Colonia Juárez, Chihuahua
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Colonia Juárez is a small town in the northern part of the Mexican state of Chihuahua. Colonia Juárez is located in the valley of the Piedras Verdes River on the western edge of the Chihuahuan Desert and beneath the eastern front of the Sierra Madre Occidental. It is roughly 9 miles (14 km) north of Mata Ortiz and 12 miles (19 km) southeast of Nuevo Casas Grandes. The town had a population of 1,035 in 2010.
Established in 1886, the colony was named for the Mexican national hero Benito Juarez. The colony was one of many colonies in Mexico settled by Mormon pioneers. This colonization was part of the larger LDS campaign to establish the State of Deseret while evading the anti-polygamy Edmunds Act of 1882. Although the town was planned before the end of polygamy, much of its growth in the late 19th century was due to Mormon immigrants leaving Utah and other parts of the U.S. due to their practice of polygamy. In addition, Mormon colonies outside of the U.S. proved financially important to the LDS Church during this time when the U.S. Federal government had confiscated much of Church holdings. There are many descendants of these colonies that have attained prominence in both countries, including Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts. In addition, many leaders of the LDS Church have roots in these colonies.
By the beginning of the 20th century, Chihuahua and other Mexican states were home to hundreds of thousands of Mormons and were almost a majority of the state of Sonora. The Mexican Revolution resulted in the exodus of many colonists from the region; some left permanently while others returned after a few years. However, this exodus was no different from the general exodus from the country of middle-class Mexicans who could afford to leave the tumult of the area. Many families of all backgrounds sent women and children to the United States or Europe during the Revolution; others left completely. Though it is true that the Mormon colonies in Mexico were less populated after this exodus, claims of "ethnic cleansing of the gringos" are not supported by the basic historical facts. Indeed, many of the colonists actively supported the Revolution and were befriended by Pancho Villa and other revolutionaries. One of the last battles of the final phase of the Revolution was fought just outside Casas Grandes; several colonists participated in rescuing the wounded and caring for them at the old hacienda known in the histories as "El Refugio," earning the gratitude of the Revolutionary Government.
Many of the colonies survived for several generations after the Revolution. The mountain colonies, such as Pacheco, García, and Chuichupa, slowly lost colonist population due mainly to economic pressures, so that by the 1960s most Mormon colonists lived either in Colonia Juárez or Colonia Dublán, where to this day a sizable part of the population descend from the original colonists. Nonetheless, the spread of the Church in the last few decades has resulted in more convert Mormons in the area than descendants of colonists. This growth of the LDS Church is not unique to the area but paralleled throughout Latin America.
Colonia Juárez is known for its peach and apple orchards as well as cattle ranches. It is also known for the many graduates from its renowned academy. Residents typically work as farmers, ranchers or in the local schools.
Colonia Juárez is the home of the Academia Juarez (Juarez Stake Academy). The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints built a temple in Colonia Juárez for its members. It was dedicated on March 6, 1999 by Gordon B. Hinckley. The Colonia Juárez Chihuahua México Temple was one of the first of the smaller temples constructed by The LDS Church, and is currently the smallest temple it operates.
- "Casas Grandes". Catálogo de Localidades. Secretaría de Desarrollo Social (SEDESOL). Retrieved 23 April 2014.
- Sudweeks, Leslie L. "The Miracle of the Piedras Verdes: The Story of the Founding of Colonia Juarez". Retrieved 26 November 2017.
- Miroff, Nick (23 July 2011), "In besieged Mormon colony, Mitt Romney's Mexican roots", Washington Post
- Terry, Gibert Cunningham (June 1910). "A Little Utah In Mexico: The Transformation Of A Desert Region In Chihuahua Into A Rich Farming Country By Mormon Colonists". The World's Work: A History of Our Time. XX: 13071–13076. Retrieved 2009-07-10.
- Colonia Juarez Temple
- Academia Juarez Unofficial Website
- Read about Helaman Pratt, one of the founders of Colonia Juarez
- Mormon Colonies in Mexico
- Mormon Colonies in Mexico Wiki
- The Romneys' Mexican History