Mexican Constitution of 1917; the foundations of democracy

The configuration of the Mexican Constitution as we know it comes from a historical process that is the result of social demands and revolutions. Find out why.

Mexican Constitution of 1917; the foundations of democracy
How the Mexican Constitution came to be as we know it is the result of a historical process that is the result of social demands and revolutions. Image and text: INAH

The Mexican Constitution as we know it is the result of a historical process that is the result of social demands and revolutions. After Porfirio Díaz came to power and remained in office for more than thirty years, a social uprising was unleashed that opposed his dictatorship and gave birth to the Revolution.

With the promulgation of the Plan de San Luis, the armed movement that sought to overthrow his mandate was awakened and exploded on November 20, 1910. Faced with the social outbreak and the imminent defeat, in May 1911 President Diaz resigned and went into exile in France.

In October 1911 elections were held and Francisco I. Madero was the winner; he was betrayed using a coup d'état orchestrated by General Victoriano Huerta and assassinated together with Vice President José María Pino Suárez in February 1913.

Venustiano Carranza disowned the presidency of the so-called usurper and overthrew him with the Constitutionalist Army, an armed movement of the Revolution. When he became the head of the Executive Power, he called for the creation of the Constituent Congress of Querétaro to reform the Constitution of 1857, which had been modified on multiple occasions by the Díaz government to adapt it to its national project, among these modifications was the reelection and the extension of the presidential term.

Thus, the Political Constitution of the United Mexican States of 1917 was coined, which is still in force and is made up of 136 articles. It included the demands of the groups that took up arms during the Revolution. In addition to including the "rights of man", it addressed "social rights", decreed non-reelection, ratified sovereignty and federal organization, established freedom of worship and expression, and free secular education.

Constitution of 1857

With Antonio López de Santa Anna as president of Mexico, a movement led by Juan N. Álvarez and Ignacio Comonfort opposed his mandate due to his centralism and dictatorial way of exercising power.

When Santa Anna left the country in 1855 after the inevitable revolution, Álvarez assumed the interim presidency, and Comonfort was appointed Minister of War.

Elections were called in 1856 to form a Constitutional Congress since it was assured that a new constitution was necessary to reestablish the Federal Republic and proclaim the individual guarantees since during Santa Anna's mandate a normative mark was published that sustained his dictatorship.

As a result of this congress, the Political Constitution of the Mexican Republic of 1857 was promulgated. It prohibits slavery, expresses the duties and obligations of Mexicans, establishes that sovereignty resides in the people, and recognizes the right of association and assembly.

Constitution of 1824

At the end of the War of Independence in 1821, a monarchic government was formed in Mexico that would have independence from the Spaniards. The First Constituent Congress was established, from whose sessions Agustín de Iturbide was named emperor of Mexico in May 1822.

Faced with the pressure to reinstate the Constituent Congress, which was dissolved by Iturbide to create a body that issued a project that disregarded the Constitution of Cadiz and established the independence of the Mexican nation, the emperor summoned an assembly.

As a result of this Second Constituent Congress, the Constitutive Act of the Mexican Federation was promulgated, which established the Federal Republic as a form of government and opened the way to the promulgation of a constitution.

Thus was created the Federal Constitution of the United Mexican States of 1824, whose main mandates defined the country as the Federal Representative Republic, gave it the name of United Mexican States, and positioned Catholicism as the only religion.

This document establishes the division of powers, establishes freedom of the press, integrates the figure of vice president, and establishes a period of presidential power of four years.

Constitution of Apatzingán

Due to the French invasion and the abdication of Charles IV and Ferdinand VII as a consequence, a group known as the Insurgents, among them Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, Ignacio Allende, and José María Morelos y Pavón, began to promote the independence of New Spain from the Spanish Empire, a libertarian cry that would resound in September 1810.

In 1813, the Insurgents convened the Congress of Anahuac in Chilpancingo, where the independence of New Spain was declared. By October 1814, when the congress had to move to Apatzingán, the Constitutional Decree for the Liberty of Mexican America, also known as the Constitution of Apatzingán, was promulgated.

This constitutional text, inspired by Los Sentimientos de la Nación that Morelos read at the founding session of the Congress of Chilpancingo, is known as the first precedent of our constitution. Although it was never applied, it abolished slavery and considered all people equal before the law.