Very interesting piece on Mexico's full blooded indian president Benito Juarez by Roy Cook.
September 16 is a date America should celebrate
By Roy Cook
September 16, 1810. The Mexican War of Independence movement was led by Mestizos, Zambos and Tribal Indians who sought independence from Spain. As an independent nation, Mexico declared the abolition of slavery and the equality of all citizens, including Tribal peoples, under the law. Freedom for all over 100 years before the United States of America would extend the same rights to the Tribal people in its borders, 1924.
Over the past few years, the Latino population in California has grown in unprecedented numbers, a fact that is being noticed by politicians, media and businesses. According to the 2000 census, there are 37.4 million individuals of Latino descent in the U.S. However, the new unknown immigrants are Meso-American Indians (Native Americans from Mexico and Central America). They are the largest growing population in the state. We have to remember that Latino is not a race and that the labels, Hispanic or Latino, cover up immense racial, cultural and ethnic diversity. There are many Anglo-, and Afro-Latinos who don’t eat burritos or sing “la cucaracha.” Latino is not as simple as “yo quiero Taco Bell;” it’s much more dynamic and complex.
According to the Frente Indigena Organización Binacional (FIOB), a California nonprofit for immigrants, the majority of the people who are labeled Mexican are natives from the Mixtec, Zapotec and Chatino tribes. FIOB estimates there are between 70,000 to 80,000 indigenous workers from Oaxaca throughout California. The Mexican Consulate in San Francisco indicates there are more than 10,000 Maya Indians from the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico currently living in Marin County alone and about 18,000 throughout the Bay Area. But why do the mainstream community and Latino-based service agencies fail to recognize the changing demographics of the community? Is it possible that these individuals don’t fit the romantic view of North American Indians? Could it be that Latinos and community programs that serve them may not be aware of this trend? Or do Latino service providers replicate the same discriminatory behaviors from their own countries of origin? It is not
surprising that many Meso-American Indians making new lives in California do not self-identify with their American Indian heritage.
Historically, Latin America has been tremendously violent and discriminatory against Indian people. Many “mestizos” (mixed bloods) who may be culturally Indian experienced the discrimination as well. The inside scoop within the Latino community is that it’s generally associated with being poor and at the bottom of the social and economic scales. Discriminatory practices against Indians are embodied in almost every institution throughout Latin America. Today, many governments in Meso-America recognize the presence of indigenous people, yet fail to fulfill international accords and treaties. Even though Indians are the traditional low-wage workhorse of this country and Third World countries, they rarely have any political or social status. Consequently, for most indigenous people, it’s safer to be identified as Latino than an Indian. The flip side to all of this is that there are new social movements in California that recognize and respond to this
changing trend. Leaders of indigenous organizations celebrate Meso-American Indian culture and spirituality.
As native people from Latin America begin to feel less fearful, they are becoming more forthcoming about their culture and identity. So, the next time you think you see a “Latino,” keep in mind he or she may or may not even speak Spanish. Many of these people are representatives of a complex and ancient heritage and are contributing to the economy as they are trying to survive.
Yet many of these ‘new’ indigenous people are knowledgeable that Benito Juarez is often regarded as Mexico's greatest and most beloved leader. He was also the first full-blooded Tribal person to serve as President of Mexico, and the first to lead an American country in more than 300 years of Spanish colonialism.
Mexico had finally gained independence from Spain in 1821 after a difficult and bloody struggle since 1810. Mexican War of Independence(1810-1821), was an armed conflict between the people of Mexico and Spanish colonial authorities, which started on September 16, 1810. The Mexican War of Independence movement was led by Mexico born Spaniards, Mestizos, Zambos and Tribal Indians who sought independence from Spain. As an independent nation, Mexico declared the abolition of slavery and the equality of all citizens: brown, black, yellow, including Tribal peoples, under the law.
The economic realities of any prolonged conflict are harsh. Faced with bankruptcy and a war-ravaged economy, Benito Juarez declared a moratorium on foreign debt payments. Spain, Great Britain, and France reacted with a joint seizure of the Vera Cruz customs house in December 1861. Spain and Britain soon withdrew, but the French Emperor Napoleon III used the episode as a pretext to launch the French intervention in Mexico in 1862, with plans to establish a conservative regime.
Benito Juarez, as President, his 4,000 Mexican soldiers smashed the French and monarchist Mexican army of 8,000 at Puebla, Mexico, 100 miles east of Mexico City on the morning of May 5, 1862.The French had landed in Mexico (along with Spanish and English troops) five months earlier on the pretext of collecting Mexican debts from the newly elected government of democratic President (and Indian) Benito Juarez.
Juarez was born in the small village of San Pablo Guelatao, Oaxaca, located in the mountain range now known as the "Sierra Juarez." His parents, Marcelino Juárez and Brígida García were peasants who died when he was three years old. He described his parents as "Amerindians of the primitive race of the country." He worked in the corn fields and as a shepherd until the age of 12. On December 17, 1818, he walked to the city of Oaxaca looking to educate him and find a better life. At the time he was illiterate and could not speak Spanish, only Zapotec.
The Zapotec civilization was an indigenous pre-Columbian civilization that flourished in the Valley of Oaxaca of southern Mesoamerica. Archaeological evidence shows their culture goes back at least 2500 years. They left archaeological evidence at the ancient city of Monte Albán in the form of buildings, ball courts, magnificent tombs and grave goods including finely worked gold jewelry. Monte Albán was the first major city in the western hemisphere and the center of a Zapotec state that dominated much of what we know of as the current state of Oaxaca.
The battle at Puebla in 1862 happened at a violent and chaotic time in Mexico's history. Mexico had finally gained independence from Spain in 1821 after a difficult and bloody struggle since 1810, and a number of internal political takeovers and wars, including the Mexican-American War (1846-1848) and the Mexican Civil War of 1858, had ruined the national economy.
The English and Spanish quickly made deals and left. The French, however, had different ideas.Under Emperor Napoleon III, who detested the United States, the French came to stay. They brought a Hapsburg prince with them to rule the new Mexican empire. His name was Maximilian; his wife, Carlota. Napoleon's French Army had not been defeated in 50 years, and it invaded Mexico with the finest modern equipment and with a newly reconstituted Foreign Legion. The French were not afraid of anyone, especially since the United States was embroiled in its own Civil War.
The French Army left the port of Vera Cruz to attack Mexico City to the west, as the French assumed that the Mexicans would give up should their capital fall to the enemy as European countries traditionally did. But Benito Juarez created a mobile capital on wheels. With him he carried a portrait of Abraham Lincoln.While it is not known exactly when Juárez came to Lincoln's attention, we know that Lincoln was his strong supporter as early as 1857, eve of the Reform War. When Juárez had to flee Mexico City in 1858, Lincoln sent him a message expressing hope "for the liberty of .. your government and its people."
The bond between the two leaders was strengthened in 1861, the year the Civil War began. Perhaps the greatest dividend attained by the informal but highly effective alliance between Abraham Lincoln and Benito Juárez is the way it served to ease the bitterness felt by Mexicans thanks to the disastrous consequences of the U.S.-Mexican War.