Optimism betrayed : the golden age of Mexican-Spanish relations, 1931-1939
Mexico and Spain have had a long and complex relationship since the former achieved independence from the latter at the beginning of the nineteenth century. The two countries established diplomatic relations in 1836, yet it took almost a century before relations became meaningful and mutually beneficial. The establishment of the Second Spanish Republic in 1931 signified a new era in Spanish politics, and Spain's foreign policy towards the Americas adopted a more pragmatic and progressive approach. In particular, this led to a new era in transatlantic relations towards Mexico. During the next five years, Spain and Mexico developed amicable and cooperative social, economic and political ties. The military uprising in Spain in the summer of 1936 put the Spanish Republic's international relations to the test, revealing her true friends and allies. Mexico proved to be, beyond any doubt, Spain's firmest supporter, although the relationship was unable to counterbalance the influence of European Non- Intervention, and American neutrality. Mexican efforts to gather sympathy and support for the Republican cause in the League of Nations had little effect. Mexico, along with the Soviet Union, and the contribution of the International Brigades, represented the legitimate Spanish Government's only hope of international support. Other Latin American countries did not follow the example set by Mexican foreign policy towards Spain during the civil war. Nevertheless, Mexico's stance demonstrated its commitment to democracy, whilst at the same time, showing its independence from the United States. There was an intense interest in the fate of the Spanish Republic, and after its defeat in 1939, Mexico opened the doors to nearly 30, 000 Spanish Republican exiles. They made an important contribution to Mexican cultural life, and became a constant reminder that the Second Republic was truly a significant, though thwarted, step towards the establishment of a democratic regime in Spain.