Cárdenas: claims treaty unlawful. Cárdenas: claims treaty unlawful.

Treaty challenge is total nonsense

You can't claim lands you never discovered, occupied or colonized

As a historian on Mexico and author of “Mexico Behind the Mask, A Narrative History of Mexico,” I can say the article “Mexico-US treaty invalid, politician claims” is total nonsense.


Just as a reminder, the Mexican War (1846-1848) was fought over a border dispute  between Texas and Mexico (Río Nueces claimed by Mexico and Rio Grande by the Republic of Texas annexed to the U.S.) Texas isn’t even mentioned in this ridiculous article.

First and foremost, all treaties signed by the vanquished are legal and obviously signed under “duress.” Try the Treaty of Versailles for openers.

Simply put, you can’t claim lands you never discovered, occupied or colonized. Of all those states mentioned (they excluded Texas, and I know why), only New Mexico and California had a Spaniard ever set foot on them. There were absolutely no Mexicans.

In the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo (1848), these territories were not annexed from Mexico; neither Mexico nor Spain never claimed to own them. Mexico merely gave up any future claim to these undiscovered lands. They became known as the New Mexico Territories.

In the case of New Mexico, there were two enclaves knows as Albuquerque and Santa Fe occupied by Spaniards. They never claimed additional territory. There is no trace of a Mexican presence.

The U.S paid $15 million for California and Mexico accepted the money. Mexico should have taken the original $40 million before the war. The British were smarter, they sold their claim over the Oregon Territories.


As for southern Arizona, the U.S bought it for $10 million in what is known as the Gadsen Purchase (1853) and the Tratado de Mesillas in Mexico.

In the case of Alta California, the state was discovered by Juan Cabrillo (Portuguese) and Sebastian Vizcaino (Spaniard). They left no trace of their discoveries.

In  1767, Father Junípero Serra, a Spanish priest born in Mayorca, Spain, was sent to Alta California on an evangelical mission to create missions to bring Christianity to the Indians. Those that followed were Spaniards.

In 1848 there is no trace of any Mexican having set foot on that land. It is estimated that the population of Spaniards was around 14,000.

Historically, the first Mexicans to arrive in California did so at the invitation of the Catholic Church archdiocese of Los Angeles to give sanctuary to those Catholics being persecuted in the “Cristero Rebellion” (1926-1929).

Even the most anti-American Mexican historian, Francisco Martín Moreno, agreed in his book “México Mutilado” that United States President James Polk was only interested in land with no Mexicans in it. After all, with the fall of Mexico City, Mexico belonged to the United States.

Quote: “The Americans only wanted unoccupied lands they could freely control with a superior race, their own, the Anglo Saxons.” He also claims that Polk was known to have said, “Will I have to exterminate 6 million Mexican aborigines who are slothful and stupid, as well as totally useless like our redskin population?” (Moreno had a way with words).

What Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas, his father and son should be writing about is the history of how they governed the once rich state of Michoacán and turned it into one of the poorest states in Mexico.

Today, the state has fallen into a government in chaos thanks to “Cardenismo,” which failed in everything it pretended to accomplish. Ask any Purépecha Indian and everyone else how well they are off. I know, I’ve been all over that state.

Beldon Butterfield is a writer and former publisher and media representative. He is retired and lives in San Miguel de Allende.

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  • cooncats

    It is about time someone debunked this Reconquista nonsense. You don’t have to have a PhD in history to understand Mexico didn’t and couldn’t colonize or govern the territory they lost to the U.S. In fact, if one looks at history what is remarkable here is that they actually got paid for something they had the flimsiest claim to in the first place. That’s pretty unique in its own right as the usual procedure is to just take it and kill anyone who gets in the way.

    This country can’t even provide a living or security for its own and yet it is going to invade the U.S.? I don’t think so. In fact, they’ll be lucky if the people here don’t do a little reconquista on their own incredibly corrupt and incompetent government. Now that is something I could root for.

    • Mark Schneider

      When the Spanish invaded and conquered Mexico, was there a “peace treaty” afterwards? I kinda doubt it. Same in South America.

      • cooncats

        No and they didn’t pay the Indigenas for it either. They just slaughtered and enslaved them to the point 90 percent were dead in a few decades. For the descendants of the Spanish to whine about the U.S Southwest is truly a rich demonstration of hypocrisy at its finest.

  • Glen Olives

    A legal claim that the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo is invalid, while not “total nonsense,” is so exceedingly weak that it is tantamount to the same. Even if a colarable argument could be made, the practicality of international bodies recognizing the Treaty’s invalidity, much less enforcing such a favorable adjudication, would be the mother of all pipe dreams come true. (As an aside, and with all due respect to Mr. Butterfield, the article wasn’t ridiculous, it was just news reporting. What might be considered ridiculous are the Mexican politicans who propagate this claim.)

  • Eugene Nero

    “In the case of New Mexico, there were two enclaves knows as Albuquerque and Santa Fe occupied by Spaniards. They never claimed additional territory. There is no trace of a Mexican presence.” Inaccurate–there were many. There was a Spanish enclave also in Taos, where under one house a Jewish symbol was found suggesting the owner had converted to Christianity before he left Spain to avoid persecution by the Spanish inquisition. There are several other Spanish towns in Northern New Mexico and plenty of Spanish speakers. If Colorado had no Spaniards, why towns with Spanish names:Pueblo, La Junta, Cortez, San Juan, rio grande, Durango? Surely there must have been some, no?

  • Geoffrey Rogg

    How arrogant and ignorant are those who still trumpet the “discovery” of this or that land which existed with a national culture or cultures and had advanced societies centuries before the European barbarians stumbled on their shores.

  • cooncats

    Suggest you do a little homework on the population of the southwest. Other than New Mexico and Texas (the latter filled with gringos voluntarily by the Mexicans) there was no significant population. In the case of New Mexico, commerce and contact flowed east, not south.

    To this day, the Mexican government can’t effectively govern or provide security for the territory it has. That lack of security is a big reason millions have left this country. I’d be willing to bet that beyond a few noisy radical La Raza types, most legal Mexican immigrants are too smart to want to be under the Mexican government again.

    • Michael Hogan

      Sorry, but I have done my homework and have written two books on the subject which are available Amazon and have been vetted by major historians: (1)The Irish Soldiers of Mexico and (2) Abraham Lincoln and Mexico. All of my original sources are there. You will see that San Francisco, Los Angeles, Tucson, Santa Fe, all had Mexican populations. As did San Diego, El Paso del Norte, and Punto Isabel. In his memoirs Grant mentions encountering Mexican villagers in their march to establish Fort Brown. Lincoln also refers to Mexican civilians fleeing from American invaders in his spot resolutions. Whether these populations were “significant” or not is a racist judgment. To most Mexicans they were quite significant.

      • cooncats

        You can always spot a leftist from a mile, the first pejorative out of them is “racist.” Everyone is a racist who doesn’t agree with you. Too bad you don’t realize this just reflects on your inability to defend your own arguments.

        The populations were insignificantly large to defend and hold the territory. Not even close. Mexico got stuck with the atrocious Spanish form of mordida government. It could neither populate nor defend the southwest. Why do you think they foolishly tried to populate Texas with gringos, thinking they could control them?

        The U.S. was operating with a stable and reasonably honest government. It was a magnet for immigration precisely because it didn’t carve up every territory it entered and give it to a few fat cats, leaving everyone else out in the cold.

        Hence it COULD populate territory sufficiently to take it and hold it and it did. End of story.

        Mexico wasn’t a land of opportunity except for Spanish fat cats then and it isn’t a land of opportunity for its people today, hence millions left. When it stops playing the victim and cleans up its own act, that will change. Until then, no.

        • Michael Hogan

          Argumentum ad hominem.

          • cooncats

            Argumentum race baiterism and run awaytum from factos. Nice job of wrecking your own credibility. Too bad you all just can’t resist that race card. Worn out, like you and your arguments. Time for a refresher. LOL

  • Commander Barkfeather

    It might be helpful to set aside the merits and deficiencies of the current respected governments and concentrate on the people inhabiting the areas in question at the time. I doubt that La Raza concerns itself with the legal minutia of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. The fact remains that the culture and societies of California, Arizona, New Mexico, and most of Texas was at one time exclusively and completely Mexican. To argue otherwise is foolish. To the Mexican mind they will always be Mexican. The fact that the United States, through conquest, once controlled all of Mexico and then magnanimously ceded some of it back, cannot change the fact that Mexico agreed to the current borders under duress. The indigenous peoples who originally populated the areas had no concept of jurisdiction or title–ah, the good ol’ days.

    • cooncats

      Spanish population of Arizona before the annexation:

      “Arizona was a part of northern Mexico in the 1840s; it was remote and poor and seldom had outside contacts. The Mexican population, based in Tucson, was a few hundred, in addition to a presidio garrison of about 100 soldiers. The mission was deactivated in 1828. South of the Gila River it was mostly in the province of Sonora, and a fragment of Chihuahua in the east. To the north Arizona was nominally part of Alta California and a fragment of Santa Fe de Nuevo México in the east.” Wikipedia.
      California: 14,000 Spanish speaking, 150K mostly unconquered indigenous, 81,000 gringos. See 6-1a.


      Nevada is described in various sources as having a “small”population prior to 1850. So small apparently no one wants to hazard a guess as to the number.

      Texas we already know about. Someone in Mexico City got the bright idea that since Mexico couldn’t populate it, they’d attract a bunch of gringos who of course would pay homage to Mexico’s remote and corrupt government. Wrong.

      New Mexico was the only part of that entire area that had a significant influx of Mexicans. However they were so disconnected from Mexico City that they readily directed their trade efforts eastward and settlement from that direction followed. The Spaniards and then the Mexicans were never really able to subdue the pueblo populations. Basically they held a few towns and that was it.

      No, the culture of societies in California, Arizona and New Mexico were indigenous. They greatly outnumbered the Spaniards at all time and most of them managed to escape Spanish and then Mexican control.

      Also, the quality and character of government then and now has every bearing on this. Mexico has been plagued with bad government from the beginning. The Spaniards loved to carve up useful territory and hand it out to a few fat cats, leaving everyone else out in the cold. Today, Mexico is mostly owned by a few fat cats, leaving half the country poor. By contrast, the much more stable and efficient system of government in the U.S. made it possible for immigrants to come and become landed either for free or very cheap. So they came.

      Again, I’ll wager that outside of a few radical La Raza types, the average Mexican legal immigrant would want nothing at all to do with Mexico’s governance. Interestingly, when polled on the topic this group also is solidly anti-illegal immigrant.

      • Commander Barkfeather

        One need look no farther than The Mark Of Zorro (1940) to see that the culture of the inhabitants was Mexican. (BTW–it’s an excellent movie!) I agree that the government in Mexico City was corrupt and inefficient–most governments were. This does not change the fact that under the administration of James Knox Polk, the US provoked a confrontation with Mexico, defeated their army and usurped their sovereign territories, in very much the same manner that Adolf Hitler would provoke Czechoslovakia and Poland one century later. This sentiment was expressed by then Congressman Abraham Lincoln against the administration. But I am more concerned with the effects of this takeover on the people living in the disputed territory. Where Spanish was once spoken, English is mandated. Where slavery was abolished, it became legal. Where once there was uninhibited travel between areas, now the current administration wants to build a wall. Governments and boundaries change all the time, cultures do not. Of course the reasons for this migration are economic, not cultural. But that does not change the fact the US is saying “You cannot cross here” and Mexico says “Why not? We used to.”

        And I agree with you that the average Mexican immigrant would prefer US governance to Mexicos. Even most Mexican citizens living in Mexico can see the advantages of the US system to their own. But I don’t think they want a revolution, I think they just wanna go to San Diego, for whatever reason. And I agree that today, “Mexico is mostly owned by a few fat cats, leaving half the country poor.” So is the US. Enjoy your movie.

        • cooncats

          The Mark of Zorro, LOL. That gave me a good laugh, thanks!

          Of course the U.S. took advantage of Mexico. That’s what happens when a country thinks it can claim vast territories and own them without either populating them or effectively governing and defending them.

          Your mistake is that you try to judge events from 170 years ago by today’s standards. Actually by the standards of the time the U.S. was a great deal nicer about it than was usual in those times, let alone these. They sure didn’t have to give Mexico any money, said money no doubt was stolen by Mexican politicians in very short order. I doubt little if any of it benefited the annexed territories.

          What benefited them the most was getting much better governance.

          If you look at the population data for the southwest by far the predominant languages would have been native American, not Spanish. And slavery only became legal for a very short period and in actuality never really amounted to much even in Texas.

          I see little difference between the U.S. version of slavery versus the version practiced by the Spanish on the Indigenas and so should you. Actually, the slavers probably treated their people better than the hacienda owners did.

          Mexico isn’t entitled to uninhibited travel to the U.S. anymore than we are entitled to the same with Mexico. You’re mixing your periods and forgetting there has been a U.S. Border Patrol for a long, long time inhibiting said travel.

          Hell, I watched those dumb Zorro flicks on TV decades ago. (grin)

    • jamescgraves

      Comanches, Navajos and Apaches would disagree about who owned a large part of Texas, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona. One of the reason Anglos were “invited” into Texas was because Mexico did not have the wherewithall of the manpower to protect settlements along the coast. Spain only established settlements in southern Colorado (the rest was French territory, part of the Louisiana Purchase) and Spain only had a few tenuous settlements in New Mexico where the Pueblo Indians, who were not keen on being enslaved, were hostile.

      Alta California was actually discovered and claimed for England by Sir Francis Drake in 1579. Father Junipero Sierra did not show up until 1769, nearly 200 years later. The Spanish did explore the lower coast of California in 1542 but made no attempt to settle the area.

  • Cindy Fowler

    Can no one have a civil discussion these days. I wanted to use the opportunity to learn more about Mexican and US history but instead I get this.

    • Hailey Mannering

      Sad, but true.

  • Cindy Fowler

    Michael … give it up. He is a Breibart News follower.

  • By assuming Spain’s claims in the New World despite its own War of Independece from Spain denouncing those same claims is worse than disingenuous. Get the destructive, long-invading, literal mafia that is the Mexican Government out of the USA! Support El Mayab Exit!

  • K. Chris C.

    Picking a fight, faux as it is, with the most murderous and belligerent nation on Earth is like challenging a lion to a boxing match.

    An American citizen, not US subject.

  • Mike S

    Butterfield calls himself a historian but historians are supposed to deal in facts. Butterfield is NOT a historian by any stretch of the imagination. Not saying that the treaty was not legitimate but it was coerced as part of Jackson and Polk’s view of “manifest Destiny”. The Euro-Americans overwhelming California after gold was discovered and land given as payment to Civil War veterans was probably inevitable, but in 1840 the population of California was only 75,000 and the makeup of that population included many Mexicans. Whole discussion is rather mute and silly but at least get your history right. Latinos may yet take over California as but as Americans not Mexicans. The line between Spaniards, first, second, & third generation Spaniard-Mexicans, and Mestizos back then may have been a little blurred and the Catholic church ran through all of them.

  • jdwfinger

    this thread is funny, WHO CARES what you SO CALLED HISTORIANS and their ILK have to say about what happened long ago. NOTHING will change so please stop trying to pretend that you know what REALLY happened. Can anyone say Payoffs and the usual Bribes, the fake scholars that say the ‘Treaty’ is this or that are just the usual people that have never done anything pretend to be teachers and scholars. Check their back grounds and you will find they are as fake as a 3 dollar peso. Today is what counts and possession is 9 tenths etc, Mexico will always be a third world country until they have a Russian Style Revolution and clean house Top to Bottom, the USA will continue to fall and be destroyed from within,