Message from President Higgins Commemorating 200 years of Mexican Independence
Date: Sat 25th Sep, 2021 | 20:15
It is with the greatest pleasure that I extend my congratulations to the people of Mexico on this historic occasion, as the nation marks, remembers and celebrates three defining moments in your history. The people of Mexico, like the people of Ireland, recognise the importance of taking time to remember, and I am honoured to join you today for this important commemoration:
- Marking, as it does, 700 years since the foundation of your capital, Mexico City;
- remembering 500 years since the arrival of the Spanish, and the fall of the great Aztec city of Tenochtitlan, and the consequences of this for your people, and
- celebrating, too, 200 years of independence, and the end of a ten year civil war.
200 years from your independence, Mexico is known the world over for your extraordinary heritage and culture, your artists, and writers, and the country’s spectacular natural beauty. But equally, you are renowned for your values-led leadership in the Americas, and your commitment to the multilateral system.
From my very first visit to Mexico, many years ago, I was struck by how much our two countries have in common. As we reflect upon this special day, the clear parallels in the histories of our nations are there for all to see. Our shared histories of colonisation, emigration, poverty and struggle unite Irish and Mexican people.
Indeed, as Mexico celebrates its bicentenary of Independence, Ireland is also celebrating a centenary of Irish Independence, including the 11 July, 1921 ceasefire, which created the conditions for dialogue, and the signing of the 6 December Anglo Irish Treaty.
Our two countries also have so much in common in terms of what we have achieved, and what we have to be proud of – the gaining of our independence, our strong, unique – including our indigenous - peoples, our cultural heritage that we continuously strive to keep alive, while continuously evolving, and the place both our nations play on the global stage.
Both Ireland and Mexico have long experiences of emigration, and our Diasporas form a huge part of our cultural identity today. A number of Irish emigrants have played their part in securing the independent and free Mexico of 2021.
The Wexford born Guillén de Lamport authored the first declaration of independence in Latin America in Mexico City in 1642, and, of course, was later executed for heresy by the Spanish inquisition. It was a remarkable document, advocating for land reform, equality of opportunity, racial equality and a democratically elected monarch. Proclaiming revolutionary ideas and ideals over a century before the French revolution, and 150 years prior to Father Miguel Hidalgo’s grito de Dolores in 1810, that launched the Mexican war of independence. It is a great source of pride for Ireland that he is the only foreigner to be honoured as a hero of Mexican Independence in the Independence Monument in Mexico City.
Later, in the Summer of 1821, the last Spanish Viceroy to Mexico, a man of Irish decent, Juan O’Donojú played a transformative role in the Mexican struggle for independence, by signing the Treaty of Córdoba with the Mexican revolutionary Agustín de Iturbide. Having effectively ratified Mexico’s independence, his commitment to his liberal principles sees him marked in Mexican memory and history as an ally to the Mexican cause, despite personal consequences, not least being decried as a traitor in Spain.
Many more Irish people sought a new life in Mexico after independence. Their memory permeates Mexico’s rich culture and history, most notably, Clifden born John Riley and the Batallón de San Patricio – those brave Irish and European fighters who chose to join the Mexican cause in the war of 1846-1848. We are immensely proud that they are the only foreigners to have been named amongst the historic heroes of Mexico, honoured on the walls of the Mexican Congress building. The descendants of these immigrants remain here today, contributing to Mexican life and politics, and Ireland’s Ambassador proudly participates in a number of commemorations for the San Patricios every year.
Today, it is a joy to witness the strong people-to-people exchange between our two countries. Exchanges that will lead to an ever deeper and stronger relationship into the future.
I greatly admire Mexico’s strong and principled support of multilateralism, and I am proud to see Ireland and Mexico share, for the third time together, a term at the UN Security Council. Together, we are working for gender equality, advancing the role of women in peace processes, and advocating for the peaceful settlement of disputes, respect for the rule of law, and the protection of vulnerable groups and civilians in armed conflict.
I am equally proud to see that our two countries continue to celebrate our strong ties of history and friendship. With a strong foundation of a shared past and cultural affinity, Irish and Mexican people are brought together through trade, education, culture, and our pursuit of our shared values on the global stage.
As President of Ireland, I extend my warmest wishes and congratulations to the people of Mexico on this historic day. It is my sincere hope that the friendship between our two countries, based on our shared history, values, and outlook for the future, continues to deepen and grow.