Mexico was home to numerous Mesoamerican civilizations such as the Aztec, Maya, Olmec, Toltec and Zapotec, before the first Europeans began conquering and colonizing the area from 1521. For the next three centuries Mexico was ruled by Spain but finally won its independence in 1821. Much of the following century was marked by political upheaval and economic instability. The Mexican Revolution of 1910 resulted in a new constitution in 1917, which is the basis of Mexico’s current political system.
Today Mexico has a population of well over 110 million people and is the most populous Spanish-speaking country in the world. Indigenous peoples number over 15 million and speak more than 60 languages. Of the 32 states that comprise the Mexican federation, half a dozen states have indigenous populations making up a quarter or more of the population. They include Campeche, Chiapas, Hidalgo, Oaxaca, Quintana Roo, and Yucatan.
Jesuits first arrived in Mexico in the late 16th century. They were expelled by the Spanish in 1776, at which time they had about 15 missions in the country. But in 1815 they were permitted to return to the country.
One of the important areas of Jesuit work in Mexico today is among the indigenous people of Chiapas, many of whom are descended from the Mayans. CJI supports this work for economic justice and political peace, especially in the Diocese of San Cristobal de las Casas.
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