The Angel of Independence

El Monumento a la Independencia, or the Angel of independence, is a tribute to Mexico’s victory over Spain in its War of Independence. Its construction was finished in 1910 under the presidency of Porfirio Diaz, on the centennial of the War of Independence. Under the monument are the remains of revolutionaries including Father Hidalgo. Father Hidalgo is credited with inciting the rebellion against New Spain. It is located within a busy intersection in Mexico City on Reforma Avenue.

While the construction for this monument was completed in 1910, the Mexican Revolution occurred this same year. The aim of the Revolution was to overthrow Diaz, who oversaw the building of the monument. While Diaz was responsible for modernizing the nation, he also subjected many agrarian and indigenous groups to poverty in process. He invited foreign investment into Mexico to build its wealth, but foreign companies exploited the poor of Mexico. The Mexican Revolution is certainly a defining moment in the country’s history. However, the events which surrounded the building of the Monumento a la Independencia were also a turning point in Mexican culture.

According to Mauricio Tenorio Trillo, the construction of the Angel of Independence by Porfirio Diaz has special and complex cultural significance. In his article entitled “1910 Mexico City”, published in the Journal of Latin American Studies in 1996, he explains that the centennial celebrations of independence under Diaz are more culturally significant today than the beginning of the revolution that same year. In 1910, there were countless constructions, renovations, and renaming of buildings, monuments, streets, and national landmarks to honor those who fought for Mexican Independence. Trillo describes these events as parades and processions occurring one after another on a near daily basis. These preparations began years ahead, so that they would be unveiled in time for their respective celebrations. The month of September was of specific importance for these events because the legendary “grita” occurred then. The “grita” was the first cry for Independence made by Father Hidalgo. Multiple processions per day occurred in September of 1910. Trillo explains that the dedication of the Angel of Independence was the most important of these processions. It occurred on the sixteenth, the day that Mexico celebrates its independence every year. Every celebratory event from 1910 was dedicated to that day, one century earlier. Of all of the tributes to the fight for liberation from Spain, El Monumento a la Independencia is the most significant because it specifically commemorates the most important moment in Mexican History, the moment of Independence. Trillo argues that these events in 1910, particularly those in September of 1910 had a lasting effect on Mexican culture. He argues that while most Mexican nationalist sentiment comes from the Revolution that began in 1910, the way that it is expressed is in the same way that Diaz commemorated independence. Porfirio Diaz changed the way that Mexico as a nation celebrates itself and the way that Mexican people celebrate their nation. The Angel of Independence was the pinnacle of the events which caused this change (Trillo, 1996).