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Starmtrooper for hire
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May 14, 2009
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"Poor Estados Unidos; so far from God, yet so close to the Empire of Mexico" - Porfirio Diáz

Table of Contents:


Antonio López de Santa Anna
Part One: Republic

A Note from the Author
Prologue: From Empire to Republic
Prologue: The Limits of Federalism
Cometh the Hour Cometh the Man

Of Hubris and Nemesis
Last edited:

Hello everyone and welcome to yet another AAR for Victoria II: Heart of Darkness! This time we'll be using the PDM mod, because of all the wonderful political and election events it adds to the proceedings; not to mention a lovely slice of low-fat historical flavour. Yummy. To those of you who are unaware, Mexico were actually the first nation I played as in Vicky II: inspired as I was by badger_ken's excellent tutorial AAR Mexico for NOOBs – I say it was excellent in the sense that it was absolutely superb in showing you how not to play the game! Thanks to badger_ken though, I was able to navigate the sometimes complex, sometimes treacherous but often rage-inducing, OP rebel-infested waters that were Victoria II at release, and have a lot of fun in doing so. It was ultimately due to that one game as Mexico, therefore, that I started writing AAR's in the first place (and started playing Darkest Hour and Civ V – but that's another story.)

Mexico has always been a favourite choice for Vicky II players and AARers alike: it is unique among nations in terms of both the potential for greatness it possesses and the challenge required to achieve that potential. Few nations are faced with the daunting prospect of having to fight an almighty GP so early in the game as Mexico, even fewer face the prospect of potentially having to fight the same GP multiple times! Simply maintaining Mexico's territorial integrity in Vicky II can be a challenge, let alone attempting territorial expansion, and PDM amplifies this difficulty even further with its inclusion of historically-accurate revolter states and fun, decade-long militancy-inducing modifiers, among other such handicaps. Nevertheless like most things in life, the risk is proportional to the reward, and even if the author fails miserably in his quest, the reader is bound to enjoy the ride, as was certainly the case for those of us who loyally followed badger_ken's AAR back in the day.

I've done a bit of modding (or mod-modding, to be more precise) to the game myself prior to starting this AAR. The political parties have been completely revamped in part to make things more historical; partly to make them more interesting, and I've added an extra-special decision which will only come into play after Mexico becomes a monarchy. Speaking of, because it's scientifically proven that having a Habsburg as your Head of State makes your nation (and so by extension, your AAR) 33% more awesome* I've also added a second, slightly more difficult to achieve yet slightly more benign alternative to the “Restore the Mexican Monarchy” decision purely for story purposes. (the PDM decision requires France to be an oppressive monarchy in order for it to fire – this for obvious reasons is troubling in an AAR where we want to reform the Mexican Empire and have no control over what government France chooses to have.) As always, I'll give you guys due warning about everything I do which is either mod-specific or modmod-specific for those readers who aren't familiar with PDM.

Finally, I'd just like to offer a word of thanks to my two major sources of inspiration for trying a Mexico AAR in the first place: the first is in my humble opinion, arguably the greatest Vicky II AAR of all time: Mondo's classic Republic which in addition to being a masterclass in both graphical design, roleplay-motivated gameplay and an excellent example of how a gameplay-historybook-narrative hybrid can be made to work, also illustrates the fun one can have in writing an AAR about a corrupt, chaotic little warmongering banana dictatorship in Latin America. (or in our case of course, a rather large, corrupt, chaotic banana dictatorship in Latin America.) Secondly, I'd like to thank Rovsea for his currently ongoing Southern Eagle, for convincing me to try a Mexico game in PDM: that game turned out to be so awesome that it made me want to go and write an AAR about it! If this AAR turns out to be even half as awesome as that, then my task as author is complete.

So enjoy the AAR, and America delenda est. :)

* Figures may not be accurate. Use Habsburgs only as directed. Keep Habsburgs clear of direct sunlight, pointy objects, first cousins, temperatures above 30 degrees Celsius, second cousins, attractive cousins, unattractive cousins, the Sublime Porte, cousins with severe inheritable genetic defects and the Spanish crown. No refunds offered in case of severe genetic deformity. Habsburgs not to be taken orally. Please consult your doctor if symptoms persist.

Mexico, or at least Mexico in a form that we might now recognise as somewhat resembling the present Mexico, began its life as the Viceroyalty of New Spain, the proverbial jewel in the once-stunning Spanish colonial crown. Summoned into being by the conquistador Hernán Cortés like a phoenix out of the freshly scorched ashes of the once-mighty Aztec Empire, the Viceroyalty of New Spain would go on to form the heart of Spain's sprawling overseas empire, administering territories which stretched from Costa Rica in the south to North Dakota in the north; from Florida and Puerto Rico in the east to California and the Philippines in the far west. Presiding over the lucrative metals trade between Asia and Iberia, the lands of New Spain themselves were rich in gold and silver, and abundant with profitable agricultural goods such as coffee and indigo dyes; valuable commodities which fetched a hefty price in the markets of London, Madrid or Amsterdam. These commodities would make the Old Spain and its king rich beyond the dreams of avarice, but sadly for the citizens of the Viceroyalty who created and managed this wealth, scarce little of it would ever make its way back from the King's own coffers to the pockets of his many colonial subjects.

Though the Spanish colonials did not share in the King's wealth, they did share in his hardships: New Spain saw its territory shrink as other European colonial powers such as Britain and France, not to mention the United States after 1776, chipped away at its territory piece by piece as their sovereign in far away Madrid fought war after war and signed treaty after treaty. Men from the colonies were expected to fight and die in the King's wars; wars decided in Europe but fought increasingly in (and over) the colonies with scant regard to their economic or political circumstances. In order to better finance these wars, a succession of Spanish monarchs tightened the noose over their colonies: they raised the level of taxation higher and higher and enforced restrictive mercantile economic policies while appointing almost exclusively trusted overseers from the Spanish Mainland over colonial-born Spaniards to administer Spain's overseas possessions. While these actions did much to keep Spain and her monarchy afloat during the turbulent 17th, 18th and early 19th centuries, they also caused a great deal of resentment on the part of the Spanish colonials.

The final straw however came in 1808 with the abdication of the Bourbon King Fernando VII of Spain in favour of José Bonaparte, brother of the more famous Napoleon. Failing to recognise their new and illegitimate Franco-Italian sovereign, the Viceroy of New Spain revolted and formed an autonomous junta government; an act that was soon replicated by the other Spanish Viceroyalties and Captaincies throughout the New World. The creation of a junta was a form of insurrection against the French invaders, an act of loyalty to the rightful Bourbon king and the Spanish government in exile in Cádiz. By definition their creation established local, autonomous rule independent of Madrid or Cádiz, but most Spanish Americans, royalist and republican alike, saw the junta as an institution of the hated Mainlander elite. It did not take long for Mexicans (as they would soon be known) and other Spanish American subjects to question the continued supremacy of the imported ruling classes and develop a taste for genuine home rule, be it under the jurisdiction of the (Bourbon) Spanish Crown or not.

One such subject was Don Miguel Hidalgo, a Catholic priest with a deep and passionate interest in social justice and enlightenment philosophy. Miguel's interests led him away from the traditional duties of a clergyman and more towards those one might associate with a social worker or community activist: fluent in several native languages, he preached to the indigenous peoples of Mexico, not merely of the gospels, but of the virtues of equality and economic self-reliance. The more he pursued his social work, the more Miguel became convinced that everything which was wrong with Mexico: namely poverty, mercantilism, starvation, racial inequality, and a chronic lack of social mobility, was due to the policies enacted principally by a foreign-born ruling elite for the sole benefit of that same elite. There could be no alleviation of Mexico's ills without autonomy, thus spoke Don Miguel Hidalgo, and his was a voice which would reverberate across the length and breadth of the Viceroyalty and would resonate with Mexicans from all walks of life: young and old, rich and poor, black, white, and mestizo. Even at this stage, when he was openly arguing for armed rebellion against the ruling junta, Miguel eschewed outright republicanism: indeed, even those who did favour a Mexican Republic only did so privately; it was far more popular and safer to advocate committing treason in the name of the King rather than to merely advocate committing treason.


Don Miguel Hidalgo, a man who in many ways embodied the conscience of the Mexican Revolution.

Miguel's campaign went national, and it did not take long for thousands upon thousands of Mexicans: the poor, the oppressed and the dispossessed, but also soldiers, merchants and some wealthy men too, to flock to his golden banner. The junta had precious few troops of its own – much of its military strength were still engaged in fighting the French – and so Miguel's mass movement of poorly-armed, poorly-trained rabble was able to steamroll virtually all opposition which came its way through sheer force of numbers alone. Victory after victory inched Mexico closer and closer to independence, but it also led to hubris on the part of the victors, and that hubris would meet its nemesis at Calderón Bridge; the Watling Street of the Mexican War of Independence.

The rebel army, commanded by Miguel himself and an ex-army Captain named Ignacio Allende, had swelled to around one hundred thousand men. Past victories had not transformed them, and most remained as poorly-armed and as poorly-trained a rabble as they had been prior to the firing of the first shots in anger against the junta's guardsmen. Opposing them meanwhile, were six-thousand crack New Spanish troops loyal to the junta. led none other by New Spain's own Paulinus, General Félix María Calleja del Rey, a future Viceroy and Ignacio Allende's former commanding officer. Using the terrain to their advantage, the men of Félix María defended the Calderón Bridge like a platoon of latter-day Zhang Fei at Chang Ban, letting no revolutionaries past. For every New Spanish guardsman slain Miguel's men lost ten of their comrades, the revolutionary rabble lacked the courage and zeal of their leaders to fight on, and soon an impending slaughter of the Spaniards led to a revolutionary rout. Allende escaped, only to be captured and executed in a few months time, but Miguel was not so lucky. Abandoned by his men and perhaps too abandoned by God, the leader of the insurrection and former priest died a martyr's death; executed by firing squad.

The defeat at Calderón Bridge set back the cause of Mexican Independence a full decade. The victor, Félix María, would pursue what was left of the revolutionaries for the next five years, by which time he was already Viceroy. The cause of Mexican independence was invigorated following the restoration of Fernando VII in 1814, and the return of légitimiste rule which soon followed. New blood poured into revolutionary veins, men like the talented general Vicente Guerrero, a mestizo gunsmith's son born from the womb of an African slave, who brought to the independence movement a sense of military discipline and vigour on the battlefield that it had hitherto sorely lacked. Vicente quickly began to reverse the rebellion's fortunes, winning a series of victories against the Spanish. Bereft of good commanders, the Viceroy turned to a young colonel and famed cavalier Agustín de Iturbide to try and stop Guerrero in his tracks. Agustín, who had been a distant relative of none other than Don Miguel Hidalgo himself, had mixed opinions about the revolution. On the one hand, he was related to Miguel Hidalgo and was somewhat sympathetic to the goals the late padre espoused, although certainly not the means which he had used to achieved them. On the other, he was a monarchist who believed in the primacy of the Catholic faith and was repulsed by a movement which after Miguel's death was becoming increasingly republican and anti-clerical. Over the course of his command, Agustín's own conflict of loyalties intensified further: he became convinced that Guerrero and his rebels now had the upper hand, and that without reinforcements from the Spanish mainland victory against them would be close to impossible.

By 1819 King Fernando himself had come to a similar conclusion, and ordered the deployment of ten battalions from Spain to aid the Mexican Royalists in the New World. Word of the deployment did much to bolster the wavering resolve of Mexican Royalists like Agustín, but the ten battalions would never set foot on Mexican shores. Their ten generals, led by Rafael del Riego, instead launched a coup on New Year's Day 1820 against King Fernando VII, demanding political freedom and a more liberal constitution. To Agustín this was the final straw: independence of some sort from Spain was now inevitable; what form this new Mexico took once it achieved independence however, was not. In order to save Mexico from the twin forces of republicanism and anti-clericalism, Agustín too would have to commit “treason, in the name of the king.”


Vicente Guerrero (left) and Agustín de Iturbide were the two most prominent figures of the latter stages of the Mexican War of Independence and the new Mexican state which emerged in its aftermath.

The Great Compromise:

With the war against the revolutionaries now beginning to seem like a lost cause, Agustín entered into a series of secret negotiations with his nemesis, Vicente Guerrero. In exchange for the defection of both him and his troops to the revolutionary cause, an event which would almost surely lead to a speedy end to hostilities, Agustín demanded three conditions from Guerrero and his movement in exchange, what history would come to know as the Trigarante – or the Three Guarantees.

Firstly, Agustín conceded home rule, but demanded that the new Mexican state would be a monarchy, with either the Spanish King (thus turning Mexico into something resembling a British Commonwealth Realm) or preferably, a foreign prince (similar to what would eventually transpire under Maximilian I) as its head of state. To this Vicente agreed, in spite of his republicanism, under the condition that any monarchy would be constitutional in nature. Secondly, Agustín demanded that Mexico would remain a Catholic state, as it was under the Viceroyalty of New Spain. To this Vicente also agreed, under the condition that there would be no place for the Inquisition in the new Mexico. Finally, Agustín insisted upon the establishment of legal equality between native-born criollos[1] and mainlanders, something which he, himself a criollo, felt was essential to obtaining the support of Mexico's wealthy criollo class for independence. Vicente felt that this was insufficiently radical, after all many men of native, mestizo and African descent (himself a point in case) had fought and died for the revolution: to offer legal equality to whites was one thing, but to not extend that equality to everyone else was an affront to everything Guerrero believed the revolutionary cause stood for. He insisted upon full legal equality for all Mexicans regardless of race and for the abolition of slavery; slavery of course being an obvious bar to racial equality. Agustín was left with no choice but to accept Vicente's terms, and thus the Three Guarantees were born.

The signing of this Great Compromise between Agustín and Vicente would alter the balance of power in the Viceroyalty firmly in favour of independence. The Three Guarantees gave the revolution its ideological underpinning, and painted a moderate, non-threatening portrait of an independent Mexico which helped to win over the support of many hitherto committed Royalists, who, like Agustín, were at first repelled by what they saw as Godless Jacobins on Mexican soil. Indeed it is quite possible to say with due conviction that were it not for Agustín, the revolution would have never succeeded in creating an independent Mexico, or at the very least if it had, that the Mexican state it created would have been short-lived. For without Agustín, the revolution never would have gained the crucial support of the criollos, without whom no unified Mexican state could possibly function and without the support of whom no Mexican state could possibly remain independent of Madrid rule. Likewise, one has to question just how “unified” a Mexican state would be were it not for Vicente and his insistence on establishing racial equality. Without the presence of either man, it is entirely likely that Mexico, in whatever form it took, would have remained an even more conflicted and deeply divided nation then it proved to be in our time.

In any case, what remains absolutely certain is that the Three Guarantees did help hasten the end of the War of Independence. The support of Agustín helped to attract other Royalist officers to the Trigarante cause, whereas the backing of Guerrero enlisted the support of prominent republican generals, such as Guadalupe Victoria and Antonio López de Santa Anna. This alliance of monarchists and republicans proved unbeatable; the War of Independence would end on the 24th of August 1821, exactly six months after the signing of the Three Guarantees. Mexico was now an independent state, although the Spanish King refused to recognise Mexican independence and his government would initiate several attempts to try and retake their former colony over the next decade; all would end in failure. The Spanish also used their considerable diplomatic influence throughout the royal courts of Europe to thwart Mexican attempts to find a monarch: Agustín, who had hitherto served as regent, was pressed by his supporters to invoke a clause within the declaration of independence which allowed for a Mexican to assume the throne in the event a foreign prince could not be found. With the likelihood of finding a foreign prince due to intense Spanish pressure decreasing day by day, Agustín soon relented and accepted the Mexican crown; he was enthroned as the first Emperador of the Empire of Mexico on the 21st of July 1822.


The Coronation of Agustín de Iturbide, henceforth to be known to posterity as Emperador Agustín I of Mexico.

Almost from the very second after the Emperador had been anointed and the newly minted Crown of Mexico had been ceremoniously placed on his forehead did support for Agustín's rule begin to wane. What scarce little faith that Mexico's die-hard republicans had invested in the regime due to the Three Guarantees compact quickly evaporated upon the Emperador's first acts as Head of State: ever conscious of the need to maintain the support of his constituency, the new government was packed with clergymen, army officers, landowners and other members of the criollo elite. The Congress, which was more evenly distributed between conservatives and republicans, protested. When Agustín I cut taxes for the wealthy and refused to nationalise Church lands while insisting on an increase in middle and lower class taxes to increase the military budget (to defend against Spanish incursions from the Old World) the Congress refused to comply. Agustín's response was to dissolve the Congress, an act which received near universal condemnation from republican and liberal deputies as well as the Mexican press. In retaliation Agustín instituted (by imperial decree) harsh media censorship laws and threatened to imprison journalists who failed to comply with them; an act more reminiscent of a ruler in Tsarist Russia than one in a semi-liberal constitutional democracy.

Opposition to Agustín's autocratic actions however was nowhere stronger than among the soldiers and officers who had fought for the Three Guarantees and for the revolution. Guadalupe Victoria, Vicente Guerrero, and Antonio López de Santa Anna were outraged by the illegal dissolution of the Congress, and quickly forged a powerful triumvirate in opposition to the Emperador, centred around Victoria and Santa Anna's Plan de Casa Masa: a manifesto which called for the abdication of the Emperador, the founding of a Federal Mexican republic on the American model, the loosening of press censorship and the recalling of the expelled Congress. Rather than provoke a full-scale civil war, the triumvirate sent copies of the plan to Mexico's provincial governments and army garrisons; the vast majority of governors and their provincial militias backed the plan.

Agustín was now left in a most unenviable and untenable political position: he still maintained the support of the clergy, and that of the hardcore monarchists who continued to maintain that even a bad monarchy would nevertheless be preferable to a federal republic. Crucially however, he had lost the support of the army in a time of crisis, and the sporadically ongoing conflict with Spain had worsened the economy to the extent at which the old ancient Roman remedy of significantly increasing the soldiers' pay would not be a practical solution to preventing a transfer of power. He could, theoretically at least, hang on to power: perhaps a strong show of bravado would impress a few hardheaded waverers in the armed forces? Agustín was a general and a war hero after all – perhaps he could present himself as the strong shield-arm Mexico needed to defend herself in a time of war? To do so would be an incalculable risk, as failure would surely lead to a bitter civil war which Fernando and his marauding Spanish legions would surely utilise to maximum effect. Agustín may have possessed several undesirable characteristics, but he was nothing if not a patriot, first and foremost. If the price for keeping his nation intact was his crown, then so be it – Mexico was worth a Congress.

On the 19th of March, 1823, Emperador Agustín I of Mexico abdicated, his last act as Emperador being the re-establishment of the Congress which so forced the hand of his enemies. The Congress' first act was to establish a provisional government to pave the way for a transition from centralist monarchy to federal republic, a task it would complete on the 4th of October 1824. Though some conspirators would remain committed to the idea of a federal republic until their dying day, others would soon come to regret their part in the Casa Masa experiment, and realise the limits of federalism...


[1] That is, whites of purely Spanish descent born in the New World.

*99 glares at his grandfather watch.

Sounds great! Will we get past the prologue? ;)
I wonder why I'm looking forward to this? ;) :D :p
Great intro! Subbed.
Subscribed, and may this one live long!

(unlike, sadly, Loyal We Began, A Most Fortuitous Accident, and KingHigh's DH AAR :( )

Nonetheless, looking to more fascinating history-book action.
*99 glares at his grandfather watch.

Sounds great! Will we get past the prologue? ;)


In all seriousness though, yes. The prologue is only two updates after all, so we're already a little over half way through! Welcome aboard, oh and do try to bash a few of those yellowy liberal Jacobins over the head before you take your seat. :)

I wonder why I'm looking forward to this? ;) :D :p

Well naturally us authors of Mexico AARs have to band together, now don't we? (can't let thoise pesky USA/CSA AARs get all the attention...)

Hope you enjoy the AAR. :)

Have you tried the Concert of Europe submod? It pushes the start date back to 1821 and has some interesting Mexico-specific events.

I actually wasn't aware that such a glorious mod existed, and am rather regretting the fact that I only found out about it now... (I mean seriously, Portugal-Brazil? Awesome!)

I blame Belgie, someone normally has to. :p

Welcome aboard! :)

Great intro! Subbed.

A pleasure to have you along as always, Doctor. :)

Subscribed, and may this one live long!

(unlike, sadly, Loyal We Began, A Most Fortuitous Accident, and KingHigh's DH AAR :( )

Nonetheless, looking to more fascinating history-book action.

I swear my Canada AAR isn't finished! I swear! That AAR I may actually get around to finishing someday; it's just that writing long election updates for AARs set in games other than Vicky II can be quite tiresome. :p

Good to have you along as always. :)
Subscribed, and may this one live long!

(unlike, sadly, Loyal We Began, A Most Fortuitous Accident, and KingHigh's DH AAR :( )

Nonetheless, looking to more fascinating history-book action.

Returning this week, actually.
In the future, I will allow you to be slightly less subtle when detailing how soon one may expect these new projects of yours. :D

Sad though I may be that our narrator is not one Mijnheer Batavus Droogstoppel, you can consider my appetite firmly whetted and ready for the second-and-final part of the prologue. It's been far too long since I've had the pleasure of enjoying your writing; there's lost time to make up for.
¡Viva Mexico!
Eagerly waiting for the next update in this most supreme game playing as this most supreme empire, besides Britain, of course.
Oh boy, Rovsea's got some competition! This can only be good for both AARs.
I look forward to seeing where you take Mexico.
Returning this week, actually.


In the future, I will allow you to be slightly less subtle when detailing how soon one may expect these new projects of yours. :D

Well, it's your own bloody fault for lacking the initiative to check the Vicky II AAR forum regularly if you ask me! I gave you at least a 24 hour head-start over everyone else, and King has stillmanaged to comment in this thread twice as many times as you have! :p

Sad though I may be that our narrator is not one Mijnheer Batavus Droogstoppel, you can consider my appetite firmly whetted and ready for the second-and-final part of the prologue. It's been far too long since I've had the pleasure of enjoying your writing; there's lost time to make up for.

Why thank you Densley, a pleasure to have you aboard as always. :)

Although technically it was Stern who narrated that AAR; Droogstoppel just "wrote" the preface.

That was quite an intro. I'll be following along to read more.

Well, it only lasted for two measly updates so it couldn't have been all that epic. :p

Nevertheless, I'm glad you enjoyed it and I hope you enjoy the rest of the AAR. :)

¡Viva Mexico!
Eagerly waiting for the next update in this most supreme game playing as this most supreme empire, besides Britain, of course.

A pleasure to have you along as always, and hopefully for the long haul: it'll take some time to get used to this new Christmassey avatar of yours, GÜG. :p

Oh boy, Rovsea's got some competition! This can only be good for both AARs.

Welcome! Indeed, but only I have the knowledge of the super-secret PDM refute manifest destiny event! :p

I look forward to seeing where you take Mexico.

Welcome aboard. :)

All political federations, irrespective of size or location, are like political objects in motion, said motion being dictated by the whims of force. Either they are centripetal federations, in which case the component states gravitate towards the centre and become closer and closer over time, or they are centrifugal, in which case the states fragment over time until they split apart. Everyone who governs a federation hopes for the first and fears for the second. Tragically for Mexico's Federalists however, her liberal best, their grand design of a United States of Mexico would turn out to be a textbook example of the latter, a centrifugal federation. Indeed, so fragmented was the United States of Mexico, that the first spokes began to fall almost as soon as the wheel started to turn.

Under Spanish colonial rule, the territories which would come to make up the provinces of Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras, Costa Rica, El Salvador and Chiapas were governed by the Captaincy-general of Guatemala, a subordinate of the Viceroy of New Spain. It stood to reason therefore, that upon the Viceroyalty gaining its de facto independence from Spain in 1821, that the territories which were formerly under the jurisdiction of the Viceroyalty (with the understandable exception of the Philippines) would follow suit and join the Mexican Empire. Most did.

But not all provinces were terribly overjoyed with the idea of remaining part of Mexico. The Central American provinces went along with the Empire due to sheer moral relativity; they simply thought that being part of a Mexican Empire was preferable to remaining part of a Spanish one. By 1823 however this opinion began to change, and many Centroamerican Liberals began to believe that a united and stable Central American Republic would be immensely preferable to what increasingly appeared to be an unstable and fragmented Mexican one (the fact that said Central American Republic would prove in time to be just as disunited if not more so than its Mexican equivalent was at this time of course, unknown.)

Another major factor in Central America choosing to join Mexico was security: by late 1823 the territory of the Spanish Empire had all but retreated to the Caribbean fringe, which made the prospect of a Spanish reconquista of its former Central American possessions seem less likely. Indeed, remaining within Mexico might make the chances of falling victim to a Spanish reconquest even more likely than remaining without: King Fernando VII after all seemed keener to retake Mexico than any other of his ex-colonial possessions; he had by this time begrudgingly recognised, at least in in part, the existence of the Boliviarian Republics. Remaining within Mexico might see Centroamericans dragged into countless wars over Mexican independence (a theory which would have even more credence after the events of 1836.) In the event of a Spanish invasion, a hypothetical Republic could always ally with nearby Mexico and Colombia, thus providing all the benefits of Mexican military might without the drawbacks inherent in remaining part of the new Mexican Federation. In the end, the Centroamerican secessionists won the argument.

The secession of the Central American provinces of: Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras, Costa Rica, El Salvador and Los Altos (Southern Chiapas) to form the United Provinces of Central America[1] proved to be the first great challenge for the incoming federal regime. Although a small majority of Mexicans, or at least of those on the liberal left were probably prepared to accept the secession of most of the Central American provinces, the issue of Southern Chiapas/Los Altos struck a raw nerve. Chiapas was considered by most Mexicans to be a core province of the Mexican patrimony due to its Mayan heritage and prominent Mexican settlement (about one-third of the population of Los Altos identified as Mexican in 1836.) On the other hand, some sections of the Guatemala-centric USCA government believed that their Republic, and not Mexico, was the post-Columbian successor state to the Mayan civilisation as opposed to the more Aztec-dominated Mexico, and that therefore Los Altos (and Yucatán for that matter, though at this stage they were noticeably less keen on claiming it) were rightful Centroamerican provinces. A potential civil war over Chiapas was far from the harmonious start which the founders of the Federal Republic had hoped and prayed for.

The “Centroamerican Crisis” would prove to be the first major incident the Federal Republic and it's newly-elected President, Guadalupe Victoria, would have to deal with in office, outside of the continuing on-again, off-again war with Spain of course. The nation needed decisive yet principled leadership, and that is what Victoria sought to provide. Victoria felt that it was contrary to the principles of federalism and self-determination he espoused to try and force the Central American provinces to remain within the Mexican Union. Nevertheless like his Imperial predecessor, Victoria couldn't afford a civil war, which might well have occurred if he either sacrificed all of Chiapas to the budding USCA or insisted upon keeping Los Altos. Instead he opted to partition the province between north and south Chiapas, south of course becoming the USCA state of Los Altos.

Partition pleased nobody in Mexico, and for months and years after the formal recognition of the USCA Mexican-made maps still continued to show north and south Chiapas unified as a single province under Mexican dominion. It did however, stave off a civil war at a time of national crisis, and so in that sense Victoria can be said to have succeeded in maintaining national stability. Others however would disagree: the “Centroamerican Crisis” forced Mexico to maintain a costly garrison in Chiapas which would ultimately outlast the First Republic which stationed it there. Partition also had a profound effect on its first commander, who hitherto was an ardent federalist and ally of President Victoria. His name was Antonio López de Santa Anna, and so disturbed and disillusioned was he by the partition of Chiapas, that Santa Anna would ultimately make it his life's mission to destroy the very principle of federalism he himself had helped to enshrine.


The Mexican Garrison in Chiapas in late 1835, by which point its former commander Santa Anna had already served four separate terms as President of Mexico.

The Problem With Texas:

But it would not be the tearing away of the Centroamericans which ushered in the end of the demise of the United States of Mexico, nor would it be the final breaking point which moved Santa Anna firmly into the palms of the political right; that dubious honour would be reserved for the often emotive political issue of immigration. Immigration had always been a contentious issue in Mexico: after all, it had been the immigration of Mainlander technocrats and their preferential treatment by the Madrid regime which so infuriated criollo opinion as to lead them in supporting the Mexican Revolutionaries in the first place. Nevertheless, as a large yet sparsely populated nation filled with mostly illiterate and unskilled citizens, Mexico simply could not function properly without a steady inflow of skilled, literate immigrants. Thus, the government had little choice but to practically beg Europeans and Americans to immigrate in spite of the political opposition or the potential social consequences. Indeed, so desperate were they to appease their valuable new arrivals, that provincial officials were prepared to turn a blind eye to some of their more questionable cultural practices, even when said practices directly conflicted with one of the Republic's most sacred laws; the abolition of slavery. Nowhere was this selective policing more endemic than in the province of Tejas; or as it is known in English, Texas.

The Texan problem was one which pre-dated the Republic. American settlers had been arriving in the territory for some twenty years prior to the coronation of Agustín. Initially, the Viceroyalty government welcomed the settlers as a counterweight to the strong Native American presence in the area, and offered generous land grants to Americans who were willing to “tame” the “savages.” It did not take long for these settlers to become the human equivalent of an invasive species: on the eve of independence, Texas was said to have a population of around 38,000, of who only 8000 were not either of American descent or owned (illegally) by someone who was. The government could do little to crack down on Texan slave-owners, as the government lacked the legal power to interfere with the states and the settlers had over-arching control over the state legislature; and indeed all facets of Texan political life for that matter. To make matters worse for Mexico's abolitionists, the settlers were great patrons of the federalist Partido Liberal, and frequently returned Liberal deputies to both houses of the National Congress, the very same Partido Liberal who viewed slavery as an abomination. Even if the Liberal government had the power to reign in Texas, it would have to in effect declare war on some of its most ardent supporters in order to do so.

The opposition Conservadores too had concerns about Texas. Not necessarily because of slavery – some Conservadores were more than willing to tolerate that – but because of territorial sovereignty; they feared just as many American conservatives did, that if abolition were to be enforced on those states who practised it, some would defect or secede. This was not a fear without foundation or precedent: Belize had been part of Guatemala Province during the early years of the reign of Agustín I. British settlers, who had been arriving in the province since the Spanish Colonial era just like those American settlers in Texas, had slowly but surely engulfed the province until they were in a position to convince their parent government to intervene on their behalf. Thus, when most of Central America seceded and formed the USCA, Belize instead broke away from Guatemala and became a British colony, ruled from Jamaica. Fear of abolition or direct rule had already driven the American settlers in Texas to try similar tactics; the US had already offered to buy the province from Mexico on their behest on more than one occasion.

To Santa Anna, the Texan problem drove a stake into the very heart of the republic that he himself had helped to found. The United States of Mexico was created with the best of intentions in mind, but like Simón Bolívar before him, Santa Anna had come to see the limits of federalism. There could be no enforcement of the anti-slavery laws without a centralised order to enforce it equally across all states, a Centralised Republic of Mexico. If the Partido Liberal felt that the principle of federalism was worth more to them than the principle of liberty and equality for all men, then let them be overthrown. If they felt that they could not survive without the political support of the Texans, then let the party wither and die. If the Texans felt the need to secede in the name of federalism, (or in the name of “state's rights”, in more modern parlance) then let them be crushed. In order to save the principles of the First Republic, the First Republic itself must die. Thus spoke Santa Anna, harbinger of the Centralist Republic.

On the 23rd of October 1835, a duumvirate of soon-to-be ex-Liberals:[2] President Santa Anna and his Deputy, the sickly Miguel Barragán, announced the dissolution of the First Republic, and the proclamation of a second. Federalism in Mexico was to be abolished, and each state was to be divided up into a series of French-style départments which would be administered directly from the capital with governors appointed by the President. All special privileges granted to the states, legal or otherwise, were thus to be abolished. There was outrage in the far-flung corners of the Mexican state: in Yucatán and Tabasco, near the border with the USCA, but nowhere were the people more vitriolic than in Texas. Predicting trouble, Santa Anna immediately resigned the Presidency, as was his wont,[3] and sought a commission in the army. The now ex-President had set his country well along the road to perdition: it was only a matter of time before the whole nation would be engulfed in a torrent of civil war, and as most had predicted the first shots would be fired in the former Mexican State of Texas.


The Republic of Texas in late 1835

To those who still believed in the principle of Mexican federalism, the years that followed would be years of tragedy and mourning. Indeed, the outbreak of civil war seemed to have justified everything which the Liberals had ever said about federalism being the bedrock upon which the stability of the Mexican Republic had been founded and was maintained. The United States of Mexico was meant to herald the nation's rebirth, its revival, its second coming, so to speak, and so in a way it proved to be: for things did fall apart; the centre could not hold. And in 1835 as in 1821, while her liberal best lacked all conviction; her autocratic worst were filled with a most passionate intensity.


The Centralised Republic of Mexico and her neighbours in 1835. Note specifically the Republic of Texas in orange to her east and the United Provinces of Central America (USCA) in light blue to her south.


[1] Henceforth to be referred to by their in-game title; The United States of Central America or the USCA for short.

[2] Historically both Santa Anna and his late deputy remained Liberals at least in name even after their conversion to Centralism, but as Mexico starts the game ruled by the Partido Conservador and as a Presidential Dictatorship (thus making a change of party impossible) the game demands this slight deviation from history. Historically, the Conservadores were the more centralist of the two parties, so Santa Anna's fictional defection nevertheless makes a good deal of historical sense.

[3] Santa Anna was known for his short attention span when it came to matters of state. It was not uncommon for him to serve as President for a month or two, resign in favour of his deputy, and then return to the office a few months later according either to his fancy or as crises dictate.
Mexico, so far from God, so close to the United States.
Definitely should have played Concert of Europe - you could have kept that rowdy USCA in the glorious Empire.