Murals Under Periferico

in murals •  last year  (edited)

It seems like the bus I’m waiting for is taking its time. Technical difficulties, coupled with human challenges, all rolled together in a Mexican context pretty much guarantees that whatever may happen, it most likely won’t be at the planned time. So I might as well publish a few more posts on murals… 

Today I took a walk to a mural I saw on the walls of an underpass, where Calle 10 crosses under Anillo Periferico, in the Colonia San Pedro de los Pinos, not too far from where I live. The constantly flowing traffic and the severe contrast of the bright sunlight meeting the shade in the underpass made it a bit of a challenge to take good pictures, but here they are. 

Faces of Freedom 

The thematic of this mural, as it so often the case, are the great people who fought for the freedom of the Mexican people, from colonial days through modern times. Starting out with what I assume is Fray Bartolomeo de las Casas, a Dominican Friar and bishop of Chiapas, who was one of the first influential  Spaniard to stand up for the oppressed indigenous peoples, at least in his writings. Next to him can be seen Benito Juarez, the first Mexican president of indigenous origins, whose laws of reform limited the power of the church. He is seen as an important character in the protection of the peasants, the poor, and indigenous people, even though his efforts had a limited effect.

Following the mural to the right, we see a post-revolutionary president, probably Álvaro Obregon, who is known for his educational reform and land reform. The other person to his left I don’t recognize. Could it be Lázaro Cárdenas, who is responsible for the nationalization of the Mexican oil industry, called “expropriation”, which he is loved for up to the present day? If so, he would fit right in.

More Freedom on the Other Side

The opposite wall of the underpass starts out with poor campesinos cutting sugar-cane, followed by the three most important icons of the struggle for freedom: On the top is Emiliano Zapata, a leader from the Mexican Revolution. Right below him stands Che Guevara, who is not even Mexican, but his revolutionary fame from Cuba to Bolivia, his visionary writings regarding a united Latin America, and not lastly his passion-infused look, captured in the famous photo by Alberto Korda, make him the quintessential freedom fighter. Positioned under el Che is the more contemporary Subcomandante Marcos, his face hidden behind his iconic ski-mask. Marcos was the spokesman for the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN), standing up for indigenous land rights during the Zapatist conflict of the 1990s, and is most famous for his anti-capitalist writings and the “Other Campaign” of the EZLN before the presidential election of 2006. 

The mural finishes off with more hard-working peasants. What’s also interesting, is the tile mosaic on the bottom of the mural, adding a mixed-media effect to the entire picture. This can be seen most clearly on Marcos’ boots, the butt of his rifle, and the head of Quetzalcoatl to his right. 

I don’t know when this mural was painted, but I remember seeing it years ago, when I had just arrived in Mexico. The fact that it has not been vandalized, even though it is located in not the best part of town, can probably be attributed to the to the topic it deals with. Pictures of the people, for the people, and most likely even by the people, shall not be disrespected.

If you liked this, check out my developing series on Mexican murals:

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Mexican seems be particularly well endowed with murals.

Is it particularly part of Mexican culture?

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Throughout the 1920s, 30s, and up to the middle of the century, muralism was an important art-form. The state supported famous muralists, such as Rivera and Orozco, resulting in gargantuan wall paintings, telling many stories simultaneously. Although by today the state support has dwindled into mere non-interference, the tradition is alive and well.

I really love these mural posts of yours. They are not just like random street art at all because they have such a rich history to them. Great pictures & narrative!

Oh, I remeber similar murals from the 3 week trip that I did to Venezuela in 2006. Man that trip felt like year, so intense it was! But well worth doing. Man I was so unprepared... Hope to hear from you soon again!