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Mexico celebrates 1810 revolution

Troops march during Independence Day celebrations Tuesday at Mexico City's Zocalo Plaza. Festivities began Monday night with the ringing of the original independence bell.
Troops march during Independence Day celebrations Tuesday at Mexico City's Zocalo Plaza. Festivities began Monday night with the ringing of the original independence bell.
Eduardo Verdugo, Associated Press

MEXICO CITY — Thousands of cheering spectators lined Mexico City's streets Tuesday as soldiers in colonial-area uniforms marched in perfect formation and children sang patriotic hymns to celebrate the country's revolt against Spain.

President Vicente Fox placed a wreath at the Angel of Independence monument, where 12 heroes of the struggle lie entombed.

Tuesday was the 193rd anniversary of the beginning of Mexico's revolution. But the festivities started Monday night with the traditional "El Grito" or "The Cry" — a re-enactment of the early morning hours of Sept. 16, 1810, when the priest Miguel Hidalgo called Mexicans to arms.

Every year on the eve of Independence Day, Mexican presidents emerge onto the balcony of the national palace, ring the original bell Hidalgo sounded and issue the independence cry.

This year, Fox inserted his own cry for "agreements for a better Mexico," an apparent plug for progress in a divided Congress.

The chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, arrived Monday to join the celebrations. Myers was to attend some of the festivities and to meet with Fox and Mexican Defense Secretary Gen. Gerardo Clemente Vega.

Soldiers in green fatigues and colonial-area uniforms of bright red or blue marched in formation Tuesday around the independence monument and past thousands of cheering spectators lining the city's main Reforma Boulevard.

On Monday night, tens of thousands of flag-waving, horn-blowing Mexicans dressed in the national colors of red, white and green jammed into Mexico City's central plaza to join Fox in "El Grito" and to marvel at glittering fireworks displays.

Similar celebrations took place in city squares and town plazas throughout the country.

In the small city of Hidalgo in northern Coahuila state, the party turned ugly Monday when more than 300 residents, angry over recent budget cuts, hurled eggs and tomatoes and forced Mayor Fernando Duarte to flee as he prepared to lead the local festivities.

Residents, who still had control of City Hall on Tuesday, pledged to block Duarte's return. The mayor was believed to have fled with the city treasurer to the Coahuila capital of Saltillo to ask for assistance.