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Plus ça change

6 August 2011

Napoléon III has always gone gone in history as a devious sleazoid, but you have to give him credit for being an honestly devious sleazoid.  While his commander in Mexico, General  Elie Frédéric Forey, was making the usual rationales always given when launching wars of aggression, proclaiming he was only there to  “free Mexico from the tyrannous demagoguery of Benito Juarez, against whom, and not against the Mexican nation, we are fighting”, Napoléon didn’t mind setting his commander straight on the real reasons.  From a letter of 3 June 1862 to Forey:

There will not be wanting people who will ask you why we expend men and money to found a regular government in Mexico.  In the present state of civilization of the world, the prosperity of America is not a matter of indifference to Europe, for it is the country which feeds our manufactures and gives an impulse to our commerce…

We now see by sad experience how precarious is the lot of a branch of manufactures which is compelled to produce its raw material in a single market, all the vicissitudes of which it has to bear.  If … Mexico maintains her independence and integrity of her territory, if a stable government be then established with the assistance of France, we shall have… established a friendly influence in the center of America, and that influence, by creating numerous markets for our commerce will procure us the raw materials indispensable for our manufactures.  Mexico, thus regenerated, will always be well disposed to us, not only out of gratitude, but because her interests will be in accord with ours, and because she will find support in her friendly relations with European Powers.  At present, therefore, … the interests of our industry and commerce, all conspire to make it our duty to march on Mexico, boldly plant our flag there and establish either a monarchy, if not incompatible with national feeling, or at least a government which may promise some stability.

One Comment leave one →
  1. 6 August 2011 3:22 pm

    Hi, I’ve just been reading your blog and am really enjoying your refreshing portrayal of this wonderful country! You might also be interested in my Mexico related blog “The Tequila Files” – perhaps you would be so kind as to add it to your links page? thanks, Duncan

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