Friday, March 21, 2008

Feliz cumpleaños, Benito

Today is the birthday of Benito Juárez, perhaps the most impeccably admirable political figure of Mexico's history. He was a Zapotec Indian from the southern state of Oaxaca and a lawyer by training. Juárez had an adamantine integrity that remains admirable today; it's a great pity that the Mexican soil hasn't produced more such leaders. Parenthetically, I smoked my last cigarette ever on this date in 1985, in the bar of the Hotel Victoria in Chihuahua City. The Victoria was one of those grand old hotels from the early part of the 20th Century. It had a big lobby, sweeping staircases, lots of wood, and a bar with barmen in crisp starched coats. It's been torn down, no doubt replaced with something uglier.


bruce ponder said...

i remember the hotel victoria very well. i may have been there for your last cigarette. it was a lovely place.

benito juarez was also a great mexican patriot who, despite the entreaties from his generals not to do it, had maximilian shot. even though maximilian had arguably acted in mexico's best interests in dealing with the european rulers who made him emperor of mexico. cold, but logical. he really was a lawyer.

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