News Around the Republic of Mexico
|Happy Bicentennial/Centennial, Mexico!|
Allan Wall - PVNN
September 13, 2010
Mexican Independence Day 2010 has almost arrived and this year itís a special anniversary.
|Mexican Independence (Bicentennial Office of the Instituto Nacional de Estudios Historicos de las Revoluciones de Mexico)|
|The Mexican Revolution (Bicentennial Office of the Instituto Nacional de Estudios Historicos de las Revoluciones de Mexico)|
The year 2010 marks the dual Bicentennial (200-year anniversary) of Mexican Independence and the Centennial (100-year anniversary) of the Mexican Revolution. (In Mexican history the struggle for Independence and the conflict known as the Mexican Revolution are two separate historical periods, separated by almost a century.)
The public movement which eventually led to Mexicoís independence from Spain began on September 15th/16th of 1810. The Mexican Revolution began on the 20th of November of 1910. There is thus a curious convergence of anniversaries in Mexican history which, besides being a handy mnemonic device to help one remember, has produced this yearís dual anniversaries.
Itís been calculated that over 700 activities related to the Bicentennial/Centennial are being held this calendar year.
The Bicentennial/Centennial is being marked by various cultural, artistic and educational programs. There are ceremonies, conferences, radio shows and art exhibitions. Mexican television stations are broadcasting related programming, and highways are marked with Ruta 2010 signs indicating historical routes. The celebrations are even extending beyond Mexicoís borders as Mexican embassies and consulates host Bicentennial/Centennial programs in other countries. All in all, itís a big celebration.
Mexicoís Independence Day is celebrated on September 15th and 16th. So this year the annual celebration becomes the heart of the Bicentennial.
On the night of September 15th the traditional Grito observance is held. Grito means "shout" or "cry." It commemorates the manner in which Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, considered the father of Mexico, publicly initiated what became the Mexican independence movement, in 1810, in the town of Dolores (later renamed Dolores Hidalgo.)
Hidalgo, a priest, gathered the people in front of the church on the plaza, where he gave a speech and rang the bell (similar to our own Liberty Bell) and called the people to action.
In commemoration of Hidalgoís original Grito, the time-honored tradition is for Mexicans to gather in plazas in cities large and small. There are speeches and performances. At 11:00 p.m., the mayor (or governor or president), on the balcony, waves a flag and shouts vivas in honor of Hidalgo and other Independence figures, and of course "Viva Mexico!" Then fireworks are detonated.
Since this year is the Bicentennial, the annual Grito held in the main Mexican Zocalo plaza is a big one.
Having so many people in one place implies certain security considerations, and these are being prepared for. Mexico Cityís mayor Marcelo Ebrard has announced a drill on the 13th and 14th to prepare for the Grito on the night of the 15th.
The 16th of September is customarily the day of the Independence Day parade. Thereís a big Independence Day parade in Mexico City, dominated by the Mexican military. So this yearís parade is the Bicentennial Parade.
For Mexican federal government employees, there are going to be some days off. Most of them only have to work Monday (the 13th) and Tuesday (the 14th). That means that federal employees (and students) get five days off.
Itís a time of celebration, itís a time of education, and itís also a time of reflection on Mexicoís history as an independent nation.
Mexican President Felipe Calderon delivered the Mexican State of the Union address on September 2nd, and he spoke about the Mexican Bicentennial/Centennial. Calderon said that "...with great emotion and patriotism, Mexicans celebrate the Bicentennial of Independence and the Centennial of the Revolution. Two hundred years ago, Miguel Hidalgo, Jose Maria Morelos y Pavon, and many more women and men dared to dream of an independent Mexico. One hundred years ago, Francisco I. Madero imagined a democratic Mexico, in which the citizens freely choose our leaders, and together with him a generation of revolutionaries fought and began to construct a democratic, fairer and more equitable Mexico. The Independence and the Revolution are foundational moments of the Mexico that we are today..."
"Mexico is a nation under construction. The Bicentennial and the Centennial are moments of unrivaled commemoration, that permit us to reflect as a people over what we have achieved and also what we still need to construct."
"Our generation is called not only to commemorate the past, but, especially, to transform the future. These unique commemorations are a valuable opportunity to confirm principles, to reunify Mexicans around the same objectives of legality, justice, liberty and democracy, and to advance in the transformation of Mexico."
In closing, I trust that our readers, wherever they may be, would join me in wishing the nation of Mexico a happy Bicentennial/Centennial. May it truly be a time for celebration, reflection and the construction of a prosperous Mexican future.
Allan Wall is an American citizen who has been teaching English in Mexico since 1991, and writing articles about various aspects of Mexico and Mexican society for the past decade. Some of these articles are about Mexico's political scene, history and culture, tourism, and Mexican emigration as viewed from south of the border, which you can read on his website at AllanWall.net.
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