210th Anniversary of the Independence of Mexico

by Ana Luisa Fajer, Ambassador of Mexico to South Africa

15 September 2020

It is with great pleasure that I address you today to celebrate the two hundred and tenth Anniversary of the Independence of Mexico.

Today, as on each fifteenth of September from the late nineteenth century, Mexicans around the world celebrate the beginning of our fight for freedom. With this ceremony, Mexicans renew their bond to freedom, to sovereignty, to Mexico.

In the early hours of the sixteenth of September 1810 Father Miguel Hidalgo congregated the people of his parish in the town of Dolores and encouraged them to join him in the struggle for the freedom of Mexico. Hidalgo’s call became “el Grito de Independencia”, the Cry for Mexican Independence from Spain.

The revolution for independence was due to last eleven years. During this period the insurgents -as we refer to them, the heroes of this revolution- were so ahead of their time that Hidalgo abolished slavery as early as December 1810, and José María Morelos -a brilliant Afro- Mexican- signed the first Constitution in 1814: The Constitutional Decree for the Liberation of Mexican America.

Mexican women have also played crucial roles in our history and fight for our independence. Alongside internationally known Frida Kahlo, we also acknowledge the roles played by women from different social backgrounds such as  Josefa Ortíz de Domínguez, better known as La Corregidora (the Councillor”), and Leona Vicario, Gertrudis Bocanegra, Mariana Rodríguez Toro and María Ignacia La Güera (“The Blonde”) Rodríguez.

These women were heroines of Mexico´s independence war. They are well known for their bravery. They risked their lives defending the insurgents.

Leona Vicario provided money and medical support, helped fugitives, and served as a messenger. After she escaped from prison, she helped her husband, Andrés Quintana Roo, plan strategies on the battle field.

Josefa Ortíz de Domínguez was able to warn Miguel Hidalgo by smuggling a message out after a co-conspirator betrayed the insurgents by informing on plans for revolt by the Independence movement.

The revolution of independence gave birth to a sovereign State, but this new-born had to evolve looking for its own identity through two monarchies, dictatorships and different central, federal and confederate republics; suffer three wars: one with the U.S in 1847 and two with France in 1839 and 1862; as well as two more civil wars: the War of Reform (1858-1861) and the Mexican Revolution (1910-1917).
The fighting was not in vain. Today Mexico is a Federal Republic with well-defined borders and a population that identifies itself within a kaleidoscope of cultures and ethnic groups.

That is why Mexico is written with an “x”, because it is cross-roads for our ancient cultures: Mayas and Otomies, Huicholes and Tarahumaras, Mexicas and Zapotecas. It has received all political diasporas with open arms, integrating those fleeing from conflict into a hospitable society; because the two intertwined lines in the “x” remind us of the dual world of our ancestors: day and night, life and death, women and men.

Mexicans believe we are children of maize which we enjoy moulding into more than 600 ways to make tacos, sopes, tlayudas, huaraches or tamales; we combine chilies without rhyme or reason only to give taste to everyday life; we gather together to share pulque, beer, tequila or mezcal; we revere our ancestors; and we explore every corner on earth to have an excuse to celebrate life in a fiesta.

It is this festive spirit too that causes Mexicans, when we are abroad, to like to identify synchronicities with other countries, with their societies and cultures, blending indigenous traditions with contemporary expressions to build a cultural dialogue which is expressed in genuine interactions, conversations and relationships between people.

Mexico and South Africa have a broad spectrum of shared views on the world to address common challenges in order to promote peace and security, sustainable development and human rights within our countries, this between both countries, as well as in the regional and global dimensions.

In this regard, Mexico and South Africa have been working together to strengthen our bilateral framework through political dialogue; exploring niches for trade and investment; cooperating to promote youth employment and health systems; and mutually supporting our multilateral principled positions in the Security Council, other international organizations and the G20. Closer collaboration between Mexico and South Africa will allow both countries to make a difference in a complex global scenario in the fields of global governance and the rule of law, peace and development, health and education, among others.

It can be said that diplomacy is the art of dialogue and culture is the environment to reach our common goals of freedom, imagination and nation building, and therefore the Embassy of Mexico works to boost activities of people to people cooperation with key South African partners.

A key partnership in the academic field has proven to be the one we have with the Mexican Studies Centre of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) at University of the Witwatersrand for promoting Mexican culture, fostering academic mobility schemes, and teaching and certifying Spanish as a foreign language.

Working together Mexico and South Africa can bring about concrete benefits to our societies, creating innovative solutions in the new normality that will arrive sooner than later when we globally defeat the pandemic caused by COVID-19.