Here in Mexico's capital, several thousand people gathered at the Alameda Central, a large park in the historic center of the city, to celebrate Global Marijuana Day. Punks, Goths, hippies, and members of all the other "urban tribes" that constitute the youth counterculture of one of the world's premier cities came together for a day of respect, tolerance, music, and above all, to call for the legalization of the sacred herb.
Of course, it's not just the youth cultures of Mexico City that we're talking about here; it's the global cannabis culture. Cannabis Nation knows no boundaries. In many respects, I could have been standing in Memphis or Malmo or Madrid or Mombasa or Minsk--the t-shirts and slogan are the same, the concerns roughly identical. I'll say this for the global prohibition of marijuana: It has created a global culture of resistance that supercedes national identities or barriers.
The music and musicians were spot-on, but lyrically and rhythmically. Some of the songs were pure celebration:
We're going to the beach and I wanna smoke
We're going to dance and toke
Some of the songs were highly politicized and, naturally, critical of the US. One rapper compared Bush ("creating hell on earth") with Hitler and Hernan Cortes, placing him squarely in a particularly Mexican pantheon of villains.
Speaking of politics, one of the great battles going on in Mexico right now is over the government's efforts to privatize Pemex, the state oil monopoly. For many Mexicans, Pemex is a symbol of the Revolution a century ago that overthrew foreign domination. After the Revolution, the Mexicans expropriated the foreign oil companies; now they fear the government is going to give the national oil industry back to the foreigners. One sign at the march tied that struggle to the struggle for marijuana legalization:
Mariguana y petroleo
Eso es nuestro patrimonio
Marijuana and Oil
That's our patrimony
The police presence was minimal, and as far as I could see, there were no problems and no arrests, although pot-smoking was open and frequent throughout the day.
I took lots of photos, as you can see. (Sixteen more below the fold
.)Sadly, my memory stick got full, and I missed some of the potentially most impressive shots, when the multitude was marching down Avenida Juarez, past the Bellas Artes palace and in front of some of the old colonial buildings in the city center. Still, Global Marijuana Day in Mexico City was a trip. Enjoy the photos, and look for a full report on the action in the Chronicle later this week.
marching down Avenida Juarez -- Torre Latinoamericana in the background
marching around the Alameda Central
at the circulo Benito Juarez
hip hip and reggaeton artist Moyenei
police observe the event -- no arrests
march organizer Leopoldo Rivera addresses the crowd
Jorge Hernandez Tinajero and Leopoldo of AMECA explaining the medical marijuana and decrim bills before Mexico's Congress
Lucha Libre (Mexican wrestling) mask with marijuana leaf
Reefer Bender (Futurama character)
jello with marijuana leaf
police woman in front of signs
mounted policeman in sombrero, with punketos (punks)
Sylvia Maria Valls, Mexican activist and friend of DRCNet from our 2003 Latin America conference