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African Founding Father of the Vast Mexican Empire
Mexican Independence Day 2011, brings light to the third root of Latin America, the African influence in the struggle for independence from Spanish Conquistadors.
2011 is the United Nations International Year for People of African Descent.
Vicente Guerrero provided essential leadership to establish the vast Republic of Mexico. He freed his country and then freed its enslaved population, including millions of people of African descent from Northern California to Costa Rica.
Guerrero was born an Ixtla, Mexico, in 1782 of mixed Spanish, Indian and African ancestry. His father, Juan Pedro Guerrero, and his mother, Guadeloupe Saldena, were both of humble origin, the lowest of the low, degraded by law, custom, and racial prejudice.
Guerrero started life as mule driver, he did not have any opportunity to learn to read or write, and developed a strong unquenchable desire for freedom and justice for his fellow man.
When the struggle for Mexican Independence began on September 16, 1810, led by Father Miguel Hidalgo, Vicente Guerrero was one of the first to enlist.
Hidalgo planted grapevines to make his own wine, government officials tore them up. Wine had to be imported from Spain, with a high tax. At this time, Mexico was ordered to pay a tribute of an additional $45 million to Spain.
Declaring Mexico independent from Spain, Hidalgo had called upon all his countrymen to fight for freedom. Guerrero distinguished himself so well in the first battle that he was made a Captain. In the first stage of the struggle the Mexicans were successful, but Spanish reinforcements soon crushed the insurgents.
Upon Miguel Hidalgo's death the army declined and the future was not looking very promising. Guerrilla warfare seemed to be the main line of attack and the army was now under the command of General Vicente Guerrero.
General Guerrero was able to succeed, gaining leadership due through his oratory skills, ability to speak different languages and uncommon courage; he is considered one of the greatest military leaders in Mexican history.
The Spanish government, in an effort to win Guerrero, sent his father Pedro to offer him lands and wealth. Guerrero scorned the offer. He had pledged himself no rest until the hated Spaniard rulers had been driven into the sea.
Spain sent her best general, Iturbide, against him. Guerrero defeated him in twice on the battle field and led Itubide to revolt against Spain and join hands with General Guerrero.
The two defeated General Santa Ana, Spanish commander.
Iturbide was named President of Mexico. As ruler, Iturbide showed his true colors and proclaimed himself emperor. The exploitation of the masses of the people who had borne the brunt of the struggle for independence continued and led
Guerrero to declared war against Iturbide, captured him, and had him shot.
During the next presidential election the candidates were Guerrero and Pedraza. Pedraza won and revolts throughout the nation followed.
"The name of the hero of the South is echoed with indescribable enthusiasm everywhere. His valor and constancy combined have engraved themselves upon the hearts of the Mexican people. He is the image of their felicity. They wish to confide to him the delicate and sacred task of the executive power." Finally the government surrendered and Guerrero became president in April, 1825.
Guerrero at once set about improving the conditions of the masses, composed of Indians, half-breeds, and Negroes. He ordered schools to be built, established free libraries - reading had been forbidden - proclaimed religious liberty, established a coinage system, suspended the death penalty, and took other steps far in advance of his time.
His first and most important act was the abolition of slavery. The Mexican constitution was the work of the “unlettered” Guerrero. One of its clauses read, "All inhabitants, whether White, African, or Indian, are qualified to hold office."
Noted Historian, Bancroft says, "They could not bear the sight of one of Guerrero's race occupying the presidential chair and ruthlessly destroyed a government whose only faults were excessive clemency and liberalism." Strode says, "Because of his lack of education, his country manners and his reputed Negro blood, he was held in contempt by the upper-class society of the capital.
The conservatives chose to regard him as a triple-blooded outsider."
Guerrero, as in the days when he was fighting for independence, took once more to the mountains, where for the next four years he defeated every force sent against him. Finally his rival, General Bustamente, took him by treachery. He gave a ship captain, Pucaluga, a friend of Guerrero, $13,000 to lure Guerrero to his ship. Guerrero was made prisoner and executed after a mock trial. His death was followed by nationwide revolt. Bustamente was driven from the presidency and Picaluga was executed.
A pension was paid Guerrero's window; honors were conferred on other members of his family; and cities and a state were named in his honor.
In 1842 his body was removed to Mexico City. Guerrero was an uneducated man of mixed Spanish, Indian and African descent of a singularly generous and kindly disposition.
"Guerrero," says Bancroft, was possessed of a gentleness and magnetism that inspired love among his adherents; while his swarthy face, resonant voice, and flashing eye made him an object of profound respect even among his enemies."
World's Great Men of Color Volume II
by J.A. Rogers