Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Viva La Revolucion!

Working backwards to finish my Mexican adventure
On Thursday I made a stop to the nearby Monumento Revolucion Mexicano. The gilded dome was right of Paseo a la Reforma, not far from my apartment.   I had passed near it a few times, but had been meaning to visit.  I wandered my way over to the grounds, that are presently being occupied in protest.  There are educational reforms that the government is try to push through, and many teachers oppose these efforts.  The protesting teachers had been at the Zocalo in downtown D.F. but had to relocate for the Christmas season, as a large xmas tree was coming.  So the striking teachers decided to occupy the grounds to the monument to the Mexican revolution, and sent up their tent city on the ground of the monument.
I ducked my way through taught strings that had the teachers tents tight across the grounds, and made my way over to the museum and lookout vista.  I got the ticket that also included a trip to the basement that discussed the construction of this structure. 

It was actually quite interesting.  The monument that exists was actually the unconstructed basis of what was to be the grand MexicanCongress, a legislative palace by the eminent French architect Benard.  An American firm from New York was busy on the construction…until the Mexican revolution broke out.  

No one ever expects the Mexican Revolution…

As Mexico convulsed for years in turmoil and unrest,
the frame structure lay unattended and unfinished. Lamentablamente, I
can't seem to find a picture of the steel bar structure skeleton that was left to the elements, but it was an interesting skeletos.

Finally, years after the Mexican Revolution died down, the Mexican President Cardenas had it proclaimed a monument to the revolution, and it was subsequently finished as a far different design than set out.  Rather than being a winged palacio, it turned into a more compact monument.

After learned about the construction process, and the various leaders buried at the four corners, I headed up to the lookout to check out the vista across the city.  The view was nice, although the Torre Latinamerica offers a more impressive views of the city.  But the view of the city’s sprawl and smog was nice.

I circled the lookout deck, then headed back down and over to the actual museum section.  Interestingly (or not), that was a separate ticket.  I wandered down the ramp to the museum that had a model of the planned congress hall, and information about the architects and plan transformations.

I wandered through the beginning display on the French occupation of Mexico under Napoleon III’sbrother Maximilian.  The French rule had a bit of a topsy turvy effect on Mexico’s political dynamic.  Not a decade after the overthrow of French rule, one of the heroes of the efforts, General Porfirio Diaz came to power as a dictatorial ruler over the country.  Diaz’ rule (“Porfiriato) lasted almost three decades.  It was marked by a period of technocratic progress (“orden y progresso”) that sought to modernize Mexico’s roads, transportation and culture (including support for Mexican styles of European art- see my previous entry on MUNAL).  However, the period was also marked with serious corruption and nepotism. 

After the aging dictator fudged one election too many, the opposition candidate Madero spearheaded a revolt against el presidente Porfirio following the stolen election in 1910.  The south of Mexico, as well, rose up in revolt under Emiliano Zapata in order to gain land reforms, and backed Madero . As Porfirio abdicated in the face of growing pressure from the real winner Francisco Madero, Mexico was torn asunder by various fighting factions.  Porfirio slipped into exile in France, and died there a few years later.

Madero took over as President of Mexico, and instituted some reforms.  But the youngest president was assassinated, just two years into his reign by a coup. In the La Decena plot, the revolt among Felix Diaz- the nephew of Porfirio, as well as Gen. Victoriano Huerta, General Reyes (another in separate revolt-er) and the catalyst behind the plot, U.S. Ambassador Henry Lane Wilson (with support from Woodrow Wilson, no relations) Madero and his Vice President Pino Suarez were assassinated.

Meanwhile, Mexico splintered. In the south, Emiliano Zapata (R) and his army continued their revolt and marched north against the oppression of Mexico southlands.  Up in the north, a supporter of Made, one Francisco “Pancho” Villa (L) too rose up in revolt, and led his northern army south.  There is a very famous picture of the two revolutionaries meeting in Mexico City in triumph, but such triumphs were short-lived.

Zapata was eventually assassinated by the Mexican government under the guise of peace talks.  Villa made too many incursions into gringolandia, and Wilson sent Black Jack Pershing after him. He later made peace with the Mexican government, but they assassinated him too.

There are a lot of details more to the Mexican Revolution, I would recommend reading up more in a previously posted link.

The museum displayed the history in effects of the leaders, newspapers and pamphlets from the times and also lots of pictures.

It was an interesting display of Mexican history, although I wish there were also descriptions in English.  I could read and get the gist, but it is much more taxing to read everything in Spanish, and I miss bits and pieces by expending my energy on translating rather than reading.

But worth the visit.  Viva la Revolucion!

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