Mexicans Celebrate 200 Years of Independence

Luis Rodriguez

L.A.’s celebration of Mexico’s 200 years of independence took place on Olvera Street, from Sept. 11 to Sept. 19.

The celebration marked the 200th year of Mexican independence from Spain. The celebrations featured Mexican traditions such as performing mariachi groups and Mexican dances. Advertisements seemed to overshadow these celebrations at times.

On Sept. 16, Olvera Street held its Bicentennial celebration with musical performances including mariachi bands from noon until 5. The performances took place under the gazebo in the middle of the plaza.

Other celebrations like the event held at L.A. Live overshadowed it, but the actual celebration in Mexico could not be topped. The biggest bicentennial celebration was held in Mexico City, which featured musical performances and acrobats.

On Sept. 18 and 19, Olvera Street hosted the Fiesta de Patria. The Spanish language Telemundo Network sponsored the event. Corporate sponsors from various companies had their own tents. Orbit chewing gum had attractive women in white skirts handing free samples of their product to young kids and red-blooded males alike. Lowe’s Hardware store had a stand with a FIFA 2010 video game demo. The whole street had music coming from loud speakers. There were also mariachi bands playing on a stage across the street from Union Station.

There was a photo and art gallery on Olvera Street that was overlooked. The exhibit, celebrated the “braceros,” Mexicans who labored in the United States from 1942 to 1967. The exhibit featured art and actual photos from that era. It will run until the official Bracero Day on Sept. 30.

Joaquin Perez, a former Bracero, had a few of his pictures in the exhibit. He commented on the Bicentennial celebration in Spanish: “I’m glad the young people are immersing themselves with this information that we provide in this exhibit. In 2010, we have a reason to celebrate being Mexican. In 1910 [Mexican Civil War] we did not, because many of our people died and some were never found.” He then adds: “The Olvera celebrations are too commercial, nothing but big businesses doing propaganda. Very little of it has anything to do with why we are celebrating.”

The next event to be held at Olvera Street is the Day of the Dead celebration on Nov. 1.