Independence and beyond: Benito Juárez
Even after Mexico's independence from Spain in 1821, many areas of the Oaxaca province were deemed unlivable in for the huge amount of deforestation that had taken place. This resulted in the weakening of the agricultural economy and the migration of many inhabitants to the larger Mexican cities and to the USA.
However, the importance of Oaxaca's indigenous past was made eternal by national hero, Benito Juárez. Juárez was a noble Zapotec citizen who rose to be Oaxaca's state governer between 1847-1852. His liberal beliefs worked to better education and give freedom to the people. However, a turbulent political past meant that when a conservative government came into power in 1853, Juárez was forced to spend 18 months in exile. During this time the 1854 earthquake destroyed much of Oaxaca city and province.
On his return he became Minister of Justice and worked to free the people from the traditional rulings of the church. Between 1861-1863 Juárez was constitutionally elected President and temporarily dissolved all national debt repayments. However, when Napoleon stationed Archduke Maximilian in Mexico, Juárez left for four years. He took presidency once again on his return in 1867 until his death in 1872, however, his further efforts to achieve peace and harmony in Mexico never came to much avail.