Friday, September 16, 2016
marching to the beat of independence
The people are marching in the streets.
Fortunately, it is not those annoying teachers, again. It is as if La Marseilles had come to life with its call to marchons, marchons! and let impure blood soak the fields.
Today is Mexican Independence Day* -- the day, in 1810, when Miguel Hidalgo (that is an impersonator of him up there -- the boy wearing the Yoda head gear) called his fellow conspirators together to throw off the oppressive yoke of Spanish colonialism and to whip up a batch of carne molida española.** (There is a tendency to slip into Marxist palaver when describing these events.)
And when Hidalgo exhorted his followers to "Kill the Spaniards!", they took him at his word. The rebels met their first real resistance at Guanajuato, where the Spanish had barricaded themselves in a public granary. To no avail. When the rebels took the granary, they slaughtered over 500 Spaniards. Men, women, and children. The Spanish, of course, responded in kind.
The war puttered along indecisively for eleven years, and ended only when a creole general, Agustín Cosme Damián de Iturbide y Arámburu, fighting for the Spanish crossed over to the independence side. For his efforts, his reward was to become the first post-Cortés emperor of Mexico -- as Agustín I. As so often happens in Mexico, he eventually ended up in front of a firing squad.
That is what we are celebrating today in my little village. When I took Barco out for his morning walk, I could hear the blare of badly-tuned bugles. That could mean just one thing -- the school kids were parading through town.
Usually, Barco has no interest in hurrying up to see something I want to see. But there were kids involved, and he is a sucker for the attention of children.
There they were. All lined up to celebrate not being a colony of Spain.
I met a Mexican teacher in San Miguel de Allende a few years ago at another Independence Day parade -- far more fancier than our local fare. I commented on how well the students marched. He responded: "Yes, they march very well. But ask them to read or to add." He sounded a bit frustrated.
But march they do. And they play music. No school would be worth its name name without a drum and bugle corps.
Those of you with a sharp eye will note a distinct division of labor. Girls play drums. Boys play bugles,
The girl in front at your right is my neighbor. I asked her if girls ever play bugles in the band. She looked at me oddly, and said: "No. Girls play drums." Glass ceilings were not on her mind.
The streets were not crowded with spectators. Most appeared to be family members shooting away with their camera phones.
And why not? This is the type of event small communities do well. I had trouble getting to the front of the parade because I stopped to talk with people I knew. That is exactly what these events are about.
They are not about piles of dead Spaniards or a patriotic priest with a hairdo as remarkable as Donald Trump's or fireworks in the evening. They are about creating relationships.
Well, for some people, the event may be about piles of dead Spaniards. During a pause half way through the parade, one of the girls impersonating a symbolic historical figure decided it was time to hack up the girl pretending to be a Spanish lady.
Who says these students don't know their history?
* -- Despite what northerners think, Cinco de Mayo is not the Mexican Fourth of July; that honor belongs to 16 September. See cinco de mayo is not spanish for beer.
** -- Spanish chopped meat.