Istanbul's Mexican Consulate celebrated the “Exclamation of Independence” in all its vigor on Thursday, as the names of the country's heroes resonated in the voice of Consul Isabel Arvide on the terrace of a venue located in the heart of the artistic district, Beşiktaş.
I had a chance to witness this glorious celebration that marks the 212th anniversary of the beginning of the struggle for independence from the Spanish Empire and gained a firsthand outlook on how it was important throughout history, especially now.
“El Grito de Dolores” (The Cry of Dolores) marks the beginning of the independence movement when the town's progressive priest Miguel Hidalgo incited the people of Dolores to rise up in arms in 1810 against Spain, echoing liberty and the end of slavery by calling his parish this name. His “grito” – a rallying cry, metaphorical scream – led to a decadelong struggle ending up with an independent Mexico with a unique identity, even though his priestly title was stripped from him and he was executed.
“Mexicans, at the shout of war, make ready the steel and the bridle, and may the Earth tremble at its centers, at the resounding roar of the cannon,” the crowd accompanied Consul Arvide as she waved the Mexican flag and sang the Mexican national anthem during the celebration in Istanbul.

Hidalgo's militia was defeated at Calderon in 1811 and other notable names in Mexico's independence history, Jose Maria Morelos y Pavon, Mariano Matamoros and Vicente Guerrero, assumed the mantle, forming armies of Indigenous and mestizo (refers to any person of mixed blood) revolutionaries against the Spanish.

Still, Hidalgo has become a trademark even in “independence art.” For instance, Antonio Serrano’s “Portrait of Miguel Hidalgo” depicts him in a black priest suit to highlight his faith as a small reproduction of the “Virgin of Guadalupe” also appears hung in his study room, although it was not exactly known what Hidalgo looked like. The Virgin of Guadalupe's image was enshrined by Hidalgo in the struggle for independence, becoming a patron saint, and then was featured in the early makings of the Mexican flag.
Hidalgo's successors took part in the Mexican War Of Independence that lasted until 1821. The date also marks the Treaty of Cordoba, when Mexico is recognized as an independent constitutional monarchy under emperor Agustin de Iturbide, a former Mexican soldier and politician. Yet, just 18 months later, Veracruz Governor Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna overthrew the royalty as Iturbide did not address the problems of his subjects and established the first Mexican Republic.

Even though this description is a short walk in the history, suffering, altruism and arduous struggle on the road to Mexican independence and recognition of unique Mexican identity, it is actually a long path.
At the celebration in Istanbul, the consul was wearing a white traditional Mexican dress celebrating this soulful day as her hair was embedded with colorful flowers – a nod to Frida Kahlo – amid the crowd's cheers of “Viva Mexico!”
Every year, on the night of Sept. 15, the president of Mexico stands on the balcony of the National Palace in Mexico City and delivers a “grito” similar to Hidalgo's, saluting and honoring the ones who died for the great struggle of Mexican independence.
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