The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 100, July 1996 - April, 1997 Page: 434
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
Spanish colony reacted by creating the Contraresguardo de Gendarme-
ria Fiscal, a new customs bureau, to contain smugglers in the northeast.
Some of the actions performed by this agency form the subject of the
Criollo leaders in the new nation inaugurated the economic transfor-
mation of Mexico. When they severed their bonds with the mother
country in 1821, they decided to increase commerce with the world, es-
pecially the prosperous North Atlantic countries, by opening additional
ports to foreign merchants. Aiming to produce a vigorous commercial
expansion in their country, they embraced a policy of unlimited trade
and expanded international commerce to the harbors of San Blas,
Mazatlhin, and Guaymas on the Pacific coast, and to Soto la Marina,
Tampico, and Matamoros on the Gulf of Mexico, along with the tradi-
tional harbor of Veracruz. Their decision connected previously isolated
areas, such as Mexico's northeast, to world markets for the first time in
their history. Tulio Halperin-Donghi termed the policy adopted by the
Mexican criollos, as well as other elites throughout Latin America, a
"veritable mercantile revolution."'
Unrestricted foreign commerce affected Tamaulipas, Coahuila, and
Nuevo Le6n more than the central provinces. Although a large expan-
sion in international exchanges followed the elimination of mercantilist
practices, the commercial boom ended abruptly across most of Mexico,
as in most of the former Spanish and Portuguese colonies.- The surge in
purchases of foreign goods stemmed from pent-up demand generated
early in the nineteenth century by the trade disruptions caused by the
European conflicts and the Latin American wars of liberation. In Mexi-
co's central provinces, the craving for imports was satisfied in the mid-
182os. Unlike the mercantile decline that surfaced to the south, a
deterioration exacerbated by political chaos, trade between Mexico's
northeast and foreigners, especially Anglo-American merchants from
Texas, remained vibrant after 1825. The appalling roads that existed
across Mexico, along with the long distances that separated the north-
eastern states from the central provinces, prompted foreign businessmen
i Charles A. Hale, Mexican Liberalism zn the Age of Mora, 182 z-z853 (New Haven: Yale Univer-
sity Press, 1968), 253; Barbara A. Tenenbaum, The Politzcs of Penury: Debts and Taxes in Mixico,
1821-1856 (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1986), 23; Tulio Halpermn-Donghl,
The Aftermath of Revolution in Latin America, trans. Josephine de Bunsen (New York: Harper &
Row Publishers, 1973), 57-58.
s Tenenbaum, The Politics of Penury, 29g; Halperin-Donghi, The Aftermath of Revolution, 58;
George Lockhart Rives, The United States and Mexico, 1821-1848 (2 vols., New York: Charles
Scribner's Sons, 1913), I, 81; David Bushnell and Neill Macaulay, The Emergence of Latin America
in the Nineteenth Century (New York: Oxford University Press, 1988), 43.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 100, July 1996 - April, 1997, periodical, 1997; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101218/m1/512/: accessed December 12, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.