Follow the stream of regulars to this flavorful corner where the steam table beckons with various soups, stewed and roasted meats, beans, rice, tamales, plantains and salads. We scanned the buffet table, staffed by various servers ready to spoon out our selections and keep the line moving. We spied: chicken soup, hearty beef soup, creamy seafood stew, beef stew, creamy mushroom chicken, roast pork, two kinds of tamales, among other offerings.
Glorious stuff. As our three sides, we chose yellow rice, nicely seasoned red beans served in a separate dish and a spicy Mexican chicken tamal that was wrapped and steamed in corn husk. The combo was large enough to feed three people. Separately, we also sampled a large Guatemalan tamal that has been steamed in a banana leaf. The stewed chicken filling proved delicious. The downside of dining here: Ambiance means bottled water displays and Corona promotional streamers. The upside: You can walk off all those lunch calories by wandering through the chock-a-block aisles.
Dixie Highway, West Palm Beach ; This new-ish restaurant, located just down the street from our office, became an instant staff favorite, thanks to its tempting, generous lunch buffet. So, on any given day, you may find the buffet offers fresh, roasted pork with stellar crackling , stewed chicken, ropa vieja shredded flank steak in creole sauce , plus your choice of rice, beans black or red and plantains. As in the buffet line at El Bodegon, this is not an all-you-can-eat kind of buffet. You get a choice of meat, plus rice, beans and a side.
Highway 1, Lake Park ; This north county favorite is a true self-serve buffet offering deliciously old-school dishes. The buffet line includes a varied salad station, a small soup station, some chilled offerings egg salad, rice pudding and a good selection of hearty meats and sides. At any given time, you may find baked chicken, Salisbury steak, carved to order meats turkey, leg of lamb, ham, roast beef , turkey pot pie, chicken Francais, mashed potatoes, mac-and-cheese, baked beans, collards, carrots, corn and rice. When it comes to brunch spots, this is not the most pizzazzy.
Within that extensive menu are some true gems. The potato pancakes , for instance, are killer. The toasty finish that elevates these potato pancakes also can be found in any side of hash browns here. Not too long ago, I enjoyed those with a spinach-tomato-cheese omelet, rye toast and bacon. And on another occasion, I had them with Eggs Benedict.
Service is harried and as friendly as one can expect during a Sunday morning bustle. But servers do their best to keep your mug hot and filled with fresh-brewed coffee. He fills in the gaps of ambiance and service at brunch time. Hours: Open Monday through Friday from 7 a. That is, after all, what pops up in the thought bubble this time of year, even if we live in seasonally challenged South Florida: Ah, fall! Chilly temps and gemstone hues.
Holiday baking. What shall we cook? Okay, there are no raging autumn leaves or crackling fire on wintry days here, nothing so dramatic that it sparks cravings for appropriately hearty fare. But we do have seasonal nuance. And we have imaginations. So we will cook for fall with the same brazen attitude we wield each time we zip up our winter boots and strut into our air-conditioned offices.
Marley, who also owns a GMO-free product line called Ziggy Marley Organics, did not set out to write a Jamaican cookbook, but one that reflects his life. Within that diverse mix, we found our fall inspiration. Marley offers wonderfully warming recipes, like a lightly spicy coconut-curry squash soup, a cumin-laced roasted cauliflower dish, a stout gingerbread loaf and, yes, that roasted yam tart.
That sweetness finds a buttery backdrop in the baked puff pastry, savory contrast in onions and feta cheese and thyme, plus depth and roundness in coconut oil. The roasting yams and baking puff pastry will fill your kitchen with those fall baking aromas. The sweet yams and creamy-salty feta are a pair made in heaven. Plus, the buttery pastry adds a rich, toasty element. Preheat oven to F. Par-bake the puff pastry sheet on a sheet pan to 80 percent of the package cooking time.
Remove vegetable filling from oven, making sure the yams are soft, and spread evenly over pastry. Top with feta cheese and hempseeds, and bake until the cheese somewhat melts and puff pastry cooking time is complete meaning the final 20 percent of the package cooking time. Oh yes! And they did! Jardin, West Palm Beach. The tacos featured here are made with housemade corn tortillas, pico de gallo, cilantro, pickled red onions and cotija cheese. Ocean Blvd. And our food editor says their one of her favorites too! One of the best crowd-pleasing menu items at Deck 84?
Deck East Atlantic Ave. The stamps will be sold by booklet of What are the 20 best restaurants in Palm Beach County right now? This is why we issue a new list every few months. Which restaurants made our most recent list?
Bon appetit! Pan de Muertos, sweet dessert bread, is often served with Mexican hot chocolate. Photo credit: Agencia Reforma In Mexico and Mexican communities, this day arrives the morning after Halloween and its high-fructose-corn-syrup rushes. Whimsy and memory: Day of the Dead altar. Cox Newspapers photo According to ancient indigenous belief, the souls of our departed loved ones come to visit once a year. Day of the Dead Bread is one of recipes contained in the book. Cox Newspapers photo Make the bread For glaze: 1 egg, beaten Pinch of sea salt Pinch of sugar To prepare the dough , bring the milk to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, then remove from heat and let cool.
Return to the bowl and cover. Let rise for 2 hours, until doubled in size. Preheat the oven to degrees.
Tequesta Brewing Company brewer and owner Matt Webster started home brewing at age He has been brewing professionally since , and keeps six to seven beers on tap at all times. TBC brewery and bar is located on U. Highway One in Tequesta. A Cuban Pizza made by Eddy Tapia. A well-stocked supermarket with a sumptuous buffet tucked inside. El Unico S. Dixie Highway, West Palm Beach ; This new-ish restaurant, located just down the street from our office, became an instant staff favorite, thanks to its tempting, generous lunch buffet.
Buffet with bachata beats at El Unico. Staff lunch favorite: El Unico. Highway 1, Lake Park ; This north county favorite is a true self-serve buffet offering deliciously old-school dishes. The Carving Station lives up to its name. Palm Beach Post file photo At any given time, you may find baked chicken, Salisbury steak, carved to order meats turkey, leg of lamb, ham, roast beef , turkey pot pie, chicken Francais, mashed potatoes, mac-and-cheese, baked beans, collards, carrots, corn and rice.
Most desserts are sold separately. A tot pours syrup on his pancakes. Likewise, starting in the s, many refugees came from Pinochet's Chile and from the military dictatorships in Argentina. Others who have been less persecuted have felt at home in Mexico—the well-known Colombian novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez being an example.
Interestingly, however, now that migration and globalization are erasing and redrawing cultural boundaries, there is an opposite tendency among Spanish Americans, a tendency to distance themselves from a Mexico that they now see as too close to the United States. Many wish to emphasize their own national or cultural distinctiveness, to avoid being lumped together with the Mexicans and therefore subjected to the negative stereotyping and prejudice that exist particularly in the United States.
As all this suggests, a useful way to keep Mexico in perspective is by comparing it, on the one hand, with other Spanish American nations and, on the other, with the United States. The Spanish conquest and the ensuing three hundred years of colonial rule established the foundations of modern Mexican culture. Spanish customs and institutions, the Spanish language, and the Catholic religion were built even literally upon the ruins of the conquered Indian empires and imposed upon a subjugated population.
Yet, significantly, both in the popular imagination and in official rhetoric, it is the Indian, rather than the Spanish, side of Mexico's heritage that predominates. The novelist Carlos Fuentes often remarks upon the irony that the most crucial and fundamental period in Mexico's national development the Spanish colonial era is the one most frequently and conveniently forgotten. This idea is borne out symbolically, Fuentes suggests, by the glaring absence of any statues of the Spanish conqueror Hernan Cortes—the father, literally and figuratively, of this mestizo nation.
In contrast, the statue of the vanquished Aztec leader Cuauhtemoc graces a major intersection in Mexico City. Other Spanish figures—Columbus and the Emperor Carlos V, for example—are displayed prominently in civic statuary, but Cortes is a villain, as reflected in Diego Rivera's grotesque depictions in murals at the National Palace in Mexico City.
Similarly, Cortes's Indian mistress and translator Malinche, the mother of the nation, is viewed as a traitor. In fact, the popular term malinchismo has come to refer to selling out to foreign interests, and today it is applied primarily to those Mexicans who see everything that comes from the United States as superior. The study of pre-Hispanic culture has tended to be dominated by European and North American scholars. In Mexico itself it has run the gamut from utter and indefensible neglect especially in the latter part of the colonial period and throughout most of the nineteenth century to idealization and gross oversimplification.
This last is particularly true of twentiethcentury post-Revolutionary governments, which have appropriated the preHispanic legacy, making it a key part of the official culture. For example, they funded the murals on public buildings that were painted by such artists as Diego Rivera; and they established institutions such as the Museo Nacional de Antropologfa. The extent to which things Indian are officially regarded as vital parts of the culture was apparent in a traveling art exhibition that was sponsored by the government and the Televisa television empire in , in anticipation of the celebration of the th anniversary of Columbus's discovery of America.
It was entitled "Splendors of Thirty Centuries" and was completely dominated by pre-Hispanic artifacts, much to the chagrin of modern artists and a number of critics. Many of the latter thought it contradictory for curators working for a government that was claiming to modernize Mexico to be playing upon foreign fascination with the exotic and the primitive.
Attitudes toward the Indian heritage can verge on the hypocritical. On the one hand, most Mexicans today have learned to take pride in their preHispanic history and their Indian heritage; that is particularly noticeable when they are defending their country's sratus and identity vis-a-vis others.
But, for everyday purposes, things Indian are commonly considered inferior, second-class. Quite understandably, but a little paradoxically, it is often the most modern and especially the most educated Mexicans who espouse the idea of the centrality of Mexico's Indian heritage a fact that suggests that nationalistic rhetoric and education in the post-Revolutionary period have had the desired effect.
The less educated and less empowered—those who ironically tend to be more Indian—are inclined to try to distance themselves from things Indian, probably because they know from personal experience the kind of stigma associated with being thought Indian. The fact is that pre-Hispanic culture has been irrevocably modified by years of contact with others, first under Spanish colonial and then under Mexican rule, and what we now know of that culture has been filtered through intermediaries, including the local community leaders.
All of this does not mean, by any stretch of the imagination, that the pre-Hispanic period lacks real influence on the Mexico of today; on the contrary, that influence is present in a thousand conscious and unconscious ways, sometimes so transformed that it is not immediately evident.
Indeed, pre-Hispanic influence has considerable explanatory power, as we shall see throughout this volume. The point is simply that that influence is a modified, mediated one, not a direct one. National and international migration is forever altering the Mexican cultural landscape. Further changes are brought about by increasing telecommunications. Like other developing countries, Mexico is being "electronified" without being fully industrialized, globalized without having fully modernized. The Mayan descendants in the Lacandon jungle of the southern state of Chiapas, traditionally considered one of the most isolated, insular, and least integrated regions of Mexico, are now linked to the World Wide Web through the computer screens of their Zapatista rebel leaders.
Commercial television, national and international programming, advertisements for Coca-Cola, Corona, U. Peasants who since the s and s have flocked to the inner-city neighborhoods and the shantytowns fringing Mexico City are increasingly moving directly—without an elementary education but often with an advanced degree in the school of hard knocks—from the Mexican countryside and provinces, not only into the maquiladoras of the border, not only into large cities like Los Angeles and Chicago, but also into jobs in the poultryprocessing plants of northwest Arkansas and the tobacco fields of eastern North Carolina.
It is as if they were leaping directly from traditional folk culture right into globalization, bypassing modern Mexico and any attempt at becoming integrated into its mainstream. Such processes understandably provoke fears that Mexico's distinctive traditions are in danger of extinction. One observer has remarked on how difficult it is today to see regional and national traditions in operation, since "many of the redoubts of regional culture have disintegrated and traditions are modified as never before" Monsivais, "Notas Yet such processes are never simple, nor do they necessarily lead to the more powerful culture causing the disappearance of the weaker one.
Just as urban and global ways visit themselves on the provinces, provincial ways also affect the ways of the city and the globe. In fact, the development of culture in Mexico that we have been discussing confirms what recent research has recognized—that processes of global integration tend to strengthen and enhance regional differences as much as erase them.
The sequence is punctuated by almost cataclysmic events involving military action and social, political, and cultural upheaval. The first period is the preColumbian one, the period of the Indian civilizations until the time of the Spanish conquest The second period is the one of colonial rule that came to an end with the war for independence from Spain of The third is the republican era that ends with the Mexican Revolution of Arguably, the ensuing period reaches another watershed in , when there was a massacre of student protesters at Tlatelolco, a square in Mexico City.
We can now see how this event marked the beginning of a crisis of legitimacy for the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party PRI , one that finally led to the election to the national presidency of a candidate from outside that party, Vicente Fox, in the year We should take a moment to compare the length of the periods we have just identified: the pre-Hispanic one spans very many centuries roughly B.
In contrast, Mexico's modern history includes the one hundred years of the so-called Republican era from to , while the period from the Revolution up to the present day covers some ninety years. At the end of each of Mexico's historical periods, attempts were made in some way to break with the immediate past, to bring about a fundamental redefinition of Mexico, a new beginning, but one often accompanied by a rededication to the nation's origins.
Yet the more things have changed in Mexico, the more there has been resistance to change. There was evidence of this in , in the rash of political assassinations that beset the PRI, which had monopolized power ever since the Revolution.
These crimes, which have never been fully clarified or solved, were widely understood to have resulted from internal tensions among the PRI elite, between younger and often U. In The Critique of the Pyramid, the sequel to his classic interpretation of Mexican history entitled The Labyrinth of Solitude, Octavio Paz, Mexico's Nobel Prize-winning poet and essayist, suggests an interesting thesis.
He argues that one can trace a line of direct descent in the Mexican political system connecting the country's modern and post-Revolutionary presidents to the viceroys of New Spain and reaching back beyond the Spanish conquest to the Tatloani, the high priests of the Aztec empire. What connects them all, says Paz, is their absolute authority over a hierarchy, the almost god-like aura with which they are vested.
This sort of tradition distinguishes Mexico from the United States and, to a significant degree, from almost every other Spanish American country as well. Even so, they remain cloaked in an aura of mystery and otherness and, given our historical distance and our own cultural viewpoint, it is hard to grasp their scope.
Observed in Australia since , Threatened Species Day reminds us of the vulnerability of creation, particularly to rash human practices. In a world increasingly becoming disconnected with the real, Sangram was an example of how a sense of community alongside the tools of critiquing and thinking help young people bring about change. No more herring for the smoke houses today. We don't spend too much time apart, but this would make it easier to find each other. Fuss, Jean Dominique, trans.
To a large extent, modern Mexicans share our difficulty. The achievements of the ancient civilizations, whether social, cultural, artistic, intellectual, or technological, in many ways match those of ancient Egypt, classical Greece, and Rome. Long before the arrival of Europeans on American soil, Meso-America a region that encompasses parts of Central America as well as modern Mexico had witnessed the rise and fall of a number of civilizations—from the Olmecs to the Mayas, from the Zapotecs to the Mixtecs, and from the Teotihuacanos and the Toltecs to the Aztecs, to name a few. Of the two greatest civilizations, the Maya, centered first in southern Mexico and Guatemala, then in the Yucatan Peninsula, was in decline by the time the Spaniards arrived.
The Aztecs, or Mexica, however, were flourishing; Tenochtitlan, the capital they had founded in on an island in the middle of LakeTexcoco, was larger than any city in Europe at the time, and cleaner. But its fate was to be destroyed and to have modern Mexico City built over its ruins. How, then, did the Spaniards, who were so heavily outnumbered and in unknown territory, manage to do this? Photo by Steven Bell.
It was because of the hostilities with other tribes that it was possible for Cortes to win allies, supplement his meager force of a few hundred Spaniards, and take on the Aztecs. But there were other factors that worked surprisingly in favor of the invaders. To begin with, the Indians were overawed by their first encounter with horses and firearms, neither of which were known prior to the arrival of the Spaniards.
More fortuitous, but every bit as helpful to the invaders, was the fact that Indian legend held that a benign god, Quetzalcoatl, who had been banished from the land, would return at that time, and what is more, that he would assume a physical guise that happened to match that of Cortes. Thus the Spaniards were able to enter Tenochtitlan and establish control through Moctezuma, the Aztec emperor, who became virtually a prisoner.
His subjects, however, grew restive, and in an attempt to pacify them the Spaniards brought Moctezuma out into public view. Exactly what followed is a matter of some contention. According to the Spanish version, Moctezuma was stoned to death by his own people; according to the Aztec account, he was stabbed in the back by Cortes. The Spaniards, laden with gold, now fought to retreat from Tenochtitlan. By the end of the seventeenth century, New Spain had laid claim to an area that ran from the present-day border of Panama in the south, far to the north, into much of what is the southeastern and especially the southwestern and western United States of today.
Only in the nineteenth century was this area significantly reduced, first with the break-off of the Central American Confederation of nations in the immediate aftermath of independence from Spain, and then with the independence of Texas and the cession of virtually all of the American West and Southwest to the United States, as a consequence of the Mexican-American War of Not that Mexico is now a small country; even within its present-day borders, it occupies an area three times the size of Texas.
In Cholula there is a pyramid that the Spaniards crowned with a colonial church, rather as they had inserted a Catholic chapel into the Moorish mosque at Cordoba, back in Spain, as a symbol of their victory over the infidels. More generally, Spanish authority was imposed, from across the ocean, through the appointment of Spanish-born viceroys and archbishops who served as representatives of the crown.
Much as Cortes had used alliances with the disgruntled indigenous groups in order to defeat the dominant Aztecs, so Spanish colonial authorities initially exploited the Indian nobility as intermediaries in order to control and indoctrinate the native population at large. To that same end, they also exploited certain parallels between Catholic and preHispanic religious rituals and icons. Sometimes they came to regret having done so, as in the case of the patron saint of Mexico, the dark-skinned Virgin of Guadalupe, who became a symbol of the struggle for Mexican independence from Spain.
The very distances that seemed to make rigid measures necessary also made for considerable laxity in their application. In practical terms, this was often for the better, for it allowed considerable creativity and flexibility in the melding of Catholic ritual and pre-Hispanic practices and rites, as thousands upon thousands of Indians were converted to Christianity.
That attempt to change the way in which Indians were being used came about largely due to an account of their lot, Brevisima relacion de la destruccion de las Indias , that had been written by a friar named Bartolome de las Casas. It had become customary for the Spanish crown to grant encomiendas to settlers in the newly colonized lands; these encomiendas put groups of Indians under the control of settlers, who could then enjoy the fruits of Indian labor.
Las Casas's revelation of how the Indians were being mistreated under this system he had himself had—and renounced—an encomienda came to the attention not only of the Spanish monarch but also of Spain's enemies, who profited from it, spreading abroad "the black legend" leyenda negro y the tale of Spanish cruelty.
Cruelty and destruction there certainly was, but the Spaniards, partly out of necessity, partly by design, did leave many preHispanic structures social and economic ones, for example intact; in many cases they simply overlayed them with Spanish ones. During the three centuries of Spanish colonial rule, the patterns of interaction between Indians and Spaniards were established, and the processes of cultural synthesis and racial blending that gave rise to the famous castes castas and produced the mestizo were set in motion.
Castas was the term used to refer to the masses of people of mixed race who, as far as the pecking order was concerned, came below the true Spaniards the peninsulares and the people of Spanish parentage who had been born in the New World the criollos. Most commentators remark on how, very early on in the colonial period, things took on a notably Mexican flavor, as pride in and appreciation for things American emerged. Another point to bear in mind is the relative lack of Spanish women in the colonies, as a result of which there was a good deal of racial mixing.
One of the first things that Cortes did when he arrived in Yucatan, prior to moving on to found the city of Veracruz and thence traveling to the central valley to conquer Tenochtitlan, was to engage the services of Malinche, an Indian woman who became his interpreter. She also became his mistress and bore him a son who, if not actually the first member, at least symbolically became the first of the new mestizo race. As we have seen, nowadays Malinche is associated with the idea of betrayal—after all, she was instrumental in the downfall of her people. Her union with Cortes, however, also heralds what would become a continental preoccupation with status, with the mistaken but powerful idea that there was such a thing as pure Spanish blood limpieza de sangre.
The criollos themselves, though often quite prosperous, and despite being of Spanish descent, were sensitive about the superior standing of the true Spaniards. To understand the racial and cultural fusion that took place in Mexico, it is useful to consider the significant differences between the English and Spanish colonizations of America. In the first place, the English and the Spanish encountered very different circumstances. In the north the Indian groups were mostly small and dispersed, with simple systems of social organization; in Meso-America and farther south there were huge, sophisticated empires, with large populations concentrated in major centers.
Furthermore, the Spaniards and the English came to America with very different visions and missions. The English colonizers had in many senses been dissidents or freethinkers in their home societies. They embodied the new, reformist European ideas of individualism and self-determination, of political, economic, and religious freedom; their vision placed man and the individual at the center, and emphasized his ability to harness nature and shape his own destiny.
Even though the Spanish conquest occurred at a time when Renaissance Europe was also emphasizing the importance of mankind, the Spaniards came to America as champions of orthodox Catholicism, with its respect for dogmas, hierarchy, and authority. Ideologically, then, the Spanish conquest was largely an extension of the crusade to reclaim Spain for Christianity, to reconquer the territories that had been occupied by the Moors. The Spaniards were there for the greater glory of God and country, and while they also sought wealth and fame, they were intent on their holy mission of redeeming the Indians.
In many respects, the trauma of the conquest has not been overcome, and perhaps it never will be. Nevertheless, one must remember the contrast between the fate of the Indians in Mexico and those in the United States; there is some irony in the fact that Britain was quick to spread the "black legend" about Spanish cruelty, yet the Spaniards did acknowledge the Indians' humanity in principle and in law. Despite all the acts of physical and cultural violence, there were also many great and famous acts of humanity.
There are striking similarities between the pre-Hispanic and the Spanish colonial worldviews, similarities that facilitated cultural synthesis during the Spanish colonial period, providing the basis for Mexico's cultural uniqueness. In both worlds, religious ritual was extremely important. In the pre-Hispanic world church and state were one, while in the Spanish colonial period the powers of both were inextricably linked. It could be said that in the pre-Hispanic era power served pomp; for example, it was the role of the Aztec Tatloani, through the performance of ritual and human sacrifice, to appease the gods and thereby maintain the order of the universe.
In both cases there is a sharp contrast with the modern premise that power should serve the people, a premise still rather halfheartedly embraced in Mexico. Some saw the time as ripe for independence; others rallied around Spain, particularly in view of the French Emperor Napoleon's incursion into it. In the main, the criollos of Mexico opposed Napoleon, but wanted equality with the peoples and provinces of Spain, while the peninsulares the Spaniards living in New Spain, sometimes referred to disparagingly as gachupines also opposed the Frenchman but refused to accept the idea of Mexican sovereignty or equality.
While there were tensions between criollos and peninsulares, while there was a desire for independence, there was also a consciousness of the exceptional power and importance that New Spain had enjoyed under colonial rule. Perhaps that is why, when an independence finally did come, it really amounted to a conservative compromise. The first spark of rebellion came not from Mexico City but from the village of Dolores, Guanajuato. Father Miguel Hidalgo, a gentle man who nonetheless had had brushes with the Church hierarchy in the past, was, like so many advocates of Spanish American independence, inspired by the ideals of the Enlightenment, by the French Revolution, and the political example of U.
He and some like-minded people were disaffected with the way that liberals in Mexico City had accepted the imposition of a new viceroy, and together they decided to make a public declaration of independence. But things moved more quickly than they intended: news of their intentions leaked out, Hidalgo was faced with imminent arrest, and so, at midnight on September 15, , he tolled the bells of his church and to those who assembled there in response he proclaimed: "Long live religion; long live America; down with bad government!
A rabble army then gathered, composed primarily of poor rural folk who were opposed to both the criollo and the Spanish interests in Mexico City. After further advances the "army" was routed in a confrontation with regulars near Guadalajara. Hidalgo attempted to escape but was captured, defrocked, and executed. His intentions had been noble—to better the lot of the rural and indigenous poor—but things had got out of hand, his efforts to impose discipline and be constructive had been thwarted, and he died regretting the violence that had been perpetrated.
The torch of revolution was taken up by another priest, Jose Maria Morelos, who had time and organization enough to form a government and declare independence in November Spain sent forces to fight him, and it was eventually Morelos's fate also to be defrocked and executed. The royalists held Mexico until By that time, Spain itself was undergoing radical change.
Anticlericalism there was strong, as was the drive towards popular participation in the political process; in view of this, even those who had fought against such people as Morelos now came to see this reformed Spain as more threatening than an independent Mexico. One of them, an opportunistic creole soldier called Agustin Iturbide, now found himself in charge of the imperial forces. He negotiated with another of the rebel leaders, an Indian called Vicente Guerrero, and together they hatched a plan for an independent monarchy in Mexico.
Initially the idea was to invite the Spanish monarch to move to Mexico, but the upshot was that Iturbide managed to insinuate himself into the position, and so he was crowned Emperor Agustin I, on July 25, Guerrero, however, was disillusioned; things had not improved for the masses, and Iturbide, amid much Napoleonic pomp, was becoming increasingly dictatorial. Another creole officer, Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, now drew up a new plan together with Guerrero and Guadalupe Victoria, a rebel leader who had adopted that name in homage to the initiative of Father Hidalgo.
As a result, in Victoria became the first president of the Republic of Mexico, though Santa Anna would continue to be a powerful force for years to come, and the Creoles would continue to rule the roost. In , twenty years after father Hidalgo's Grito de Dolores, Spain formally recognized the independence of Mexico and sent its first ambassador to it. As it happened, his wife was a woman of Scottish descent, and she wrote a lively account of their experiences in Mexico; in it she captures not only the round of socializing among the elite and powerful but also something of the chaos and instability of a country in which revolution and pronouncements of change were frequent, but where little real progress was evident.
In she wrote: "There is no people, nor is there any country where there is a more complete distinction of classes than in this self-styled republic. One government is abandoned, and there is none to take its place, one revolution follows another, yet the remedy is not found. Iturbide had been forced to abdicate, told to leave the country, and then shot. Victoria had survived a four-year term, despite warring factions of federalists backed by strong regional figures and centralists supported by the creole elite in the big city.
New elections in were won by the centralists, but the federalists and Santa Anna installed Guerrero in the presidency, and chaos followed. Guerrero in due course was overthrown, put on trial, and executed. In Santa Anna himself was elected. Since governing was going to be difficult, Santa Anna retired to a comfortable location and left his deputy to struggle with the situation; this man, Valentin Gomez Farias, attempted to challenge the colonial order and bring about reforms, but was inevitably frustrated by the opposition that came from vested creole interests and the Church.
After Gomez Farias withdrew into exile in New Orleans, Santa Anna took the reins once again, now declaring himself a centralist and changing the constitution so that the established interests were protected. He governed virtually as a dictator, and eventually fell out of favor with both conservatives and liberals to the point where he too was forced into exile, in Cuba, in The country then reverted to its earlier constitution; but when Mexico found itself at war with the United States, Santa Anna was brought back.
By the middle of the century Mexico had ceded not only Texas but what would become California, Arizona, and New Mexico also, though it did receive some financial compensation from the U.
Santa Anna was once again in disgrace and in exile, this time in Venezuela , and the country was in even greater chaos. Yet once again they asked Santa Anna to return, lacking a better prospect for holding the country together; this time he ruled with greater pomp and circumstance, squandering money until he was eventually ousted in There followed what is known as the Era of Reform.
Two important laws were passed, aimed at breaking up lands held by the Church and reducing the privileges of church and military personnel; a new constitution, one that would last into the future, was drawn up in Naturally, such changes represented major attacks on the established order, and they met with fierce opposition from the Creoles and the clergy, whose interests were at stake. Many of these people lived in Mexico City, though their lands, their haciendas, were far away, managed by overseers and worked by poor peasants.
Lake Texcoco, in which the Aztecs had built their capital on reclaimed land the lake was about seven feet deep , was still four miles wide, and the city was still supplied via canals or via its causeways by pack animals or serfs. The Spanish ambassador's wife observed that there was little in common between the luxurious lives of the city's inhabitants and those of the Indians who served them. The proponent of the law designed to reduce the legal privileges of church and military men who had been entitled to exemption from the normal processes of the law was himself a lawyer.
Benito Juarez went from the most humble beginnings to being one of the most revered of Mexico's heroes. Born in an isolated Indian community and orphaned at an early age, when he was twelve he made his way on foot to Oaxaca, many miles away, where he was taken in as a servant by a family of Italian origin; later, a friend of that family who was a priest adopted him and gave him an education.
Juarez took a degree in law, married the daughter of the family to which he had been servant, and rose to prominence, first in Oaxaca, then nationally, as chief justice. In that capacity, according to the constitution, he was second in line for the presidency, but when the president was forced to resign, an armed force took over, and Juarez, though now president in the eyes of the liberals, had to escape to Panama.
He returned to Veracruz, where he set up as alternative president and decreed more reforms separating church and state, encouraging religious tolerance, and providing for a public secular education. After much violence and desrruction wrought by both sides, the liberals prevailed, and Juarez was formally elected president in The country now faced massive debt, especially with European banks. The French were the main creditors, and France was ruled at that time by the ambitious Napoleon III, who saw a chance to enhance his reputation at home by making Mexico into a puppet state.
And so French troops were sent to take over the Juarez government. They were routed at Puebla on May 5, , the famous Cinco de mayo that Mexicans celebrate to this day. However, this only provoked a larger-scale French intervention, supported by Mexican conservatives, who convinced the French that Mexicans would welcome a Catholic European monarch. Accordingly, Napoleon offered the throne of Mexico to Maximilian of Hapsburg, an Austrian prince: he would reign over an independent empire but would be backed by French troops.
Maximilian and his wife, Carlotta, established a lavish court in Mexico City. They made efforts to Mexicanize, wearing Mexican dress, eating Mexican food. There seems to be no doubt that they were wellintentioned, that they wished to continue reforming the role of the church and to improve the lot of the Indians, but they were from another tradition and out of their depth. Mexico's economic problems continued; the French decided that the whole business was too costly and, needing their troops back in Europe, they withdrew them.
Juarez, meantime, had gone to the very north of the country, to the town we now know as Ciudad Juarez. Desperate to consolidate his position, Maximilian ordered that all supporters of Juarez should be hunted down and shot as rebels. This made people rally behind Juarez.
By Maximilian himself had been captured and shot, and Juarez made an unceremonious return to the capital. He was reelected president for two further four-year terms. He continued to attempt to balance the budget and to democratize and modernize the country, but he died of natural causes!
The last part of the nineteenth century and the first decade of the twentieth were dominated by what amounted to a dictatorship, that of Porfirio Diaz. Although he was from a similarly humble background, Diaz, unlike Juarez, rose to prominence in the military ranks, eventually becoming a general. Along the way he also became a rich landowner, making his fortune through sugar. He supported Juarez against Santa Anna, and made many public declarations in favor of reform and democracy, but when Juarez's successor, an ineffectual though well-meaning leader, sought reelection, Diaz effectively staged a coup, declaring himself provisional president, and subsequently arranging for his own election.
After his term, he stepped down, and a friend, Manuel Gonzalez, assumed rhe presidency; but Diaz's appointees were still in all the important positions of government. When Gonzalez's government became embroiled in a corruption scandal, Diaz was able to sweep back into power, ostensibly as a reformer. And there he remained, arranging his own reelection, until During the fifty years prior to Porfirio, Mexico had had about fifty different rulers, which may explain the attraction of the relative stability that Diaz brought to the country.
But that stability was had at the price of strong-arm rule and compromised ideals. He won over the conservative landowners by forgetting all ideas of land redistribution; after all, he himself was one of them. The clergy regained much of the power they had lost in previous years and were happy because, while Diaz talked about reform, he in fact changed nothing. The intellectuals and liberals were bought off with comfortable jobs.
And, as ever, the majority, the poorest and weakest people, particularly the Indians, were left out.
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Recruiting bandits, Diaz established his own militia, called the rurales, whose job was to do away with any disorder in the country. Diaz was a friend of foreign investment. Money flowed into the development of cattle ranching, mines, oilfields, and railways. Uncharted lands, often appropriated from the Indians, were easily acquired by foreign interests; cheap labor was exploited with no controls. The profits left Mexico to benefit shareholders in such places as the United States, Britain, and Germany. And so Mexico made great industrial progress, employment levels were high, but reinvestment in the country's infrastructure was low.
By there had been great material progress for some people, but most of it was at the expense of the masses of poor people. In effect Diaz was acting a little like a viceroy heading a government of neocolonial Creoles. Like many dictators and their supporters, these people seem to have believed that they were their country's saviors. Somewhat ironically, while the monarch installed by the French, Maximilian, had sought to show respect for native traditions and popular Mexican customs, the social elite under Diaz cultivated things European, and particularly French, far more than at any previous time.
Both were more spontaneous and fragmentary than premeditated or unified. The Revolution had no shared ideology or vision. It came about because of various kinds of social, economic, and political dissatisfaction, and it degenerated quickly into chaos and violence. In Mexico was preparing to celebrate the centenary of Father Hidalgo's cry for independence from Spain, the famous Grito de Dolores.
Porfirio, ready to show off to the world the achievements of his regime, engaged in a large-scale propaganda exercise, inviting representatives of foreign countries to a luxurious and very selective view of Mexico. Then Diaz declared his intention, at the age of eighty, to seek another term of office, and this galvanized the opposition into action. Diaz was overthrown in and succeeded by various leaders whose rule did not last for long. The first of these was Francisco Madero, who was from a prosperous, landowning family. After two ineffectual years he was ousted and killed by his own commander of the forces, Victoriano Huerta.
A year later, Huerta was driven out of the country, which then fell victim to warring factions led by regional caudillos; the main ones were Venustiano Carranza, Alvaro Obregon, Emiliano Zapata, and Pancho Villa. As for Villa, he was a volatile man, often brutal and sometimes tender, but basically a bandit who raped, murdered, and pillaged his way around Mexico; nevertheless, he managed to acquire something of a Robin Hood reputation and also became famous for outwitting U.
This in turn led to his image becoming mythicized in ballads as the romantic hero who cocked a snook at the big brother to the north. If Villa's main area of operation was the north of Mexico, Zapata's was the south. But Zapata stands out as a man who was not motivated by personal ambition and profit. Zapata was an Indian, an idealist who saw the struggle as one to improve the lot of landless peasants. Zapata was shot by Carranza's troops; Obregon had Carranza put to death and was probably also behind the death of Villa; Obregon himself was shot in Though the worst of the violence was over by , commonly quoted as the end date of the Revolution, things were hardly peaceful for some years thereafter.
Carranza had reluctantly accepted the introduction of a new constitution, one that addressed many of the issues that had caused discontent; it provided for land redistribution, the return of private property to public ownership, a secular education system, and rights for workers, such as minimum wage level and the right to strike. But Carranza did little to implement the constitutions provisions. Widespread disillusionment with the Revolution became encapsulated in the common phrase "the Revolution never reached here" "La Revolucion nunca paso por aqui".
Literally, that may not have been the case, for few areas or levels of society remained unscathed by it, but figuratively the expression means that for a lot of people the Revolution made no difference for the better. However, the powers of the military and of the ecclesiastical hierarchy were tempered, and some leaders in the postRevolutionary period did bring about improvements for humble people—one thinks of the presidency of Lazaro Cardenas, for example Furthermore it was only from then on that presidents were no longer routinely subject to assassination attempts and that there was an orderly transition from one president to another, each serving for a maximum term limit of six years.
Cardenas was a mestizo, and proud of it, and concerned, too, for the common man. He introduced sweeping nationalization of foreign assets, including the petroleum industry, to great public acclaim, but to the displeasure of the United States. He also made radical changes in land tenure at a time when some 70 percent of Mexicans were working in agriculture, and many of them under the old colonial hacienda system. Unfortunately, the new cooperative system of land tenure proved to be less productive than hoped, and depended on large state subsidies, while there was an international boycott of Mexican oil and other economic sanctions imposed by Washington.
The rationale for the name change previously it had been called the National Revolutionary Party was that the main goals of the Revolution had been achieved and that a period of stability should ensue. In fact, by astute organization, by avoidance of political dogma, and by a certain amount of patronage, nepotism, and graft, the PRI remained in power continuously until the end of the century, often with substantial electoral margins!
In subsequent chapters, we shall be commenting on how post-Revolutionary governments affected cultural production and, in particular, how they promoted an official image of Mexican culture. This place is also known by its Aztec name, Tlatelolco. Mexico was about to host the Olympic Games, and the date of the demonstration had been chosen in an attempt to draw international attention to Mexico's internal problems and thus put pressure on the government for change.
The demonstration ended in tragedy when armed police fired on protesters caught in the square. For a long time thereafter official Mexico was unwilling to come clean about the incident and its cost in human lives; estimates vary widely, but at least died, with many more injured.
The significance of the massacre, however, was really symbolic. Viewed against the international scene, it seemed comparable to recent acts of repression in Prague and Paris, while at home in Mexico it echoed the tradition of authoritarian regimes such as the Porfiriato, and even the colonial Spanish one. So, at least, it seemed to many intellectuals.
Writer Octavio Paz, for example, who was his country's ambassador to India at the time, resigned in protest. Furthermore, Tlatelolco served as a reminder of how far Mexico still had to go along the road to true democracy and more equitable distribution of resources, and a reminder of how little progress had been made since the Revolution at the beginning of the century. Clearly, by this time the Partido Revolucionario Institucional was anything but a revolutionary party, and it was not so much institutionalized as ossified and, furthermore, corrupt.
And, while a minority of people were very prosperous, vast numbers of Mexicans were still living in poverty. New guerrilla activity in Guerrero also reemerged in the aftermath of the Zapatista rebellion. Ironically, the government minister most closely associated with the massacre, Luis Echeverria, then became president and proved to be quite popular and left-wing. The number of state enterprises rose, and money was borrowed for subsidies to keep prices of basic items low at a time when most countries were undergoing high inflation.
Subsequently, under President Lopez Portillo , came the oil boom; new reserves were discovered, making Mexico one of the world's most significant producers. Its oil reserves are more than twice those of the United States. The country became too dependent on oil, and corruption siphoned off substantial portions of the revenue. Mexico City's police chief built himself a house so luxurious that that it was later converted into a government museum intended as a reminder of the level of corruption.
After some help from the International Monetary Fund, during the eighties there was a new wave of privatization in Mexico as elsewhere in the world , a recovery of confidence among foreign investors, and a reduction of foreign debt. However, once again agricultural workers in remote places were left behind. A significant amendment was made to the system of land tenure, from cooperative to small-scale private ownership, in the belief that this would favor increased levels of productivity.
A setback came at the beginning of , when there was news of an armed uprising in Chiapas, the southernmost region, inhabited largely by Indians and one of the poorest regions of Mexico. The rebels, remembering their advocate of revolutionary days, adopted the name Zapatistas. Foreign investors' confidence fell once more, and another international aid package was needed before Mexico recovered some degree of economic stability.
On the political front, however, there were tensions between the PRI old guard and its younger leaders, and even assassinations. And corruption on a grand scale reared its ugly head again. By the late nineties the PRI monolith was coming apart; the party was about to lose the presidency for the first time in over seventy years. There are few navigable rivers. Between them there is an extensive plateau mesetd whose altitude near Mexico City reaches about 7, feet. The climate is generally dry and mild, with coldish nights, and it is in this area that several of Mexico's main cities are located.
Other major cities of the central plateau are Guadalajara, Puebla, and Monterrey. Mexico City itself is now the world's largest and most crowded conurbation, exceeding 20 million people, and with a daily influx of new immigrants from the provinces estimated at 1, It is also one of the world's most polluted cities, partly because industrial and vehicular emissions are trapped in the Anahuac Valley, between the mountains. Mexico is now highly industrialized in some areas such as this, but very underdeveloped in others. The Yucatan Peninsula, to the southeast, consists of a limestone table whose water supply is underground; the Mayas held its natural wells cenotes in reverence.
The land itself is devoted primarily to henequen sisal, or hemp. Given its fine beaches and its Mayan ruins, the Yucatan Peninsula has become a major destination for tourists, while parts of Mexico's more rugged western coast have been attracting tourists for years. On the Gulf coast the major town and port is Veracruz, whose climate is typical of Gulf towns: steamy and subtropical. The southern extremes of Mexico, close to Guatemala, are lush and warm. Pacific bay near Huatulco, Oaxaca. At the end of the Revolution there were about 14 million Mexicans; by the s there were more than twice as many.
In part, the growth can be attributed to better health care and, in particular, to a decline in infant mortality. Also, a factor has been the lack of birth control, the latter being frowned upon by the dominant Catholic Church. By the s the government was recognizing that the rapid expansion of Mexico's population was a serious problem; in a National Population Council was established and plans were made to reduce the rate of growth through education and family planning. In soap operas, for example, the actors talked openly about contraception.
It proved to be one of the most successful state-coordinated family planning campaigns in the world. A census claimed that the annual population growth had been cut by about a third, as compared with Projections regarding the likely population level in were accordingly revised downwards, to million. In fact, the present-day population is of the order of 90 million. As we have seen previously, it has even been called the birthplace of a new race the mestizos. In fact the most fascinating—and troubling—aspect of Mexican culture is the way in which the country has retained so much of its cultural diversity, its social stratifications, and at the same time has achieved such a fusion of seemingly incompatible elements.
Mexico is the most populous Spanish-speaking nation in the world though it will one day be eclipsed, ironically enough, by the United States. The early film star Cantinflas provides a stereotype of the Mexican style of speaking Spanish. As with all stereotypes, this one has some basis in fact, but it errs in its exaggeration and oversimplification. The intonation of many Mexican speakers is certainly recognizably different from those of other Spanish speakers.
Given the strong indigenous substratum and the peculiarities of the country's flora and fauna, Mexican Spanish also has a large number of characteristic lexical items of indigenous origin still in everyday usage, such as tianguis open-air market and escuincle child , just to name two. Quite how many dialects of Mexican Spanish there are depends on how finely one chooses to draw distinctions. Other experts have argued for a more subtle identification of multiple dialects.
This is not the place to enter into a detailed discussion of such possibilities, but two observations must be made with regard to changes in the language. The first concerns the homogenizing effect that comes from increased internal migration. The second relates to the outside influence of the United States, which is felt generally but is particularly significant in the northern border region. Within its present-day territory, Mexico has great geographical and ethnic diversity, and this diversity, combined with historical factors, has made for linguistic diversity too.
There are upwards of a million speakers of the main indigenous languages, such as Nahuatl spoken by the Aztecs , Maya, Zapotec, and Mixtec found in Oaxaca , and Tzotzil and Tzeltal in Chiapas, close to Guatemala. And, across the country, predominantly in the central and southern regions, more than 50 indigenous languages are still used by at least a few speakers, with some 16 of these languages found in the state of Oaxaca alone.
In the s, folklorist Frances Toor mapped out 51 distinct and significant indigenous ethnic groupings, from the tribal, idiosyncratic, and fiercely independent Yaqui and Tarahumara in the north, to the Tarascos of Michoacan and the Otomi of the north-central provinces, to the more obscure Lacandones of Chiapas. The continuous and ongoing effects of miscegenation, changing government policies toward the Indians and, indeed, changing and uncertain definitions of the very concept of Indian identity in Mexico have made precise delimitations difficult at best. Political turmoil and processes and policies of cultural assimilation and indoctrination have worked to reduce the number of identifiable indigenous populations, while social stratification, geographic isolation, and marginalization have been among the factors favoring their survival.
One recent, and fascinating, study by Aida Hernandez Castillo documents how one small ethnic and linguistic group on the ChiapasGuatemala border, the Mames, has disappeared and reappeared in government censuses and even on the radar screen of ethnographers and anthropologists over the course of the twentieth century, due to changes in government policy, daily practices, and changes in the way they identify themselves. This challenges both the idea that the Indians are passive and the idea of a pure Indian identity.
The Mames have migrated between Guatemala and Chiapas, Mexico, and from the high sierras to the jungles; many have exchanged traditional Catholicism for the theology of liberation, and many have become Protestant members of the National Presbyterian Church or Jehovah's Witnesses. Concern for and attention to Mexico's Indian heritage and indigenous peoples has never been higher than in the early post-Revolutionary period, both in terms of official rhetoric and actual government policy.
Many have remarked upon the ironies surrounding the creation of Mexico's famous Museo Nacional de Antropologia in the late s and s. At the same time as the government was collecting ethnographic data on the country's many indigenous groups for incorporation into the museum as a celebration of the nation's Indian heritage, government policy in the field was encouraging assimilation and the abandonment of traditional practices.
Increasingly, since , policies have shifted to emphasize greater respect for local and ethnically distinct communities, and this tendency gathered even greater impetus from the broad public support and international attention generated by the Zapatista rebellion in Chiapas in However imprecise estimates may be, it is instructive to consider the general historical evolution of Mexico's ethnic composition. Photo by April Brown. Through the mid-seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, Indian numbers dwindled perhaps to as few as 1 million.
But by the dawn of independence in , the Indian population had recouped its numbers and stood at approximately 3. The numbers of peninsulares and criollos remained fairly constant at some 15,, while the mixed population of mestizos and mulattos had grown to more than 2 million Iturriaga, In other words, at the dawn of independence Indians still constituted the majority of the population in Mexico, and it is estimated that more than half of the population still spoke indigenous languages, either monolingually or bilingually. By all estimates, and however Indian is defined, the Indian population as a percentage of the total steadily diminished in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, reduced from perhaps some 60 percent to perhaps 35 percent by the dawn of the Revolution in In view of the relatively large Indian labor force, Africans were brought to Mexico in smaller numbers than to other countries; it has been estimated that perhaps as many as , blacks were imported during the three centuries of the slave trade.
But over those same centuries, the black African element to a large degree joined the mestizo mainstream due to miscegenation and acculturation. The mulatto element is seen principally on the Gulf coast in the vicinity of the port of Veracruz, and on the Pacific coast in the states of Guerrero and Oaxaca. Most broad estimates today give figures for Mexico's ethnic composition in the region of percent mestizo, percent Indian or strongly Indian, 9 percent white, and 1 percent other.
If the primary consideration is language, however, the figure for Indians would reduce to 10—12 percent based on the number of monolingual and bilingual speakers of indigenous languages , with the mestizo percentage increasing accordingly. Mid-century authoritative scholars such as Toor and Wolf can paint widely divergent, but equally reasonable, pictures.
Toor's focus on folk culture underscores rhe pervasive influence of the Indian substrata in shaping Mexican customs. Wolf's more historical and anthropological account, while highlighting the persistence of strong indigenous community traits and significant pockets of bilingual and even monolingual speakers of native languages, nonetheless concludes that by the mid-twentieth century there were no pure Indians, and certainly no pure Europeans in Mexico with the exception of recent immigrants.