Constitution of Mexico
|Political Constitution of the United Mexican States|
Cover of the original copy of the Constitution
|Ratified||February 5, 1917|
|Location||General Archive of the Nation in the Lecumberri Palace|
|Author(s)||Constituent Congress of 1917|
|Signatories||Constituent Congress of 1917|
|Purpose||National constitution to replace the Constitution of 1857|
|This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
The Constitution of Mexico, formally the Political Constitution of the United Mexican States (Spanish: Constitución Política de los Estados Unidos Mexicanos) is the current constitution of Mexico. It was drafted in Santiago de Querétaro, in the State of Querétaro, by a constitutional convention, during the Mexican Revolution. It was approved by the Constitutional Congress on February 5, 1917. It is the successor to the Constitution of 1857, and earlier Mexican constitutions.
The current Constitution of 1917 is the first such document in the world to set out social rights, serving as a model for the Weimar Constitution of 1919 and the Russian Constitution of 1918. Some of the most important provisions are Articles 3, 27, and 123; these display profound changes in Mexican political philosophy that helped frame the political and social backdrop for Mexico in the twentieth century. Article 3 forbids the setting up of a list of prohibited books and establishes the bases for a free, mandatory, and secular education; article 27 led the foundation for land reforms; and article 123 was designed to empower the labor sector.
Articles 3, 5, 24, 27, and 130 seriously restricted the influence of the powerful Roman Catholic Church, and attempts to enforce the articles strictly by President Plutarco Calles in 1926 led to the civil war known as the Cristero War.
- 1 Essential principles
- 2 Organization
- 3 History
- 4 Current articles of the constitution
- 4.1 Article 1
- 4.2 Article 2
- 4.3 Article 3
- 4.4 Article 4
- 4.5 Article 5
- 4.6 Article 6
- 4.7 Article 7
- 4.8 Article 8
- 4.9 Article 9
- 4.10 Article 10
- 4.11 Article 11
- 4.12 Article 12
- 4.13 Article 13
- 4.14 Article 14
- 4.15 Article 15
- 4.16 Article 16
- 4.17 Article 17
- 4.18 Article 18
- 4.19 Article 19
- 4.20 Article 20
- 4.21 Article 21
- 4.22 Article 22
- 4.23 Article 23
- 4.24 Article 24
- 4.25 Article 25
- 4.26 Article 26
- 4.27 Article 27
- 4.28 Article 28
- 4.29 Article 29
- 4.30 Article 30
- 4.31 Article 31
- 4.32 Article 32
- 4.33 Article 33
- 4.34 Article 39
- 4.35 Article 34
- 4.36 Article 55
- 4.37 Article 91
- 4.38 Article 95
- 4.39 Article 123
- 4.40 Article 130
- 5 See also
- 6 References
- 7 Bibliography
- 8 External links
The constitution is founded on seven fundamental ideals:
- A declaration of rights
- Sovereignty of the nation
- Separation of powers
- Representative government
- A federal system
- Constitutional remedy
- Supremacy of the state over the Church
The Constitution is divided into "Titles" (Títulos) which are series of articles related to the same overall theme. The Titles, of variable length, are:
- Chapter I: Of Human Rights and their Warranties (Capítulo I: de los Derecho Humanos y sus Garantías)
- Chapter II: On Mexicans (Capítulo II: de los Mexicanos)
- Chapter III, On Foreigners (Capítulo III: de los Extranjeros)
- Chapter IV: On Mexican Citizens (Capítulo IV: de los Ciudadanos Mexicanos)
- Chapter I: On National Sovereignty and Form of Government (Capítulo I, de la Soberanía Nacional y de la Forma de Gobierno)
- Chapter II: On the Parts That Make Up the Federation and the National Territory (Capítulo II, de las Partes Integrantes de la Federación y del Territorio Nacional)
- Chapter I: On the Separation of Powers (Capítulo I, de la División de Poderes)
- Chapter II: On the Legislative Power (Capítulo II, del Poder Legislativo)
- Chapter III: On the Executive Power (Capítulo III, del Poder Ejecutivo)
- Chapter IV: On the Judicial Power (Capítulo IV, del Poder Judicial)
- About the responsibilities of the public service and the patrimony of the State (De las responsabilidades de los servidores públicos y patrimonial del Estado)
- About the states of the Federation and the Federal District (De los estados de la Federación y del Distrito Federal)
- About work and Social Welfare (Del Trabajo y la Previsión Social)
- General Provisions (Prevenciones Generales)
- About reforms to the Constitution (De las Reformas a la Constitución)
- About the Inviolability of the Constitution (De la Inviolabilidad de la Constitución)
Constitution Day (Día de la Constitución) is one of Mexico's annual Fiestas Patrias (public holidays), commemorating the promulgation of the Constitution. Although the official anniversary is on February 5, the holiday takes place on the first Monday of February regardless of the date.
The Political Constitution of the United Mexican States is one of the main products of the Mexican Revolution of 1910. Francisco I. Madero originally led the revolution against the longtime autocrat Porfirio Díaz and he became president in November 1911 after Villa and Orozco defeated Díaz in Ciudad Juárez. Madero was eventually overthrown and executed in 1913 by the dictator Victoriano Huerta, who had conspired with Félix Díaz, Bernardo Reyes, and the U.S. Ambassador Henry Lane Wilson to remove Madero from power. The reaction to Huerta usurpation was Venustiano Carranza's Plan of Guadalupe, calling for the creation of a Constitutional Army, for Huerta's ouster, and for the restoration of a constitutional government.
The Political Constitution of the United Mexican States was redacted by the Constitutional Congress convoked by Venustiano Carranza in September 1916 after the triumph of the Constitutional Army. The new constitution was approved on February 5, 1917, and it was based in the previous one instituted by Benito Juárez in 1857. Several of its articles reflected the social distress existing in Mexico at the beginning of the twentieth century: articles 3 and 130 restricted the power of the Catholic Church as a consequence of the support given by the Mexican Church's Hierarchy to Victoriano Huerta dictatorship, article 27 stated in particular that foreign citizens cannot own land at the borders or coasts as a consequence of the United States occupation of Veracruz, and article 123 was designed to empower the labor sector as a consequence of the brutal repression of Cananea and Río Blanco strikes. Nevertheless Venustiano Carranza declared himself against the final redaction of the articles that enacted anticlerical policies and social reform; namely Articles 3, 5, 24, 27, 123, 130. But the Constitutional Congress contained only 85 conservatives and centrists close to Carranza's brand of liberalism, and against them there were 132 more radical delegates.
This constitution is the first one in the world to set out social rights, serving as a model for the Weimar Constitution of 1919 and the Russian Constitution of 1918. The most important articles: 3, 27, and 123 displayed profound changes in Mexican political philosophy that would help frame the political and social backdrop for the rest of the century. Article 3 forbids the setting up of a list of prohibited books and established the bases for a mandatory and lay education; article 27 led the foundation for land reforms; and article 123 was designed to empower the labor sector. The Constitution was also amended in 1927 to extend the president's term for four years to six years. The constitution was also amended in 1926 to allow presidential re-elections as long as the presidents didn't serve consecutive terms; this amendment would later be repealed in 1934.
Anticlerical articles and the 1934, 1946 and 1992 Amendments
||The neutrality of this article is disputed. (March 2014)|
Articles 3, 5, 24, 27, and 130 as originally enacted were anticlerical and restricted religious freedoms, as well as the rights of the Catholic Church, in part due to a desire by anticlerical framers to punish the Mexican Church's hierarchy for its support of Victoriano Huerta. Attempts to enforce the articles strictly by President Plutarco Elías Calles in 1926 led to the civil war known as the Cristero War. Scholars have characterized the constitution’s approach as a "hostile" approach to the issue of church and state separation. The articles, although sporadically enforced, remained in the Constitution until the reforms of 1992, which removed many but not all of the affronts to religious freedom. The constitution was made even more anticlerical in the period from 1934 to 1946, when an amendment mandating "socialist education" was in effect.
In 1926 Pope Pius XI, in the encyclical Acerba animi, stated that the anticlerical articles of the constitution were "seriously derogatory to the most elementary and inalienable rights of the Church and of the faithful" and that both he and his predecessor had endeavored to avoid their application by the Mexican government.
Article 3 of the constitution required that education, in both public and private schools be completely secular and free of any religious instruction and prohibited religions from participating in education - essentially outlawing Catholic schools or even religious education in private schools. Article 3 likewise prohibited ministers or religious groups from aiding the poor, engaging in scientific research, and spreading their teachings. The constitution prohibited churches to own property and transferred all church property to the state - thus making all houses of worship state property.
Article 130 of the constitution denied churches any kind of legal status and allowed local legislators to limit the number of ministers, (essentially giving the state the ability to ban religion) and banned any ministers not born in Mexico. It denied ministers freedom of association, the right to vote and freedom of speech, prohibiting them and religious publications from criticising the law or government. The constitution prohibited any worship outside of a church building, which essentially made Pope John Paul II's outdoor masses and other religious celebrations during his 1980 and 1990 visits illegal acts under the law. On 13 December 1934 Article 3 was amended to mandate "socialist education", even more hostile to religion which "in addition to removing all religious doctrine" would "combat fanaticism and prejudices", "build[ing] in the youth a rational and exact concept of the universe and of social life". In 1946 "socialist education" was removed from the constitution and the document returned to the generalized secular education.
The anticlerical articles were substantially reformed in 1992, removing much of the anticlerical matter by granting all religious groups legal status, conceding them limited property rights, and lifting restrictions on the number of priests in the country. Article 27 was also greatly amended by ending land redistribution, permitting peasants to rent or sell ejido or communal land, and permitting both foreigners and corporations to buy land in Mexico. Still, however, the constitution still does not accord full religious freedom as recognized by the various human rights declarations and conventions; specifically, outdoor worship is still prohibited and only allowed in exceptional circumstances generally requiring governmental permission, religious organizations are not permitted to own print or electronic media outlets, governmental permission is required to broadcast religious ceremonies, and ministers are prohibited from being political candidates or holding public office.
Capital punishment and 2005 Amendment
On November 8, 2005, The Senate of Mexico adopted a final decree amending the Constitution as approved by the majority of the Federated States, modifying articles 14 and 22 banning the use of capital punishment in its entirety.
Current articles of the constitution
The main ideas or an abstract of the current contents of the articles of the Political Constitution of the United Mexican States is as follows. Not all articles are presented. See  for the full English text of the articles (edition published in 2005).
This article states that every individual in Mexico (official name, Estados Unidos Mexicanos or United Mexican States) has the rights that the Constitution gives. These rights cannot be denied and they cannot be suspended. Slavery is illegal in Mexico; any slaves from abroad who enter national territory will, by this mere act, be freed and given the full protection of the law. All types of discrimination whether it be for ethnic origin, national origin, gender, age, different capacities, social condition, health condition, religion, opinions, preferences, or civil state or any other which attacks human dignity and has as an objective to destroy the rights and liberties of the people are forbidden.
This article states the nature of the Mexican nation.
The Mexican nation is unique and indivisible. The nation is pluricultural based originally on its indigenous tribes which are those that are descendants of the people that lived in the current territory of the country at the beginning of the colonization and that preserve their own social, economic, cultural, political institutions. The awareness of their indigenous identity should be fundamental criteria to determine to whom the dispositions over indigenous tribes are applied. They are integral communities of an indigenous tribe that form a social, economic and cultural organization.
The education imparted by the Federal State shall be designed to develop harmoniously all the faculties of the human being and shall foster in him at the same time a love of country and a consciousness of international solidarity, in independence and justice. Said education must be free of bias. (As per the full definition of the word "Laica" as used in the original document)
I. According to the religious liberties established under article 24, educational services shall be secular and, therefore, free of any religious orientation. II. The educational services shall be based on scientific progress and shall fight against ignorance, ignorance's effects, servitudes, fanaticism and prejudice.
It shall be democratic, considering democracy not only as a legal structure and a political regimen, but as a system of life founded on a constant economic, social, and cultural betterment of the people;
It shall be national insofar as - without hostility or exclusiveness - it shall achieve the understanding of our problems, the utilization of our resources, the defense of our political independence, the assurance of our economic independence, and the continuity and growth of our culture; and it shall contribute to better human relationships, not only with the elements which it contributes toward strengthening and at the same time inculcating, together with respect for the dignity of the person and the integrity of the family, the conviction of the general interest of society, but also by the care which it devotes to the ideals of brotherhood and equality of rights of all men, avoiding privileges of race, creed, class, sex, or persons.
Private persons may engage in education of all kinds and grades. But as regards elementary, secondary, and normal education (and that of any kind or grade designed for laborers and farm workers) they must previously obtain, in every case, the express authorization of the public power. Such authorization may be refused or revoked by decisions against which there can be no judicial proceedings or recourse.
Private institutions devoted to education of the kinds and grades specified in the preceding section must be without exception in conformity with the provisions of sections I and II of the first paragraph of this article and must also be in harmony with official plans and programs.
Religious corporations, ministers of religion, stock companies which exclusively or predominantly engage in educational activities, and associations or companies devoted to propagation of any religious creed shall not in any way participate in institutions giving elementary, secondary and normal education and education for laborers or field workers. The State may in its discretion withdraw at any time the recognition of official validity of studies conducted in private institutions.
Elementary education shall be compulsory.
All education given by the State shall be free.
The Congress of the Union, with a view to unifying and coordinating education throughout the Republic, shall issue the necessary laws for dividing the social function of education among the Federation, the States and the Municipalities, for fixing the appropriate financial allocations for this public service and for establishing the penalties applicable to officials who do not comply with or enforce the pertinent provisions, as well as the penalties applicable to all those who infringe such provisions.
All people, men and women, are equal under the law. This article also grants all people protection to their health, a right to housing, and rights for children. Everyone has a right to an appropriated ecosystem for their development & welfare.
All Citizens of the United Mexican States are free to work in the profession of their choosing, as long as it does not attack the rights of others.
This article establishes Freedom of Speech/Expression.
This article states that no law or authority can "previously" censor the press, or ask for a bail to the authors or printers. The freedom of the press has its limits in respect to private life, morality, and public peace. Incarceration or censorship cannot occur before charges of "press crimes" can be proven, but it can happen when responsibility has been judicially established. In no case shall printers be seized as crimes' instruments.
Public functionaries and employees will respect the public exercise to their right to petition, as long as it is formulated in writing, in a peaceful and respectful manner. In political petitioning, only citizens of the republic have this right.
Only citizens of the Republic may take part in the political affairs of the country.
Citizens of the Republic may, for their protection, own guns and arms in their homes. Only arms sanctioned by the Army may be owned, and federal law will state the manner in which they can be used (Firearms are prohibited from importation into the Republic without proper licensing and documentation. Foreigners may not pass the border with unlicensed firearms; the commission of such act is a felony, punishable by prison term. See Gun politics in Mexico).
"Every man has a right to enter the Republic, exit it, travel through its territory, and change his residence without the need of a security card, passport, or any similar device. The exercise of this right will be subordinated to the faculties of judicial authority, in the cases of criminal or civil responsibility, and to the limits of the administrative authorities, on the limits imposed by laws on emigration, immigration, and health safety laws in the Republic, or over foreigners residing in our country."
Prohibits the enactment of ex post facto (retroactive) laws. All persons punished under the law are entitled to due process, punishments must follow what is dictated by written law. Note that due process under Mexican law is not the same as US law as Mexico is not a common law country.
Disallows international treaties for extradition when the person to be extradited is politically persecuted, or accused while having the condition of slave, or when the foreign country contravenes the civil rights granted in the Mexican constitution (like the right to life and the abolishment of the death penalty in Article 22).
Prohibits vigilante justice, all civil and criminal disputes must be resolved before courts. Mandates speedy trials in both civil and criminal matters. Prohibits levying of "court costs" and fees, judicial service is free to all parties. Courts are to be free and independent. Imprisonment for debts is prohibited. This article makes provisions relating to arrest and imprisonment. The article's emphasis on "social readjustment of the offender" was interpreted for a time after 2001 as forbidding sentences of life imprisonment, which led to the refusal of some extradition requests from the United States.
Mandates gender segregation of inmates and separation of those held for trial from those who have been convicted. Limits the government's authority to arrest only those suspected of crimes for which imprisonment is an allowed punishment.
Prohibits detention in excess of 72 hours (3 days) without formal charges. Mandates due process for imprisonable charges. Separate crimes discovered during an investigation must be charged separately. Mistreatment during detention by authorities, all discomforts that are inflicted without legal motive, and all fees or contributions (forced bribes) in jails are abuses that will be prohibited by law and curbed by the authorities.
Allows people charged to remain silent.
Crime investigation corresponds to the Public Ministry and different police corps, which will be under the command of whoever is in the exercise of that function. This article proceeds to explain the functions of the Public Ministry, police, and trials.
Cruel and unusual punishment is prohibited. Specifically, penalties of death, mutilation, infamy, marks, physical punishments, torments, excessive fines, confiscation of assets, and others are abolished.
Confiscation of assets does not include the application of said assets to pay for civil responsibilities caused by a crime, or when used to pay taxes or other fines. Nor will it be confiscation when said assets are part of illegal activities, or when they are related to organized crime, or when proof of ownership cannot be established.
No trial should have more than three instances. No one can be judged twice for the same crime, whether the person is declared guilty or non-guilty.
"Every man is free to pursue the religious belief that best suits him, and to practice its ceremonies, devotions or cults, as long as they do not constitute a crime. Congress cannot dictate laws that establish or abolish any given religion. Ordinarily, all religious acts will be practiced in temples, and those that extraordinarily are practiced outside temples must adhere to law." This article also establishes that religious institutions be subject to limits of ownership of land as dictated by the national government (whereby the government may declare such property part of the national legacy), to prevent the kind of situation experienced in the past which the Catholic churches and monasteries also owned large areas around them, in many cases entire villages.
The State will plan, determine, and carry out the development of the Nation, so that it guarantees its integrity, strengthens national sovereignty, and allows for a broader exercise of freedom and dignity of the individuals through an economic growth that distributes wealth with justice.
The State will encourage the development of democracy which will support economic growth.
The property of all land and water within national territory is originally owned by the Nation, who has the right to transfer this ownership to particulars. Hence, private property is a privilege created by the Nation.
Expropriations may only be made when there is a public utility cause.
The State will always have the right to impose on private property constraints dictated by "public interest". The State will also regulate the exploitation of natural resources based on social benefits and the equal distribution of wealth. The state is also responsible for conservation and ecological considerations.
All natural resources in national territory are property of the nation, and private exploitation may only be carried out through concessions.
Nuclear fuel may only be exploited and used by the State. The use of Nuclear elements in the Nation may only have peaceful purposes (i.e., Mexico cannot build nuclear weapons).
This article also deals with other subtleties on what constitutes Mexico's territory.
Foreign citizens cannot own land within 100 km of the borders or 50 km of the sea; however, foreigners can have a beneficial interest in such land through a trust (fideicomiso), where the legal ownership of the land is held by a Mexican financial institution. The only precondition sine qua non to granting such a beneficial interest is that the foreigner agree that all matters relating to such land are the exclusive domain of Mexican courts and Mexican jurisdiction, and that in all issues pertaining to such land, the foreigner will conduct him or herself as a Mexican, and settle any issues arising from their interest in such land exclusively through Mexican courts and institutions. The stipulated consequence of a failure to abide by these terms is forfeiture to the nation of their interests in all lands where the foreigner has such beneficial interests.
That an area of land next to the coast (20 meters from the highest tide line) is federal property which cannot be sold to particulars.
All monopolies are prohibited.
The areas of the economy in direct control of the government, such as post, telegraph, oil and its derivatives, basic petrochemical industries, radioactive minerals, and the generation of electricity are not considered to be monopolies.
The State will protect areas of priority in the economy, such as satellite communications and railroads.
The Nation will have a Central Bank with the primary objective of procuring the stability of the national currency. The Central Bank and its activities will not be considered monopolies either.
Unions and workers associations will not be considered monopolies. Guilds will not be considered to be monopolies when their purpose is the economic equality of the industry, as long as the guild is overseen by the Federal Government.
Copyrights and patents will not be considered monopolies.
"In the case of an invasion, a serious disrupt of public peace or any event that puts society in danger or conflict, only the President of the United Mexican States, in accordance with the Secretaries of State and the General Attorney of the Republic, and with approval of the Congress of the Union and, on its recesses, the Permanent Commission, may suspend in all the country or in a specific place any guarantee which were an obstacle to face quickly and easily the situation; but the president shall only do it for a limited time. If the suspension had place when the Congress is gathered, then the Congress will grant any authorization that it deems necessary for the Executive to face the situation.
This article speaks about the Mexican nationality.
This article speaks about obligations of Mexicans.
"Mexicans shall have priority over foreigners under equality of circumstances for all classes of concessions and for all employment, positions, or commissions of the Government in which the status of citizenship is not indispensable." Foreigners, immigrants, and even naturalized citizens of Mexico may not serve as military officers, Mexican-flagged ship and airline crew, or chiefs of seaports and airports.
"The Federal Executive shall have the exclusive power to compel any foreigner whose remaining he may deem inexpedient to abandon the national territory immediately and without the necessity of previous legal action." It also states: "Foreigners may not in any way participate in the political affairs of the country."
National sovereignty is bestowed essentially and originally upon the people. Every public power derives from the people and is instituted for their benefit. The people possess, at all times, the inalienable right to alter or change their form of govermment.
About the Mexican nationality.
Cabinet officers must be Mexicans by birth.
Supreme Court justices must be Mexican by birth.
Covers the rights of workers, including the eight-hour work day, the right to strike, the right to a day's rest per week, and the right to a proper indemnification following unjustified termination of the working relationship by the employer. This article also established equality regardless of race or gender.
Article 123 was perhaps the most radical of the provisions of the 1917 Constitution and was intended to give the working class a relief to the many abuses and hardships they had previously faced from uncontrolled labor managers.
States that church(es) and state are to remain separate. It provides for the obligatory state registration of all "churches and religious groupings" and places a series of restrictions on priests and ministers of all religions (ineligible to hold public office, to canvas on behalf of political parties or candidates, to inherit from persons other than close blood relatives, etc.).
- Law of Mexico
- Constitutional economics
- Constitutions of Mexico
- Politics of Mexico
- Rule according to higher law
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|Spanish Wikisource has original text related to this article:|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Constitutions of Mexico.|
- (Spanish) The most recent text of the Constitution in the Chamber of Deputies website (in Spanish)
- The Constitution as of 1968 (translation)
- Full text in English (translation by Carlos Pérez Vázques) of the Political Constitution of the United Mexican States (2005 edition by the Institute of Juridical Research, UNAM) (translation)
- A History of the Mexican Constitution