Until the 1860s, Mexico’s deep connection to the Catholic Church meant that few Jews settled there. However, it is believed that many of the original Spanish settlers were conversos (secret Jews hiding from the Inquisition, many of whom are said to have settled in the Puebla region), but time has made it difficult to affirm this identification. However, when the French conquered Mexico, they installed Emperor Maximilian I, who not only issued an edict of religious tolerance, but specifically invited Jews from Germany and Belgium to settle in the country.
Maximilian was deposed (and executed) in 1867, but the Nationalist President who succeeded him, Benito Juarez, continued to maintain laws of religious tolerance. This allowed for the three main waves of Jewish immigration to Mexico: from Russia and Eastern Europe in the 1880s, from the Ottoman Empire in the 1910s and from Russia again after World War I.
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