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The Aftermath of War

A Legacy of the U.S.-Mexican War

by Miguel Soto
Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México

For too long, Mexicans have felt that their generosity and good will towards Americans have been corresponded by abuse and perfidy from their northern neighbor. The war between the two countries represents the extreme of such a lopsided relationship. While there is no doubt that American expansionism of the 1840s was a major force in the outbreak of the war, something that many Mexicans have failed to recognize is the new nation's lack of capacity to populate her own territories in the 1820s.

Photograph of present day Mexican buildingWhen the national and local authorities granted enormous tracts of land in Texas, they did so in recognition of their want of demographic potential to settle an area, which had been used on various occasions, as a military platform. (For the local officials, such grants had the additional appealing element of trying to control the growing American trade, which pushed various groups of native Americans to attach the settlements in the frontier). Thus, in both cases, it was a matter of security, local or national, that Mexican authorities were unable to meet.

Also, many people had failed to see that at the time of the war, more than fighting the Americans, most Mexicans were fighting each other. The impossibility of integrating a unified effort against the foreign enemy only made it easier for the United States to grasp the northern territories.

Nowadays, when globalization and various instances of economic and social integration are the main tendencies in the different hemispheres, the assumption and recognition of such responsibilities in the past, as well as in the present, become for Mexicans an unequivocal duty.