September 16, 1810 – Mexican Independence Day

zocalo-ciudad-de-mexico

The Mexican Revolution started in the most typically Mexican way possible, with some guy yelling “VIVA MEXICO!” On this date in 1810 a Catholic priest named Don Miguel Hidalgo gathered the people of Dolores in the state of Guanajuato for mass and there delivered the “Grito de Dolores”, the Cry of Dolores. This is marked Mexicans as the beginning of the 10 year war of independence from Spain and the birth of what is now Mexico.

The Mexican Revolution started almost as soon as Cortes landed in New Spain. After destroying every major Meso-American culture he could find, specifically the powerful Aztecs, Cortes and his conquistador counterparts began sending the spoils back to Spain. The line of Viceroys, noble representatives of the king, ruled the Americas with brutal authority. An informal caste system was created starting with the Spanish nobility, Spaniard land owners, Criollos (Pure-blood Spaniards born in the Americas), Mestizos (People of both Spanish and indigenous descent) and at the bottom the native Indians who by law had nearly no rights.

By the time Miguel Hidalgo made his cry for independence, Mexico was ripe for revolution. While Spain was embroiled in a war with France that saw King Ferdinand VII deposed by Joseph “Jeb” Bonaparte, patriots like Hidalgo, Morelos, Allende, Guerrero and Matamoros began the slow and painful process of ousting the Spanish monarchist government. After ten years many royalist flipped sides and joined the rebels. Their objective was to depose the Spanish presence and in its place install the criollo Agustin Iturbide. Iturbide, who had led forces on both sides during the revolution, accepted and on July 21, 1822 ascended to the throne of Mexico as Emperor Agustin I, fucking ridiculous.

What started as a glorious revolution by a well-meaning clergyman seeking fair treatment for mestizos and natives became a power grab amongst the Spanish elite. Iturbide’s reign would last only a year as republican forces led by General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, the guy that led Mexicans forces during The Alamo, deposed him and installed their own corrupt government. More revolution, interventions by both Spain and France, another Emperor, Pancho Villa running amok, and the loss of half its territory in a war with the US, all plagued Mexicans for the next hundred years. Through it all the people of Mexico managed to create a unique culture, a mixture of Spanish Catholicism and Indigenous mysticism. The Spanish blue-bloods referred to this mix of peoples as “La raza mestiza” and looked down on them as an entirely separate inferior race, a byproduct of conquest. Mexicans today are fiercely proud of their mestizo heritage and culture that brought the world chocolate, tequila, Mariachi, Selma Hayek, and of course the venerable taco. I think we can all agree that deserves a shot of tequila and a hardy “VIVA MEXICO CABRONES!”

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