Comparing Two Views on the Meaning of Mexican Independence
Modern Mexico is a collection of charming traditions, a still-burgeoning culture, a very rich history, an ever-flourishing social strata and a growing political and economic influence in the Americas. In other words, modern Mexico is a country on the verge of many successes. Yet, just as any other nation on its way to becoming a world power, Mexico has, still, many obstacles to overcome. These range from aiding the poor thorough networks of social services and thereby minimizing income inequalities, quelling drug-related violence in its northern provinces, quenching corruption throughout the nation, and implementing other related reforms for the future benefit of the country. While it is true that Mexico has numerous challenges to undertake, the country has always been successful at overcoming even the harshest tests. This paper will undertake a discussion of how one such test led to Mexico, as we know it today. The subject of this paper will thus be a discussion of Mexican independence, seen from two points-of-view: the first view will expand upon a historico-intellectual view of Modern Mexico from 1810 to 1996; the second viewpoint will offer a discussion on modern Mexico as seen through the eyes of Mexicans today, and as it is presented on the bicentennial celebratory site for the country.
In Mexico: Biography of Power, Enrique Krauze discusses the history of modern Mexico from 1810 to 1996. The author begins by presenting the reader with a semi-religious aspect of this history, a facet important both in the establishment of Spanish power in Mexico, but also in its continual traditions. Yet Krauze presents the story of Father Miguel Hidalgo not for religious purposes, in this introduction, but to make a point: Hidalgo started the Mexican revolution, and he did so with incredible shrewdness and a strong character (Krauze, 94). In fact, this man, despite his eccentricities and failures, but due to his power and influence, started building what none other had been able to build before: the ideas for the foundations of an independent Mexico. Hidalgo achieved this success by inciting a revolution but was unaware, just as many other individuals during that time, of what was to happen, or whether the revolution could be successful. While Hidalgo's motive for revolt was the need to gain independence from Spain he did not foresee, for instance, the violence that was to follow.
Hidalgo, despite all uncertainties, was able essentially to start the revolution that was to wipe out Spanish rule ten years after his death. After him, others priests, called mestizos, would accelerate the fight. Krauze gives Jose Maria Morelos y Pavon as an example of such a leader, but stresses that Hidalgo was the starting point and remains important for this very reason. Another important facet described by this author makes it clear that Hidalgo, despite lacking military strategy, had plenty of political shrewdness. Hidalgo had an idea for a kind of Mexico that was fair and impartial, and one that treated all equally. He stated that a new Mexico would have representatives from all "cities, towns and places in [the] kingdom who […] would pass mild and benevolent laws suited to the particular circumstances of each pueblo […]" (Krauze, 99). Those who would follow Hidalgo would appreciate some of his qualities, but would condemn others. Again, while this author underlines the importance of the man in starting the fight for independence in Mexico, he also suggests that this was done without a clear goal in mind; in fact, this was conducted in a sort of irrational, frenzied way, which was not at all respected but which, in the end, after Hidalgo's death, was successful (Krauze, 102). In this particular document, Krauze thus underlines that the independence of Mexico could not have been achieved without this local effort, these 'insurgent priests,' who fought under Hidalgo and after him for a long-awaited, just and equal society.
The account of the fight for independence given by Mexico 2010, the bicentennial celebration website of the country, is quite different from the religion-laden, priest-conducted fight for independence described above by Krauze. Whereas Krauze focuses his account of the fight for independence on the insurgent priests and the subsequent fall of the Creoles, with the former period stressed above due to it being a precursor and direct force driving independence, Mexico 2010 focuses on the political and social aspects, and presents, instead of a story of the meaning of independence as a fight between indigenous and non-indigenous, with the former wanting freedom and equality from rule by others, 17 figures instrumental in the 'fight.' Father Hidalgo is mentioned only in the small introductory paragraph and in a short description further down, giving the impression of a more secular approach to independence undertaken by this source. The first mention of Hidalgo states:
"The call to arms of the priest Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, accompanied by Ignacio Allende and Juan Aldama, marked the beginning of the War of Independence and Mexico's liberation from Spain, to which many exceptional men and women contributed. Here we present the biographies of some of the most well-known heroes of the Independence movement" (Mexico 2010, 1).
The 17 figures presented by the website are as follows:
1. Agustin de Iturbide -- royalist soldier and later emperor of Mexico, who eventually allied with the independence fighters.
2. Andres Quintana Roo -- independence fighter who presided over the National Constituent Congress that endorsed the declaration of independence in 1813.
3. Francisco Primo de Verdad -- lawyer of the Royal Audiencia, who also helped organize the transitional government.
4. Guadalupe Victoria -- first president of Mexico.
5. Hermenegildo Galeana -- join the fight and aided fighters with supplies.
6. Ignacio Allende -- a Creole who met with Miguel Hidalgo, Juan Aldama, Josefa Ortiz de Dominguez and her husband and mayor of Queretaro, Miguel Dominguez, to plot against Spanish rule.
7. Ignacio Rayon -- among the first men to join Hidalgo's forces.
8. Jose Maria Morelos -- joins Hidalgo in 1810.
9. Josefa Ortiz -- a woman who was the go between for future rebels and persuaded her husband to take part in the cause.
10. Juan de O'Donoju -- member of the provisional junta who died shortly after declaring independence for Mexico.
11. Leona Vicario -- provided rebels with substantial amounts of money.
12. Miguel Dominguez -- a proponent of political emancipation for Mexico who helped fight for the cause with his wife, Josefa Ortiz.
13. Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla -- Father of the Nation.
14. Nicolas Bravo -- sympathizer of the Free Mexico from Spain movement, who eventually joins Hermenegildo Galeana's forces.
15. Servando Teresa de Mier -- instrumental in he promoting the independence of Mexico through the press in 1811.
16. Vincente Guerrero -- one of the leaders of the independence movement and second president of Mexico.
17. Xavier Mina -- fighter for independence who immigrates to the United States and then Mexico to join the cause.
The fight for independence presented by the website is classified as political for an additional reason, namely, that its description starts with the mention that the reason why the fight for independence started, be it due to Hidalgo's actions or not, was because of the underlying world events taking place. This includes the fight between Napoleon and the Spaniards. The website thus states:
"Middle-class Creoles were obsessed with the idea of independence. But even the rich Creole owners of haciendas and mines did not want to share the wealth of their country with the people of the Spanish nation. They all had a common goal: to give the orders in their own house and to be master of all its furnishings. The opportunity to free themselves from the yoke came…