Did you know that the Yucatán Peninsula separated from the Mexican territory and declared itself a Republic? This didn’t happen once, but twice! Read on to learn more about this chapter in our history.
Around 1841, México was experiencing a political conflict between the centralist government -which supported the President so he could appoint governors and make other decisions from the country’s capital- in opposition to those who defended the division of power, granting more autonomy to the states.
The People of Yucatán
In Yucatán, seedbed of liberal ideas, there was discontent with the centralist government that prevailed. On October 1, 1841, the local representatives chamber approved the Peninsula’s Declaration of Independence, which established that “the people of Yucatán, in full use of their sovereignty, establishes a republic free and independent from the Mexican nation.” At that time the Peninsula consisted of the two states of Campeche and Yucatán and the territory of Quintana Roo.
During the “independent” period, there were many significant events at the legislative level. One of the movement’s leaders, Miguel Barbachano, wrote the Constitution of Yucatán of 1841, which highlighted religious freedom, respect for individual rights, and individual protection of the law.
The Flag of Yucatán
At the same time, a flag of Yucatán was established, with a green background on the left side with five stars symbolizing hope and representing the main cities: Mérida, Izamal, Valladolid, Tekax, and Campeche. On the right, in red and white, three horizontal bands symbolized courage. It’s quite possible that you will have noticed some T-shirts or stickers with the Yucatán flag. There are still memories of the separatist ideas, now translated into Yucatán pride.
The centralist government of México did not accept the declaration of independence. They sent a military convoy which confronted Yucatecans at Hacienda Pacabtún in Mérida; and they closed the door on trade between Yucatecan and Mexican ports which affected the state’s economy. Finally, on December 5, 1843, Antonio López de Santa Anna, Mexican president, signed the decree that gave autonomy to Yucatán, under the condition that she re-join México.
Near the end of 1845 these agreements were canceled, and on January 1, 1846, the Legislative Assembly of Yucatán again declared independence. This was a short-lived effort; the crisis generated by the Caste War between the Maya and the mestizos forced the Yucatán government to ask the Mexican government for military help in exchange for reincorporation. On August 17, 1848, Miguel Barbachano decreed the reintegration of Yucatán to México.
On August 27, 1848, Miguel Barbachano declared the reincorporation of Yucatán to the Mexican Federation, closing the separatist chapter for good. But the separation of Campeche as an independent state is another story!
Not everyone knows about this fragment of our history, although some legislative achievements are still in use…and of course, we have the Yucatán flag!
By Violeta H. Cantarell
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