Mexico Honors Its Great Liberator with National Holiday
By THÉRÈSE MARGOLIS
Monday, March 20, is an official holiday in Mexico in observation of the 1806 birthday of five-time president Benito Juárez, a national hero who helped chase the French out of the country, overthrew the Hapsburg-imposed empire of Maximillian I and restored the republic under a liberal regime that served as the backdrop for modernization and urbanization.
Juárez was actually born on March 21, but to allow for a long weekend, the Mexican government has decreed that his birthday be celebrated one day early.
Juárez, a Zapotec native of Oaxaca, served as Mexico’s 26th president, from 1858 until his death in office in 1872.
He was the first president of Mexico of indigenous origin.
And while he did embroil himself into a degree of political controversy in his later years by rewriting the Mexican Constitution to allow himself to serve extra terms, he remained – and still remains – one of the nation’s most important heroes.
His unflinching commitment, resilience and fortitude have been an example to all Mexicans, particularly those who grew up in poverty and depravation.