Sunday, September 19, 2010

Defending the Patria

The culminating event of the bicentennial celebrations was the traditional military parade on September 16. Easily more popular than the elaborate spectacle of the night before, crowds began filling the sidewalks of Avenida Reforma from the early hours of Thursday morning. By 11, it was impossible to find a spot with a good view, so latecomers climbed trees, stood on upturned paint buckets, assembled perches from unused steel fence-barricades, and purchased homemade cardboard periscopes. The parade featured everything from a brigade of military nurses marching in lockstep to Navy speedboats being towed behind trucks, and column after column of soldiers in both historical uniforms and modern fatigues. Though the few soldiers dressed in the garb of campesino revolutionaries was attempted to recall the battles to preserve national sovereignty and forge a better country, it was the display of modern weaponry that drew the greatest attention. The sheer number of machine guns on offer seemed to suggest national virility: in surveys of Mexicans' trust in institutions, the military has consistently commanded the top ranking, despite its checkered human rights record. Effusive applause for the troops was both a reflection of this esteem and the product of a clear martial fascination.

Of course, the crowds also boisterously cheered the procession of street sweeping trucks trailing behind the parade.

Post 3 of 4 on the Bicentennial.

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