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The Mexico of Santa Anna

Luis Rodrigo Diaz Teran Ortegon says: "There are a couple of things regarding the battle of La Angostura/Buena Vista I would like to clarify. Santa Anna attacked General ZacharyTaylor, and had heavy looses, but actually took many American positions and forced US army to step back. The results of that day were favorably to Mexican forces and everyone both in the Mexican camp and US camp expected the battle to continue the following day. Then for an unexplainable reason he decided to withdraw (note DECIDED not WAS FORCED).[A previous posting pointed out that he ran out of ammunition.RH]. The Mexican army was in good condition to continue the battle the following day. General Taylor was greatly surprised at learning that the Mexican army had withdrawn during the night. Furthermore, as he knew that he was at a numerical disadvantage and the outcome of the first day had been adverse to him, he hardly would expect better results for the following as many of his strong positions had been taken and . I don't deny the bravery of US soldiers like the Mississippi Rifle men when they were attacked by a sizable cavalry force. Nevertheless Taylor himself had inflicted heavy looses and he did not pursued the Mexican army(why?).[A previous posting explained that the US plan was to concentrate on the landing at Vera Cruz.RH].

Now consider that that Mexican army had travelled a great distance in the San Luis Potosi desert (a 2 weeks march), suffered thirst, starvation and physical extenuation due to forced marches. A force of 20,000 soldiers had left San Luis and only 8,000 arrived to the battlefield in La Angostura. Stragglers, deserters and death casualties account for this loss. If you read that a force of 20,000 Mexicans attacked Taylor at Buena Vista, it is because Santa Anna said so to Taylor when asking him to surrender. In Recuerdos de la Invasion Norteamericana by Roa Barcena, and in Apuntes para la Historia de la Guerra entre Mexico y los Estados Unidos you can find details.

The sale of La Mesilla [the Gadsden purchase], helped Santa Anna's treasury, not the nation's. He spent the money on parties and other extravagances, not for public expenses. When he was overthrown all the money had disappeared.

I agree with Edgar Rangel German that the loss of territory to the US is a sensitive theme for all of us Mexicans, but now I have come to understand that injustices like those are common place in history. China, India, Africa, all of those countries/regions similarly would have many complaints against Great Britain or other nations that invaded them or colonized them. But again, if we are trying to forget the grim chapters of history, why do Americans want to remember the Alamo? They know the controversy that exist and want to depict us in their television series and movies as a ruthless and oppressive empire that massacred the heroic defenders of the Alamo? The massacre was inhuman. A true atrocity. But does that justify the causes the Texans were fighting for?

Were they defending freedom? I guess not, as after Texan independence, slavery was introduced to that territory. What were they REALLY and FINALLY fighting for (forget about the 1824 constitution)...? For Texas independence obviously, get rid of Mexican rule so all the land would be theirs. Was that independence legitimate? Were they the original dwellers of that territory? [The Indians. RH]. What would the American public think if the Cuban-Americans declared the independence of Florida? Would that independence be legitimate too? Now imagine that the "republic of Florida" added to Cuba depicted the Americans as ruthless oppressors in their movies and TV series. Nonsense? For us it is too".

RH: Mexicans could not have a more sympathetic observer than I, and this is posted so that Americans and others know how Mexicans feel. I have pointed out the extreme difficulties which Santa Anna's army faced. A movie about the Alamo is being made, and the producers are going to great pains to ensure its accuracy. I have been unable to obtain details. WAIS is running a "learning history" project, and a comparison of Mexican and American textbooks would be of great importance; we should also study US movies about Mexico and vice versa. I hope we can carry out this project. We can do nothing to change the past and we should look to the future, which we can to some extent shape. I am optimistic about Mexico's future.

Ronald Hilton - 11/24/02