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Mexico: Celebrating the Bicentennial in the Middle of Chaos

Categories: Latin America, Mexico, Arts & Culture, Citizen Media, Development, Economics & Business, History, Politics, Protest

This year Mexico will commemorate the bicentennial [1] of its Independence [2] from the Spanish Crown and the centennial of its Revolution [3] with an extensive program of events. Every year, the entire nation celebrates late into the night of September 15th (and early on the 16th) a renewal of the famous call for a revolution, which is likely to take place in city halls all over the country. Mexicans living abroad will celebrate this act as well, whether in national embassies or at renowned Mexican restaurants or bars.

But this year is supposed to be special, it is supposed to be something that will be “better than anything we have seen before,” as many have predicted.


"It is not perfect, but we can fix it" Image by flickr user Taller Hikari used under an Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic Creative Commons license

A few days ago, President Felipe Calderon gave a speech in which he called all Mexicans to unite during the celebrations, regardless of their different views in terms of religion, politics and attitudes on the subject of the bicentennial. But the date is only a celebration for some; the bicentennial has become a complex subject that has led to different opinions and reactions. Even The New York Times [5]noticed: Randal C. Archibold wrote, “There are the bicentennial buses. Bicentennial roads. A bicentennial marathon. A bicentennial song. The bicentennial digital library. A bicentennial video game. Even a bicentennial bird, the mountain trogan, and plant, the owl agave. And of course the bicentennial fireworks extravaganza, planned to be the largest the country has ever seen. What appears to be missing is bicentennial enthusiasm.”

It is well-known that the government is spending great amounts of money on this celebration, while there are other issues that Mexicans consider are more important than spending 580 million pesos [6] (approx. 50 million dollars) in only one celebration –in only one night. Protests have taken place, and people are responding to the spending amid drug dealing problems, organized crime, migration and a lack of employment and schools.

El Universal [es], [7] a Mexican newspaper, started a discussion to see what readers thought about the government spending that amount of money on the bicentennial celebration [es] [6]. These are some of the responses they got:

Creo que en estos momentos no estamos para festejar nada,tomando en cuenta que en otro estados de la republica,estan pasando por inundaciones y todo ese dinero se deberia aplicar en ayuda a esos lugares y la”celebracion” del bicentenario dejarlo para otra ocasión. (Esteban Flores García)

I believe that in this moment, it is not a good time to celebrate anything. In other states in the nation, there is flooding and all of this money should go for these situations and the bicentennial “celebration” should happen in another occasion. (Esteban Flores Garcia)

Para nada se justifica tanto gasto del gobierno, hay necesidades muy grandes en el pais que podrian ser apoyadas con ese tanto dinero que se va a gastar(Raul López M)

There is no justification for all the money the government is spending, there are very big necessities that the country could support with the cash they will spend (Raul López M)

Yo siento que como Mèxicano da gusto el festejar el bicentenario, pero desgraciadamente los festejos se ven opacados por tanta inseguridad y delincuencia, recordemos lo que paso en Morelia Mich. con las granadas, ademas como justificar un gasto tan exesivo habiendo otras prioridades en el pais. (JOSE FRANCISCO)

I feel like, as a Mexican, it is good to celebrate the bicentennial, but sadly these celebrations are overshadowed by insecurity and crime, let's remember what happened in Morelia, Mich. with the grenades, as well as justifying the excessive spending. We know there are priorities in our country (JOSE FRANCISCO)

On twitter, Mexican users also expressed their thoughts on the celebration of the bicentennial. With a positive attitude, Bernarda Jimenez (@b3rsita) expresses her wish to get Mexican food [es] [8]in this special day:

Ya quiero que sea 15 para #comercomoprecious [9] en este #bicentenario [10] de-li-cio-so!!!

I want it to be the 15 already, so that I can #eatlikeprecious in this de-li-ciuos bicentennial!!!

Another user, Zuza-ku (@zuzaku22) talks about her personal concern on the difficult situation the country is facing [es] [11]:

En el #bicentenario [10] lamento y lloro cada una de las muertes presentes y futuras.

In this #bicentennial I regret and cry each and every single death that happened and that will happen.

Finally, echoing what others have expressed, user Ariadna [es] [12] in her blog Blog de Ariadna [es] [13]writes about her opinion on Mexico's Bicentennial celebration and what is happening inside the nation [es]: [14]

Se que es importante celebrar que somos un país “libre” y “soberano” pero, esto se pudo invertir en cosas realmente necesarias, la pobreza nos alcanza cada vez más y la delincuencia inunda nuestras calles y nuestros políticos solo piensan en como “darnos atole con el dedo” con estos festejos… ojala paremos un momento y nos demos cuenta que realmente no hay mucho que festejar ni mucho por lo cual sentirnos orgullosos.

I know that it is important to celebrate that we are a “free” and “sovereign” country but, this [money] could have been invested on necessary things, poverty is a growing evident issue, and crime floods our streets, and our politicians only think about how to give us “atole with the finger” (meaning cheat or mislead) with these celebrations…I hope that we can stop for a moment and realize that there is not much to celebrate, and not much to feel proud for.