The Mexican Revolution and civil uprising raged for almost seven years with demands for social reforms and equality, culminating in the proclamation of the current constitution, referred to as the Political Constitution of the United Mexican States, on February 5, 1917. The constitution became the basis of the current government and political scenario in the country and is a momentous occasion in the history of Mexico.
Since its declaration of independence from Spain in 1810, Mexico has adopted a number of constitutions and legal documents with constitutional effects. Not all of these have been considered full-fledged constitutions, though. The Constitution of Apatzingan was proposed in 1814 by José María Morelos y Pavón. This constitution, though ratified by the Congress of Anáhuac on October 22, 1814, was never enforced. With José María Morelos y Pavón’s imprisonment and execution on December 22, 1815, the constitution also fell into disuse. The Federal Constitution of the United Mexican States was ratified by the General Constituent Congress on October 4, 1824 following the overthrow of the Mexican Empire of Agustin de Iturbide. This became the first official constitution of the nation. Guadalupe Victoria was the first elected president to take oath and embark on a term as laid by this constitution. In December 1835, with the falling apart of the Federal Republic, interim president José Justo Corro took over and promulgated the Seven Constitutional Laws which temporarily replaced the first Mexican constitution of 1824. This gave rise to the Supreme Conservation Power. This in turn gave way to the Organic Bases of the Mexican Republic of 1843 – a short-lived constitution that reinforced Catholic values. The 1847 Act of Amendment, however, restored the Constitution of 1824 as the legal constitution of the land. Following the Mexican-American war, the Federal Constitution of the United Mexican States of 1857 became the second official constitution of Mexico. Ratified by the Extraordinary Congress, the constitution had the ideal of liberty and freedom as its defining features.
The third and current constitutional document was drafted by a constitutional convention held in the city of Santiago de Querétaro in the State of Querétaro during the Mexican Revolution. The Constitutional Congress granted the document its ratification on February 5, 1917 and was proclaimed by Mexican President Venustiano Carranza. It went on to replace the Constitution of 1857. This constitution has been kept alive and relevant by a number of amendments in 1927, 1934, 1946, and 1992.
The constitution of 1917 became the third approved constitution of Mexico. Considered one of the most radical political documents drafted in the world, the constitution of Mexico is also one of the most progressive and comprehensive constitutions to be found across the globe. Some of its key features include a inviolable nationalist assertion – the constitution declares Mexico’s control over all indigenous natural resources while simultaneously guaranteeing social rights (such as universal male suffrage) and labor rights. For the first time, the constitution of Mexico laid the foundation for a federal republic brought together by the union of thirty-one states and one federal district. The division of powers between the executive, legislative, and judicial branches and the powers of the president are unambiguously laid down by the constitution. The most striking feature of the constitution is the description of the rights of both individuals and social organizations including labor unions and agricultural unions. Strikes and protests have limited endorsement and the conditions for such endorsement have also been specified. The document, overall, reflects the turbulence and agitation that brought about its ratification and the need for social reforms in the history of the nation. The political philosophy and ideals of the Mexican constitution inspired the drafters of the Russian Constitution (introduced in 1918) and the Weimar Constitution (of the Weimar Republic and the Third Reich, introduced in 1919), who drew heavily from it.
The constitutional promise of social equality, a separation of the church from civil government, economic reforms and stability, better educational facilities, and the restoration of land to the indigenous people took many decades to become a reality. With the deposition and execution of President Carranza, political stability eluded the nation for many years to come. It was only following World War II the country started to develop along socialist lines and industries in Mexico saw an unprecedented boom. Miguel Alemán Valdés took over as the President of Mexico in 1946 and served till 1952 providing the first stable civilian government.
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