Cristero War: History, Causes & Consequences

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Cristero War: Mexico History, Causes & Effects

Cristero War: Armed conflicts between the Mexican State and Catholics.

Cristero Rebellion or La Cristiada (Spanish)

Date 1926 – 1929
Place Mexico
Belligerents Government vs. Cristero Army
Outcome Peace treaty

What was the Cristero War?

The Cristero war or Cristero Rebellion were a series of armed conflicts, which occurred in Mexico between 1926 and 1929, in which the Mexican State and the Catholics faced each other, due to the harsh prohibitions and policies imposed on the church.

The following parties participated in the Cristero war:

  • Mexican Government: Made up of the Mexican national army and secular militias, together with the support of the United States.
  • Cristero Army: Composed mainly of peasants who defended freedom of worship, Protestants and some members of the Catholic Church under the slogan “Long live Christ the King!

The Cristero war was unleashed when the Mexican government of Plutarco Elías Calles put the Calles law into effect in July 1926, which limited religious worship and imposed harsh prohibitions on the Catholic Church.

Faced with the oppression exercised by governments to suppress religious worship, a civil mobilization was formed that defended the right to freedom of worship, called “the Cristeros.”

Initially, the conflict tried to be suppressed by means of meetings of signatures and protests. However, by not obtaining answers, it turned into an armed, bloody and cruel conflict, which ended on June 21, 1929, when an agreement was reached between both parties.

Cristero War

Photograph of the leaders of the Cristero army.

Causes and Effects of the Cristero War (La Cristiada)

Causes of the Cristero Rebellion

The main causes of the Cristero war were the following:

  • The privileges obtained by the church, under the mandate of Porfirio Díaz, until 1911.
  • The 1917 Constitution, which limited religious worship to 5 articles: demanded secular education in schools, prohibited worship outside churches, restricted civil rights to members of the clergy and, among other measures, expropriated the material assets of the community. church.
  • The Calles Act of 1926, which prohibited the church from participating in politics and education, did not allow foreign priests, and imposed costly fines for violating this law.
  • The peaceful measures of the church, such as demonstrations without violence and a meeting of signatures against the said law, were ignored.

Consequences of the Cristero War

The consequences of the Cristero war were the following:

  • Catholic religious services resumed. Although the Calles law remained, it was not enforced by the government.
  • A great migratory movement towards the United States due to the war situation and the subsequent financial crisis in Mexico.
  • Sinarquismo was created, a social, Catholic and fascist movement, which actively participated in various Mexican political parties and later merged with the National Action Party.
  • The loss of more than 250 thousand lives between combatants and civilians.

Key Personnel of the Cristero War

The protagonists of the Cristero war were the following:

  • Francisco Plutarco Elías Calles (1877-1945): Elected president of Mexico on December 1, 1924. During his legislative term, he created the Calles law that originated the war.
  • Emilio Cándido Portes Gil (1890-1978): Interim president from 1928 to 1930, who restarted the peace agreements and ended the war with the Cristeros.
  • Álvaro Obregón Salido (1880-1928): Military man and president of Mexico between 1920 and 1924, who began with the national peace negotiations.
  • Francisco Orozco y Jiménez (1864-1936): Archbishop of Guadalajara during the Cristero War, designated as the leader of the Cristeros, despite the fact that he did not endorse the use of violence to defend religious interests.
  • Enrique Nicolás José Gorostieta Velarde (1890-1929): Mexican military, hired to lead the Cristeros, who fought at the front in various battles and whose work was fundamental to the cause. He died before the signing of the peace treaties and the end of the war.

End of the Cristero War

portes maximato
Emilio Portes Gil came to the government in 1928 and began negotiations with the Church.

The Cristero War came to an end in 1929, after the arrival to the government of Emilio Portes Gil in 1928, and the beginning of a series of negotiations, under the strong influence of the United States and the Holy See.

A general amnesty was agreed for all the rebels, achieving that only 14,000 of the 50,000 combatants laid down their weapons, but peace was still missing. The model of coexistence and constant negotiation was slowly able to achieve this, although Cristero factions continued to carry out violent actions in subsequent governments.

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