I find myself truly dismayed by the article “Mexico's Perfect Dictatorship? A History of Mexican Liberalism” by Jonathan Schlefer (Foreign Affairs, February 4, 2015).
Let me point out some gross historical errors. Schlefer says that in 1910, a “delegate assembly passed a liberal Mexican Constitution broadly following the U.S. model.” But the Mexican Revolution broke out in 1910, a year when there were no assemblies of any kind. Schlefer also says that the Revolution of 1910 was the last war of that kind in Mexico. In fact, “the Revolution of 1910” lasted till 1920, and between 1926 and 1929, there was another long and bloody war, fought by the peasant Cristeros against the Mexican state.
Mexico has had several constituent assemblies that led to various constitutions. After winning independence from Spain, in 1824 one such assembly formulated a constitution based mostly on the post-Revolution French constitution and, slightly, on the American. The constitutional discussions were held in 1856–57. This constitution triggered the War of the Reform, between the Liberals and the Conservatives, which in turn led to the French Intervention (1862–67) supporting the Conservatives. The Liberals won the war, and the victory, contrary to what Schlefer affirms, had nothing to do with the United States (although the victory did forestall possible future support from the Confederacy for the Conservative cause).