This month, we will be celebrating 205 years of Mexico’s independence. The celebrations in honor of this day, which happens yearly on September 16, take place not only on this day but during the entire month. We decorate towns and businesses in colors of our flag, organize fiestas, celebrations, and special events dedicated to the occasion. You can be sure, there will be quite a bit of celebrating here at Capella Ixtapa as well!
In Guerrero, we feel especially proud during these festivities, because we proudly carry a name of a local hero who took an important part in the battle for independence of Mexico and the civil rights – Vicente Guerrero. While we are getting ready for the upcoming Independence Day celebrations, I would like to use this occasion and share a piece of history with you, a story about our hero Vicente.
Vicente Ramón Guerrero Saldaña was born on August 10, 1782, in the small village of Tixla in Guerrero. He was of humble origins; his father Pedro Guerrero was an Indigenous, and his mother, Guadalupe Saldaña, was an African slave. He worked in his hometown when the War of Independence begun in 1810. He joined the revolt against Spain along with the rebel leader, General Jose Maria Morelos y Pavon. When Morelos was assassinated in 1815 by the Spaniards, Guerrero became Commander-in-Chief.
He made a deal with Spanish General Agustin de Iturbide, who proposed that the two join forces under what we refer to as the “El Plan de Iguala.” This plan originally gave civil rights only to Indians but not to African Mexicans. Guerrero refused to sign the plan in that form and demanded equal rights for African Mexicans and those of mixed heritage as well. They incorporated Clause 12, which read: “All inhabitants . . . Without distinction of their European, African or Indian origins are citizens . . . With the full freedom to pursue their livelihoods according to their merits and virtues.”
As the history books state, Iturbide and Guerrero finally agreed that Mexico would be an independent constitutional monarchy; class distinctions should be abolished among Spaniards, Creoles, Mestizos and Indians; and Catholicism would be the state religion. Iturbide was named Emperor of Mexico by Congress on 27 September 1821. Though, when Iturbide’s policies supported the interests of Mexico’s wealthy landowners through exploitation of the poor and working classes, Guerrero turned against him.
Afterward, Guerrero served in a three person “Junta” that governed the then independent Mexico from 1823-24, until the election that announced Guadalupe Victoria as the first president of Mexico. As head of the “People’s Party,” Guerrero called for public schools, land title reforms, and other programs of a liberal nature.
He was elected the president of Mexico in 1829. As president, Guerrero went on to champion racial and economic equality. He was the second president of Mexico and the first to come from working class background. He is also the Americas’ first black and native president. Guerrero abolished slavery on September 16, 1829 (40 years before Lincoln did). In the end, he was betrayed by a group of reactionaries, and was executed on Valentine’s Day, February 14, 1831.
From this summarized overview of life and actions of Vicente Guerrero, I hope you can see why we call him a national hero. He is known as one of the leading revolutionary generals of the Mexican War of Independence, for his political discourse promoting equal civil rights for all Mexican citizens and has been described as the “greatest man of color” ever to live. The state of Guerrero proudly carries his name, as well as several towns in Mexico.