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Oakland celebrates Mexico’s Independence Day

on September 16, 2011

About 200 people celebrated Mexico’s Independence Day at Oakland City Hall on Thursday, as Mexican and Latino residents from all over the city recreated the night of September 15, 1810, when Miguel Hidalgo, a priest from the town of Dolores, called his congregation to join him in a revolt against the Spanish colonial government. This moment is known in Mexico as “El Grito de Dolores.”

During Thursday’s celebration, Alfonso Galindo, officer at the Mexican Consulate in San Francisco, waved a flag from a stage outside Oakland City Hall and shouted “Viva Mexico!” People responded by shouting “Viva!” This ceremonial act is performed every September 15 in all Mexican states and in cities worldwide including New York, Madrid, London and Paris.

The offices of Mayor Jean Quan and Councilmember Ignacio de la Fuente organized the event to offer Mexican communities in Oakland a place to gather and celebrate the historic day said Claudia Burgos, councilmember De la Fuente’s chief of staff.  Up until now, she said, “Residents had to travel all the way to San Francisco if they wanted to watch ‘El Grito.’ Not anymore!”

Before the “El Grito” ceremony people enjoyed performances of traditional dances by the Maestros del Folclor academy in Oakland’s Fruitvale neighborhood and danced to the rhythm of cumbias and pasito duranguense, popular music genres from the state of Durango, played by group called Band Pirata from the state of Guanajuato, Mexico.

Vendors from Fruitvale’s Mexican community offered traditional street food: tacos, tamales, and pambazos, a chorizo (spicy sausage) and potato sandwich dipped in hot sauce, a popular dish in Mexico City.

“Es un gusto celebrar con ustedes el Dia de la Independencia,” said Quan during the celebration, reading each word slowly from a piece of paper. The translation: “It’s an honor to celebrate Independence Day with all of you.”

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Photo by Basil D Soufi
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