Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Viva Mexico

Tomorrow, September 16th, marks the bicentennial anniversary of Mexico’s independence. In 1810, Father Miguel Hidalgo led the Mexican populace in a revolt against Spain. Hidalgo's famous speech Grito de Delores (the Cry of Dolores) helped start and lead revolution. Despite Hidalgo's death the following July, the people of Mexico fought for eleven years. During this time, the Grito de Dolores served as their cause, their inspiration. The speech remains a part of the Mexican identity. Every midnight of the anniversary, to kick off the celebration, the Mexican president shouts the last line of the speech: "Viva Mexico!"
Mexicans usually celebrate this day with impressive fiestas, but this year the mood is anything but celebratory. Mexicans are not hopeful for the future. A four year drug war that has taken more than 28,000 civilian lives has created an environment of fear and uncertainty. The violence is so bad that the city of Juarez and the state of Tabasco have canceled their yearly celebrations. Nearly 14,000 troops and police will patrol the streets of Mexico City during the traditional midnight celebration.
This bicentennial celebration should have been huge and festive. The Mexican government spent $232 million on this event, but Mexicans cannot find the energy to fully participate. They cannot ignore their problems. People have claimed that Americans are players in this Mexican drug war. Most of the drugs that pass through the Mexican cartels end up in American hands. And many of the weapons used for cartel violence pass from American hands to Mexican hands. If you choose to celebrate Mexico’s independence with a Margarita, don’t forget the last lines of the Grito de Dolores. “Long live Mexico! Long live Mexico! Long live Mexico!” because Mexico still struggles to live.

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