Vicente Guerrero: The Afro-Mexican Leader That Freed Mexico from Spain


Though slavery was the worst thing that happened to the African continent, it helped the continent receive praises, particularly through the Diaspora’s works. The enslaved Africans who went to the Americas contributed to the development of modern states. For example, the Afro-Brazilians helped Brazil to become what it is today. The same case applies to the Afro-Mexicans who catalyzed Mexico’s current development. Today, we will discuss Vicente Guerrero, an Afro-Mexican revolutionary and the champion of people who liberated the Mexican people from the Spanish forces. Vicente was a revolutionary general of the Mexican War of Independence. His accomplishments led him to become the 2nd President of Mexico. The greatest thing he did was abolishing slavery in the region. Despite his end being a bitter one, Vicente Guerrero tried to make the Mexican society more equal.

The Early Life of Vicente Guerrero

In the Sierra Madre del Sur, Vicente Guerrero was born in Tixtla, a town 100km inland from the Acapulco port. His parents were Maria de Guadalupe Saldana, mother of African descent, and Pedro Guerrero, a Mestizo dad. Vicente Guerrero was robust, tall, and dark-complexioned. People at times called him El Negro. The area or region where he grew up had a large concentration of local groups. As a young man, he was more conversant in the native or local language than Spanish. His dad’s family comprised landlords, wealthy farmers, and merchants with broad business links or connections in the South, Spanish militia, and gun and cannon makers. In his youthful life, he worked for his dad’s freight business that employed mules for transport. His trips or travels took him to several regions of Mexico where he heard of independence ideas.

Pedro, Guerrero’s dad, supported the Spanish rule, whereas Diego Guerrero, his uncle, had a significant Spanish militia position. As an adult, Vicente Guerrero opposed the Spanish colonial government. When his father requested him for his sword to present it to the Viceroy of New Spain as a symbol of goodwill, Vicente Guerrero refused. Vicente Guerrero joined Jose Maria Morelos’s rebellion or the insurgent army of the South in December 1810, the early 19th century.

The Insurgent

As mentioned earlier, in 1810, Vicente Guerrero joined in the early rebellion against Spain, 1st fighting in the forces of secular priest Maria Morelos. Jose Morelos described Vicente as a young man with tanned skin, strong, tall, aquiline nose, bright eyes, and big sideburns. When the War of Independence commenced, Vicente Guerrero was working as a gunsmith in Tixtla. He joined the rebellion in late 1810 and enlisted in a division that independence leader Maria Morelos had organized to combat or fight in Southern Mexico. Vicente Guerrero distinguished himself in the Battle of Izucar in February 1812 and had gotten or achieved the lieutenant colonel class when rebels claimed Oaxaca in late 1812. Initial victories by Morelos’s forces stumbled, and Morelos’s enemies captured and executed him in December 1815.

Vicente Guerrero joined forces with Isidoro Montes de Oca and Guadalupe Victoria, taking Commander-In-Chief of the rebel troops. In 1816, the noble authority under Viceroy Apodaca sought to end the rebellion, offering amnesty. Vicente’s dad carried an appeal for his son to yield, but Vicente Guerrero refused. He remained the only chief rebel leader and kept the rebellion going through an extensive campaign of guerilla warfare. He got victories at Santa Fe, Ajuchitan, Tetela del Rio, Huetamo, Tlalchapa, and Cuautlotitlam, areas of southern Mexico familiar to him.

Hoping to extinguish the revolt or rebellion, the noble authorities sent Agustin Iturbide against Vicente’s forces. Vicente Guerrero was victorious against the Spanish General Iturbide, who realized that there was a military stalemate. Vicente appealed to the General to leave his royalist loyalty and join in the fight for Independence. Vicente Guerrero’s appeal to join the forces for Independence was successful. Iturbide and Guerrero allied under the Plan de Iguala, and their forces combined or merged as the Army of the Three Guarantees.

The Army of the Three Guarantees marched victoriously into Mexico City on September 27th, 1821. The Congress proclaimed Iturbide as the Emperor of Mexico. In January 1823, Vicente Guerrero and Nicolas Bravo revolted or rebelled against the Spanish General Iturbide, returning to southern Mexico to raise a revolt; according to some assessments, the Emperor had blocked their careers. Their objectives were to restore the Constituent Congress. Iturbide’s forces defeated Bravo and Guerrero at Almolongo. When Iturbide’s imperial government declined in 1823, Vicente Guerrero became one of the Constituent Congress’s ruling triumvirate, a group of three men holding power or in power.

About the Presidency

A liberal folk hero of the independence insurgency Vicente Guerrero became President on April 1st, 1829, with Anastasio Bustamante as his Deputy President. Guerrero being the head of state, caused an alarm for some creole elites. Vicente Guerrero wanted to establish a cabinet of liberals, but his government encountered problems or challenges since President-elect Gomez Pedraza had resigned under pressure or force. Some traditional federalist leaders, who might have supported Vicente Guerrero, didn’t do so due to the electoral irregularities.

One of his Presidency’s key achievements was abolishing slavery in Mexico, as mentioned in the introduction. The Spanish authorities had already banned the slave trade in 1818, which the nascent Mexican authority had reconfirmed in 1824. A few Mexican states or regions had also already abolished the practice of slavery. Still, it wasn’t until September 16th, 1829, that the Guerrero administration proclaimed total abolition of slavery across the nation. The practice of slavery at this point barely existed throughout the Mexican land, and only the state of Coahuila y Tejas was a victim because of the immigration of slaveowners from the United States.

Vicente Guerrero called for public learning institutions, land title reforms, industry and trade development, and other liberal programs. As the head of state, Vicente Guerrero championed the economically oppressed and also the racially oppressed.

Initially, Stephen Austin, the leader of Texas’s colonization, proved enthusiastic towards the Mexican authority.  During Vicente Guerrero’s Presidency, the Spanish forces attempted to reconquer the Mexican land, but they failed. They were unsuccessful at the Battle of Tampico. The Spanish wanted to reconquer Mexico because it did not accept Mexico’s Independence and always threatened reconquests.

The Fall and Execution of Vicente Guerrero

The Mexico City garrison deposed Guerrero in his absence on December 17th, 1829. Vicente Guerrero had gone to Southern Mexico, where he had combated or fought during the War of Independence. Vice President Bustamante feared the claim that Vicente Guerrero was from Aztec royalty would bolster his appeal to Indians.

Open warfare between Vicente and his rival in the region, Nicolas Bravo, was fierce. Nicolas Bravo had been a royalist officer, and Vicente Guerrero was an insurgent champion or hero. Nicolas Bravo controlled the region’s highlands, including Tixtla, the town of Vicente Guerrero’s birth. Vicente had strength in the Tierra Caliente and Costa Grande’s hot coastal areas, with mixed-race populations that he had mobilized during the insurgency for Independence. Nicolas Bravo’s region had a mixed population, but politically whites dominated it. The South’s conflict occurred for all of 1830, as conservatives consolidated might or power in Mexico City.

The war in the South might have continued longer, but ended in what one historian has called ‘the most shocking event in the history of the 1st Republic: the capture of Vicente in Acapulco through an act of betrayal and his murder or execution a month later.’ Vicente Guerrero controlled Mexico’s central Pacific Coast port of Acapulco. Francisco Picaluga, an Italian merchant ship captain, approached the conservative authority in Mexico City with a suggestion or proposal to lure Vicente Guerrero onto his vessel and take him as a prisoner for the price of 50000 pesos. Francisco Picaluga invited Vicente Guerrero on board for a meal on January 14th, 1831. Francisco Picaluga took Guerrero and a few aides as captives and sailed to the port of Huatulco, where he turned Guerrero over to federal troops. They took Vicente Guerrero to Oaxaca city, and a court-martial summarily tried Vicente.

Some state legislatures and conservatives welcomed his capture, but Jalisco and Zacatecas’s legislatures tried to prevent Vicente Guerrero’s execution. People exposed the government’s 50000-pesos payment to Picaluga in the liberal press. Despite pleas for his life, the firing squad in Cuilapam executed Guerrero on February 14th, 1831. His demise marked the dissolution of the rebellion or revolt in Southern Mexico, but those people, particularly the politicians, involved in his execution paid a lasting price to their reputations.

Jan Bazant, a historian, speculates why the firing squad executed Guerrero rather than sending him into exile, as they did with General Iturbide and Antonio Lopez Porfirio Diaz, a long-time dictator of the late-19th century Mexico. Zavala provides a clue and notes that Vicente Guerrero was of mixed blood and that the opposition to his Presidency came from the landowners, generals, clerics, and Spaniards resident in Mexican land.

Vicente’s execution was perhaps a warning to men considered ethnically and socially inferior not to dare to dream of becoming the head of state or President. People presented honors to the surviving members of Guerrero’s family and paid his widow pension. In 1842, the authorities exhumed Guerrero’s remains and returned them to Mexico City for reinterment. People have described Guerrero as the greatest man of color ever to be alive or live.



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