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How about Anáhuac?

24 November 2012

What a silly man…

The country’s formal name is the United Mexican States, but few people use it. President Felipe Calderón wants to make it simply Mexico.

Calderón said the name was adopted in 1824 to imitate the country’s northern neighbour, but Mexicans did not need to emulate anyone.

The constitutional reform would have to be approved by both houses of congress and a majority of the 31 state legislatures. Calderón leaves office on 1 December.

He first proposed the name change as a congressman in 2003. The bill did not make it to a vote.

I suspect Calderón’s ridiculous and pointless obsession with this is a result of the Mexican conservatives tradition, with it’s deep distrust of religious and cultural differences (over 50 plus national languages!).  For the first half century of the nation’s existence,  “States’ Rights” was a cause for 19th century liberals, with the conservatives taking the position that only a strong centralized government (obviously, one run by said conservatives) could govern the country.  While the country has always been governed from the center, and the Federal government has always had an unequal role in local affairs compared to the various state governments, the name of the country reflects — and celebrates — the fact that Oaxacanos are not Sinaloense are not Veracruzanos are not Chilangos are not — and that diversity is a strength.   Chilpacingo or Chapala or Chihuahua, ¡viva la diferencia!

Much more than the United States to the north, the Mexican states, and the people within their states celebrate their differences.  Sure, up north you can get New York strip steak, or New England clam chowder or Kentucky Fried Chicken anywhere in Iowa, or Wyoming or Oregon, prepared by cooks from Alabama or Michigan or, for that matter, Guatemala, and never know the difference.  Here, there are entire state cuisines — estilo Guerrero, or Jaliescence or Sinalonense or Veracruzano — and if the chef is a ringer from another state, you’ll know it the minute the food touches your lips.

The one thing the states have in common here — whatever their language, customs, cuisine or music — is the people themselves are… Mexicans.  Thus, not the United States of Mexico (the states themselves are united, but states are just political entities), but the United Mexican States… a bunch of different regions all united by one thing… the people are all Mexicans.

Andrés Quintana Roo

Well, just borrowing the name of the capital and applying it to the whole place was something of a letdown (and a bow to the conservatives). Our Declaration of Independence was penned mostly by Andrés Quintana Roo* at the Congress of Anáhuac… which would have been a pretty good name, especially considering that when the Congress wrote the Declaration they called the place América Septentrional  which might have been a really crappy name… and hard to turn into a cheer at futbol games like Meh-he, Meh-he, Meh-he-KO!

*  Quintana Roo would later have one of the the newest of the 31 United Mexican States named for him in honor of his role in preventing the disuniting of those Mexican states in the 1840s when the country was forced to unite to stave off financial and military invasions from both the United States and the British.

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