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Posts Tagged ‘Revolution Day’

Today, the 20th of November, Mexico commemorates the 108th anniversary of the beginning of the Mexican Revolution. It raged on for ten years, as various factions battled for power, and the peasantry fought for, in the words of Emiliano Zapata, ¡Tierra y libertad!  (Land and liberty!)

From the smallest of pueblos to the mega metropolis of Mexico City, most every town and city has a street named 20 de noviembre, including Oaxaca.  In addition, Oaxaca has a 20 de noviembre market, where you will find Conchita, my favorite chocolate store, Pasillo de Humo (hall of smoke/grilled meats), aisles of stalls filled with bread, and lines of counters offering menudo and other traditional street food — a very popular destination for locals and adventurous tourists.

Alas, the Mexican Revolution has a complex and bloody history — 1.9 to 3.5 million lives were lost, revolutionary leaders assassinated each other in turn, and promises were repeatedly broken.  The goals of land, water, liberty, justice and law for the peasantry and workers went unrealized.   However, once the armed conflict ended, a cultural revolution began that celebrated and honored working people, peasants, and Mexico’s indigenous roots and helped to forge a new Mexican identity.  As the documentary The Storm That Swept Mexico concludes:

“If we celebrate the revolution, it appears as though we are celebrating the status quo: the miserable conditions of the farmers, workers and the average Mexicans.  And if we are the inheritors of that revolution, then there is nothing to celebrate. Now if we think of the Revolution as an explosion of creative energy then I think we do have reason to celebrate because it was a movement to create a nation more just, more equal, more honest, and an identity we could be proud of.”

To highlight a Oaxaca connection, today’s NVI Noticias published the article, Enciende Madero mecha revolucionaria; Visita Oaxaca en 1909, about Francisco I. Madero’s visit to Oaxaca to light the fuse of revolution in this remote state.

By the way, in 2005, Article 74 of Mexican labor law established the third Monday of November as the “official” holiday — thus following the USA’s “time-honored tradition” of creating 3-day holiday weekends and setting the stage for the bargain hunting shopping extravaganza promoted as Buen Fin.

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Today is the 104th anniversary of the Mexican Revolution.  However, there is no joy; most of Mexico is in mourning for the missing 43 students and the anger is building.  In Mexico City the military parade and celebrations will be moved from the Zócalo to a military installation in the Polanco neighborhood.  A mass protest march will replace it.

Castigo a los responsables de la masacre el Ayotzinapa

Zócalo, Oaxaca de Juárez – Nov. 17, 2014

The country’s attention is focused on today’s Global Day of Action for Ayotzinapa.  Many will wear black today to mourn the loss of students, journalists, and others to violence in Mexico.  It is indeed a global event;  Greek students have posted a video in support of the missing students and their families.  They will be Standing in Solidarity in Salinas (California) and in at least 115 other cities around the world.  And, in Oaxaca, among many other events, at 4 PM there will be a Festival Por la Vida at Santo Domingo, one of 231 actions listed on a Facebook page.

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Today Mexico is celebrating el Día de la Revolución (Revolution Day).  It commemorates the beginning of the bloody revolution that quickly drove dictator/president Porfirio Díaz from his 31-year long reign.  A November 22, 1910 headline in the Palestine [Texas] Daily Herald proclaimed, “Revolution Is Now On In Mexico: The Real Thing is Reported Under Way in State of Chihuahua, Mexico.”  However, the civil war raged on for ten years, as various factions battled for power and the peasantry fought for, in the words of Emiliano Zapata, ¡Tierra y libertad!  (Land and liberty!)  It is estimated to have cost 1.9 to 3.5 million lives.

At least here in Oaxaca, 20 de noviembre is not celebrated with as much pomp, circumstance, and military hardware as September 16th, Independence Day.  However, there were school floats…

The Government Palace was decked out in green, white, and red and the Governor, along with other dignitaries, presided from its balcony.

As always, the bomberos (firefighters) received much applause as they passed by the crowds gathered along the parade route.

Not so much love given to these guys from the Agencia Estatal de Investigaciones, an agency of Oaxaca’s Attorney General’s office.

And then there was this gal, directly across from the Government Palace…

Octavio Paz writes in The Labyrinth of Solitude, “The Revolution began as a demand for truth and honesty in the government…. Gradually the movement found and defined itself, in the midst of battle and later when in power.  Its lack of a set program gave it popular authenticity and originality.  This fact accounts for both its greatness and its weaknesses.” [p. 136, Grove Pr. 1985]

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