This is a Spanish translation of a study on Mexican independence by a Soviet historian, who makes no claim to objectivity. One is never allowed to forget that the author is an avowed Marxist. Mexico’s independence movement was a “revolución burguesa,” which not only freed Mexico from the Spanish yoke, but created a national state and suppressed the feudal institutions which had been inherent in the colonial system. According to Alperovich, it was the work, not only of the exploited masses, but also of the urban commercial and industrial bourgeoisie, the lower clergy, and the intellectuals.
He views the movement as divided into five distinct phases from 1810 to 1824. The first phase involved the active participation of the Indian masses. In it slavery, racial discrimination, feudal obligations, and commercial monopolies were suppressed, and lands taken from the Indians by the colonizers were restored. Under Morelos a national congress was called, resulting in a Declaration of Independence and the first Mexican constitution. The second phase, 1816-1819, featured a gradual decline of the masses’ power, followed by the liberal movement in Spain in 1820 and the separation of Mexico from Spain by the Mexican reactionaries. The third phase brought the proclamation of Mexican independence in September 1821, the liberation of the country from the colonial yoke, and its transformation into a sovereign state—all accomplished through the heroic struggle of the popular masses led by Hidalgo, Morelos, and other leaders.
True Mexican patriots, however, being dissatisfied with results, continued the struggle in behalf of the republic and progressive reforms. This constituted the fourth phase, the struggle against the dictatorial military rule of the reactionary clerical and landowning hierarchy headed by Iturbide. The fall of the empire of Iturbide marked the beginning of the last phase of the revolution, culminating in October 1824, with the approval of the constitution which gave legal form to the federal republic, suppressed the medieval institutions imposed by the colonizers, and proclaimed principles of bourgeois law.
Thus, says Alperovich, the War of Independence freed Mexico from Spain, created a national state, and suppressed feudal institutions; but it did not involve a radical transformation of the socioeconomic structure. Rather, the movement of 1810-1824 should be considered as the “beginning of the bourgeois revolution in Mexico,” whose subsequent stages were the “bourgeois revolution and civil war of 1854-1860,” the “liberating war of the Mexican people against the foreign intervention of 1861-1867,” and finally the “democratic-bourgeois revolution of 1910-1917.”
The bibliography is most extensive, and one cannot help being impressed with the work which the Soviets are doing in the Latin American field. But above all the book calls attention to the need of a scholarly treatise on Mexican independence in English, one which would give careful consideration to social and economic factors—and preferably be written by a reactionary, bourgeois, capitalistic American historian.