It’s been a long time coming, but it came in the end. From my point of view, it was all well worth the wait. There have been so many mixed messages, opinions, sentiments and images expressed in the run up to the Bicentennial celebrations, about the big party, that some of the gloss was taken off of the big day. Which is a real shame.
The ongoing drug war crisis has of course remained at the forefront of news sites, but as the big day approached, the cost of the planned celebrations also became a hot topic. The government has spent nearly a quarter of a billion dollars on the events, and this has caused quite a lot of controversy. For several reasons.
Firstly, that so much money has been spent at all when there are so many millions of Mexicans living well below the poverty line. Secondly, there are plenty of questions being asked about how the money has been spent, with allegations of corruption and waste. Quelle surprise. This is Mexico.
I’m not going to comment on how the money was spent so much as why it was spent. Is it worth celebrating something so enthusiastically during the current economic, political and civil crises? Is there anything to actually be gained? As far as I’m concerned the answer is an unequivocal yes.
When the UK declared war on Germany in 1939, with no means of actually fighting a war, the nation was plunged into crisis, with its back very much to the wall. A few decades later, in 1966, England won the World Cup at Wembley having hosted the competition. With, incidentally, many people questioning the value of hosting the event in the first place.
In both cases, the nation was pulled together, united in determination and joy respectively. In both cases, national industrial and commercial productivity went through the roof for months afterwards.
Two very different situations, and neither of them comparable in any way to the situation in Mexico. Except. Anything at all – be it war, sporting success or a national celebration of independence – that brings a society together, that motivates a society, that injects pride and energy into a society can have real, tangible, economic benefit to that society. The result can be measured in dollar figures over the longer run. It doesn’t have to be an expensive flash in the pan.
Sadly, I suspect so much gloss has been taken off the bicenentennial celebrations that any positive effects will be a little muted. But it is a start, and Mexico so very much needs a start. Momentum needs to be maintained. That the economy is growing again at a healthy rate with more than half a million new jobs expected to be created in 2010 is a good start.
How the drug war will pan out I don’t know, but there are some positive signs lately. Although I will admit those ‘signs’ can be interpreted in many different ways. Let’s hope things go in a positive direction, which could help the population at large to feel a bit more positive about life themselves. That’s a big step forward.
Last night I saw plenty of positive people, from all ends of the demographic spectrum. Rich and not so rich alike queued for an hour or more to get into the Zocalo and had a great time watching a great show. I felt good about Mexico, and what it means to be Mexican (even if I am not technically Mexican!) and I suspect they did too. Viva Mexico, one more time! And I finish off this post with a quote from a BBC story. With more Eric’s, Mexico will soon be a happier place:
“In Mexico, we all live in fear. And the worst part is that we are starting to get used to it,” Eric Limon, a dancer in the Mexico City parade, told the Associated Press.
“I want to be part of something important. I know this won’t solve our problems, but this is my grain of sand to create a sense of unity. This is what Mexico needs.”