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Mexico and the Philippines



     The Black Legend taught us to despise old Spain, but at Easter we catch some of its glory. While modern Europe celebrates Easter with nasty traffic jams of people going to the seaside, and with even nastier highway fatalities, Mexico is keeping alive old Easter with all its sincere devotion. In Ixtapalapa, a poor district of Mexico City, an enormous crowd watched a passion play ending with Christ being crucified on the nearby Cerro de la Estrella. The student playing Christ was not only a good actor but also an attractive student, far different from the UNAM strikers. There were similar ceremonies in many Mexican communities, the one at San Luis Potosí being most like that of old Spain, as commentators noted. A Spanish touch was that bullfighters were among the notables carrying the image. There were impressive ceremonies in Mexico City Cathedral, with Archbishop Cardinal Noguera preaching in the gloriously sonorous language which is a legacy of the Golden Age of Spain.
     The modern world enveloped the old one. In a TV poll, a majority was voting in favor of allowing Mexicans to carry guns. President Zedillo was in Veracruz for the ceremonies marking the ports defense; the details were glossed over as Zedillo boasted that Mexico was developing its own democracy without help from outside. The crime issue was very much alive in Tijuana and along the border.
     The Black Legend had a basis, as was evident in the Philippines, where the old Spanish custom of crucifying Christ with nails continued, despite Church condemnation of the custom.

Ronald Hilton - 4/22/00


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