Independence Day — or as Americans say, the “Fourth of July” — is just around the corner with various celebrations, from backyard barbecues and family get-togethers, to bar bashes and beach parties, all beginning with spectacular parades and culminating in an extraordinary display of fireworks in towns across America.

When you think of Independence Day, you may not think about Mexico, but think again.  The USA shares a common history with our brothers to the south.  Both countries honor their freedom with great respect and enthusiasm.  Although the dates we celebrate may be different, our experiences are quite similar.

Brief History of US Independence

The American Fourth of July holiday marks the liberation of British colonies in America (today’s USA) from England’s overtaxation and oppressive rule.  It began in 1774 when the people sent delegates to the First Continental Congress in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to request fair representation in the English parliament.

Since their efforts were unsuccessful, the people became restless, and on April 18, 1775, England’s King George III sent troops to Concord, Massachusetts, to control a possible revolt.  This is when Paul Revere rode his horse through the streets at night warning, “The British are coming; the British are coming!”

On April 19, 1775, the resulting battle of Concord is the beginning of the eight-year American Revolutionary War (1775 – 1783): the fight for independence.  Shortly thereafter, in May 1775, the people attempted another peaceful resolution by sending delegates to the Second Continental Congress, which lasted one year — still without declaring an official war.

By June 1776, the people realized their efforts to negotiate the end of tyrannical British rule were hopeless, so they selected representatives to create the official United States Declaration of Independence.

On July 4, 1776, this declaration to break allegiance with England was completed and adopted after nearly two years of discussions.  Long live freedom!

Brief History of Mexican Independence

On September 16, Mexicans celebrate Independence Day with equal gusto, since it represents the end of 300 years of Spanish rule over the colonies (today’s Mexico) beginning in 1519.  Spain’s devastation of over half of the native population and disregard for their human rights contributed to the Mexican War of Independence (1810 – 1821), which lasted 11 years.

Tired of being oppressed by Spain, the Mexican-born Spaniards, mestizos (mixed Spanish & American Indian), and American Indians rebelled against the Spanish colonists on September 16, 1810, when a Catholic priest, Father Miguel Hidalgo from the small town of Dolores, took the lead.

Hidalgo issued a call to action — the Grito de Dolores (Cry of Dolores) — encouraging Mexicans to end Spanish tyranny, and led a revolt for nearly one year before being executed.  Hidalgo is known as the father of the country.

After Hidalgo’s execution, while others also fought for the cause, another Catholic priest, Jose Maria Morelos, assumed leadership and paved the way to independence by formalizing Mexico’s Solemn Act of the Declaration of Independence of Northern America, granting equal rights to all Mexicans, but which led to his execution. Morelos is recognized as one of Mexico’s revolutionary leaders.

Mexican Bicentennial Celebration

This year, Mexico’s Independence Day holiday on September 16th is even more spectacular, since 2010 is the Bicentenario (bicentennial) celebration, commemorating 200 years of Mexican independence since its initiation in 1810 and acknowledging 100 years since the Mexican Revolution of 1910.

Mexico and the USA have always had a close relationship politically, culturally, and economically as we share common ideals: our fight for freedom and the pursuit of happiness. Independence Day is an opportunity to pay tribute to our emancipation and unity — two national ideals that both the USA and Mexico share.

Enjoy the best of both cultures when you visit the Riviera Maya, and let’s celebrate Independence Day together.

¡Viva la libertad!