Independence for whom? September 16 Mexican Independence Day

15 09 2010

September 16, 2010 will mark two hundred years of Mexico’s independence from Spain.  This holiday will be celebrated by millions of people in Mexico and by Mexicans and Chicanos living in the United States.  Just as many of us living in the United States also celebrate this country’s independence on the 4th of July.
However, the question remains, who received independence and what does that independence mean?
In the case of Mexico, after a violent ten-year battle that ended in 1821, the colony gained the ability to govern itself.  Where as prior to 1810 it was required to pay tribute and follow the orders given by the royal government of Spain.  Mexico would no longer be a colony of Spain.  It would become it’s own independent country.
But who would remain in power in the newly formed local government of Mexico?  The answer would be the same as it had been for 300 years, the Spaniards or more specifically the Spaniards born in the colony versus those born in Spain.
Unfortunately, the mass majority of the population of Mexico, the “Indian” and Mestizo (mixed “Indian” and Spanish) would not have their interest included in the new constitution that was created.  This was especially true for those people in the rural areas outside of Mexico’s more urban areas.  These were some of the poorest people in Mexico.  Although they fought in the war for independence from Spain they would not see the benefits of that independence.  They would remain in poverty, and still remain in poverty till this day.
The indigenous or Indian people in the rural areas would be forced to work that land that belonged to someone else, participating in a wage labor economy that only benefited the small elite class of landowners who were mainly the descendants of Spaniards.  These descendants of Spaniards born in Mexico were better known as the Criollos.  Many of their descendents continue to rule much of Mexico today.
So on September 16, 2010 as millions celebrate the independence of Mexico, Mexicans must ask, how much of the colonial mentality and system still exist?  The Indian population of Mexico is the original inhabitants of that land, but is still the poorest sector of the society.  500 years after the first Spaniards arrived to colonize Mexico, Indians, are still fighting to reclaim their rightful place in society.  Only now they are joined by the vast majority of working class Mestizo Mexicans that are struggling to live day by day.
To complicate things, many individual mestizos and some Indians have moved up the social ladder and now occupy spaces within the corrupt government.  Giving the appearance that others can also succeed if they assimilate and become part of the ruling class establishment.  However, the majority of native and mestizo people live in poverty desperate for survival have even been forced to work in illegal activities with drug cartels.  Those that choose this illegal life do so out of need as their options for legal work that feeds their families diminish or for farmers who have lost land are forced to move to cities to look for work.
In the end the majority of the population will continue to be engaged in a struggle for survival in direct conflict with those that seek to maintain their wealth and keep millions of people living in poverty.  Until another uprising occurs like the one that occurred in 1910 lead by Emiliano Zapata and Pancho Villa that lasted for ten years.  Or the one that occurred in 1994 led by Mayan Indians in the state of Chiapas.  There is another revolution, waiting to be organized.



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