Any discussion of Mexico’s foreign policy and of the principles set forth in Article 89 part 10 of the Constitution of the United Mexican States must begin with an understanding of Mexico’s birth as a free and sovereign nation in the early 1800's.
The birth of Mexico as an independent nation led to a series of interventions by foreign powers. In addition, the Holy Seat, the Spanish Crown and other sovereign powers withheld Mexico's diplomatic recognition. The new nation was legally constituted through the signing of the Cordoba Treaties, and threats from abroad added to its many other difficulties.
A provisional government was created as a preliminary step to installing a monarchic form of government in Mexico. The provisional government appointed a regency for the Mexican Empire, an executive body that—as the interim government—named the first foreign secretary, giving him the title of Secretary of Business and Domestic and Foreign Affairs. Subsequently, a decree published on November 8, 1821 established four ministries, one of which was the Ministry of State and the Office of Domestic and Foreign Affairs, in charge of diplomatic relations with foreign countries.
Historic documents record Dr. José Manuel de Herrera as the first Secretary of Foreign Affairs, and note that Foreign Service was created in 1822. On May 7th of that year, the Constitutional Congress issued a decree setting forth the rules for appointing the members to the Foreign Service, as well as instructions and salary guidelines for the diplomatic personnel.
The 1824 Constitution established Mexico as a federal republic. It specified the responsibilities of the General Congress with regard to international relations (Article 50), and the responsibilities of the Mexican president regarding the appointment and removal of ministers, diplomatic envoys and consuls, and for entering into international commitments (Article 110). In addition, the administrative organization and functions of the government were also set forth (Articles 117 to 122).
Given Mexico’s new legal and political structure and its increasing international commitments, new rules and regulations for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs were issued on July 7, 1826, defining both its responsibilities and attributes. On December 31, 1829, General Vicente Guerrero issued the first law of the Mexican Foreign Service, which included the rules for establishing diplomatic offices, special diplomatic offices and consulates. The special diplomatic offices were responsible for drawing up treaties and agreements; the regular diplomatic offices for the permanent responsibilities conferred upon them by the right of reciprocity; and the consulates were divided by this law into general consulates, consulates and vice consulates. These were headed by consul generals, consuls or vice consuls, respectively.
In 1831, the law establishing diplomatic representations in Europe and America was passed. It dealt more with labor issues than with organizational issues and made two important contributions: with the official creation of diplomatic offices, the number of diplomats increased, and the salaries of the diplomats posted to Europe and America were made equal.
On February 12, 1834 a law was passed that replaced all former laws on consulates by order of President Gómez Farías. It is worth noting that between 1835 and 1896, six different sets of rules were passed to regulate even the attire that was to be worn by Mexican diplomats and consuls, according to the practices of those times.
In 1836, as a result of General Antonio López de Santa Anna’s coup d’etat, seven constitutional laws were passed turning Mexico into a centralist republic. The stage was set for the Mexican president to determine and manage the country’s international relations (fourth law, article 17, parts 12, 13, 19, 20, 21, 31 and 32). In addition, four ministries were created, of which the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was one (article 28). The ministries’ tasks were also specified (article 31, parts 1, 2, 3, 32 and 38). On May 28, 1841, the Organizational Structure of the Provisional Government of the Republic was signed. It named four ministries, one of which was the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Interior and the Police. In 1852, President Mariano Arista restructured the ministries, resulting to a second set of rules and regulations for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that was published on October 12 of that same year.
Mexico’s foreign policy was shaped at this point by an abundance of foreign interests and by the harsh conditions imposed by various other powers as a condition for recognizing Mexico as a sovereign nation. During this period, the country lost much of its territory during the war with Texas and the 1847-1848 war with the United States; its trade was dominated as well, and it was dependent on other countries for debt instruments and for capital investment and industrial technology. One of the most important political debates during the 1800s addressed the issue of how to achieve national unity. After losing more than half of its national territory in 1847, this debate takes on vital importance in Mexico.
Within this context and during General Antonio López de Santa Anna’s last years in power, federal administrative policies were published (April 22, 1853) creating five ministries, one of which was the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In order to define its scope of operations, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued its third set of rules and regulations on August 8, 1853.
In addition, the law of the diplomatic corps was published on August 25, 1853 in order to codify the various laws that had formerly been introduced. The new law defined a new hierarchy within the diplomatic corps and ratified the functions of the normal and special diplomatic offices established by the 1829 law. It also specified “the qualifications of the diplomatic staff and the rules for their appointment.” Mexican nationality was a requirement for becoming a diplomat. It was also necessary to have a good reputation, proven aptitude, honesty and to have academic valid credits.
When the liberals came into power, the Provisional Statute of the Mexican Republic was published on May 15, 1856. This statute established six ministries, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
On February 5, 1857 a new Constitution was adopted. The Constitution set forth the responsibilities of the General Congress (article 72, parts 12 and 13) and of the Mexican president (article 85, parts 2, 3, 10 and 11) with regard to international affairs and commitments, and the appointment and removal of secretaries, diplomats and consuls. On August 12, 1858, in the midst of the Reform War, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued its fourth set of rules and regulations.
The 1858-1860 reforms brought the nation closer to solving its problems, and its resistance to the 1862-1867 foreign intervention established the foundation for the Mexican state. The end of the second empire marked the end of Europe’s designs on Mexico.
After Benito Juárez consolidated his government in 1861, four reforms and modifications were made to the structure of the federal government, and the Foreign Ministry became the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Interior.
After the fall of Maximilian’s empire, during the era known as the “restored republic”, a new foreign policy was born based on respect for sovereignty and legal equality of nations. Rules and regulations for consular officers were issued in 1871 and specific tasks were assigned to the consular staff in each consulate. In addition, the categories of consulates were expanded.
No more important changes were made to the legal or administrative structure of Benito Juárez’ government and so ended one era in Mexico. It would be followed by the seeling of General Porfirio Díaz.
THE EARLY 1900's
Two events of importance for the federal government occurred during Porfirio Díaz’ rule. The first was the publication on February 11, 1883 of the fifth set of rules and regulations for the Foreign Ministry and the second was the creation of seven ministries on May 13, 1891, at which point the ministry became known as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In 1888, rules for the Mexican diplomatic corps were issued as well.
Porfirio Díaz maintained a firm position on foreign policy, consistently emphasizing industrial, commercial, cultural and financial ties with the European countries.
At this point, the diplomatic missions were divided into four categories: special embassies; special legations, legations with a resident minister and legations with a chargé d’affaires. Military or naval attachés were also part of the legations but were not part of the diplomatic roster.
If a diplomat committed a crime, he or she was subject to the Code of Federal Procedures. In 1896 the law of the Mexican diplomatic corps and its rules and regulations were issued. For the first time, these laws established a uniform legal code based on a true correlation between the law and the rules and regulations. Joining the Foreign Service was strictly and rigorously defined. Public examinations were held and were presided over by a jury made up of the Foreign Affairs Secretary or Deputy Secretary of Foreign Affairs as president, two first secretaries and a language teacher. The most important provision was included in article 47, which established the various diplomatic categories and positions within the ministry and the consulates.
The law of the Mexican Consular Service and its rules and regulations were introduced in 1910 and 1911, during the revolutionary period. This law replaced the 1834 law and its 1896 rules and regulations. The consular agents were divided into career and honorary consuls. The document describes trade and merchant marine law, the laws regarding the civil register and the attributes of consulates.
Venustiano Carranza opposed the government of the usurper Victoriano Huerta, whom he confronted with the Guadalupe Plan. This Plan reorganized all areas of public administration and created eight ministries, one of which was the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
AFTER THE MEXICAN REVOLUTION
The Political Constitution of the United Mexican States was adopted on February 5, 1917 at the end of the revolution. It established that the Congress, through the Senate, would analyze the foreign policy developed by the executive branch of government and all international commitments made on behalf of Mexico. It would also ratify the ambassadors and consul-generals appointed by the President. In addition, the Constitution would establish the responsibilities of the President in managing the country’s foreign policy and in entering into commitments with foreign countries, and naming and removing diplomatic agents and consuls.
Article 90 of the Constitution stated that Congress would determine the structure of the public administration. Therefore, on April 14, 1917, a law was issued establishing the existence of six ministries, one of which was the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This was followed on December 25, 1917 by another act of Congress establishing seven ministries and five state departments as the administrative units of the federal government. Again, one of the ministries was the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The apparent political and social calm over which the post-revolutionary governments presided, encouraged successive administrations to focus on satisfying the general needs of the nation and the country’s economic and social well being. On January 9, 1922, President Álvaro Obregón issued a law for the diplomatic corps and, on February 15, its rules and regulations. The diplomatic corps was comprised of heads of mission and career personnel. For the first time, joining into the Foreign Service was via a competitive public exam.
All diplomatic personnel were bound to caution and discretion in official affairs, and with abstaining from intervening in domestic politics of the countries to which they were posted. Chiefs of mission could be removed from their post by the Mexican President without explanation, while career diplomats could only be deprived of their diplomatic status if tried they were for a crime, if they married a foreigner without formerly notifying the ministry, for a serious breach of their official duties, bad conduct or for abandoning their post.
On January 9, 1923 a law was passed that established a new structure for the consular offices and their personnel. The law stated that the government could appoint as consul general Mexicans outside of the consular corps if they possessed the skills for the job and demonstrated good conduct.
1928 was a key year in the history of the post-revolutionary state. It marked the end of General Plutarco Elías Calles’ term and the assassination of Alvaro Obregón, who a few days before had been elected for a second time as President of Mexico.
The legal and administrative structure of the government was modified without affecting the existence of the Foreign Ministry by the laws issued by Congress on April 6, 1934; December 31, 1935; December 30, 1939; December 13, 1946; January 1, 1947 and December 24, 1958.
In 1934 a Foreign Service was issued with its rules and regulations. These documents stated that Foreign Service would promote and maintain political and economic relations between Mexico and foreign countries (article one of the regulations); safeguard the country’s prestige and assure that Mexico complied with all of its treaties, conventions and international obligations to which it was party. The diplomatic offices were designated as embassies and delegations, and the consular offices became general consulates, consulates, consular agencies and honorary consulates.
The diplomatic ranks were: ambassador; envoy; minister-envoy; chargé d’affaires; counselor; first secretary; second secretary; third secretary and diplomatic attaché. The consular ranks were: consul general; first consul; second consul; third consul; fourth consul; and vice consul. The document covered such areas as trade, protection of Mexicans, maritime law, consular civil register law, notary functions, and customs, health and migration measures. The law was poorly received due to the provision allowing the Mexican president to make appointments at every rank on the diplomatic and consular scale for a specific duty and for a specified time. This law was added on November 26, 1940 when the sixth set of rules and regulations was issued.
THE MODERN ERA
The period from 1946 to 2000 could be called the post-revolutionary era, the modern era. Mexico faced new challenges: Mexicans were living longer and adding to the problem of a rapidly expanding population; industrialization led to explosive growth in the cities; improvements in education encouraged the public to demand a more democratic model; and advances in the communication media encouraged a more open attitude towards new styles of cultural life which led, somewhat paradoxically, to various forms of nationalism.
In 1967, a new law was published for the Mexican Foreign Service. It made two important contributions. First, an Admissions Board was created, as was the Foreign Service Personnel Commission, whose purpose was to evaluate requests for leaves of absence, vacations, retirement, disciplinary measures, new postings and promotions.
Obviously, the economic, political, social and cultural aspects of the nation were inextricably linked and interdependent: the rapid growth of the universities—an educational and cultural phenomenon—had an impact on political events such as the 1968 student demostration. At the same time, the Mexican government pursued a liberal and progressive foreign policy. In the OAS, it opposed the expulsion of Cuba from the Interamerican system and the trade embargo to which it was subject due to its revolution.
The Cold War was a sign of the times. The division of Germany, the Korean War, and the uprisings in Eastern Europe were only a few of the important events of the era. The Chinese revolution had been consolidated. By the end of the fifties, the Cuban revolution would take a socialist turn. The fifties and sixties would see the emergence of that bloc of countries called the Third World, two of whose leaders, Tito and Nehru, were committed progressives. These times witnessed a search for a North-South dialogue.
Within this context, President Adolfo López Mateos expanded the horizons of Mexican foreign policy. His predecessors had only visited the United States. He organized trips to Europe, Asia and Latin America. At the same time, Mexico received visits from individuals as important as Nehru, Tito, and Sukarno, the main leaders of the Third World; Charles De Gaulle, interested in a closer relationship with Latin America; and the Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie, who came to thank Mexico for the support of the Cardenas administration during the Italian invasion of Ethiopia prior to World War Two. John F. Kennedy also visited Mexico, as did several South American leaders: Alessandri of Chile; Rómulo Betancourt of Venezuela; Juan Bosch of the Dominican Republic; and Paz Estenssoro of Bolivia. Another very important visit was that of Anastás Mikoyán, the deputy prime minister of the Soviet Union. His visit led to the first industrial and cultural exposition held by Russia in Mexico at the same time that the People’s Republic of China held its first exposition as well.
The Cuban missile crisis, which almost provoked a war between the world’s two largest powers, led the Mexican government, in 1963, to propose that Latin America become a nuclear-weapons-free zone.
That same year, fearing that the Cuban revolution would spread throughout the continent, the United States pressured all the Latin American countries to break relations with Cuba. Mexico voted against the proposal. With this type of foreign policy, Mexico prolonged a tradition whose most important chapters had been the support given by Cárdenas to the Spanish republic and to Ethiopia.
The administration of Luis Echeverría Álvarez began in 1970 and was characterized by its outward-looking policies. Mexico’s diplomatic relations were broadened, and this had an effect on the Foreign Ministry.
On February 14, 1973, a foundation for the publication, distribution and sale of works in international relations was created with initial funds of three million pesos. During the aformentioned administration, the seventh set of rules and regulations were issued for the ministry on December 3, 1975, as was the law of the federal public administration on December 29, 1976, in which the Foreign Ministry became one of eighteen branch officies of the federal government. Their functions are regulated by article 28 of that law.
In 1975, the Foreign Ministry was comprised of 27 areas, including the Secretary’s office, two undersecretaries’ offices and a deputy secretary for administrative affairs. The Ministry’s first passport office was opened in Monterrey, Nuevo León in February 1975.
As a result of the growing diversity and complexity of Mexico’s diplomatic relations, it became necessary to add a third undersecretary for special international affairs and research in January 1976. In October of that same year, a second passport office was opened in Guadalajara, Jalisco.
The Foreign Ministry’s eighth set of rules and regulations was published in the Official Federal Gazette on September 23, 1977. It mentions 35 areas within the Foreign Ministry.
On April 18, 1978, the ninth set of rules and regulations for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was issued, setting forth a new organizational structure for the ministry. A fourth undersecretary appears for the first time; the General Direction for Organization, Management and Budget is created; and two general directions and two other areas are eliminated, leaving the Foreign Ministry with four undersecretaries and two passport offices outside Mexico City.
The tenth set of rules and regulations for the Foreign Ministry was published on October 17, 1979. It named four undersecretaries’ offices. Five general directions were eliminated and the names of the rest were changed. The Foreign Ministry was organized by region at the level of the general directions. In addition, in August 1979 the first passport office within Mexico City was opened in the Gustavo A. Madero district. In November of that same year, a second one was opened in the Miguel Hidalgo district of Mexico City.
After the death of Francisco Franco, Mexico renewed its diplomatic relations with Spain; now a monarchy. In 1981, Mexico hosted a chapter of the North-South dialogue between the heads of state of the industrialized countries and the developing countries. The Pope made a successful visit to Mexico in 1979. Mexico was active as well in promoting peace and reconciliation in Central America through the Contadora Group.
On November 26, 1980, the eleventh set of rules and regulations for the Foreign Ministry was published in the Official Federal Gazette. The Ministry made up of four undersecretaries’ offices, a deputy secretary for administrative affairs, an office for legal affairs, two commissions, three supervisory directions and 26 general directions. On March 31 of that year, two more passport offices were opened in the Venustiano Carranza and Benito Juárez districts of Mexico City, and one in Hermosillo, Sonora, was opened in July.
Recognizing the need to decentralize the services of the federal government, the Foreign Ministry next opened passport offices in: Torreón, Coahuila in March 1981; Villahermosa, Tabasco in August 1981; Tapachula, Chiapas in May 1982 and Mérida, Yucatán in July 1982. In October 1985, offices were opened in Toluca and Naucalpan de Juárez in the state of Mexico and, finally, in July 1985 the fifth passport office in metropolitan Mexico City was opened in the Cuauhtémoc district.
A new law for the Mexican Foreign Service and its rules and regulations were published on January 8, 1982. The new law reflected Mexico’s now incessant activity in the international forums. The diplomatic, consular and administrative areas of the Foreign Service were made into three separate and parallel career paths. The diplomatic branch of the Foreign Service was comprised of the following ranks: ambassador, minister, counselor, first secretary, second secretary, third secretary and diplomatic attaché. The consular branch included the categories of consul general, first consul, second consul, third consul, fourth consul and vice consul. The administrative branch included the ranks of first administrative attaché, second administrative attaché, third administrative attaché, first administrative secretary, second administrative secretary and third administrative secretary.
In addition, joining into the Foreign Service for all career diplomats would be via general public examinations consisting of three stages: an entrance examination for the Matias Romero Institute of Diplomatic Studies; specialized classes for a minimum of one semester; and an oral examination in order to become either a diplomatic attaché or a vice consul.
On January 12, 1984, the twelfth set of rules and regulations for the Foreign Ministry was issued. It included a name change for one undersecretary’s office and created the Mexican sections of the International Boundaries and Water Commissions.
During Miguel de la Madrid’s tenure, changes and additions were made to the law of the federal public administration. The federal government was divided into 19 areas, including the Foreign Ministry. During these years, pressure on the national economy led to budget cuts, and several areas of the federal government were eliminated. These austerity measures were also felt by the Foreign Ministry: its budget was cut and its organization was reduced although its responsibilities remained the same. These changes were reflected in the thirteenth set of rules and regulations of the Foreign Ministry, published on August 22, 1985. They consisted of ten chapters defining the roles of the ministry’s personnel and its divisions, and regulating its activities.
On January 23, 1989, the fourteenth set of rules and regulations of the Foreign Ministry were published in the Official Federal Gazette. The new rules specified the functions of the Foreign Ministry in accordance with the functions set forth in the Mexican Constitution, Federal Public Administration Law, the law of the Mexican Foreign Service and other laws.
This new set of rules established that the Foreign Ministry would carry out its activities in a programmed fashion. For the study, planning and execution of its affairs, the Ministry would be made up of three undersecretaries’ offices, plus an undersecretary for administrative affairs and a legal affairs office, as well as eighteen general directions.
THE LATE 1900's
The fifteenth set of rules and regulations of the Foreign Ministry was published on August 28, 1998 in the Official Federal Gazette and subsequently modified by presidential decree as published in the Official Federal Gazette of November 13, 1998. Here it was stated that the Foreign Ministry would be responsible for those issues expressly assigned to it by the Constitution of the United Mexican States, the law of the Federal Public Administration, the law of the Mexican Foreign Service, the law regarding treaties and other laws, rules and regulations and decrees, agreements and other orders issued by the Mexican president.
The Foreign Ministry would apply Mexico’s foreign policy and assure that measures abroad were carried out in coordination with other areas of the federal government, direct the Mexican Foreign Service and participate in the formulation of all treaties, agreements and conventions to which Mexico was a party. In addition, the Foreign Ministry would carry out its activities in a programmed fashion. To this end, the document sets forth the participation of the various areas of the Ministry, as well as of its decentralized components and its diplomatic and consular representations, taking into account the guidelines of the National Development Plan and the policies, priorities and methods established by the President to achieve Mexico’s goals.
The Foreign Ministry would be comprised of three undersecretaries’ offices, the undersecretary for administrative affairs, a coordination and liaison office, a legal affairs office, 22 general directions and 14 decentralized agencies, amongst them the Mexican Institute of International Cooperation and the Matias Romero Institute. It also includes an Internal Audit Department that would be guided by article 42 of the rules and regulations.
These rules and regulations specify that the Foreign Secretary would have the nontransferable power to implement the international aspects of the National Program for Women and those related to gender as well, in coordination with the Ministry of the Interior and its corresponding decentralized agencies (article 6 section 20).
On November 13, 1997, a decree modifying the rules and regulations of the Mexican Foreign Service law was published in the Official Federal Gazette. Article one of these rules states that the Mexican Foreign Service would be a permanent corps of public servants specifically responsible for representing Mexico abroad and also responsible for applying Mexico’s foreign policy in agreement with the principles established in the Mexican Constitution. The Foreign Service would depend on the Mexican President and would be administered by the Foreign Ministry.
THE NEW MILLENNIUM
The international system has undergone profound changes over the past decade: the international system that has emerged in the post-Cold War era is simultaneously fragmented and global in scope. It demands new strategies and a new focus if we are to carve out a successful role for our country in the international economy, face the challenges of the new international security agenda and guarantee the sustained development and the well being of our society. For this reason, Mexican diplomacy of the new millennium should not be solely an instrument to safeguard Mexico’s sovereignty and national security. It must also become a lever to promote and strengthen Mexico’s socioeconomic development.
Mexico is also going through an era of profound changes within its own borders. The July 2, 2000 election of President Vicente Fox Quesada proved the political maturity of the Mexican people and their desire for democracy. It put our institutions to the test and they passed with flying colors. The Mexican government today enjoys a legitimacy that adds strength to its positions on international issues.
At the very turn of the new century, on August 10, 2001, a new version of the Foreign Ministry’s rules and regulations was published, and this was quickly followed by several others. So Mexico’s international activities responded to the challenges of the new millennium, the 1994 law of the Mexican Foreign Service was modified (Official Federal GAzette of January 22, 2002) and a new set of rules and regulations for the Mexican Foreign Service was published on August 23, 2002. The most recent version of rules and regulations for the Foreign Ministry was published on August 10, 2001 and modified on October 11, 2001; July 31, 2002; August 21, 2002 and November 1, 2002.
|United Mexican States|
|Area and Borders||
|Location of México in the world||
The geographic coordinates of Mexico are:
|Life expectancy at birth||
Some national anthems are forged in the heat of combat or born with independence; others are composed to encourage and express love and loyalty for the nation. In Mexico, it took more than 30 years of contests, trial versions and modifications before the Mexican national anthem came into being in the 19th century.
The first version of the national anthem, composed by José Torrescano, debuted in 1821 but was not widely received by Mexican society. Eighteen years later, a contest was held to choose the anthem, but none of the compositions chosen met with public approval.
Much later, in 1853, Antonio López de Santa Anna convoked a new contest to choose the words and music to a national anthem “so that a truly patriotic song can be adopted by the government as the permanent national anthem” as stated in the contest rules published on November 12, 1853.
The jury chose as the winning composition one that began “We fly into combat, to revenge ourselves/And let he who denies himself hope/Hide his cowardly head in the dust.” The author of the chosen verses was a poet from San Luis Potosí, Francisco González Bocanegra. However, the music composed by Juan Bottesini was not to the taste of the public, so another contest was held to choose the music for Bocanegra’s words.
Fifteen musical compositions were received, and one entitled “God and Liberty” was chosen, but the composer was identified only as J.N. An advertisement was published asking that the composer identify himself. On August 12, 1854, it was reported that the composer of the winning music was Jaime Nunó, a Catalan musician who was directing military bands in Mexico at Santa Anna’s invitation.
The national anthem was played for the first time on September 15, 1854 in the Santa Anna Theater, which shortly thereafter changed its name to the National Theater. After 1854, the lyrics underwent several more changes to reflect the political changes in the country. The anthem, sometimes unofficially called "Mexicanos, al grito de guerra" (“Mexicans, at the cry of war”) after the first line of the chorus, consists of ten verses and a chorus..As officially adopted in 1943, the full national anthem consists of the chorus, 1st stanza, 5th stanza, 6th stanza and 10th stanza The official lyrics of the national anthem are as follows:
|Himno Nacional Mexicano||National Anthem of Mexico|
Mexicanos, al grito de guerra
el acero aprestad y el bridón.
Y retiemble en sus centros la tierra,
al sonoro rugir del cañón.
¡Y retiemble en sus centros la tierra,
al sonoro rugir del cañón!
Ciña ¡oh Patria! tus sienes de oliva
de la paz el arcángel divino,
que en el cielo tu eterno destino
por el dedo de Dios se escribió.
Mas si osare un extraño enemigo
profanar con su planta tu suelo,
piensa ¡oh Patria querida! que el cielo
un soldado en cada hijo te dio.
¡Guerra, guerra sin tregua al que intente
De la patria manchar los blasones!
¡Guerra, guerra! Los patrios pendones
En las olas de sangre empapad.
¡Guerra, guerra! En el monte, en el valle
Los cañones horrísonos truenen,
Y los ecos sonoros resuenen
Con las voces de ¡Unión! ¡Libertad!
Antes, patria, que inermes tus hijos
Bajo el yugo su cuello dobleguen,
Tus campiñas con sangre se rieguen,
Sobre sangre se estampe su pie.
Y tus templos, palacios y torres
Se derrumben con hórrido estruendo,
Y sus ruinas existan diciendo:
De mil héroes la patria aquí fue.
¡Patria! ¡Patria! Tus hijos te juran
Exhalar en tus aras su aliento,
Si el clarín con su bélico acento
los convoca a lidiar con valor.
¡Para ti las guirnaldas de oliva!
¡Un recuerdo para ellos de gloria!
¡Un laurel para ti de victoria!
¡Un sepulcro para ellos de honor!
Mexicans, at the cry of war,
make ready the steel and the steed,
and may the earth tremble its centers
at the resounding roar of the cannon.
And may the earth tremble its centers
at the resounding roar of the cannon.
Let gird, oh country, your brow with olive
by the divine archangel of peace,
for in heaven your eternal destiny
was written by the finger of God.
But if some enemy outlander should dare
to profane your ground with his step,
think, oh beloved country, that heaven
has given you a soldier in every son.
War, war without quarter to any who dare
to tarnish the country's coat of arms!
War, war! Let the national banners
be soaked in waves of blood.
War, war! In the mountain, in the valley,
let the cannons thunder in horrid unison
and may the sonorous echoes resound
with cries of Union! Liberty!
Oh country, ere your children, defenseless
bend their neck beneath the yoke,
may your fields be watered with blood,
may they leave their footprints in blood.
And may your temples, palaces and towers
collapse with horrid clamor,
and their ruins continue on, saying:
Of a thousand heroes, this country was.
Oh, country, country, your children swear to you
to breathe their last for your sake,
if the bugle with its warlike accent
should call them to fight with courage.
For you the olive wreathes!
A memory for them of glory!
For you a laurel of victory!
A tomb for them of honor!
The National Coat of Arms
The Mexican national coat of arms has been part of Mexico’s history for centuries. It depicts a scene from the legend of the foundation of Tenochtitlan.
The legend has it that the Mexicas traveled from Aztlán, present-day Nayarit, in search of a sign from the god Huitzilopochtli telling them where to settle and establish their empire. The sign they were looking for was an eagle devouring a serpent while perched on a flowering nopal cactus on a small island in the middle of a lake. After a long journey, they finally found it in the Valley of Mexico in 1325, where they built the city of Tenochtitlan.
For the ancient Mexicans, the eagle symbolized the cosmic force of the sun, while the earth’s force was embodied in the image of the serpent. The eagle devouring the snake represents the communion of these vital forces. The nopal cactus, in addition to being an important source of food in prehispanic times, is part of the Mexican landscape and puts us symbolically within national territory.
After the conquest, the inhabitants of the new city asked the Spanish crown for permission to continue using the same seal, with a new frame of cactus branches to symbolize the tlatoanis who were vanquished during the conquest. This shield, with its well-known prehispanic origin, was used during the viceroyship.
In 1811, during the wars of independence, the Supreme Governing Junta of America established in Zitácuaro by Ignacio López Rayón, José Sixto Verduzco and José María Liceaga used the Mexican eagle as the seal for their official documents. This symbol was adopted by José María Morelos y Pavón for his flag and correspondence. On July 3, 1815, a decree was issued in Puruarán adopting the first symbols of a nation that was still fighting for its independence.
Once the republic had triumphed over the empire of Agustín de Iturbide, the Constitutional Congress issued a decree on April 14, 1823 redesigning the symbol to reflect the original tradition: the eagle in profile perched on a cactus eating a serpent. The imperial crown was replaced by branches of oak and laurel, symbols of victory.
Coins imprinted with this national seal were minted during the government of the first president of Mexico, Guadalupe Victoria, but it wasn’t until the era of President Porfirio Díaz that the eagle appeared on the national flag, at that time as a full frontal image with outstretched wings. A decree dated September 10, 1916, issued during the presidency of Venustiano Carranza, marked a return to the original design, which can be still be seen today on the national flag.
The law of the Mexican national seal and flag states:
“The national seal is an image of the left profile of a Mexican eagle, with the wings raised so that their highest point is slightly above the eagle’s head. The wings are held slightly open as if in combat, and the feathers on the lower part of the wings almost touch the tail, whose feathers form a fan. It stands on its left claw on a flowering nopal cactus that emerges from a lake. Its right claw and beak hold a curving snake as if to devour it, in such a way as to harmonize with the whole. The cactus extends to each side. Two branches, one of oak in front of the eagle and the other of laurel on the opposite side, form the lower half of a circle, joined in the middle by a ribbon divided into three bands which, when the national seal is shown in color, correspond to the colors of the national flag.”
The Mexican flag has changed over the course of the country’s history. When Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla declared independence in 1810, he carried the standard of the Virgin of Guadalupe. This is considered to be the first Mexican flag.
In 1813, the revolutionaries designed a new flag. They used white silk with a border of blue and white squares. In the center, an eagle perched on a cactus. This image was encircled by a Latin motto, Oculis et unguibus asqué victrix (victorious with both eyes and talons), and was topped with the Spanish crown.
The national flag was created in 1821 and adopted by the “Army of Three Guarantees,” which took its name from the guarantees of religion, independence and union promised by the Plan of Iguala. The three colors of the Mexican flag were adopted at that time: green for independence, white for religion, and red for union.
During the short-lived first Mexican empire, the stripes changed position. The eagle was placed alone on the white band, facing forwards with its wings spread. Its head was shown in profile bearing a crown.
Later, in 1823, Congress decreed that the emblem on the flag should conform to the indigenous myth: an eagle in profile perched on a cactus, eating a snake. The crown was eliminated.
The national seal was first added during Maximilian’s rule, when a flag bearing the eagle under the crown of the French empire was adopted. Porfirio Diaz subsequently ordered that the eagle on the seal be shown facing forwards with its wings extended. Later, under Venustiano Carranza, it was modified again: the eagle is now shown in left profile and reflects the Mexica legend of the founding of Tenochtitlan. A green, white and red ribbon representing the patriotic nation was added, shown tying together branches of oak and laurel.
Flag Day has been celebrated in Mexico every year since 1937 in a ceremony at the monument to General Vicente Guerrero, the first military leader to swear allegiance to the flag in Acatempan on March 12, 1821.