Tonight marks the eve of Mexico's bicentennial, being celebrated with elaborate fanfare in Mexico City and throughout the country, as well as in Los Angeles and throughout the United States.
The last few years of Mexico's second century have been rough ones, with more than 28,000 killed over four years in a drug war that shows no sign of letting up. Innocent bystanders have been getting sucked into the violence, like the 72 United States-bound migrants who were kidnapped and massacred just south of the border with Texas last month. Tourism is in the tank, as is the economy in general.
Much has been made of the $232 million being spent on bicentennial celebrations in Mexico City, criticized as a distraction to the nation's woes and an overall sense of despair. And it is easy to see why a new Mexican dark comedy about the drug trade titled "El Infierno" (Hell) suggests on its movie poster, "Nada que celebrar" (Nothing to celebrate).
But not so fast. I needn't start in on the list of nations that have seen similarly dark hours in their history, including the United States. We are more acutely aware of Mexico's problems in this country because of our very close ties, economic and familial, and in that sense, Mexico is in a better position to steady itself over the long haul than are other nations straining under devastating circumstances.
What else is there to celebrate? A nation that is of the great cultural hubs of Latin America, whose music, food, art, film, literature, and speech have had an influence the world over, starting with the United States.
There is cause to celebrate, even during this dark period. Que viva México.