Brief history of Mexico

After destroying the Aztec empire, the conquerors created their own - New Spain reigned in these lands for 300 years.
After destroying the Aztec empire, the conquerors created their own - New Spain reigned in these lands for 300 years.

The question of the origin of Mexican culture and Mexicans is very ambiguous. Those whom we used to call Mexicans may represent different ethnic groups and differ even in appearance. Usually called the three main branches of the Mexican people - Europeans, Indians and representatives of the Negroid race. In fact, most of the population of Mexico (up to 90%) are mestizos, that is, they are a mixture of European and American peoples.

Genetic studies show that modern Mexican males are 60% European in origin and 30% Native American. But with women the situation is different - the "female" X-chromosome of Mexicans is 90% inherited from the Indian tribes. There is nothing surprising in this ratio - after all, there were no women on the ships of the Spaniards who occupied these lands at the beginning of the 16th century.

The occupation had to endure several Indian peoples, the most famous - the Maya, who lived in the south of modern Mexico, and the Aztecs, who lived mostly in the north. However, the Mayan civilization at that time was experiencing a period of decline. Long before the discovery of America, around the year 900, they survived a catastrophe, the causes of which are unknown to us, but because of it the population left most of the cities. Moreover, although in a cultural and scientific sense, they were significantly ahead of the rest of the Indians, they were militarily inferior to the Aztecs who came from the north to these lands at the beginning of the second millennium.

The Aztecs created on the territory of modern Mexico one of the most powerful empires of pre-Columbian America, but they did not know firearms and had no horses, so they could not oppose the Spanish conquerors led by Hernan Cortes. That is why, despite the genetic connection with the Indians, or "Native Americans", as they are now called in North America, the culture of modern Mexicans is close to Spanish, and they speak Spanish.

Nevertheless, traces of the Aztec civilization remain in Mexico to this day. Moreover, the word Mexico itself (as well as, of course, Mexico City) comes from the Aztec self-name, "Meshica," which has several different versions as to its exact meaning. The Aztec past was also reflected on the national emblem of the country, which is also located on its flag.

According to the Aztec legend, the supreme god Huitzilopochtli (we are often called Vitsliputsli) ordered the Aztecs to settle in a place where they would meet an eagle sitting on a high cactus and holding a snake in its beak (they say that the snake was not mentioned in the original legend, it appeared in the story after the Spanish colonization). After a long search, the Aztecs managed to find such a place - on the shores of Lake Texcoco, which is now non-existent. Here, in the region of 1325, they founded the city of Tenochtitlan - later turning into the capital of the Aztec empire. In 1520 it was destroyed by the Spaniards, and a year later Mexico City was founded on the same place.

After destroying the Aztec empire, the conquerors created their own - New Spain reigned in these lands for 300 years. Its territory went far beyond modern Mexico and captured both the southwest of the modern United States and all of Central America (Central America, however strange it may sound, is called the southern part of North America closely adjacent to the northern part of South America; today seven states).

Although during the entire rule of the Spaniards in these territories the local population was oppressed, since it was deprived of most civil rights and could not hold public office, yet it turned out to be in a much better position than in the United States. In Mexico, the Indians were not driven into reservations, they were not replaced by the colonists - the people lived side by side, thanks to which the gradual assimilation and transformation of the population into a single people took place.

All this led to the fact that the Mexicans had their own legal consciousness, separatist sentiments began to grow, and in 1810, inspired by the example of the United States, the Mexicans began the struggle for independence from Spain. It was headed by a Spanish priest, Miguel Hidalgo and Costille, but the main driving force was the Indians and mestizos.

The war with varying success lasted 10 years and ended in victory for the Mexicans - the Spanish crown recognized the independence of Mexico. A constitutional monarchy was proclaimed, and in May 1822, Colonel Agustin Iturbide became the first emperor. His power, however, did not last even a year - in March 1823 he was overthrown and expelled from the country, and when he tried to return a year later, he was executed. Mexico became a republic, and in 1824 the first constitution of the country was adopted, with the creation of which the US Constitution was adopted.

But unlike in the United States, in Mexico, obtaining independence and adopting a constitution did not lead to political stability. Liberals and conservatives waged a constant struggle for power, and in just 33 years, from 1824 to 1857, the president changed more than 40 times. Another problem was the rapid Americanization of Mexico-owned Texas - attracted by low land prices; in the 1820s, the Americans actively settled and soon became the dominant nation.

The Texans made their first attempt to secede as early as 1826 (the so-called Fredon insurgency). It was suppressed, and trying to stop the development of the situation, in 1830, the Mexican Parliament banned the migration of immigrants from the United States. This provoked discontent among the Texans and a few years later led to the Texas Revolution of 1835, which resulted in the Texas War of Independence.

Suppress the insurgency went personally to the President of Mexico, Colonel Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna. After a series of local successes, the decisive battle of the two armies took place near the town of San Jacinto, and the Texan president Sam Houston led the forces of Texans after whom the city was named. Despite the nearly double numerical superiority of the Mexicans (about 1,500 against 800), they suffered a crushing defeat, and Santa Ana was captured. The rest of the Mexican army came back - Texas gained independence, although formally Mexico did not recognize this for another 10 years.

The chaos in politics, aggravated by the financial crisis, continued. In 1838, Mexico even managed to make war with France. And the troops again led Santa Anna - and despite the next defeat, it allowed him to regain his authority and subsequently become president again (in total, he became president of Mexico 11 times).

In 1845, Texas became part of the United States, which triggered another conflict between neighboring countries. In 1846, the US-Mexican war began (it is difficult to say who started it, since both sides, in fact, did everything to make the military solution of the issue inevitable), which ended in 1848 with a complete victory for the United States.

Under the threat of seizure of all Mexico, the Mexican Congress was forced to agree to the conditions of the Americans - in accordance with the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, the country lost almost half of its territories, including Upper California (now California in the USA) and New Mexico (today New Mexico). In return, the country received only cash compensation of $ 15 million.

The defeat in the war and such significant territorial losses, as well as some subsequent events - first of all, the sale of more parts of the country's land for the 11th time by the return of Santa Anna to the presidency - shook the country. A bourgeois revolution took place in Mexico, which led to a civil war between conservatives and liberals. Liberals, led by Benito Juarez, won a landslide victory.

In response, in 1861, the Conservatives supported the intervention of three European powers in Mexico - Britain, France and Spain - each had its own interests in the region. But after a few months, the British and Spanish troops were withdrawn, and the French suffered several defeats. Nevertheless, Napoleon III continued the intervention, sending a 30,000-strong corps to Mexico, and by 1865 the French had occupied almost the entire territory of the country. The empire was proclaimed, and the brother of the Austrian emperor Franz Joseph from the Habsburg dynasty, Maximilian I, ascended to the throne.

His reign was short-lived. Two years later, because of the struggle against Prussia that threatened France, as well as the risk of provoking a war with the United States (after the end of the Civil War, the Americans openly supported their former opponents), troops from Mexico were withdrawn. Benito Juárez returned to power, and Maximilian I was convicted and executed.

Juárez ruled the country until his death in 1872, and in 1876, one of his opponents and the hero of anti-French resistance, General Porfirio Dias, seized power, establishing his own dictatorship. He ruled Mexico for more than 30 years, which led to some success in the economy, although the lives of most of the population have not changed, if not worsened. As a consequence, social tensions grew, and in 1910 a civil war began, known as the Mexican Revolution. It ended only in 1917 with the adoption of a new constitution, still in force today.

The twentieth century brought Mexico a rise in wealth and a gradual transition from a group of backward countries to a number of states with a strong and stable economy. In the thirties, many companies were nationalized, including oil and transport. In the 1940s, after Mexico supported the anti-Hitler coalition, industrialization and modernization of the economy occurred with the direct assistance of the United States.

Already by the end of the fifties, Mexico came out on top in Latin America in industrial production. By the early eighties, the country had become one of the world leaders in oil production. However, the fall in energy prices led to a serious crisis and the beginning of neoliberal reforms.

Today, Mexico is a fairly developed industrial-agrarian country, where the oil industry plays a leading role. Here the economic stratification of society is still great - here extreme poverty and exceptional wealth adjoin. In particular, one of the richest people on the planet, Carlos Slim.