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Posted on 05-05-2011
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What were French troops doing in Mexico?


Photo: ESFP
Patrick Osio, Jr.

On May 5, 1862, Mexican troops defeated an invading French army in the outskirts of Puebla, a city around 60 miles east of Mexico City. How did events come to this point; what were French troops doing in Mexico and why?
On September 15, 1810, a priest, Miguel Hidalgo, sounded the church bells to unite Mexicans in a war of independence from Spain. Independence was declared the following day, September 16th. But it took Mexicans 11 years to oust the Spaniards.
They were barely getting their house in order when an unprovoked war was thrust on them by the US wanting and taking about 50 percent of its territory. Needless to say, Mexicans weren't happy with this circumstance and blamed their leader, Santa Anna, accusing him of great treason. This led to a rebellion to oust him from office.
Once this done, Mexico entered into one of its most important historical periods, the formation of its Constitution of 1857.
There were two political forces at work, the Liberals who wanted to create a country not unlike the US: A representative republic, democratic, federal, religiously tolerant, free market economy, and an educational system independent of religion, and, most importantly - separation between the State and religion. This instrument would provide Mexican citizens with vast constitutional protections rivaling those in the U.S.
The other political force was the Conservatives who wanted strong ties to Spain, only the Catholic religion would be allowed, national industrial protectionism (limited imports), regulated freedom of expression, no opposing political parties. They also believed Mexico should be tied to a European monarchy with the head of Mexico having absolute power, and to distance the country as much as possible from the US.
This terrible schism led to the civil war known as "La Guerra ...
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