Celebrations of “El Grito,” a symbol of the struggle for independence, will be heavily toned down on Wednesday in Mexico City due to COVID-19 restrictions despite this year being the two-century anniversary of the beginning of liberation from Spanish rule. The event was also heavily diluted in 2020 due to health considerations.
Traditionally, a large crowd congregates outside the National Palace and calls back to the president as he calls the names of the heroes of the independence movement, culminating in three cries of “Viva México!” or “Long live Mexico.”
President López Obrador confirmed Monday that the official ceremony will be an invitation-only event and that Mexico City’s central zócalo would remain empty. The capital is yellow on the government’s COVID-19 stoplight map.
However, the president assured that the commemoration would still take place, and that Mexicans could tune in on television. “El Grito means a lot … I assure you that in your homes most Mexicans will be able to participate, you will be able to see everything,” he said.
He added why the event carried political weight. “[Miguel] Hidalgo and [José María] Morelos sought, at the same time as independence, justice. Hidalgo proclaimed the abolition of slavery and Morelos wanted equality, for poverty and opulence to be moderated, so of course we are going to commemorate El Grito.”
Meanwhile, some state governments have decided to hold in person celebrations, the newspaper Milenio reported. Sinaloa, Durango, Campeche and Coahuila have all announced limited-capacity events. Campeche will allow a crowd of 2,000 people.
Some municipalities in Chiapas and Campeche will also allow limited crowds. In Puebla city, concerts will take place in the central square. At least 14 other states have completely canceled in person celebrations.
“El Grito” recalls the night of September 15, 1810 when Hidalgo, a priest from Dolores, Guanajuato, ordered the church bells to ring and urged people to fight their colonial rulers with the call to arms: “Long live Mexico!” Eleven years later Spain recognized Mexico’s independence through the Treaty of Córdoba.
With reports from Milenio