Some people call her “the Empress of the Americas” although to my mind, the only person who really could have had that title might have been the Empress Carlotta (1840-1927). A French and Hapsburg-ruled Mexico, to my mind, would not have been such a horrible thing. In fact, it might have been better than Mexico under the Porfiriato (1870-1910), and at the worst, it could not have been any worse. The purpose of the French Intervention was to implement precisely the same policies as were eventually adopted by President Porfirio Diaz: to encourage massive foreign investment in and business dealings with Mexico. A long-term French-Hapsburg monarchy might have increased the educational level and provided greater protections to the indigenous peoples, ironically enough.
But December 12 is a day of national patriotism as well as religious fervor in Mexico, not a day to be nostalgic over failure to integrate Mexico more closely with Europe (Porfirio’s Mexico City was called “the Paris of the Americas”, and the architectural and urban planning relics of that era, including the Paseo de la Reforma, Avenida Insurgentes, and the Bosque de Chapultepec all fully justify such comparisons, as do the adjacent Zona Rosa and Lomas suburbs of the city).
And what a miracle of cultural and religious syncretism is that on the Hill of Tonantzin (“Our Mother” in Aztec/Nahuatl) an Indian Peasant Juan Diego found a Tilda embossed with the image of the Virgin standing atop a crescent moon, after having met a young girl in the same spot several days earlier.
I recently wrote on the questions of the identity of the Mexican “Raza de Tlatelolco” (around October 12) and the significance of the Plaza de Tres Culturas at the site of the some of the worst riots of 1968, anywhere in the world, which took place in that barrio, and which ultimately elevated the creole white Luis Echeverria to the Presidency—one of a long line of creole white Presidents of Mexico under both the Party of the Institutionalized Revolution (oxymoron though that be) and the Party of National Action (whose main actions have been to revitalize foreign investment and domination in Mexico, much in the failed tradition of Maximilian & Carlotta, on the one-hand, and extremely successful tradition of Porfirio Diaz on the other.
Porfirio Diaz is alleged to have said, “Poor Mexico, so far from God, so close to the United States.” If he actually said such a thing, he was an insightful profit due great respect.
From 1531, when Juan Diego first encountered the Virgin whose identity is celebrated on this Sunday, 12th of December, 2010, coincidentally the two-hundredth anniversary of Miguel de Hidalgo’s “Grito de Dolores” which took the emblem of the Virgin of Guadalupe as his battle flag in rebellion against Spain, until the present time, all that is Mexico or ever can be is encapsulated in the conundrum (or several conundra) of Tepeyac: (1) Christianity as heir or replacement of the Aztec Religion, with which Sir James G. Frazer recognized it (Christianity) had so very much in common, as did many of the early Spanish writers, (2) the role of the Native American peoples in shaping the identity and culture of Mexico, especially the Aztec, the Zapotec, and Maya, (3) the Supremacy of the Mexican model of cultural integration over all others in the Americas, and the degree to which the Mexican model, through immigration, is becoming dominant in the United States, especially California-through-Texas, but in fact throughout North America.
Demographics is a cruelly Darwinian science, and so long as Anglo-American and Euro-American women generally eschew reproduction while it is embraced by women of all other races/cultures/ethnicities, and languages, the Darwinian future and fitness of the Virgin of Guadalupe, and all she represents, looks significantly brighter, and the world order and socio-cultural ecumene embodied in the old Harvard Anthem, “By these festival rights from the age that has passed to the age that is waiting before…..til the seed of the Pilgrims is gone”, may in fact be reaching the end of its conceptually useful life, because soon the seed of the pilgrims will in fact be gone, as well as those who came not long after, including the early settlers of Higham, Massachusetts such as one Samuel Lincoln, who arrived in 1637 to join several Thomas Lincolns in that same town…