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It’s official: Benito Juarez is the face of Mexico’s new 500-peso bill

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The Bank of Mexico unveiled its new 500-peso note, featuring Benito Juarez. Photo: Banxico

Benito Juarez, a beloved heroic figure who was Mexico’s president in the 19th century, is now on two denominations of the country’s currency.

Already on the 20-peso note, Juarez’s portrait was unveiled on a new 500-peso design today.

The new note, which replaces images of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, is the beginning of a wholesale refurbishing of Mexico’s paper money. The designs are meant to reflect the country’s historical identity and natural heritage while increasing safeguards against counterfeiting.

Work on the redesign began in 2013 the Banxico governing board instructed the General Directorate of Issuance to gradually replace the six denominations of bills currently circulating. So Juarez’s double-appearance in Mexico’s currency won’t likely last long.

The 500-peso bill was changed first because it’s the most widely circulated. It’s worth about US$26.

Since Sept. 1, 1925, when the then president, Plutarco Elías Calles, formed Banco de México, this institution has regulated the issuance and circulation of bank notes in the country.

Benito Juárez is one of Mexico’s most important figures of the 19th century.

A Zapotec from Oaxaca, Juárez was born into a peasant family in 1806. By 1831, Juárez was a lawyer and an active liberal politician at the city and state level. In 1846, Juárez went to Congress and supported a wave of liberal reforms designed to bolster Mexico’s efforts in the U.S.-Mexican War.

He became Mexico’s president in 1857 and defended his nation against the French-backed monarchists under Emperor Maximillian I.

Considered one of the great men in Mexican history, Juarez died in office from a heart attack in 1872.

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