Friday, January 21, 2005

Amor Real, and Juan Alvarez the earlier

I'm a mentor in a program sponsored by the school system here. So it's my pleasure to hang out with a 9-year-old Latina whose family came here from Toluca, Mexico when she was a baby.

She speaks perfect English, but her parents don't, so Univision plays all the time at their house and "Amor Real" is her favorite show. Now she's got me hooked on it.

Set in 19th century Mexico, it's the first telenovela with hoopskirts (and almost without cleavage)! Amid the usual plots of betrayal, revenge, etc. there is a historical subplot about Juan Alvarez.

Although she's too young to care much about history, my mentee and I looked him up here. He was quite a character and I hope he'll interest you, too. Please note this is NOT the Juan Alvarez of the recent train disaster. Some excerpts from his history:
Son of a Spaniard and an Acapulco Afro-Mexican ... [Alvarez was] credited with starting the "Reform" of the mid 19th Century. ... became the first president ... brought the fabled Indigenous leader Benito Juarez into the national limelight ...

Alvarez was a fiery orator for equality. A speech to his Afro-Mexican and Afro-Filipino troops on the Acapulco coast in 1820 displayed his passion, and helps explain the reason for the determination of dark skinned Mexico in that fight for independence. Alvarez said:

"Beloved comrades and sons of the people... we may wonder why we continue on toward a distant dream, asking ourselves if perhaps we have not had enough after the long ten years of a bloody and destructive war?

"We fight to gain our rights. To manifest to ourselves that we can't be bought off or seduced by the Spaniards, those egotistical, avaricious robbers, despots, and seducers without comparison.

"We stand today as mortal enemies of all CRIOLISMO (hegemony of White Mexican CREOLES who aped European power and culture). They have long tried to cover us with shame, to herd us as if we were four legged beasts,... to speak of us as if we were stupid animals... and now they solicit our extermination... We say to the Creoles that we want our freedom."
His part in the 1810 war began his rise to fame and leadership in the liberal reform movement. A battle wound in that same war made him a paraplegic. Alvarez, who never walked again, thereafter conducted much of his business on horse back!

Although barely educated, he was an avid reader of history and politics, and his correspondence and writings were influential and well-regarded. From his 1845 treatise on Indian rights:
"If, in place of the rich hacienda owners persecuting the Indigenous and treating them like slaves; if, in place of taking what little they own, stripping them of their tiny plots of land that the nation had given them, or that they had obtained from Spain, so that they could eke out their miserable existence; if in place of devising legal infractions under which they can be thrown in prison, in order to compel their families to leave their homes, (we instead) offered them protection and accepted their petitions of grievance, the republic would find that before a half a century it had many men thoroughly useful and productive, who generated wealth in a wide area of industry and agriculture.

"The Indians amounted to very little during the colony, but they would be something soon, if we offered them the opportunity; and they would be much more after the system of education had reached out to them and erased the negative impressions of their race."
You can see my recap of the telenovela "Amor Real" here. And if you watch Univision, you know that the struggle against criolismo in Mexico is by no means over. Manuel Fuentes Guerra, the millionaire bastard half-Indian (mestizo) hero of "Amor Real," is the FIRST non-white I have EVER seen in ANY Univision show who was not a servant, an ignorant and superstitious peasant, or the butt of a joke.

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At 2:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

to tell you something sr.juan alvarez in amor real was a fake caracter in the story,there was never a president of mexico with that a fake story the producers try to put there so check that again and check it out

At 6:03 PM, Anonymous JOSE PENA said...

Álvarez, Juan (hwän äl'värās) , 1780–1867, Mexican general of indigenous descent, president of Mexico (1855). He distinguished himself in battle under Morelos y Pavón and was later the first governor of Guerrero. In 1854 he led the liberal Revolution of Ayutla, which overthrew (1855) General Santa Anna. After two months he yielded the presidency to Ignacio Comonfort. Álvarez later fought against Maximilian and the French invaders


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