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Yucatán, USA? It could have happened

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oldmap720Today, voters in Scotland decide on their future as an independent country. Mexico this week celebrated its independence from Spain.

These events bring to mind Yucatán’s independence. The Republic of Yucatán existed twice as a sovereign state, independent of Mexico, in the 1800s — and nearly ended up as part of the United States.

The first Republic joined the Mexican Federation just seven months after being founded, in December 1823.

Eighteen years later, the Republic of Yucatán declared independence from the same Mexican Federation, remaining independent for seven years until rejoining in 1848. Near the end of that period, a delegation of the Yucatán Republic was sent to Washington D.C. on the orders of then-president Santiago Méndez Ibarra, when Yucatán found itself caught up in a blockade by U.S. forces.

Méndez explicitly offered “the dominion, and sovereignty of the [Republic of Yucatán]” to the fast-growing United States in exchange for assistance to put an end to blockades, infighting and Mayan uprisings in the region.

U.S. President James Polk supported the idea of assisting the Yucatán Republic, and the U.S. House of Representatives passed a “Yucatan Bill,” paving the way for the potential eventual annexation of a large portion of Mexico into the burgeoning United States, even if the initial bill only offered military assistance.

Polk also made an offer to the Spanish Government for Cuba, and was eager to secure the western regions of the U.S. before any European powers could attempt to control the area.

Concerned with Yucatán’s internal conflicts, Congress did not act on the bill. They were also concerned about extending a military already engaged in the war with Mexico, and feared a drawn out conflict with the Mayans.

After coming within a vote from the U.S. Congress of potentially being absorbed into the republic to the north, the Republic of Yucatán would return again to Mexico after less than a decade of intermittent independence.

Source: InsightSur

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