sábado, 20 de noviembre de 2010

Saltillo's Museum to the Revolution

Walking down Calle Hidalgo the other day, I was flabbergasted to see a beautiful, new, spit-and-polished muesum dedicated to the Mexican Revolution. Surely I had been there a few weeks ago and not seen anything. Or else I don't pay attention well.

I was intrigued, but there was a steep flight of stairs and as I was pushing a stroller, knew that this museum was off limits to me. I must have been gazing longingly at the glass doors, as a young man offered to carry Clara (stroller and all) up those stairs. I took him up on the offer and there we were! I guess they were just trying to get as many people through the doors as possible.

Side note: Saltillo has a number of these free museums, and they all request a sign-in (or out) as you leave . . . like most government/grant funded institutions, their funding must be based on the number of people that enter. It seems they're trying to make a success out of this one!

Being a history museum, they had a number of detailed posters explaining the seeds of the revolution and its early stages. I would have loved to read every word, but my cute, little date had other plans. They also had various TV displays and a rather loud recording of Porfirio Diaz sending an audio message to Thomas Edison. They also sported displays of dress of the day, household items of the area, and other documents from revolutionaries of lesser importance (land deeds and such).

Yes, land deeds, as this Revolution Museum is funded by the Coahuila state government. Clearly, their aim was to present Coahuila's most famous revolutionaries (Madero and Carranza) as thoroughly as possible. Therefore the star revolutionaries in this museum were the monied and landed ones--those who aren't so revolutionary in the strict definition of a revolution. Granted, I am grateful that Madero made that bid to rid Mexico of the Porfirato.

Very little mention was made of Pancho Villa and absolutely no mention was made of Zapata. No, wait--there was a poster of him in the lobby, next to Madero's portrait. I thought it was perhaps a northern Mexico thing. After all, much of my Mexican education took place in Morelos, Zapata's home state. In Morelos, Villa is hardly ever mentioned.

I mentioned this observation to Mario when I got home. His reply?

"Well of course they didn't mention anything about Zapata. Carranza killed him."

Oh, right. I often get confused about how the various revolutionary movements came together and conflicted. To make a long story short, Carranza more or less institutionalized the Revolution and made a stable government out of what was left of Mexico after 10 years of civil war. Apparently, he felt that Zapata would further destablize the country and had him axed.

Carranza certainly had a point, but I can't help but admit that Zapata's aims towards agrarian reform and wealth redistribution (which would have been disasterous for Carranza, both personally and politically) gave hope to a significant portion of the population, both then and now. History is what it is, but I can't help but feel that a good deal of that hope died along with Zapata.