Mexico celebrated its Bicentennial Independence Day last week by honoring the Grito de Dolores (Cry of Dolores)—Miguel Hidalgo’s call for the people to join him in arms that is re-created across the country every Independence Day.
On the morning of September 16, 1810, Hidalgo rang out the Dolores bell and after a motivating speech yelled, "¡Viva la Virgen de Guadalupe! ¡Abajo el mal gobierno, ¡Viva Fernando VII!" (Long live the Virgin of Guadalupe! Down with bad government! Long live Fernando VII!). This act, referred to as el grito, is recognized as the beginning of the struggle for autonomy and independence in Mexico.
In present day, the tradition is that at 11:00 pm the President, governors and city mayors each step out to a balcony in a public square, ring out a replica bell and honor the heroes of our independence through a modification of the Cry of Dolores. Each chant for every hero mentioned is followed by a loud retort from the amassed people in the squares, yelling "Viva!" In the major cities, these festivities are accompanied by popular concerts, pyrotechnic shows and gatherings of up to millions of people.
El grito is a manifestation of freedom and joy, and the Bicentennial was geared up to be a huge celebration nationwide. Though security measures were heightened in access points to public squares and during the ceremonies, most of the country was able to honor this important occasion regally. However, nine cities in the border state of Chihuahua fell hostage to fear from organized crime and drug cartels and were forced to cancel their celebrations. The harshest case was Ciudad Juárez, a city in which rule of law has become as plausible as the tooth fairy.