Tag Archives: Benito Juarez

Benito Juarez’s Birthday

There isn’t hardly a town in Mexico that does not have a street named after President Benito Juarez so it’s no surprise that his birthday is a national holiday. Benito Pablo Juárez García was born on March 21, 1806, to Brígida García and Marcelino Juárez, Zapotec peasants. After the death of not only his parents but also his grandparents, he was raised by an uncle.  He became a servant in the same household as his older sister in Oaxaca and began formal schooling at age 12 when a prominent citizen arranged for him to attend seminary school. He later went on to study law, graduating in 1834. Juarez was elected to the Oaxaca city council in 1831 and appointed as a civil judge in 1841.

In 1842, he married Margarita Eustaquia Maza Parada, the daughter of the man he served as a child. Margarita was of upper class, Italian descent and 20 years younger than her husband. The two had 12 children (including twin girls) together, however, 5 died in childhood. Benito Juarez also had two children with a woman named Juana Rosa Chagoya prior to his marriage, Tereso and Susana. There’s isn’t much information about Juana although it seems she died before Juarez married Margarita.  Although most biographies record that Juana Rosa was the mother of both children,Tereso had a different last name than Susana which makes it appear as if they had different mothers. (Tereso Juarez Ortiz/Susana Juarez Chagoya). One source names Tereso’s mother as Cruz Ortiz. While Susana was always acknowledged as the natural daughter of Benito Juarez, Tereso was denied legitimacy when he tried to obtain it after Juarez’s death. Susana was said to be mentally deficient in some way and never married which was convenient for the legitimate heirs of Margarita Maza.

Benito Juarez became president of Mexico in 1858 when President Ignacio Comonfort was forced to resign.  Juarez was the head of the Supreme Court, so by order of succession, he assumed the position of president and remained president until his death in 1872.

He was president during the Reform War (1858-1860) which was a civil war between Liberals and Conservatives. He was also president during the French Invasion (1862-1867) although he and his family lived in exile for some time.

Juarez was a Freemason and opposed to the power of the Catholic church in Mexico. La Ley Juarez made it so that neither the military nor the clergy were exempt from civil laws. La Ley Lerdo went one step further and confiscated church lands not directly used for religious purposes. It also abolished communal land which impacted the indigenous communities as well. Although Juarez did not draft La Ley Lerdo, he did pass the Law of Nationalization of the Ecclesiastical Property (Ley de la Nacionalización de Los Bienes Eclesiásticos) in 1859 absorbing church-owned assets and properties into the national treasury.

Further undermining the authority of the church, Juarez created the Civil Registry for births, marriages, and deaths. Juarez also secularized cemeteries and hospitals.  He decreed freedom of religion in 1860 (Ley de Libertad de Cultos) and established national holidays apart from the Catholic church as part of what is known as Los Leyes de Reforma.

Did you know that Benito Juarez was honored as Companion of the Third Class of the Pennsylvania Commandery by the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States (MOLLUS) in 1866 which was typically reserved for civilians who made a significant contribution to the Union war effort?  He and his wife spent some time in exile in the US and even met President Lincoln. That isn’t something that would happen nowadays though. Just think, an indigenous man from Mexico with his white wife and mixed-race children seek asylum in the US?  Not on your life buster!

Benito Juarez is the face you’ll see on the 20 peso bill along with the scales of justice.  On the back is the archeological site Monte Albán found in  Oaxaca, the symbol for the Bank of Mexico and the symbol of a Cojijo.

The 20 peso bill is heading out the door to be replaced with a coin. However good ol’ Benito is the new face of the 500 peso bill, replacing Frida Kalho and Diego Rivera. This new bill looks enough like the 20 peso bill, down to the color, that some confusion is inevitable, at least until all the 20 peso bills are finally out of circulation.


Do you want to learn more about Mexican holidays and traditions?

Then check out A Woman’s Survival Guide to Holidays in Mexico!


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Surviving Revolution in La Yacata


A revolution is a change in power when the population revolts against the current organizational structures, i.e government. And as such, revolution in Mexico is not an uncommon phenomenon.


Throughout the centuries, regional groups have vied for control of certain areas in Mexico, only to be toppled from within. The Spanish came to power in Mexico as a direct result of a general revolution and the decimation caused by smallpox pandemic. (See La Malinche, Surviving a Pandemic) The son of La Malinche and Hernan Cortes, Martin, headed the first failed revolution against Spanish rule in 1566. There were several insurrections over the centuries but nothing large scale until the 1800s. In 1810 Miguel Hidalgo united the people with his Grito de Dolores for another go at revolution (See May 8) After Hidalgo’s death, Jose Morelos led the rebellion and then Vicente Guerrero carried on the fight. Mexico finally gained its independence from Spain in 1836.

All did not rest easy for the fledgling Mexico. Texas rose up in rebellion and won its independence from Mexico in 1836 as well, substantially reducing the overall size of the newly formed country.


Free, and for me, sacred, is the right to think…Education is fundamental for social happiness; It is the principle on which rest the freedom and greatness of the people.–Benito Juarez

Without hardly a pause, Mexico plunged into a 3-year civil war from 1857-1860 over proposed reforms to the constitution and the ultimate power of the Catholic Church. In the face of such political instability, France was able to invade Mexico and set up a monarchy which resulted in yet another revolution (1861-1867) ending with the execution of emperor Maximilian I. (See Battle of Puebla) Benito Juarez was reelected in 1868. However, beginning in 1871 Porfirio Diaz led several rebellions which led to his “election” in 1877 and subsequent 30-year dictatorship. During this period, Mexico lost control of most of its largest businesses to foreign companies and the resultant repression of the underclass led to the revolution of 1910. Emiliano Zapata, Venustiano Carranza, and Pancho Villa served as commanders of opposing forces during this confusing revolution, while the US repeatedly attempted to invade during the 11-year chaos.

no justicia

If there is no justice for the people, let there be no peace for the government. –Emiliano Zapata

From 1911 to 1932, the Mexican government was far from stable. There were 15 presidents during this time period, with some serving just a few months before being assassinated and one serving a mere 45 minutes before resigning. The sparks of revolution were fanned into flame again. The Cristero Rebellion occurred from 1926 to 1929 over the attempt by the federal government to reduce the power of the Catholic Church.


From 1940 until 1994, Mexico established 6-year elections. Strangely enough, each time, the PRI candidate won, leading to speculation on the overall impartiality of the election process.


Since 1994, Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) has been at war against the Mexican state. The Zapatista Revolution began as a protest against the signing of NAFTA which has done nothing for the Mexican people except widen the gap between the rich and the poor. EZLN also demanded democracy for the country where one political party (PRI) held power for more than 70 years. (See Politicking).


No forgiveness, Not forgotten, We are missing 43!

Even more recently, is the social movement for revolution sparked at the disappearance of 43 student teachers (See El Dia del Estudiante and La Llorona) in 2014.  As well as the teacher protests in Oaxaca against governmental education reform in 2016.


12 dead and 22 disappeared in Oaxaca June 2016

It remains to be seen whether a full-scale revolution results.

So how can you survive the next revolution?

Anonymous has some interesting suggestions in addition to the regular, run of the mill, Prepper be-prepared recommendations.

The first thing to do is be aware of a potential situation. There are always warning signs. Riots in urban areas, media cover-ups, censorship, unsubstantiated rumors and so on. Once you have established an area is ripe for revolution, do your Prepper thing, i.e. have food, water, and medical supplies stockpiled. Do not use drugs or drink alcohol excessively as they will make you vulnerable and you’ll need all your wits about you in a crisis situation. Do not trust the police under any circumstances. Document your experiences in order to report atrocities to international media but keep it discreet. Do not use your mobile phone as it will be monitored. Stay away from violent situations and urban areas.

So with so much history in revolution, rebellion and mass uprising, La Yacata is the place to be for the next conflict. After all, we’ve staged our own successful coup (See The Birth of the Revolution). We’ve learned not to trust the police (See Safety and Security and Justice for All? and Just another weekend adventure). I’ve become an expert on documenting my experiences (See Surviving Mexico Adventures and Disasters). We are on the way to becoming self-sufficient (See Building a dream, Constructing a life). We never have money on our mobile phones to make any incriminating phone calls. We are not in an urban area. And I stay away from drugs and alcohol at least so there’s at least one sane adult present at all times.

So in the event of revolution, I’ll see you here!







Filed under Carnival posts, Safety and Security