By: Daniel Hernandez in Mexico City
The grito, or yell, is the customary climax of Independence Day celebrations in Mexico. It is a call made by the president, governors and mayors across the country at midnight every Sept. 15, a tradition commemorating the original grito of Father Miguel Hidalgo in 1810. But this year, as Mexico struggles with soaring drug-related violence, at least 16 cities and towns in Mexico are canceling the public grito out of safety concerns, reports La Opinion, the Spanish-language newspaper in Los Angeles.
The cancellations are especially disheartening, the head of a mayors group told the paper, because this year is Mexico's independence bicentennial.
Most cancellations have been announced in Tamaulipas state, site of ruthless violence between authorities and drug-trafficking groups, but also in the bloodied border city of Ciudad Juarez, as the El Paso Times reports. Ten municipalities have canceled public Independence Day festivities in Tamaulipas, reports Action 4 News in South Texas. Among them is San Fernando, the town near where 72 migrants were massacred late last month.
Violence erupted during a previous Independence Day celebration. During the 2008 grito in Morelia, the state capital of Michoacan and President Felipe Calderon's home town, assailants threw grenades into the gathered crowd, killing eight people and wounding 100.
Independence Day is less than a week away. Preparations are frantic in Mexico City for the official grito, which also means street closures, an increased police presence, and of course, more traffic. President Calderon is expected to deliver two gritos this year in honor of the bicentennial, one at the National Palace on Mexico City's Zocalo square and another shortly thereafter in the town of Dolores Hidalgo, Guanajuato, where the original grito took place 200 years ago.