On Midnight of September 16 our “Grito” of Independence will resonate from every town square of every city in Mexico. Mexican Independence is celebrated on September 16, not on May 5 like many believe, when in 1810, the first Grito was given by Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla in Dolores, Guanajuato, when after ringing the church bells a loud proclamation was heard throughout the small town, “Long live our Independence! Death to bad government! Long live or Lady of Guadalupe!”
Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla was a priest in the town of Dolores, tired of inequality and a corrupt government, began a movement in hopes of becoming an independent country. Although the original grito was given in 1810, there wasn’t an organized army fighting, a few guerillas were formed in a few states, such as Vicente Guerrero in Oaxaca and Guadalupe Victoria in Puebla, yet the lack of unity and organization almost led the whole movement to collapse after 10 years of fighting. In 1820 Augustin de Iturbide, originally a Colonel in the Spanish army, was sent to Oaxaca to fight against Vicenete Guerrero’s rebel army, and in a strange twist of fate ended up joining the cause for independence. Augustin de Iturbide was able to convince his troops to fight for him by coming up with a peace treaty known as El Plan de Iguala, which outlined the establishment of Catholicism, social equality for all ethnic groups and the proclamation of independence. Finally in September 1821 Iturbide proclaimed the independence of Mexico as New Spain.
The Grito has changed since the original day, however the custom has not. Every year on September 15 the city and town government squares begin to fill as night falls. Food vendors and flag vendors stand around the squares, while waiting spectators wait until the clock strikes 12, at which point the town representative begins to ring a bell and yells out:
¡Vivan los héroes que nos dieron patria!
¡Viva Josefa Ortiz de Domínguez!
¡Vivan Aldama y Matamoros!
¡Viva la independencia nacional!
¡Viva México! ¡Viva México! ¡Viva México!
Long live the heroes that gave us the Fatherland!
Long live Hidalgo!
Long live Morelos!
Long live Josefa Ortiz de Dominguez!
Long live Allende!
Long live Aldama and Matamoros!
Long live National Independence!
Long live Mexico! Long live Mexico! Long live Mexico!
For those of you that are in the Riviera Maya this weekend, I urge you to go see the Grito, if you have not experienced before. I am proud to be Mexican and be a part of this amazing tradition. Through echoes of VIVA! and clapping it is a truly amazing experience. It reminds me that no matter how discontent or disappointed one can become with their country, that night all Mexicans come together to remember that we are the people, we are the essence, WE ARE MEXICO!
Greetings from the tropical waters of the Riviera Maya!
Moskito Riviera Maya