Conrad Fox

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More punching, less shouting during Mexico's Independence "Grito"

Sept. 16, 2015

News and social media painted a dismal picture of Mexico's normally ebullient Independence Day celebrations last night. According to sources, turnout was poor in Mexico City's main plaza, where the President Peña Nieto performed the traditional midnight "Shout" of independence. This despite government efforts to fill the square with state employees and others bused in for the evening from outlying municipalities. For weeks previous activists had called on residents to skip the ceremony which is normally packed to capacity with revellers. Many in Mexico are frustrated with violent crime and a government they say is corrupt and in collusion with criminals.

Social media circulated a copy of a letter which appears to be from the state of Mexico government ordering staff to attend the event, "on pain of sanction." Sin Embargo reported busloads of people from municipalities run by the PRI party -- the same party as President Peña Nieto -- arriving to the square all afternoon, shepherded in by organizers in government uniforms. Still, said observers, the gambit was not enough to fill the square. "A protest march, even one by Antorcha Campesino [linked to the government] would draw more people," wrote Sin Embargo.

Part of the reason, might have been the unprecedented security at what has traditionally been a free-for-all celebration. Streets leading to the square were guarded by dozens of police. Visitors had to pass through metal detectors. Even children were searched. A reported 7000 riot police and other agents were stationed in strategic locations. Protests were quickly silenced. On twitter, one man claimed "I shouted 'Death to the bad government, and a policeman beat me up.'"

The square when it is REALLY full!



Hello. I'm a journalist, radio producer and teacher. I've worked in Latin America and the Caribbean for most of my career. My work has taken me across a minefield, into a gunfight, paddling a dugout canoe and inside the homes of many brave and generous people. I have also produced several major international reporting projects where a large part of my job was recruiting and mentoring local reporters. I love teaching, and besides journalism, I have taught soccer, robotics, anthropology and English.


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