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The Americas

Central American Colonial Settlements


Modern Mexico
AD 1867 - Present Day
Incorporating Heads of State (1867-2024) & Restored Republic (1876-1911)

Officially titled the United Mexican States and born out of the collapse of New Spain, the modern federal republic of Mexico sits in the upper-central area of Central America. It borders the USA to the north and Guatemala and Belize to the south, with the Gulf of Mexico on its eastern flank and the Pacific Ocean to the west. It comprises thirty-one states and one federal district - the populous capital city itself.

Following Mexico's 'Second Empire' period, the beginnings of modern Mexico saw the country enjoy a stable economy alongside the less enjoyable spectre of inequality and repression. That initial period, between 1867-1876, was known as the Restored Republic period. The election of Porfirio Díaz in 1876 brought this period to a close.

The territory within Mexico's modern borders previously formed homelands for a large number of competing pre-Columbian groups, including the Aztecs, Chichimecs, Mayans, Mixtecs, Olmecs, Tepanecs. Toltecs, and Zapotecs. Zapotec civilisation first appeared around 500 BC. All of these groups survived until the arrival of the Spanish, although by then they were largely dominated by the Aztecs.

When Maximilian of the Mexican 'Second Empire' adopted the grandsons of 'First Empire' ruler Augustin de Iturbide, he established a royal house which would be able to claim the title long after his death and Mexico's permanent return to a republic.

The head of the imperial house fled first to Britain and then to the USA, but the House of Iturbide still holds a claim to its former royal seat (although it has not actually made any public demands for a restoration of monarchy). Successive claimants to the throne (whether or not a claim has actually been made) are shown with a shaded background.

Modern Mexico has the second-largest economy in Latin America and is a major oil producer and exporter. Though production has fallen in the last few years, about one-third of government revenue still comes from the industry. Much of the crude oil is bought by the USA. However, prosperity remains a dream for many Mexicans, and the socio-economic gap remains wide. Rural areas are often neglected and huge shanty towns ring the cities.

In recent decades many poor Mexicans have sought to cross the three thousand kilometre border with the US in search of work. At one point more than a million were being arrested every year trying to make the crossing, but after 2007 there appeared to be a dramatic fall in numbers, mainly attributed to changing demographics in Mexico itself.

However, the problems posed by illegal migration across this border have been used by some politicians in the USA to encourage a 'wall building' mentality there, and the low migration numbers did not remain low.

Mexico City

(Information by Peter Kessler and the John De Cleene Archive, with additional information from The Last Door: Political Prisoners and the Use of Torture in Mexico's Dirty War, Gladys McCormick (Americas, No 74 (1): 60, January 2017), from American History: A Survey, Richard N Current, T Harry Williams, & Frank Freidel (New York, 1964), from Spain in the Americas (National Geographic supplement, National Geographic Society, February 1992), from Historical Atlas of the World, R R Palmer (Ed, Chicago, 1963), from Times Atlas of World History (Maplewood, New Jersey, 1979), and from External Links: BBC Country Profiles, and Women in Power: 1900 (dead link), and Argentina (Rulers.org), and Rinde AMLO protesta como 'presidente legítimo' (El Universal, in Spanish), and Vicente Fox applauds PAN for alliances with PRI and PRD (Off The Bus), and Gang shootout in Tijuana (CTV News), and Gang shootout in Tijuana (The Guardian), and Journalists killed in Latin America (The Guardian), and Mexico elects Claudia Sheinbaum (The Guardian).)

1867 - 1925

Prince Agustín de Iturbide y Green

'Second Empire' heir. Died a professor of languages in USA.

1867 - 1872

Benito Juárez

President. Died in office.

1872 - 1876

Sebastián Lerdo de Tejada

President (interim Jul-Nov 1872).


José María Iglesias

President (Oct-21 Nov). Liberal.

1876 - 1911

A republican general during the French 'Second Empire' intervention by the name of Porfirio Díaz is elected as Mexico's twenty-ninth president in 1876. This removes José María Iglesias from office, while also ending the Restored Republic period and beginning the three-decade 'Porfiriato' period which sees Mexico recover from its occupation and greatly prosper under stable government.

Mexico City
The heart of the historic colonial centre of Mexico City is the Zócalo (main plaza), the largest of its kind in South America, which dates from the sixteenth century and was built over the ruins of Tenochtitlan

1876 - 1880

Porfirio Díaz

'President' (23-28 Nov). Dictator in fact.

1880 - 1884

Manuel González


1884 - 1911

Porfirio Díaz

Dictator. Forced into exile. Opposed by Francisco Madero.


Spain loses the Spanish-American War. With that it also loses much of the Spanish Caribbean, including Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Spanish East Indies (including the Marianna Islands, and the Philippines to the USA).

1910 - 1911

The 'Porfiriato' may have delivered economic prosperity to Mexico but it has also overseen growing inequality and political repression. President Diaz is re-elected after changing his mind about an announced retirement but electoral fraud is alleged and he is forced into exile in France. The resultant political crises sparks the Mexican Revolution. New elections see a return to peace for just two years.


Francisco León de la Barra

Interim president (May-Nov).

1911 - 1913

Francisco I Madero

President (Nov-19 Feb). Assassinated during coup.

1913 - 1917

The new president (elected in 1911) is assassinated in a coup which is led by a conservative general named Victoriana Huerta. This re-ignites the civil war, involving now-legendary characters such as Emiliano Zapata and Pancho Villa, each leading their own small armies.

Mexican Revolution 1910
The Mexican Revolution rumbled on from 1910 until 1920, with sporadic bursts of peace although it generally faded out after 1917, by which time it had already resulted in positive changes in the country


Pedro S Lascuraín Paredes

Interim president (19, Feb for several hours).

1913 - 1914

Victoriano Huerta

Interim president (19 Feb-Jul). Virtually a dictator.


Venustiano Carranza

President (Aug-Oct only). Ended civil war.

1914 - 1915

General Francisco (Pancho) Villa forces out Carranza out in October 1914. For one week Villa and Emilio (Emiliano) Zapata occupy Mexico City, while Antonio I Villareal González is president of the revolutionary convention. Villa and Carranza wage an extended civil war, culminating in Carranza's victory in October 1915.


Antonio I Villareal González

Provisional president of the revolutionary convention.

1914 - 1915

Eulalio Martín Gutiérrez Ortiz

Acting president (Nov-Jan).


Roque González Garza

President. Opposed by Gutiérrez Ortiz.


Francisco Lagos Cházaro

Acting president (Jun-Oct).

1915 - 1920

Venustiano Carranza

Revolutionary commander. President (5 Feb 1917). Killed.


Mexico has maintained neutrality during the First World War, fuelling suspicion that the government has been bribed by imperial Germany. However, it ignores a German proposal which is made public on 1 March 1917 which offers Mexico the US states of Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico if the US joins the Allies in the conflict.

Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1914
Kaiser Wilhelm II of Prussia and the German empire inspects his troops on the eve of war in 1914, a war which none of the tributary German principalities had any chance of escaping


Adolfo de la Huerta

Revolutionary cmdr (May-Jun). President (to Nov). Killed.

1920 - 1924

Álvaro Obregón


1924 - 1928

Plutarco Elías Calles


1925 - 1949

Princess María Josepha de Iturbide

Niece of Agustin. Played no political role. Died in Romania.


Two more presidents have been assassinated (in 1920 and 1928, the latter with álvaro Obregón being murdered shortly after having been re-elected). In essence, though, the country remains stable.

However, the man who had been selected by the former Emperor Maximilian as his adopted heir, Prince Agustín de Iturbide y Green, dies without having produced an heir. His position as head of the imperial House of Mexico passes to his cousin's daughter, María Josepha Sophia de Iturbide.

Plutarco Elias Calles continues to be the real ruler as 'jefe maximo' ('highest chief') during a succession of figurehead presidents between 1928-1934. The 'National Revolutionary Party' (PRN) and its successors then take control of the government until 2000.

Maria Josepha de Iturbide, hereditary empress of Mexico
María Josepha Sophia de Iturbide, head of the imperial House of Mexico between 1925-1949, although she led a life which was largely devoted to subjects other than politics

1928 - 1930

Emilio Portes Gil

Interim president under Elías Calles. PRN.

1930 - 1932

Pascual Ortiz Rubio

President under Elías Calles. PRN.

1932 - 1934

Abelardo L Rodríguez

Substiture resident under Elías Calles. PRN.


On 1 November 1934, congressional deputies who are led by Carlos Riva Palacio, president of the National Revolutionary Party (PNR), march in support of the cultural revolution which is being expressed in the government's anticlerical and educational policies. These revolutionary campaigns deeply divide the Mexican people.

1934 - 1940

Lázaro Cárdenas

President. PRN (PRM from 1938).

1940 - 1946

Manuel ávila Camacho

President. PRM (PRI from 1946).

1941 - 1945

During the Second World War, Mexico supplies raw materials to the USA as one of the allied nations in opposition to the Axis powers. Following the sinking of a Mexican tanker, the country declares war against Germany in June 1942.


Representatives of fifty countries gather at the 'United Nations Conference on International Organization' in California's San Francisco, USA, between 25 April and 26 June 1945. In that time they draft and then sign the UN charter, which creates this new international organisation. It is hoped that it will be able to prevent another world war like the one just ended. Mexico joins the United Nations on 7 November, two weeks after its formation.

Founding of the United Nations
In San Francisco, USA, in summer 1945, representatives of fifty countries signed the United Nations charter to establish a new, international body which was tasked with upholding the human rights of citizens the world over

1946 - 1952

Miguel Alemán Valdés

President. PRI.


Royal claimant Princess Maria and her second husband die in mysterious circumstances shortly after being interned by the Romanian communist government. Her will passes the claim to the throne to her only grandson, Prince Maximilian (better known as Count Maximilian von Götzen-Iturbide or, professionally, as Richard von Götzen).

1949 - Present

Prince Maximilian von Götzen-Iturbide

Grandson of Maria. Born 2 Mar 1944. Largely lives in the UK.

1952 - 1958

Adolfo Ruíz Cortines

President. PRI.

1958 - 1964

Adolfo López Mateos

President. PRI.

1964 - 1970

Gustavo Díaz Ordaz Bolaños

President. PRI.


The Tlatelolco Massacre involves the killing of students and civilians by police and the military on 2 October 1968. The dead have been taking part in protests which are taking place in the Plaza de las Tres Culturas in the Tlatelolco section of Mexico City.

Students prior to the Tlatelolco Massacre in Mexico
While preparing for the Mexico City Olympics of 1968, a Mexican government which had never particularly been tolerant of political dissent beyond very narrow limits decided to send out the army to shoot at student demonstrators

Overall, these events are part of the Mexican Dirty War, an offshoot of the Cold War, during which the US-backed government suppresses political opposition by means of intimidation and disappearances.

1970 - 1976

Luíz Echeverría álvarez

President. PRI.

1976 - 1982

José López Portillo y Pacheco

President. PRI.

1982 - 1988

Miguel de la Madrid Hurtado

President. PRI.

1988 - 1994

Carlos Salinas de Gortari

President. PRI.


In the midst of a currency crisis in the country, the 'Zapatista Army of Liberation' declares war against the Mexican government. The uprising sweeps through the southern state of Chiapas and at least 150 people die during the government's pacification of the region.

1994 - 2000

Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de León

President. PRI.


For the first time since 1929 an opposition party wins the presidential election. The 'Institutional Revolutionary Party' (or 'National Action Party', a centre-right party which had been founded in 1939) gains power for six years.

Vicente Fox, former president of Mexico
Even as a former president of Mexico, having won the election of 2000 for a term of six years in office, Vincent Fox (Vicente Fox Quesada) was still rallying the opposition against the - by 2020 - ruling National Regeneration Movement (Morena)

2000 - 2006

Vicente Fox Quesada

President. National Action Party (PAN).


A bitterly-fought presidential election in 2006 results in an immediate return to power for the 'National Action Party' after weeks of legal wrangling over the results, albeit by a very narrow margin. The once-powerful PRI (Institutional Revolutionary Party) suffers its worst-ever results to date, coming third overall.

2006 - 2012

Felipe Calderón Hinojosa

President. PAN.


With a fresh government in place, Mexico begins its 'war on drugs'. This has the effect of plunging parts of the country into a grotesque frenzy of violence. During the worst of the violence, running gun-battles between suspected drug traffickers break out on the streets of the border city of Tijuana in 2008.

One Tijuana police official speaks to the press only on condition of anonymity because he has not been authorised to talk on record. He states that the shootouts leave between fourteen and fifteen people dead. Another official, speaking under the same terms, places the number of dead at around twelve.

Drug war photographer at work
Legendary photographer of the Mexican 'war on drugs', Alfonso Margarito Martínez Esquivel, at work in May 2019, but he would be assassinated in 2022 by the very drug lords he was recording

2012 - 2018

The PRI is returned to power in 2012, only to suffer even worse results in the 2018 elections than it had in the 2006 elections. The 2018 elections also mark one of the most violent election campaigns in Mexico's somewhat chequered democratic history.

2012 - 2018

Enrique Peña Nieto

President. PRI.

2018 - 2024

Andrés Manuel López Obrador

President. Morena (National Regeneration Movement).


More journalists are killed in Latin America and the Caribbean than in any other part of the world, including the Ukraine war zone (according to a report which is issued on Tuesday 24 January 2023 by the press watchdog, 'Committee to Protect Journalists' (CPJ)). The 'war on drugs' in twenty-first century Mexico is a major contributor to this total.

2024 - On

Claudia Sheinbaum

President. Morena (National Regeneration Movement).


On 3 June 2024, Mexico's new president is Claudia Sheinbaum, a sixty-one year-old left-wing climate scientist. As well as being the country's first female president, she is also its first to be from a Jewish background. Her majority is larger even than that of her mentor, the retiring López Obrador.

President Claudia Sheinbaum of Mexico on the evening of her election victory in 2024
The ruling Morena party which was led in 2024 by Claudia Sheinbaum was also on track for a possible two-thirds super-majority in both houses of congress, which would make it possible to pass constitutional reforms without opposition support

Prince Ferdinand von Götzen-Iturbide

Son of Maximilian and heir. Born 1992.

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