Friday, September 16, 2005

1810 Mexican War of Independence begins

Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, a Catholic priest, launches the Mexican War of Independence with the issuing of his Grito de Dolores, or "Cry of Dolores," The revolutionary tract, so-named because it was publicly read by Hidalgo in the town of Dolores, called for the end of 300 years of Spanish rule in Mexico, redistribution of land, and racial equality. Thousands of Indians and mestizos flocked to Hidalgo's banner of the Virgin of Guadalupe, and soon the peasant army was on the march to Mexico City.
In the early 19th century, Napoleon's occupation of Spain led to the outbreak of revolts all across Spanish America. Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla--"the father of Mexican independence"--launched the Mexican rebellion with his "Cry of Delores," and his populist army came close to capturing the Mexican capital. Defeated at Caldern in January 1811, he fled north but was captured and executed. He was followed by other peasant leaders, however, such as Josý Marýa Morelos y Pavn, Mariano Matamoros, and Vicente Guerrero, who all led armies of native and racially mixed revolutionaries against the Spanish and the Royalists.
Ironically, it was the Royalists--made up of Mexicans of Spanish descent and other conservatives--who ultimately brought about independence. In 1820, liberals took power in Spain, and the new government promised reforms to appease the Mexican revolutionaries. In response, Mexican conservatives called for independence as a means of maintaining their privileged position in Mexican society.
In early 1821, Agustýn de Iturbide, the leader of the Royalist forces, negotiated the Plan of Iguala with Vicente Guerrero. Under the plan, Mexico would be established as an independent constitutional monarchy, the privileged position of the Catholic Church would be maintained, and Mexicans of Spanish descent would be regarded as equal to pure Spaniards. Mexicans of mixed or pure Indian blood would have lesser rights.
Iturbide defeated the Royalist forces still opposed to independence, and the new Spanish viceroy, lacking money, provisions, and troops, was forced to accept Mexican independence. On August 24, 1821, Spanish Viceroy Juan de O'Donojý signed the Treaty of Crdoba, which approves a plan to make Mexico an independent constitutional monarchy. In 1822, as no Bourbon monarch to rule Mexico had been found, Iturbide was proclaimed the emperor of Mexico. However, his empire was short-lived, and in 1823 republican leaders Santa Anna and Guadalupe Victoria deposed Iturbide and set up a republic, with Guadalupe Victoria as its first president.
1977 Maria Callas dies
Celebrated soprano Maria Callas dies in Paris at the age of 53.
Born in New York City in 1923 to Greek immigrants, Callas demonstrated her talent for singing at an early age. When she was 13, she went to Athens to study under the noted soprano Elvira de Hidalgo. Her first major operatic role came in 1947, when she appeared in La Gioconda in Verona. Acclaimed for a powerful soprano voice that lent itself to the difficult coloratura roles, she was soon appearing in opera houses around the world. Her talents made possible the revival of 19th-century bel canto works by Bellini and others that had not been performed for decades. In 1954, the "Divine Callas" made her American debut in Chicago in the title role of Norma, a performance she repeated before a record audience at New York City's Metropolitan Opera.
Callas' stormy personal life was closely watched and exaggerated by the press, as were her professional walkouts and tiffs with rivals. The diva divorced her husband of many years after becoming involved with Greek shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis, but he later left her when he fell in love with the widowed Jackie Kennedy. In the 1970s, Callas' career rapidly declined, and she died in 1977.
1982 Massacres at Sabra and Shatila
Hours after the Israeli forces enter West Beirut, Phalangist militiamen begin a massacre of Palestinians at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps. Within two days, 1,000 men, women, and children were dead.
The Phalangists, a Christian faction in Lebanon, were closely allied with Israel. After entering West Beirut, Israeli commanders ordered the Phalangists into the refugee camps in search of terrorists, even though the militiamen were known to be enraged at the Palestinians for the recent murder of their leader. Israel later condemned the massacre and denied any responsibility. On September 29, a United Nations peacekeeping force returned to Lebanon to prevent more bloodshed.


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