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Mexico's Bicentennial! From A to Z: Letter Z, Index, and closing thoughts!

Justice League

Sep 17 2010, 2:29am

Post #1 of 19 (3930 views)
Mexico's Bicentennial! From A to Z: Letter Z, Index, and closing thoughts! Can't Post

Today, Mexico celebrates its 200th Anniversary. Yesterday night, a great light and fireworks show was put in the Zocalo, the Central Square in Mexico City, and numerous parties were thrown across the country. I share with you the video of “El Grito” and a segment of the fireworks, starting at 6:03. Today, I write this as I watch the Military Parade in the same square. The festivities were uneventful, so that’s further reason for celebration.

Today, we reach the last installment of Mexico from A to Z, with 4 entries beginning with Letter Z. So, keeping with the tradition, without further ado, I give you Letter Z!

Z is for Zapata

Emiliano Zapata is one of the most emblematic Revolutionaries, the leader of the Southern movement during the conflict of 1910. Hailing from a very humble family, Zapata really was the voice of the poorest Mexicans during the Revolution.

Zapata is highly quotable, having three famous phrases that are repeatedly used: “Land belongs to that who works it”, “Land and Freedom!” and “I would rather die on my feet than to live on knees.”


Zapata seems to have had a clearer social agenda than Villa, for example. He refused to sit on the Presidential Chair in the famous picture I’ve shown you with Villa on it. Apparently he didn’t have a personal political agenda. However, this didn’t make him an irreproachable hero. While he certainly wasn’t a bandit in the same sense Villa was, he did have clashes with the law, long before the Revolution, and his followers were known to commit war atrocities, including kidnapping and sacking.

Zapata and Villa are often related, as they presented common fronts at different points of the Revolution, mainly against Carranza, in what I’ve described as the struggle between the popular movement, embodied in these two commanders and the ideological and political struggle embodied in Carranza.

Villa on the Presidential Chair, with Zapata to his left.

Double-crossing began among all factions, and Zapata was eventually tricked into a Federalist ambush in the state of Morelos, in which he was killed in 1919.

Zapata has become an icon of the popular struggle against injustice, many times with a rather unpleasant viewpoint of fighting “the unfair and elitist government that doesn’t do anything for the people, and which has to be combated.” In 1994, a political movement originated in the southern state of Chiapas took the name of EZLN: The Zapatist Army for National Liberation, and they are commonly known as the Zapatist. They never took arms, but for many years they were a political force the government didn’t want to angry. The leader of the movement, who always appears masked, Sub-commander Marcos, is ironically rumored to be a foreigner. So in this way, Zapata’s ideals are supposedly alive (we all know any “neo” movement is strongly modified and misunderstanding of the original movement’s motivations), and he remains one of Mexico’s most recognizable National Heroes.

Sub-commander Marcos

In 2004 there was a laughably bad movie in which superstar Mexican singer Alejandro Fernández played Zapata… it was a “magical” approach to Zapata’s story, and it was implied Zapata was the reincarnation of Cuauhtémoc. I do not recommend the movie, but it was worth mentioning… I do recommend listening to Alejandro Fernández, though! Great voice for Mexican traditional music. (Video of Alejandro Fernández's most famous song: "Like he who loses a star".

Alejandro Fernández as Zapata

Z is for Zócalo

The Constitution Plaza, the Central Square of Mexico City, lined by National Palace, the Metropolitan Cathedral, a series of hotels, and the see of the Executive of the City, is one of the largest squares/plazas of the world.

A zócalo is the base placed for a building. In this case, a base for a monument to the Independence was placed in the center of the plaza in 1844. The monument was never built, but the base remained there. People eventually began saying: “’ll meet you at the zócalo” and similar expressions, which eventually led to the whole plaza being popularly referred to as The Zócalo. The zócalo eventually disappeared, but the name stuck.

The Zócalo has been the heart of national life for 7 centuries, and continues to be so, being the site of choice for demonstrations, political rallies, national festivities and popular events, such as concerts.

The Constitution Square

Z is for Zacatecas

Zacatecas is one of the North-central states of the country. In pre-Columbian times, it was important because of the city of La Quemada, which has sometimes been identified as the mythical Aztlán by some archaeologists. Aside from this, the city was in most respects the limit between Mesoamerica and Aridamerica, so it had some regional importance, as the “limit of the civilized world”.

La Quemada panoramic view

In Colonial times, Zacatecas became an important city, as the settlement that concentrated and managed the wealth from the numerous mines of the region. In was one important point in the diligence route that ran from Mexico City to Santa Fe in New Mexico.

The City of Zacatecas

The state of Zacatecas originally encompassed the territory of Aguascalientes until it was separated in 1835. When Santa Anna came to power in 1835 as a centralist, the governors of Zacatecas, Texas and Yucatán opposed him. Santa Anna then took his army and marched North on a mission to submit/calm Zacatecas and Texas. Legend says that before arriving in the city of Zacatecas, the state capital, he stopped in the city of Aguascalientes, where the Mayor threw a ball in his honor. There, he spotted the Mayor’s wife, whom he was attracted to. Asking her to dance, Santa Anna told her the he would do anything she asked if she would only give him a kiss. She gave it to him and asked him to name her husband governor. Santa Anna then created the state of Aguascalientes. The legend prevailed in the state’s coat of arms, in the form of a red set of lips.

Map of Zacatecas, Aguascalientes below it.

Coat of Arms of Aguascalientes, Red Lips in the blue section to the right.

Today, Zacatecas has lost its relative importance within the union, being scarcely populated, arid and out of the group of the economically dynamic and forward-thinking states, which, ironically, does include the tiny Aguascalientes.

Z is for Zapotec

The Zapotec are the original inhabitants of the high regions of the modern state of Oaxaca. They were thus named in Náhuatl as the “People of the Zapote” a fruit native of American tropical forests.

Black zapote

They became an advanced civilization very early on, building the legendary city of Monte Albán, which started as a small ceremonial center in the 5th century B.C. They were a powerful people who were in close contact with the city of Teotihuacan, which would almost necessarily mean they must have had dealings with the great Maya states of the south. The Zapotec Town in Teotihuacan has been one of the most significant archaeological discoveries in the last few years, as it boosted the image of Teotihuacan as a cosmopolitan city. A large sector of the city’s living quarters were identified as being a housing complex for Zapotec artisans who dwelt in the city permanently, and provided certain services within Teotihuacan’s economy. The second most important Zapotec city was Mitla, which can also still be seen in the Oaxacan mountain range.

Monte Albán

Monte Albán in the current $20 bill


The famous Mixtec geometric carvings in Mitla

The Zapotec were later conquered/mixed with the Nahua people of the Mixtecs, and became deeply entangled, to the point where many artistic manifestations are said to be Mixtec-Zapotec. The term Zapotec is also used for a large non-Nahua ethnic group and the languages spoken by these peoples.

Visit Mexico from A to Z! This week Letter X.
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(This post was edited by Compa_Mighty on Sep 17 2010, 2:32am)

Justice League

Sep 17 2010, 2:56am

Post #2 of 19 (3975 views)
Conclusion and Index! [In reply to] Can't Post

Today, the Mexico from A to Z series comes to its end. Throughout the past 26 weeks, we have journeyed through Mexico’s history, geography, events, heroes and villains. Each week a letter was showcased and I presented you things beginning with that letter, which I thought would be representative of my country. I tried always to remain objective, praising the good and pointing out the bad. With this, I tried to paint you a picture of Mexico with all its complexity, its beauty, its faults and its needs and hopes for the future. I hope I have conveyed both the great sense of pride and love I have for my country, and that you have come to share a little bit of that feeling with me.

Along these weeks, I wrote over 35,000 words (without counting elaborations and replies), spanning 97 different topics; you’ve been kind enough to visit my threads over 8000 times, and replying over 200 times, in which we were able to further develop ideas, to discuss different things, and in which you taught me a lot as well. I learned about your views of my country, and of angles that would be hard to see from within.

Above all, I hope you have enjoyed it as much as I have. This started as a project both to share with you and to celebrate the Bicentennial Anniversary that happens today. I am happy to bring it to a proud conclusion.

Finally, I offer you an index for the whole series, containing the direct link to each letter and the breakdown of what it contains, so that you can access them in the future. A link to this index will be permanently in my signature for everyone to see.

So thanking you again for making this series a success beyond what I had imagined, I leave you with the Index.

Letter A: Aztec / Allende / Anthropology
Letter B: Balam / Beans / Bimbo
Letter C: Cuauhtémoc / Cortés / Catholicism
Letter CH: Everything Ch / Chichén Itzá / Chilango / Chinampa / Chapultepec / Chespirito
Letter D: Porfirio Díaz / Death
Letter E: Eagle / Elections / Edzná
Letter F: Football / Carlos Fuentes / Fire
Letter G: Guanajuato / Guadalupe / Guadalajara
Letter H: Hidalgo / Hugo Sánchez / Huitzilopochtli
Letter I: Iturbide / Intervention / Infante
Letter J: Juárez / Jalapeño / Jitomate
Letter K: Frida Kahlo / Kukulkan / K'inich Kan Balam II
Letter L: Luis Miguel / Lucero / Miguel León Portilla / Diego de Landa
Letter M: México / Moctezuma / Maya / Muralism / Morelos / Mole / Mariachi
Letter N: Nezahualcoyotl / Niños Héroes / Náhuatl / Nahual / Nao de China
Letter O: Olmeca / Obsidian / Ometeotl / Otomí
Letter P: Peso / Popocatepetl / Palenque / Pictorial writing / Octavio Paz
Letter Q: Quetzalcoatl / Querétaro / Quesadilla
Letter R: Revolution / Juan Rulfo / Diego Rivera
Letter S: Santa Anna / Sun / Sacrifice
Letter T: Vitamin T / Tenochtitlan / Tlacaelel / Teotihuacan / Toltec / Tlachtli / Tlaltecuhtli
Letter U: UNAM / Usumacinta / Uruchurtu
Letter V: Veracruz / Pancho Villa / Venustiano Carranza
Letter X: Xochimilco / Xipe Totec / Xocolatl
Letter Y: Yucatán / Yacatecuhtli / Yaocuicatl
Letter Z: Zacatecas / Zapotec / Zapata / Zócalo

Visit Mexico from A to Z! This week Letter X.
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(This post was edited by Compa_Mighty on Sep 17 2010, 3:05am)

N.E. Brigand

Sep 17 2010, 3:43am

Post #3 of 19 (3405 views)
A fine finale to a superb series. [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks for all those entries!

In 2004 there was a laughably bad movie in which superstar Mexican singer Alejandro Fernández played Zapata… it was a “magical” approach to Zapata’s story, and it was implied Zapata was the reincarnation of Cuauhtémoc.

I see the director was Alfonso Arau, probably best known to American audiences as the villain in ¡Three Amigos! ("It's a sweater!") and the director of Like Water for Chocolate.

Elia Kazan's Viva Zapata (1952) is generally considered to be one of Marlon Brando's better roles and films.

Discuss Tolkien’s life and works in the Reading Room!
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Aunt Dora Baggins

Sep 17 2010, 3:43am

Post #4 of 19 (3398 views)
Feliz cumpleanos a Mexico! [In reply to] Can't Post

(Sorry, I'm too lazy to find the html for the accent and tilde--I know it looks strange without them.)

And congratulations on the completion of your amazing work. What a wonderful gift you've brought to us. I still think it would make a great book.

I was thinking of you today when I read the newspaper article about the celebrations. Of course even before that I knew the significance of Sep. 16, but I didn't know it was the bicentennial.

Did you plan to finish your series on this date, or was that just fortuitous?

"For DORA BAGGINS in memory of a LONG correspondence, with love from Bilbo; on a large wastebasket. Dora was Drogo's sister, and the eldest surviving female relative of Bilbo and Frodo; she was ninety-nine, and had written reams of good advice for more than half a century."
"A Chance Meeting at Rivendell" and other stories

leleni at hotmail dot com


Sep 17 2010, 4:22am

Post #5 of 19 (3397 views)
I wonder [In reply to] Can't Post

Zapata said: “I would rather die on my feet than to live on knees.”

Pippin (to Beregond) said: "We may stand, if only on one leg, or at least be left still upon our knees."

At first, the first quote sounds more courageous. At first...

Great series Compa. I learned a lot and am glad for the opportunity you made for us to do so. I am so happy for you that you made it all the way through!

Bon anniversaire Mexico!

Justice League

Sep 17 2010, 5:22am

Post #6 of 19 (3392 views)
Thanks N.E. I am very glad you liked it! [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks for both additions. They work as a good reference. I didn't know Like Water for Chocolate was Arau's or that he appeared in Three Amigos.

As for Brando's Zapata, I forgot! I've never seen the film, so it wasn't on the top of my mind. I'll have to check it out. Thanks again!

Visit Mexico from A to Z! Index to the whole series here.
Essay winner of the Show us your Hobbit Pride Giveway!

Justice League

Sep 17 2010, 5:25am

Post #7 of 19 (3389 views)
Thanks Aunt Dora! [In reply to] Can't Post

I did plan to finish today. Smile Fortunately, I could do it!

As for the book, I really won't dismiss the idea! Perhaps it will come to pass someday!

Thanks for sticking with the thread and for your comments throughout!

Visit Mexico from A to Z! Index to the whole series here.
Essay winner of the Show us your Hobbit Pride Giveway!

Justice League

Sep 17 2010, 5:30am

Post #8 of 19 (3408 views)
Funny your should mention that... [In reply to] Can't Post

I did think of Zapata last time I saw Return of the King and heard that line... let me use this chance to correct the phrase, which should read "I would rather die on my feet than to live on my knees". Just so that it wouldn't stay unacknowledged. Wink

I am very glad you liked it, and that it was useful to some extent! Thank you for sticking with the series and for all the comments!

Visit Mexico from A to Z! Index to the whole series here.
Essay winner of the Show us your Hobbit Pride Giveway!


Sep 17 2010, 8:23am

Post #9 of 19 (3396 views)
Oh man... [In reply to] Can't Post

I really wanted to follow your series, but just couldn't find the time. I barely keep up with the RR.
So I can't comment on your specific posts; but I must say that I am very impressed with the effort you've made, and please G-d will try once to actually read it. Blush

Anyway, thank you, happy bicentennial, and good luck with your Master's degree!

A fair warning: I am a nitpicker by taste, talents and profession.

"Does it matter whether the things Tom has to do are "useful" things? ... Perhaps nothing would seem much different if he wasn't there with 'my singing, my talking and my walking, and my watching of the country.' But something would be missing - something intangible, hardly noticeable maybe. A little of the spirit would have gone out of the land. "
- FarFromHome.

Alassëa Eruvande

Sep 17 2010, 3:41pm

Post #10 of 19 (3386 views)
*lights a sparkler* [In reply to] Can't Post

Well done, Compa! Happy anniversary to our southerly neighbors as well!

Thanks again for the awesome job you've done. I haven't always made comments, but I have read each and every one of your entries. Thanks again for the Mariachis! Laugh

And suddenly the Ainur saw afar off a light, as it were a cloud with a living heart of flame.

Lily Fairbairn

Sep 17 2010, 3:55pm

Post #11 of 19 (3376 views)
A slightly belated thank you! [In reply to] Can't Post

Viva Mexico! Viva Compa!

Thank you so much for taking the time to post all this fascinating material. I, too, think your collected posts would make a great book. Happy bicentennial from your neighbor in Texas Smile

* * * * * * *
Do we walk in legends or on the green earth in the daylight?

A man may do both. For not we but those who come after will make the legends of our time. The green earth, say you? That is a mighty matter of legend, though you tread it under the light of day!


Sep 17 2010, 4:17pm

Post #12 of 19 (3404 views)
On Beyond Zapotec? [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks so much for this series, a first for TORn but heartily welcomed by all!

Once again you bring back memories. My wife and I vacationed in Oaxaca, the land of the Zapotecs, in 1989. We toured Monte Alban, and tried to imagine hordes of people populating the now-grassy plaza between the various temples:

and we sat in the stands of the ball court and imagined cheering for our team. (Was it true that the losers were sacrificed? I could never get a straight story on that one). It did look nearly impossible to put a ball through that tiny and unforgiving hole in the goal-stone on the end wall:

We also visited Mitla. How different! As you say, the geometric carvings/brickwork is fabulous. More notable, to me, was the near-Grecian proportions of the structures, so un-pyramidlike. And it was easy to see from both the semi-abstract stonework and the strong horizontal lines why Frank Lloyd Wright credited native Mexican architecture as one of his inspirations:

Finally, and to combine Z-words, I remember that the central plaza in Oaxaca city was also called the zocalo. I guess now, from your post, that the one in Mexico City was the original, but the term has since spread to every province. Here is the mother of all Band Stands in Oaxaca's zocalo:

In the semi-tropical dusk, we talked about the ancient temples and skillful crafts we had seen. We were sitting in a restaurant's arcaded balcony, overlooking the festively-lit and cheerfully active zocalo, listening to the band music, and eating fine Mexican cuisine. It was clearly French-based in technique but with a creative variety of Mexican ingredients and sauces - delicious moles! Such a graceful mode of public life, ancient in origin, up to date in comforts, is hard to find in the U.S.

I realized that evening just how beautifully Mexico, for all the tragedies of its difficult history, has blended some of the best traditions of continental Europe with the heritage of the most civilized and accomplished of North America's native peoples.

¡Feliz el Grito de Independencia de Mexico! ¡Feliz Bicentenario Mexico! ¡Viva Mexico!

squire online:
RR Discussions: The Valaquenta, A Shortcut to Mushrooms, and Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit
Lights! Action! Discuss on the Movie board!: 'A Journey in the Dark'. and 'Designing The Two Towers'.
Footeramas: The 3rd TORn Reading Room LotR Discussion; and "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
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= Forum has no new posts. Forum needs no new posts.


Sep 18 2010, 2:07am

Post #13 of 19 (3367 views)
makes me wish there were more letters in the alphabet... [In reply to] Can't Post

You are a good teacher -- that was a very enjoyable learning experience.

Happy Bicentennial, too! I don't know if you planned to end your series to coincide with this big event, but it's kind of cool that you did -- nothing like ending with a bang, with those fireworks!


Justice League

Sep 18 2010, 6:56am

Post #14 of 19 (3364 views)
Thanks sador! [In reply to] Can't Post

And don't worry, they'll be here whenever you feel like reading a bit Wink

Visit Mexico from A to Z! Index to the whole series here.
Essay winner of the Show us your Hobbit Pride Giveway!

Justice League

Sep 18 2010, 6:58am

Post #15 of 19 (3363 views)
Oh, you're very welcome! [In reply to] Can't Post

And thanks for reading, I'm glad it was worthwhile! Smile

Visit Mexico from A to Z! Index to the whole series here.
Essay winner of the Show us your Hobbit Pride Giveway!

Justice League

Sep 18 2010, 6:59am

Post #16 of 19 (3360 views)
Thank you Lily! [In reply to] Can't Post

I am really glad you like it!

Visit Mexico from A to Z! Index to the whole series here.
Essay winner of the Show us your Hobbit Pride Giveway!

Justice League

Sep 18 2010, 7:01am

Post #17 of 19 (3359 views)
It's always good to end with a bang! [In reply to] Can't Post

As the Mythbusters have repeatedly demonstrated. Wink I did plan it that way, I'm glad I was able to do it!

Thanks for your kind comments, I am glad you enjoyed it!

Visit Mexico from A to Z! Index to the whole series here.
Essay winner of the Show us your Hobbit Pride Giveway!

Justice League

Sep 18 2010, 7:12am

Post #18 of 19 (3391 views)
I'm glad you liked it! I'm always happy to bring back good memories... [In reply to] Can't Post

Your pictures are very nice. I haven't had the chance to visit Oaxaca, but as you say, it is famous for that particular flavor you mention: an ancient life, a combination of European and Native traditions...

As you also say, most central squares are now known as the zócalos... after Mexico City's, most likely.

Thanks again for your comments, your questions, and your insights. It's been a great ride!

Visit Mexico from A to Z! Index to the whole series here.
Essay winner of the Show us your Hobbit Pride Giveway!


Sep 19 2010, 3:51am

Post #19 of 19 (3387 views)
So much cool info... [In reply to] Can't Post

Thank you very much for putting all this together...I missed most of these posts, but I'm in the process of backtracking and plan on reading them all.

Thanks again


"I can see through Metal boys, and that's no lie."

K (I was going to carve an E, but it was too many letters.)


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