March 21, 2012 - Happy Birthday, Benito Juarez


He was a poor peasant, an orphan, a shepherd and field worker.


Living in Mexico, he didn't speak the official language (Spanish), but instead the native language of Zapotec.
He didn't know how to read or write.

But at age 12, in the year 1818, Benito Pablo Juarez Garcia decided to walk to the city of Oaxaca de Juarez to attend school. He took a job as a servant and learned everything he could as fast as he could.

And Benito Juarez rose up out of his humble beginnings to become a lawyer. Then a judge. He became governor of the state of Oaxaca. Chief justice. Then president!

There are at least four monuments
to Benito Juarez in the U.S.
This one is in New Orleans.
Juarez served as president of Mexico for five terms. He resisted the French occupation of Mexico, overthrew the Second Mexican Empire, restored the republic, and helped modernize the country. He became one of the great heroes of Mexico!

Benito Juarez was part of La Reforma, a progressive movement dedicated to democracy, equal rights for indigenous peoples, separation of church and state, and reining in organized religion, especially the powerful Catholic Church. Unfortunately, after Juarez died, a dictator named Porfirio Diaz attained power and didn't release it for 35 years. Eventually the Mexican Revolution restored the republic once again. Today, Mexico celebrates Benito Juarez and his ideas.


Quotes from Benito Juarez:

Among individuals, as among nations, respect for the rights of others is peace.”

"Law has always been my shield and my sword."

Democracy is the destiny of humanity; freedom its indestructible arm.”


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