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What to see in Mexico City this week

3 May 2007

Looking for something else, I ran across this neat photo of Panteon San Fernando taken by Abel Briquet some time between 1885 and 1895.  It’s part of the Andrew D. White Architectural Photographs Collection at Cornell University

I’ve always been facinated by this cemetery, as much for being the final resting place of Benito Juarez (who has the space originally meant for Maximiliano and Carolota), as for the mysterious grave (if anyone is buried in it at all) marked “Isadora Duncan.”  Juarez, as far as anyone knows, was the last person buried there.  Isadora Duncun is buried in Pere LaChase in Paris.  My guess is that it’s a bishop or mother superior buried anonomously during the Cristero War under the name of the well known atheist and all-round rabble-rousing dancer. 

The connection between the presigious Mexico City cemetery and the holidays is that Ignacio Zaragosa, the Texas-born hero of Cinco de Mayo is also buried here, in a space originally meant for the losing Mexican general, Miguel Miramon.  The Miramons supposedly didn’t want their relation buried next to Juarez, “that damned Indian”.   General Miramon was executed by  firing squad next to Maximiliano and another Indian, Tomas Mejia.  Mejia, interesting enough, IS also buried in San Fernando, along with a score of historical footnotes from the era. 

 A newspaper campaign inaguarated by Excelsior in the 1920s led to the creation of a much more widely celebrated Mexican May holiday, Dia de las madres (Mothers’ Day), on May 10. The newspaper raised the money for the Monumento a la madre, which was inaguarated 10 May 1949.

This is a very Mexican mamí standing in Parque Sullivan — she is wearing a rebozo and her features are decidedly indigenous.

Canadian journalist Quade Hermann published this photo of the Veracruz campesinos who are camped around the Monumento right now. These guys  lost a lot more than just their shirts in what was billed as “land reform” 20 years ago: 

(UPDATE: I should have immediately recognized that this photo was NOT taken at the Monumento de la madre, but very nearby. Shame on me for not catching it before I posted.  Extra credit if you know the street intersection*. The tip-off is in the lower right-hand corner.  And, if you were wondering… the guys are wearing the photo of Dante Delgado Rannauro, who was Governor of Veracruz when the ejitals were broken up)

*  A block down from the Monumento a la madre is the recently refurbished Monumento a Cuauhtemoc at Reforma and Insurgentes)

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