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Thread: So Far From God (Mexico 1836-'76)

  1. #201
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    [Edit: New page. Update is post above]

    Phew. Almost forgot to update there. The above was one of the more awkward pieces to write but its done now and this AAR will be finished by Sept! Its great to see that people are still reading as well. Thanks

    I also (finally) have an Inkwell page. Not that anyone here needs to read it, what with you already reading my AAR and all

    -----

    Enewald: Texas? Think bigger than that. I know this isn't a WC AAR but Santa Anna is a man of ambition...

    J. Passepartout: Curious that you'd support the Union. As always these AAR's are driven by my in-game ambitions, and then given a thin veneer of history, and usually I'm seeking to weaken, not strengthen, a rival in Washington

    Stuyvesant:

    (See, I can be lazy too!)

    HannibalBarca: Merci. It really cheers me up to know that people actually remember this AAR

    Morsky: That is the delightful thing about Santa Anna - you never know who he'll piss off next. Glad to have you back
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  2. #202
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    Haha, soothing the president of US, while Mexican soldiers roam the suburbs of Washington?
    'The army that is firing upon thee is not under my authority, soz'.

    Is there anything that could prevent Santa Anna from doing as he wantonly wants?

    Brilliant update again, mi'caudillo!

  3. #203
    Shocking behavior that we should have every right to expect from previous example. I see events have conspired to prevent considered exploitation of the Civil War by the Mexican government (by considered exploitation I of course mean my own most wise () thoughts on the matter).

    Curious that you'd support the Union. As always these AAR's are driven by my in-game ambitions, and then given a thin veneer of history, and usually I'm seeking to weaken, not strengthen, a rival in Washington.
    My thinking was that if Mexico could help the Union in such a way as to call the shots afterwards in Washington, that would be welcome in Mexico City. Of course the game doesn't entirely support a mechanism for doing this so there you go.

    By the way, you have a tag for a footnote but no actual footnote. Not sure if the asterisk got in there by mistake.

  4. #204
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    Haha. That'd teach anyone to give Santa Anna authority anywhere!

    But to be honest, volunteering his men for the Confederacy against the wishes of the government, that's quite something even for this man.

    I have a feeling that the past is the past however. Santa Anna...won't succeed this time, will he?
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  5. #205
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    Quote Originally Posted by RGB View Post
    I have a feeling that the past is the past however. Santa Anna...won't succeed this time, will he?
    Well... There is still another ten years or so to go, according to the title of the AAR. On the other hand, Santa Anna's main strength - his loyal army - is mostly far away, fighting in the vicinity of Washington DC. If Santa Anna can convince some of the other generals along the US border to join his cause, he has a good chance of ousting the president. If those other guys desert him (which would be the sensible thing to do, I think), then I expect that this latest adventure of Santa Anna will fizzle out instantly. And then? Back to Vera Cruz? Or perhaps he'll have burned enough bridges by now that he'll actually get banished from Mexico?

  6. #206
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    Lecture Nineteen: Into the Black (1862-'63)

    "Even stories with a sorry ending have their moments of glory, great and small, and it is proper to view these moments not in the light of their ending but in their own light: their reality is no less powerful than the reality of their ending"
    Thomas Mann


    Few generals in history have been as practised in the art of the coup d'etat as Santa Anna of Mexico. He was instrumental in the demise of Agustín de Iturbide and the First Empire, he saw off rival governments under Anastasio Bustamante or Nicolás Bravo, survived the rise of Benito Juarez, and somehow emerged ascendant from the Mexican Civil War. Few would have bet against further success as he pronounced against the government in January 1862. Yet it became clear almost immediately that all was not going smoothly for the man who would be king. His pronunciamiento had inadvertently provided the incumbent president with the perfect unifying standard. In Congress the radical liberals almost uniformly rallied to the government in opposition to Santa Anna and any possible alliance with the detested slave states. Diaz's victory in the recent election may have been unconvincing but it still provided additional legitimacy that was of immense aid to his cause. Few had the stomach for a messy and protracted struggle against a recently confirmed president; certainly not one who was suddenly generous with money and promotions. All of which may have informed the attitude of the military, with the reaction of the officer class to Santa Anna's call to arms ranging from ambivalent to non-committal. In particular Generals Zaragoza and Ortega openly distanced themselves from Santa Anna and privately urged him to back down or seek compromise. These officers were willing to follow the caudillo into a war with the United States but were not prepared to rise in open revolt against Mexico City. Times had changed and Santa Anna suddenly found himself very isolated indeed

    By late March it was apparent that the rebellion was stillborn. There had been no groundswell of support for Don Antonio, and Diaz was gathering an impressive army in preparation for marching on Texas. Santa Anna was probably tempted to fight on and possibly snatch victory… but for what? Perhaps one of his earlier incarnations would have taken the fight to the government but then a younger Santa Anna belonged to a younger Mexico. In the past the caudillo had always relied on the support of the Mexican elites – the political/military class – and without this a victory in the field against Diaz would have achieved little save sparking off another round of civil war. It is to his credit that Don Antonio recognised this and backed away from the precipice. With little possibility of success, and his support melting away by the day, he instead decided to flee. On 6 April 1862 Santa Anna and a few hundred supporters crossed the border into the CSA and began his second and ultimately final period of exile. The irony of repeating Sam Houston's 1836 flight from the province cannot have been lost on the former president

    On leaving Mexico, Santa Anna and his retinue arrived at New Orleans in mid April and there met with Robert Hunter and Alexander Stephens of the Confederacy. It was agreed that the exiled general would continue east without delay and take up command of the Mexican 'volunteer' forces – now fighting under the colours of Army of Potomac. For Richmond it was crucial that these formations, still oblivious as to intrigues at home, remained available to support General Beauregard's planned offensive towards Washington. In exchange, Hunter and Stephens promised future Confederate aid to Santa Anna should he seek to reclaim the Mexican presidency following the war's conclusion. With this arrangement in place the exiled president was installed as new commander of the Mexican formations in early July and immediately began preparing for his second march on the US capital. The role of his new army was to shield the left flank of the Army of Potomac as it advanced north. It was not the centre stage that Santa Anna was used to, and nor did he particularly shine in a series of bloody stalemates once the campaign had begun in September, but he and his army did enough to accomplish their mission. It did however fall to the exiled general to oversee the last major battle of the war with a hard-fought but comprehensive victory over General Barton Alexander at Strasburg on 12 October. This came two days after the government of President Seward was forced to flee north to Philadelphia, and proved to be the effective end of large-scale Union resistance. On 13 October triumphant Confederate soldiers occupied an undefended Washington and the Union government was resigned itself to suing for peace


    The Fall of Washington would remain a traumatic event in US history

    Much credit for this victory must of course go to Santa Anna. His performance in the field may have been solid rather than spectacular but it was his despatching of the Mexican 'volunteer' formations in over a year previously that allowed the Confederacy to end the war before the overwhelming material advantages of Washington came into play. It was therefore somewhat misfortunate for the former president that the Confederate government was not overwhelmed by gratitude. Mexico City had been applying intense diplomatic pressure on Richmond to surrender both its Mexican 'volunteers' and their ringleader, the wanted Santa Anna. With the war now won the CSA had no intention risking its newly independent status by involving itself in a Mexican conflict. Following the outbreak of peace, preparations were quickly made for the disarming and deportation of the Mexican formations. The latter left behind a radically changed political landscape – the Treaty of Baltimore, hastily signed on 17 November 1862, recognised the Confederate States of America as an independent entity encompassing the initial seceding states plus those of Kentucky, Missouri, and West Virginia. Santa Anna would no doubt have enjoyed witnessing another victory over his old foes in Washington but he had set sail from Norfolk three days previously

    In Mexico, the returning 'volunteers' would be treated as misled rather than treasonous, but President Diaz had no thoughts of leniency when it came to Santa Anna. His demands of the CSA explicitly called for the arrest and prompt delivery of the caudillo before Mexican courts on the charge of treason. Rather than face a firing squad at home, and unwilling to gamble on Confederate protection, Santa Anna boarded a steamer on 14 November and once more sailed into exile. His initial destination was Cuba, arriving in Havana on 3 December, where he hoped to raise some support for a return to Mexico. This proved to be impractical and, under pressure from the island's governor, Santa Anna and his dwindling band of followers once again set sail, arriving at Cartagena in Columbia on 4 February 1863

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    Last edited by ComradeOm; 12-09-2010 at 16:47.
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  7. #207
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    I thought I'd rewritten this update (and salvaged it somehow) but apparently not. Not my finest work but it'll have to do

    Next update will finish the story proper off and this should be tomorrow. Then an update or two just to examine Don Antonio's impact on history

    Edit:
    Typical, only when I'm finishing up with this AAR do I find this blog with a wealth of archive information from the Mexican American War. I particularly liked this manifesto issued by Santa Anna to Irish soldiers serving with the US in 1847:

    Irishmen! Listen to the words of your brothers, hear the accents of a Catholic people…Is religion no longer the strongest of human bonds?…Can you fight by the side of those who put fire to your temples in Boston and Philadelphia? Did you witness such dreadful crimes and sacrileges without making a solemn vow to our Lord? If you are Catholic, the same as we, if you follow the doctrines of Our Saviour, why are you seen sword in hand murdering your brethren? Why are you antagonistic to those who defend their country and your own God?

    Are Catholic Irishmen to be the destroyers of Catholic temples, the murderers of Catholic priests, and the founders of heretical rites in this pious nation?…

    Come over to us; you will be received under the laws of that truly Christian hospitality and good faith which Irish guests are entitled to expect and obtain from a Catholic nation…

    May Mexicans and Irishmen, united by the sacred tie of religion and benevolence, form only one people!


    -----


    Enewald: Merci. Santa Anna is unique. But even he has his limits... even if he doesn't always know them

    J. Passepartout: Pffft this the Victorian Age. We're in the era of realpolitik, of blood and iron, and of sausages being made!

    And good catch on the asterisk/typo. Fixed now

    RGB: Is there a greater authority than Santa Anna? The man knows what is best for Mexico (and himself). Always

    Stuyvesant: Not a bad analysis but there is always an alternative course of action. It just might not be the most obvious one
    Last edited by ComradeOm; 29-08-2010 at 19:37.
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  8. #208
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    I thought he would march with his newly won army back to Mexico...
    The man who could have become the Emperor of North America...

  9. #209
    So we near the official end? I immediately thought of assassination but unless it is initiated by rather than against Santa Anna I think the dates of your title rule against it. I'm going to guess agitation in Havana while secretly relaxing.

  10. #210
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    Fizzle, fizzle... Not much luck for Santa Anna in his latest ventures, but then, he's still alive and free, which is quite a lot considering the situation.

    I noticed that you mentioned Santa Anna was off to his 'final' exile. That could mean he dies an exile - or it could mean that he makes one final comeback. I won't rule it out until I read it didn't happen.

    It seems that Santa Anna's direct involvement in Mexico has run its course. If that is the case, then the last remaining question is, 'what does Santa Anna get out of the remainder of his life'?

    Looking forward to the wrap-up.

  11. #211
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    This is the first Vicky AAR I've read and I've caught up. All I have to say is "whoa" GREAT AAR, IT'S FANTASTICAL!
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  12. #212
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    Santa Anna, el presidente de Colombia!

    Make it so!

    ----

    (I know you won't, but just sayin' -)
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  13. #213
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    Oh I think that Santa Anna will return for once more for rebellion, a war or whatever and die in the process
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  14. #214
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    Lecture Twenty: A Good Mexican (1863-'76)

    "The storm of this fateful life has whistled past us and the most distinctive memories and miracles, which he brought with him, are deeply engraved in our consciousness"
    Rotteck and Welcker

    On 20 July 1876 Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna of Mexico died of natural causes. He was 82 years old and had spent the last decade of his life running a small farming estate south of Medellín in Columbia. It was not impoverishment but still a modest existence for a man once famed for his appetites and excesses as President of Mexico. This was an office that the former caudillo never seriously threatened to reoccupy after his flight from the Texas and the Confederacy. To be sure, there was the odd talk of a return to power but these schemes generally proved to be the work of swindlers and glory seekers looking to drain an old and increasingly feeble man of his remaining wealth and dignity. Columbia was a retirement for Santa Anna and there, accompanied by a few friends and family, he lived a quiet and peaceful life until the end

    The degree to which Santa Anna had vanished from the Mexican public's consciousness can be judged by the fact that news of his death went virtually unnoticed back home. After 1863 the few remaining santanistas - that shrinking group of romantics and opportunists who continued to have faith in their Generalissimo – were dismissed from their positions and removed from the political scene. Streets and towns that had been named in his honour were hurriedly rebranded; statues were torn down; and his sizeable estates in Veracruz were seized and redistributed to government loyalists. Having established that his predecessor was a traitor, the government of Porfirio Diaz set about eradicating all traces of Santa Anna from the public mind. By 1876 Don Antonio was not so much a villain in Mexican politics as a supposed irrelevancy. For someone who set so much in store by his profile and status this was perhaps the ultimate punishment


    Santa Anna throughout the ages

    Mexico during the 1870s did not mourn the end of the 'Age of Santa Anna' but was rather intent on consigning it to the past. As Diaz's reign (soon to be known as the Porfiriato) firmly cemented itself, the emphasis shifted to the future and to modernisation. No more would Mexico be economically backwards and no more would she be divided; there would be Progress and Order throughout the Republic. The railroads and telegraph would be accompanied by the gendarmerie and secret police as Mexico City finally began to dispossess the remaining local caudillos and establish the basis of a modern nationstate. Under Diaz, Mexico, whether it liked it or not, was finally entering the modern era. Yet the figure of Santa Anna could not be dislodged from the background of this painting of progress. He had embodied the chaotic past as much as any one man could and such was the unrelenting pace of Diaz's reforms that it is tempting to divine a personal motivation behind them - a desire to surpass his predecessor, to construct a new Mexico out of the ruins left to him. It was perhaps no coincidence that the formal coronation of Diaz as Emperor of Mexico took place on 18 November 1876 – a matter of months after Santa Anna, an ardent republican to the end, finally passed away

    Arguably this is Santa Anna's most lasting legacy. He had been involved in Mexican politics since colonial times and, over a startling four decades, had come to define the post-Independence era. Yet this was a time of turbulence; of civil war and coups; of economic stagnation and political corruption. He had championed the liberal cause and then betrayed it during the Civil War; he had been a regional boss who trumpeted centralism when it suited and challenged Mexico City when it did not; he had amassed immense personal wealth at the expense of the country's treasury. To be blunt, Santa Anna had come to epitomise not just Mexico's woes but the supposed inability of Mexicans to rule themselves. He had become a symbol of the Republic and its supposedly inescapable flaws. After five decades of the Republic monarchism was the only political current that had not been tarnished by his touch. Few national politicians were dismayed when Diaz cemented his grip on power during the 1860s and fewer still objected when he turned this into dynastic rule during the following decade. The Second Mexican Empire was an admission that the First Republic had failed; a failure that Santa Anna was judged to have played no small role in


    Emperor José de la Cruz Porfirio Díaz

    So finally we come to the question that every biographer of Santa Anna must contend with. Was Santa Anna, as Michael Meyer et al put it, the cause of Mexico's troubles or a product of these? And did he define this era that we call the 'Age of Santa Anna' because he set the template or because he filled it so well? For Meyer there is no escaping that Santa Anna's policies were at best ineffective and at worst disastrous. His conquest of vast tracks of sparsely populated land in North America* counts for little when stacked against the chronic political and economic instability that he generated. In contrast, Will Fowler places Santa Anna squarely within the context of contemporary Spanish post-colonial politics by stressing the emergence of similar caudillos throughout Central and South America (such as José Gervasio Artigas of Uruguay or Juan Manuel de Rosas of Argentina). Mexico was certainly not devoid of these – it can often be forgotten that many of Don Antonio's early battles were with rival caudillos such as Anastasio Bustamante or Nicolás Bravo and even Benito Juarez and Porfirio Diaz relied heavily on strong regional support bases. Yet perhaps the great tragedy of Santa Anna is that he not only thrived under this volatile period (ultimately claiming the presidency an amazing nine times) but actually survived it. Many of his contemporaries, including his long-time associate and friend José María Tornel (1795-1853), passed or fell away in the 1850s but Don Antonio himself lived to see a new era of party/ideological politics. It was not that the caudillo was any more venal than those who followed in his footsteps – although, in fairness, he probably was – but that in an age of 'Progress' there was simply no room for the flamboyant and anarchic reign of a man who valued his women and gambling above the affairs of state

    It is this perceived decadence in the face of national decline/stagnation that so offended successive generations of politicians and historians. Santa Anna was, much like Mexico, judged to be weak and thus referred to only with the scorn reserved for the backwards or primitive. Any possibility that this judgement be revised in the face of the cold crimes that the Empire and its successors would commit in the name of 'Progress and Order' were dashed when Santa Anna became, unfairly, labelled a forerunner of fascism. This was a product of the brief rehabilitation of Benefactor of the Fatherland during the 1930s as the so-called neo-santanista faction of the National Synarchist Union sought to forge Santa Anna's nationalism and anti-parliamentarianism into an intellectual heritage for their own perverted politics. While its true that Don Antonio scorned political parties as inherently divisive, to label him as a fascist is absurd. Yet the sole other notable positive evaluation of his reign lies in the bizarre Cult of Santa Anna that has developed and spread throughout the slums of Mexico City and Veracruz in the past few decades. How would the famously self-aggrandising Santa Anna react to the knowledge that he was being worshiped as a demi-god today? Its tempting to imagine him smiling wryly, even if the opinions of the lower classes meant little to him

    Yet this was Santa Anna, a man of contradictions. He craved popularity yet his reigns did little for the masses; a soldier for Spain he proved amongst the staunchest defenders of the Republic; a man who craved power yet had little appetite for governance; a convinced conservative who championed liberalism; a paragon of liberalism who betrayed the cause; a regional jeffe politico who paraded on the national stage; a proud jarocho of Veracruz who proved intensely loyal to nation; devoted family man and relentless womaniser; a conqueror of vast but worthless lands; and a founder of the Republic with no qualms of dismissing its elected assemblies. This and more was Santa Anna

    How is one to judge such a man? How can one judge such a man? Given that we have invoked the spirit of Santa Anna above perhaps it is appropriate to give him if not the benefit of the doubt then at least the last words in this discussion. One of his last political letters, written in 1869 before his declining mental health made a political revival impossible, was addressed directly to the Mexican people. An extract serves as a fitting tribute to a man who even towards the end remained self-serving, noble, and extremely conscious of his place in history:

    '…It is not strange that I am not yet judged with the impartial judgment of history; that day has yet to come. When it does, then can be applied to me the words of Montesquieu: "The errors of statesmen are not always voluntary; they are often the necessary consequences of the situations in which they are placed, where difficulties reproduce difficulties"

    My enemies have seen in me only a Sulla; but now my greatest desire is to prove to them that I should not be compared to that ferocious Roman… I have already once voluntarily given up public position when I still had powerful means for sustaining myself. Now it is my intention to cooperate towards the maintenance of the constitutional republican government in the capital of Mexico…

    I do not doubt that the people of this country will in the end benefit by the experience we have had. I am not either conservative or liberal; I am only a Mexican, and I open my arms to all my countrymen.

    All Mexicans, forgetting my political errors, do not deny me the only title I wish to donate to my children: that of having been a Good Mexican'

    A. L. de Santa Anna

    -----

    *Today the Indian states of the North American plains are perhaps the only real group to share an almost uniformly positive view of the Generalissimo. For many his deliverance of them from the United States, in favour of a largely disinterested and distant Mexico City, remains a pivotal moment in their modern history
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  15. #215
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    Done, and before September as well. Comments to follow tomorrow when I am not absolutely exhausted
    Freedom in capitalist society always remains about the same as it was in the ancient Greek republics: freedom for the slave-owners
    VI Lenin

  16. #216
    Field Marshal Stuyvesant's Avatar
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    Awesome. Such an uncharacteristic end for the man, the legend: quiet, withdrawn, gentle. No more throws of the dice, no more violent uprisings, merely a farm somewhere in Colombia.

    I like the ambigious verdict, as well as Santa Anna's own final words: they are quite erudite, but in the end it simply boils down to a plea for acceptance/forgiveness.

    Well, congratulations on finishing this work. I am always impressed when people come back after a long hiatus and manage to finish what they started, so my hat is off to you.

    Dare I ask what is next?

  17. #217
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    This was an amazing ending, and the allusions to his long term effects (Indian states, the Empire, the fascism of the 30s...) just made it all the more poignant.

    Right? Wrong? Good, I don't know, but certainly very Mexican.
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  18. #218
    Human Enewald's Avatar
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    More of an romantic caudillo-warlord than a statesman.
    In warfare he triumphed, yet politics can bring anyone down.

  19. #219
    Very good ending, and I am glad I was wrong about the violent death. Pity about the move to monarchy though; correct me if I'm wrong but the reference to fascist movements of the thiries does not make me think that Mexico ended up much better in this timeline than in ours, and I would count a king as making things oh so slightly worse than where a head of state at least pretends to be a Republican.

    As you might guess, I would be very interested in further comments on how the timeline progresses even in brief.

  20. #220
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    Well I finally finished it. I'm glad you all liked the ending (I did enjoy writing it) and you may be interested to know that the extract at the end is Santa Anna's own writing. I stitched it together from two different letters he wrote at very different times in his career

    So that is it for the story of Santa Anna. It took a while but a sincere thanks to everyone who stuck with the story despite the break of a year (!). And indeed to newer readers who read up from the beginning (cheers wolfcity). So well done all

    I'll round this AAR out with an old school epilogue that quickly sketches the next few decades of North American history. Plus a map. I'm exceptionally busy atm however so it might be a week or two before I can produce this. Probably not a year though. Probably

    I'll probably save the final analysis until then but please share if you've any feedback as to how I can improve or how this AAR could've been better. It was definitely not an unqualified success and beyond the obvious (such as leaving for a year) I do want to learn from my mistakes

    -----


    Stuyvesant: Thank you. I always knew that the AAR would end on this note (and that it would end!) but obviously a lot of the details changed from my initial conception. One of the reasons why I find Santa Anna to be so fascinating is that he is clearly a fallible and flawed character; in short, he's human. Everything he did, in life as in art, contained the seeds of its own destruction. I just couldn't imagine a 'happier ever after' scenario in which he lived out his life as a productive/progressive president or respected former statesman

    That said, I'm not in the habit of providing my protagonists with happy endings and I may be getting too predictable in that regard...

    As for my next project... no idea. Or rather, I don't know which idea I'll explore. I did once promise to do a sequel to Sins if V2 ever came out (back when that was an impossibility) but I'll probably wait for an expansion. I was also planning a HOI3 France AAR (before deciding not to get the game) and I've had an idea for an EUIII narrative for a least three years now...

    RGB: That's the idea on both counts - to tantalise with fleeting references to actual alt-history (which has been pretty rare in this AAR to date) and to sum up this amazingly chaotic period of Mexican history in a single figure. Again, not much alt-history there

    Enewald: That's a far better summary of Santa Anna than I could have ever provided. When I did the research for this AAR I was amazed to find that Santa Anna made so much effort to first obtain the presidency... only to give it up out of boredom! That was when I realised that this guy was something special. Definitely not a statesman though

    J. Passepartout: I don't think that people like Santa Anna usually leave particularly bright futures behind them. The theme of violence, and how its employed, is also something that's long interested me - in particular the transition between the almost casual violence employed by pre-modern regimes and the chillingly efficient sort witnessed by the 20th C. Ties in closely with the idea of progress and its 'dark side', which I'm also pretty keen on. I do want to write more on these, particularly in future Vicky AARs

    Ha! You thought I was making all this up as I went along

    I will be providing more details in the short epilogue I'm preparing. This will give a very brief glimpse of the histories up to the early 1900s and the Second Revolutionary Wars. Which will tie this into the the Sins universe

    (And with regards Mexico, note the diminished role played by Juarez in this timeline...)
    Freedom in capitalist society always remains about the same as it was in the ancient Greek republics: freedom for the slave-owners
    VI Lenin

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