Saturday, December 4

The myth as necessity: the commemoration of the independence of Mexico | Opinion


Soldiers parade during independence celebrations in Mexico City's zocalo, Sept. 16.
Soldiers parade during independence celebrations in Mexico City’s zocalo, Sept. 16.Marco Ugarte / AP

In Mexico City, the news about the celebrations of the first centenary of independence filled the main columns of the newspapers: inauguration of artistic and technological exhibitions, massive civic parades, walks through the Alameda, honors to the flag, the recognition of foreign nations . Mexico deserved an anthology commemoration because it was celebrating its 100th anniversary as an independent nation. On its front page The Impartial. Morning Diary it announced the “enthusiasm and elegance” with which the dance at the National Palace was discussed. Next to this news that immediately captured the readers’ attention, a marginal note “Cádiz is celebrating the centenary of the Cortés”. It was September 1910. General Porfirio Díaz received congratulations from diplomats and ambassadors, some journalists recognized him as the man who had achieved the feat of establishing freedom in the republic, after the uncertain decades once independence was consummated. The reason for the celebration, the hundred years of the new nation, found consecration in that man. The myth became necessary, a myth that had been built from the first national histories, reproduced by speakers and preachers from pulpits and tribunes every September 16 in cities, towns, villages. A myth that armed a nation, the one that had lived through the “chains of submission” for three centuries, finally broken by the call of priest Miguel Hidalgo from the parish of Dolores.

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Myth and power walk together, power has needed it for its legitimacy, to find its place in time. There were no exceptions during the long republican period, perhaps interrupted by the monarchical experience in 1863, but the parenthesis closed a few years later and with the republic restored in 1867 the myth not only lasted, it was consolidated during the Porfiriato to reach a link with the general. Porfirio Díaz: independence, freedom and civilization that Mexico reached a hundred years later. September 1910.

Post-revolutionary governments during the 20th century did not interrupt nationalist mythology. The myth as a narrative of possible worlds helped to achieve uniformity: reproduced every Monday in schools, in textbooks, in September speeches, in centenarians, in bicentennials. The myth does not need documents for its existence because it does not require verification. Its parts: the embrace of Acatempan, the broken chains, the American-European opposition, the insurgent-royalists, the liberal-conservatives, the unification under a chronological logic and not a war logic, of the eleven years in which the beginning, September of 1810, would inevitably meet its end, in September 1821. Its end, its consummation.

2021. The still pandemic 2021 witnessed numerous academic events that recalled the Iguala Plan, the Córdoba Treaties and the declaration of independence. Historians who have specialized in the subject have questioned the same idea of ​​consummation because it reifies in separate tobacconists what finds explanations in dynamic, contradictory, regionalized historical processes, in many voices with different intensities and tones, in contexts of war and Constitution. . The academic events around the Consummation of Mexico’s Independence have burst in with new questions about the other rebellions in the manner of Eric Van Young; They have wondered, like Brian Hamnett, if the Mexican Empire led by Agustín de Iturbide was a passing feeling, a reaction, a political movement, an instrument of coalition, or a consequence of disenchantment; If the constitutional monarchical option in which the Plan of Iguala and the Treaties of Córdoba were formulated represented the germ of the republican possibility, as Edmundo O’Gorman reflected several decades ago.

We want to highlight, in this space, some consensus: it is not possible to continue to maintain Manichean explanations about kaleidoscopic processes, the idea of ​​consummation that implies the end of something, renounces the possibility of recognizing and analyzing the multiple features of continuity, for that matter, of the Iturbidism with respect to the Spanish monarchy, but also with respect to the constitutional formulation of that Spanish monarchy. The Provisional Regulation of the Mexican Empire prolonged the Constitution of 1812, as long as it was not in contradiction with independence, so independently or without it, Cadiz institutions such as constitutional councils, provincial councils, militia bodies, electoral processes were increased and consolidated. indirect popular. Independence is part of a revolution with a liberal face, the Mexican Empire was an option for the inhabitants of the former viceroyalty of New Spain, an option that in its germ contained the republic. The existing provincialism, reinforced since the Bourbon reforms, was constitutionalized in 1812 and was expressed institutionally both in the first Mexican monarchy in 1821 and in the establishment of the federal people’s representative republic in 1824.

The official versions of national history and nationalisms have made the consummation of independence a synecdoche, in which the part explains the whole, that part has also been encapsulated in emblematic images such as the triumphal entrance to the city of Mexico of Agustín de Iturbide at the head of the Trigarante Army or that of the embrace between him and Vicente Guerrero as if the idea of ​​the “country of one man” could still be sustained. The myth reformulated by the different governments from the 19th century to the present day, some emphasizing more the beginnings of the war with the hidalgos, morelos, allendes, souls, others finding better reasons to celebrate the finals with recognition of the Warriors, is still effective for the Mexican political class. The fourth transformation sustained as the ideological flag of the Government of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador decided its place in the contemporary history of Mexico, the myth has not ceased to be, in any sense, a useless resource for the exercise of power.

Mariana Terán She is a researcher at the Autonomous University of Zacatecas and a national correspondent for the Mexican Academy of History.

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