Friday, April 28, 2006

Mexican National Anthem

With all the furor over the fake Spanish version of the American National Anthem currently being sold for $10 US (110 pesos), I thought I might take a look at the Mexican national anthem and fill you in on its lyrics in English.

Now, as you read these lyrics and giggle, please keep in mind that the Mexican armed forces have never won a war in all their history. They've won a battle or two, like this one where the Mexican army, numbering 6,100, attacked the ruins of an old Spanish mission in what is now San Antonio, Texas. The mission, or what was left of it (basically just the facade -- the other "walls" were merely wooden picket fences), was defended by 189 men who were defending the 1824 Mexican Constitution which had been thrown out by Mexico's dictator, one Generalissimo Antonio Lopez de Santa Ana. He also happened to be in command of this army of 6,100 cavalry, infantry and artillery which was attacking a wall defended by 189 men. After 13 days, the wall was finally conquered by the generalissimo, at a cost of 182 dead Texans and 1600 dead Mexican soldiers. The seven surviving Texans were summarily executed by being hacked to death with swords and machetes. So, a force outnumbering its opponents 32-1 requied 13 days to defeat those opponents at a cost of 8.5 dead winners for every dead loser.

Or this one, when, on May 5, 1862, French forces were forced to withdraw from their seige of Puebla (Mexico celebrate this as "Cinco de Mayo"). Mexico does not celebrate May 17, 1863, almost exactly one year later, when the French returned while on their way to Mexico City to take over the country and the city of Puebla surrendered. Besides, "Diecisiete de Mayo" just doesn't have the ring of "Cinco de Mayo".

And before all the squawking starts about Independencia and its subsequent executions by firing squad and Emperor Maximiliano's defeat and its subsequent executions by firing squads and hangings and La Revolucion and its subsequent executions by firing squad, hangings and assassinations, let's remember that these were either defeats of the Mexican army by peasant armies or defeats of one faction of the Mexican army by another faction of the Mexican army. Meaning that the Mexicans are good at kicking their own asses but not too good at kicking anybody elses.

Even the French (initially supported by the English and Spanish) were invited in by Mexican factions who wanted to join the European Habsburg dynasty. The English and Spanish were along because Mexico had welshed on its foreign debt and Benito Juarez was also threatening to nationalize all foreign investments in the country -- his theory being that if you owe the merchant more money than you can repay, just take over the merchant's business by force and, as the new owner, cancel the debt that you now owe to yourself.

Here's the Mexican national anthem:

Mexicans, at the cry of battle
prepare your swords and bridle;
and let the earth tremble at its center
at the roar of the cannon.

Oh fatherland
Your forehead shall be girded with olive garlands,
by the divine archangel of peace
For in heaven your eternal destiny
has been written by the hand of God.

But should a foreign enemy dare to
profane your land with his sole,
Think, beloved fatherland, that heaven
gave you a soldier in each son.

War, war without truce against who would attempt
to blemish the honor of the fatherland!
War, war! The patriotic banners
drench in waves of blood.

War, war! On the mount, in the valley
The terrifying thunder of the cannon

And the echoes nobly resound to the cries of
Union! Liberty!

Fatherland, before your children
Become unarmed beneath the yoke their necks in sway,
And your countryside be watered with blood,
On blood their feet trample.

And may your temples, palaces and towers
crumble in horrid crash,
and ruins remain saying:
The fatherland was made of one thousand heroes.

Fatherland, fatherland, your children swear
to exhale their breath in your cause,
If the bugle in its belligerent tone
should call upon them to struggle with bravery.

For you the olive garlands!

For them a memory of glory!

For you a laurel of victory!

For them a tomb of honor!
You know, one would think that a national anthem for a country whose armed forces have never won a war, much less a fair fight, would spend just a bit less rhetoric on war, blood and battle and a bit more on, oh, I dunno, the dove of peace, or lower water levels in the Rio Grand so as to facilitate wading across, or something.


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