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Mexico: La Tierra Del Misterio

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Mexico: La Tierra Del Misterio

Many factors in the tumultuous history of Mexico have lead to the development of a unique political culture and system. From the ancient Aztecs, to the conquest by Spain, to the current day administration of Vicente Fox, there have been many events and people that, through politics, have shaped Mexico into what it is today. This paper will review and analyze each of these events and people and the effect that they had on Mexican politics.

The first form of widespread and structured government came in the form of native tribes; chief amongst these tribes was the Aztecs. The Aztecs came into prominence starting around the 14th century, and dominated Mesoamerica until the arrival of Europeans. These people lived under a monarchial government, which was headed by an emperor and a council of elders, with the latter holding more power originally, but the former gaining more power as empire grew. As they dominated new lands, the Aztecs forced the conquered to pay tribute to the empire. They used this tribute to develop their roads and help better the welfare of their people.

The importance of the Aztec form of government as it relates to the current system is evident in the chronological chain of events that lead up to it. As a people who were used to be being controlled by a central figurehead, the Aztec people adapted quickly to the European system of government. This made it easy for the Europeans to declare dominance by conquering those currently in power, but when the Mexican people noticed that the quality of life was significantly less for them now the Europeans had taken over, the seeds of revolution and dissent were sown, later to become vital players in Mexican politics.

In 1519, the mainland of Mexico was invaded by Hernan Cortes, who quickly made alliances with the enemies of the Aztecs, thus strengthening his own power and making conquest and conversation much easier. He moved in on the Aztec capital with 600 soldiers, and the most fearsome weapon known to man: smallpox. This disease wiped out an estimated six million Aztecs, helping to even the numbers for the Spanish. By 1521, the Aztecs had admitted defeat, and the land that would be Mexico was declared "New Spain" and under control of the Spanish empire. The Aztec people were heavily discriminated against and very heavily taxed, as well as forced to convert to Roman-Catholicism, a factor that would play a huge part in shaping the political landscape.

This bringing of Old World politics, disease, and religion to the new world had a profound impact on the culture of the Mexican people. When mixed, the Aztec ways and the Spanish ways melded to become a definitively Mexican culture, but there would not be equality for quite some time after the invasion of Mexico. The establishment of the Roman-Catholic as the official religion of New Spain is probably the most important and long lasting change that was brought to Mexico. At the time, the Roman Catholic Church was the biggest power in the world, with many leaders of world powers subscribing to this religion, the Pope and the Vatican could basically enforce their will wherever they wanted to. This was also reflected in politics in the New World, as clergymen and others in high standing with the Church often became very wealthy and very powerful, often at the expense of the native born Mexicans. This sort of influence made the Catholic Church into a bigger world power than any single country could ever hope to be.

When Napoleon I took over Spain and declared his brother emperor of Mexico, an uneasy alliance between the conservative rich land owners and the liberals of Mexico was formed. The Conservatives favored the Bourbon Royal Family and their highly conservative policies, as opposed to Napoleon's more liberal policies. The Liberals wanted Mexico to become democratic. Although the most unlikely of allies, they both agreed on one thing: that Mexico should be independent and ruled by Mexicans. When Miguel Hidalgo Costilla declared independence from Spain from the small town of Dolores on September 16th, 1810, a lengthy war with Spain ensued. When it was finally recognized as an independent nation in 1821, Agustin de Iturbide was crowned emperor of the newly independent Mexico, which was based on "The Three Guarantees" which were that the country would be ruled by a deposed European monarch, slavery and forced labor would be abolished, and there would be equal rights for "criollos" and "peninsulares" who people of both Spanish and Mexican descent.

This was for independence showed the Mexicans' desire for self-rule, as well as their willingness to fight for it. However, it was also the start of the great divide between the liberals and the conservatives, a schism that shows itself even today. The basic ideological disagreements

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