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A High Note for Mexico's Anthem

Many patriotically intone the national song at the same time to mark its 150th anniversary. However, not everyone is in tune with the event.

September 16, 2004|From Associated Press

MEXICO CITY — Mexicans in many countries united in song Wednesday as embassy staffs, office workers and even a Persian Gulf chef belted out their national anthem to mark its 150th anniversary.

Participation was far from universal. The singing drew puzzled looks from some people who apparently had not noticed the weeks-long national campaign calling on Mexicans to join in.

The songfest was set for noon Mexico City time (10 a.m. PDT). But at least two Mexican embassies in Europe honored the anthem around midday local time, several hours before Mexico City.

Office workers in the capital drifted to windows overlooking the independence monument and filtered out to the street, where a brass band played a special rendition of the anthem. President Vicente Fox sang with schoolchildren, wife Marta Sahagun and members of his Cabinet at Chapultepec Castle, which is on a hill overlooking Mexico City.

But Jose Luis Garcia, 33, said he hadn't heard about the campaign, and spent the entire song chatting with a friend. "I've got to be honest. I don't even know the words very well," he said.

Although government workers were handed copies of the lyrics and encouraged to sing, many Mexicans in the capital seemed to be too busy to take part.

"We just got robbed, and we are trying to get someone to lend us 10 pesos [about 85 cents] so we can get to the park," 14-year-old Juan Carlos Hetshel said.

Others welcomed the patriotic show. Rosario Garcia, a 23-year-old student, said the song "is our Mexican identity."

"Recently, the country seems fragmented, and it's good to remember our country's independence," she said as workers prepared decorations and stages for today's celebration of Mexico's declaration of independence from Spain.

In Colorado, where Latinos make up 18% of the population, 80 people gathered at the Mexican Consulate in Denver to sing and cheer, "Viva Mexico!" Consulate workers handed out small Mexican flags.

The call to song reached the Persian Gulf state of Bahrain, where chef Romaldo Martinez, 45, of Acapulco sang "all that I can remember" of the anthem while preparing a special Independence Day menu at the busy Casa Mexicana restaurant.

He said, "I am happy, and I wish I was home right now."

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