Anyone who knows Mexico's history knows that it has always been prejudiced and undemocratic. At first, the Conquistadores ruled the Indigenas ("Indians"). Then the Peninsulares, Spaniards born in Spain, kept government power to themselves, in league with the Catholic Church, while subjugating Criollos, those of pure Spanish blood but born in Mexico.
Spaniards married or raped Indigenas women, creating the Mestizo class of mixed race. In 1810, Miguel Hidalgo, a Criollo, led a largely Mestizo democratic uprising in the district north of Mexico City called Bahio. Mestizos in the area felt they were discriminated against economically. Hidalgo was captured and executed, and his revolution failed.
The revolution that succeeded in 1821 was actually an anti-democratic one instigated by Spanish-blooded powers and the Catholic Church, a reaction against the liberal coup d'etat that overthrew Spain's monarchy. Nevertheless, democratizing forces soon took power and in 1824 instituted a democratic constitution based on the U.S. Constitution.
The democratic constitution created conditions favorable to Anglo-American settlement in Texas, at that time nomadic Indian territory more or less written off by the Mexican government, possessing a tiny Tejano population, and serving largely as a buffer zone between Mexico and the United States. Mexico looked to the Anglo-Americans to control the Indians, particularly the Comanches, who made frequent incursions south to steal horses from Mexican haciendas. Notably, however, the 1824 Constitution suppressed all religions other than the Catholic Church.
In 1829, Vicente Ramón Guerrero Saldaña, a military hero, staged a coup and briefly seized the presidency. A Mulatto born near Acapulco, Guerrero saw to it that negro slavery was outlawed -- a fact of which Mexico is very proud. However, the ruling class continued to treat the Indigenas much like slaves, and the Mestizos little better.
Antonio López de Santa Anna, who had helped Guerrero in his coup, now helped Anastasio Bustamante overthrow Guerrero. In 1833, Santa Anna got himself elected to the presidency. Soon he disbanded Congress, overthrew the Constitution, and began to centralize government power in Mexico City. This spawned a Federalist movement among Tejanos in Texas, who suddenly found themselves disenfranchised and Texas attached to the neighboring state of Coahuila. Elsewhere in Mexico, open rebellion broke out in San Luis Potosí, Querétaro, Durango, Guanajuato, Michoacán, Yucatán, Jalisco, and Zacatecas. In May 1835, Santa Anna defeated the Zacatecan militia and planned to move next to Coahuila-Texas. His actions in Texas and fate at San Jacinto are better known.
Today, Mexico maintains a small wealthy elite and a vast lower class. They provide few social services. Mexican politics toward the U.S. is a cynical exercise in which the lower classes who need work and seek a better life are used as pawns. Thereby poverty is exported and U.S. funds, which are worth 10 pesos per dollar on the street, are funneled into the Mexican economy -- according to conservative activist and Texas congressional candidate Dan Patrick, amounting to $44 billion sent by wire alone in 2004.
Copyright 2006 Paul Hughes