Last Monday Mexicans all had a day free from work – banks, schools and most public transport was closed – and today is another national holiday, as celebrations are held for the birthday of Benito Juárez.
Born in San Pablo Guelatao, Oaxaca, on March 21,1806, Benito Juárez was a lawyer who later held many public offices including as state legislator, civil judge, government secretary, and governor. He’s kind of viewed in the same way American’s view Abraham Lincoln. When the people were calling out for a leader, he stepped up to lead a nation. He was president for five terms in the turbulent years of 1858 to 1872, and is a national hero best known for making reforms to create a democratic federal republic.
One of the reasons it is perhaps so remarkable about the impact he made is his background, since he was a full-blooded native of Zapotec descent, and is the only full-blooded native to ever serve was president of Mexico. He didn’t even speak Spanish until his teens. This means he was held in very high regard by the country’s indigenous population, who view him as a trailblazer in native rights and justice.
There is a city (Ciudad Juárez) named after Benito Juárez, as well as countless streets, schools and businesses. On Saturday his birth city of San Pablo Guelatao hosts contests, tournaments, fireworks and popular dances in his honour. So if you’re in El Camion on Saturday night then be sure to raise a glass!