Vallarta Roads Series: Constitucion

As you wander around the “Old Town” (Col. Emiliano Zapata), sooner or later your path will cross or follow the street known as “Constitucion”. By walking a few steps south of the river you’ll find Tortillaria Gloria, which sells half a kilo of steaming hot tortillas for only eight and a half pesos and a few steps further on is a fishmonger that has the best shrimps and fish in town and supplies many of the restaurants in this area. On the corner of Constitucion and Lazaro Cardenas is a great place for a brew and a pizza, the Los Muertos Brewing Company and in the block between Carranza and Badillo are the Banderas Bay Trading Company, a jumbled emporium of every conceivable piece of furniture and decoration, and the art gallery of Kathleen Carillo, one of my favourite local, professional artists. South of Basilio Badillo, Calle Constitucion loses some of its charm.

Some cities name streets after its nation’s most important document and Puerto Vallarta is one of them. I doubt if there are any streets in Canada called “Charter of Rights and Freedoms Boulevard” but, on the other hand, one of the most important streets in the USA is Washington D.C.’s Constitution Avenue. Different strokes for different folks!

To someone even mildly interested in the origin of PV’s “Constitucion” there is a good story attached to it.

There have been three Constitutions adopted by the Mexican people in the last two hundred years. The first one, in 1824, was a result of the Mexican War of Independence in which Spain’s control of the country was unceremoniously cut and the victorious Mexican patriots decided to install one of their leaders, Agustin Iturbide, as Emperor and did so on 19th May 1822. That didn’t work as well as they had hoped and he abdicated, ten months later, on 19th March 1823 and fled to Europe. The first constitution was proclaimed on 4th October and Mexico became a republic, taking the name of United Mexican States, establishing Catholicism as the official and unique religion and providing equal citizenship rights to all to all races. It was replaced by a new constitution in 1857.

The second constitution of Mexico of 1857 was very liberal in the world of the mid-nineteenth century and was bitterly opposed by conservatives and the Catholic Church. Among its provisions it established individual rights such as the freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, freedom of the press and of assembly, and the right to bear arms. The church was ticked off because of the provisions to provide education that was free of dogma and the removal of many of the church’s institutional privileges. This document was in effect for sixty years, until 1917.

The current “Political Constitution of the United Mexican States” is one of the results of the Mexican Revolution that lasted from 1910 to 1920 and was approved by the Constitutional Congress on 5th February 1917; a hundred and one years ago. It was this document that has caused ex-pats to provide Mexican banks and attorneys with so much work and revenue because Article 27 states “Under no circumstances may foreigners acquire direct ownership of lands or waters within a zone of one hundred kilometers along the frontiers and of fifty kilometers along the shores of the country.”

Some of the more important provisions are Article 3 which established the basis for a free, mandatory, and secular education, Article 27, which laid the foundation for land reform and Article 123, which was designed to empower the labour sector. In Europe, the Mexican constitution of 1917 served as a model for the the Russian Constitution of 1918 and the Weimar Constitution of 1919 in Germany.

Since 1917 there have been a number of amendments to the constitution including one in 2005 in which the use of capital punishment was banned throughout Mexico and an amendment to  Article 4 was passed in 2011 stating that “Every person has the right to adequate food to maintain his or her wellbeing and physical, emotional and intellectual development. The State must guarantee this right.”

There are many statements and policies in the Mexican Constitution that govern life in Mexico and it is a very important document. It’s too bad that the street here is so unimpressive.

Constitution Day (Día de la Constitución) is one of Mexico’s annual Fiestas Patrias (public holidays), commemorating the enactment of the Constitution on 5 February 1917.

John Warren on Email
John Warren
John Warren is in charge of Publicity for the International Friendship Club (IFC). His articles describe the programs and charities that IFC supports, the sources of income of IFC and the social experiences, lectures and classes that members can enjoy.