Jesús Alvarez Amaya (1925 - 2010)

Benito Juárez (1974)

Woodcut on paper
height: 39cm
width: 33cm

Donated by the School of Philosophy and Art History, University of Essex 2001


Benito Juárez rose not from the Revolution but one-hundred years earlier during the War of Independence from Spain. Juárez, Mexico's first indigenous president was an indigenous Zapotec who became a symbol of power, hope and national pride for many supporters of the Mexican Revolution. Unlike many Mexican leaders of the 19th and early 20th centuries, Juárez did not have a military background. Instead he studied law, becoming a lawyer in 1834 and a judge in 1841. Juárez sought to lessen the power of the Roman Catholic Church in Mexico as well as the power of the military. He believed in equality for all citizens of Mexico, giving a voice to Mexico's large indigenous population that since the time of the Spanish conquest, had been considered far inferior to Mexicans of Spanish descent. Juárez is also remembered as the president who ousted foreign imperialists. Spain, Great Britain and France all invaded Mexico after Juárez placed a moratorium on foreign debt payments to impede bankruptcy. In time, Spain and Great Britain left, but the French Emperor Napoleon III backed the installment of Maximilian von Hapsburg as Emperor of Mexico. Juárez eventually ordered the execution of Maximilian and once again Mexico was able to rule itself.

Caitlyn Collins, 2008

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