3. Liberator of Veracruz, Founder of the Republic,
1821–1823

By the end of 1820 the War of Independence had reached a stalemate. The insurgents, though few and dispersed, remained unbeaten. To many high-ranking creole royalist officers it was obvious that peace would not be restored until Mexico became independent. It was in this context of exhaustion and uncertainty that negotiations began between the handsome and astute creole royalist commander Agustín de Iturbide and the defiant Afro-Mexican insurgent leader Vicente Guerrero in December. The negotiations focused initially on the restoration of the 1812 Constitution. Guerrero was not prepared to surrender, and he was not confident about events in Spain. He feared that the liberals who had forced Ferdinand VII to restore the 1812 charter in the wake of Rafael Riego's 1820 revolt would be overthrown before they could accomplish their aims. Nor did the 1812 Constitution offer citizenship rights to mulattos like himself. Iturbide offered to propose to the Cortes that mulattos be given such rights, in exchange for Guerrero putting down his arms. Guerrero did not believe the Cortes would listen. He was prepared to place himself under Iturbide's command if he endorsed the cause of independence. On 24 February 1821, Iturbide opted to run with Guerrero's proposal and proclaimed the Plan of Iguala.1

The Plan of Iguala was an incredibly seductive proposal. With the vague promise of Three Guarantees of religion, independence, and union—(i.e., that Roman Catholicism would be the official religion; that Mexico would be independent; and that all Spaniards could continue to live unharmed in Mexico, enjoying equality before the law)— Iturbide brought old insurgents and old royalists together, even though

-43-

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