Puerto Vallarta loves any day when there’s a reason to celebrate. Constitution Day, on February 5th is recognized at the official date when the Mexican constitution was created in 1917. Drafted by Santiago Queretaro, the Public Constitution of the United Mexican States, or the Fundamental Law of Magna Carta, was signed by Venustiano Carranza and has been observed as a national holiday since that time.
Mexico attained liberty from Spain in 1810 but it took nearly a century for a concrete constitution to be formed, with many drafts in the meantime. The war took a lot of steam out of Mexico, creating a downfall of the economy, widespread unemployment and insufferable economic instability. The first stable constitution was unacceptable, not only as a copy of the constitution of the United States but also for the promotion of absolute sovereignty. It wasn’t until 1957 that the constitution was amended to prohibit foreigners from taking over the Mexican government! Though it has stabilized considerably, a huge issue that wasn’t addressed for decades was racial turmoil. Mexico is long on determination and grit, but there has always been a foundation of disagreement, not unlike other nations with vast diverse populations.
Schools are given a holiday on February 5th but in the interim, they study the constitution and every student in Puerto Vallarta is expected to have a firm understanding of the fundamentals.
One of the biggest achievements of the Mexican constitution is the freedom of religion. There was a time that Catholics were persecuted and slaughtered due to their allegiance to the Catholic Church, a little known fact for non-Mexicans. Prior to the administration of Venustiano Carranza, and the writing of the constitution as we know it today, the government focused largely on annihilating the influence of the Catholic Church over Mexicans. The Cristero War was one of armed civilians at war with the government, resulting in thousands of innocent deaths. The current constitution protects Catholics and all other religious beliefs, the rights of the press and media, and the freedom of speech.
In Puerto Vallarta, Constitution Day follows quickly on the heels of the Charro celebrations and these events coincide on many levels. It’s a great time to brush up on your Mexican history, find out what all the excitement is about, and have some fun in the process. For readers we recommend The Death of Artemio Cruz by Carlos Fuentes (the translated version by Alfred J. MacAdam) for fiction; History of the Making of Mexico by William Prescott for non-fiction, which will take you from the conquering of Cortés all the day to modern day.
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