El Grito de Dolores

posted in: Mexican History | 0
Miguel Gregorio Antonio Ignacio Hidalgo y Costilla Gallaga Mandarte Villaseñor

Some poorly informed sources may translate El Grito de Dolores as “the scream of pain” (don’t laugh, I saw it written so in the English section of a Cozumel newspaper once!), but it actually means the “The Cry of Dolores” and refers to the cry for independence made by the catholic priest Miguel Hidalgo in the town of Dolores, Mexico in the early morning of September 16, 1810.

Hidalgo was involved in a planned revolt against the Spanish rulers of Mexico and when he got wind of his impending arrest, he preempted the authorities and ordered his brother to take a contingent of armed rebels and free the political prisoners being held in the city jail on the night of September 15, 1810.   The next day, Hidalgo ordered the church bells to be rung while he, Ignacio Allende, and Juan Aldama went out in front of the church and urged the townsfolk to revolt.   Four days later, the Battle of Guanajuato (a town just south of Dolores) occurred and the War of Independence was begun.  It would not be until September 27, 1821, however, that Mexico was actually free of Spain’s domination.

The words uttered by Hidalgo at the end of his speech on that fateful day were not recorded by anyone present at the time, but many different versions have been passed down as the “true” ending.   One such rendition, which many hold to be the most faithful, is:

“Long live Ferdinand VII! Long live America! Down with bad government!”

The reenactment of the Grito de Dolores has become an integral part of the Mexican people’s celebration of their Independence Day, but over the years it has morphed with the addition of new patriotic lines (and the deletion of others) into the cry now known as the Grito Mexicano.   The day the Grito is uttered has also been modified; up until 1910, the cry was made on September 16.   Mexican Presidente Porfirio Díaz, however, mandated that the Grito be moved up to September 15, to coincide with his birthday.   This new, somewhat flexible, version is said by the President of Mexico every year on September 15, at 11 PM from the balcony of the National Palace in front of the Zócalo in Mexico City as the bell of the palace rings.   At the same time, all across the country, the same patriotic cry is offered up by the Mexican state governors and Mexican city mayors.   The names mentioned most frequently in the Grito Mexicano are all the leaders of the Mexican War of Independence.   The words to the Grito Mexicano said by Presidente Felipe Calderón in 2010 were:

Long live the heroes that gave us the Fatherland!
Long live Hidalgo!
Long live Morelos!
Long live Josefa Ortiz de Dominguez!
Long live Allende!
Long live Aldama and Matamoros!
Long live National Independence!
Long live the Bicentennial of Independence!
Long live the Centennial of the Revolution!
Long Live Mexico!
Long Live Mexico!

Copyright 2011 Ric Hajovsky