Mexicans Set Aside Economic Worries to Celebrate Mexico’s Independence
MEXICO CITY (AP) _ With mariachi music, fireworks and cries of ``Viva Mexico!″ Mexicans set aside worries about the country’s economic crisis for a few hours to celebrate their country’s independence.
President Ernesto Zedillo stood on the balcony of the National Palace late Friday to issue the ``grito,″ the traditional reenactment of the cry of independence first made 185 years ago.
``Long live our independence!″ Zedillo shouted to tens of thousands of people crowded into the capital’s main plaza, known as the Zocalo. ``Long live Mexico!″
Two days of independence celebrations began Friday, marking the 1810 call by Roman Catholic priest Miguel Hidalgo to his parishioners to rise up against Spanish colonial rule.
Patriotic speeches and a military parade were planned for today.
Friday’s festivities were marred by a series of protests by garbage collectors and laid-off bus drivers who complained that there was nothing to celebrate in this time of economic crisis.
``We want our jobs back!″ several hundred fired drivers shouted during a rally outside Mexico’s stock market, a symbol of Mexico’s financial woes.
Meanwhile, hundreds of trash collectors in orange overalls marched past on a capital boulevard.
``The poor and humble people have nothing to celebrate. We have to worry ... whether we’ll get enough to eat,″ said Aquiles Magana Garcia, leader of the 320 garbage collectors.
The trashmen, demanding a hike in their $90-a-month pay, placed red roses at the Angel of Independence, a monument to Mexican sovereignty.
Roving street vendor Manuel Toral said his chief economic indicator _ sales of big straw sombreros for the holiday _ was way down from 1994.
``The crisis, the crisis. I’ve hardly sold a dozen sombreros,″ he sighed, wearily trying to wave down motorists with his hats stitched with green lettering that read: ``Viva Mexico!″