Streets Alive: The Oak Tree and the President

and stroll north, from the banks of the Rio Cuale towards the oldest hotel in town, the Rosita. However, there are sixteen streets that run east to west in that framework so it might take a few weeks to get there.

The first street is Calle Encino, which hugs the banks of the river for just three blocks. The word “Encino” means “Oak” in English, which was a bit surprising until I found out that there are 160 species of oak in Mexico. Unfortunately, many oak species in Mexico are threatened with extinction due to ecological threats like habitat loss, climate change, and increased human use and I don’t see any along this street now.

Calle Encino is a neat street to wander along. The trees, not oaks, along the river bank give shade all day long and the wall along the river bank is just the right hight for athletic, young people to hitch themselves up on to and enjoy a cool brew or check their ubiquitous phones.

Apparently, the Antropology Gay Dance Club resides just to the west of Morelos and as we walk under the bridge going east we come to the Encino hotel, which boasts a rooftop pool with a view of the bay and rates three stars on Trip Advisor. Towards the west end of the street is Cafe Roma; a great place for a pizza and a beer and owners who are very generous supporters of the Volcanes education project. Gracias!

The origin of name of the next street is a mystery. Who was Agustin Rodriguez?  The only reference I can find is to a Mexican lawyer who lived from 1842 to 1920 but what his claim to fame was I don’t know.

This street is host to the Co-Exist Restaurant, a pleasant, quiet spot for lunch and, at its west end, where the street terminates at Insurgentes, is the Cigar Factory, which serves great food, excellent coffee and rolls cigars for sale to those who like to impersonate the steam engines of the past.

Next street to the north is Libertad. Named after that very fleeting experience for some people, ”Liberty”. It is a busy, traffic-laden street with bus stops, drug stores, a barber shop and, at the west end before HSBC, is Capitan Cajun, a restaurant that scores 86% as “excellent” on Trip Advisor. Maybe check that out when you’re in the area!

And now we come to Calle Guerrero. Vicente Ramón Guerrero Saldaña  was, in the parlance of today, a cool dude. Born in 1782, a few years before the start of the French Revolution, in a small town 100 kms east of Acapulco to an African mother and a mixed-race father he grew up to be tall, strong, fearless and, obviously of African descent. He was, at times, called “El Negro”.

As an adult, Vicente was opposed to the Spanish colonial government and, in 1810, enlisted to fight in the southern Mexico against the Spanish occupiers in the country’s War of Independence. By 1812 he had done so well as a soldier and officer that he was promoted to lieutenant colonel. Three years later Guerrero was named Commander in Chief of the rebel forces.

The Mexican political and military history of those years is complex, so let me assure you that Guerrero became President of Mexico on 1st April 1829. But he lasted a scant nine months in office before being turfed out and fleeing back to his homeland in the south. Early in 1831 he was captured, tried, found guilty and shot by firing squad.

Historians have suggested that because Guerrero was of mixed blood and because the opposition to his presidency came from the great landowners, generals, clerics and Spaniards resident in Mexico, Guerrero’s execution was perhaps a warning to men considered as socially and ethnically inferior not to dare to dream of becoming president.

But the ordinary people of Mexico came to venerate him as a national hero. During his rise to the presidency and during his short tenure of that office, Guerrero called for public schools, land title reforms, industry and trade development, and other programs that would benefit the country. We should be proud.

John Warren on Email
John Warren
John Warren is in charge of Publicity for the International Friendship Club (IFC). His articles describe the programs and charities that IFC supports, the sources of income of IFC and the social experiences, lectures and classes that members can enjoy.