On September 16, 1810, Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla freed the prisoners in the town of Dolores who had been locked up by the Spanish authorities and called on the people to rebel by ringing the church bells. Although he was later captured and shot for his insurrection, his actions sparked a movement that would lead to Mexico’s eventual independence from Spain.
September 16, 2010 marks the passing of two centuries since the first cry that sparked the independence movement. The “grito“, as it’s known will be re-enacted by Mexico’s current president, Felipe Calderon, tonight on the balcony of Mexico City’s National Palace, overlooking the capital’s main square, Plaza de la Constitucion. The re-enactment, which involves reciting Hidalgo’s words and ringing a bell, takes place in plazas across the country every year; however, tonight’s event will hold special importance and several ex-presidents, including Vicente Fox and Carlos Salinas, will be attending the main event in Mexico City.
Although it’s being billed as Mexico’s “200th anniversary”, this year’s celebrations best mark the beginning of Mexico’s independence movement; the country had to wait a further 11 years until, on September 28, 1821, Mexico’s first independent government was named, headed by Colonel Agustin Iturbide.
Mexico’s road to independence from its European masters and its fortunes as an independent nation have been a colorful and tumultuous journey; a quick browse through Mexico’s history will give you an insight into the country’s growing pains.
Hillary Clinton, The U.S. Secretary of State, has broadcast a message of congratulations to Mexico on YouTube, reaffirming the strong and meaningful ties that exist between the two nations.
Notwithstanding its turbulent past, and its current challenges, today Mexico is on the fringe of becoming a key player in a globalized world. Mexico is an oil-rich state with impressive domestic infrastructures which are improving every year; it has matured politically with a democratically-elected bicameral legislative body; it has impressive plans and aspirations for social and welfare programs to alleviate poverty and decrease its reliance on petro-dollars. Further, its territory shares a c.2,000 mile land border with the world’s most prosperous and most influential nation of the age; and the country has been ranked by economic researchers as being among the top 15 most important emerging economies of the 21st Century.
As Mexicans and expatriates gather in plazas, halls and homes across the country to celebrate the bicentenary, they will do so at a point in history when, despite its current challenges, Mexico’s macro prospects and future panorama look more promising than ever.