Tuesday, November 10, 2009

20 de Noviembre on Itinerarios

When I first moved to Mexico City in the early 1980s I was astonished to find not one, but two holidays celebrating revolution in Mexico. Diez y seis de Septiembre celebrates the break with Spain, but it is Veinte de Noviembre whose scars are still found on the Mexican landscape. That’s when a president was overthrown, plunging Mexico into 10 years of chaos, from 1910 to 1920. This week on Itinerarios we will echo some of the patriotic music which will resonate across Mexico on the 20th of November. Listen in for Sones de Mariachi and much more Sunday evening at 7 o’clock.

Yes, Mexico City can be a difficult city. Its population hovers near 20 million, if not more, it’s polluted; there’s gridlock and crime, though probably not as much as we are led by the media to believe. Yes, you can get a roaring headache in Mexico City without taking even a drop of alcohol. The elevation is over 7 thousand feet. And you can become sick as a dog when you drink the water or eat tacos from the wrong sidewalk vendor.

That said, I love Mexico City. It is a place of extraordinary architecture and to see Avenida Reforma at night is to have your breath taken away. El Ángel de la Independencia ("The Angel of Independence"), anchors the grand glorietta (traffic circle) at Reforma and Florencia. This was put in place in 1910, just as Mexico slipped into 10 years of revolutionary tumult.

Another of my favorite public monuments is the Monumento a la Revolución (the Monument of the Revolution), an edifice begun just as the presidency of Porfirio Diaz was coming unwound. Originally destined to be the Legislative Palace, the construction stalled as Mexico plunged into internal turmoil. It is ironic that this structure, proudly begun by President Diaz, would eventually come to represent the Revolution which overthrew the Diaz regime. This, by the way, became the final resting place of the rebel Pancho Villa.

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