Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Mexican 5 de Mayo

Tirar la casa por la ventana, throwing the house out the window, is an expression that means that you spent a bunch of money for a celebration, which was clearly the case in yesterday Bicentennial festivities in Mexico City.  For those of you who are confused because no one in the States was plying you with margaritas in the middle of September, Mexico celebrated yesterday and today the 200 anniversary of its independence. This is actually the important date in which you want to guzzle those Coronas.
I have always been deeply suspicious of patriotic sentiment, as scoundrels always abuse it for nefarious purposes. But in this case I was curious to see how Mexico was going to celebrate, particularly at a time when it has been deeply hurt by a violent war with the narcos. I think President Calderón wanted to send a message that Mexico is alive and well despite the war on drugs. And the spectacle was lavish. I hope Hillary Clinton was watching. Her declarations about the drug dealers being an insurgency were really stupid. 1. It's not an insurgency when many government and law enforcement officials are on the narcos payroll. 2. The narcos don't want to overthrow the government. They just want to be able to do their business as usual. And you have some nerve to complain, when the demand for drugs is insatiable in the US. 
There was widespread criticism of the millions of dollars spent on this extravaganza, and I think it is fair to complain when there is still so much poverty and inequality in Mexico. The bicentennial is bread and circus for the people, but without the bread. However, I wonder in my naiveté if this extraordinary display is also a necessary statement that Mexico is not a failed state and the narcos, despite the chaos and hurt they create, really are and should be ostracized from Mexican society. They have nothing to do with most Mexicans and they don't deserve to be part of the country or its celebrations.
Mexicans are always extremely self-deprecating in quite a negative way about their own capacity for achievement. On one hand we are deeply proud of our culture and our considerable achievements, on the other we never trust anything to work out as planned. Our penchant for impractical surrealism is legendary.
I'm sure I was not the only Mexican who was flabbergasted at the fact that the celebrations seemed to go off without a hitch and in pretty good order. They looked pretty nifty. And they were joyful, despite the media's insistence to the contrary.
The parade in itself was a hodgepodge. Some of it was tacky and painfully imitative, some of it actually quite cool. The illuminated Zócalo looked awesome. I loved the giant traditional Mexican toys, I loved the colorful parade of dancers in regional attire, and the slide show on the cathedral (I especially loved that it was on the cathedral). I think for once there were way too many fireworks.
I suggest floats depicting giant Mexican food dishes for next time. 
There were some huge duds, like that stupid colossal statue of a guy with a mustache and some of the aerial acts that were trying too hard to be like someone else's Olympic games. I also don't understand why, if we have the most amazing popular music that everybody knows and sings with all their heart, they commissioned awful pop shit for the occasion. Hearing 50,000 people sing along to the song México lindo y querido, made me realize it would have been so much cooler to have a public singalong of the greatest Mexican songs with mariachis, instead of those ridiculous opera singers. I think Moncayo's classical piece Huapango would have given goosebumps to everybody, as when the mariachis played La Negra during the parade. The best song ever written. Period.
President Calderón looked rather ridiculous when he almost tore the flag off of the flag bearer, but he gave a good grito (where's my Viva Juárez, dude?) and then steadfastly refused to smile during the entire proceedings.  Our politicos are nothing if not overbearingly, ridiculously solemn. On the other hand, if you have to account for 28,000 deaths, it's best not to display too much levity. His wife seemed to be having a great time, though. She seems as natural and spontaneous as he is stiff. Their kids apparently were told not to smile under any circumstances.
What was disgraceful were the two retards from Univisión that were providing the most inane, ignorant commentary. The ocassion would have benefited from someone like Jorge Ramos or Maria Antonieta Collins, or someone with at least half a brain, instead of surgically enhanced tits. The broadcast was a total mess. If there is something I hate more than Televisa, it's Univisión.
I realized, as I watched on TV, that after almost 20 years of living abroad, there is much of Mexico that I'm disconnected from. I am not very aware of its local politics or the subtle and not so subtle shifts in the public mood.  I don't really know if it has changed much recently. But I know it is a fantastic country.
200 years ago we liberated ourselves from Spain. 100 years later, we had a revolution to bring justice and equality to the more downtrodden. There was great progress but not quite. We had a one party rule for 70 years. Now we are at a crossroads in which it's time to evolve. Shed our dependence on corruption, mature as a democracy, update our laws and learn to respect and uphold them and be more just with those who have less.
Happy birthday, Mexico!

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