Liberty in Mexico
Writings on Liberalism from the Early Republican Period to the Second Half of the Twentieth Century
Publication Year: 2013
Published by: Liberty Fund
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Title Page, Copyright
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Introduction: Liberty and Liberalism in Mexico
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After their independence from Spain in the early nineteenth century, all of the new nations of Spanish America (except for the brief and ill- fated Mexican Empire) adopted the same model of political organization: the liberal republic. At the beginning of the twenty-first century all of these countries remain republics. ...
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I would like to thank Emilio Pacheco for his intellectual encouragement and continued criticism. Several people made this book possible. Laura Goetz provided valuable editorial insights. Janet M. Burke, Arizona State University, and Ted Humphrey, Arizona State University, were wonderful colleagues, ...
Part 1: The Founding and Early Constitutional Experiments: 1821–1840
José María Luis Mora
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José María Luis Mora (1794–1850), the leading liberal thinker during the first federal republic (1824–53), was ordained as a priest and received a degree in theology. Later he studied law and became a lawyer. He was a member of the provincial deputation of Mexico and later was elected as a deputy to the constituent congress of the state of Mexico. ...
1. Discourse on the Independence of the Mexican Empire
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The custom among civilized peoples, in making some substantial change to their government, has been to reveal and clarify before all other nations the reasons that justify those changes. Inasmuch as such change cannot be limited to the internal effects that constitutional alterations produce in a state, ...
2. Discourse on the Limits of Civil Authority Deduced from Their Source
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Surely few nations have been in such fortunate circumstances for creating constitutions with all possible human perfection as are the American nations, which a half century ago became independent of European powers: The enlightenment generally disseminated by the freedom of the press established in England, France, Spain, Portugal, and Naples; ...
3. Discourse on the Freedom of Thought, Speech, and Writing
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If, in the time of Tacitus, the ability to think as one wanted and to speak as one thought was an uncommon happiness, in our times it would be a consummate misfortune and a quite unfavorable mark on our nation and institutions should one try to place limits on freedom of thought, speech, and written expression. ...
4. Discourse on the Means Ambition Uses to Destroy Liberty
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Nothing is more important for a nation that has adopted the republican system, having just emerged from a despotic regime and having won its liberty by the force of arms, than to reduce the real or apparent reasons that might allow a great mass of authority and power to accumulate in the hands of a single man, giving him prestige and ascendency over all other citizens. ...
5. Discourse on the Civil Liberties of the Citizen
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In a society that is well constituted and intends to destroy all the abuses that have perpetuated the existence of an arbitrary regime, it is necessary to accustom its members not to be enamored of insignificant voices and rather to concern themselves with the reality of things. ...
6. Discourse on Laws That Attack Individual Security
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If one carefully seeks the causes of anger and discontent that one observes among peoples who have tried various systems of government, passing from the most absolute despotism to the most unrestrained democracy, one will find that always or almost always it is due to the obvious opposition and the continual conflict between the principles ...
7. Discourse on the Independence of Judicial Power
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The inflamed frenzy that has been observed against the defeated dissenters and the excessive and sometimes immoderate determination with which their punishment is urged, seems to us to belong to the number of those excesses that, in general, are not subject to a noble principle, nor do they have favorable outcomes, ...
8. Discourse on Public Opinion and the General Will
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Here are two phrases as often repeated in republics as silenced in absolute monarchies, perhaps because their true meaning constitutes the compelling strength of the first and is the implied censure and most constant threat against the existence of the second. ...
9. Discourse on the Nature of Factions
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Liberal institutions bring with them differences of opinion, because with each person making use of the precious right to express an opinion freely, it would be impossible that all members of society would agree on how to view issues. ...
Lorenzo de Zavala
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Lorenzo de Zavala (1788–1836), a politician and historian, was born in Yucatán. He studied in the city of Mérida at the seminary of San Ildefonso. He became active in revolutionary politics, and in 1814 he was imprisoned by the Spanish authorities. Once released, Zavala returned to Yucatán, where he edited a newspaper. ...
1. Introduction to Historical Essay on the Mexican Revolutions from 1808 to 1830
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In undertaking the publication of Ensayo histórico de la últimas revoluciones de México, I intend to elucidate the character, customs, and different situation of the people involved rather than to create weary narratives in which, as Mr. Sismondi says so well, one encounters only a repetition of the same acts of cruelty, evil deeds, ...
2. Conclusion to Historical Essay on the Revolutions of Mexico from 1808 to 1830
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I have completed the period I determined to examine in providing a theoretical basis for this little work. The reader will notice that, although I have passed rapidly over the events, I have not omitted any of the circumstances that can present them with clarity and from the genuine point of view. ...
3. Intervention Regarding the Independence of the Province of Guatemala
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Mr. Zavala: Sir, the commission to draw up this judgment has found itself in major conflict because it dealt with a new question of public law, because it saw the gentlemen deputies of Guatemala divided, and because the resolution of this matter is of great importance.1 ...
Valentín Gómez Farías
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Valentín Gómez Farías (1781–1858) was a liberal politician born in the city of Guadalajara. He studied medicine and became a prominent doctor in the city of Aguascalientes, where he started his political career. Gómez Farías supported Agustín de Iturbide after independence and was elected deputy to the First Constituent Congress in 1822. ...
Individual Vote of Mr. Gómez Farías on the Issue of the Advisability of Convening a New Congress
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The second day of this month, Mr. Muzquiz and I presented to Your Sovereignty1 a motion reduced to these terms: We request that a notice of convocation be created for the meeting of another Congress, this Congress named before dissolving a permanent deputation, which, in agreement with the supreme executive power, ...
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Lucas Alamán (1792–1853), born in the state of Guanajuato, was a leading politician and a historian during the first half of the nineteenth century. His best- known work is his five- volume Historia de Méjico (1849–52), published toward the end of his life. Until the 1840s Alamán shared with Mora and other liberals many of their ideas. ...
Impartial Examination of the Administration of General Vice President Don Anastasio Bustamante
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I have little to recommend my opinions but long observation and much impartiality. They come from one who has been no tool of power, no flatterer of greatness; and who in his last acts does not wish to belie the tenor of his life. They come from one almost the whole of whose public exertion has been a struggle for the liberty of others; ...
Part 2: Liberty in the Liberal Republic
Polemic between El Universal, El Siglo XIX, and El Monitor Republicano,1848–1849
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After the war with the United States (1846–48) and the loss of more than half of the country, Mexicans became increasingly pessimistic regarding the future. As they searched for the causes of the problems that had plagued their nation since independence, some conservatives argued that liberalism and representative government were out of touch with the realities of the people. ...
1. What Might Be the Causes of Our Ills, Part 1
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El Siglo XIX entitled its lead article of the twenty-first of this month in this way [What Might Be the Causes of Our Ills], and we congratulate ourselves that periodicals, even those that, like El Monitor and El Siglo, show themselves fierce defenders of a system now instinctively censured by our people, ...
2. What Might Be the Causes of Our Ills, Conclusion
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All of that better proves the inappropriateness of the federal representative system for Mexico and explains in a more satisfactory way the ills that are lamented even today. Who opened wide to Mexicans the doors of public administration, the magistracy, the offices, and the army? ...
3. What Might Be the Causes of Our Ills, Second Article
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Regretful, like every good Mexican, for the series of calamities that have afflicted the country since the time of our political emancipation, wishing to ascertain the causes that have provoked those ills, and, most of all, anxious to dam up so much disaster, attacking the illness at its source, we proposed, in our editorial of January 21, ...
4. What Might Be the Causes of Our Ills, Third Article
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In our editorial of the third, we replied to some of the observations the gentlemen of El Universal made regarding the first article we published with the title at the head of this one; today we go on with our task, and we will explain our ideas about the causes that have contributed secondarily to the development of the ills Mexican society has suffered in the short period it has existed. ...
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Mariano Otero (1817–50), born in Guadalajara, Jalisco, was a lawyer and a liberal politician. Otero was editor of the newspaper El Siglo XIX and a firm believer in liberal reform. He played a prominent role as a constitution maker in the 1840s. ...
Individual Vote in the Constituent Congress
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When I received from Congress the difficult assignment of taking part in shaping the constitution project, I did not think I would find myself in the painful situation in which I am, required, unfortunately for me, to provide my individual opinion in disagreement with the considerable majority of the commission. ...
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Ignacio Ramírez (1818–79), born in Guanajuato, was a writer, poet, journalist, lawyer, and politician. Along with Guillermo Prieto, he founded the newspaper Don Simplicio in 1845. Ramírez’s pen name was El Nigromante (the necromancer). Early in his life he was imprisoned because of his satirical writings. ...
2. Speech to the Constituent Congress, July 7, 1856
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The project of Constitution, submitted to the enlightenment of your sovereignty today, reveals in its authors a not insignificant understanding of the political systems of our century, but at the same time an inconceivable neglect of the positive needs of our patria. Inexperienced politician and unknown orator, ...
3. Letter to Fidel
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Do you remember that in one of my last letters I spoke to you of a woman of some years, but of much talent and a well- preserved beauty? Well, she knows you and has insisted on writing to you; I enclose her letter. As ever yours.—The Necromancer ...
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Francisco Zarco (1829–69) was a liberal politician and writer born in the state of Durango. He was the editor in chief of the liberal newspaper El Siglo XIX. Zarco was considered one of the most important liberal writers of his time, writing on many subjects, not only politics, and agitating for reform in his articles. ...
1. The Question of the Veto
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Having been the first to call public attention to the need for resolving conclusively the question of the veto, which arose when the Ministry of War objected to the decree of Congress that declared null the articles of the law of Santa Anna regarding rewards for services lent in the war with the United States, ...
2. The Constitutional Order
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We have already said the issuing of the fundamental code is the strongest blow the reactionary party has suffered in its defeat, because it ends all pretext for continuing to promote the civil war. If the reaction is the work of some political party, if this party has a program, if this program can be shown openly to the nation in order to seek converts, ...
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Before long the battle among the parties on the electoral field for the selection of the constitutional powers must begin. With the representative system established and the decision regarding sovereignty delegated to the general powers and the states, no other action but the elections remains for the people to exercise their sovereignty for themselves. ...
4. Progress and Innovation
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Our colleague agrees that our society cannot remain static and recognizes that the need for movement, the tendency to perfect oneself and to improve conditions, is inherent in man, whom God endowed with all the powers necessary to elevate his destiny. ...
5. Laws and Customs: The Federation and Freedom of Religion
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The laws must conform to customs, and not customs to laws. Such is the maxim the gentlemen of the Eco Nacional have established in the most absolute terms in order to say afterward that in Mexico the liberal party wants social customs to conform to the laws, from which it can only follow that the political and religious opinions of the great majority of citizens are opposed to its work, ...
6. Manifesto as Preamble to the Constitution of 1857
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Today the great promise of the regenerative Revolution of Ayutla to return the country to the constitutional order is fulfilled. This noble demand of the people, so energetically expressed by them when they rose up to break the yoke of the most menacing despotism, is satisfied. ...
Ignacio Manuel Altamirano
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Ignacio Manuel Altamirano (1834–93), a liberal politician, writer, lawyer, teacher, and noted orator, was born in the state of Guerrero, of humble origins. Altamirano was a student of Ignacio Ramírez at the Instituto Literario de Toluca and taught at several schools and institutes. With Ramírez and Guillermo Prieto he started a newspaper, El Correo de México. ...
1. Against Amnesty. Speech before the Second Constitutional Congress, July 10, 1861
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With the full conscience of a pure man, with the full heart of a liberal, with the just energy of the representative of an outraged nation, I here raise my voice to request that the chamber reject the report in which the decree of amnesty for the reactionary party is proposed.1 ...
2. Martyrs of Tacubaya
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Today, April 11, 1880, makes twenty-one years since the clerical party committed a great crime that horrified the Republic and drew down on itself the condemnation of the people and the anathema of history. ...
3. Speech by Citizen Manuel Ignacio Altamirano on the Occasion of the Anniversary of Independence, September 15, 1861
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You have called me to the rostrum on this solemn night, and I thank you for it. You have esteemed my poor talent too kindly; but you have done justice to my patriotism, and I will never forget so distinguished an honor. ...
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Guillermo Prieto (1818–97) was born in Mexico City. He was a liberal politician and a poet, and he worked with Valentín Gómez Farías and Anastasio Bustamante in the 1830s. In 1838 Prieto enlisted in the National Guard. He wrote literary criticism for El Siglo XIX and served as secretary of the treasury and in the administration of President Benito Juárez ...
1. In Favor of the Abolition of Internal Duties and Customs
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Mr. Prieto says that, although the committee does not respond to those who oppose it, he has the duty of sustaining an appeal, because he has been working tirelessly for many years and he will strive to have it written down in the Constitution. ...
2. Freedom of Commerce
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Citizen Prieto, in a passionate speech, lamented with pain that the educated youth, of whom the citizen mayor is one, supports restrictive views on freedom of trade and industry, views that not even Don Lucas Alamán himself, some of whose paragraphs he read, was ever the champion. ...
3. On the Laws of Reform
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Citizen Prieto: Sir, I am certainly surprised to see that the discussion has gone awry and that it is desired to determine, with respect to this article and the committee’s addition, whether this matter is special or if it is a regulatory law. As some references to history are made and other circumstances brought forward ...
4. On Reforms to the Law of Public Instruction
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Citizen Prieto: In such moments of necessity as the present, a discussion is begun that positively concerns the future of the Republic and that in all countries of the world has been the object of attention of parliaments in order to achieve the future prosperity of the nation. ...
5. On Freedom to Work
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Citizen Prieto: Gentlemen, I am going to follow, with the thoroughness that is possible for me, the young orator who has just spoken, making use of his excellent method and with the confidence that is inspired by such a gentlemanly and loyal adversary as he to whom it has fallen to me to oppose. ...
Constitutional Government of Mexico, 1857–1861 (Benito Juárez, Melchor Ocampo, Manuel Ruiz, Miguel Lerdo de Tejada)
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A new constitution was enacted in 1857, but both the Catholic Church and the conservative faction opposed it. Civil war was imminent. At the end of that year (in spite of the fact that he had sworn to uphold the charter), President Ignacio Comonfort decided not to enforce the constitution and instead called on all factions to discuss a new fundamental law that would be acceptable to all parties. ...
1. The Constitutional Government to the Nation (on the Laws of Reform)
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In the difficult and compromised situation in which the Republic has found itself for the last eighteen months as a consequence of the scandalous insurrection that exploded in Tacubaya at the end of 1857, and in the midst of the confusion and disorder introduced by that outrage, as unjustifiable in its ends as in its means, the public power, ...
2. Declaration to the Inhabitants of the United States of Mexico on Freedom of Worship
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Art. 1. The laws protect the exercise of Catholic worship and of the others established in the country as the expression and result of religious liberty, which, as a natural right of man, has not and cannot have limitations other than the right of another and the requirements of public order. ...
Part 3: Liberty and Order
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Justo Sierra (1848–1912), born in Campeche, was a writer, lawyer, politician, and historian. Sierra was one of the “new” liberals influenced by positivism in the second half of the nineteenth century. He started his literary career at a very young age, publishing essays and reviews in newspapers, and eventually became the chief editor ...
1. Emilio Castelar and the Program of La Libertad
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La Libertad, in honoring its columns with the program of El Globo of Madrid, has as its principal aim not only to demonstrate its complete adherence to the principal ideas expressed by Mr. Castelar,1 but also to show the close harmony with which that program and the thinking that governed the creation of our daily newspaper are united. ...
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When we speak of the Constitution, when we demand respect and honor for it, when we assign this as the first of our political duties, we do not claim that constitutional principles should be accepted as articles of faith; nor do we believe they are a perfect work, no. ...
3. Liberals and Conservatives
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In our country there have been neither liberals nor conservatives, but rather only revolutionaries and reactionaries. This refers to the factions, not the men. The revolutionary faction, to be liberal, has lacked the knowledge that liberty considered as a right cannot be realized outside of the moral development of a people, which is order; ...
4. Polemic with José María Vigil
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The bulletin El Monitor Republicano1 of Thursday is dedicated to a critical examination of the recent interpretations of Article 5 of the Federal Constitution2 made by the Supreme Court. Its author, Mr. Vigil, takes advantage of the opportunity to add some dark and vigorous brushstrokes to the picture, so many times repeated, ...
5. Our Battle Plan
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No one is in a better situation than we to choose positions in the face of future events. We have maintained, supported by the good sense of the country (of this we have more conclusive proofs every day), that it was necessary to reform the Constitution in the sense of creating elements of governmental energy in order to preserve social interests. ...
José María Vigil: Polemic with Sierra
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José María Vigil (1829–1909), born in Jalisco, was a professor,
writer, and journalist. He belonged to the older generation
of liberals who held the 1857 Constitution in high regard. He
wrote articles for several newspapers, among them em
1. Bulletin of El Monitor, August 22, 1878
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The great objective of the democratic revolution, for which the Mexican nation has suffered long years of bloody struggles, is the rights the Constitution of ’57 set down in section 1 of title 1 and those designated generally by the name of constitutional guarantees. ...
2. Bulletin of El Monitor, August 27, 1878
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The preceding letter has given us genuine satisfaction, for if once we have disagreed with the opinions of Mr. Licenciado de Arteaga, we have always recognized in our worthy adversary the capable jurist and sincere republican who seeks in observance of the Constitution the natural means for strengthening the peace and liberty of the citizens. ...
3. Bulletin of El Monitor, September 3, 1878
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Our esteemed colleague at La Libertad has replied to the response we made to him, saying that he had as his objective to stimulate this debate over the basics of the new interpretation that the Supreme Court of Justice has given to Article 5, basics we have left intact. We will, of course, give an explication: ...
4. Bulletin of El Monitor, September 6, 1878
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Reading an article with the title “Truths,” published by our colleague La Libertad in its issue the day before yesterday because of the defense we have made of the democratic party and the constitutional order, has caused us profound pain. We say that that article has caused us profound pain not so much because of the question itself, ...
5. Bulletin of El Monitor, September 10, 1878
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Two of the worthy editors of La Libertad have taken as their task opposing us, or better said, refuting the principles of a school beloved by us, this last consideration being the one that makes us continue the polemic begun; for were it only about our person, we would cede the ground with pleasure to such worthy writers, ...
6. Bulletin of El Monitor, September 18, 1878
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In the very moment we are writing these lines, cannon shots, music, and rapidly pealing bells announce the celebration of the sixty-eighth anniversary of Mexican independence, an unforgettable date in the annals of liberty because it commemorates the first efforts of a people who, from the depths of the most profound abjection, ...
7. Bulletin of El Monitor, September 27, 1878
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One of the facts that has characterized the current administration has been a marked tendency to favor the old reactionary party, summoning many of its men, to whom it has entrusted positions of greater or lesser rank, and even placing them in the legislative bodies and in the tribunals and courts of justice. ...
8. Bulletin of El Monitor, October 22, 1878
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Our esteemed colleague La Libertad, taking personally a paragraph of our bulletin of the sixteenth, pauses to explain its opinions in the article entitled “Idealism,” about which we will in turn say some words, having first to offer a little clarification. ...
9. Bulletin of El Monitor, October 26, 1878
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The article in which La Libertad responded to our bulletin of the twenty-second has caused us true disappointment because, while we were hoping our colleague would explain to us the scientific method it has followed to deduce scientifically that the ills overwhelming Mexican society stem from the institutions that now govern ...
10. Bulletin of El Monitor, October 30, 1878
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We have noted that a certain antagonism frequently establishes itself between the guarantees the Constitution grants to all inhabitants of the Republic and the needs of society to ensure citizens the enjoyment of their life and their interests, even managing to attribute to the first some protection of evildoers, ...
11. Bulletin of El Monitor, December 17, 1878
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Knowing a few of the most important facts about our history, their intimate relationship and their social and political significance, one must acknowledge the inevitable necessity for the Reform, as well as the fact that the Reform could not have occurred except in a revolutionary manner. ...
12. Bulletin of El Monitor, December 27, 1878
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We have seen that the principal author of our public misfortunes, the one that kept the country submerged in civil war and anarchy for many years, the one that slackened every principal of authority, providing the example of contempt for the laws and the functionaries charged with executing them, was the clergy, ...
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Emilio Rabasa (1856–1930), born in Chiapas, was a jurist, novelist, diplomat, journalist, and historian who opposed the Mexican Revolution. During the Porfirio Díaz era Rabasa was governor of Chiapas. After Díaz fell he supported the coup of Victoriano Huerta (1913) and agreed to enter the diplomatic service. ...
1. The Election
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When an adolescent first becomes aware of what a popular election is and the goal it has, the idea presents itself to his spirit in its simplest form; it is like a revelation of justice that seduces him and wins over his will. The idea is annoying mainly because of its simplicity, the simplicity of the immaculate theory. ...
2. Supremacy of Legislative Power
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The actual election establishes the government but does not regulate it, and precisely in the harmonious operation of the branches created by the Constitution lies the secret of the stability of the government, the guarantee of liberties, and the foundation of the tranquility and success of the nation. ...
Part 4: Against the Current 1930–1989
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Jorge Cuesta (1903–42), born in Veracruz, was a chemist, poet, and writer. He was a friend and collaborator of Aldous Huxley. Although Cuesta was a scientist by training, he was an artist at heart and joined a group of writers in the first half of the twentieth century. ...
1. Politics in the University
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few months ago, in two articles published in El Universal, I took the liberty of criticizing some ideas that Lic. Don Vicente Lombardo Toledano has about the university, because they are not very academic in that, under the pretext of serving the university, in reality they wish its ruin. Those ideas have had good luck; ...
2. A New Clerical Politics
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In two previous articles I have pointed out the political depth that exists in the official tendency to impose a communist dogma on the school, a tendency that, although originating in the heart of the state itself inasmuch as it is systematically supported by the secretary of education, who finds in it the superior standard of his acts, ...
3. Crisis of the Revolution
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A notable change has taken place in Mexican political thinking with respect to the epoch immediately following pacification of the Republic. Then, the political horizon was much more expansive than now; the future was rich in prospects, and the activity that flourished in politics was that of the imagination. ...
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Antonio Caso (1883–1946), born in Mexico City, was a philosopher and university professor. As a young man he became dissatisfied with the prevailing philosophical ideas of his time. Indeed, during the first decade of the twentieth century positivism was the official doctrine supported by the minister of education, Justo Sierra. ...
Consciousness of Liberty
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Our epoch, which begins with the war of the nations, possesses attributes that differentiate and characterize it. The great industrial development, like the scientific unfolding, does not constitute, certainly, an exclusive attribute of the period of human history to which we refer, ...
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Octavio Paz (1914–98) was born in Mexico City. A poet and essayist, Paz is probably the twentieth century’s most famous and universally known intellectual from the Spanish-speaking world. He received numerous awards, including the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1990, ...
1. The Liberal Tradition
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If I let only my feelings speak, these words would be a long, interminable expression of gratitude. But my emotion is not blind. I know well that the symbolic reality of this act is more real than the fleeting reality of my person. I am barely an episode in the history of our literature, ...
2. Literature and the State
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The Republic of Letters is a nation with an ill- defined territory and shifting frontiers. A constitution rules it whose laws, fanciful and contradictory, are revoked daily in order to proclaim others even more chimerical. An invisible king, without face and without name, governs it; ...
3. Poetry, Myth, Revolution
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It is very difficult to express in few and clear words what I feel: emotion, gratitude, surprise. Above all: I have been touched that you, Mr. President, have had the goodness to deliver the Alexis de Tocqueville Prize personally to me. I will never forget your gesture. Your generous words heighten my emotion: ...
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Page Count: 606
Publication Year: 2013