Alangilan, Batangas City
Richard B. Dalawangbayan
Mexico: The “NEW SPAIN”
The history of Mexico, a country located in the southern portion of North America, covers a period of more than two millennia. First populated more than 13,000 years ago, the country produced complex indigenous civilizations before being conquered by the Spanish in the 16th century. Since the Spanish conquest, Mexico has fused its long-established native civilizations with European culture. Perhaps nothing better represents this hybrid background than Mexico's languages: the country is both the most populous Spanish-speaking country in the world and home to the largest number of Native American language speakers on the continent. From 1519, the Spaniards absorbed the native peoples into Spain's vast colonial empire. For three centuries Mexico was just another kingdom (the New Spain) of the Spanish Empire, during which time its indigenous population fell by more than half and was partially replaced by Spaniards and the now predominant Mestizos or mixture of Indigenous and Spanish populations. It was also then that the current Spanish-speaking, Catholic and Westernized Mexican culture was born. After a protracted struggle Mexico declared its independence from Spain in 1810. In 1846, the Mexican American War broke out, ending two years later with Mexico ceding almost half of its territory to the United States. Later in the 19th century, France invaded Mexico (1861) and set Maximilian I on the Mexican throne, which lasted until 1867. A half-century of economic stagnation and political chaos ended as Porfirio Díaz held power and promoted order and the modernization of the society and economy. Mexico's infrastructure was modernized by a strong, stable central government. Increased tax revenues and better administration brought dramatic improvements in public safety, public health, railways, mining, industry, foreign trade, and national finances. Little had been done for the nation's poor, and they revolted in the Mexican Revolution (1910–1929). Roaming armies killed a tenth of the nation's population, but the Revolution freed the peons from the system of large haciendas that had originated with the Spanish Conquest. The center-left Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI) controlled national and state politics after 1929, and nationalized the oil industry in the 1930s. The population grew rapidly even as millions moved to the United States. Mexico's economy was further integrated with the U.S. after the NAFTA agreement began lowering trade barriers in 1994. Seven decades of PRI rule ended in the year 2000 with the election of Vicente Fox of the Partido Acción Nacional (PAN). In the face of extremely violent drug wars, the PRI returned to power in 2012, promising that it had reformed itself.
The Great Civilization
During the pre-Columbian period, many city-states, kingdoms, and empires competed with one another for power and prestige. Ancient Mexico can be said to have produced five major civilizations: the Olmec, Maya, Teotihuacan, Toltec, and Aztec.
The Spanish Conquest
When the Spanish adventurer Hernan Cortez arrived in 1519, the rich city was a vision perfectly meshed to his thirst for conquest.
The Conquest of New Spain, a great and tragic history, begins in April of 1519 when a Cortes lands in Veracruz, about 200 miles from the Aztec capital. Cortes had a singular mission: defeat the Aztecs and take their gold. To do so, he had less than 400 soldiers, 16 horses, 14 pieces of artillery, 11 ships, plenty of guns and ammunition, and cajones. His first act upon landing was to burn all but one of his ships - he wanted no turning back. That he was able to defeat an empire with just a few hundred men seems nothing short of miraculous, but some of el conquistador's success, however, can be attributed to plain and...