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MEXICO: Chapultepec revisited

Elias Castillo from Mexico comments: "One has to wonder what the outcome of the battle would have been if Mexican General Juan Alvarez, commanding 4,000 cavalrymen, had entered the fight as he was ordered. He could have attacked the American flank, perhaps rolled it up, and the outcome might have been different. So, the question arises, why didn't the general attack as he was ordered to as described in Raul Escalante's description? Had he done so, perhaps there would not have been any need for the cadets to sacrifice themselves. I once read a Mexican version of the history of the Mexican-American War which lambasts the Mexican military command for its lack of coordination, downright stupidity, petty differences and failure, as demonstrated by Gen. Juan Alvarez, to jump into battle when ordered. General Santa Ana was also not popular with the Mexican populace and is vilified even today in Mexico. He's no hero in Mexico".

My comment: If you asked the ordinary America what "the halls of Montezuma" refers to, you would probably get at best a vague answer. For the defeated Mexicans, every detail is engraved in their memory, There is a parallel between US-Mexican relations and German-French relations. The French remember the occupation of Paris by the Germans after the 1970 war and during World War II. The Battle of the Marne saved Paris from that fate in World War I. Photographs show Frenchmen weeping as the watched German troops marching into Paris. A Mexican once said to me "I cry whenever I think of the land we lost to the United States". This is similar to the loss of Alsace-Lorraine to Germany. The French got it back in World War 1. The Zimmerman note promised Mexico it would get the lost land back when Germany won the war. Germany lost the war. Napoleon III and the defeated French generals were the object of vilification in France. Remember Pétain. Vae victis!

The basic fact of the European Union was the reconciliation of France and Germany within the new framework. The basic fact of NAFTA is the reconciliation of Mexico and the US within the new framework. The French still have an ambivalent attitude toward their new friend. The same is true of Mexico, where many Mexicans accuse President Fox of "malinchismo"--selling out to the invader. In Stanford recently a Mexican said to me that many Mexicans distrust the US, and some hate it. President Bush seems to be softening our relationship.

Ronald Hilton - 11/16/01