French Immigration to Mexico

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Commentary

by Daniel Nardini

In the 1830’s French immigrants began to immigrate to Mexico. Among the reasons why French immigrants chose Mexico was because of the climate, the prospect for gold and silver, and also business opportunities. Ironically, many French immigrated to Mexico when it was occupied by the French forces under French Emperor Louis Napoleon III. Despite the fact that the French expeditionary forces had left Mexico in 1867, and Mexico had regained its independence from France, most of the French immigrants had stayed.

Even though France had militarily occupied Mexico for five years, most Mexicans bore no ill will to the French immigrants. From 1850 to 1914, over 11,000 French had immigrated to Mexico, making the French immigrants the second largest European group after the Spanish immigrants to Mexico. Most French immigrants had settled in the Veracruz area, although French immigrant communities and Mexicans of French descent can also be found in Aguascalientes, Guanajuato, Guadalajara, Mexico City, Queretaro, Puebla, San Luis Potosi, Zacatecas. Even now some Mexicans of French descent still speak French, and many hold dual Mexican-French nationality.

Today, French expatriates make up the fourth largest expatriate group living in Mexico after the Americans, the Lebanese, and the Spanish. Some of the French immigrants had come from the French town of Barcelonnette, in Alpes-de-Haute-Provence. These French helped establish textile manufacturing in Mexico, and are still influential in this sector of the economy. Among the French contributions to Mexico are French bread, famous French immigrants and descendants of French immigrants (such as Angelique Boyer who was born in France but later moved to Mexico, and famous photographer Lourdes Grobet, to name a very few), and French architecture.

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