Realsa. Official travel agency where you can find information about transportation, hotels and fares. You can also do your online reservations. Responsible: Eduardo del Real.
 

GENERAL INFORMATION

General Data    Visas & documentation    Transportation    Tourism & accommodation    History    Related books

Official information
Oficial name: United States of Mexico
Capital: Mexico City, Federal District
Political Division: 31 States and a Federal District
Area: 1,964,375 km2 
Population: 108,000,000
Official Language: Spanish; 53 indigenous languages are spoken amongst them nahuatl, mayan, zapotec, mixtec, otomí, totonaca, mazatec, tlapanec, mazahua, pur’epecha, tzeltal, tzotzil, huastec, chinantec, chol, tojolabal, chontal, huichol, mixe, tarahumaran, tepehua, trique, zoque.
Ethnic composition: mixed= 60%; indigenous = 7%; white = 9%; others = 1%
Form of government: Federal Republic
Official time: GMT/UTC -6 (normal) -5 (summer) in the South, East and Center
GMT/UTC -7 (normal) -6 (summer) in Sonora, Sinaloa, Nayarit and South Baja California
 GMT/UTC -8 (normal) -7 (summer) in North Baja California
Daylight saving: from the first Sunday of April to the last Sunday of October.
Weather: 25 to 30°C average, warm between May and September (particularly in the coasts) and cold during the months from October to early May.
Currency: Peso. In Mexico we use bills of the following denominations: 20, 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1,000 pesos; and coins of: 10, 20 and 50 cents, as well as 1, 2, 5, 10 and 20 pesos (although this last one ias no longer accepted in many places). US dollars are accepted in all Currency Exchange Offices in the country; other currencies can be exchanged as well, such as Canadian dollars and Euros.
Electricity: 127V 60HzHz, 110 volts.
Measuring systems: Meters (for distances), Celsius Degrees or Centigrade (for temperature) and volts of 110 to 60 cycles (for electric voltage).
Taxes: When leaving the country, you must pay taxes of some 13 USD, plus an airport tax of approximately 8.5 USD, ask if this is included in your ticket (these costs may change without prior notice).
Tips: They are generally offered to chambermaids and bellboys in hotels, skycaps in airports (usually 1 USD per bag), to tour guides and valet parking chauffeurs; waiters are given 10 to 15% of the bill. Do not tip taxi drivers.
Telephone dialing: The international code for Mexico is 52, the national long distance code is 01, for the United States and Canada it is 001 and for international calls it is 00. It is worth pointing out that there are public telephones throughout Mexico that work either with coins or prepaid phone cards.
Banks: Open from 9:00 to 16:00 hours. Closed Saturday and Sunday.
Internet: Mexico has a great amount of establishments, coffee shops and public places that offer Internet connections from 64 Kbps up to 1 Mbps. In some hotels and restaurants there is free wireless connection for your own computer (laptop).
Emergency number: These are the emergency phone numbers you must know: 060 for radio patrol cars, 080 for emergencies, firemen and ambulances; 078 for highway aid and (55) 5250 0123 for tourist security and (55) 5658 1111 for Locatel (missing persons).

General Data

Mexico’s territory encompasses an area of 1 964 375 Km² , 1 959 248 Km² in the continental surface and 5 127 Km² in insular surface. The Mexican Republic has borders with the United States of America, Guatemala and Belize, with a total length of 4 301 km distributed as follows:

 - With the United Stated of America the borderline stretches for 3,152 km from the Monumento 258 (258 Monument) in Northwestern Tijuana to the mouth of the Rio Bravo in the Gulf of Mexico. The Northern Border States are Baja California, Sonora, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo Leon and Tamaulipas.
 – The borderline with Guatemala stretches for 956 km; with Belize, for 193 km (Not including the 85.266 km of maritime border in the Bay of Chetumal). The Southern and Southeastern border states are: Chiapas, Tabasco, Campeche and Quintana Roo.

The East borders with the Gulf of Mexico, and the West with the Pacific Ocean. With the exception of the Yucatan Peninsula and the coastal plains in the East and Northeast, approximately 85% of the country is formed by mountain ranges, plateaus and numerous valleys. The Sierra Madre of the West and the Sierra Madre of the East run parallel to both coasts. Amongst them lies a vast region of valleys, high plateaus and plateaus (average altitude, 2,000 meters above the sea level). The ground relief is pretty uneven: large plains, high plateaus, important mountain ranges and some depressions. The Sierra Madre of the West follows the Pacific coast and is part of the great mountain range (Rocky Mountains) that runs down the continent from North to South; its peaks reach a 3000 meters altitude in the Tarahumara and Tepehuano regions. The Eastern Sierra Madre runs along the opposite coast, at a short distance from the Gulf, and reaches and average altitude of 2000 to 2500 meters. Amongst the high plateaus, the most important is the Mexican High Plateau, an extension of the western plateaus and basins of the US and Canada. They are divided in two regions: the Northern High plateau which is notoriously dry and lacks permanent streams; and the Plateau of Anahuac, of a higher altitude and excellent weather, with an average temperature of 15°C, which is the most populated region. 

The Mexican territory is divided in two almost equal parts by the Tropic of Cancer. Our territory’s size, geographic location and geology make possible a wide variety of landscapes in Mexico, inhabited by a great variety of animal and vegetable species: 10% of all those that exist in the planet. In the coast and lowlands the weather is warm, in the plateaus and in the North, it is temperate; the North is arid and the Southeast is humid.

The moderate temperature area extends from the north of the country to the Gulf of Mexico plais, with over 200 days a year with temperatures that range from 4° to 12°C in January, in contrast with an average 27°C in July. In the plains of Sonora and Sinaloa, as well as most of the Baja California peninsula, we find the largest desert of North America –in Sonora-. In Southern Mexico the weather is tropical and humid, and the year is divided in two seasons: a rainy summer and a dry winter. The flora varied depending on the altitude and orientation, from pine trees and savannah vegetation to masses of palms and other trees and plants characteristic of tropical forests. Bighorn Sheep, puma and Pronghorns inhabit the desert regions, while in the Southern tropical forests you find parrots, cockatoos, monkeys, jaguars and a great variety of serpents and insects.

Mexico stands out from the other countries in the world because of the length of its coastlines, that run for 11,122 km exclusively in its continental part, not counting the insular coastlines . Most of its rivers are young, originated by rainwater and of irregular size, with no important basins, for they run parallel courses.

Visas and documentation to enter Mexico
The interested party must approach the consular representation of Mexico in his/her country to get information about the necessary requirements and to take care of the necessary paperwor to obtain his/her visa, for the requirements vary in different countries.

If you come form a country that does not need visa, you can enter Mexico without a visa showing your passport and the "migration Form for Tourists, Transmigrants, Visiting Businesspersons, or Visiting Consultants", which you can obtain from travel agencies, airlines, or at your point of entry into Mexico. This option also applies for permanent legal residents in the USA, Canada or Japan, regardless of nationality. Under an agreement with Canada and the USA, those countries' citizens may prove their nationality with a passport or other public documents, such as:

·         Certified copy of birth certificate.

·         Voter registration card.

·         Naturalization certificate.

If any of these documents lack a photograph, travelers must prove their nationality with another official identification:

·         Driver's license.

·         Identification issued by a state or official agency.

Although Canadian and US citizens do not need a passport, the National Institute of Migration recommends one to expedite passage through the point of entry.

IMPORTANT: From January 23, 2007, american citizens who travel to Mexico, to return to the United States airway they will have to present an in force passport.

At the entry point migration officials can ask, any traveler, to poove economic solvency and the return ticket.

Countries that do not need a visa

If you are a citizen of:

  • Andorra
  • Argentina
  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Bulgaria
  • Canada
  • Czech Republic
  • Chile
  • Costa Rica
  • Cyprus
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hong Kong*
  • Hungary
  • Ireland
  • Iceland
  • Israel
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Latvia
  • Lichtenstein
  • Lithuania
  • Luxemburg
  • Malta
  • Monaco
  • Norway
  • New Zealand
  • Poland

 

  • Portugal
  • Rumania
  • San Marino
  • Singapore
  • Slovenia
  • Slovakia
  • South Korea
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • The Netherlands
  • United Kingdom
  • Uruguay
  • United States
    of America
  • Venezuela

* Chinese citizens with passports issued by the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

The citizens of Belize, Jamaica, El Salvador and Malaysia do not need visa, but they must go to some Mexican consulate to obtain the migratory from.

If you need a visa for Mexico you must go to the nearest Mexican consulate or dicplomatic representation. If you have family or a friend in Mexico he/she can do the procedure at the National Migration Institute. Please review the requirements section or visit any of the National Migration Institute delegations along the country, so you can be informed about the exact requirements.

Countries that need a visa:

You will need a visa if you are a citizen of:

  • Afghanistan
  • Albania
  • Algiers
  • Angola
  • Antigua and
    Barbuda
  • Armenia
  • Azerbaijan
  • Bahrain
  • Bangladesh
  • Barbados
  • Belarus
  • Benin
  • Bhutan
  • Bolivia
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Botswana
  • Brazil
  • Brunei
  • Burkina Faso
  • Burundi
  • Cambodia
  • Cameroon
  • Cape Verde
  • Central African
    Republic
  • Chad
  • China
  • Colombia
  • Comoros
  • Congo
  • Congo, Rep. Dem (Zaire)
  • Cote d'lvoire
  • Croatia
  • Cuba
  • Djibouti
  • Dominica
  • Dominican Republic
  • East Timor
  • Ecuador
  • Egypt
  • Eritrea
  • Ethiopia
  • Fiji
  • Gabon
  • Gambia
  • Georgia
  • Ghana
  • Grenada
  • Guatemala
  • Guinea
  • Guinea Bissau
  • Haiti
  • Honduras
  • India
  • Indonesia
  • Iran
  • Iraq
  • Jordan
  • Kazakhstan
  • Kenya
  • Kiribati
  • Korea, North
  • Kuwait
  • Kyrgyzstan
  • Laos
  • Lebanon
  • Lesotho
  • Liberia
  • Libya
  • Macedonia
  • Madagascar
  • Malawi
  • Maldives
  • Mali  
  • Marshall Islands
  • Mauritania
  • Mauritius
  • Micronesia
  • Moldova
  • Mongolia
  • Morocco
  • Mozambique
  • Myanmar (Burma)
  • Namibia
  • Nauru
  • Nepal
  • Nicaragua
  • Niger
  • Nigeria
  • Oman
  • Pakistan
  • Panama
  • Palestine
  • Papua New
    Guinea
  • Paraguay
  • Peru
  • Philippines
  • Qatar
  • Russian Federation
  • Rwanda
  • Sahrawi Arab Dem. Rep.
  • Saint Kitts
    and Nevis
  • Saint Vincent and
    the Grenadines
  • Salomon Islands
  • Sao Tome and
    Principe
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Senegal
  • Serbia and
    Montenegro
  • Seychelles Islands
  • Sierra Leone
  • Somalia
  • South Africa
  • Sri Lanka
  • Stateless Persons
  • Sudan
  • Surinam
  • Swaziland
  • Syria
  • Taiwan
  • Tajikistan
  • Tanzania
  • Thailand
  • The Bahamas
  • Togo
  • Tonga
  • Trinidad and
    Tobago
  • Tunisia
  • Turkey
  • Turkmenistan
  • Tuvalu
  • Uganda
  • Ukraine
  • United Arab
    Emirates
  • Uzbekistan
  • Vanuatu
  • Vietnam
  • Western Samoa
  • Yemen
  • Zaire
  • Zambia
  • Zimbabwe
You must contact the nearest Mexican Embassy or Consulate to apply for your visa and migration form (www.sre.gob.mx/delegaciones/dire.htm).

In this case, you must submit:

·         Passport or valid identification and travel document.

  • Proof of economic solvency, with one of the following documents:
    Proof of stable employment or independent activity in your place of residency, accrediting a minimum monthly income of US$ 500.00, or
    Proof of real estate ownership, duly registered in your name, or
    Copy of your bank or securities account statement with average annual balance of at least US$ 2,000.00, or Copy of an international credit card.
  • Airline ticket confirming your return to your country of origin or residency.

For family members (spouse, children, or parents) to accompany you, you must prove their status. As tourist, you will be able to remain in Mexico 180 days.

Customs: For information about the articles, cars and quantities of the articles allowed in Mexico, please visit
//www.aduanas.sat.gob.mx/aduana_mexico/2007/A_Body_Pasajeros.htm

More information at the Foreign Affairs Office:
//www.sre.gob.mx/servicios/visas/extran.htm 

and at the National Migration Institute:
//www.migracion.gob.mx/pagina_ingles/principal-ingles.asp


Transportation

Mexico counts with an excellent highway network, airport terminals (in the main cities) and bus stations (in almost all of its cities and towns). For local transportation most cities and towns offer taxi, bus and microbus services; the cities of Mexico and Leon also have metrobuses. Only Mexico City and Monterrey have subways.

All the main airlines fly to the Aeropuerto Internacional Benito Juárez de la Ciudad de México (Mexico City Benito Juarez International Airport), including national and affiliated international lines such as: Aerocalifornia, Aerocaribe, Aeromexico, Aeromar, Air Canada, Air France, Air Madrid, American Airlines, Alitalia, Aviacsa, Azteca, Brithish Airways, Continental Airlines, Cubana de Aviación, Iberia, Internet, Japan Airlines, Lan Chile, Lufthansa, Mexicana, United Airlines, Varig, Volaris

The following airlines fly to the Zacatecas International Airport: Aeromar, Delta Airlines and Mexicana. There are direct flights only from Mexico City, Tijuana and Monterrey. Please consult with the airlines for destinations and intermediate stops.


Terrestrial transportation: Sendetur (from-to DF, Puebla, Guadalajara, Monterrey & Queretaro) 
                                       ETN lines (from-to DF, Guadalajara, Monterrey, Aguascalientes)


Tourism

Mexico, being a multiethnic, multicultural country with a great biodiversity, counts with a wide array of tourist sites. The country’s geographical location allow for the coexistence of weather that ranges from the arctic to the tropical. This country has the greatest variety of reptiles in the world, and its territory is inhabited by jaguars and monkeys in the jungle, to the Pronghorns and Bighorn Sheep, and it is the winter habitat of many migrating species. In Mexico we can find practically all types of ecosystems, taking the jungle and the desert at its extremes, with all intermediate grades including semi-deserts, prairies, valleys, pine tree forests, rain forests, deciduous forests and many others. If you enjoy climbing mountains, descending into caves, rafting down rapids, deep sea diving, Mexico offers its great volcanoes, canyons, deep caves, beautiful rivers, sacred cenotes (underground ponds) and other natural beauties. Amongst its most famous natural sites we have the Vizcaino Desert (Baja California), near to the parting point for whale sightings. There is also the Mapimi Reserve (Duranto), the Cumbres de Monterrey National Park (Nuevo León); the Copper Canyon Natural park (Chihuahua), the Great Pinacate Desert Natural Park (Sonora), the Montebello Lakes and Agua Azul waterfalls (Chiapas), the Chacahua Lagoons (Oaxaca), the Monarch Butterfly Reserves (Michoacan and State of Mexico) and the Sian Kaan Biosphere Reserve (Quintana Roo).

México is a preeminently mestizo country where, modernity and the most advanced technologies coexist with ancestral customs inherited from the remote ancestors. The great variety and number of ethnic groups that inhabit the country result in a wide array of artistic and cultural expressions that attest to the different world visions that coexist in this territory, preserving and reinventing their dances, costumes, food, celebrations, languages and traditions. The pre-Hispanic cultures left behind a great amount of ruins, buildings, cities and religious centres, whose magnificence, refinement and knowledge make México today one of the main countries in the world for archaeological tourism, with sites such as Teotihuacán (State of Mexico), Tula (Hidalgo), Cacaxtla (Tlaxcala), Mixquic (Mexico City), Mitla y Monte Albán (Oaxaca), Tajín (Veracruz), La Venta (Tabasco), Palenque (Chiapas), Chchén Itzá, Uxmal y Kabah (Yucatán), Tulum (Quintana Roo), Chicaná, Calakmul and Hormiguero (Campeche).

After the conquest of Mexico, the main task of the new society was the conversion to Catholicism of the New World’s inhabitants. Witnesses of that era are the 16th century convents and monasteries such as Meztitlán, Mezquititlán, Teapa and many more. Once the New Spain society had taken root and became enrichened, the Baroque architecture fluorished, originating beautiful churches and magnificent civil buildings such as the Metropolitan Cathedral in México City, the Zacatecas Catedral, the Santa Prisca temple in Taxco, Santa María Tonantzintla in Puebla, or civil and comercial buildings such as the National Palace in México City or the Government palace in the City of Aguascalientes. The most beautiful colonial cities in México are the following: Aguascalientes, Campeche, San Cristóbal de las Casas, Ciudad de México, Guadalajara, Guanajuato, Taxco, Morelia, Oaxaca, Puebla, Querétaro, Talxcala and San Luis Potosí. For more information, check //www.visitmexico.com/wb2/ and for information on Zacatecas you can see //www.turismozacatecas.gob.mx/?mostrar=inicio

OFFICIAL TRAVEL AGENCY
Visit the webpage of the agency where you can find information about hotels and rates. You can also do your online reservation.

Agency name:   Realsa Agencia de viajes SA de CV
                       Av González Ortega No. 104-2 
                       Zona Centro 
                       
Zacatecas, México
                       
CP 98000
                       (492) 922 92 04 phone
                       (492) 925 09 76 fax

Web page: www.viajesrealsa.com.mx
E-mail: [email protected]
           [email protected]

Contacts: Mr. Eduardo Del Real Sánchez
               Ms. Lucero Herrera Romo

History
The history of Mexico is divided into several periods:

Pre-Columbian:
Primitive. The various ethnic groups from Arid America evolved slowly and left behind scarce cultural remains, in contrast with the constant and firm cultural progress of Mesoamericans. The fossil remains indicate that the first inhabitants must have penetrated the continent some 13,000 years ago. They were most likely hunter-gatherer groups. There was a developed cult of the dead and, between the years 3000 and 2000 BC the first small villages were formed, with underground dwellings.
Formative. It begins at around 1500 BC with the late pre-Classic period, in the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, in a rainy and humid area, were a culture called archaeological Olmec appeared, as the starting point of the high Mesoamerican culture. Themost important sites were Tres Zapotes, La Venta, El Trapiche, San Lorenza and the Tuxtlas. The Olmec cultures spread through commerce, colonization and war.
Classic. The period between 100 BC and the VIIIth Century, during which Mesoamerican cultures achieved their highest splendor. The progress in agricultural techniques allowed for the flourishing of the great cities, that became capitals for political and religious administration. The 365-day calendars were established together with ideographical writing, and the monumental pyramids of Cholula and Teotighuacan were built. New peoples, who penetrated thanks to the fall of Teotihuacan, transformed the existent political organization, substituting theocratic regimes with predominantly militaristic governments. The Toltec-Chichimec, Nahua groups that probably came from the area of Jalisco and Zacatecas, began invasions where their culture would notoriously increase and their political dominance would last for a long period in the new States.
PostClassic. In the 13th and 14th centuries the most important cities (Texcoco, Chalco, Culhuacan, Azcapotzalco) fought continuously for hegemony. The Mexica tribe, better known as Aztecs, founded their capital at around 1325 (Mexico.Tenochtitlan) and 50 years later they implanted their dinasty. In the 15th century a league of three cities was organized (Mexico, Texcoco and Tlacopan) under the aegis of Mexico, which in less a century had extended its dominance from ocean to ocean. However, the extreme ethnic complexity, the excessive authoritarianism and the lack of common interests and feelings were essential characteristics of this political organization that facilitated the Spanish conquest.

Conquest: The news of a great empire spread by the expeditions of Francisco Hernandez de Cordova and Juan de Grijalva impelled Cortes to undertake the conquest of this territory. Due to the empire’s political situation, Cortes achieved alliances with the Totonacas and Tlaxcaltecs against the Aztecs and in Cholula he ruined an Aztec conspiracy, entering Tenochtitlan on November of 1519, where he got an interview with Moctezuma, holding him hostage. An Aztec offensive pushed the Spaniards towards a disastrous retreat (the Sad Night of 1520). Thanks to the victory of Otumba, they were able to take refuge in Tlaxcala, where they reorganized their army, later besieging Tenochtitlan, finally conquered in 1521. In 1522, Cortes was named governor and captain general. In 1537 the “audiencia” was created, becoming the ultimate autority until the creation of the New Spain Viceroyalty in 1532.

Viceroyalty: Antonio de Mendoza, the first Viceroy, proceeded to organized the territory and attempted, unsuccessfully to improve the situation of the indigenous peoples with the application of the new laws, that led to a confrontation with the “encomenderos” (those in charge of indoctrinating and controlling the indigenous peoples under the colonial institution names “encomienda”). The University of Mexico was founded (1551) under the government of Luis de Velasco, who encouraged the exploration of the Pacific. Nevertheless, the most important phenomenon of the 16th and 17th centuries was the marked depopulation of the country. By 1605 the pre-Columbian population, a calculated 25 million, had been reduced to a little over a million. The wars of conquest, added to the economic and social disorders, the damaged soils and a population barely above survival levels, defenseless in the face of European or native diseases, were the causes of such a drastic reduction. Also, there was the importation of black slaves and the progressive dissolution of the indigenous society, whose members became incorporated into the Spanish society as laborers. In the 17th century came the decadence of mines, and the difficulty of communications with the metropolis because of piracy, this is when the great haciendas became the norm, with the monopolization of the judicial and police functions at the local leven, and a patriarchal type system. There were few benefits, due to the difficulties in transportation and the degradation of the soil, so many decided to mortgage their lands with the Church, which became immensely rich, The benefits only got to the hands of the social strata of the white people, Spanish officials and aristocratic creoles. The first had power over government and controlled the colony’s commerce; the second were great landowners, as well as the holders of mining concessions and high ecclesiastical and military dignitaries. The rest of the whites, middle-class creoles and the lower levels of the clergy, constituted a more cultures element of the population, unhappy with its social and economic status, and opposed to Spanish penetration. This sector adopted the ideals of the French revolution and directed the struggle for independence in its first moments, with the support of the popular classes (indigenous, mestizos and mulattoes) who were the vast majority of the population.

Independence: Taking advantage of the invasion of the metropolis by the French and the following authority crisis, they decided to proclaim the independence and, opposed by the “audiencia”, dominated by Spanish representatives, they turned to the people. Father Miguel Hidalgo, together with Allende and Aldama, managed to get the people to rise with the promise of land distribution and the abolishment of tribute and slavery (1810). The rebellion became eminently popular, directed, above all, by Morelos, under whose auspices the Congress that proclaimed the Constitution of Apatzingan (1814) was gathered. This was the first attempt of the rebels to become politically organized. The Creole aristocracy remained on the side of the Spanish Government, but when the 1820 liberal revolution triumphed in the city, this group saw their interests were threatened and finally decided to support the independence. Iturbide, one of the generals of the Royalist army made a pact with Guerrero with the Plan of Iguala in 1821, establishing and independent monarchic government, and he advanced victorious towards the Capital city, where he forced viceroy O´Donojú to ratify the Plan of Iguala. In the same year a Provisional Governmental Cabinet was formed.

Republic: The war of independence deteriorated the economy and left the fight between the aristocracy and the middle class unsolved. Although the middle class had achieved a majority representation in the Constitutional Congress, they couldn’t prevent their opponents from declaring Iturbide emperor (1822) with the support of the people. Iturbide silenced the opposition to the Congress, which was substituted by an Institutional National Cabinet, but he was overthrown by General Santa Anna, who proclaimed the Republic in 1823. The government fell into the hands of a triumvirate that called for a Constitutional Congress that gave birth to the 1824 Federal Constitution, in that same year Guadalupe Victoria was elected as president. Until the Plan of Ayutla in 1854-55, the Republic was politically unstable (40 governments in 30 years) and there was constant struggle between two groups: the liberals (the middle class, defenders of the Federal Republic) and the conservatives (the higher clergy, Spaniards and the privileged classes, who defended a Centralized republic). The struggles and the changes of the group in power facilitated the influence of England and the United States, particularly through the masonry lodges and military preponderance. Under these circumstances it became impossible to defend the nation’s territorial integrity and the centralism of the conservatives led to the separation of the Central American provinces and the independence of Texas (1836). The annexation of Texas to the USA in 1845 let to the war that led to the annexation, where Mexico had to sign for peace under the Guadalupe-Hidalgo treaty of 1848, renouncing to New Mexico, the Higher California and part of Arizona in exchange for a compensation.

Reform: The defeat before the USA led to the fall of Santa Anna and the desire for a definitive rupture with the vice royal social and economic order. A series of legal dispositions were decreed for the reformation of the country: the laws of Lerdo and Iglesias, the 1857 Constitution (the suppression of ecclesiastical privileges, secular schooling, etc.). These laws led to the Plan of Tacubaya, which resulted in the destitution of President Comonfort and on the government falling on the hands of the conservatives, which initiated the Three Year War or the War for Reform. Benito Juarez, imprisoned by Comonfort, took refuge in Veracruz and in 1857 promulgated the Laws of Reform: the secularization of the clergy’s property, the establishment of civil marriages, the secularization of cemeteries and freedom of cult. In 1860 the liberals recovered power and the conservative called for European intervention (England, France and Spain), which culminated in the imposition of a Catholic monarchy headed by Maximilian of Haupsburg, crowned emperor in 1864. Maximilian refused to return the property of the church, while France, forced by the USA, retired its troops, causing his fall. Maximilian was besieged in Queretaro, captured and executed on 1867. Juarez was elected president and he impulses the construction of railways, public education and proceeded to reclaim the property of the clergy and the religious communities, although the secular large estates subsisted, a problem inherited by the Revolution. At his death in 1872, Lerdo de tejada became president, but in 1876 he was overthrown by the conservative opposition led by Porfirio Diaz.

Porfiriato: Porfirio Diaz governed the country from 1877 to 1911. Until 1884 he respected the non-reelection principle, the axis of the revolt that led to his power, and he installed his collaborators in power. His government supported and was supported by the landowner classes made richer by the Reform. The country in general went through an age of prosperity whose almost exclusive beneficiaries were the rich hacienda landowners, while the situation of the peasant and working classes was reduced to an ever-lower buying power. This was worsened by the plundering of the lands of indigenous communities, which were mostly expropriated, as well as by the increasing corruption of the political-administrative strata, fed by the reinforcement of an authoritarian regime. In the 1910 elections, and in spite of the promise of allowing for opposition, Diaz reelected himself again, exiling his opponent Franciso I Madero, who countered by proclaiming the Plan of San Luis Potosi that, jointly with the non-reelection statute, spoke of agrarian reform and called for rebellion against Diaz, thus starting the Mexican Revolution.

Revolution: Diaz was forced out of power in 1911 and new elections put Madero in the presidential seat. His popularity decreased rapidly, for he was not able to formulate a program for the agrarian reform that would be approved by the more advanced sectors and he was excessively tolerant with the enemies of the Revolution. After a failed return of the supporters of Diaz, the military commander Victoriano Huerta took advantage of the confusion to overthrow and assassinate Madero. Huerta implanted a regime of terror and he dissolved the Congress to suffocate the opposition. In the face of this, Venustiano Carranca (Plan of Guadalupe), Francisco Villa and Alvaro Obregón rebelled and in 1914 Huerta was forced to flee the country. Carranza seemed likely to become the next president, but Villa and Zapata were against him and he had to take refuge in Veracruz. In 1915 he returned triumphant to Mexico City, where he convoked a Constitutional Congress that gathered in Queretaro, and the 1917 Constitution, the progressive Constitution that is currently in force, was promulgated including issues such as a secular, free education, the nationalization of the property of land and water sources, and labor legislation. The grounds were set for a pacific reform.

Post-revolution: The 1917-1920 was a period of internal struggle. The Zapatista uprising and the homicide of its leader Emiliano Zapata; the uprising of Obregon, which led to the death of Carranza in his flight to Veracruz; Obregon’s ascent to power in the 1920 elections, supported by the Confederación Obrera Mexicana (Mexican Workers’ Confederacy). In 1924 Plutarco Elías Calles ascends to power, continuing with his predecessor’s policies and taking extreme anti-religious measures, causing strong reactions from the conservative sectors of the Catholic Church (“cristeros”). Until 1934 policies inspired on Calles were followed. In that year general Lázaro Cárdenas won the elections, exiling Calles and developing policies inspired in the principles of the Revolution with the support of the Partido Nacional Revolucionario (National Revolutionary party, currently the Partido Revolucionario Institucional or Institutional Revolutionary Party). He impulses the agrarian reform, nationalized the oil companies created with foreign capital and implemented widespread social reforms.

Current: Manuel Avila Camacho who made the most of the II World War juncture to impulse the nation’s progress substituted Cardenas. Miguel Alemán Valdez accelerated Mexico’s industrialization process. The following presidents were Adolfo Ruiz Cortinez, Adolfo Lopez Mateos, Gustavo Diaz Ordaz, who violently repressed the 1968 students’ movement in Mexico City, Luis Echeverria Alvarez, currently subject to an investigation for his responsibility in the events of 1968 through 1971 and his strong arm approach during his presidency. Jose Lopez Portillo squandered the income from that period’s oil boom; in his last year in office he nationalized banks. Miguel de la Madrid Hurtado has on his shoulders the weight of the 1982 electoral fraud against Cuahutémoc Cárdenas, which led to the presidency of Carlos Salinas de Gortari. During his presidency NAFTA was signed with the USA and Canada, the indigenous uprising in Chiapas began (Ejercito Zapatista de Liberación Nacional or Zapatista National Liberation Army), the banks were re-privatized and the PRI’s presidential candidate, Luis Donaldo Colosio, was assassinated in Tijuana on March, 1994, a few months before the presidential elections. Ernesto Zedillo became the new candidate and was elected president on August, that same year. On December 1994 the peso suffered 50% devaluation and the greatest banking rescue in national history took place, at the expense of the Mexican people. In 1997 Cuauhtemoc Cardenas was elected as the first Mexico City governor, he was also the first governor from an opposition party, the PRI lost its absolute majority in Congress and there was a bloody episode un Acteal with the genocidal murder of 45 indigenous peasants. In the 2000 presidential elections, Vicente Fox from the conservative Partido Acción Nacional (National Action party), won the presidency. For the first time after 71 uninterrupted years of government, the PRI does not have the presidency. The threat of inflation, generalized poverty, violence and delinquency, as well as the widespread corruption of an obsolete system are the main challenges for the new administration, and it wasn’t up to the task. In 2006, after a long and dirty electoral campaign, Felipe Calderon from the PAN got the presidency with a difference of under 0.5 of the votes over the opposing candidate of the Partido de la Revolucion Democratica (Democratic Revolution Party), Andrés Manuel López Obrador.


Related books
(in Spanish)

Centro de Estudios Históricos. Historia General de México (dos tomos) Ed. El Colegio de México. DF. México.
Benítez, Fernando. Los indios de México (cuatro tomos). Biblioteca ERA, Serie mayor. Ediciones ERA, S.A. México.
Caso, Antonio. El pueblo del sol. Fondo de Cultura Económica. DF., México.
Galeana, Eduardo. Las venas abiertas de América Latina. Siglo Veintiuno Editores. México.
Galeana, Eduardo. Memoria del fuego (tres tomos). Siglo Veintiuno Editores. México.
Humboldt, Alejandro de. Ensayo Político sobre el Reino de la Nueva España, edición facsimilar París 1822 (cuatro tomos). Instituto Cultural Helénico y Porrúa Librero-Editor. DF., México.
Kenneth Turner, John. México Bárbaro. Editorial Epoca. México.
León Portilla, Miguel. Rostro y Corazón de Anáhuac. Editado por la Asociación Nacional del Libro. México.
Prescott, William H. Historia de la Conquista de México. Compañía General de Ediciones. México
Reed, John. México Insurgente. Centro Editor de América Latina. Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Revueltas, José. Obras completas (26 cuadernillos). Ediciones ERA, S.A. México.
Rivera Cambas, Manuel. Los gobernadores de México (cuatro tomos). Editorial del Valle de México. DF., México.
Rivera Cambas, Manuel. México pintoresco, artístico y monumental. (cuatro tomos). Editorial del Valle de México. DF., México.
Rouquié, Alain. América Latina. Introducción al extremo occidente. (Amerique Latine. Introduction à l´extrême-occident). Siglo Veintiuno Editores. México.
Silva Herzog, Jesús. Breve historia de la Revolución Mexicana (dos tomos). Fondo de Cultura Económica. DF., México.

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