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Posts Tagged ‘Mexico City’

Yesterday, the city of Oaxaca celebrated its 483rd birthday as a Spanish chartered city.  Early in the morning bells were rung, Las Mañanitas was sung, tamales and atole were served, an air force flyover buzzed the city several times, multiple musical events were held, a convite paraded through the streets, fireworks exploded from the Plaza de la Danza, and more, and it continues.  I was going to write about it, but…

Today a more urgent anniversary requires our attention:  Mexico Marks 7 Months Since 43 Ayotzinapa Students Disappeared.  Family, fellow classmates, friends, and supporters around the world keep their names alive and cry for justice.  And artists continue to reach into our minds and hearts through their music, artwork, and film making.

In the documentary, Ayotzinapa’s 43 Disappeared: Family & Friends Remember, we hear the voices of their classmates and relatives. They don’t trust the official story and are determined to find out what happened.

Near the end of the song, “La Patria Madrina,” from her new album, Balas y Chocolate (Bullets and Chocolat), Lila Downs chants the Ayotzinapa 43 mantra that can be seen and heard all over Mexico, ¡Vivos los llevaron, vivos los queremos!  (They were taken alive, and we want them back alive!)

And, on walls throughout Mexico, our attention is called to the missing 43 students from the Escuela Normal Rural Raúl Isidro Burgos, teachers’ college in Ayotzinapa, Guerrero.

Oaxaca de Juárez

Oaxaca de Juárez

Mexico City

Mexico City

Mexico City

Mexico City

Oaxaca de Juárez

Oaxaca de Juárez

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Today’s Google Doodle solves a little mystery leftover from my brief March visit to Mexico City.  Staying in Colonia Cuauhtemoc, making my way to Insurgentes metro stop took me across Paseo de la Reforma and past this beguiling sculpture.

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I circumnavigated the sculpture on several occasions in an unsuccessful attempt at finding a plaque identifying the artist.  Thanks to today’s Google Doodle, now I know.  Titled, How Doth the Little Crocodile (also known simply as, Crocodile), it is by the late surrealist artist, writer, expat, and women’s liberation activist, Leonora Carrington, whose 98th birthday is being honored today.  The sculpture’s title comes from the Lewis Carroll poem by the same name.

Carrington led an extraordinary and fascinating life that was touched by many of the most important events and influential people of the twentieth century.  In 2000, she donated the sculpture to Mexico City, her adopted home for the latter part of her life, and it was moved to its current location in 2006.  How lucky for all whose paths cross this whimsical creation with its smiling jaws!

How Doth the Little Crocodile
by Lewis Carroll

How doth the little crocodile
Improve his shining tail,
And pour the waters of the Nile
On every golden scale!

How cheerfully he seems to grin,
How neatly spreads his claws,
And welcomes little fishes in
With gently smiling jaws!

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Last week, while in Mexico City, I paid my respects to Tláloc, the Aztec rain deity, both at the Templo Mayor and Museo Nacional de Antropología (National Anthropology Museum).

Templo Mayor, Mexico City

Tláloc — Templo Mayor, Mexico City

I’m now back in Oaxaca and, for the third day in a row, Tláloc is making his presence known.  And, rain is in the forecast for the next several days.

Fragments of a Tláloc brazier - Museo Nacional de Antropología, Mexico City

Fragments of a Tláloc brazier — Museo Nacional de Antropología, Mexico City

Thunder is rumbling and, out of the corner of my eye, I see flashes of lightning to the east.  It may be the “dry season,” but Tláloc is speaking and we are listening.

Pot with image of Tláloc -- Museo Nacional de Antropología, Mexico City

Pot with image of Tláloc — Museo Nacional de Antropología, Mexico City

Perhaps drought-stricken California might want to build a temple to this supreme god of the rains — not to mention, institute mandatory water rationing!

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Four days of non-stop sights, sounds, and adventures in Mexico City with my BFF is coming to a close.  So much to do and see, there’s been no time for blogging.  However, all my bags are packed and I have a few minutes…

Today, L and I ventured out to the Museo Dolores Olmedo in Xochimilco, at the southern end of Mexico City.  The museum houses her extraordinary collection of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera’s work (25 of her pieces and 145 of his), 6000 pre-Hispanic figurines and sculptures, exquisite Chinese ivory, porcelain, cloisonné and lacquer, along with other works of art and artesania.  The gardens of this former 16th century hacienda are beautifully landscaped and provide a tranquil escape from the big city.  And, they are home to a muster of peacocks.  I have no idea how many, but they seemed to be everywhere.

And that’s not all.  A pack of Xoloitzcuintles (Mexican hairless dogs) also reside on the grounds, seeming to “pose” for visitors; they especially like the Xolo sculpture in their part of the garden.  As anyone who has seen the dogs depicted in pre-Columbian figurines can see, their origins date long before the Spanish ever knew of the Americas. 

Museo Dolores Olmedo isn’t easy to get to — it took several metro lines, a train, and a bus to get us there and back — but it was well worth it!!!

Now back to Oaxaca for desfiles (parades), ferias, artesania, and Guelaguetzas.

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Late Friday morning, I boarded an ADO GL bus bound for Mexico City to rendezvous with L (a BFF since age 12), who was arriving from Colorado.  For anyone laboring under the myth of the “chicken bus,” I will dispel the stereotype right now.

ADO’s GL and Platino buses are like flying first class (minus the attendant) — the height of luxury and a considerable contrast for anyone who has had the misfortune of taking a cross-country bus ride in the USA.  They are comfortable and well maintained; have men’s and women’s WCs and hot water for the tea bag or instant coffee packet passengers are given when they board.  (We also received a bottle of water or soft drink of our choice and ear buds for the movies that are shown on drop down screens.)  The drivers are professional and miraculously manage to make the drive over one of the formidable mountain ranges that surrounds Oaxaca, a smooth one.

Of course, this is Mexico and at the two-hour mark, break-time for the driver meant pulling over on a mountain road, seemingly in the middle of nowhere, where vendors awaited.

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The views along the Carretera Internacional 135D and 150D were spectacular, as the bus wound its way through Oaxaca’s rugged Mixteca region and down into rolling countryside of the state of Puebla.

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From the air and from the road, the sight of Pico de Orizaba always takes my breath away.  At 18,491 feet (5,636 meters) above sea level, Citlaltépetl (its Nahuatl name) is the third highest peak in North America, trailing only Denali in Alaska (20,237 feet) and Mount Logan in the Yukon (19,551 feet).

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The highway flattened out and rich farmland emerged.

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Eventually, signs of the largest metropolitan area in the western hemisphere came into view.

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A little less than six and a half hours after I left Oaxaca, the bus deposited me and my fellow passengers off at Mexico City’s TAPO bus terminal.  I purchased my ticket for a “secure” taxi, an attendant hailed the next cab, my luggage was loaded into the trunk, and off I went to the hotel and my waiting BFF.

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I’ve been intending to post these photos for six months, but there has been so much going on in Oaxaca, I haven’t gotten around to it — until now.  This morning’s Guardian article, Trotsky’s murder remembered by grandson, 72 years on, caught my eye and I thought, if not today, when?  So, here goes…

When I was in Mexico City in January, I made somewhat of a pilgrimage out to the borough of Coyoacán.  Besides a lovely stroll through the Viveros de Coyoacán, being dazzled by the light and color of the Museo Frida Kahlo, and enjoying a delicious comida on the Plaza Hidalgo, I spent an incredibly moving three hours at the Museo Casa de Trotsky, the home, and now museum, of Russian revolutionary leader Leon Trotsky and his wife Natalia Sedova.  However, before getting to the photos, a very brief bit of context is necessary.

Hounded all over the world by Joseph Stalin and his agents, in 1937 Trotsky and Natalia Sedova were offered asylum by Mexican president Lázaro Cárdenas.  Trotsky’s orphaned grandson, Esteban Volkov (Seva), joined them not long after.  Seva narrowly escaped being murdered in his bed during the first attempt on Trotsky’s life in the Coyoacán house by Mexican muralist, David Alfaro Siqueiros.  It was during this attack that Trotsky guard, Robert Sheldon Harte was killed.

The house at Avenida Viena 19 was further fortified, but Stalinist agent, Ramón Mercader, under an assumed name was able to infiltrate Trotsky’s inner circle and, on August 20, 1940, under the ruse of asking Trotsky to look at something he had written, attacked him with an ice axe.  Trotsky died in hospital a little more than 24 hours later.  His ashes and those of Natalia’s reside in the peaceful garden of the Coyoacán house in a monument, designed by Irish-Mexican painter and architect Juan O’Gorman, that proudly flies a red flag and features the overlapping hammer of the worker and the sickle of the peasant.  The house and furnishings remain much as they were 72 years ago, bullet holes from the first attack and all.

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The humanity expressed in the words below were felt as I wandered through the house and museum and I must admit, tears welled up as I stood before O’Gorman’s monument.

Trotsky’s Testament, dated 27 February 1940

My high (and still rising) blood pressure is deceiving those near me about my actual condition. I am active and able to work but the outcome is evidently near. These lines will be made public after my death.

I have no need to refute here once again the stupid and vile slanders of Stalin and his agents: there is not a single spot on my revolutionary honour. I have never entered, either directly or indirectly, into any behind-the-scenes agreements or even negotiations with the enemies of the working class. Thousands of Stalin’s opponents have fallen victims of similar false accusations. The new revolutionary generations will rehabilitate their political honour and deal with the Kremlin executioners according to their desserts.

I thank warmly the friends who remained loyal to me through the most difficult hours of my life. I do not name anyone in particular because I cannot name them all.

However, I consider myself justified in making an exception in the case of my companion, Natalia Ivanovna Sedova. In addition to the happiness of being a fighter for the cause of socialism, fate gave me the happiness of being her husband. During the almost forty years of our life together she remained an inexhaustible source of love, magnanimity, and tenderness. She underwent great sufferings, especially in the last period of our lives. But I find some comfort in the fact that she also knew days of happiness.

For forty-three years of my conscious life I have remained a revolutionist: for forty-two of them I have fought under the banner of Marxism. If I had to begin all over again I would of course try to avoid this or that mistake, but the main course of my life would remain unchanged. I shall die a proletarian revolutionary, a Marxist, a dialectical materialist, and, consequently, an irreconcilable atheist. My faith in the communist future of mankind is not less ardent, indeed it is firmer today, than it was in the days of my youth.

Natasha has just come up to the window from the courtyard and opened it wider so that the air may enter more freely into my room. I can see the bright green strip of grass beneath the wall, and the clear blue sky above the wall, and sunlight everywhere. Life is beautiful. Let the future generations cleanse it of all evil, oppression and violence, and enjoy it to the full.

For archives and bibliographies of Trotsky, the following two sites are about as comprehensive as one will find online:

Even if you are not interested in the politics, and especially if you are considering a visit to the museum, I highly recommend reading Barbara Kingsolver’s historical novel, The Lacuna, part of which takes place in Trotsky’s Mexican household and gives a flavor of life there.

By the way, the museum site (appropriately) houses the Instituto del Derecho de Asilo y las Libertades Públicas (Institute for the Right of Asylum and Public Liberties).  I wonder, are they are they working overtime these days?

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In Coyoacán, Federal District of Mexico City

Magenta numbers 104 against bright yellow wall

San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas…

Wooden number 40 against white patch on tan rock wall with terracotta geometric design

And Oaxaca…

Black Art Deco 502 against white wall

The zeros have it!

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The day before I went up to Mexico City last month, crossing Llano Park, I came across a newly installed waste container encouraging plastic recycling; courtesy of Tierra Sana, a company promoting and selling environmentally friendly products.

Waste basket made from plastic bottles with a Tierra Sana sign on top

These baskets have cropped up in other parts of the city — this one in the plazuela next to Carmen Alto church.  Please know, the trees will cry if you don’t recycle.

Plastic bottle recycling bin with graffiti drawing of a tree crying in the background.

Once up in Mexico City, I noticed Occupy Coyoacán practiced recycling.

Overflowing recycling bags lined up along bandstand.

And then, we were all brought up short by this electric car…

Silver Nissan electric car getting charged at charging station in the street.

These charging stations are not far from the Templo Mayor; an appropriate juxtaposition, I think.  Automobile pollution can’t be good for the Great Temple.

GE charging station

Then there is bike-sharing — 1200 bikes at 90 Ecobici bike stations in Mexico’s capital city.

Red Ecobici bicycles lined up on bike rack.

For more on Mexico City’s Green Plan, check out 10 Highlights of Mexico City’s Climate Action Program.

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The Occupy movement continues… clashes with the Oakland, CA police on Saturday are making headlines.  And, when I was in Mexico City two weeks ago, an indignado planton (encampment) was firmly established in front of the domed building that houses the Mexican stock mark.  Please note the biblioteca (library).

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I must admit to feeling right at home, as plantons are an almost ubiquitous part of Oaxaca’s zócalo.  For more on plantons, David Bacon provides a cross border historical context to the planton/occupy movements in his article, Unions and Immigrants Join Occupy Movements,

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As you may have gathered, one of the things I love about living down here is the pervasiveness of public art.  So, on a recent trip up to Mexico City, it should have come as no surprise to see the city is filled with heroic sculptures and abstract modern pieces, both serious and whimsical, for all to see, contemplate, and enjoy.

Even benches are an excuse to let the creativity flow.  (S)he is ready and willing to talk or just listen…

Vertigris ostrich bench

He will provide shelter from the storm OR scorching sun, as the case may be!

Aluminum bench topped with a whimsical red chair with lounging figure.

When it’s been an upside down kind of day, have a seat here.

Green metal bench with bottom of torso with legs "seated" on top.

Or, on a Sunday, when the Paseo de la Reforma is closed to traffic, you can park your bike and put a song in your heart!

Smiling young woman sitting on a black iron bench with musical notations; her lavender bike in front.

¡Buen día!

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Dog days

In Mexico City…

Small dog on leash, sitting, wearing pink sweater and gray ruffled skirt.

In Oaxaca…

Large black mangy dog lying on the plaza

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A Global Day of Action, in solidarity with Occupy Wall St. has been called for tomorrow, October 15.  According to a current tally, demonstrations will be held in 950+ US cities and 80+ countries, the latter including Mexico City.   Who knows what will unfold in Oaxaca, where occupations, marches, and road blocks are an almost daily event.

Si no te oyen haz que te vean, #15o, monumento a la revolucion, 12 hrs., Ciudad de MexicoConfession:  This is personal… I’m one of the 99% and lost my job as a result of the economic collapse brought about by the voracious, unconscionable, and unbridled greed of US capitalism.  Heck, even in my old ‘hood, more than 200 ‘Occupy Marin’ protesters demonstrated in front of Bank of America a few days ago.  It’s one of the few times, I wish I was still in El Norte, so I could participate.

BTW, the poster art and slogans coming out of this movement are awesome!  Take a look at the following sites:

If you don’t hear us, can you see us???

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Currently at the Museo Nacional de Antropología

Spanish conquest still “open wound in Mexico,” curator says

Banner for La Conquista a sangre y fuego

Mexico City, Mexico (NTN24 Wires) – The Spanish conquest continues to be “an open wound in Mexico” five centuries later, the curator of the National Museum of Anthropology’s “La Conquista a sangre y fuego” (The Conquest by Fire and Blood) exhibition, Francisco Gonzalez-Hermosillo, said.

“There have been all kinds of reactions, but, especially, there are many who leave very hurt after seeing the bloody images that speak of the violence there was during that period in history,” the researcher told Efe.

The paintings, codices and arms that make up the exhibition show the cruel methods used by the Spanish to impose their rule on Mesoamerica, Gonzalez-Hermosillo said.

The exhibition was organized to mark the 490th anniversary of the conquest of the Aztec city of Tenochtitlan, where Mexico City is situated, by Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes.

The goal of the exhibition is not to “change perceptions of history” but to give the Indians’ view of the conquest because it is “so seldom taken into account,” Gonzalez-Hermosillo said.  [Read full article]

Fifty-three percent of Mexico’s indigenous population lives in Oaxaca (Sipaz report).  One can only hope Oaxaca is on the itinerary for this traveling exhibit.

 

 

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