For those of you that identify as Mexican (or Mexicano/a as I do) whether because you are Mexican of Nationality or of Mexican descent like myself (I was born and bred in California, United States) and for all those that love, respect and appreciate Mexican culture, food and drink (you big drunks), languages (including native/indigenous tongues), and the beautiful cities & pueblos, beach sides, colonial towns, indigenous communities, ancient Aztec, Mayan and a myriad of other civilizations’ Ruins that live on today in México, today I say to you:
FELIZ DÍA DE LA INDEPENDENCIA MÉXICO LINDO!!!
(HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY MÉXICO!!!) Since Midnight last night and probably even earlier, celebrations in México, Los Angeles, and in the hearts of Mexicans all over the world began, because the 16th of September (el 16 de Septiembre) is the symbolic day of Independence from Spain, the empire that invaded in the 16th century las Américas and claimed the lands for their King. The 1500s were a bloody time in las Américas when many thriving empires (think Aztec, Maya, Inca, etc etc.) fell and populations succumbed to a truly “foreign” rule (I mean they, Spanish/los españoles, came all the way from Europe to claim land and resources that had nothing to do with them). I’m not going to get into this though, because I have strong opinions and beliefs about Empires of old that ravaged las Américas, and I will instead focus on the fact that THE PAST presents us with a great and rich bounty of lessons from which to learn. . . so, where was I? Mexican Independence, YES!
Something I did first thing this morning was dig deep into some Mexican History that I had never known before, because I knew I wanted to write and share with whomever would read some of the facts about this holiday. Each year I find myself becoming more proud and more driven to learn and delve deeper into my roots; One way of connecting with my Mexican Roots is through the history of the country, which many would say began on SEPTEMBER 16, 1810 (symbolically México became a country on this day). Hidalgo (or Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla), a priest, began the Revolution for Independence from Spain. He is the symbol, the man who ran in the early morning hours on Sept. 16th with weapons, fellow supporters of Independence, and a flag of the Virgen de Guadalupe (the Virgin Mary of Guadalupe) in the town of Dolores, which is why EL GRITO DE DOLORES (or the Cry of Dolores), is honored each year. Mexicans begin their Independence celebrations on the eve of the 15th leading all the way up to the 16th. “El Grito” was the first moment that Independence from the Spanish crown was declared, by Hidalgo, who spoke to the people from his heart, impassioned with the goal of Independence. . . and so began a powerful time of uprising and momentum for freedom.
Interestingly enough, something many people do not know (including myself until this morning), true Independence from the Spanish empire did not happen until 1821, more than a decade later. For 11 years, bloody wars were fought in which the Spanish forces crushed those fighting for independence (think all the major rebels/leaders/including HIDALGO who was one of many figures killed), but the spirit of Independence was already in the minds and hearts of the people (peninsulares, criollos, indios y negros). The people fighting for Independence from Spain encompassed a range of people including
- Peninsulares (Spaniards born in Spain but living in “Nueva España/New Spain”)
- Criollos (Spaniards by blood born in “Nueva España/New Spain”)
- Indios (Native peoples to the lands of the Americas, many of which were strong and large Native Mexican indigenous groups) ***Something I want to harp on later in this post***
- Negros (could be natives or Black slaves brought to the Americas)
In a similar fashion to the American War for Independence (from the British Empire), those ruled by the Spanish Empire in the Americas began realizing they could be self-sufficient; they could become their own leaders and rulers. There comes a point when those paying tribute to an empire that is thousands of miles away and obeying laws imposed by an empire that does Not know the day to day dealings in these new colonies, feels Wrong and downright Stupid. So the desire for “independence” born in the hearts of many of the people in “Nueva España/New Spain” for different reasons/motivations, was something that GREW and GREW and that people FOUGHT FOR years and years until it manifested.
September 27th 1821, Agustín de Iturbide, a criollo (Spaniard by blood but born in New Spain) entered Mexico City and declared Independence from the Spanish Crown. The official document was drafted, and the next day September 28, 1821 is the official day México claimed Independence (although Spain rejected this). So what happens when a HUGE FOREIGN POWER is no longer in charge/owns “New Spain”, now called THE MEXICAN EMPIRE REGENCY??? . . .
PEOPLE FIGHT FOR POWER. (big surprise huh) People that want power fight, and people that have it, fight to maintain it. In other words, México remains a BIG MESS of a “country” for decades to come.
Agustín de Iturbide became president of the The Mexican Empire Regency and a year later, stupidly accepted the throne as the Emperor of México (yes Stupidly!) calling himself: EMPEROR AGUSTÍN I.
It’s not certain whether he was elected by the people, or if he used his influence and power to claim this title/position, but since Spain was making plans to recover their colony of New Spain eventually, no Spanish nobles took up the new position of power to rule in México out of loyalty to their Spanish Crown. Supposedly Agustín I later regretted this decision. As Emperor of México at that time, he actually ruled:
- lands as far south as bordering modern day Panama
- including most countries of Central America
- lands as far north as the Oregon Country
- modern day U.S. state of California
- modern day U.S. state of Texas
- modern day U.S. state of Arizona
- modern day U.S. state of Utah
- modern day U.S. state of Nevada
- modern day U.S. state of Colorado
- modern day U.S. state of New Mexico
In other words, A LOT OF FU*K**G LAND. SO MUCH LAND! The history of the early decades of Mexico becoming a country are so interesting to me, albeit complex and bloody yet. If you find any of this interesting, click on some of the links I have included as starting points. If I have bored you, I am sorry, I have just a little more to say. How about a PHOTO SLIDE BREAK?? These are some of my Favorite PICTURES from my travels thus far in BELLO MÉXICO LINDO (so you can get inspired to see this beautiful country full of rich cultures and histories).
I LOVE MÉXICO. YO AMO MÉXICO.
I hope some of these photos have inspired you, and if not, I will try one more time at the end of this post to get you excited about México. . . with more pictures.
BACK TO MEXICAN HISTORY, and I will make this as concise as I can. Mexico, in its first 3 decades as an independent country/empire???/land. . . had more than 30 changes of PRESIDENT and 3 constitutions written. There were wars, battles, a constant fight for power and for implementing laws that would serve different factions of citizens of this new country. The sad thing is, many MANY of the Indigenous peoples and groups that fought in these wars for Mexico’s Independence, did so with the promise that they would be returned their autonomy, their lands, their dignity. . .etc etc. ALL, promises made that were not necessarily on the priority list of those newly in Power. (Big Surprise again). . . People lie in order to get what they want, which in this case was armies/bodies/big numbers to fight off the Spanish rule. And the Natives SUFFERED, and continued to suffer throughout the history of early México (more to come on this in a future post).
So there’s my brief history, and some of my ramblings/thoughts/concerns regarding EMPIRES, REVOLUTIONS, INDEPENDENCE DAYS, and the like. If you want to learn more, you can start with purchasing this book :
VIAJE POR LA HISTORIA DE MÉXICO (click for link).
It is a good starting point, but again, with history, using several sources is always best, so as to avoid biases. With everything that I have learned today in my brain and everything that I have shared, I NEED A DRINK! SERIOUSLY! I’m going to get MEXICAN FOOD and SOME TEQUILA in my stomach, because. . . PORQUE SÍ. Porque es un día de celebrar.