News about the war is circulating the world today with the details of a war that is reminiscent of the bloodiest wars of the 20th century. Different countries have taken positions on the conflict and have issued official statements supporting their military actions. The AGN's Wonders of History program presents the decree by which Mexico joined the war effort during World War II by declaring war on the military alliance of the Axis powers, made up of Germany, Italy, and Japan.
This declaration of war was a response to the attacks of two Mexican oil tankers (Potrero del Llano and Faja de Oro) sunk by German torpedoes. Documents such as these allow us to reflect on the turning points that precipitated the transition to military confrontation in international politics, on the place of imperialist powers and small countries on the global political chessboard.
The document that will be on display during the next few weeks of March in the AGN's Sala de Banderas corresponds to the June 2, 1942 edition, number 26 of volume 132 (CXXXII in Roman numerals) of the Diario Oficial de la Federación (Official Gazette of the Federation). This organ of the Constitutional Government of the United Mexican States directed then -and even now- by the Ministry of the Interior, published for the national territory the laws, decrees, regulations, agreements, circulars, orders, and other acts issued by the powers of the Federation, so that they would be known, observed and duly applied in their respective areas of competence.
This edition of the Official Gazette of the Federation exhibits one of the important chapters of the contemporary history of the country in the face of an event of worldwide dimension that placed humanity at a crossroads in the face of fascism. Such was the significance of the decree that authorized the Mexican Federal Executive Power to declare a state of war against the so-called Axis powers, which were composed of the armies of Germany, Italy, and Japan, actively positioning itself among the belligerent blocs in World War II.
This adhesion to the warlike conflict would have origin in the simultaneous attack to the regions of Manila, Honolulu, Pearl Harbor, and the Hickman field, executed by the Japanese forces on December 7, 1941. After these events, some ships of the Axis troops remained in waters belonging to Mexican territory. Given the risk to national sovereignty, the Mexican authorities decided to seize them. After this decision, Germany began to show certain hostility towards the Mexican ships, which culminated with the sinking of the ships called "Potrero del Llano" and "Faja de Oro".
Because of these events and with a balance of the situation, in which the first appeal was made to Mexican pacifism in the face of armed conflicts that did not infringe on its sovereignty, the then President of the Republic, Manual Avila Camacho, decided to request the Congress of the Union to declare a state of war. It was argued that the shooting down of Mexican ships, as well as the actions of abuse, aggression, and invasion by the Axis countries, in addition to the anti-fascist stance that our country held, led to this resolution.
After this decision, on May 28, 1942, the Chamber of Deputies unanimously approved the decree by which it was established that as of May 22, 1942, the United Mexican States was in a state of war. Said decree was promulgated on June 1 and went into effect on June 2, 1942, with its publication in the Official Gazette of the Federation, as well as the one that approved the suspension of the individual guarantees outlined in articles 4, paragraph I, of 5; 6; 7; 10; 11; 14; 16; 19; 20; 21, paragraph III, of 22 and 25 of the Political Constitution of the United Mexican States, during all the time that the country was in a state of war with Germany, Italy, and Japan.
The publication highlighted the power granted to the Executive to impose the necessary modifications in the branches of public administration for the defense of the national territory, the considerations taken to enter into a state of war, as well as the attainment of universal peace through reciprocal respect between countries. This declaration of war founded the direct participation of Mexican troops, on May 8, 1944, through the Mexican Expeditionary Air Force formed by the 201st Squadron, destined to combat Japanese forces.