The First Map to Address The Fiscal Organization of the Republic of Mexico.
Rare "Fiscal" map of Mexico, published in Mexico City by Antonio Garcia y Cubas.
The map was issued during the Presidency of Benito Juarez (1858-1872). During his Presidency, a series of activities aimed at creating fiscal statistics was initiated, and the development of administrative geography was also promoted. The map was prepared to illustrate cartographically the manner in which the tax administration was organized.
Already the most important mapmaker in Mexico by 1869, Garcia Cubas used his admission to the Ministry of Finance as head of the Statistics Section to undertake work of great importance to the country at that time: the formation of an administrative map. In his report, presented to the Minister of Finance, Matías Romero, on the activities carried out during the economic year from July 1868 to June 1869, Garcia Cubas announced the preparation, as a trial, of a fiscal map. The map , delivered to the Finance Minister on September 16, 1869 and thereafter presented by the Ministery to the Congress of Mexico, was "el primero de este género que se ha formado y que presenta con claridad la situación hacendaria de México" (the first of its kind created in Mexico and presented with great clarity the financial situation in Mexico).
The map also served as the "draft" or first cartographic exercise to represent the tax geography for Mexico. In the same way, by not being a finished work, as Garcia Cubas warned at the time, it was intended as the basis for the elaboration of a more complete and comprehensive map regarding the information provided. At the time of its completion, García Cubas requested authorization to draw up a more complete version of the map. He noted: "we have the necessary elements to form not only an overview map like the one I am presenting, but a real fiscal map . . ."
The map key notes:
- Major Ports of entry
- Ports of cabotage and customs border
- Leased Mints
- Mints held by the Government of Mexico
- Principal post offices and seal administration locations
- Treasure Houses (real estate title?)
- Telegraph offices
- Railroad lines under construction
- Railroad lines planned
Free Trade Zone
One of the most interesting features of the map is the "Proyecto de Zona Libre." The Zona Libre, or Free Zone, was a free trade zone in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas[, along the US-Mexican border established in 1858.
The goal of Zona Libre was to equalize the imbalanced economic environments that had resulted after the Mexican-American War on either side of the Rio Grande River, which had become the international border between the United States and Mexico under the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo. In January 1885, roughly three decades after the Zona Libre was established, the Mexican government extended the free trade zone along the entire US-Mexican border, which created a zone approximately a thousand miles long and six miles wide.
The establishment of the original Zona Libre of 1858 caused mixed reactions in America. Most Americans merchants viewed the free trade zone in a positive manner as an opportunity to make money, and moved across the border to do just that. One American, Richard Fitzpatrick, the new U.S. consul at Matamoros (a city within Tamaulipas), however, voiced his concerns over smuggling within Zona Libre, explaining the process thusly:
The traders and merchants evade the law in this way: they open the foreign goods and take out a part - sometimes the whole - of the foreign manufactured goods, then fill up the boxes or packages with other goods, and then send them to the Mexican side of the river and get the [signature] of two Mexicans, and with that they cancel their bonds in the custom house of Point Isabel, Texas. But this is not all. Sometimes they send the goods in whole packages across into Mexico and there break them, get signatures to cancel their bonds and carry the goods back to Texas and sell them there or wherever they please. In this way they can undersell the fair trader in any market in the United States.
Over the next thirty years, many Americans came to agree with Fitzpatrick, their anti-Zona Libre sentiment.
Zona Libre began to carry high costs for the Mexican government in the late 1880s. Anti-Zona Libre sentiment within the United States began to show itself in the American Congress and within American border towns, affecting U.S.-Mexican relations and threatening trade among the two nations. The United States began efforts to suspend border routes and hamper trade in order to pressure Mexico to abolish the free trade zone. In response, rather than abolishing the zone, Mexico restricted the zone in 1891 by increasing the levy on imports from 3% to 10%.
In 1895 the United States Congress suspended all bonded routes from the U.S. to Zona Libre. However, this suspension was entirely ineffective, as Mexican railroads simply circumvented the suspended routes. While United States pressure failed to result in any change in regards to Zona Libre, a small group of businessmen were able to start a movement to abolish the free trade zone, arguing that when Zona Libre was established, there had been no railroads, or even Telegraphic communications across the border, which was no longer true in the 1890s. In addition, a requirement to pay full tariffs on goods manufactured within Zona Libre resulted in a lack of industry in the region, which stunted growth—ironically, while the free zone was excellent for trade, heavy restrictions made it impossible for manufacturing, which resulted in few jobs. By abolishing Zona Libre, the hope was that the region could begin to prosper and grow once more.
Finally, in July 1905, after over a decade of movements against Zona Libre, Mexican President Díaz executively abolished the free trade zone. Díaz cited his actions on the reasoning that the expansion of the railroad system and increased communications across the border no longer necessitated a free trade zone. Although some feared the abolishment of Zona Libre would prove negative for the region, Consul Lewis A. Martin of Piedras Negras reported positive news in 1906:
When the Free Zone was abolished in June, July, 1905, it was feared that the abolition would have a tendency materially to lessen the volume of trade conducted through this port. On the contrary, the trade has very materially increased—both imports and exports. The business prospects in the district were never more encouraging or the various industries more active, and there never was a time when the customs officials were handling more revenues from the ports and exports.
The map is apparently quite rare on the market, this being the first example we have seen offered for sale.
Antonio García y Cubas (1832-1912) was a Mexican geographer, historian, writer, and cartographer. An orphan from a young age, Cubas attended the Colegio de San Gregorio and the Colegio de Ingenieros, where he earned a geography degree. In 1856, he became a member of the Sociedad Mexicana de Geografía y Estadística.
Cubas wrote several geographic works, including introductory courses to geography, historical atlases, and maps. He is best known for his Atlas Geográfico, Estadístico e Histórico de la República Mexicana (1857), Carta General de México (1863), and Diccionario Geográfico, Histórico y Biográfico de los Estados Unidos Mexicanos en cinco volúmenes, editados entre 1888 y 1891. He is also praised for his memoir, El Libro de mis Recuerdos (1905). Today, the best books published in anthropology and history in Mexico are given the Antonio García Cubas prize.