El Gran Mexicano

The History channel has been running a series to determine who exactly, in this the 200th year of Mexico’s existence, is the greatest Mexican to have ever lived. And it was up to the viewers to decide, with their votes being debated, and often scorned, by a panel of self acclaimed experts.

Last night the big decision was made, as the list was whittled down first to the final five, and then to one. The candidates? The former president and, if I remember rightly, only ‘pure’ indigenous president, Benito Juarez. The actor, Pedro Infante. The poet Octavio Paz. The rebel Emiliano Zapata. And the legendary footballer Hugo Sanchez.

The latter was contencious, not least because he beat boxer Julio Cesar Chavez for the best sportsman. Chavez was an all time World Great. Sanchez was not. The panel were also a little upset because Sanchez had his best years in Spain. Does that matter? It obviously wasn’t a big deal when the UK did a poll to find the Greatest Briton about 10 years ago. Viscount Nelson also did his best known work over in Spain, and Churchill’s most well known travails were largely concentrated in Germany.

In case you’re interested, Cuautehmoc Blanco came in third place. I had this debate before the World Cup. I went for Blanco on the basis of his exploits for the Mexican national team, where Sanchez was found wanting. The consensus, in the end, was that Blanco was Mexico’s finest ever player, Sanchez the finest Mexican.

I bet 10 pesos with Paola on the final result. I even let her pick two. She chose Infante or Zapata. I put my money, wisely, on Benito Juarez. A foregone conclusion, I thought. The result? Paola owes me 10 pesos. Whether I’ll ever see it is another matter. I might, you never know. But I’ll not hold my breath.

The History Channel could have saved themselves a fortune and just asked me. I came to this same conclusion years ago on an old blog. Do you agree? Maybe you do, maybe you don’t. I haven’t put up a poll in a while, so there is one just to find out your thoughts over there in the sidebar to your right. The final five candidates. Plus an ‘other’ option.

5 thoughts on “El Gran Mexicano

  1. Hugo Sanchez?, Julio César Chávez? Cuauh…what? (that’s not even a christian name 😀 )….. Chicharíto is the man!

    My vote is for Octavio Paz, my bet is for Don Benito.

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    1. Chicharito is in a hot vein of form in England right now…but he’s got quite a few years to go before he can truly be acclaimed as a Mexican sporting legend! It is very possible though, one day…

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  2. Like most of these “greatest” polls, this one would best be served by splitting it into “How Mexicans would like to be seen” and “How Mexicans see themselves.” My write-in would fit in the latter group.

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    1. Your write in would be pretty controversial in some circles! But you’re right. There’s no logic in most of these votes. Only sentiment and subjectivity.

      One person has put up Miguel Hidalgo in the ‘other’ box. He got beat by Benito Juarez for the political place. Hidalgo did, effectively, create Mexico. But having said that he was a Mexican only posthumously, and even then only for the proverbial 5 minutes before he met his maker at the wrong end of a firing squad.

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