Mexico Independence: An Intoxicating Experience
Exotic drugs, pharmaceuticals,
alcohol, tobacco and the like; pale in comparison to freedom as an addiction. Just one sip of this metaphorical
elixir creates a life risking craving.
“Long live independence!
Long live America! Away with bad government!” On 16 September 1810 Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla aka el Cura, or Father
Hidalgo shouted “el Grito”, the words of protest in Dolores, Guantajuato against the imperialist control of Spain
over Mexico; the Revolution effectively began, ending on the 21st of September 1821. Iterations of this utterance
are reprised at 11:00 PM on the 15th of September to commemorate the independence of the Republic of the United
States of Mexico. Aligned with patriots including Allende, Aldama, and Abasolo the eleven year battle for freedom ensued
although Father Hidalgo was a tragically betrayed casualty in 1811. Despite his early demise during the conflict,
he is recognized as the Father of Mexico as George Washington is in the United States.
Cinco de Mayo? This festive day is generally celebrated in the Southwestern United States and tourist
areas of Mexico; this is not an official holiday in Mexico. The 5th of May marks the pivotal battle of
Puebla in the French and Mexican War. The provenance of Cinco de Mayo is the French occupation of Mexico, aftermaths
of the Mexican-American War (1846-48; remember the ill-fated Alamo?), the Mexican Civil War (1858) and the Reform
Wars (1860). After these conflicts the Mexican Treasury was almost bankrupt, therefore President Benito Juarez suspended
foreign debt repayment for two years with a promise to resume payments in 1863. France, Britain and Spain
sent armadas to Veracruz to demand reimbursements. Britain and Spain renegotiated, compromised and withdrew. France
led by Napoleon III opportunistically established the Second Mexican Empire; this was overthrown with Emperor Maximilian
executed in 1867. The course of history in the United States could have been altered had France succeeded and subsequently
aligned with the South in the United States Civil War. Consider France in the Southwest, Britain in the North and
littoral areas, and angered Native Americans in the West ---- the Union would have indeed been periled.
The elixir of freedom was first tasted by Mexico in 1570 when Gaspar Yanga, an African
nobleman from the region currently known as Nigeria was enslaved to work in the plantations of Veracruz. Yanga escaped;
allied with other slaves and the oppressed indigenous to mount an insurrection against controlling Spain. In 1609
after 39 years of conflict, land was ceded to the Yanga group. The town of Yanga (in 1618 the treaty was signed and
by 1630 the town of San Lorenzo de los Negros de Cerralvo was established) in Veracruz is named for the people historically
acknowledged as “the first free people of the Americas”. In the 20th Century with revolutionaries Villa and Zapata, and overcoming political
empires; Mexico still drinks from freedom’s cup.