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Today is a Holiday in Mexico

Holidays in Mexico are very important. One of these is Benito Juarez Day March 21 which denotes his birth in 1806. The holiday is observed all over Mexico including Los Cabos on the third Monday of March regardless of the date. This is a statutory holiday so expect banks and schools to be closed. What a perfect time to continue your search of for Cabo Real Estate!

Born in the small hamlet of San Pablo Guelatao. Benito Juarez was orphaned as a toddler and worked in the fields for most of his young life. He went to Oaxaca at the age of 12 to live with his sister and was noticed by Antonio Salanueva, a Franciscan friar. Salanueva saw him as a potential priest and arranged for Juarez to enter the Santa Cruz seminary, where young Benito learned Spanish and law before graduating in 1827. He continued his education, entering the Institute of Science and Art, graduating in 1834 with a law degree. Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of Juarez’s life in politics is his background: he was a full-blooded native of Zapotec descent – the only full-blooded native to ever serve as president of Mexico – who did not even speak Spanish until he was in his teens. He was an important and charismatic leader whose influence is still felt today.

Since it is the near unanimous verdict of authorities on American history that Abraham Lincoln was the United States' greatest president, it has become an easy formula among historians of other nations to describe their greatest leaders as "Lincolns." Was Clemenceau a French Lincoln? Was Churchill a British Lincoln? In a way, yes. Both leaders presided over their nations in time of war and both showed the steadfastness and courage to survive periods of crisis and early defeat. But there the resemblance ends If we're looking for a true "Lincoln," one who resembled the Emancipator in spirit as well as in his political role; it is instructive to look at the life and career of Benito Juárez. Outwardly, they were an "odd couple," as dissimilar in appearance and ethnic background as two people can be. Lincoln was tall and angular; Juárez short and stocky. Lincoln was of old American stock; Juárez a full-blooded Indian. The similarities were in chronology and background. Lincoln lived between 1809-1865 and Juárez between 1806-1872. Both were born poor, both cared more for political power than riches, and both believed law was the best preparation for a political career. Though neither was conventionally handsome, both compensated for a lack of matinee idol looks by radiating an impressive charisma and commanding presence. Though they never met personally, they formed a lifetime mutual admiration society and helped each other whenever they could

1834 – 1852: His Political Career Begins: Even before his graduation in 1834, Juarez was involved in local politics. By 1847 he had been elected governor of the State of Oaxaca.

1853 – 1854 Exile: Former President Antonio López de Santa Anna had been driven from Mexico after the war with the United States (1846 to 1848). In 1853, however, he returned, and quickly set up a conservative government that exiled many liberals, including Juarez. Juarez spent time in Cuba and New Orleans. While in New Orleans, he teamed with other exiles to plot Santa Anna’s downfall. Juarez hurried back when liberal general Juan Alvarez launched a coup, and was there in November of 1854 when Alvarez’s forces captured the capital. Alvarez quickly made himself president and named Juárez Minister of Justice.

1854-1858 Conflict Brewing: The liberals had the upper hand for the moment, but their ideological conflict with conservatives continued to smolder. In 1857 a new constitution was passed. The new constitution turned out to be the spark that reignited the smoking fires of conflict between the liberals and conservatives, and in December, 1857, the conservative general Félix Zuloaga overthrew the government.

The Reform War 1858-1861: Many prominent liberals, including Juarez, were arrested. Released from prison, Juarez went to Guanajuato, where he declared himself president and declared war. The two governments, led by Juárez and Zuloaga, were sharply divided, mostly over the role of religion in government. Juárez worked to further limit the powers of the church during the conflict. The United States government, forced to pick a side, formally recognized the liberal Juárez government in 1859. This turned the tide in favor of the liberals, and on January 1, 1861, Juárez returned to Mexico City to assume the presidency of a united Mexico.

European Intervention: After the disastrous reform war, Mexico and its economy were in tatters. The nation still owed great sums of money to foreign nations, and in late 1861, Britain, Spain and France united to send troops to Mexico to collect. After striking a deal with the government for payment, the British and Spanish withdrew, but the French remained, and began fighting their way to the capital, which they reached in 1863. They were welcomed by conservatives, who had been out of power since Juarez’ return. Juárez and his government were forced to flee.

Maximilian and Juarez: The French invited Ferdinand Maximilian Joseph, a 31 year-old Austrian nobleman, to come to Mexico and assume rule. Many Mexican conservatives, who thought that a monarchy would best stabilize the country. Maximilian and his wife Carlota arrived in 1864, where they became crowned emperor and empress of Mexico. Juárez continued to war with the French and conservative forces, eventually forcing the emperor to flee the capital. Maximilian was captured and executed in 1867, effectively ending the French occupation.

Juarez’ Final Years: Juarez was re-elected to the presidency in 1867 and 1871, but did not live to finish his last term. He was felled by a heart attack while working at his desk on July 18, 1872.

Juárez today: Today’s Mexicans view Juárez much like some Americans see Abraham Lincoln: he was a firm leader when his nation needed one, who took a side in a social issue that drove his nation to war. He is held in particularly high regard by Mexico’s considerable indigenous population, who rightly view him as a trailblazer in native rights and justice. Benito Juarez Day is a three day weekend for Mexicans. Or “Puente”, as it is called here. More beach activity will be noticed from the terrace of your hotel or one of the beautiful Cabo Villas. Enjoy the day!!

Posted: Monday, March 21, 2011 8:31 AM by Nick Fong

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