Benito Juárez

Biography of Benito Juárez

Benito Juarez was a teacher, lawyer and liberal politician, of indigenous origin, who was born on March 21, 1806 in San Pablo Guelatao, Oaxaca, Mexico.

Among the positions he held are: Federal Deputy, Governor of Oaxaca, Minister of the Supreme Court and President of the Republic.

His full name was Benito Pablo Juarez Garcia. Benito did not know his parents, who were the Zapotec Indians, Marcelino Juárez and Brígida García, who died when he was only three years old. Being orphaned, He was under the tutelage of his uncle Bernardino Juárez, who would teach him to read and speak Spanish, since Benito only spoke Zapotec.

In 1818, at the age of 12, he decided to leave his hometown in order to have access to a different educational level, so he went on foot to Oaxaca. Due to his condition of being a poor and indigenous child, he was discriminated against and his teacher was an assistant and not the owner, so he left school and decided to be self-taught.

Later, when Benito Juárez was twenty years old, he entered the Institute of Sciences and Arts of Oaxaca, where he graduated as a lawyer in 1834.

His social sensitivity led him to endorse the liberal ideas that spread throughout America since the French Revolution, as well as to actively participate in politics.

In 1831, Benito Juárez had already been elected Councilor of the Oaxaca City Council and, a year later, chosen as Deputy to the State Congress.

On July 31, 1843, Benito Juárez married Margarita Maza, daughter of Don Antonio Maza and Doña Petra Parada, with whom he had five daughters and a son.

In 1846 he was appointed Governor of Oaxaca and it doubled the number of schools from 50, which were in the entire state, to 100.

In 1853, the Conservatives returned to power, so Juarez had to go into exile in Cuba, from where he left for New Orleans and then Panama, before returning to Acapulco.

He supported the Ayutla Revolution and the provisional president, General Juan Álvarez, who chose Benito Juárez as Minister of Justice and Public Instruction in 1855.

Within the exercise of their functions, the Reform laws, which established individual liberties for citizens and annulled the prerogatives of the clergy and the army.

Benito Juarez He died in Mexico City on July 18, 1872, at the age of 66, due to angina pectoris.

The Laws of Reform

The Reform Laws are a set of laws of a liberal court, promulgated during three presidential terms, that promoted the creation of a secular legal order. These laws aimed to separate the Church from the State, supporting the thesis that the Church should not interfere in the affairs of State.

As part of Reform Movement, five stages are distinguished:

  1. The Liberal Reform of 1833, by Valentín Gómez Farías, considered by many, as the antecedents of the Laws of Reform.
  2. The Second reform, of which were part:
  3. The Lerdo Law: It forced civil and ecclesiastical corporations to sell houses and idle land to their tenants, so that those goods would produce greater wealth, for the benefit of the people.
  4. Juárez Law: It allowed civil matters to be tried by ordinary courts, rather than by ecclesiastical or military courts.
  5. The Churches Law: It prohibited the collection of tithes to people of low resources, as well as other collaborations with the Church.
  6. The Federal Constitution of the United Mexican States of 1857, which gave shape to a liberal and secular state.
  7. The Laws of Reform, where the following laws are included:
  8. Nationalization of Ecclesiastical Assets (1859)
  9. Civil Marriage (1859)
  10. Civil registration (1859)
  11. Secularization of Cemeteries (1859)
  12. Holidays (1859)
  13. Freedom of religion (1860)
  14. Hospitals and Charities (1861)
  15. Extinction of Religious Communities (1863)
  16. The Reform War, also known as the Three-Year War, which ended when the Conservatives and Juarez he managed to return to Mexico City after an itinerant presidency.

Undoubtedly, the Reform Laws changed the functions of the State, making them independent of the church. They established the pillars that every liberal liberal pursues: individual freedom, justice, equality and the common good.

In short, all these laws made it possible to end the privileges of the elites, deepen democracy and advance to have a secular state.

French intervention

Due to the economic difficulties that the country was going through, Juárez suspended the payment of the foreign debt. This measure caused that on December 15, 1861, England, France and Spain carried out an armed intervention, through the Port of Veracruz.

This plunged Mexico into a war situation, but after conversations between Juárez and the European representatives, the English and the Spanish left the country.

Only the French remained, who with the support of the Mexican conservatives, invaded Mexico again in 1863, succeeding in 1864 to impose Archduke Maximiliano of Austria as Emperor of Mexico.

Before the establishment of the Mexican Empire with Maximilian I at the helm, Juárez decided to withdraw only to organize the resistance and fight against the French Intervention.

Juárez and the liberal army succeeded after the siege of Querétaro in 1867, defeating the French and expelling them from Mexico.

On June 19, Maximiliano of Austria was shot at Cerro Las Campanas, after being tried and sentenced to death by a Mexican military court.

Juárez re-elected as president in August 1867 begins the restoration of the Republic, giving effect to the Reform Laws.

Meritorious of the Americas

Benito Juárez achieved what many liberal politicians in Latin America did not achieve: defeating the conservatives, who wanted to ignore the constituent power. For this reason, several Latin American countries, such as Colombia, the Dominican Republic and Peru, recognized him for his main achievements.

Basically, for his merits in promulgating the Reform Laws and his triumphs during the War of the Reform and the French Intervention.

On May 11, 1867, the Congress of the Dominican Republic in a ceremony where Benito Juárez was honored called him for the first time: “Meritorious of the Americas”.

And for this reason, after his death, the Mexican Congress formally declared it “Meritorious of the Americas “.

Death of President Benito Juárez

The death of President Benito Juárez occurred on July 18, 1872, when he was finishing his working day at the National Palace in Mexico City.

The angina pectoris that he suffered played a trick on him at the age of 66, while he continued his struggle to consolidate the peace, which he had cost so much to conquer.

Juárez was the second incumbent president to die in Mexico, for which he was awarded the corresponding honors.

The day after his death, the thunder of the cannon announced to the Mexican people that the constitutional president of the United Mexican States had passed away.

Leaving a great legacy to the Mexican people and the world. Within his reflections of life, many were his wise words, which are still great messages for humanity:

“Free, and for me sacred, it is the right to think… Education is fundamental for social happiness; it is the principle on which freedom and the aggrandizement of peoples rest. “

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