Don Miguel Hidalgo: Father of Our Independence

Father of Mexico’s Independence

by Angie Galicia

Late one September evening the name of Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla became forever engraved in Mexico’s history.  Since that night, his life as well as that of Mexico, changed radically.

Before that historic moment when his voice cried out to demand Mexico’s independence from the Spanish crown El Cura Hidalgo, Father Hidalgo, as he was called, was exactly that — an old priest from a parish in the small town ofDoloresGuanajuato.  It was there that he organized meetings with the townspeople and taught the farmers to work the land.

He was an enthusiastic and hard-working man, always worrying about the well-being of his community.  To help the indigenous, he built an estate where he established a pottery shop, a tanning shop, a blacksmith stable, a carpentry store, and a looming shop.  In addition, he sent for bees from La Habana and introduced apiculture to the inhabitants of Dolores.

Up until that famous night, Hidalgo was a Creole priest, born in a hacienda inPénjamoGuanajuato in 1753, and Mexico continued as a Spanish colony, one of the most prosperous ones though full of social injustice.

Hidalgo’s liberal ideas led him to join forces with a group of people who opposed the Spanish dominance.  Together with this group of liberals, among them Ignacio AllendeAldama and Abasolo, they reached an agreement in Queretaro to begin a revolution in October of 1810.  However, they were discovered and forced to move up the date to September 16, 1810.   … continued

Doña Josefa Ortiz de Dominguez Mexican Independence Heroine

Spanish

Doña Josefa Ortiz de Dominguez, a Mexican patriot as well as a heroine of Mexico’s Independence War, made her name in history  for her bravery when she risked her own life alerting the rebel insurgents about the discovery of the Queretaro Conspiracy for Independence.

Thanks to her, Father Miguel Hidalgo moved forward the date in which the Independence movement would start to the early hours of September 16th, 1810. Without her timely notice, the struggle for independence would have been discovered and the efforts of the conspirators would never have achieved their ultimate purpose:  Mexico’s Independence from the Spanish Crown.

Maria de la Natividad Giron Josefa Ortiz is best known as Doña Josefa Ortiz de Dominguez, “La Corregidora” (the Chief Magistrate) of Queretaro. She was the daughter of the Spaniards Juan Jose Ortiz and Maria Manuela Giron.

She was born in Valladolid– what is now Morelia– in 1768 and was raised in Mexico City.  Her parents died when she was a small child so her older sister Maria Sotero was granted custody.  Maria enrolled her sister in the  Colegio de las  Vizcaínas, a very prestigious school to which she was accepted because she was a criolla, creole, that is, the children of  Spaniards born in the New Spain.

While still a college student she met Miguel Dominguez, a widower who often visited the school. They fell in love and were married secretly in 1791; they had 14 children.

As secretary of the Royal Court, Miguel Dominguez was subsequently appointed magistrate of Queretaro in 1802  where the family settled. They quickly won over the sympathy of the Queretaro society of the time, joining various social groups.

It is well known that Doña Josefa was vehemently against the abuse that the Spaniards– that is, the European-born Spaniards – exercised over the natives considering and treating them as second-class citizens.   She always identified with the native’s social problems, for they were relegated to secondary positions in public administration as well as in the military.

The Beautiful Face of Courage: The Adelitas Women of the Mexican Revolution


They looked for water and food for the soldiers, built barricades to protect them in the evening, healed the sick, carried the weapons. They went on foot to the sidewalk, following the battalions where husbands, fathers, brothers, and lovers participated. They are the soldaderas of the Mexican Revolution (1910), better known as “the adelitas”, and participated in all the sides that made up this armed movement: Maderistas, Zapatistas, Villistas, Carrancistas.

 
Many times they had the worst part of the war and some leaders never acknowledged their commitment to the cause. Most of them are anonymous faces and their drama barely appears in the history books. However, some of them were immortalized in the corridos, songs of the time that compiled the experiences of the Revolution.

 
In these corridos their leaders were portrayed, events were narrated and the female presence was reflected in the battalions, always faithful, brave, cheerful, self-sacrificing and even flirtatious, with a personality so typical that it inspired the rest of the group. They even had the courage to dance and find fun in hiding.

 
The photographs of the movement reveal their appearance: dressed almost always in their petticoats or long skirts, wearing scarves and hats. Other times they are practically disguised as men, only their eyes give them away. They rarely appear smiling. Their look had become stern and distrustful, however, they are seen preparing food, guarding their children in their rebozo, sharing the fate of the soldiers.

 

 The “adelitas” or “soldaderas” also occupied more strategic roles as spies, distributing propaganda or clandestine mail agents. Despite this, there were privileges to those who could not access, for example, horseback riding. Even when pregnant, they had to follow the troops walking. If their partner died, they could take their place in the battalion and this was how they could get to occupy military ranks. The greatest rank for a woman was that of a colonel, although almost all the troops had a woman who distinguished herself by her leadership and was the one who coordinated the rest of the women.

 
About how many women participated in the Revolution, there are no precise figures. You have to immerse yourself in the archives to know the names of these brave women and the tragedies they suffered: Petra Guerrera, Hermila Galindo, Juana Belén Gutiérrez, Coronela Caritina …

 
One of the saddest events occurred in 1916, at the Santa Rosalía station in Camargo, Chihuahua, when Villa snatched the train station from the Carrancistas. Ninety women Carrancistas were arrested and one of them shot Villa. Enraged, the “Centaur of the North” demanded to know who had fired at him. As none responded, they were all shot.

 
The “adelitas” or soldaderas were also part of the coveted booty in the clashes between the various revolutionary groups. They were wanted to rape them and thus disgrace the enemy. Thus, these brave and loyal women do not differ much from what other women have been in the wars of the world: consolation and relief, soldiers of a lesser category, cannon fodder. But they have also known to be the most beautiful face of courage.

 


 

Frida Kahlo Viva la Vida

 

For Frida, her paintings were not a representation of dreams but a way to cope with the reality of life. She told her story from her own point of view and through the pain and passion of her experiences.

Family


Frida Kahlo was born July 6, 1907, in Coyoacan, Mexico. She was the third daughter of Wilhelm Kahlo and Matilde Calderon.

Her father, who later changed his name to Guillermo, was a German immigrant of Hungarian descent who worked as a photographer and held a liberally inclined set of views.

In contrast, her mother was a Mexican conservative deeply devoted to her Catholic faith. During her childhood, Frida was drawn more closely to her father than her mother since Frida couldn’t relate to the traditionalist view of women that the latter personified. Through this different type of thinking, she developed animosity towards the Catholic Church and became more drawn to her father’s intellectual pursuits of photography, reading, and painting.

Guillermo Kahlo’s success as a photographer landed him a job with the Mexican Government and its leader, Porfirio Diaz.  The Diaz regime was characterized by its adherence to a Darwinian type of social philosophy centering on the concept of “survival of the fittest”.

La Casa Azul

 

Early Years

The Blue House is the place where Frida Kahlo was born; and where she both lived and died.  In this location, a six-year-old Frida battled against Polio and won the fight. The disease left the dark-skinned and slender girl with a limp when she walked due to shrinking in her right leg, but it did not prevent her from developing a fierce character.  

In her youth, she was involved in many physical activities like running, wrestling, and swimming, but where she shined brightest was in the field of intellectual competitions, such as debate.  

Eventually, her intellectual ability and competitive spirit took her into becoming one of only 35 girls who was granted acceptance to the free and prestigious National Preparatory School

During this school period in Frida’s life, she became part of a group of intellectual bohemians called the “Cachuchas”, or the “Caps”, named in this manner because of the distinct style of hats they wore.  

Also during this time was when Frida met her first love; a young, outspoken, and most notable student in the school named Alejandro Gomez Arias. The couple would spend hours upon hours dissecting books and making sense of their time period, which was being defined by the Mexican Revolution. (Continues….) 

 


 

 

General Ignacio Zaragoza: Cinco de Mayo Hero


Spanish

Cinco de Mayo Hero

When “Cinco de Mayo” is mentioned in Mexico, one of the most symbolic battles in the Mexican collective unconscious immediately comes to mind: the Battle of Puebla. General Ignacio Zaragoza, with only a small army, took on the powerful French forces of Napoleon III during the Second French Intervention.

Ignacio Zaragoza Seguin was born on March 24, 1829 in the city of Presidio de La Bahia de Espiritu Santo, now Goliad, in southern Texas, USA. He was the second son of the marriage between Miguel Zaragoza and Maria de Jesus Valdez Martinez Seguin.

When he was five years old, after the independence of Texas, his family moved to Matamoros in Tamaulipas state, where he began his studies and ten years later he moved to Monterrey, Nuevo Leon.

For several years he leaned toward the priesthood, but then left, perhaps to continue the example of his father, who was an infantryman.

During the United States intervention in Mexico between 1846 and 1848,young Zaragoza tried to enlist as a cadet, but was rejected.

He saw, however, from a distance, how Mexico lost more than half of its territory in an unequal war. It was not until 1853 that he managed to enter the Nuevo Leon army, first as a sergeant, then later as captain of his regiment. In 1854, he decided to join the Plan de Ayutla, a movement that attempted to overthrow the dictator Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna.


Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz


Juana Inés de Asbaje y Ramírez also known as Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, was born in Nepantla Mexico in 1651.

She was a Mexican writer who influenced greatly Hispano-American literature of the 17th century. She was known in her lifetime as “The Tenth Muse“, or “The Phoenix of America.”

Her work was greatly original, writing lyric and drama influenced by the Spanish Baroque. She challenged conventions due to her eagerness to know and her restless spirit. At the time it was frowned upon if a woman manifested independence of thoughts and intellectual curiosity. She often questioned social values and became an early proponent of women’s rights.

Sor Juna was the illegitimate daughter of a Spanish father and Creole mother. Her maternal grandfather owned an hacienda in Amecameca and Juana spent her early years living with her mother on his estate.

Sor Juana Ines as a Child

At age three she learned to read and write, and at eight she wrote her first poem. As a child, Juana often hid in the hacienda chapel to read her grandfather’s books from the adjoining library, this was forbidden to girls.