Arts & Entertainment

Mexico’s independence cradle ready to party again after pandemic hiatus

By Sergio Angeles

Dolores Hidalgo, Mexico, Sep 15 (EFE).- The party is back after a two-year pandemic-triggered hiatus in this central town, where Roman Catholic priest Miguel Hidalgo triggered Mexico’s War of Independence 212 years ago with his legendary call to arms.

“Very happy. We’ll now be celebrating again after two very tough years for the whole world, but especially for Mexicans,” local retailer Omar Saavedra told Efe in reference to the more than 330,000 deaths from Covid-19 in Mexico, fifth-most worldwide. “So I think we’re very happy that the party is back.”

Dolores Hidalgo, which was included on Mexico’s list of Pueblos Magicos (Magic Towns) in 2002, also is hopeful that a large influx of tourists will give a much-needed boost to the local economy.

“We’d been feeling very separated from one another, and this is the kind of thing that gets our spirits back up,” Erika, a Mexican tourist, told Efe.

The streets of Dolores Hidalgo have been painted in the green, white and red of the national flag in the lead-up to Thursday night’s “Grito de Dolores” (Cry of Dolores).

That reenactment of Father Hidalgo’s independence battle cry will be staged both there and across Mexico simultaneously shortly before midnight, with President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador to perform that patriotic ritual at Mexico City’s National Palace.

Two and a half years after life across most of the world was dramatically altered by the pandemic, more than 350,000 domestic and foreign tourists are expected to descend on Dolores Hidalgo, a town of just 160,000 inhabitants, for the patriotic festivities.

The celebration will continue on Friday, a national holiday, with colorful parades, mariachi concerts and fireworks.

“We needed to get out. We were really very pent-up and we didn’t know when all this was going to end. It feels nice, it’s really emotional because we’re Mexicans and independence means a lot,” Socorro Silva, a tourist from Tijuana, said.

For the residents of Dolores Hidalgo, welcoming back thousands of Mexicans is a cause for joy and pride and also promises to give the local economy a short-term lift.

Besides enjoying the independence festivities, tourists also can visit the town’s cantinas, vineyards, museums and different sites that pay homage to Dolores’ so-called prodigal son: Jose Alfredo Jimenez, a prolific singer-songwriter of rancheras.

A major security operation has been launched for the occasion involving municipal, state and federal police forces to ensure the independence festivities unfold peacefully.

“The most important thing of all is for us to return to our traditions, which is something the pandemic had taken away: the Day of the Dead and all that. So the most important thing is for our traditions to return and for us to keep celebrating,” Saavedra said.

The initial revolt sparked by Hidalgo in 1810 was ultimately unsuccessful, with the priest being captured and executed a year later.

But it touched off an armed insurgency that lasted for 11 years and culminated in Mexico’s independence from Spain in 1821, although the Iberian nation did not recognize its former colony as a sovereign nation until 15 years later. EFE


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