Poor independence

“Independence was always my wish, dependency my destiny.” Alfred de Vigny

It’s a magic word: independence. No one will ever say that he does not want her, that he is not willing to fight for her, even to give his life in exchange. History tells us, however, that not everyone knows how to take advantage of it.

We Mexicans are celebrating 211 years of the cry of Dolores, which has always been presented to us as the date of our independence. The truth is that we did not reach this condition until 11 years later, in 1821. Almost no one understands, on the other hand, that independence took away a foreign yoke, but made us poorer.

In 1820, the last year of the colony, Mexico had a Gross Domestic Product per capita of 759 international Geary-Khamis dollars with a purchase value of 1990. After half a century of independence, in 1870, the figure had fallen 11.2 percent to 674 dollars (Angus Maddison, The World Economy; Development Center Studies, 2006). Wars, banditry, and lack of property rights plunged our country into the longest period of economic decline in recorded history. The Porfirio Díaz regime would have to arrive, as repudiated as the colony by official history, for there to finally be an advance in prosperity.

We Mexicans did not know how to take advantage of our independence to give ourselves a better standard of living. The United States (which declared itself independent in 1776, but continued to fight a revolutionary war against Great Britain until 1783) had a GDP per capita of $ 1,257 Geary-Khamis in 1820. By 1870 he had doubled his median income to 2,445. Mexico, which in 1820 had a GDP per person 60.4 percent of that of the United States, in 1870 it was already only 27.6 percent.

The Americans did something right with their independence, while we handled it very poorly. Between 1820 and 1870 the American Union surpassed in GDP per capita such wealthy nations as Germany, France and Switzerland, lagging only behind the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, which it would surpass not long after. In contrast, Mexico became dramatically impoverished in that same half century.

The priest Miguel Hidalgo did not demand the independence of Mexico at dawn on September 16, 1810; he simply protested against the bad colonial government and asked to preserve the crown of New Spain for Fernando VII, the Desired, legitimate successor of King Carlos IV. The Mexican Creoles, however, were increasingly convinced that the territory could no longer remain subject to the Spanish crown.

Independence came to an end by an alliance between a group of conservative creoles, represented by the royalist Colonel Agustín de Iturbide, and another of liberal insurgents led by Vicente Guerrero, who maintained a focus of resistance in the southern mountains. Contrary to what happened in the United States, where a government was soon consolidated that was able, through democratic elections, to resolve in peace the differences between revolutionaries, in Mexico conservatives and liberals fought one war after another without allowing a situation of peace and order that made investment and growth possible.

It was no more than our fault: we Mexicans independently created the conditions that led to our poverty, while Americans diligently built their prosperity. The fact is that 50 years after independence Mexico was poorer than when the colonial era ended.


The Electoral Court has revoked the fines to Samuel García, the governor-elect of Nuevo León, because it considered that the messages on networks from his wife, the influencer Mariana Rodríguez, are “inherent” to a marital relationship. Okay, but then other supports from spouses and family will have to be accepted as well. Better it would be to eliminate the censorship in the campaigns.

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