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Holy Week in Spain and Mexico



     In the traditional cities of Spain, Good Friday was celebrated with the usual splendid pageantry. It fact, it seemed to be more theater than pious sadness. In Seville, where the ceremonies are especially ostentatious and the crowds densest, there was panic when a young man bearing a scimitar rushed through the crowd, causing everyone to flee. The sight of the hooded marchers running away as fast as their legs could carry them was less than edifying. It was thought that this might be part of a plot to disrupt the ceremonies.
     Among the other Spanish ceremonies, there was a particularly noisy one in which a crowd of drummers banged away to mark the most solemn period of the passion. Of unusual interest was the dance of death in a small Catalan town, the only surviving ceremony of its kind in Europe. The Good Friday Mexican scenes featuring skulls clearly derive from this tradition. In general, the Mexican ceremonies, which included a passion play in Ixtapalapa, seemed more genuinely pious than the Spanish ones and recalled old Spanish piety.
     In sharp contrast with the dignified, kindly religious ceremonies was the chaotic scene at the National University (UNAM). The crude, shouting student strikers claimed to be keeping alive the spirit of the notorious 1968 strike, but the veterans of that bloody confrontation disclaimed them. The strikers claimed to be speaking in the name of the first international meeting of university students, and there clearly is a student international linking radical students of many Latin American countries. The strikers linked up with the janitors, who were striking in demand of higher wages. There was probably a tie with the demonstrations of Los Angeles janitors, most of whom are Mexican.
     The Mexican colonies in Los Angeles and other border towns organized a march to the border so that they could cross it and vote in Mexico. Success was doubtful, since it was not sure they would be allowed to vote. Moreover, those who had become US citizens might be in trouble, since voting in foreign elections is still forbidden by US law. There was clearly a tie-in with Cuauhtemoc Cárdenas and Rosario Robles, who replaced him a governor of the Federal District.
     There was an echo in Stanford, where a posting in support of the candidacy of Cárdenas provoked a number of critical postings from other Mexicans. A Colombian student issued a long and passionate manifesto denouncing the bloody guerrillas devastating his country. Unfortunately, neither the striking students nor the guerrillas seemed to be disposed to listen to reason.

Ronald Hilton - 4/21/00


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