Benito Juárez (March 21, 1806 – July 18, 1872) was a Zapotec Indian who served two terms (1861-1863 and 1867-1872) as President of Mexico. Juárez is often regarded as Mexico´s greatest and most beloved leader.
He is the continet´s first and only native american to serve as President.
Benito Pablo Juárez García was born in the village of San Pablo Guelatao, Oaxaca. His parents were peasants who died before his fourth birthday. He worked in the corn fields and as a shepherd until the age of 12, then on December 17, 1818, he walked to the city of Oaxaca with a wish to educate himself and find a better life. At the time he was illiterate and could speak no Spanish, only Zapotec.
In the city he took a job as a domestic servant, and eagerly made up for his previous lack of education. A lay Franciscan named Antonio Salanueva was impressed with young Benito’s intelligence and thirst for learning, and helped arrange for him to be accepted at the city seminary. He studied there but decided to pursue the law rather than the priesthood. He graduated from the seminary in 1827, then studied 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 was sent into exile because of his objections to the corruption of Antonio López de Santa Ana. He spent his exile in New Orleans, Louisiana, working in a cigar factory.
Juárez returned to Mexico in 1855 and joined with the opposition liberales; two years later they triumphed and Juárez was made chief justice and vice-president of Mexico, under president Ignacio Comonfort. The conservadores rebelled and civil war erupted. Juárez succeeded Comonfort as provisional president. Juárez entered Mexico city on January 11, 1861 to reestablish national unity. He was elected President in March of that year for a four year term.
Following a debt dispute, France invaded Mexico in 1862, with plans by Napoleon III to establish a puppet regime there. After fierce fighting, Juárez and his elected government were forced to retreat to the northern part of the country.
Juárez led Mexican opposition to the French invasion and imposition of puppet emperor Maximilian of Habsburg. Maximilian offered Juárez amnesty, and later the post of prime minister, but Juárez refused to accept monarchy or a government imposed by foreigners. In 1867 the last of the French troops and allies of Maximilian were defeated and driven from the land. Maximilian was sentenced to death for treason by a military court. Despite international pleas for amnesty, Juárez refused to commute the sentence. That same year Juárez was reelected president.
Benito Juárez was a progressive reformer dedicated to democracy, equal rights for the nation´s indigenous or Indian population, and lessening the great power the Roman Catholic Church then held over Mexican politics.
Benito Juárez died of a heart attack while working at his desk in the National Palace in Mexico City.
Juarez´s famous quotation continues to be well-remembered in México: “El respeto al derecho ajeno es la paz”, meaning “Respect for the rights of others is peace”. It is inscribed on the State Flag of Oaxaca.
Benito Mussolini was named after Juárez by his socialist father
José de la Cruz Porfirio Díaz Mori
(15 September 1830 – 2 July 1915) was President of Mexico, considered a dictator, who ruled Mexico from 1876 until 1911 (with the exception of one single four-year period).
Díaz was born in the city of Oaxaca, Mexico. He was a Mestizo, of Mixtec Indian and Spanish ancestry. An army officer with humble rural roots, he became something of a hero due to his participation in the war against the French, where he won several important victories. He led the cavalry in the celebrated Battle of Puebla of 1862.
In 1876 he overthrew the government of President Sebastián Lerdo de Tejada. Initially, he advanced a platform of reform, using the slogan “No Re-election” (for the President). After appointing himself President on November 29, 1876, he served one term and then dutifully stepped down in favor of Manuel González, one of his underlings. The four-year period that followed was marked by corruption and official incompetence, so that when Díaz stepped up in the next election he was a welcome replacement, and there was no remembrance of his “No Re-election” slogan. During this period the Mexican underground Political newspapers spread the new ironic slogan for the Porfirian times, based on the slogan “Sufragio Efectivo, No Reelección” (Effective votes, no re-election) and changed it to “Sufragio Efectivo No, Reelección” (Effective votes no, Re-election). In any case Díaz had the constitution amended, first to allow two terms in office, and then to remove all restrictions on re-elections.
He maintained power through manipulation of votes, but also through simple violence and assassination of his opponents, which consequently were small in number. He was a cunning politician and knew very well how to manipulate people to his advantage.
In 1899 he faced some small opposition from Bernardo Reyes, an official in his government, who decided to run for president after Díaz gave an interview in which he said he would allow the next election to be freely contested. In the end the attempt failed and Díaz forced Reyes into exile.
Díaz embarked on a program of modernization, attempting to bring Mexico up to the level of a modern state. His principal advisers were of a type called cientificos, akin to modern economists, because they espoused a program of “scientific” modernisation. These included the building of railroad and telegraph lines across the country, including the first Mexican railway between Veracruz and Mexico City. Under his rule the amount of track in Mexico increased tenfold; many of these rails remain in operation today without remodeling. He introduced the idea of steam machines and technological appliances in industry and invited and welcomed foreign investment in Mexico. He also encouraged the construction of factories in Mexico City. This resulted in the rise of an urban proletariat and the influx of foreign (principally United States) capital.
The growing influence of U.S. businessmen, already a sore point in a Mexico that had lost much land to the United States, was a constant problem for Díaz. His modernisation program was also at odds with the owners of the large plantations (haciendas) that had spread across much of Mexico. These rich plantation owners wanted to maintain their existing feudal system (peonage), and were reluctant to transform into the capitalist economy Díaz was pushing towards because it meant competing in a global market and contending with the monetary influence of businessmen from the United States.
Though he wished to modernise the country, Díaz by no means opposed the existence of the haciendas, and in fact supported them strongly throughout his rule. He appointed sympathetic governors and allowed the plantation owners to proceed with a slow campaign of encroachment onto collectively-owned village land, and enforced such theft through his well-equipped rural police (rurales).
In 1910 elections were held. Francisco I. Madero ran against Díaz for president. Madero quickly gathered much popular support, but when the official results were announced by the government, Díaz was proclaimed to have been reelected almost unanimously, with Madero gathering only a minuscule number of votes. This undisputable case of massive electoral fraud aroused widespread anger. Madero called for revolt against Díaz, and the Mexican Revolution began. Díaz was forced from office and fled the country in 1911 .
In 1915, Díaz died in exile in Paris; he is buried there in the Cimetière du Montparnasse