On September 16, 1810, Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla,
parish priest of the village of Dolores, gathered his congregation of Indians and mestizos and
called for Mexican independence, with the exile or arrest of all Spaniards (gachupines)
in Mexico who had oppressed and exploited the native populations for hundreds of years. He
ended his speech by calling out "Mexicanos, Viva Mexico!" (Mexicans, long live Mexico!)
– which was doubly significant since the country was known as Nueva España
(New Spain) at that time.
Though the criollos (Mexican-born people of Spanish heritage) had already been
plotting independence, this new movement was far more violent, and ultimately far more
effective. From Dolores, the revolutionaries went to San Miguel de Allende, and from there
to Mexico City, gathering more and more supporters. Along the way they acquired an banner
with the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe, which became a rallying point. The Virgin of
Guadalupe is the patron saint of Mexico, and a woman of color, an important symbol of
Mexico in its own right.
After a long and bloody struggle, Mexico's independence was finally recognized in 1821
by the Spanish viceroy, 11 years after Father Miguel Hidalgo's fateful decision.
Ever since, Mexico has celebrated the anniversary of "El Grito" in the Zocalo of Mexico
City on the night of the 15th of September. The President of the Republic of Mexico starts
the ceremony by ringing the actual bell from Padre Hidalgo's church and repeating the words
of Miguel Hidalgo's call for independence, culminating at midnight with fireworks and cries
of "Viva Mexico". Miguel Hidalgo's speech is repeated from the balconies of every Presidencia
(Mayor's Office) in the country as part of the traditional independence celebration that
are part of the Fiestas Patrias.
Lea Sobre El Grito