Bells rang across Mexico City on Thursday night, recreating the 1810 call to arms known as El Grito – the cry to overthrow Spanish rule and fight for independence.
“Long live Mexico!” President Andrés Manuel López Obrador shouted repeatedly — calls that were echoed loudly by the massive crowd that filled Mexico City’s Zócalo, the capital’s main square. He celebrated Mexico’s identity, its culture, its indigenous peoples; he also acknowledged the challenges facing the country.
“Death to corruption, death to classism, death to racism!” said López Obrador in Spanish. Responding to each sentence, the crowd shouted: “Muera!” (Die!)
Estimates of the size of the huge crowd varied. At one point, Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum said she was told 130,000 people were in the square; as night slipped into the early hours of Friday, she reported an even greater number: 140,000.
It was Mexico’s first full-fledged Independence Day celebration since the COVID-19 pandemic dampened the 2020 event, and people responded with joy, wearing green paint, white and red and bushy false mustaches.
The crowd braved periodic downpours, rewarded with a concert by norteño legends Los Tigres del Norte.
The government released a video of the celebration, showing a military honor guard presenting Mexico’s tricolor to López Obrador, followed by his invocation to the crowd, the national anthem and a large fireworks display.
As tradition dictates, when the president finished his brief speech, he repeatedly pulled on a long sash to ring a bell perched high in the palace wall – the same church bell that priest Miguel Hidalgo once called. sounded 212 years ago in the town of Dolores, signaling the beginning of the war against Spain and the struggle for the future of Mexico.
The festivities extended beyond the borders of Mexico City and Mexico. A special light show marked the day in Dallas, for example.
Mexican expats and others abroad swapped tips on where to find traditional foods like pozole etchiles in nogada — who Embassy of Mexico in the United States described as “a poblano pepper prepared with ingredients that symbolize the Mexican flag,” including parsley, walnut cream sauce, and pomegranate seeds.
The official date of Mexican Independence Day is September 16. But the commemorations begin the night before, to mark the call to arms that sounded early in the morning from Dolores.
López Obrador’s guests for the celebration presented an interesting picture. From the balcony of the National Palace, former Bolivian President Evo Morales, former Uruguayan President José Mujica and Aleida Guevara, daughter of Ernesto “Che” Guevara, watched. They stood alongside John and Gabriel Shipton, the father and brother of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
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