Mexico celebrated its 205th year of independence with the traditional grito. Yet, on the 16 of September 2015, some wonder whether Mexico has anything to celebrate, whether the people of the nation are independent or free. Under the current president, Ernesto Peña Nieto, politically-expedient disappearances have increased in the nation. In the case of the forty-three disappeared school teachers, multiple mass grave sites were found—none of which held the bodies of the teachers and instead brought to light the murder of so many unknown and unnamed people. Drug violence continues, political corruption is endemic, and popular political disaffection continues to spread. Political disenchantment on Independence Day is common, a day that begs for introspection and remembrance. On the same day in 1918 a Mexican journalist, suffering from the same disillusionment wrote, “the 16th of September… will be a day of pain; for the inhabitants of the biggest cities of Mexico it will be a day of desecration.” He continued, “This is not the time to sing, nor the time to give in to vain laments. We must prepare to return to our land; we will restore profaned altars; we will recover our country.”
Interestingly, the author of the article was not writing from Mexico City, or the industrial cities of the North. He was writing from San Antonio, Texas. He was part of an elite exile class living in the United States, displaced by the radicalism and violence of the Mexican Revolution. Of course, journalists and rich businessmen were not the only ones who fled to the U.S., both then and now. Millions of Mexicans made their way northward and between 1920 and 1930 the ethnic Mexican population in the U.S. grew over 100 percent.