Painting the Town Red, White and Green
Salinas festival celebrates 200 years of Mexican independence.
Thursday, September 16, 2010
It was on Sept. 16, 1810 that Mexican priest Miguel Hidalgo cried out for the people of Mexico to rise up against the Spanish.
Two centuries later, thousands descended on East Alisal Street to commemorate the anniversary of Mexico’s independence movement.
David Figueroa, the Mexican consul general in San Jose, performed the traditional reenactment of Hidalgo’s cry, known as El Grito, at Salinas’ Sept. 12 event. “This is the day that unites all Mexicans,” he said after the ceremony.
The Salinas United Business Association organized the six-block street fair, and leaders of the association estimate as many 40,000 people passed through. (Police figures were lower).
Mexico also celebrates the centennial anniversary of the 1910 Mexican Revolution this year. But the festivities come at a time when the country is challenged by escalating drug violence.
“That’s not the true Mexico,” Figueroa said in Spanish. “The real Mexico is characterized by parties, hard work and sacrifice – not violence.”
The peaceful crowd appeared to agree. Carlos Garcia, 32, originally from Chiapas, attended with his family for the fourth year. “There isn’t a party of this size for any other group,” the apricot producer said.
The bicentennial is a reminder of how much has changed for U.S.-Mexico relations since Mexico’s independence. After Spain’s defeat in 1821, what is now the western United States came under Mexican rule for 27 years.
John Walton, a UC Davis professor and local historian, says revelers should also take pride in Mexico’s accomplishments ruling Alta California, with Monterey as its capitol. “It led to the integration of California into an international global economy,” he says. “It was a new beginning for California.”