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by Jordan Reinschmiedt
José Yves Limantour was born in 1854 in Mexico City, and died in 1935 in Paris, France. He was the son of a French émigré and later became an outstanding jurist and scholar. José Yves Limantour was educated at the Escuela Nacional Preparatoria and the Escuela Nacional de Jurisprudencia where he earned his law degree in 1875. Limantour was a professor of political economics at the Escuela Superior de Comercio and of international law at the Escuela Nacional de Jurisprudencia from 1876-1878. Not only was Limantour a lawyer, he was also an economist and financial minister in the second government of Porfirio Díaz.
Mexico changed from a silver to gold standard under the outstanding financial leadership of Limantour. Limantour was very active in public works and economic development. He structured tariffs and duties to help Mexico prosper. He was also credited with eliminating lower levels of government bureaucracy and graft. Under Matias Romero, José Yves Limantour was named Official Mayor or Subsecretario of Hacienda on May 27, 1892. In February 1893, Romero resigned and Limantour became acting head of the ministry. On May 9, 1893, he was named Ministro de Hacienda. Refinancing of the foreign debt, stabilization of the peso, and monetary reform were just a few of Limantour's major accomplishments in helping Mexico move towards prosperity and development.
Limantour was also a vital leader of the científicos, or technocrats who ran Mexico during the Porfiriato. The adaption of positivism in Mexico provided the philosophical ideas of the new regime. Realizing that the Mexican economy needed to be structurally reformed, Limantour lead the way. It was during 1884 that Mexico entered a period of spectacular economic growth. During this time known as the modern age, wireless telegraph and submarine cables were constructed, the construction of a flood control system was built to stop the recurring flood problem for Mexico City, and a mass transit system and telephone exchanges were built for Mexico City. As Secretary of the Treasury, Limantour eliminated or lowered duties on many imports, and negotiated a series of foreign loans with good rates of interest. In order for economic regeneration to be carried out, Limantour understood that the Mexican bureaucracy would have to be overhauled. He succeeded, and by 1890 the last installment of the debt to the United States was paid and for the first time in Mexican history the budget was balanced. Mexico's new reputation and healthy economy began to receive recognition worldwide during the 1880's and 1890's.
Limantour was a man of many different traits. As the leader of the científicos, he led Mexico into one of the most spectacular economic growth periods the country had ever seen. He played enormous roles throughout the history of both the United States and Mexico. Had Limantour not had such a big part in the financial aspect of the Mexican economy, the fate of Mexico could have possibly never experienced a healthy economy and economic growth that it did under Limantour and his colleagues.
"José Yves Limantour Papers" Benson Latin American Collection. Online. 30 January 2003. (www.lib.utexas.edu/benson/Mex_Archives/Limantour.html).
"José Yves Limantour 1854-1935" The Maritime Heritage Project. Online. 3 March 2003. (www.maritimeheritage.org).
WebRoots Library U.S. History. Online. 27 February 2003.(www.webroots.org/library/usahist/tbosf007.html).050603