Benito Juarez’s birthday (March 21) is a national holiday in Mexico and, to make a three-day weekend out of it, schools and government offices are closed on the third Monday of March, which this year falls on March 19th.
One of Mexico’s most renowned Presidents, Juárez is regarded as one of the greatest heroes in Mexican history. Most every Mexican city has a street named after Juarez, and he’s pictured on Mexico’s most common bill, the 20-peso note.
Between 1858-1872 Benito Juarez served five terms as president, which included turbulent times for Mexico. In fact, he was president during two civil wars – the Guerra de Reforma(War of the Reform) from 1858-1861, and the Segunda Intervención Francesa en México(French Intervention) of 1862-1867.
Often referred to as “the Lincoln of Mexico,” Juarez is remembered for resisting the French occupation, overthrowing the Empire, and restoring the Republic, as well as for his liberal efforts to modernize the country. He was also the first indigenous man to be elected president of the United States of Mexico.
The period of his leadership is known in Mexican history as La Reforma del Norte (The Reform of the North), and constituted a liberal political and social revolution with major institutional consequences: the expropriation of church lands, the subordination of army to civilian control, liquidation of peasant communal land holdings, and the separation of church and state in public affairs.
For these accomplishments Benito Juarez is often regarded as one of Mexico’s greatest and most beloved leaders whose influence is still felt today.
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