This week we’ll take a stroll from south to north along “Avenida Insurgentes” to see how it got its name and what’s on the street today.
The “Insurgentes” are those Mexicans who fought for freedom from oppression and colonization.
From 1519 to 1521 the Spanish, lead by Hernan Cortes, fought and beat the Aztecs in the land that is now Mexico. The Spanish over-ran the country, imposed their religion and their political will on its people, and shipped tons and tons of precious metals back to Spain. This period of colonization lasted almost three hundred years until “The Insurgents” fought for and gained independence for their country.
The Mexican War of Independence started on 10th September 1810 when a Roman Catholic priest, Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, rang the bell of his church in the town of Dolores, Guanajuato, to call the townspeople and urged them to fight for the country’s independence from Spain. His speech became known as “The Cry of Dolores” and now, each year, in Mexico City on the 10th September the President of Mexico re-enacts the “Grito de Dolores” from the balcony of the National Palace in Mexico City, while ringing the same bell Hidalgo rang in 1810. The day is still recognized as Independence Day.
By the end of that fateful morning Hidalgo had a mob of 600 men shouting their support for independence and, with Hidalgo in his flowing priest’s robes at their head, they set out to spread their message to the surrounding towns and villages.
Hidalgo was joined by another insurgent commander, Ignacio Allende, and they marched their little army through towns including San Miguel and Celaya, where the angry rebels killed all the Spaniards they found. When they reached the town of Guanajuato on September 28, they found Spanish forces barricaded inside the public granary but they didn’t stand a chance. The rebel army now numbered 30,000 and the soldiers killed more than 500 Spanish and creoles before marching on toward Mexico City.
But the loyalist Spanish Army managed to turn the tables and Hidalgo and his soldiers were captured.The leaders were found guilty of treason and sentenced to death. Allende and other leaders of the insurgents were executed on 26 June 1811, shot in the back as a sign of dishonor. Hidalgo, as a priest, had to undergo a civil trial and review by the Inquisition. He was eventually stripped of his priesthood, found guilty, and executed on 30 July. The heads of Hidalgo, Allende, Aldama and Jiménez were preserved and hung from the four corners of the granary in Guanajuato as a warning to those who dared follow in their footsteps. The grisly heads failed to dissuade the insurgents.
Following the execution of Hidalgo, José María Morelos took over leadership of the insurgency. His army occupied the cities of Oaxaca and Acapulco. In 1813, he convened the Congress of Chilpancingo and, on 6 November of that year, the Congress signed the first official document of independence, known as the Solemn Act of the Declaration of Independence of Northern America. The battles with the supporters of Spanish power continued and, in 1815, Morelos, himself, was captured by Spanish colonial authorities, tried and executed.
Further fighting and civil war continued in Mexico for another six years until, on September 27, 1821 the insurgent army entered Mexico City, and its general, Agustin de Iturbide, proclaimed the independence of the Mexican Empire from Spain.
Avenida Insurgentes in PV, is a great street to wander along as it has all sorts of essential places that residents, tourists and ex-pats need. At the south end, at Basilio Badillo, is Mundo de Cristal, a P.V. institution known for its for ceramics, candles, cristaleria, hand blown glass, glass vases, glass boxes. Across the street is Act11 Entertainment, with its theatrical and musical productions. A block north is the biggest drugstore in town, Guadalajara Farmacia. A watch-mender perches on the bridge and there are at least three mom and pop grocery stores. Incanto, right on the banks of the Rio Cuale is an excellent live theatre with a pleasant piano bar and good food in its restaurant. Anchoring the north end of Insurgentes is the Vallarta Cigar Factory where employees hand-roll cigars and the food and drinks are excellent while, above HSBC bank, is the International Friendship Club, the best place in town to socialize, make friends and do good.
Appropriately, Calle Insurgentes, which celebrates those who fought for the independence of their country leads into the street “Libertad”, or “Liberty”.