Friday, September 17, 2010

Touching the Bicentenario

On Wednesday, thousands of people streamed into the center of Mexico City to witness the extravaganza of the Bicentenario. But it was behind the barricades and cordons, away from the security checkpoints and lines of riot police, that the real celebration occurred. Calle Tacuba, blocks from the Zocalo, was a whirlwind of activity as vendors hawked everything from red, white and green wooden noisemakers to cheap plastic toys. On Avenida Reforma, it was impossible to walk 100 feet without being offered a tri-color mohawk headband for 15 pesos. Oversized clip-on Pancho Villa mustaches, historically inappropriate for the occasion, sold like hotcakes. At 6 PM, when the parade began to wind from Chapultepec Park to the Palacio Nacional, the loudest cheers were reserved for the icons of popular culture. "Arriba los nopales!" was the exuberant response to a float of dancers wearing cactus headdresses. Representations of street food vendors, maids, street sweepers, were all received more effusively than independence heroes or revolutionary martyrs. Later, Felipe Calderon would step to the balcony of the Palacio Nacional and, in the traditional "grito", proclaim "vivas" to the canonized figures of Miguel Hidalgo, Jose Maria Morelos, Ignacio Allende, Josefa Ortiz de Dominguez and others, it was the last viva that gave true meaning to the spectacle. ¡Viva Mexico! Mexico: brilliant and resilient, with an effervescently inventive popular culture. Mexico, alive and surviving.

Post 2 of 4 on the Bicentennial:

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