Independence Day is coming -- at 11 pm on September 15th, in various plazas around the country, politicians and citizens will gather for "el grito" -- the nationalistic rallying cry of "¡Viva México!" The next day, which is the actual independence day, no one goes to work.
What makes this year different from any other year? It is the 200th anniversary of Mexico's independence from Spain, and the 100th anniversary of the Revolution.
To mark the anniversary, President Calderón has used public funds to send every single Mexican household a flag like the one pictured in the above photo. As a result, people who sell Independence Day paraphernalia (like those in the first photo above), who tend to live pretty close to the margin, are selling a lot fewer flags than usual.
In the absence of reliable sources, this country is a rumor mill. With the idea that something big and bloody has to happen every hundred years or so, I have been hearing for a long time that armed guerrilla groups are going to make a big noise (or worse) during the public ceremonies. Somewhere. Maybe in Juárez, maybe in Monterrey, maybe in Morelia (in President Calderón's home state of Michoacán, where a grenade was thrown into Independence Day celebrations a couple of years ago, and a few people died). Perhaps in Mexico City's Zócalo, where President Calderón leads the festivities. Last year in San Francisco I met a man who claimed to be a Zapatista, who said they have "plans" for this year.
I wonder whether or not it's a mistake to wait for the 16th. Perhaps the hundred-year annual mess has already happened. When you think of the 28,000 or so dead as a result of Calderón's drug war, and the absolute chaos and lack of rule as a result of this violence, I would posit that we are already living through our hundredth annual bloody mess.