Relations between Europe and Mexico have been dramatic ever since Hernán Cortez conquered the Aztec empire and established New Spain in the early sixteenth century. Along with many other Latin American countries, Mexico gained its independence from Spain in 1810 in a war of independence, after almost three centuries of Mexican gold and silver financing Spanish wars in Europe. Half a century later, Napoleon installed Maximilian von Hapsburg and his wife, Carlotta, as Emperor and Empress of Mexico in a dispute over debts owed to France. The Mexicans later shot Maximilian by firing squad in Querétero, while Carlotta went mad and died a ward of the Vatican (only to be resurrected decades later by Bette Davis in the black-and-white Hollywood movie, Juárez).
Trade liberalization and foreign investment were welcomed for three decades under Mexican dictator, Porfirio Díaz. That cycle of economic opening ended with the Mexican Revolution in 1910. The twentieth century witnessed the nationalization of the oil industry under President Lázaro Cárdenas in 1938 and of the banking industry under President José López Portillo in 1982, before swinging back to trade liberalization and a reopening to foreign investment under President Carlos Salinas de Gortari in the 1990s. On 1 July 2000, the new century marked the entry into force of the Mexico–European Union Free Trade Agreement (MEUFTA or Global Agreement), the most comprehensive trade agreement between Europe and Mexico since the Spanish conquistadores first established transatlantic trade relations almost half a millennium earlier.