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Benito Juárez

After the War of Independence many factors came into play as obstacles for reaching Mexico’s political and economic stability for decades. On the one hand there wasn’t a Constitution for authorities to politically organize the country. Thus, the first challenge was to create a Constitution, which at first couldn’t be separated from all the ideological and administrativeinheritance of the Colonial Era. Those first attempts were characterized by the search of a monarchy, electing a Spanish monarch. Among those, outstanding for his poor performance, was Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, who left the country in serious economic problems and lost a great part of the territory. Simultaneously, Mexican politicians started to divide into liberals and conservatives; those who not onlydesired a Constitution, but also a Republican government. Benito Juarez emerged from among them, who from the start of his political career was persecuted and signaled for opposing the monarchy. However, he could reach the presidency, but full of obstacles because the country was at its peak and added to this was the discontent of the clerics who interpreted his attempt to separate the Churchfrom the State as an aggression.

Benito Juarez was the son of Zapotecs, born on the 21st of March 1806 in San Pablo Guelatao. At thirteen he moved with his family to Oaxaca City (today Oaxaca de Juarez). Protected by a Spanish priest, he enrolled in Oaxaca’s Seminary and later in the Institute of Science and Art, where in 1834 he graduated as a lawyer. In 1833, two years after becoming regent ofOaxaca, he was elected deputy. In 1847 he became governor of the State of Oaxaca and in 1848 was reelected for four more years.

The intervention of Juarez in the political life was at a very important moment for the country, besides his ideas against a close relationship between State and Church, he opposed the monarchy, for which in 1853 when General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna regainedpower, was jailed, exiled and successively deported to the Cuban City of Havana and later to the North American City of New Orleans in Louisiana.

In 1854 he supported the Plan de Ayutla, demanding the creation of a constituent assembly for the framework of a federal constitution. He returned to Mexico in 1855 for taking part in the liberal revolution that overthrew Santa Anna. Soon after, betweenOctober and December of that year, he was Minister of Justice during the short government of Juan Alvarez. In 1855 he carried out one of the most important reforms for the country, suppressing the privileges of the clergy and army, declaring all citizens equal under the law.

Later, in 1856 he was assigned governor of Oaxaca, post from which he became Secretary of State for the governmentpresided by Ignacio Comonfort, between November and December 1857, once the Constitution gained federal character in March of that same year.

He was also President of the Supreme Court of Justice starting on December 1857, and under that post became provisional President of the Republic on the 19th of January in the city of Guanajuato, opposing conservative General Feliz Maria Zuloaga.

InJanuary 1858 he established his government there, then proceeded to organize his cabinet and published a manifest that started the Reform Revolution. Therefore, there were two governments, the conservative desiring to keep the former status and Juarez’s reformer. In mid February, Juarez established his government in Guadalajara, where he agreed to remain with the general government of that city whilerecovering the country’s capital and requested organic constitutional laws from the Congress of the Union, summoned presidential elections and order what seemed convenient according to the situation’s needs. The Reform War was underway.

During this war, foreign countries often exercised a direct influence on the country’s politics both in favor of the liberal government, as well as the...
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