Yucatan: the day it declared its Independence from Mexico

On October 1, 1841, the Lower Chamber of Yucatan approved the Act of Independence of the Peninsula.

After the country’s Independence, the history of Mexico is quite complex. After Mexico won the War of Independence from the Spanish, to whom it was annexed for 300 years, Mexico’s territory was modified on several occasions, the most significant change being the loss of more than half of the territory in 1848, only 27 years after achieving its sovereignty and when it was just beginning to consolidate as a nation.

However, there were also some other changes to the south since there was a time when, for example, South American countries belonged to Mexican territory. There were also other changes in the territory, for example, when the state of Yucatan declared its Independence due to differences with the centralist government imposed by President Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna.

In 1841 Mexico was experiencing a political conflict between the centralist government, which empowered the president to assign governors to each state and other state decisions. The current that preferred the government to be federalist defended the division of powers and gave the state autonomy. Yucatan was one of those not agreeing with the centralist government that prevailed.

The State Congress broke off relations with Mexico during this centralist government while the federal regime was reestablished. Finally, on October 1, 1841, the local Chamber of Deputies approved the Act of Independence of the Peninsula, establishing that “the people of Yucatan, in the full use of their sovereignty, established themselves as a free and independent Republic of the Mexican nation .” At that time, the peninsula included the current states of Campeche, Yucatan, and Quintana Roo.

The Mexican government did not accept the separation. To demonstrate this, it sent a military advance guard to confront the separatists in what today is known as Hacienda Pacabtún in Mérida. In addition, the closing of trade between Yucatan and Mexican ports affected Yucatan’s economy. Finally, Antonio López de Santa Anna, then president, signed on December 5, 1843, the agreements that granted Yucatan full autonomy. However, it had one condition: reintegrated into the national territory.

At the end of 1845, these agreements were suppressed, and by January 1, 1846, the Legislative Assembly of Yucatan declared the Independence of the Peninsula from Mexican territory once again.

This second period of Independence did not last long because the crisis generated by the “Caste War” between Mayas and mestizos forced the Yucatecan government to ask for military aid from the Mexican government, even at the cost of its sovereignty, in exchange for reincorporation into Mexico.

Around 1848, the then governor Miguel Barbachano sent a commission to José Joaquín Herrera intending to deal with the matter. Instead, the Mexican government sent him arms and money to end the war. Thus, Yucatan was reincorporated into the Mexican federation, closing that separatist chapter.

At the time of the declaration of its Independence, the peninsula included the current states of Campeche, Yucatan, and Quintana Roo. It should be remembered that this episode took place in the context of the historical event of the Mexican war against the United States, when Mexico lost the northern states of Texas, New Mexico, California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, and part of Colorado and Wyoming. In 1845, Texas had declared its Independence before being annexed to the U.S. territory.

Yucatan currently has a territorial extension of 39,524 square kilometers, representing 2.02% of Mexico’s surface. It has around 2.5 million people and is made up of 106 municipalities, of which Merida, the capital, is the most populated locality, with more than a million inhabitants.

The Yucatan Times
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