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Bustamante, Anastasio

by

Katie Spence

Anastasio Bustamante was born on July 27, 1780 in Jiquilpan, Michoacán. His parents were José Ruiz and Francisca Oseguera Bustamante, both of whom were Spaniards. He attended a seminary in Guadalajara and studied medicine in Mexico City. Over time, he became known as the family physician to the Commander of San Luis Potosí, Felix Maria Calleja del Rey. He was more impelled to join the military than to be a physician, so, when he received a call to join the militia of the wealthy crillo families, he took it. As an established physician by the age of 30, he fought with the royal forces of General Calleja against the rebellious Father Miguel Hidalgo y Castilla. Bustamante was commended after the Battle of Calderón, which was the end of Hidalgo's career. As a Colonel, he and his supporters were loyal to the Agustine Iturbide as a Republican. Iturbide ultimately appointed him Commander in Chief of the Cavalry. He was also chosen to be the Provisional Junta of Government, and he then became the Captain General of the western and eastern regions. Bustamante eventually became allied with the Federalists, and he continued his post under President Guadalupe Victoria. He teetered back and forth as a Centralist and a Federalist and was an ally of the Yorkino faction of Masons.

In the 1828 presidential election, Vicente Guerrero was the choice of the liberals, while the conservatives rallied behind General Gómez Pedraza, a moderate, and General Anastasio Bustamante, a right-winger. Guerrero became president after a tumultuous election process and after a revolt that was led by Leonardo Zavala, an ex-senator from Yucatán who had gained a reputation of being a radical journalist. Guerrero was a strict Federalist Republican President, and Bustamante served as his vice president. Though he was a formidable soldier, Guerrero was in over his head in the political arena. He appeared vulnerable and weak to those who wanted him out of power. The ambitious Santa Anna rose to the occasion and defeated an almost Spanish invasion of Mexico, thus becoming a national hero.

With Spain eliminated as a threat to Mexico, the liberals and conservatives returned to their battles. Guerrero refused to give back the dictatorial powers that he had been granted and this allowed Bustamante to pose as a strong supporter of the constitution. Along with key officials that once worked for Guerrero, Bustamante organized and carried out a revolt. He had become a conservative political and military leader. With deceitful intentions and large amounts of money, Bustamante concocted an execution plan for Guerrero. He led forces in to capture and execute Guerrero in 1831. He was lured onto an Italian ship, turned over to the authorities, and then shot. Guerrero had, for a time, retired to live in the mountains, but remained active in anti-government activities in the south with Juan Alvarez.

With Bustamante in power, a dictatorship had been created, and he persecuted liberals in an effort to make everyone a conservative. In 1830, he, as a dictator, passed a set of laws called the Bustamante Decree of 1830. They were basically a set of laws that imposed a commission to inspect the colonies, enforce slavery laws, and prohibit immigration from the United States. The military was responsible for carrying out the provisions that the decree set. Forces built customs houses and numerous forts all over Mexico with hopes to encircle the land and guard it. They wanted to prevent immigration and keep Bustamante's decree as he had first stated it. Along the border during Bustamante's regime, the executive powers and military forces of the Mexican government increased at a rapid pace under Minister Lucas Alaman. Freedom of the press was abolished, and the punishments increased. At the same time, the local anti-government resistance increased, and it was constant with many who had favored independence and the Republican Constitutional government. Those who opposed Bustamante’s government were executed, including Juan N. Rosains and Francisco Victoria, the brother of President Victoria. Bustamante then resigned due to the rising opposition and the revolt in Zacatecas. The rise of Santa Anna was also hindering Bustamante’s continuing governmental practices. Santa Anna rose to power and eventually exiled him in 1833 to Europe. Santa Anna remained in power for the Mexican War.

After Bustamante was exiled from Mexico for three years, he returned to once again grasp the presidency. Santa Anna’s power and popularity had weakened when he could not defeat the Texas Revolution. Bustamante used this weakness, and he was soon reelected president in 1837. He served the Mexican people for the next eight years. This presidency would prove to be a difficult one for Bustamante. He would have trouble dealing with the French. There was a blockade of Vera Cruz that took place during his regime, and then Santa Anna soon began to gain popularity with the Mexican people. During this difficult term, Mexico was also involved in the Pastry War with France, which began in1838 and ended one year later in 1839. After the war, Bustamante headed a military campaign against rebellion.

On September 17, 1841, Bustamante went to Congress and asked for a leave of absence so that he could lead the armed forces against uprising troops of two generals, Mariano Paredes and Gabriel Valencia. Congress granted his request in September and the appointed Francisco Javier Echeverría as acting president for one month during Bustamante’s absence. The generals in alliance with Santa Anna defeated the Bustamante’s troops and he once again had to escape to Europe. He was gone for only a short time. He returned after Santa Anna's downfall in 1844 where he was elected to the National Congress.

With his new position as a senator in the congress, Bustamante could not actively participate due to the strong opposition to him. He had proven himself to the Mexican people as a fickle leader who never provided much stability within the country. He did serve in some military actions such as the Mexican war, but for the most part Bustamante’s military career had come to an end. Santa Anna was the leading power of the Mexican war, and Bustamante had become exhausted. He eventually retired to San Miguel de Allende, where he died on February 6, 1853.


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