MARGARITA MAZA - FIRST LADY OF MEXICO
Updated: Apr 9
ON THIS DAY IN MEXICO - INFLUENTIAL PEOPLE OF MEXICO
Margarita Eustaquia Maza Parada of Oaxaca, Mexico was born on March 29, 1826, and served as First Lady of Mexico between 1858-1864 and again from 1867 until her death on January 2, 1871, as the wife of celebrated Mexican President Benito Juarez.
Margarita Maza was adopted by Genovese agriculturalist Antonio Maza and his Mexican wife Petra Parada Siquenza.
Benito Juarez's older sister Josefa Juarez Garcia worked in the Maza-Parada home prior to Margaritas birth. That home is now a museum that honors Benito Juarez.
When Benito came to the city of Oaxaca in 1818, his sister Josefa helped him gain employment with the Maza family. This was 6 years before Margarita was born.
Benito Juarez was 20 years older than Margarita
Margarita and Benito married on October 31, 1843 in the church of San Felipe Neri, Oaxaca City.
Margarita Maza and Benito Juarez had 12 children, 5 of whom died in infancy. They also adopted Susana Chagoya, who was the daughter of Juarez from a previous relationship. There was also a son named Tereso, from that same relationship, whom Margarita became acquainted with later.
Their marriage was difficult, in that they spent a great deal of time apart, while Juarez was in political exile in Havana Cuba, and New Orleans, USA.
It was seen as highly unusual for a white woman to be married to an indigenous man. As noted by historian Enrique Krauze: "In this uncommon instance, a white woman had been conquered by an Indian, not a native woman by a Spaniard."
As an educated woman, Margarita likely had influence and participated in political discussions with her husband, though this was not recognized in her time.
During the French Intervention in Mexico, Margarita fled to New York City and Washington DC in order to keep her children safe. She met US President Abraham Lincoln.
Margarita Maza was a Liberal, and she raised her daughters to support any charity that supported the liberal cause, including troops and victims who had been injured during the war.
Margarita returned to Mexico in 1867 after Maximilian I was defeated. She died in 1871, from what is believed to have been cancer.
Benito Juarez and Margarita Maza are interred in the Juarez Mausoleum in Mexico City.