BENITO JUáREZ Biography - Polititians

 
 

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BENITO JUáREZ

Name: Benito Pablo Juárez Garcia                                                               
Born: 21 March 1806 San Pablo Guelatao, Oaxaca                                                 
Died: 18 July 1872 Mexico DF                                                                   
                                                                                               
Benito Pablo Juárez Garcia (March 21, 1806 – July 18, 1872)                                 
was a Zapotec Amerindian who served five terms (1858–1861                                   
as interim), (1861–1865), (1865–1867), (1867–1871), and (1871–1872), as               
President of Mexico. For resisting the French occupation, overthrowing the                     
Empire, and restoring the Republic, as well as his efforts to modernize the                   
country, Juárez is often regarded as Mexico's greatest and most beloved leader.               
He was also the first Mexican leader who did not have a military background, and               
the first full-blooded indigenous national to serve as President of Mexico, and               
the first to lead an American country in more than 300 years.                                 
                                                                                               
Juárez was born in the small village of San Pablo Guelatao, Oaxaca, located in                 
the mountain range now known as the "Sierra Juárez." His parents, Marcelino                   
Juárez and Brigida Garcia 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 himself and find a                   
better life. At the time he was illiterate and could not speak Spanish, only                   
Zapotec.                                                                                       
                                                                                               
In the city he had a sister who worked as a cook and there, he took a job as a                 
domestic servant and eagerly made up for his lack of education. A lay Franciscan,             
Antonio Salanueva, was impressed with young Benito's intelligence and thirst for               
learning, and arranged for his placement at the city's seminary. He studied                   
there but decided to pursue law rather than the priesthood. He graduated from                 
the seminary in 1827 and went on to gain a degree in law.                                     
                                                                                               
Juárez became a lawyer in 1834 and a judge in 1842. He was governor of the state               
of Oaxaca from 1847 to 1853, at which time he went into exile because of his                   
objections to the corrupt military dictatorship of Antonio López de Santa Anna.               
He spent his exile in New Orleans, Louisiana, working in a cigar factory. In                   
1854 he helped draft the Plan of Ayutla as the basis for a liberal revolution in               
Mexico.                                                                                       
                                                                                               
Faced with growing opposition, Santa Anna resigned in 1855 and Juárez returned                 
to Mexico. The winning party, the liberales (liberals) formed a provisional                   
government under General Juan Álvarez, inaugurating the period known as La                   
Reforma. The Reform laws sponsored by the puro (pure) wing of the Liberal Party               
curtailed the power of the Catholic Church and the military, while trying to                   
create a modern civil society and capitalist economy on the U.S. model. The Ley               
Juárez (Juarez's Law) of 1855, for example, abolished special clerical and                     
military privileges, and declared all citizens equal before the law. All the                   
efforts ended on the promulgation of the new federalist constitution. Juárez                   
became Chief Justice, under moderado (moderate) president Ignacio Comonfort.                   
                                                                                               
The conservadores (conservatives) led by General Félix Zuloaga, with the backing             
of the military and the clergy, launched a revolt under the Plan of Tacubaya on               
December,17 1857. Comonfort didn't want to start a bloody civil war, so made a                 
auto-coup-et-at, dissolve the congress and appointing a new cabinet, in which                 
the conservative party would have some influence, assuming in real terms the                   
Tacubaya plan. Juárez, Ignacio Olvera and many other deputies and ministers were               
arrested. The rebels want the constitution revoked completely and another all-conservative     
government formed, so they launched another revolt on January,11 1858,                         
proclaiming Zuloaga as president, so Comonfort re-stablished the congress,                     
freeing all the prisoners and resigned as president. Under the new constitution               
the chief justice immediately became interim president until proper elections                 
could be made. Juarez took office on late January 1858. Juarez then lead the                   
liberal side in the Mexican War of the Reform, first from Querétaro and later                 
from Veracruz. In 1859, Juárez took the radical step of declaring the                         
confiscation of church properties. In spite of the conservatives' initial                     
military advantage, the liberals, drawing on support of regionalist forces, U.S.               
help under the some terms of the controversial and never approbed McLane-Ocampo               
treaty, turned the tide in 1860 and recaptured Mexico City in January 1861.                   
Juárez was finally properly elected president in March for another four-year                   
term, under the Constitution of 1857.                                                         
                                                                                               
Faced with bankruptcy and a war-ravaged economy, Juárez declared a moratorium on               
foreign debt payments. Spain, Great Britain, and France reacted with a joint                   
seizure of the Veracruz 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. The Mexicans won an initial victory over the French at                   
Puebla in 1862, celebrated annually as Cinco de Mayo (May 5th). The French                     
advanced again in 1863, forcing Juárez and his elected government to retreat to               
the north, first to San Luis Potosi and then to the arid northern city of Paso                 
del Norte, present day Ciudad Juárez,Chihuahua. Meanwhile Maximilian von                       
Habsburg, a younger brother of the Emperor of Austria, was proclaimed Emperor                 
Maximilian I of Mexico on April 10, 1864 with the backing of Napoleon III and a               
group of Mexican conservatives. Before Juárez fled, Congress granted him an                   
emergency extension of his presidency, which came into effect from 1865, when                 
his term expired, until 1867, when the last of Maximilian's forces were defeated.             
                                                                                               
In response to the French intervention and the elevation of Maximilian, Juarez                 
sent General Plácido Vega y Daza to the U.S. State of California to gather                   
Mexican American sympathy for Mexico's plight. Maximilian, who personally                     
harboured liberal and Mexican nationalist sympathies, offered Juárez amnesty,                 
and later the post of prime minister, but Juárez refused to accept either a                   
monarchy or a government "imposed by foreigners", not willing to accept the fact               
that the legitimate Mexican throne existed long before him, founded by Emperor                 
Augustine I, and that the Mexican crown was offered to Maximilian by Mexican                   
monarchist. With its own civil war over, Abraham Lincoln, of the United States                 
invoked the Monroe Doctrine to give diplomatic recognition to Juárez' government               
and supply men, weapons and funding to the Republican forces. Faced with this                 
and a growing threat from Prussia, the French troops began pulling out of Mexico               
in late 1866. Mexican conservatism was a spent force and was less than pleased                 
with the liberal Maximilian. In 1867 the last of the Emperor's forces were                     
defeated and Maximilian was sentenced to death by a military court. Despite                   
national and international pleas for amnesty, Juárez refused to commute the                   
sentence, and Maximilian was executed by firing squad on June 19, his body was                 
returned to Europe for burial.                                                                 
                                                                                               
Juárez was controversially re-elected President in 1867 and 1871, using the                   
office of the presidency to ensure electoral success and suppressing revolts by               
opponents like Porfirio Diaz. Benito Juárez died of a heart attack in 1872 while               
working at his desk in the National Palace in Mexico City. He was succeeded by                 
Sebastián Lerdo de Tejada, his foreign minister.                                             
                                                                                               
Today Benito Juarez is remembered as being a progressive reformer dedicated to                 
democracy, equal rights for his nation's indigenous peoples, lessening the great               
power that the Roman Catholic Church then held over Mexican politics, and the                 
defence of national sovereignty. The period of his leadership is known in                     
Mexican history as La Reforma (the reform), and constituted a liberal political               
and social revolution with major institutional consequences: the expropriation                 
of church lands, bringing the army under civilian control, liquidation of                     
peasant communal land holdings, and the separation of church and state in public               
affairs.                                                                                       
                                                                                               
La Reforma represented the triumph of Mexico's liberal, federalist, anti-clerical,             
and pro-capitalist forces over the conservative, centralist, corporatist, and                 
theocratic elements that sought to reconstitute a locally-run version of the old               
colonial system. It replaced a semi-feudal social system with a more market-driven             
one, but following Juárez's death, the lack of adequate democratic and                         
institutional stability soon led to a return to levels of centralized autocracy               
and economic exploitation under the regime of Porfirio Diaz that surpassed                     
anything from the colonial or conservative eras. A conservative government under               
liberal gowns. The porfiriato (Porfirist era), in turn, collapsed in the Mexican               
Revolution.