Monday, September 16, 2019

independencia from afar

Today is my favorite secular Mexican holiday. Independence day.

Admittedly, the Mexican Revolution was far more important in forming the Mexico we know today. But I have a fondness for Mexico's declaration of independence from Spain.

That sentence contains the reason for my visceral camaraderie with this day in Mexican history. Mexico and the United States both threw off monarchical European overlords to establish republics in North America.

Admittedly, Mexico immediately fell off the republican wagon with a short-lived emperor (1810 or 1821?). But exile and a firing squad got the country back on the republican road.

I have celebrated Independence Day in several Mexican cities. But my favorites were in Dolores Hidalgo and San Miguel de Allende.

Dolores Hidalgo because that is where Miguel Hidalgo declared his el grito early on the morning of 16 September 1810. Ending his immortal call to arms with "Death to bad government and death to the Spaniards!" Lots of Spaniards died (as well as Mexicans). As for death to bad government, that is still an international project in process.

San Miguel de Allende makes the list for historical and spectacle reasons. It was the town where the independence plans were laid and where the military and popular forces of the Independence movement met up. In modern times, San Miguel de Allende has used its wealth and status as a tourist magnet to sponsor memorable parades -- complete with mobs of campesinos carrying Spanish-bloodied machetes. Red paint has to suffice these days.

That does not mean I do not enjoy our local Independence Day parades. I do. It gives me an opportunity to see my neighborhood boys and girls dressed up as heroes of the war. We even occasionally have the odd anachronistic float honoring the 1862 Battle of Puebla -- further confusing northern minds about Cinco de Mayo (feliz cinco de mayo).

This year, I will miss it. My business in Oregon will keep me here for a bit longer. But, today my thoughts are in Barra de Navidad where one or more of the neighborhood boys will be dressed as Miguel Hidalgo screaming out his lungs for Mexican independence.

Long may it live.  

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