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Any excuse would do…

27 May 2018

Everyone knows about the US incursions into Mexico in 1846, 1914, and 1917… but there was another serious incursion in 1877 that isn’t much mentioned.  With the death of Benito Juarez in July 1872, under the constitution then in effect,  Supreme Court Chief Justice Sebastián Lerdo de Tejada assumed the Presidency. Juarez’ third term would have ended in November. Although there had been rumblings (led by Porfirio Díaz) about Juarez holding office so long, it was only when Lerdo was elected to a full term that Díaz was able to raise a rebellion under the rubric “Effective Suffrage: No Re-election”). Lerdo ALMOST lasted out his full term, but, with Díaz’ closing in on the unpopular president, he abruptly resigned the presidency, leaving José Maria Iglesia to finish out the last ten days of the term.

Díaz’ highly irregular path the the Presidency was, as one would expect, not universally accepted, and naturally there was resistance. Then, a now, “stability” in Mexico was essential to U.S. business interests. So was stability in the Wild West… and wiping out the country’s own “insurgents”… i.e., the Indians. So, in 1877, President Rutherford B. Hayes ordered the U.S. army into northern Mexico, ostensibly to chase cattle rustlers and “wild Indians” but with the goal of establishing a “protectorate” over northern Mexico.

However, Díaz was able to establish control over the state, making Mexico safe for… if not Democracy, then at least for business as usual,and and the U.S. troops were withdrawn in 1878.  Diaz preserved Mexico’s territorial integrity and during the 30 years of the “Porfirian peace” (forget all that talk about effective suffrage and no re-election… as Porfirio was re-elected with only token opposition again.. and again.. and again… and again) the north was a priority for development, with massive support from the state fostered immigration and railroads. And the American incursion was quietly erased from history… except by the losers: the indigenous people for whom Mexico had provided a safe haven from U.S. depredations.

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