My children: a new dispensation comes to us today. Will you receive it? Will you free yourselves? Will you recover the lands stolen by three hundred years ago from your forefathers by the hated Spaniards? We must act at onceâ€¦ Will you defend your religion and your rights as true patriots? Long live our Lady of Guadalupe! Death to bad government! Death to the gachupines – Grito de Dolores by Miguel Hidalgo
Beginning yesterday evening and continuing into today, Mexico is celebrating its 200th Birthday. 200 years ago, in a little town known as Doloros(now called Dolores Hidalgo) a parish priest named Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla freed the prisoners of the town jail, called the town to mass by ringing the bell and proceeded to give a stirring speech that would give birth to a nation. For his time, and even now, he was a progressive in all way’s shapes and forms. As a priest, he questioned the fallibility of the Pope, supported allowing priests to get married(he had decided to discard celibacy anyway and had several children) and even supported women in the priesthood. In his politics, unlike many of his co-conspirators, he believed ALL people were equal, including Mestizos, Mulattos, pure blooded Amerinds and Black slaves. Many of his criollo co-conspirators were for continuing the race based caste system, he was not. He was an early believer in racial equality, religious freedom and the abolition of slavery.
The struggle would last for 11 years, with many other leaders stepping up and leading the fight. In addition to Miguel Hidalgo, there was Ignacio Allende, Josefa Ortiz de Dominguez (La Corregidora), Juan Aldama, Jose Mariano Abasolo, Jose Morelos, Mariano Matamoros, Vicente Guerrero, Agustin de Interbide and Guadalupe Victoria who led the struggle against Spain and would finally be victorious, although many of the above mentioned also did not live to see the Spanish defeated. You can learn more about this time in history HERE. My father is originally from the town of Dolores Hidalgo, so I have been there several times. When I was young I went to visit my grandparents and even now still visit family who still lives there and throughout the state of Guanajuato. The church where Miguel Hidalgo issued the Grito de Dolores still stands, and is literally down the street from where my father grew up.
Interestingly enough this is also the 100th Anniversary of the Mexican Revolution. In 1910, the people of Mexico rose up and overthrew longtime Mexican dictator Porfirio Diaz, who had ruled Mexico for over 34 years. Diaz had literally sold out his country to foreign businessmen and the rich, stealing land from many of the poor and the Amerinds who had lived on the land for thousands of years. This despite him being of Mixtec descent. Early pictures show how dark skinned he was, by his later years he would literally powder his skin to appear lighter skinned.
After Diaz was overthrown, a lot of political instability took place and led to 10 years of Civil War, a new constitution and another list of people who were immortalized in history. The most well known were Emiliano Zapata and Francisco “Pancho” Villa, but other names who fought to turn Mexico from a feudal banana dictatorship into a modern nation were Alvaro Obregon, Francisco Madero, Venustiano Carranza, Genovevo de la O and Lazaro Cardenas. You can learn more about the Mexican Revolution HERE.
This year, there is going to be a large celebration in Santa Ana for the 200th Mexican Independence Day in Downtown Santa Ana, primarily along 4th St. An article in the OC Register mentions that Councilman Vincent Sarmiento wanted to bring a historical focus to the event. As a big fan of History, I appreciate Councilman Sarmiento trying to help educate the masses on the background of just what they are celebrating. I have spoken to certain people who were born in Mexico and were not quite sure of the difference between the War for Independence and the Revolution. They honestly thought the Revolution had something to do with the French intervention that produced Cinco de Mayo. So for that, thanks for adding that component Councilman, it is important for people to know their history.
In recent posts, I have been drawing parallel’s between the events in Mexico in 1810 and 1910 and events in Santa Ana in 2010. There are similarites, particularly with the Mexican Revolution of 1910 here in Santa Ana today. With this bit of education from the festival, hopefully voters will see this and act accordingly this November.