One of U.S.’ many unfavourable stereotypes is its heavy, sometimes ridiculous security measurements at airports and public buildings. To my surprise, a similar behaviour exists in Mexico.
“The City of Madness”, zo portretteert correspondent Diego Faes Mexico City. In een reeks voor Zonder Graten vertelt hij over zijn ervaringen in de hoofdstad van Mexico.
Chapter 2: Holy Flag of the Wicked
An example of the heavy security is the Museum of Anthropology and the National Palace. In the first tourist magnet, you have to walk through a metal detector and take everything out of your pockets. Then, useless “security officials” – simple-minded people who are given an “authoritarian” function – oblige you to drop your bag at the bag deposal. After you dropped your bag, these people guide you further towards the entrance which is difficult not to see. It felt kind of ridiculous undergoing the whole security process for only a museum visit. That wasn’t that bad.
“A nationalist propaganda movie showed the apparent intention of reminding the visitors of their blind patriotism.”
El Palacio Nacional’s secured entrance was a notch higher. To visit, first you have to queue up through a ridiculous long barred-off corridor. Your bag you have lose compulsory. Then, you pass through the first metal detector followed by a second one. From the beginning not “security officials” but army men watch every step you take, ready to blast your head off with their M16s and Cal.12 shotguns. Once you think the burden is over, inside your forced by the same army men to follow a fixed route through the museum. Personally, I was only interested in Diego Rivera’s famous murals that decorate the palace’s walls. Instead I was forcibly guided just as everyone else like a herd of brainless sheep as if not able to walk your own route. Already slightly annoyed, the other visitors and me were guided into what seemed like a gas chamber. It was a 360º cinema room, where on all four walls and ceiling a nationalist propaganda movie was shown, with the apparent intention of reminding the visitors of their blind patriotism. With that over with, we continued in group all the way till the end. Luckily it was interesting, but the whole security thing is kind of blown up. Later I was told it is part of the whole Bicentenary of Independence and Centenary of the Revolution, which was intensely celebrated in the month of September, but still is visible in daily life.
Another example of the celebration of 200 years Mexicanidad (Mexicanness) is the light and sound show at Mexico City’s main square El Zócalo. A myriad of citizens showed up for the heavy patriotic-inspired event. Actually, the whole show recounted the country’s history from the early Mesoamerican civilizations till today. Again, it seems the government put a lot of effort, and of course a lot of money, into ways that remind the people of their supposed love for the flag.
“Two messiahs urged the need to evolve towards a new era of enlightenment to end the wicked state of the country that affects many unfortunate Mexicans.”
Before the light show there was an interesting contrast on the same main square. Two Jesus-like figures exclaiming the true nature of the government and its wretched practices, with other words, their version of the Truth. Among their topics were the discriminatory behaviours towards ‘El Pueblo’ (The rural people), the false battle against the drug cartels, electoral fraud, misleading and embezzling humanitarian actions from the government, the political circus covered in nepotism, misspent money into the celebration of the bicentenary, etc. Both urged the need to evolve towards a new era of enlightenment to end the wicked state of the country that affects many unfortunate Mexicans.
The two messiahs shouted clamorously, filled with frustrated anger, and seemed completely convinced of their declamations. While the main square was slowly filling up, interested listeners gathered and quietly listened while seated on little kindergarten-style stools, applauding occasionally after strong, critical comments. One of the two messiah’s final quote was an exclamation to the emphasis on money and not on people, and how it should be vice versa. Right after he was done and applauded his accomplice who had been standing idle during the whole rhetoric rattled a poorly-filled can around asking the audience for ‘cooperación’ (cooperation), i.e. a few coins to support the “revolution”. How about the contradiction?