Mexico City Aug 10-13 2009: UXB Delayed Action Urine-bomb Part 1
A brave photographer, Douglas Zimmerman, took this shot before the missiles hit; a wave of cups and sealed bags which contained a marvelous cocktail of liquid Mexican affection for us, the 500 Americans fans who had braved the reputation of Estadio Azteca (Aztec Stadium) to come and support the US Men's National Team in a crucial World Cup Qualifier match held on the afternoon of August 12, 2009. Those of us who were there will never forget the experience.
Morning-game day. I get up out of bed in my Zona Rosa Hotel, dress, and make my way out into pre-dawn pitch black to walk down Londres, turn left, still with all my radar on and locked, and make my way to Insurgentes Metro, the King's Cross Station of Mexico City. I've decided to see the flag raising on El Zocalo, an event which rivals any similar state worship and a suitable one for today. It's war for this match and I've come to spurn the country of my father's birth as a Yanqui invader. Yesterday I harvested history from five of the city magnificent museums, but the two that were most relevant today's match were the Museum of National Interventions and History Museum at Chapultapec Castle.
In both places you could visit relics from the open wound that was the 1846-47 War with the United States, something Americans don't even acnowledge, pretending that San Antonio, Santa Fe, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and San Francisco somehow invented their names all on their own. The first museum is contained in an Alamo-like monastary in Churubusco where 800 Mexican soldiers under the command of Gen. Anaya (a subway station is named after him) held off 5000 Yanks until they ran out of powder. Inside are drums, rifles, flags, devoted to all foreign incursions onto Mexican soil, be they Spanish, French, American, Apaches, or Mercenary. My favorite exhibit of the 1846 section was the stone devoted to Irish-American deserters who formed the St.Patrick batallion, fought for (catholic) Mexico and who gave their lives after they were captured by the Yanks, court martialed, and executed. One group was put on burros below the gallows, forced to watch the final battle for Chapultapec Castle, and when the Stars and Stripes were raised, the burros were whipped and the Fenians hung at that moment.
Chapultapec Castle itself, was Mexico's White House and Imperial home of Maximillian and Carlota during the French interlude of 1862-1867 before President Cardenas turned it over to the people in 1944. From this picture it commands a view of the Avenida de la Reforma and the Angel column where Mexicans traditionally celebrate any major football victories. And before that, the five bronze eagles are part of the massive monument to 1846-47.
Few Americans are familiar with Los Ninos Heroicos, so it mentions repeating. At that moment when the blue-coats under General Scott where reaching the castle top, five teenaged Mexican officer cadets remained. The last survivor, rather than let the Americans take down the flag, wrapped himself in it, and jumped. A massive roof mural inside the castle commemorates the event.
Their statues are found outside, near, where they fell.
At one point I wondered what would be the response of all of Mexico if they heard that a few tipsy Yank football fans had attempted to re-raise the American flag over the top turrent. Almost the same as if they heard we had won today's match - like learning that a planet had been knocked out of the solar system. A reporter for the Naperville Sun (Chicagoland paper) would quote me at the match saying the same.
As I made my way up the steps to the ancient square I had to admire the Mexicans, because today, the entire nation would be pulling for the team, united, in one breath and one beating heart, in prayer to the Virgin of Guadalupe, the ultimate 12th man. It would be payback for past wrongs, invasions, the subjugation of millions as the American service worker population, and yes, for the 2-0 scores we Gringos had run up against them, as recently as Columbus Ohio in Sprig 2009. In America, after today's match , the response of the majority would be "What, there was a game on today?"
A vast stone square beckoned, but not before I got a cup of 7-11 coffee and a stack of today's sports papers, headlines proclaiming "Zero Hour,""Failure Prohibited," and "You Want a Piece of Me?" The area in front of the 500 foot high flagpole facing the new Presidential Palace was deserted, except for four Mexican supporters in green who had come in early for the ceremony and the patriotic rush it would bring them.
I walked up to them. "Listos por hoy?" "Si!" "Yo tambien!" and I pulled back my jacket to reveal my USA uniform. Laughter, amazement at my 'huevos' (balls) just being there, smiles and handshakes all around. Swift intros, they Guadalajara, me San Diego, my Chicano father there in spirit. Pictures in front of the Presidential Palace and best wishes for a good match, a 1-1 score (from me), but we all knew this was a truce and a brief one.
Then the flag raising, carried out with precision by a 150 man honor guard and drum and bugle corp. The marches and flourishes almost Middle-Eastern in rhythm and cadence.
I found a great juxtapose of the two armies with a copy of the local English language paper "The News."
I headed back to the hotel to recharge for an hour, get breakfast, and join the first running of the gauntlet, the subway ride by the advance mob of Yank invader away supporters to the Altar of Football, the 105,000 capacity Aztec Stadium located in the heart of the south Mexico City slums.