Feliz cumple, presidente.
March 21, 2006 1:37 PM   Subscribe

"The make him into something he wasn't." Today, on the 200th anniversary of his birth, a national holiday, Mexico both honors and reconsiders Benito Juarez (Wikipedia: Eng/Span): "Mexico's Lincoln," the nation's first indigenous president, who served two terms in the 1860s and 1870s. The capital city's airport, a border city of 1.1M, universities, and streets and monuments in just about every town are named after Juarez, widely considered a national hero. Politicians left and right invoke his name, especially this year as Mexico prepares to elect a new president in July. For many in the Latin American left, he's a regional icon in the vein of Simon Bolivar and Ernesto "Che" Guevara; Havana unveiled a bust (Span) of him last year. He's held up as a defender of the poor and the indigenous and an opponent to free trade. Today, however, some historians say he was neither. For those who read Spanish, a leading Mexican (right-of-center) newspaper, El Universal, also touches on the topic in "Juarez, a controversial icon."
posted by donpedro (5 comments total)
A roughly translated excerpt from the El Universal link:

Historian Jose Manuel Villalpando, author of Benito Juárez (Planeta, 2006), "says Juarez has become an untouchable icon that (today) serves causes different from and even contrary to his, and gives as an example that Juarez was never an indigenist; on the contrary, he supported urbanization of the Indians and their incorporation into the modern world through equality; or that he also did not have time to be a defender of humble causes because he 'believed in combating poverty through economic development through the neoliberal model.'"

"Juarez, he says in his book, was not either an enemy of globalization, 'he believed in it and from the middle of the 19th century tried to involve us with the greatest economic power that history has known: The United States.' Nor, he says, was Juarez a democrat: 'He didn't consider (democracy) necessary, since he had to impose his modernizing project employing authoritarian and even dictatorial methods, including his eternalization in the presidential seat.'"

posted by donpedro at 1:38 PM on March 21, 2006

Thanks, donpedro. Interesting stuff.
posted by ford and the prefects at 1:47 PM on March 21, 2006

And so Juarez's own statement seems apt:

"It is given to men, sometimes, to attack the rights of others, to seize their goods, to threaten the life of those who defend their nationality, and to make that the highest virtues seem crimes, and to give their own vices the luster of true virtue.

But there is a thing that cannot be reached either by falsification nor perfidy, and that is the tremendous verdict of history. She will judge us."

As he wrote to Maximilian, rejecting the offer to become Prime Minister of Mexico - a French colony (man, how would that have changed history?)
posted by vacapinta at 1:59 PM on March 21, 2006

I'd never heard of the McLane-Ocampo Treaty, which didn't even have a Wikipedia article until I started it. There isn't an English version online that I can find (I had a devil of a time finding one in Spanish even). Apparently it was Buchanan's big 1860 policy item, either a re-election ploy or a distraction from the coming war.
posted by dhartung at 11:16 PM on March 21, 2006

Was Benito Mussolini named after Juarez, or was my high-school history teacher just kidding?
posted by pax digita at 4:40 AM on March 22, 2006

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