CHICAGO – Governor Pat Quinn was joined by several Consuls General and leaders of Illinois’ Mexican-American community today to celebrate the 208th anniversary of Benito Juárez’s birth. The Governor also proclaimed today as “Benito Juárez Day” across Illinois, calling him one of “humanity’s giants.”
“Benito Juárez transformed Mexico with his passion for freedom, his vision of democracy and his commitment to constitutional law,” Governor Quinn said. “He was one of humanity’s giants—as well as a strong ally of Abraham Lincoln—so today we celebrate his life.”
The birthday party for the man known as “The Father of the Americas” took place at an exhibit in the James R. Thompson Center in Chicago which offers colorful insights into the Mexican leader’s life. Viewed by thousands of visitors to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, the exhibit examines Juárez’s life from his humble youth to his trailblazing Presidency. For more information on the life of Benito Juárez, visit www.Illinois.gov/benitojuarez.
The exhibit reveals how Juárez earned the title of “Father of the Americas.” In May 1865 Colombia was the first Latin American government to formally salute Juárez, citing his “perseverance in defending the freedom and independence of Mexico.” Two years later, the Dominican Republic President coined the phrase “Father of the Americas,” saying Juárez set an example by winning “a splendid victory by giving a death blow to the empire.”
Governor Quinn was joined by Dominican Republic Consul General Giselle Castillo Veremis, Colombia Consul General Bladimiro Cuello and Mexico Consul General Carlos Martín Jiménez Macías.
“Juárez’s vision, heart and skill earned the respect of freedom-loving people everywhere, from Colombia and the Dominican Republic to New Orleans and Springfield, Illinois,” Governor Quinn said. “And this year we’re celebrating 150 years of friendship between the People of Illinois and People of Mexico, a relationship that grew from Juárez’s friendship with Abraham Lincoln.”
Lincoln and Juárez are often compared. Both came from humble origins, were self-taught lawyers, served in Congress and led their countries through war. In 1861, Juárez sent a young emissary named Matías Romero to Springfield to meet President-elect Lincoln, who, as a first-term Congressman, had endeared himself to many in Mexico for opposing President James K. Polk’s invasion of Mexico in 1846.
That historic meeting between Romero and Lincoln—the first official congratulations to Lincoln by a foreign leader—was reenacted on stage recently at the Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. Governor Quinn was joined at that performance by Mexico Consul General Jiménez and State of Mexico Governor Eruviel Ávila. The three men also laid a wreath at the bronze statue of Juárez in the Plaza of the Americas on Chicago’s busy Magnificent Mile and attended a concert by the Mexico City Symphony at Chicago’s Benito Juárez Community Academy.
Today is the last day of the free exhibit in the James R. Thompson Center, 100 W. Randolph, Chicago.
El Gobernador Pat Quinn y Cónsules Generales Celebran el aniversario 208o del nacimiento de Benito Juárez (PDF)