and their exploits. Among modern scholars it is a matter of debate whether the Aztec narratives of Toltec history should be given credence as descriptions of actual historical events. While all scholars acknowledge that there is a large mythological part of the narrative some maintain that by using a critical comparative method some level of historicity can be salvaged from the sources, whereas others maintain that continued analysis of the narratives as sources of actual history is futile and hinders access to actual knowledge of the culture of Tula, Hidalgo.

Other controversy relating to the Toltecs include how best to understand reasons behind the perceived similarities in architecture and iconography between the archaeological site of Tula and the Maya site of Chichén Itzá – no consensus has emerged yet about the degree or direction of influence between the two sites.

Aztec Empire (1325–1521 AD) Edit

The Nahua peoples began to enter central Mexico in the 6th century AD. By the 12th century, they had established their center at Azcapotzalco, the city of the Tepanecs.

The Mexica people arrived in the Valley of Mexico in 1248 AD. They had migrated from the deserts north of the Rio Grande [ citation needed ] over a period traditionally said to have been 100 years. They may have thought of themselves as the heirs to the prestigious civilizations that had preceded them. [ citation needed ] What the Aztec initially lacked in political power, they made up for with ambition and military skill. In 1325, they established the biggest city in the world at that time, Tenochtitlan.

Aztec religion was based on the belief in the continual need for regular offering of human blood to keep their deities beneficent to meet this need, the Aztec sacrificed thousands of people. This belief is thought to have been common throughout the Nahuatl people. To acquire captives in times of peace, the Aztec resorted to a form of ritual warfare called flower war. The Tlaxcalteca, among other Nahuatl nations, were forced into such wars.

In 1428, the Aztec led a war against their rulers from the city of Azcapotzalco, which had subjugated most of the Valley of Mexico's peoples. The revolt was successful, and the Aztecs became the rulers of central Mexico as the leaders of the Triple Alliance. The alliance was composed of the city-states of Tenochtitlan, Texcoco, and Tlacopan.

At their peak, 350,000 Aztec presided over a wealthy tribute-empire comprising 10 million people, almost half of Mexico's estimated population of 24 million. Their empire stretched from ocean to ocean, and extended into Central America. The westward expansion of the empire was halted by a devastating military defeat at the hands of the Purepecha (who possessed weapons made of copper). The empire relied upon a system of taxation (of goods and services), which were collected through an elaborate bureaucracy of tax collectors, courts, civil servants, and local officials who were installed as loyalists to the Triple Alliance.

By 1519, the Aztec capital, Mexico-Tenochtitlan, the site of modern-day Mexico City, was one of the largest cities in the world, with an estimated population between 200,000 and 300,000. [12]

Mesoamerica on the eve of the Spanish conquest Edit

The first mainland explorations were followed by a phase of inland expeditions and conquest. The Spanish crown extended the Reconquista effort, completed in Spain in 1492, to non-Catholic people in new territories. In 1502 on the coast of present-day Colombia, near the Gulf of Urabá, Spanish explorers led by Vasco Núñez de Balboa explored and conquered the area near the Atrato River. [13]

The conquest was of the Chibcha-speaking nations, mainly the Muisca and Tairona indigenous people that lived here. The Spanish founded San Sebastian de Uraba in 1509—abandoned within the year, and in 1510 the first permanent Spanish mainland settlement in America, Santa María la Antigua del Darién. [13]

The first Europeans to arrive in what is modern day Mexico were the survivors of a Spanish shipwreck in 1511. Only two managed to survive Gerónimo de Aguilar and Gonzalo Guerrero until further contact was made with Spanish explorers years later. On 8 February 1517 an expedition led by Francisco Hernández de Córdoba left the harbor of Santiago de Cuba to explore the shores of southern Mexico.

During the course of this expedition many of Hernández' men were killed, most during a battle near the town of Champotón against a Maya army. He himself was injured, and died a few days shortly after his return to Cuba. This was the Europeans' first encounter with a civilization in the Americas with buildings and complex social organizations which they recognized as being comparable to those of the Old World. Hernán Cortés led a new expedition to Mexico landing ashore at present day Veracruz on 22 April 1519, a date which marks the beginning of 300 years of Spanish hegemony over the region.

In general the 'Spanish conquest of Mexico' denotes the conquest of the central region of Mesoamerica where the Aztec Empire was based. The fall of the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan in 1521 was a decisive event, but the conquest of other regions of Mexico, such as Yucatán, extended long after Spaniards consolidated control of central Mexico. The Spanish conquest of Yucatán is the much longer campaign, from 1551 to 1697, against the Maya peoples of the Maya civilization in the Yucatán Peninsula of present-day Mexico and northern Central America.

Analysis of defeat Edit

The Alliance ambushed indigenous ceremonies, such as during The Feast of Huitzilopochtli, which allowed the superior Spanish conquerors to avoid fighting the best Aztec warriors in direct armed battle.

Smallpox (Variola major and Variola minor) began to spread in Mesoamerica immediately after the arrival of Europeans. The indigenous peoples, who had no immunity to it, eventually died in the millions. A third of all the natives of the Valley of Mexico succumbed to it within six months of Spaniards arrival.

Aftermath of the conquest Edit

Tenochtitlan was almost completely destroyed by fire and cannon fire. It was not a foregone idea that the site of Tenochtitlan would become the Spanish capital, but Cortés made it the capital.

Cortés imprisoned the royal families of the valley. To prevent another revolt, he personally tortured and killed Cuauhtémoc, the last Aztec Emperor Coanacoch, the King of Texcoco, and Tetlepanquetzal, King of Tlacopan.

The Spanish had no intention to turn over Tenochtitlan to the Tlaxcalteca. While Tlaxcalteca troops continued to help the Spaniards, and Tlaxcala received better treatment than other indigenous nations, the Spanish eventually disowned the treaty. Forty years after the conquest, the Tlaxcalteca had to pay the same tax as any other indigenous community. [ citation needed ]

  • Political. The small contingent of Spaniards controlled central Mexico through existing indigenous rulers of individual political states (altepetl), who maintained their status as nobles in the post-conquest era if they cooperated with Spanish rule.
  • Religious. Cortés immediately banned human sacrifice throughout the conquered empire. In 1524, he requested the Spanish king to send friars from the mendicant orders, particularly the Franciscan, Dominican, and Augustinian, to convert the indigenous to Christianity. This has often been called the "spiritual conquest of Mexico". [14] Christian evangelization began in the early 1520s and continued into the 1560s. Many of the mendicant friars, especially the Franciscans and Dominicans, learned the native languages and recorded aspects of native culture, providing a principal source for our knowledge about them. One of the first 12 Franciscans to come to Mexico, Fray Toribio de Benavente Motolinia recorded in Spanish observations of the indigenous. Important Franciscans engaged in collecting and preparing native language materials, especially in Nahuatl are fray Alonso de Molina and fray Bernardino de Sahagún. [15]
  • Economics. The Spanish colonizers introduced the encomienda system of forced labor, which in central Mexico built on indigenous traditions of rendering tribute and labor to rulers in their own communities and local rulers rendering tribute to higher authorities. Individual Spaniards were awarded the tribute and labor or particular indigenous communities, with that population paying tribute and performing labor locally. Indigenous communities were pressed for labor services and tribute, but were not enslaved. Their rulers remained indigenous elites, who retained their status under colonial rule and were useful intermediaries. [16] The Spanish also used forced labor, often outright slavery, in mining. [17]

The capture of Tenochtitlan marked the beginning of a 300-year colonial period, during which Mexico was known as "New Spain" ruled by a viceroy in the name of the Spanish monarch. Colonial Mexico had key elements to attract Spanish immigrants: (1) dense and politically complex indigenous populations (especially in the central part) that could be compelled to work, and (2) huge mineral wealth, especially major silver deposits in the northern regions Zacatecas and Guanajuato. The Viceroyalty of Peru also had those two important elements, so that New Spain and Peru were the seats of Spanish power and the source of its wealth, until other viceroyalties were created in Spanish South America in the late 18th century.

This wealth made Spain the dominant power in Europe and the envy of England, France, and (after its independence from Spain) the Netherlands. Spain's silver mining and crown mints created high quality coins, the currency of Spanish America, the silver peso or Spanish dollar that became a global currency.

Continued conquests (1521–1550) Edit

Spanish conquerors did not bring all areas of Aztec Empire under its control. After the fall of Tenochtitlan in 1521, it took decades of sporadic warfare to subdue the rest of Mesoamerica, particularly the Maya regions of southern New Spain and into what is now Central America. But Spanish conquests in the Zapotec and Mixtec regions of southern Mesoamerica were relatively rapid.

Outside the zone of settled Mesoamerican civilizations were nomadic northern indios bárbaros ("wild Indians") who fought fiercely against the Spaniards and their indigenous allies, such as the Tlaxcalans, in the Chichimeca War (1576–1606). The northern indigenous populations had gained mobility via the horses that Spaniards had imported to the New World. The desert in the north was only interesting to Spanish because of its rich silver deposits. The Spanish mining settlements and trunk lines to Mexico City needed to be made safe for supplies to move north and silver to move to south, to central Mexico.

Economics of the early colonial period Edit

The most important source of wealth was indigenous tribute and compelled labor, mobilized in the first years after the conquest of central Mexico through the encomienda. The encomienda was a grant of the labor of a particular indigenous settlement to an individual Spanish and his heirs. Conquerors expected to receive these awards and premier conqueror Hernán Cortés in his letter to the Spanish king justified his own allocation of these grants. Spaniards were the recipients of traditional indigenous products that had been rendered in tribute to their local lords and to the Aztec empire. The first Spanish viceroy, Don Antonio de Mendoza has his name given to the title of an Aztec manuscript Codex Mendoza, that enumerates in glyphic form the types of tribute goods and amounts rendered from particular indigenous towns under Aztec rule. The earliest holders of encomiendas, the encomenderos were the conquerors involved in the campaign leading to the fall of Tenochtitlan, and later their heirs and people with influence but not conquerors. Forced labor could be directed toward developing land and industry in the area the Spanish encomenderos' Indians lived. Land was a secondary source of wealth during this immediate conquest period. Where indigenous labor was absent or needed supplementing, the Spanish brought African slaves, often as skilled laborers or artisans, or as labor bosses of encomienda Indians.

Evolution of race mixture

During the three centuries of colonial rule, fewer than 700,000 Spaniards, most of them men, settled in Mexico. [ citation needed ] Europeans, Africans, and indigenous intermixed, creating a mixed-race casta population in a process known as mestizaje. Mestizos, people of mixed European-indigenous ancestry, constitute the majority of Mexico's population.

Contours of the colonial period (1521–1821) Edit

Colonial Mexico was part of the Spanish Empire and administered by the Viceroyalty of New Spain. The Spanish crown claimed all of the Western Hemisphere west of the line established between Spain and Portugal by the Treaty of Tordesillas. This included all of North America and South America, except for Brazil. The viceroyalty of New Spain had jurisdiction over Spain's northern empire in the Americas. When Spain established a colony in the Philippines in the late sixteenth century, the Viceroyalty of New Spain had jurisdiction over it, since there was more direct contact between the two than the Philippines with Spain.

Hernán Cortés had conquered the great empire of the Aztecs and established New Spain as the largest and most important Spanish colony. During the 16th century, Spain focused on conquering areas with dense populations that had produced Pre-Columbian civilizations. These populations were a disciplined labor force and a population to convert to Christianity.

Territories populated by nomadic peoples were harder to conquer, and although the Spanish explored much of North America, seeking the fabled "El Dorado", they made no concerted effort to settle the northern desert regions in what is now the United States until the end of the 16th century (Santa Fe, 1598).

Colonial law with native origins but with Spanish historical precedents was introduced, creating a balance between local jurisdiction (the Cabildos) and the Crown's, whereby upper administrative offices were closed to natives, even those of pure Spanish blood. Administration was based on a racial separation of the population among the Republics of Spaniards, Indians and Mestizos, autonomous and directly dependent on the king. The population of New Spain was divided into four main groups, or classes. The group a person belonged to was determined by racial background and birthplace. The most powerful group was the Spaniards, people born in Spain and sent across the Atlantic to rule the colony. Only Spaniards could hold high-level jobs in the colonial government.

The second group, called creoles, were people of Spanish background but born in Mexico. Many creoles were prosperous landowners and merchants. But even the wealthiest creoles had little say in government.

The third group, the mestizos, were people who had some Spanish ancestors and some Indian ancestors. The word mestizo means "mixed" in Spanish. Mestizos had a much lower position and were looked down upon by both the Spaniards and the creoles, who held the belief that people of pure European background were superior to everyone else.

The poorest, most marginalised group in New Spain was the Indians, descendants of pre-Columbian peoples. They had less power and endured harsher conditions than other groups. Indians were forced to work as laborers on the ranches and farms (called haciendas) of the Spaniards and creoles.

In addition to the four main groups, there were also some black Africans in colonial Mexico. These black African were imported as laborers and shared the low status of the Indians. They made up about 4% to 5% of the population, and their mixed-race descendants, called mulattoes, eventually grew to represent about 9%.

From an economic point of view, New Spain was administered principally for the benefit of the Empire and its military and defensive efforts. Mexico provided more than half of the Empire taxes and supported the administration of all North and Central America. Competition with the metropolis was discouraged for example cultivation of grapes and olives, introduced by Cortés himself, was banned out of fear that these crops would compete with Spain's.

To protect the country from the attacks by English, French and Dutch pirates, as well as the Crown's revenue, only two ports were open to foreign trade—Veracruz on the Atlantic and Acapulco on the Pacific. Pirates attacked, plundered and ravaged several cities like Campeche (1557), Veracruz (1568) and Alvarado (1667).

Education was encouraged by the Crown from the very beginning, and Mexico boasts the first primary school (Texcoco, 1523), first university, the University of Mexico(1551) and the first printing press (1524) of the Americas. Indigenous languages were studied mainly by the religious orders during the first centuries, and became official languages in the so-called Republic of Indians, only to be outlawed and ignored after independence by the prevailing Spanish-speaking creoles.

Mexico produced important cultural achievements during the colonial period, such as the literature of seventeenth-century nun, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, and Ruiz de Alarcón, as well as cathedrals, civil monuments, forts and colonial cities such as Puebla, Mexico City, Querétaro, Zacatecas and others, today part of Unesco's World Heritage.

The syncretism between indigenous and Spanish cultures gave rise to many of nowadays Mexican staple and world-famous cultural traits like tequila (since the 16th century), mariachi (18th), jarabe (17th), charros (17th) and the highly prized Mexican cuisine, fruit of the mixture of European and indigenous ingredients and techniques.

American-born Spaniards (creoles), mixed-race castas, and Indians often disagreed, but all resented the small minority of Iberian-born Spaniards who monopolized political power. By the early 1800s, many American-born Spaniards believed that Mexico should become independent of Spain, following the example of the United States. The man who touched off the revolt against Spain was the Catholic priest Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla. He is remembered today as the Father of Mexican Independence.

This period was marked by unanticipated events that upended the three hundred years of Spanish colonial rule. The colony went from rule by the legitimate Spanish monarch and his appointed viceroy to an illegitimate monarch and viceroy put in place by a coup. Later, Mexico would see the return of the legitimate Spanish monarchy and a later stalemate with insurgent guerrilla forces. Events in Spain upended the situation in New Spain once again, with the Spanish military officers overthrowing the absolutist monarch and returning to the Spanish liberal constitution of 1812. Conservatives in New Spain who had staunchly defended the Spanish monarchy now saw a reason to change course and pursue independence. Royalist army officer Agustín de Iturbide became an advocate of independence and persuaded insurgent leader Vicente Guerrero to join in a coalition, forming the Army of the Three Guarantees. Within six months of that joint venture, royal rule in New Spain collapsed and independence was achieved. The constitutional monarchy envisioned with a European royal on the throne did not come to pass rather, creole military officer Iturbide became Emperor Agustín I. His increasingly autocratic rule dismayed many and coup overthrew him in 1823. Mexico became a federated republic and promulgated a constitution in 1824. While General Guadalupe Victoria became the first president, serving his entire term, the presidential transition became a less an electoral event and more one by force of arms. Insurgent general and prominent Liberal politician Guerrero was briefly president in 1829, then deposed and judicially murdered by his Conservative opponents. In the twenty years since the French invasion of Spain, Mexico had experienced political instability and violence, with more to come until the late nineteenth century. The presidency changed hands 75 times in the next half century. [18] The new republic's situation did not promote economic growth or development, with the silver mines damaged, trade disrupted, and lingering violence. [19] [20] Although British merchants established a network of merchant houses in the major cities the situation was bleak. "Trade was stagnant, imports did not pay, contraband drove prices down, debts private and public went unpaid, merchants suffered all manner of injustices and operated at the mercy of weak and corruptible governments, commercial houses skirted bankruptcy." [21]

New Spain 1808-1810 Edit

Inspired by the American and French Revolutions, Mexican insurgents saw an opportunity for independence in 1808 when Napoleon invaded Spain and the Spanish king Charles IV was forced to abdicate. Napoleon placed his brother Joseph Bonaparte on the Spanish throne. For Spain and the Spanish Empire, this turn of events created a crisis of legitimacy of rule. In Spain, resistance to the French resulted in the Peninsular War. In New Spain, viceroy José de Iturrigaray proposed to provisionally form an autonomous government, with the support of American-born Spaniards on the city council of Mexico City. Peninsular-born Spaniards in the colony saw this as undermining their own power, and Gabriel J. de Yermo led a coup against the viceroy, arresting him in September 1808. Spanish military officer Pedro de Garibay was named as viceroy by the Spanish conspirators. His tenure was brief, from September 1808 until July 1809, when he was replaced by Francisco Javier de Lizana y Beaumont, whose tenure was also brief, until the arrival of viceroy Francisco Javier Venegas from Spain. Two days after his entry to Mexico City on 14 September 1810, Father Miguel Hidalgo made his call to arms in the village of Hidalgo. Spain was invaded by France and the Spanish king deposed and a usurper French king imposed. Like others in colonial Spanish America, New Spain's viceroy José de Iturrigaray, who was sympathetic to creoles, sought to create a legitimate government during the situation. He was overthrown by powerful Peninsular Spaniards and hard-line Spaniards clamped down on any notion of Mexican autonomy. Creoles who had hoped that there was a path to Mexican autonomy, perhaps within the Spanish Empire, now saw that their only path was independence through rebellion against the colonial regime. There were a number of creole conspiracies. In northern Mexico, Father Miguel Hidalgo, creole militia officer Ignacio Allende, and Juan Aldama met to plot rebellion. When the plot was discovered in September 1810, Hidalgo called his parishioners to arms in the village of Dolores, touching off a massive rebellion in the region of the Bajío.

War of Independence, 1810-1821 Edit

In 1810, insurgent conspirators had plotted rebellion against royal government, which was again firmly in the hands of Peninsular Spaniards. When the plot was uncovered, Father Hidalgo summoned his parishioners of Dolores, exhorting them to action. This event of 16 September 1810 is now called the "Cry of Dolores", now celebrated as Independence Day. Shouting "Independence and death to the Spaniards!" From the small number of villagers some 80,000 poorly organized and armed formed a force that initially rampaged unstopped in Bajío. The viceroy was slow to respond, but once the royal army engaged the untrained, poorly armed and led mass, they routed the insurgents. Hidalgo was captured, defrocked as a priest, and executed, with his head left on a pike on the granary in Guanajuato as a warning to other insurrectionists. [22]

Another priest, José María Morelos took over and was more successful in his quest for republicanism and independence. Spain's monarchy was restored in 1814 after Napoleon's defeat, and it fought back and executed Morelos in 1815. The scattered insurgents formed guerrilla bands. In 1820, Spanish royal army brigadier, Agustín de Iturbide, changed sides and proposed independence, issuing the Plan of Iguala. Iturbide persuaded insurgent leader Vicente Guerrero to join in this new push for independence. He was persuaded by Guerrero's charisma and idealism as well as the tenacity of his soldiers which included the Mexican of Filipino descent, General Isidoro Montes de Oca who with few and poorly armed insurgents, inflicted a real defeat on the royalist Gabriel from Armijo and they also got enough equipment to properly arm 1,800 soldiers of freedom who in the future will deserve the respect of Iturbide. He stood out for his courage in the siege of the Port of Acapulco in 1813, under the orders of General José María Morelos y Pavón. [23] Isidoro and his soldiers from Guerrero State which was settled by immigrants from the Philippines, [24] [25] [26] inflicted defeat on the royalist army from Spain. Impressed, Itubide joined forces with Guerrero and demanded independence, a constitutional monarchy in Mexico, the continued religious monopoly for the Catholic Church, and equality for Spaniards and those born in Mexico. Royalists who now followed Iturbide's change of sides and insurgents formed the Army of the Three Guarantees. Within six months, the new army was in control of all but the ports of Veracruz and Acapulco. On September 27, 1821, Iturbide and the last viceroy, Juan O'Donojú signed the Treaty of Cordoba whereby Spain granted the demands. O'Donojú had been operating under instructions that had been issued months before the latest turn of events. Spain refused to formally recognize Mexico's independence and the situation became even more complicated by O'Donojú's death in October 1821. [27]

Mexican Empire, 1821-23 Edit

When Mexico achieved its independence, the southern portion of New Spain became independent as well as a result of the Treaty of Cordoba, so Central America, present-day Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and part of Chiapas were incorporated into the Mexican Empire. Although Mexico now had its own government, there was no revolutionary change either socially or economically. The formal, legal racial distinctions were abolished, but power remained in the hands of white elites. Monarchy was the form of government Mexicans knew and it is not surprising that it chose that form of government initially. The political power of the royal government was transferred to the military. The Roman Catholic Church was the other pillar of institutional rule. Both the army and the church lost personnel with the establishment of the new regime. An index of the fall in the economy was the decrease in revenues to the church via the tithe, a tax on agricultural output. Mining especially was hard hit. It had been the motor of the colonial economy, but there was considerable fighting during the war of independence in Zacatecas and Guanajuato, the two most important silver mining sites. [28] In spite of Viceroy O'Donojú's having signed the Treaty of Córdoba giving Mexico its independence, the Spanish government did not recognize it as legitimate and claimed sovereignty over Mexico.

Spain set in motion events that brought Iturbide, the son of a provincial merchant, as Emperor of Mexico. With Spain's rejection of the treaty and with no European royal taking up the offer of being Mexico's monarch, many creoles now decided that having a Mexican as its monarch was acceptable. A local army garrison proclaimed Iturbide emperor. Since the church refused to crown him, the president of the constituent congress did on 21 July 1822. His long-term rule was doomed. He did not have the respect of the Mexican nobility. Republicans sought that form of government rather than a monarchy. The emperor set up all the trappings of a monarchy with a court and fine robes of power. His actions as increasingly dictatorial and shutting down criticism led him to shut down congress. Worried that a brilliant young colonel, Antonio López de Santa Anna, would raise a rebellion, the emperor relieved him of his command. Rather than obeying the order, Santa Anna proclaimed a republic and hastily called for the reconvening of congress. Four days later he walked back his republicanism and simply called for the removal of the emperor, in the Plan of Casa Mata. Santa Anna secured the support of insurgent general Guadalupe Victoria. The army signed on to the plan and the emperor abdicated on 19 March 1823. [29]

Federal Republic Edit

Those who overthrew the emperor then nullified the Plan of Iguala, which had called for a constitutional monarchy, as well as the Treaty of Córdoba, leaving them free to choose their whatever form of government they could agree on. It was to be a federal republic, and 4 October 1824, the United Mexican States (Spanish: Estados Unidos Mexicanos) was established. The new constitution was partly modeled on the constitution of the United States. It guaranteed basic human rights and defined Mexico as a representative federal republic, in which responsibilities of government were divided between a central government and a number of smaller units called states. It also defined Catholicism as the official and only religion of the republic. Central America did not join the federated republic and took a separate political path from 1 July 1823.

Mexico's establishment of a new, untried form of government did not bring stability. The army remained the political power, and the Roman Catholic Church the sole religious power. Both the army and the church retained special privileges in the new era. General Guadalupe Victoria was followed in office by General Vicente Guerrero, gaining the position through a coup after losing the 1828 elections, the Conservative Party saw an opportunity to seize control and led a counter-coup under General Anastasio Bustamante, who served as president from 1830 to 1832, and again from 1837 to 1841.

Political instability Edit

In much of Spanish America soon after its independence, military strongmen or caudillos dominated politics, and this period is often called "The Age of Caudillismo". In Mexico, from the late 1820s to the mid-1850s the period is often called the "Age of Santa Anna", named for the general turned politician, Antonio López de Santa Anna. The Liberals (federalists) asked Santa Anna to overthrow conservative President Anastasio Bustamante. After he did, he declared General Manuel Gómez Pedraza (who won the election of 1828) president. Elections were held thereafter, and Santa Anna took office in 1832. He served as president 11 times. [30] Constantly changing his political beliefs, in 1834 Santa Anna abrogated the federal constitution, causing insurgencies in the southeastern state of Yucatán and the northernmost portion of the northern state of Coahuila y Tejas. Both areas sought independence from the central government. Negotiations and the presence of Santa Anna's army caused Yucatán to recognize Mexican sovereignty. Then Santa Anna's army turned to the northern rebellion.

The inhabitants of Tejas declared the Republic of Texas independent from Mexico on 2 March 1836 at Washington-on-the-Brazos. They called themselves Texans and were led mainly by recent Anglo-American settlers. At the Battle of San Jacinto on April 21, 1836, Texan militiamen defeated the Mexican army and captured General Santa Anna. The Mexican government refused to recognize the independence of Texas.

Comanche conflict Edit

The northern states grew increasingly isolated, economically and politically, due to prolonged Comanche raids and attacks. The indigenous peoples of the north had not recognized the Spanish Empire's claims to the region, nor did they when Mexico became an independent nation. Mexico attempted to convince their citizens to settle in the region, but with few takers. Mexico negotiated a contract with Anglo Americans to settle in the area, with the hope and expectation that they would do so in Comanche territory, the Comancheria. In the 1820s, when the United States began to exert influence over the region, New Mexico had already begun to question its loyalty to Mexico. By the time of the Mexican–American War, the Comanches had raided and pillaged large portions of northern Mexico, resulting in sustained impoverishment, political fragmentation, and general frustration at the inability—or unwillingness—of the Mexican government to discipline the Comanches. [31]

In addition to Comanche raids, the First Republic's northern border was plagued with attacks on its northern border from the Apache people, who were supplied with guns by American merchants. [32] Goods including guns and shoes were sold to the Apache, the latter being discovered by Mexican forces when they found traditional Apache trails with American shoe prints instead of moccasin prints. [32]

Texas Edit

Soon after achieving independence from Spain, the Mexican government, in an effort to populate its northern territories, awarded extensive land grants in Coahuila y Tejas to thousands of families from the United States, on condition that the settlers convert to Catholicism and become Mexican citizens. The Mexican government also forbade the importation of slaves. These conditions were largely ignored. [33]

A key factor in the government decision to allow those settlers was the belief that they would (a) protect northern Mexico from Comanche attacks and (b) buffer the northern states against US westward expansion. The policy failed on both counts: the Americans tended to settle far from the Comanche raiding zones and used the Mexican government's failure to suppress the raids as a pretext for declaring independence. [31]

The Texas Revolution or Texas War of Independence was a military conflict between Mexico and settlers in the Texas portion of the Mexican state Coahuila y Tejas.

The war lasted from October 2, 1835 to April 21, 1836. However, a war at sea between Mexico and Texas continued into the 1840s. Animosity between the Mexican government and the American settlers in Texas, as well as many Texas residents of Mexican ancestry, began with the Siete Leyes of 1835, when Mexican President and General Antonio López de Santa Anna abolished the federal Constitution of 1824 and proclaimed the more centralizing 1835 constitution in its place.

War began in Texas on October 2, 1835, with the Battle of Gonzales. Early Texian Army successes at La Bahia and San Antonio were soon met with crushing defeat at the same locations a few months later. The war ended at the Battle of San Jacinto where General Sam Houston led the Texian Army to victory over a portion of the Mexican Army under Santa Anna, who was captured soon after the battle. The end of the war resulted in the creation of the Republic of Texas in 1836. In 1845, the U.S. Congress ratified Texas's petition for statehood.

Mexican-American War (1846–1848) Edit

In response to a Mexican massacre of a U.S. army detachment in disputed territory, the U.S. Congress declared war on May 13, 1846 Mexico followed suit on 23 May. The Mexican–American War took place in two theaters: the western (aimed at California) and Central Mexico (aimed at capturing Mexico City) campaigns.

In March 1847, U.S. President James K. Polk sent an army of 12,000 volunteer and regular U.S. Army soldiers under General Winfield Scott to the port of Veracruz. The 70 ships of the invading forces arrived at the city on 7 March and began a naval bombardment. After landing his men, horses, and supplies, Scott began the Siege of Veracruz. [34]

The city (at that time still walled) was defended by Mexican General Juan Morales with 3,400 men. Veracruz replied as best it could with artillery to the bombardment from land and sea, but the city walls were reduced. After 12 days, the Mexicans surrendered. Scott marched west with 8,500 men, while Santa Anna entrenched with artillery and 12,000 troops on the main road halfway to Mexico City. At the Battle of Cerro Gordo, Santa Anna was outflanked and routed.

Scott pushed on to Puebla, Mexico's second largest city, which capitulated without resistance on 1 May—the citizens were hostile to Santa Anna. After the Battle of Chapultepec (13 September 1847), Mexico City was occupied Scott became its military governor. Many other parts of Mexico were also occupied. Some Mexican units fought with distinction. One of the justly commemorated units was a group of six young Military College cadets (now considered Mexican national heroes), who fought to the death defending their college during the Battle of Chapultepec.

The war ended with the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which stipulated that (1) Mexico must sell its northern territories to the US for US$15 million (2) the US would give full citizenship and voting rights, and protect the property rights of Mexicans living in the ceded territories and (3) the US would assume $3.25 million in debt owed by Mexico to Americans. [35] The war was Mexico's first encounter with a modern, well-organized, and well-equipped army. Mexico's defeat has been attributed to its problematic internal situation, one of disunity and disorganization.

The end of Santa Anna's rule Edit

Despite Santa Anna's role in the catastrophe of the Mexican American War, he returned to power yet again. One last act doomed his political role. When the U.S. discovered that a much easier railroad route to California lay slightly south of the Gila River, in Mexico, Santa Anna sold the Gadsden Strip to the US for $10 million in the Gadsden Purchase in 1853. This loss of still more territory provoked considerable outrage among Mexicans, but Santa Anna claimed that he needed money to rebuild the army from the war. In the end, he kept or squandered most of it. [36] Liberals finally coalesced and successfully rebelled against his regime, promulgating the Plan of Ayutla in 1854 and forcing Santa Anna into exile. [37] [38] Liberals came to power and began enacting reforms that they had long envisioned.

Liberals ousted conservative Santa Anna in the Revolution of Ayutla and sought to implement liberal ideology in a series of separate laws, then in a new constitution, which incorporated them. Mexico then experienced twenty years of civil war and a foreign intervention that established a monarchy with the support of Mexican conservatives. The fall of the empire of Maximilian of Mexico and his execution in 1867 ushered in a period of relative peace, but economic stagnation during the Restored Republic. In general, the history writing on this era has characterized the liberals as forging a new, modern nation and conservatives as reactionary opponents of that vision. Starting in the late twentieth century, historians are writing more nuanced analyses of both liberals and conservatives. [39]

Fall of Santa Anna in the Revolution of Ayutla Edit

The Reforma began with the final overthrow of Santa Anna in the Revolution of Ayutla in 1855. Moderate Liberal Ignacio Comonfort became president. The Moderados tried to find a middle ground between the nation's liberals and conservatives. There is less consensus about the ending point of the Reforma. [40]

Common dates are 1861, after the liberal victory in the Reform War 1867, after the republican victory over the French intervention in Mexico and 1876 when Porfirio Díaz overthrew president Sebastián Lerdo de Tejada. Liberalism dominated Mexico as an intellectual force into the 20th century. Liberals championed reform and supported republicanism, capitalism, and individualism they fought to reduce the Church's conservative roles in education, land ownership and politics. [40] Also importantly, liberals sought to end the special status of indigenous communities by ending their corporate ownership of land.

Constitution of 1857 Edit

Liberal Colonel Ignacio Comonfort became president in 1855 after a revolt based in Ayutla overthrew Santa Anna. Comonfort was a moderate who tried and failed to maintain an uncertain coalition of radical and moderate liberals. Radical liberals drafted the Constitution of 1857, decreased the power of the executive, incorporated the laws of the Reform stripping the Catholic Church of its privileges and ability to own property, and control over education. [41] It granted religious freedom, stating only that the Catholic Church was the favored faith. The anti-clerical radicals scored a major victory with the ratification of the constitution, because it weakened the Church and enfranchised illiterate commoners. The constitution was unacceptable to the army, the clergy and the other conservatives, as well as moderate liberals such as President Comonfort. With the Plan of Tacubaya in December 1857, opponents such as Comonfort repudiated the constitution. Conservative General Félix Zuloaga succeeded in a coup in the capital in January 1858, creating a parallel conservative government in Mexico City. Comonfort resigned the presidency and was succeeded by the President of the Supreme Court, Benito Juárez, who became President of the Republic. [41]

War of Reform (1857–1861) Edit

The revolt led to the War of Reform (December 1857 to January 1861), which grew increasingly bloody as it progressed and polarized the nation's politics. Many Moderates, convinced that the Church's political power had to be curbed, came over to the side of the Liberals.

For some time, the Liberals and Conservatives simultaneously administered separate governments, the Conservatives from Mexico City and the Liberals from Veracruz. The war ended with a Liberal victory, and liberal President Benito Juárez moved his administration to Mexico City.

French intervention and Second Mexican Empire (1861–1867) Edit

In 1862, the country was invaded by France which sought to collect debts that the Juárez government had defaulted on, but the larger purpose was to install a ruler under French control. They chose a member of the Habsburg dynasty, which had ruled Spain and its overseas possessions until 1700. Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian of Austria was installed as Emperor Maximilian I of Mexico, with support from the Catholic Church, conservative elements of the upper class, and some indigenous communities. Although the French suffered an initial defeat (the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862, now commemorated as the Cinco de Mayo holiday), the French eventually defeated the Mexican army and set Maximilian on the throne. The Mexican-French monarchy set up administration in Mexico City, governing from the National Palace. [42]

Maximilian's consort was Empress Carlota of Mexico and they chose Chapultepec Castle as their home. The Imperial couple pursued policies that favored the Upper Class white Mexicans over the Majority Mestizo and Indigenous peasants. They were also in favor of exploiting the nation's resources for themselves and their allies. This included favoring the plans of Napoleon III to exploit the mines in the northwest of the country and to grow cotton. [42]

Maximilian was a liberal, a fact that Mexican conservatives seemingly did not know when he was chosen to head the government. He favored the establishment of a limited monarchy that would share power with a democratically elected congress. This was too liberal for conservatives, while liberals refused to accept any monarch, considering the republican government of Benito Juárez as legitimate. This left Maximilian with few enthusiastic allies within Mexico. Meanwhile, Juárez remained head of the republican government. He continued to be recognized by the United States, which was engaged in its Civil War (1861–65) and at that juncture was in no position to aid Juárez directly against the French intervention until 1865.

France never made a profit in Mexico and its Mexican expedition grew increasingly unpopular. Finally in the spring of 1865, after the US Civil War was over, the US demanded the withdrawal of French troops from Mexico. Napoleon III quietly complied. In mid-1867, despite repeated Imperial losses in battle to the Republican Army and ever decreasing support from Napoleon III, Maximilian chose to remain in Mexico rather than return to Europe. He was captured and executed along with two Mexican supporters, immortalized in a famous painting by Eduard Manet. Juárez remained in office until his death in 1872.

Restored Republic (1867–1876) Edit

In 1867 with the defeat of the monarchy and execution of Emperor Maximilian, the republic was restored and Juárez reelected. He continued to implement his reforms. In 1871, he was elected a second time, much to the dismay of his opponents within the Liberal party, who considered reelection to be somewhat undemocratic. Juárez died one year later and was succeeded by Sebastián Lerdo de Tejada.

Part of Juarez's reforms included fully secularizing the country. The Catholic Church was barred from owning property aside from houses of worship and monasteries, and education and marriage were put in the hands of the state.

The rule of Porfirio Díaz (1876–1911) was dedicated to the rule by law, suppression of violence, and modernization of all aspects of the society and economy. [43] Diaz was an astute military leader and liberal politician who built a national base of supporters. To avoid antagonizing Catholics, he avoided enforcement of anticlerical laws. The country's infrastructure was greatly improved, thanks to increased foreign investment from Britain and the US, and a strong, stable central government. [44]

Increased tax revenue and better administration dramatically improved public safety, public health, railways, mining, industry, foreign trade, and national finances. Díaz modernized the army and suppressed some banditry. After a half-century of stagnation, where per capita income was merely a tenth of the developed nations such as Britain and the US, the Mexican economy took off and grew at an annual rate of 2.3% (1877 to 1910), which was high by world standards. [44]

Mexico moved from being a target of ridicule to international pride. As traditional ways were under challenge, urban Mexicans debated national identity, the rejection of indigenous cultures, the new passion for French culture once the French were ousted from Mexico, and the challenge of creating a modern nation by means of industrialization and scientific modernization. [45]

Poverty Edit

Mexico City was poorer per capita in 1876 than in 1821. Some commentators attribute the slow economic growth to the negative impact of Spanish rule, the concentration of landholding by few families, and the reactionary role of the Catholic Church. Coatsworth rejects those reasons and says the chief obstacles were poor transportation and inefficient economic organization. Under the Porfiriato regime (1876–1910), economic growth was much faster. [46]

Order, progress, and dictatorship Edit

In 1876, Lerdo was reelected, defeating Porfirio Díaz. Díaz rebelled against the government with the proclamation of the Plan de Tuxtepec, in which he opposed reelection, in 1876. Díaz overthrew Lerdo, who fled the country, and Díaz was named president. Thus began a period of more than 30 years (1876–1911) during which Díaz was Mexico's strong man. He was elected president eight times, turning over power once, from 1880 to 1884, to a trusted ally, General Manuel Gonzailez. [47]

This period of relative prosperity is known as the Porfiriate. Diaz remained in power by rigging elections and censoring the press. Possible rivals were destroyed, and popular generals were moved to new areas so they could not build a permanent base of support. Banditry on roads leading to major cities was largely suppressed by the "Rurales", a new police force controlled by Diaz. Banditry remained a major threat in more remote areas, because the Rurales comprised fewer than 1000 men. [47]

The Army was reduced in size from 30,000 to under 20,000 men, which resulted in a smaller percentage of the national budget being committed to the military. Nevertheless, the army was modernized, well-trained, and equipped with the latest technology. The Army was top-heavy with 5,000 officers, many of them elderly, but politically well-connected veterans of the wars of the 1860s. [48]

The political skills that Díaz used so effectively before 1900 faded, as he and his closest advisers were less open to negotiations with younger leaders. His announcement in 1908 that he would retire in 1911 unleashed a widespread feeling that Díaz was on the way out, and that new coalitions had to be built. He nevertheless ran for reelection and in a show of U.S. support, Díaz and Taft planned a summit in El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, for October 16, 1909, an historic first meeting between a Mexican and a U.S. president and also the first time an American president would cross the border into Mexico. [49] Both sides agreed that the disputed Chamizal strip connecting El Paso to Ciudad Juárez would be considered neutral territory with no flags present during the summit, but the meeting focused attention on this territory and resulted in assassination threats and other serious security concerns. [49] On the day of the summit, Frederick Russell Burnham, the celebrated scout, and Private C. R. Moore, a Texas Ranger, discovered a man holding a concealed palm pistol standing at the El Paso Chamber of Commerce building along the procession route. [49] Burnham and Moore captured and disarmed the assassin within only a few feet of Díaz and Taft. [49] Both presidents were unharmed and the summit was held. [49] At the meeting, Diaz told John Hays Hammond, "Since I am responsible for bringing several billion dollars in foreign investments into my country, I think I should continue in my position until a competent successor is found." [50] Díaz was re-elected after a highly controversial election, but he was overthrown in 1911 and forced into exile in France after Army units rebelled.

Population and public health Edit

Under Díaz, the population grew steadily from 11 million in 1877 to 15 million in 1910. Because of very high infant mortality (22% of new babies died) the life expectancy at birth was only 25.0 years in 1900. [51] Few immigrants arrived. Diaz gave enormous power and prestige to the Superior Health Council, which developed a consistent and assertive strategy using up-to-date international scientific standards. It took control of disease certification required prompt reporting of disease and launched campaigns against tropical disease such as yellow fever. [52]

Economy Edit

Fiscal stability was achieved by José Yves Limantour (1854–1935), Secretary of Finance of Mexico from 1893 until 1910. He was the leader of the well-educated technocrats known as Científicos, who were committed to modernity and sound finance. Limantour expanded foreign investment, supported free trade, and balanced the budget for the first time and generated a budget surplus by 1894. However, he was unable to halt the rising cost of food, which alienated the poor. [53]

The American Panic of 1907 was an economic downturn that caused a sudden drop in demand for Mexican copper, silver, gold, zinc, and other metals. Mexico in turn cut its imports of horses and mules, mining machinery, and railroad supplies. The result was an economic depression in Mexico in 1908–1909 that soured optimism and raised discontent with the Díaz regime, thus helping to set the stage for revolution in 1910. [54]

Mexico was vulnerable to external shocks because of its weak banking system. The banking system was controlled by a small oligarchy, which typically made long-term loans to their own directors. The banks were the financial arms of extended kinship-based business coalitions that used banks to raise additional capital to expand enterprises. Economic growth was largely based on trade with the United States.

Mexico had few factories by 1880, but then industrialization took hold in the Northeast, especially in Monterrey. Factories produced machinery, textiles and beer, while smelters processed ores. Convenient rail links with the nearby US gave local entrepreneurs from seven wealthy merchant families a competitive advantage over more distant cities. New federal laws in 1884 and 1887 allowed corporations to be more flexible. By the 1920s, American Smelting and Refining Company (ASARCO), an American firm controlled by the Guggenheim family, had invested over 20 million pesos and employed nearly 2,000 workers smelting copper and making wire to meet the demand for electrical wiring in the US and Mexico. [55]

Modernity Edit

The modernizers insisted that schools lead the way, and that science replace superstition. [56] They reformed elementary schools by mandating uniformity, secularization, and rationality. These reforms were consistent with international trends in teaching methods. In order to break the traditional peasant habits that hindered industrialization and rationalization, reforms emphasized the children's punctuality, assiduity, and health. [57] In 1910, the National University was opened as an elite school for the next generation of leaders.

Cities were rebuilt with modernizing architects favoring the latest European styles, especially the Beaux-Arts style, to symbolize the break with the past. A highly visible exemplar was the Federal Legislative Palace, built 1897–1910. [58]

Rural unrest Edit

Tutino examines the impact of the Porfiriato in the highland basins south of Mexico City, which became the Zapatista heartland during the Revolution. Population growth, railways and concentration of land in a few families generated a commercial expansion that undercut the traditional powers of the villagers. Young men felt insecure about the patriarchal roles they had expected to fill. Initially, this anxiety manifested as violence within families and communities. But, after the defeat of Díaz in 1910, villagers expressed their rage in revolutionary assaults on local elites who had profited most from the Porfiriato. The young men were radicalized, as they fought for their traditional roles regarding land, community, and patriarchy. [59]

The Mexican Revolution is a broad term to describe political and social changes in the early 20th century. Most scholars consider it to span the years 1910–1920, from the fraudulent election of Porfirio Díaz in 1910 until the December 1920 election of northern general Alvaro Obregón. Foreign powers had important economic and strategic interests in the outcome of power struggles in Mexico, with United States involvement in the Mexican Revolution playing an especially significant role. [60]

The Revolution grew increasingly broad-based, radical and violent. Revolutionaries sought far-reaching social and economic reforms by strengthening the state and weakening the conservative forces represented by the Church, the rich landowners, and foreign capitalists.

Some scholars consider the promulgation of the Mexican Constitution of 1917 as the revolution's end point. "Economic and social conditions improved in accordance with revolutionary policies, so that the new society took shape within a framework of official revolutionary institutions," with the constitution providing that framework. [61] Organized labor gained significant power, as seen in Article 123 of the Constitution of 1917. Land reform in Mexico was enabled by Article 27. Economic nationalism was also enabled by Article 27, restricting ownership of enterprises by foreigners. The Constitution also further restricted the Roman Catholic Church in Mexico implementing the restrictions in the late 1920s resulted in major violence in the Cristero War. A ban on re-election of the president was enshrined in the Constitution and in practice. Political succession was achieved in 1929 with the creation of the Partido Nacional Revolucionario (PNR), the political party that dominated Mexico's politics from its creation to the 1990s, now called the Institutional Revolutionary Party.

One major effect of the revolution was the disappearance of the Federal Army in 1914, defeated by revolutionary forces of the various factions in the Mexican Revolution. [62]

The Mexican Revolution was based on popular participation. At first, it was based on the peasantry who demanded land, water, and a more sympathetic national government. Wasserman finds that:

"Popular participation in the revolution and its aftermath took three forms. First, everyday people, though often in conjunction with elite neighbors, generated local issues such as access to land, taxes, and village autonomy. Second, the popular classes provided soldiers to fight in the revolution. Third, local issues advocated by campesinos and workers framed national discourses on land reform, the role of religion, and many other questions." [63]

Election of 1910 and popular rebellion Edit

Porfirio Díaz announced in an interview to a US journalist James Creelman that he would not run for president in 1910, at which point he would be 80 years old. This set off a spate of political activity by potential candidates, including Francisco I. Madero, a member of one of Mexico's richest families. Madero was part of the Anti-Re-electionist Party, whose main platform was the end of the Díaz regime. But Díaz reversed his decision to retire and ran again. He created the office of vice president, which could have been a mechanism to ease transition in the presidency. But Díaz chose a politically unpalatable running mate, Ramón Corral, over a popular military man, Bernardo Reyes and popular civilian Francisco I. Madero. He sent Reyes on a "study mission" to Europe and jailed Madero. Official election results declared that Díaz had won almost unanimously and Madero received only a few hundred votes. This fraud was too blatant, and riots broke out. Uprisings against Díaz occurred in the fall of 1910, particularly in Mexico's north and the southern state of Morelos. Helping unite opposition forces was a political plan drafted by Madero, the Plan of San Luis Potosí, in which he called on the Mexican people to take up arms and fight against the Díaz government. The rising was set for November 20, 1910. Madero escaped from prison to San Antonio, Texas, where he began preparing to overthrow Díaz—an action today considered the start of the Mexican Revolution. Diaz tried to use the army to suppress the revolts, but most of the ranking generals were old men close to his own age and they did not act swiftly or with sufficient energy to stem the violence. Revolutionary force—led by, among others, Emiliano Zapata in the South, Pancho Villa and Pascual Orozco in the North, and Venustiano Carranza—defeated the Federal Army.

Díaz resigned in May 1911 for the "sake of the peace of the nation". The terms of his resignation were spelled out in the Treaty of Ciudad Juárez, but it also called for an interim presidency and new elections were to be held. Francisco León de la Barra served as interim president. The Federal Army, although defeated by the northern revolutionaries, was kept intact. Francisco I. Madero, whose 1910 Plan of San Luis Potosí had helped mobilize forces opposed to Díaz, accepted the political settlement. He campaigned in the presidential elections of October 1911, won decisively, and was inaugurated in November 1911.

Madero presidency and its opposition, 1911–1913 Edit

Following the resignation of Díaz and a brief interim presidency of a high-level government official from the Díaz era, Madero was elected president in 1911.

The revolutionary leaders had many different objectives revolutionary figures varied from liberals such as Madero to radicals such as Emiliano Zapata and Pancho Villa. As a consequence, it proved impossible to agree about how to organize the government that emerged from the triumphant first phase of the revolution. This standoff over political principles led quickly to a struggle for control of the government, a violent conflict that lasted more than 20 years.

Counter-revolution and civil war, 1913–1915 Edit

Madero was ousted and killed in February 1913 during the Ten Tragic Days. General Victoriano Huerta, one of Díaz's former generals, and a nephew of Díaz, Félix Díaz, plotted with the US ambassador to Mexico, Henry Lane Wilson, to topple Madero and reassert the policies of Díaz.

Within a month of the coup, rebellion started spreading in Mexico, most prominently by the governor of the state of Coahuila, Venustiano Carranza along with old revolutionaries demobilized by Madero, such as Pancho Villa. The northern revolutionaries fought under the name of the Constitutionalist Army, with Carranza as the "First Chief" (primer jefe).

In the south, Emiliano Zapata continued his rebellion in Morelos under the Plan of Ayala, calling for the expropriation of land and redistribution to peasants. Huerta offered peace to Zapata, who rejected it. [64]

Huerta convinced Pascual Orozco, whom he fought while serving the Madero government, to join Huerta's forces. [65] Supporting the Huerta regime were business interests in Mexico, both foreign and domestic landed elites the Roman Catholic Church as well as the German and British governments. The Federal Army became an arm of the Huerta regime, swelling to some 200,000 men, many pressed into service and most ill-trained.

The US did not recognize the Huerta government, but from February to August 1913 it imposed an arms embargo on exports to Mexico, exempting the Huerta government and thereby favoring the regime against emerging revolutionary forces. [66] However, President Woodrow Wilson sent a special envoy to Mexico to assess the situation, and reports on the many rebellions in Mexico convinced Wilson that Huerta was unable to maintain order. Arms ceased to flow to Huerta's government, [67] which benefited the revolutionary cause.

The US Navy made an incursion on the Gulf Coast, occupying Veracruz in April 1914. Although Mexico was engaged in a civil war at the time, the US intervention united Mexican forces in their opposition to the US. Foreign powers helped broker US withdrawal in the Niagara Falls peace conference. The US timed its pullout to throw its support to the Constitutionalist faction under Carranza. [68]

Initially, the forces in northern Mexico were united under the Constitutionalist banner, with able revolutionary generals serving the civilian First Chief Carranza. Pancho Villa began to split from supporting Carranza as Huerta was on his way out. The break was not simply on personalist grounds, but primarily because Carranza was politically too conservative for Villa. Carranza was not only a political holdover from the Díaz era, but was also a rich hacienda owner whose interests were threatened by the more radical ideas of Villa, especially on land reform. [69] Zapata in the south was also hostile to Carranza due to his stance on land reform.

In July 1914, Huerta resigned under pressure and went into exile. His resignation marked the end of an era since the Federal Army, a spectacularly ineffective fighting force against the revolutionaries, ceased to exist. [70]

With the exit of Huerta, the revolutionary factions decided to meet and make "a last ditch effort to avert more intense warfare than that which unseated Huerta." [71] Called to meet in Mexico City in October 1914, revolutionaries opposed to Carranza's influence successfully moved the venue to Aguascalientes. The Convention of Aguascalientes did not reconcile the various victorious factions in the Mexican Revolution, but was a brief pause in revolutionary violence. The break between Carranza and Villa became definitive during the convention. Rather than First Chief Carranza being named president of Mexico, General Eulalio Gutiérrez was chosen. Carranza and Obregón left Aguascalientes, with far smaller forces than Villa's. The convention declared Carranza in rebellion against it and civil war resumed, this time between revolutionary armies that had fought in a united cause to oust Huerta.

Villa went into alliance with Zapata to form the Army of the convention. Their forces separately moved on the capital and captured Mexico City in 1914, which Carranza's forces had abandoned. The famous picture of Villa, sitting in the presidential chair in the National Palace, and Zapata is a classic image of the Revolution. Villa is reported to have said to Zapata that the presidential "chair is too big for us." [72] The alliance between Villa and Zapata did not function in practice beyond this initial victory against the Constitutionalists. Zapata returned to his southern stronghold in Morelos, where he continued to engage in guerrilla warfare under the Plan of Ayala. [73] Villa prepared to win a decisive victory against the Constitutionalist Army under Obregón.

The two rival armies of Villa and Obregón met on April 6–15, 1915 in the Battle of Celaya. The frontal cavalry charges of Villa's forces were met by the shrewd, modern military tactics of Obregón. Constitutionalist victory was complete. Carranza emerged in 1915 as the political leader of Mexico with a victorious army to keep him in that position. Villa retreated north, seemingly into political oblivion. Carranza and the Constitutionalists consolidated their position as the winning faction, with Zapata remaining a threat until his assassination in 1919.

Constitutionalists in power, 1915–1920 Edit

Venustiano Carranza promulgated a new constitution on February 5, 1917. The Mexican Constitution of 1917, with significant amendments in the 1990s, still governs Mexico.

On 19 January 1917, a secret message (the Zimmermann Telegram) was sent from the German foreign minister to Mexico proposing joint military action against the United States if war broke out. The offer included material aid to Mexico to reclaim the territory lost during the Mexican–American War, specifically the American states of Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. Carranza's generals told him that Mexico would lose to its much more powerful neighbor. However, Zimmermann's message was intercepted and published, and outraged American opinion, leading to a declaration of war in early April. Carranza then formally rejected the offer, and the threat of war with the US eased. [74]

Carranza was assassinated in 1920 during an internal feud among his former supporters over who would replace him as president.

Northern revolutionary generals as presidents Edit

Three Sonoran generals of the Constitutionalist Army, Álvaro Obregón, Plutarco Elías Calles, and Adolfo de la Huerta dominated Mexico in the 1920s. Their life experience in Mexico's northwest, described as a "savage pragmatism" [75] was in a sparsely settled region, conflict with Indians, secular rather than religious culture, and independent, commercially oriented ranchers and farmers. This was different from subsistence agriculture of the dense population of the strongly Catholic indigenous and mestizo peasantry of central Mexico. Obregón was the dominant member of the triumvirate, as the best general in the Constitutionalist Army, who had defeated Pancho Villa in battle. However, all three men were skilled politicians and administrators, who had honed their skills in Sonora. There they had "formed their own professional army, patronized and allied themselves with labor unions, and expanded the government authority to promote economic development." Once in power, they scaled this up to the national level. [76]

Obregón presidency, 1920–1924 Edit

Obregón, Calles, and de la Huerta revolted against Carranza in the Plan of Agua Prieta in 1920. Following the interim presidency of Adolfo de la Huerta, elections were held and Obregón was elected for a four-year presidential term. As well as being the Constitutionalists' most brilliant general, Obregón was a clever politician and successful businessman, farming chickpeas. His government managed to accommodate many elements of Mexican society except the most conservative clergy and big land owners. He was not an ideologue, but was a revolutionary nationalist, holding seemingly contradictory views as a socialist, a capitalist, a Jacobin, a spiritualist, and an Americanophile. [77] He was able to successfully implement policies emerging from the revolutionary struggle in particular, the successful policies were: the integration of urban, organized labor into political life via CROM, the improvement of education and Mexican cultural production under José Vasconcelos, the movement of land reform, and the steps taken toward instituting women's civil rights. He faced several main tasks in the presidency, mainly political in nature. First was consolidating state power in the central government and curbing regional strongmen (caudillos) second was obtaining diplomatic recognition from the United States and third was managing the presidential succession in 1924 when his term of office ended. [78] His administration began constructing what one scholar called "an enlightened despotism, a ruling conviction that the state knew what ought to be done and needed plenary powers to fulfill its mission." [79] After the nearly decade-long violence of the Mexican Revolution, reconstruction in the hands of a strong central government offered stability and a path of renewed modernization.

Obregón knew it was necessary for his regime to secure the recognition of the United States. With the promulgation of the Mexican Constitution of 1917, the Mexican government was empowered to expropriate natural resources. The U.S. had considerable business interests in Mexico, especially oil, and the threat of Mexican economic nationalism to big oil companies meant that diplomatic recognition could hinge on Mexican compromise in implementing the constitution. In 1923 when the Mexican presidential elections were on the horizon, Obregón began negotiating with the U.S. government in earnest, with the two governments signing the Bucareli Treaty. The treaty resolved questions about foreign oil interests in Mexico, largely in favor of U.S. interests, but Obregón's government gained U.S. diplomatic recognition. With that arms and ammunition began flowing to revolutionary armies loyal to Obregón. [80]

Since Obregón had named his fellow Sonoran general, Plutarco Elías Calles, as his successor, Obregón was imposing a "little known nationally and unpopular with many generals," [80] thereby foreclosing the ambitions of fellow revolutionaries, particularly his old comrade Adolfo de la Huerta. De la Huerta staged a serious rebellion against Obregón. But Obregón once again demonstrated his brilliance as a military tactician who now had arms and even air support from the United States to suppress it brutally. Fifty-four former Obregonistas were shot in the event. [81] Vasconcelos resigned from Obregón's cabinet as minister of education.

Although the Constitution of 1917 had even stronger anticlerical articles than the liberal constitution of 1857, Obregón largely sidestepped confrontation with the Roman Catholic Church in Mexico. Since political opposition parties were essentially banned, the Catholic Church "filled the political void and play the part of a substitute opposition." [82]

Calles presidency, 1924–1928 Edit

The 1924 presidential election was not a demonstration of free and fair elections, but the incumbent Obregón did not stand for re-election, thereby acknowledging that revolutionary principle, and he completed his presidential term still alive, the first since Porfirio Díaz. Candidate Calles embarked on the first populist presidential campaign in the nation's history, as he called for land redistribution and promised equal justice, more education, additional labor rights, and democratic governance. [83] Calles tried to fulfill his promises during his populist phase (1924–26), and then began a repressive anti-Catholic phase (1926–28). Obregón's stance toward the church appears pragmatic, since there were many other issues for him to deal with, but his successor Calles, a vehement anticlerical, took on the church as an institution and religious Catholics when he succeeded to the presidency, bringing about violent, bloody, and protracted conflict known as the Cristero War.

Cristero War (1926–1929) Edit

The Cristero War of 1926 to 1929 was a counter-revolution against the Calles regime set off by his persecution of the Catholic Church in Mexico [84] and specifically the strict enforcement of the anti-clerical provisions of the Mexican Constitution of 1917 and the expansion of further anti-clerical laws.

A number of articles of the 1917 Constitution were at issue: a) Article 5 (outlawing monastic religious orders) b) Article 24 (forbidding public worship outside of church buildings) and c) Article 27 (restricting religious organizations' rights to own property). Finally, Article 130 took away basic civil rights of the clergy: priests and religious leaders were prevented from wearing their habits, were denied the right to vote, and were not permitted to comment on public affairs in the press.

The formal rebellions began early in 1927, [85] with the rebels calling themselves Cristeros because they felt they were fighting for Jesus Christ himself. The laity stepped into the vacuum created by the removal of priests, and in the long run the Church was strengthened. [86] The Cristero War was resolved diplomatically, largely with the help of the U.S. Ambassador, Dwight Whitney Morrow. [87]

The conflict claimed about 90,000 lives: 57,000 on the federal side, 30,000 Cristeros, and civilians and Cristeros killed in anticlerical raids after the war's end. As promised in the diplomatic resolution, the laws considered offensive by the Cristeros remained on the books, but the federal government made no organized attempt to enforce them. Nonetheless, persecution of Catholic priests continued in several localities, fueled by local officials' interpretation of the law.

Maximato and the Formation of the ruling party Edit

After the presidential term of Calles, which ended in 1928, former president Alvaro Obregón won the presidency. However, he was assassinated immediately after the July election and there was a power vacuum. Calles could not immediately stand for election, so there needed to be a solution to the crisis. Revolutionary generals and others in the power elite agreed that congress should appoint an interim president and new elections held in 1928. In his final address to congress on 1 September 1928, President Calles declared the end of strong man rule, a ban on Mexican presidents serving again in that office, and that Mexico was now entering an age of rule by institutions and laws. [88] Congress chose Emilio Portes Gil to serve as interim president.

Calles created a more permanent solution to presidential succession with the founding of the National Revolutionary Party (PNR) in 1929. It was a national party that was a permanent rather than a local and ephemeral institution. Calles became the power behind the presidency in this period, known as the Maximato, named after his title of jefe máximo (maximum leader). The party brought together regional caudillos and integrated labor organizations and peasant leagues in a party that was better able to manage the political process. For the six-year term that Obregón was to serve, three presidents held office, Emilio Portes Gil, Pascual Ortiz Rubio, and Abelardo L. Rodríguez, with Calles the power behind the presidency. In 1934, the PNR chose Calles-supporter Lázaro Cárdenas, a revolutionary general, who had a political power base in Michoacan, as the candidate of the PNR for the Mexican presidency. After an initial period of acquiescence to Calles's role intervening in the presidency, Cárdenas out-maneuvered his former patron and eventually sent him into exile. Cárdenas reformed the PNR structure, resulting in the creation of the PRM (Partido Revolucionario Mexicano), the Mexican Revolutionary Party, which included the army as a party sector. He had convinced most of the remaining revolutionary generals to hand over their personal armies to the Mexican Army the date of the PRM party's foundation is thus considered by some to be the end of the Revolution. The party was re-structured again in 1946 and renamed the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and held power continuously until 2000. After its establishment as the ruling party, the PRI monopolized all the political branches: it did not lose a senate seat until 1988 or a gubernatorial race until 1989. [89] It was not until July 2, 2000, that Vicente Fox of the opposition "Alliance for Change" coalition, headed by the National Action Party (PAN), was elected president. His victory ended the PRI's 71-year hold on the presidency. Fox was succeeded by the PAN candidate, Felipe Calderón. In the 2012 elections, the PRI regained the presidency with its candidate Enrique Peña Nieto.

Revitalization of the revolution under Cárdenas Edit

Lázaro Cárdenas was hand-picked by Calles as the successor to the presidency in 1934. Cárdenas managed to unite the different forces in the PRI and set the rules that allowed his party to rule unchallenged for decades to come without internal fights. He nationalized the oil industry (on 18 March 1938), the electricity industry, created the National Polytechnic Institute, and started land reform and the distribution of free textbooks to children. [90] In 1936 he exiled Calles, the last general with dictatorial ambitions, thereby removing the army from power.

On the eve of World War II, the Cárdenas administration (1934–1940) was just stabilizing, and consolidating control over, a Mexican nation that, for decades, had been in revolutionary flux, [91] and Mexicans were beginning to interpret the European battle between the communists and fascists, especially the Spanish Civil War, through their unique revolutionary lens. Whether Mexico would side with the United States was unclear during Lázaro Cárdenas' rule, as he remained neutral. "Capitalists, businessmen, Catholics, and middle-class Mexicans who opposed many of the reforms implemented by the revolutionary government sided with the Spanish Falange" [92] i.e., the fascist movement. [93]

Nazi propagandist Arthur Dietrich and his team of agents in Mexico successfully manipulated editorials and coverage of Europe by paying hefty subsidies to Mexican newspapers, including the widely read dailies Excélsior and El Universal. [94] The situation became even more worrisome for the Allies when major oil companies boycotted Mexican oil following Lázaro Cárdenas' nationalization of the oil industry and expropriation of all corporate oil properties in 1938, [95] which severed Mexico's access to its traditional markets and led Mexico to sell its oil to Germany and Italy. [96]

Manuel Ávila Camacho presidency and World War II Edit

Manuel Ávila Camacho, Cárdenas's successor, presided over a "bridge" between the revolutionary era and the era of machine politics under PRI that lasted until 2000. Ávila, moving away from nationalistic autarchy, proposed to create a favorable climate for international investment, which had been a policy favored nearly two generations earlier by Madero. Ávila's regime froze wages, repressed strikes, and persecuted dissidents with a law prohibiting the "crime of social dissolution." During this period, the PRI shifted to the right and abandoned much of the radical nationalism of the early Cárdenas era. Miguel Alemán Valdés, Ávila's successor, even had Article 27 amended to protect elite landowners. [97]

Mexico played a relatively minor role militarily in World War Two in terms of sending troops, but there were other opportunities for Mexico to contribute significantly. Relations between Mexico and the U.S. had been warming in the 1930s, particularly after U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt implemented the Good Neighbor Policy toward Latin American countries. [98] Even before the outbreak of hostilities between the Axis and Allied powers, Mexico aligned itself firmly with the United States, initially as a proponent of "belligerent neutrality" which the U.S. followed prior to the Pearl Harbor attack in December 1941. Mexico sanctioned businesses and individuals identified by the U.S. government as being supporters of the Axis powers in August 1941, Mexico broke off economic ties with Germany, then recalled its diplomats from Germany, and closed the German consulates in Mexico. [99] The Confederation of Mexican Workers (CTM) and the Confederation of Mexican Peasants (CNC) staged massive rallies in support of the government. [99] Immediately following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, Mexico went on a war footing. [100]

Mexico's biggest contributions to the war effort were in vital war materiel and labor, particularly the Bracero Program, a guest-worker program in the U.S. freeing men there to fight in the European and Pacific theaters of War. There was heavy demand for its exports, which created a degree of prosperity. [101] A Mexican atomic scientist, José Rafael Bejarano, worked on the secret Manhattan Project that developed the atomic bomb. [102]

In Mexico and throughout Latin America, Franklin Roosevelt's "Good Neighbor Policy" was necessary at such a delicate time. Much work had already been accomplished between the U.S. and Mexico to create more harmonious relations between the two countries, including the settlement of U.S. citizen claims against the Mexican government, initially and ineffectively negotiated by the binational American-Mexican Claims Commission, but then in direct bilateral negotiations between the two governments. [103] The U.S. had not intervened on behalf of U.S. oil companies when the Mexican government expropriated foreign oil in 1938, allowing Mexico to assert its economic sovereignty but also benefiting the U.S. by easing antagonism in Mexico. The Good Neighbor Policy led to the Douglas-Weichers Agreement in June 1941 that secured Mexican oil only for the United States, [104] and the Global Settlement in November 1941 that ended oil company demands on generous terms for the Mexicans, an example of the U.S. putting national security concerns over the interests of U.S. oil companies. [105] When it became clear in other parts of Latin America that the U.S. and Mexico had substantially resolved their differences, the other Latin American countries were more amenable to support the U.S. and Allied effort against the Axis. [103]

Following losses of oil ships in the Gulf (the Potrero del Llano and Faja de Oro) to German submarines (U-564 and U-106 respectively) the Mexican government declared war on the Axis powers on May 30, 1942. [106]

Perhaps the most famous fighting unit in the Mexican military was the Escuadrón 201, also known as the Aztec Eagles. [107]

This group consisted of more than 300 volunteers, who had trained in the United States to fight against Japan. The Escuadrón 201 was the first Mexican military unit trained for overseas combat, and fought during the liberation of the Philippines, working with the U.S. Fifth Air Force in the last year of the war. [107]

Although most Latin American countries eventually entered the war on the Allies' side, Mexico and Brazil were the only Latin American nations that sent troops to fight overseas during World War II.

With so many draftees, the U.S. needed farm workers. The Bracero Program gave the opportunity for 290,000 Mexicans to work temporarily on American farms, especially in Texas. [108]

Economic "miracle" (1940–1970) Edit

During the next four decades, Mexico experienced impressive economic growth (albeit from a low baseline), an achievement historians call "El Milagro Mexicano", the Mexican Miracle. A key component of this phenomenon was the achievement of political stability, which since the founding of the dominant party, has insured stable presidential succession and control of potentially dissident labor and peasant sections through participation in the party structure. In 1938, Lázaro Cárdenas used Article 27 of the Constitution of 1917, which gave subsoil rights to the Mexican government, to expropriate foreign oil companies. It was a popular move, but it did not generate further major expropriations. With Cárdenas's hand-picked successor, Manuel Avila Camacho, Mexico moved closer to the U.S., as an ally in World War II. This alliance brought significant economic gains to Mexico. By supplying raw and finished war materials to the Allies, Mexico built up significant assets that in the post-war period could be translated into sustained growth and industrialization. [109] After 1946, the government took a rightward turn under President Miguel Alemán, who repudiated policies of previous presidents. Mexico pursued industrial development, through import substitution industrialization and tariffs against foreign imports. Mexican industrialists, including a group in Monterrey, Nuevo León as well as wealthy businessmen in Mexico City joined Alemán's coalition. Alemán tamed the labor movement in favor of policies supporting industrialists. [110] [111]

Financing industrialization came from private entrepreneurs, such as the Monterrey group, but the government funded a significant amount through its development bank, Nacional Financiera. Foreign capital through direct investment was another source of funding for industrialization, much of it from the United States. [112] Government policies transferred economic benefits from the countryside to the city by keeping agricultural artificially prices low, which made food cheap for city-dwelling industrial workers and other urban consumers. Commercial agriculture expanded with the growth of exports to the U.S. of high value fruits and vegetables, with rural credit going to large producers, not peasant agriculture. In particular, the creation of high yield seeds developed with the funding of the Rockefeller Foundation became what is known as the Green Revolution aimed at expanding commercially oriented, highly mechanized agribusiness. [113]

Guatemala conflict Edit

The Mexico–Guatemala conflict was an armed conflict between the Latin American countries of Mexico and Guatemala, in which civilian fishing boats were fired upon by the Guatemalan Air Force. Hostilities were set in motion by the installation of Miguel Ydígoras as President of Guatemala on March 2, 1958. [114]

Economic crisis (1970–1994) Edit

Although PRI administrations achieved economic growth and relative prosperity for almost three decades after World War II, the party's management of the economy led to several crises. Political unrest grew in the late 1960s, culminating in the Tlatelolco massacre in 1968. Economic crises swept the country in 1976 and 1982, leading to the nationalization of Mexico's banks, which were blamed for the economic problems (La Década Perdida). [115]

On both occasions, the Mexican peso was devalued, and, until 2000, it was normal to expect a big devaluation and recession at the end of each presidential term. The "December Mistake" crisis threw Mexico into economic turmoil—the worst recession in over half a century.

Earthquake of 1985 Edit

On 19 September 1985, an earthquake (8.1 on the Richter scale) struck Michoacán, inflicting severe damage on Mexico City. Estimates of the number of dead range from 6,500 to 30,000. [116] Public anger at the PRI's mishandling of relief efforts combined with the ongoing economic crisis led to a substantial weakening of the PRI. As a result, for the first time since the 1930s, the PRI began to face serious electoral challenges.

Changing political landscape 1970–1990 Edit

A phenomenon of the 1980s was the growth of organized political opposition to de facto one-party rule by the PRI. The National Action Party (PAN), founded in 1939 and until the 1980s a marginal political party and not a serious contender for power, began to gain voters, particularly in Mexico's north. They made gains in local elections initially, but in 1986 the PAN candidate for the governorship of Chihuahua had a good chance of winning. [117] The Catholic Church was constitutionally forbidden from participating in electoral politics, but the archbishop urged voters not to abstain from the elections. The PRI intervened and upended what would likely have been a victory for the PRI. Although the PRI's candidate became governor, the widespread perception of electoral fraud, criticism by the archbishop of Chihuahua, and a more mobilized electorate made the victory costly to the PRI. [118]

1988 Presidential election Edit

The 1988 Mexican general election was extremely important in Mexican history. The PRI's candidate, Carlos Salinas de Gortari, an economist who was educated at Harvard, had never held an elected office, and who was a technocrat with no direct link to the legacy of the Mexican Revolution even through his family. Rather than toe the party line, Cuauhtemoc Cárdenas, the son of former President Lázaro Cárdenas, broke with the PRI and ran as a candidate of the Democratic Current, later forming into the Party of Democratic Revolution (PRD). [119] The PAN candidate Manuel Clouthier ran a clean campaign in long-standing pattern of the party.

The election was marked by irregularities on a massive scale. The Ministry of the Interior (Gobernación) controlled the electoral process, which meant in practice that the PRI controlled it. During the vote count, the government computers were said to have crashed, something the government called "a breakdown of the system". One observer said, "For the ordinary citizen, it was not the computer network but the Mexican political system that had crashed." [120] When the computers were said to be running again after a considerable delay, the election results they recorded were an extremely narrow victory for Salinas (50.7%), Cárdenas (31.1%), and Clouthier (16.8%). Cárdenas was widely seen to have won the election, but Salinas was declared the winner. There might have been violence in the wake of such fraudulent results, but Cárdenas did not call for it, "sparing the country a possible civil war." [121] Years later, former Mexican President Miguel de la Madrid (1982–88) was quoted in the New York Times stating that the results were indeed fraudulent. [122]

President Ernesto Zedillo (1994–2000) Edit

In 1995, President Ernesto Zedillo faced the "December Mistake" crisis, triggered by a sudden devaluation of the peso. There were public demonstrations in Mexico City and a constant military presence after the 1994 rising of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation in Chiapas. [123]

The United States intervened rapidly to stem the economic crisis, first by buying pesos in the open market, and then by granting assistance in the form of $50 billion in loan guarantees. The peso stabilized at 6 pesos per dollar. By 1996, the economy was growing, and in 1997, Mexico repaid, ahead of schedule, all U.S. Treasury loans.

Zedillo oversaw political and electoral reforms that reduced the PRI's hold on power. After the 1988 election, which was strongly disputed and arguably lost by the government, the IFE (Instituto Federal Electoral – Federal Electoral Institute) was created in the early 1990s. Run by ordinary citizens, the IFE oversees elections with the aim of ensuring that they are conducted legally and impartially.

NAFTA and USMCA (1994–present) Edit

On 1 January 1994, Mexico became a full member of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), joining the United States and Canada. [124]

Mexico has a free market economy that recently entered the trillion-dollar class. [125] It contains a mixture of modern and outmoded industry and agriculture, increasingly dominated by the private sector. Recent administrations have expanded competition in sea ports, railroads, telecommunications, electricity generation, natural gas distribution, and airports.

Per capita income is one-quarter that of the United States income distribution remains highly unequal. Trade with the United States and Canada has tripled since the implementation of NAFTA. Mexico has free-trade agreements with more than 40 countries, governing 90% of its foreign commerce.

End of PRI rule in 2000 Edit

Accused many times of blatant fraud, the PRI held almost all public offices until the end of the 20th century. Not until the 1980s did the PRI lose its first state governorship, an event that marked the beginning of the party's loss of hegemony. [126] [127]

President Vicente Fox Quesada (2000–2006) Edit

Emphasizing the need to upgrade infrastructure, modernize the tax system and labor laws, integrate with the U.S. economy, and allow private investment in the energy sector, Vicente Fox Quesada, the candidate of the National Action Party (PAN), was elected the 69th president of Mexico on 2 July 2000, ending PRI's 71-year-long control of the office. Though Fox's victory was due in part to popular discontent with decades of unchallenged PRI hegemony, also, Fox's opponent, president Zedillo, conceded defeat on the night of the election—a first in Mexican history. [128] A further sign of the quickening of Mexican democracy was the fact that PAN failed to win a majority in both chambers of Congress—a situation that prevented Fox from implementing his reform pledges. Nonetheless, the transfer of power in 2000 was quick and peaceful.

Fox was a very strong candidate, but an ineffective president who was weakened by PAN's minority status in Congress. Historian Philip Russell summarizes the strengths and weaknesses of Fox as president:

Marketed on television, Fox made a far better candidate than he did president. He failed to take charge and provide cabinet leadership, failed to set priorities, and turned a blind eye to alliance building. By 2006, as political scientist Soledad Loaeza noted, "the eager candidate became a reluctant president who avoided tough choices and appeared hesitant and unable to hide the weariness caused by the responsibilities and constraints of the office." . He had little success in fighting crime. Even though he maintained the macroeconomic stability inherited from his predecessor, economic growth barely exceeded the rate of population increase. Similarly, the lack of fiscal reform left tax collection at a rate similar to that of Haiti. Finally, during Fox's administration, only 1.4 million formal-sector jobs were created, leading to massive immigration to the United States and an explosive increase in informal employment. [129]

President Felipe Calderón Hinojosa (2006–2012) Edit

President Felipe Calderón Hinojosa (PAN) took office after one of the most hotly contested elections in recent Mexican history Calderón won by such a small margin (.56% or 233,831 votes.) [130] that the runner-up, Andrés Manuel López Obrador of the leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) contested the results.

Despite imposing a cap on salaries of high-ranking public servants, Calderón ordered a raise on the salaries of the Federal Police and the Mexican armed forces on his first day as president.

Calderón's government also ordered massive raids on drug cartels upon assuming office in December 2006 in response to an increasingly deadly spate of violence in his home state of Michoacán. The decision to intensify drug enforcement operations has led to an ongoing conflict between the federal government and the Mexican drug cartels.

Drug war (2006-present) Edit

Under President Calderón (2006-2012), the government began waging a war on regional drug mafias. [131] So far, this conflict has resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of Mexicans and the drug mafias continue to gain power. Mexico has been a major transit and drug-producing nation: an estimated 90% of the cocaine smuggled into the United States every year moves through Mexico. [125] Fueled by the increasing demand for drugs in the United States, the country has become a major supplier of heroin, producer and distributor of MDMA, and the largest foreign supplier of cannabis and methamphetamine to the U.S.'s market. Major drug syndicates control the majority of drug trafficking in the country, and Mexico is a significant money-laundering center. [125]

After the Federal Assault Weapons Ban expired in the U.S. on September 13, 2004, Mexican drug mafias have found it easy to buy assault weapons in the United States. [132] The result is that drug cartels have now both more gun power, and more manpower due to the high unemployment in Mexico. [133]

After taking office in 2018, President López Obrador pursued an alternative approach to dealing with drug mafias, calling for a policy of "hugs, not gunshots" (abrazos, no balazos). [134] This policy was ineffective, and the death toll has soared. In October 2019 in Sinaloa, AMLO's government allowed the son of El Chapo to go free after the downtown of Culiacan became a free fire zone. [135]

Salvador Cienfuegos was arrested by U.S. officials on 15 October 2020 at Los Angeles International Airport on drug and money-laundering charges. [136] [137] He was found to have used the alias "El Padrino" ("The Godfather") while working with the H-2 Cartel. [138] The Mexican government warned of reviewing security agreements with the United States over not being given advance notice of the arrest. [139]

On 18 November 2020, American authorities agreed to drop charges against Cienfuegos, who had served over a month in U.S. detention. They also agreed to send him back to Mexico, where he is under investigation as well. [140] Some American media outlets reported that the charges had been dropped under pressure from the Mexican federal government, which had threatened to expel DEA agents from the country. The President of Mexico Andrés Manuel López Obrador however denied the charge.

President Enrique Peña Nieto (2012–2018) Edit

On July 1, 2012, Enrique Peña Nieto was elected president of Mexico with 38% of the vote. He is a former governor of the state of Mexico and a member of the PRI. His election returned the PRI to power after 12 years of PAN rule. He was officially sworn into office on December 1, 2012. [141]

The Pacto por México was a cross party alliance that called for the accomplishment of 95 goals. It was signed on 2 December 2012 by the leaders of the three main political parties in Chapultepec Castle. The Pact has been lauded by international pundits as an example for solving political gridlock and for effectively passing institutional reforms. [142] [143] [144] Among other legislation, it called for education reform, banking reform, fiscal reform and telecommunications reform, all of which were eventually passed. [145] However, this pact was ultimately jeopardized when the center-right PAN and PRI pushed for a revaluation of, and end to, the monopoly of the state owned petroleum company, Pemex. This ultimately resulted in the dissolution of the alliance in December 2013 when the center-left PRD refused to collaborate on legislation that would have allowed for foreign investment in Mexico's oil industry.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (2018–present) Edit

On July 1, 2018, Andrés Manuel López Obrador was elected president with 30,112,109 votes (53.19% of the total votes cast.) Lopez Obrador is the leader of the National Regeneration Movement and he headed the Juntos Haremos Historia coalition. The coalition also won 306/500 seats in the Chamber of Deputies, 69/100 federal Senate seats, several governorships, and numerous local elections. [146] ] [147]

The administration has had to contend with the coronavirus pandemic. AMLO does not wear a face mask or practice social distancing. The number of cases has continued to rise, but Mexico has attempted the gradual reopening of the economy. At least 500 Cuban health workers are helping tackle the new coronavirus in Mexico City, Mexican officials say, making it likely the largest contingent the communist-led island has deployed globally as part of its response to the pandemic.

Our War against Memory

Monuments to Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee are removed from Wyman Park in Baltimore, August 16, 2017. (Reuters photo: Alec MacGillis/ProPublica)

Back to the Future

Romans emperors were often a bad lot — but usually confirmed as such only in retrospect. Monsters such as Nero, of the first-century A.D. Julio-Claudian dynasty, or the later psychopaths Commodus and Caracalla, were flattered by toadies when alive — only to be despised the moment they dropped.

After unhinged emperors were finally killed off, the sycophantic Senate often proclaimed a damnatio memoriae (a “damnation of memory”). Prior commemoration was wiped away, thereby robbing the posthumous ogre of any legacy and hence any existence for eternity.

In more practical matters, there followed a concurrent abolitio memoriae (an “erasing of memory”). Specifically, moralists either destroyed or rounded up and put away all statuary and inscriptions concerning the bad, dead emperor. In the case of particularly striking or expensive artistic pieces, they erased the emperor’s name (abolitio nominis) or his face and some physical characteristics from the artwork.

Impressive marble torsos were sometimes recut to accommodate a more acceptable (or powerful) successor. (Think of something like the heads only of the generals on Stone Mountain blasted off and replaced by new carved profiles of John Brown and Nat Turner).

A Scary History

Without Leon Trotsky’s organizational and tactical genius, Vladimir Lenin might never have consolidated power among squabbling anti-czarist factions. Yet after the triumph of Stalin, “de-Trotskyization” demanded that every word, every photo, and every memory of an ostracized Trotsky was to be obliterated. That nightmarish process fueled allegorical themes in George Orwell’s fictional Animal Farm and 1984.

How many times has St. Petersburg changed its name, reflecting each generation’s love or hate or indifference to czarist Russia or neighboring Germany? Is the city always to remain St. Petersburg, or will it once again be anti-German Petrograd as it was after the horrific First World War? Or perhaps it will again be Communist Leningrad during the giddy age of the new man — as dictated by the morality and the politics of each new generation resenting its past? Is a society that damns its past every 50 years one to be emulated?

Abolition of memory is easy when the revisionists enjoy the high moral ground and the damned are evil incarnate. But more often, killing the dead is not an easy a matter of dragon slaying, as with Hitler or Stalin. Confederate General Joe Johnston was not General Stonewall Jackson and after the war General John Mosby was not General Wade Hampton, just as Ludwig Beck was not Joachim Peiper.

Stone Throwers and Their Targets

What about the morally ambiguous persecution of sinners such as the current effort in California to damn the memory of Father Junipero Serra and erase his eponymous boulevards, to punish his supposedly illiberal treatment of Native Americans in the early missions some 250 years ago?

California Bay Area zealots are careful to target Serra but not Leland Stanford, who left a more detailed record of his own 19th-century anti-non-white prejudices, but whose university brand no progressive student of Stanford would dare to erase, because doing so would endanger his own studied trajectory to the good life. We forget that there are other catalysts than moral outrage that calibrate the targets of abolitio memoriae.

Again, in the case of the current abolition of Confederate icons — reenergized by the Black Lives Matter movement and the general repulsion over the vile murders by cowardly racist Dylan Roof — are all Confederate statues equally deserving of damnation?

Does the statue of Confederate General James Longstreet deserve defacing? He was a conflicted officer of the Confederacy, a critic of Robert E. Lee’s, later a Unionist friend of Ulysses S. Grant, an enemy of the Lost Causers, and a leader of African-American militias in enforcing reconstruction edicts against white nationalists. Is Longstreet the moral equivalent of General Nathan Bedford Forrest (“get there firstest with the mostest”), who was the psychopathic villain of Fort Pillow, a near illiterate ante-bellum slave-trading millionaire, and the first head of the original Ku Klux Klan?

Were the 60–70 percent of the Confederate population in most secessionist states who did not own slaves complicit in the economics of slavery? Did they have good options to leave their ancestral homes when the war started to escape the stain of perpetuating slavery? Do such questions even matter to the new arbiters of ethics, who recently defiled the so-called peace monument in an Atlanta park — a depiction of a fallen Confederate everyman, his trigger hand stilled by an angel? How did those obsessed with the past know so little of history?

Key to General William Tecumseh Sherman’s devastating strategy of marching through Georgia and the Carolinas was his decision to deliberately target the plantations and the homes of the wealthy, along with Confederate public buildings. Apparently Sherman believed that the plantation owners of the South were far more culpable than the poor non-slave-holding majority in most secessionist states. Sherman generally spared the property of non-slave owners, though they collectively suffered nonetheless through the general impoverishment left in Sherman’s wake.

In our race to rectify the past in the present, could Ken Burns in 2017 still make his stellar Civil War documentary, with a folksy and drawly Shelby Foote animating the tragedies of the Confederacy’s gifted soldiers sacrificing their all for a bad cause? Should progressives ask Burns to reissue an updated Civil War version in which Foote and southern “contextualizers” are left on the cutting room floor?

How about progressive icon Joan Baez? Should the Sixties folksinger seek forgiveness from us for reviving her career in the early 1970s with the big money-making hit “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down”— her version of The Band’s sympathetic ode to the tragedy of a defeated Confederacy, written over a century after the Civil War. (“Back with my wife in Tennessee / When one day she called to me / Said, “Virgil, quick, come see / There goes the Robert E. Lee!”) If a monument is to be wiped away, then surely a popular song must go, too.

Are there gradations of moral ambiguity? Or do Middlebury and Berkeley students or antifa rioters in their infinite wisdom have a monopoly on calibrating virtue and defining it as 100 percent bad or good?

Who of the present gets to decide whom of the past we must erase — and where does the cleansing of memory stop? Defacing Mt. Rushmore of its slave owners?

Who of the present gets to decide whom of the past we must erase — and where does the cleansing of memory stop? Defacing Mt. Rushmore of its slave owners? Renaming the double-whammy Washington and Lee University? Are we to erase mention of the heavens for their August 21 eclipse that unfairly bypassed most of the nation’s black population — as the recent issue of Atlantic magazine is now lamenting?

Revolutions are not always sober and judicious. We might agree that the public sphere is no place for honorific commemoration of Roger B. Taney, the author of the Dred Scott decision. But statue removal will not be limited to the likes of Roger B. Taneys when empowered activists can cite chapter and verse the racist things once uttered by Abraham Lincoln, whose bust was just disfigured in Chicago — and when the statue-destroyers feel that they gain power daily because they are morally superior.

Correct and Incorrect Racists?

The logical trajectory of tearing down the statue of a Confederate soldier will soon lead to the renaming of Yale, the erasing of Washington and Jefferson from our currency, and the de-Trotskyization of every mention of Planned Parenthood’s iconic Margaret Sanger, the eugenicist whose racist views on abortion anticipated those of current liberal Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. (Ginsburg said, “Frankly I had thought that at the time Roe was decided, there was concern about population growth and particularly growth in populations that we don’t want to have too many of.”)

At what point will those who went ballistic over President Trump’s clumsy “on the one hand, on the other hand” criticism of both the abhorrent racists who marched in Charlottesville (parading around in the very Nazi garb that their grandparents had fought to vanquish) and the unhinged anarchists who sought to violently stop them demand that Princeton University erase all mention of their beloved Woodrow Wilson, the unapologetic racist? Wilson, as an emblematic and typical early progressive, thought human nature could “progress” by scientific devotion to eugenics, and he believed that blacks were innately inferior. Wilson, also remember, was in a position of power — and, owing to his obdurate racism, he ensured that integration of the U.S. Army would needlessly have to wait three decades. Do any of the protestors realize that a chief tenet of early progressivism was eugenics, the politically correct, liberal orthodoxy of its time?

Just as in Roman times, chipping away the face of Nero or Commodus did not ensure a new emperor’s good behavior, so tearing down a statue of a Confederate soldier is not going to restore vitality to the inner city, whose tragedies are not due to inanimate bronze.

When Minnesota Black Lives Matter marchers chanted of police, “Pigs in a blanket, fry ’em like bacon,” was that a call for violence that was not long after realized by a spate of racist murders of policemen in Dallas? Are such advocates of torching police officers morally equipped to adjudicate which Confederate statue must come down?

And did President Obama swiftly condemn the forces that led the shooter to select his victims for execution? After Major Nidal Malik Hasan murdered 13 fellow soldiers in cold blood, screaming out “Allah Akbar” as he shot, did “both sides” Obama really have to warn America that “we don’t know all the answers yet, and I would caution against jumping to conclusions until we have all the facts”? And did it take him six years before he discovered the catalysts when finally calling the murders a terrorist attack? Did Obama have to dismiss the Islamist anti-Semitic terrorist slaughter of targeted Jews in a kosher market in Paris with the callous and flippant quip that the murderers had killed “a bunch of folks in a deli in Paris”? Were there demonstrations over that moral equivalence?

And was it inevitable that the anti-Semite, homophobe, and provocateur with past blood on his hands for inciting riot and arson, the Reverend Al Sharpton, would advocate yanking public sponsorship of the Jefferson memorial? He who is with sin now casts the first stone?

We are in an age of melodrama, not tragedy, in which we who are living in a leisured and affluent age (in part due to the accumulated learning and moral wisdom gained and handed down by former generations of the poor and less aware) pass judgement on prior ages because they lacked our own enlightened and sophisticated views of humanity — as if we lucky few were born fully ethically developed from the head of Zeus.

In my own town, there used to be a small classical fountain dedicated by the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union. It was long ago torn down. (Who wishes to recall the forces that led to Prohibition?) In its place now sits an honorific statue to the clawed, half-human Aztec deity Coatlicue, the hungry earth-mother goddess. Coatlicue was quite a bloodthirsty creation, to whom thousands of living captives were sacrificed. The goddess was often portrayed wrapped in a cloak of skin and wearing a neckless of human hearts, hands, and skulls. Our town’s new epigraph atop Coatlicue is Viva la Raza — “Long live the Race.” Should there be demonstrations to yank down such a racialist and Franco-ist hurrah? Or are the supposed victims of white privilege themselves exempt from the very chauvinism that they sometimes allege in others? Is there a progressive rationale that exempts Coatlicue and its racist plaque, whose sloganeering channels the raza/razza mantras of Fascist Spain and Mussolini’s Italy? Are we to have a perpetual war of the statues?

The Arc of History More Often Bends Backward

There is a need for an abolition of memory in the case of Hitler or Stalin, or here in America perhaps even of a Nathan Bedford Forrest. But when we wipe away history at a whim (why in 2017 and not, say, in 2015 or 2008?), we’d better make sure that our targets are uniquely and melodramatically evil rather than tragically misguided. And before we get out our ropes and sandblasters, we should be certain that we are clearly the moral superiors of those we condemn to oblivion.

Before we get out our ropes and sandblasters, we should be certain that we are clearly the moral superiors of those we condemn to oblivion.

Be careful, 21st-century man. Far more hypercritical generations to come may find our own present moral certitude — late-term and genetically driven abortion, the rise of artificial intelligence in place of human decision-making, the harvesting and selling of aborted fetal organs, ethnic and tribal chauvinism, euthanasia, racially segregated dorms and “safe spaces” — as immoral as we find the sins of our own predecessors.

For the last decade, we were lectured that the arc of history always bends toward our own perceptions of moral justice. More likely, human advancement tends to be circular and should not to be confused with technological progress.

Just as often, history is ethically circular. No Roman province produced anyone quite like a modern Hitler Attila’s body count could not match Stalin’s.

In the classical Athens of 420 B.C. , a far greater percentage of the population could read than in Ottoman Athens of A.D. 1600. The average undergraduate of 1950 probably left college knowing a lot more than his 2017 counterpart does. The monopolies of Google, Facebook, and Amazon are far more insidious than that of Standard Oil, even if our masters of the universe seem more hip in their black turtlenecks than John D. Rockefeller did in his starched collars.

Moneywise, Bernie Madoff outdid James Fisk and Jay Gould.

The strangest paradox in the current epidemic of abolitio memoriae is that our moral censors believe in ethical absolutism and claim enough superior virtue to apply it clumsily across the ages — without a clue that they fall short of their own moral pretensions, and that one day their own icons are as likely be stoned as the icons of others are now apt to be torn down by black-mask-wearing avengers.

A final paradox about killing the dead: Two millennia after Roman autocrats’ destruction of statues, and armed with the creepy 20th-century model of Fascists and Communists destroying the past, we, of a supposedly enlightened democracy, cannot even rewrite history by democratic means — local, state, and federal commission recommendations, referenda, or majority votes of elected representatives. More often, as moral cowards, we either rely on the mob or some sort of executive order enforced only in the dead of night.

— NRO contributor Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and the author of The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won, to appear in October from Basic Books.

Coatlicue Timeline - History

Color Codes

The DC Character Chronologies is an effort to catalog every actual appearance by every character and team in the DC Universe, and place them in their proper chronological order. Or in the case of crossover events all crossover issues.

At present the chronologies are divided into two sub-categories, aside from being listed in the main category. The Original DC Universe which covers characters published from the 1937 to 2011, and the New 52 DC Universe which covers the new reality that came in the wake of the event known as Flashpoint. At present the Original DC Universe era covers both the pre- and post-Crisis on Infinite Earths DC Universe. The characters whose histories changed dramatically with the original Crisis will have individual profiles.

The Chronology entries are listed in alphabetical order after character name followed by their real name. Generally the most common version of their names is used (i.e. Dick Grayson rather than Richard John Grayson) in the listing. Regular names are listed first name first, surname second.

Characters who are primarily known by a single name and a title, such as Mister Bones and Queen Hippolyta, are listed under the first letter of their titles (M for Mister, etc.).

Gods and characters that do not have a known secret identity but belong to a group might have the group name noted in brackets after the character name to distinguish the character from other similar named characters.

In some cases the entries will also have a comic age/timeline/Earth indication.

For more information on the workings of the DC Character Chronologies check out the FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions), which goes into more detail about how the project works, what qualifies as an "appearance," and why there are still some gaps in the project among other things.

Huitzilopochtli & The Battle of Coatepec

I’m in a storytelling mood again, so I think it’s time for the legend about Huitzilopochtli’s miraculous birth and His battle at Coatepec against Coyolxauhqui and the Centzon Huitznahua. My version of the tale follows the most common form quite closely, as there don’t seem to be many variants of this one that need to be dealt with. As a bonus, I included a photo of the famous Coyolxauhqui Stone that was located at the foot of Huitzilopochtli’s side of the Templo Mayor in Tenochtitlan, a structure that retold this particular myth in stone.

The Battle Of Coatepec: Huitzilopochtli Defeats the Moon and Stars

Long ago, before the foundations of Tenochtitlan were laid, the great goddess Coatlicue, “She With The Snake Skirt,” was living peacefully at Coatepec. One day, She was sweeping Her home as She always did, when a peculiar sight greeted her. A little ball of beautiful feathers was drifting down from the sky towards Her.

“What a lovely bunch of feathers!” Coatlicue said as She stopped Her sweeping to pick them up. “Perhaps they are a gift from another god. Either way, I will keep them.” She tucked them into Her clothes for safekeeping and resumed Her sweeping. Later, once She had finished sweeping, She reached for the feathers to take them and put them away, but they were gone. “Where are my beautiful feathers? Did I drop them?” She looked around for the feathers, but they were nowhere to be found.

Coatlicue suddenly stopped Her search and placed a hand against Her belly. “What’s this? I’m pregnant!” She wondered at this miracle. “The beautiful feathers have become a baby — how can this be?” Excited and amazed, She shared this incredible news with the other gods and godesses.

Coyoxauhqui, the Moon goddess, “She Who Wears The Golden Bells,” was not happy for Her mother. Later that night, She gathered Her brothers, the Cenzton Huitznahua, the Four Hundred Southern Stars. “Our mother has no sense of shame! She’s pregnant, and who is the father? We don’t know! She claims it’s a miracle, but I don’t believe Her. No, She’s let Herself be overcome by lust and is acting like a common whore. We’re going to have to kill Her to remove the stain of shame from Our family. Who’s with Me?” she cried out, raising Her shield and shaking Her warrior’s bells.

The Four Hundred Southern Stars all shouted back to Her in agreement. “We’re all with You! For Her disgusting behavior, We will help You kill Our mother!” Then they all began to prepare for war. All of them except one, that is. A single Star, Cuahuitlicac, crept away from the secret meeting and ran for Coatepec.

“Mother!” he cried out. “Mother, your daughter and sons are planning to kill You!”

Coatlicue wept in terror and heartache at the news. “So I will be murdered at the hands of my own children, even though I’m innocent of any immorality!”

Then a strange voice was heard. “Don’t be afraid, Mother. I won’t let Them lay a hand on You. I’m here, and will protect You, no matter what the danger.” It was Coatlicue’s unborn son, Huitzilopochtli, speaking to Her from within Her womb. Cuahuitlicac and his mother were amazed. “I’ve already got a plan for dealing with these murderous kinslayers. Just tell Me when the army gets to the top of Coatepec, and I’ll do the rest.”

So, Coatlicue waited with trepidation in Her home atop Snake Mountain as the only loyal Southern Star watched Coyolxauhqui’s army march slowly towards Them. Even from his vantage point on the peak, he could hear the terrifying war-shouts, jingling of bells, and clashing of spears against shields. Coyolxauhqui marched Her army higher and higher up the slopes, calling out “Coatlicue! Prepare to die for your shameful deeds! We come to avenge Our family’s honor!”

At that time, Cuahuitlicac called out to Huitzilopochtli, “They’re here! And Coyolxauhqui Herself is leading them!”

In an instant, Huitzilopochtli was born. In the blink of an eye, He was a full-grown man, painted for war in blue and yellow. He straightened His warrior’s array and picked up His shield and darts. “See, Mother? I am here to protect you!” He took up His xiuhcoatl, the Fire Serpent, a blazing thunderbolt that flared to life in His hand, and with an echoing shout He raced like a comet towards the very startled Coyolxauhqui. They fought like two fierce jaguars, but in the end, Huitzilopochtli struck off the Moon goddess’s head and threw Her lifeless body tumbling down the side of Coatepec. Some say that He then threw Her severed head into the sky, where it still is to this day as the moon, Her golden bells shining in the night.

Before the Cenzton Huitznahua could react, He was in their midst like a raging fire.

They fought back, but nothing they did could drive Him away. They tried to frighten Him, but He just kept attacking. Finally, the Southern Stars pleaded with Him to spare them. “No!” Huitzilopochtli snarled. “You will all die for betraying your mother so cruelly!” The enraged god chased them, killing them mercilessly. Only a very few Stars escaped to hide in the farthest reaches of the southern sky.

With the army crushed, Huitzilopochtli proudly walked the battlefield and picked up the regalia of one of the Stars. He took it as a trophy, wearing part of it as His own and absorbing the might of the Stars. This great battle at Coatepec was the Hummingbird On The Left’s first victory, His first steps on the long road through the maelstrom of war that would ultimately take Him and His chosen people to Tenochtitlan.

Watch the video: Coatlicue is Lady of Guadalupe?? Part 2 (January 2023).

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